In the garden…

It blows my mind. How things change…

It was only five months ago that my garden looked like this.

Yes.

Five months ago – February 2017. Snow to the tops of the fence posts – more than thigh high snow…

And while that was going on outside – I had these beauties going on inside…

and these lovelies waiting to pop up…

(garlic).

Though before any of these seedlings could be put into the ground, the snow needed to melt, the earth needed to warm and the ground needed to prepped…

Here was April.

I turned the soil, added peat moss, seaweed (collected locally), wood ash and love… then covered with a landscape fabric to help prevent weed growth, while also warming the soil…

The mosquitos are INSANE here and harvesting is challenging enough once July comes around, let alone weeding – so to minimize being maddened with buzzing while working in the garden, I try to keep my weeding needs to a minimum.

I cover the majority of the garden with breathable fabric and then fill in with hay. Each  allows water and sunshine through, while keeping weeds at bay…

In the pic above you can see black instead of the earth – that’s the fabric covering warming the earth while suppressing weed growth.

I cut openings for each row of veggies/flowers. I simply cut a line for a specified length and then pin down each side with landscape pins and wooden row ‘tags’ on each end. I then cover seeds with hay (to help with heat and moisture retention), and water – then once seedlings/plants begin to grow and become larger, I place hay between each individual plant. Like with the garlic greens seen above, (behind the wheelbarrow full of seedlings waiting to go in)…

Amazing to think that only a few months later the same garden would look like this.

Tomatoes, basil, leeks, red onions, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, cucumber, beets, lettuce, green beans, peas, swiss chard, kale, potatoes, brussel sprouts and self seeded cilantro. Phew.

Most started from seed.

Months ago.

In my house.

On window sills during the day…

And at night – moved beside our woodstove…

Or sown directly into the ground as soon as the garden was ready. In the case of garlic (below), it was planted last fall…while others waited until spring or early summer.

 

Either way, much love, planning and work has gone into each plant with the hopes that each will feed us…

Planning and growing are one thing – though there’s also the watering and the harvesting…

the picking, gathering, cutting, pruning, then it’s the washing, cleaning and storing…

A lot goes into growing food – yet it’s all necessary and SO worth it!

My kitchen sink doubles as the wash station and each veggie goes into it’s own separate bag and stored in the fridge – if necessary. Some veggies, like tomatoes (which aren’t ready for a few more weeks/months) are stored best on the counter. Each vegetable has it’s own needs…

Flowers are not be forgotten in a garden either…not only are they beautiful and useful (think cutting flowers), but helpful for pollinators. (:

So plant, plant, plant, plant. And love it – even when it’s 100 degrees outside, with 100% humidity and mosquitos are swarming you! (: It’s worth it.

Hopefully you can try it someday – even if it’s simply one pot of tomatoes or cucumbers on your fire escape.

Everything tastes better with love…

Be well.

Eat well.

Enjoy.

What’s you favorite vegetable?

 

 

 

It’s salsa time!

Homegrown tomatoes are amazing! They are juicy, plump, packed with vitamins and actually taste like a tomato. What a difference the sun makes!

And this summer we’ve had nothing but sun, so my garden is brimming with ripe, red, juicy tomatoes screaming to be eaten…so what to do with all those lovelies? Make salsa fresco!

tomatoes

It’s super simple and takes about 15-20 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need;

Use the freshest of tomatoes for this recipe. I like the heirloom varieties best, though they are on the pricy side if your not growing you own, so if they are out of your price range, then try to find the tomatoes that are heavy in weight, firm to hold, yet soft to the touch – hopefully that makes sense! Whatever your preference with tomatoes, go for the best and this will make all the difference between an amazingly refreshing salsa and a ho-hum one…

So, here you go;

1.5 cups tomatoes (about 2-3 medium) – seeded and finely diced. With very fresh tomatoes, the seeds practically fall out while cutting into slices. I cut tomatoes into slices (then seed), then chop.

