Thursday, August 9, 2012

In My Basket

Boy, it's been a steamy summer up here in the northeast.. but the garden is just loving all this heat..but then, so do the weeds :(  We could feed a small nation with all the zucchini, pattypans and summer squash and hot peppers we're harvesting! :)  This summer is zipping by, and I've been extremely busy in the garden and at farmers market.  I just planted our second sowing of root crop for Autumn--more beets, carrots turnip and kale. How are your gardens doing?

With the many squash in my basket this week, I made a very easy to prepare Vegetable Scampi over linguini.

And we are perpetually harvesting the basils... red ruby, lemon, genovese, thai & spicy globe.  I dry most of the basils..for our herbal dips & seasoning blends and of course our herbal soaps, but it just wouldn't be summer without some fresh basil pesto too!  The one nice thing about all this heat is herb drying is so much easier. Hanging to dry are the basils, oregano,sage,  sweet marjoram, summer savory,and  lavender,

This season at Farmers market we are offering our Chunky Garden Salsa, so many many hot peppers you'll find in my garden.  They'll also go into my Vintage Garden Hot Pepper Jelly, Herb Garden Hot Pepper Jam and our newest Garlic & Onion Pepper Jam.

For the very first season here in Maine our Kirby pickling cukes are doing just splendid! All of these go into our Wicked Good Pickles

So, it's been a very good busy summer for me so far,  but the thing I'm happiest about this year in Mama's Giardiniera are my grapevines. I can't wait to harvest them!  Stay cool.  Til next thyme.. happy gardening.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ode to the Chive Blossom

  Do you remember that old verse 'ode to a pelican'?  Ode to the pelican: It's beak holds more than it's belly can. :)  Well right now in the garden my chives are bursting with flowers. They are so pretty in the garden, I just hated to pick them--when  typically I'm a seed saver.  But with all this rain we've been seeing here lately, I decided instead to pick half of my chive blossoms and make this vibrantly colored vinegar..that's so tasty added to  a fresh garden salad.

This lovely vinegar didn't start out this way. It was a clear white vinegar infused with heaps of fresh blossoms that gave it this lovely dark rose shade.  So if you still have chive blossoms lingering out in your garden, go out and pluck as many as you can get and make some of this fragrant and beautiful vinegar today. 

Just fill a mason jar with as many blossoms as you can snip.  I filled my jar 3/4 full and covered with white vinegar and capped.  Store your infusing blossoms in a cool dark cupboard for a couple of weeks--then simply strain through a micro sieve or coffee filter to remove any sediment. Then just fill a pretty bottle or jar and enjoy--or nice Spring gift. Thanks Spring blossoms--see you again next year!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Root Children

    Finally it’s March.  I’m saying this with fingers crossed because all of us New Englanders know so well, we can ‘march’ our way right into Spring or take an about face into Winter for another storm or two..  (or more!)
As I sit looking out of the window I can clearly see the first signs of the season.  Only spotty patches of snow remain and patches of grass.. though muddy,  peeked through, while last Autumn’s leaves blow aimlessly down the road. Are you as excited about Spring's arrival as I am?

 One of my favorite books from childhood is still one of my favorites as an adult – The Story of the Root Children. This story is about the wonderful, magical transformation from Winter into Spring. This story has been retold several times, but my favorite version  is called When the Root Children Wake Up. My mother read it to me when I was 5 or 6 years old and every year, just about this time of year.  I think of the story which begins like this:

“All winter long the trees are bare, the wind is cold and the fields are empty. But very early in the Spring the Sun begins to grow warmer, the air softer and the sky bluer. And the boys and girls grow happier though they cannot tell just why. Down underground something is happening. Something secret and wonderful. The root children who have been sleeping soundly all winter are awakened by the  Mother Earth. She comes with her candle and her little firefly helpers to tell them they must be up and at work for it will soon be Spring. They are very sleepy at first but soon begin to stretch and open their eyes and be glad that it is time to wake. Wide awake at last, in their root house, the root children work busily on their new Spring dresses. Each chooses the color she loves best – violet, yellow, blue, white, orange, red  and green– and with needle, thread and thimble, sews happily till her work is done.”

I’ll admit that even as an adult this story is exciting for me and I can still feel the wonderful anticipation of Spring and envision it through a child’s eyes.

The seeds that were sown in flats under lights a few weeks ago have germinated! The tomatoes were first, followed by the peppers. We are growing two new varieties of peppers this season--Aji Colorado and Corno Di Toro that I hope to harvest and dry to make my own chili powder this year. I'm also planning to use these moderately hot peppers in my Hot Pepper Jelly I make every year. There is something about watching pepper seedlings grow that makes me deeply happy.

        This season I'm even more inspired than other years to try new varieties as over the winter months I applied and received my state kitchen license--so at farmers market this season we'll be offering not only our herbal soaps,  herbal dips and seasoning blends we've added a line of  herbal and wine jellies, pickles, my Nonna's giardiniera, hot bruschetta in a jar  and salsa's too!

 Along with the usual Roma, grape and of course brandywine tomatoes, I'm planning to grow the Rose tomato, another heirloom variety that proved to be delicious when we grew them last year. The culinary herb garden will also be revamped this year and expanded. Now that I'm more familiar with the growing season and challenges of growing in this salty air, I can hardly wait!

Yesterday I started my scented geranium cuttings. I needed something to warm up my day and as I went about snipping my mother  rose geranium for cuttings I  spotted this little lady..that just warmed my heart-- hope she warms up your day too! Til next thyme--think Spring!