1 good handful of chopped cilantro +/- depending on taste

1/4 of a small white onion finely chopped +/- depending on taste

1/2 of a fresh jalepeno or serrano chili (with seeds), finely chopped – or use more for a more spicy salsa…

fresh squeezed lime juice from about 2 limes. (again, use more if you like)

1-2 good pinches of kosher salt

Mix all together in a bowl and readjust seasonings to your liking.

salsa

Eat immediately or let rest for a few hours before serving. This salsa will keep for a few days refrigerated, but best to enjoy within a day or two.

Enjoy!!

cucumber in a glass

This is my first post about a cocktail.

Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy them, so I’m surprised that it’s taken me so long to write about one.

Perhaps it’s because I usually keep things simple;

Martini.

Bloody Mary.

Gin and tonic.

Margarita.

Vodka and homemade lemonade.

You get the picture.

Not much to write about…

Though, a few weeks ago I decided to have a little dinner party/BBQ and thought, why not serve a fun cocktail? One that can be pre-made and utilize what I have…

So I did a little research (with cucumbers in mind) – I had a lot of cucumbers (they are prolific this year!!) and came across this recipe (see below).

cucumber cape codder

I’m not fond of its’ given name…so I’ll just call it – Summer – for now…

It’s cucumber simple syrup, unsweetened cranberry juice, lime juice, vodka and I added a little bubbly with a splash of seltzer..

It’s not difficult and only requires a few hours – of which most time is the ‘steeping’ of the shredded/grated cucumber (in the simple syrup); this requires nothing of you except patience…

First you need to make the simple syrup.

There’s a reason it’s called ‘simple’ – it is.

Mix one cup water with one cup organic sugar (or whatever sugar you have on hand) in a small pot, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Now, the original recipe calls for one English cucumber, but I didn’t have an English cucumber…so I improvised.

I know there is a difference between homegrown pickling cucumbers (the type I had on hand) and English cucumbers – but since I didn’t have English cucumbers, I used what I had – makes sense, right? In this case it worked.

I figured the expense of the sugar, my time, and my cucumbers would be less than driving 40 miles to buy an English cucumber…and it worked out just fine.

Granted I’ve never tasted this cocktail with English Cucumbers, but I do know it tasted damn delicious with my homegrown ones…so try a batch of each and let me know what you think.

Back to the recipe;

I used two peeled medium sized homegrown pickling cucumbers, instead of one English cucumber.

Size does matter here. The bigger the cuc, the fewer you will need. Use an average sized English cucumber (in your mind of course if you don’t actually have one) for comparison…

Grate them, don’t worry about the seeds being mixed in.

Measure two cups worth of this cucumber mix and add to simple syrup.

Pour carefully into a wide mouthed jar and let cool.

cucumber in syrup

Let rest, overnight, in the fridge.

top view - cucumber in syrup

Strain and collect simple syrup – discard solids.

strained syrup

You should end up with about two cups cucumber simple syrup.

Mix this (cucumber simple syrup), with the rest of the ingredients below and serve over ice with a cucumber wheel on the lip.

cucumber cape codder

enjoy!

  • 9 ounces vodka, chilled
  • 12 ounces cranberry juice (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)
  • Ice, for serving
  • Splash of seltzer

What do you think this drink should be named?

Do you prefer English cucumbers?

If you enjoy cocktails, do try this one. It’s refreshing, light and packs a punch. It’s also the epitome of summer…

Enjoy.

in the garden

This summer has not been my summer to be in the garden…at least not as much as I’d like…

But today, time and circumstance allowed and I was able to get out there!

Phew.

1.garden gate

I pulled weeds, cut back tomato plants, and harvested a few goodies…

in the garden

garlic

from the garden

swiss chard

corn

buttercup squash

pepper

peas

cucumber and kale

aug

I was amazed by what was growing – despite the neglect and lack of water.

Thank you plants.

SO much green!

What have you been growing…?

Enjoy.

xo

easy maine crab salad

This must be the most simple Crab Salad Recipe – ever!

crab salad prepared

It will also work for lobster…

I’ve not bought Maine crab meat since last summer and it’s been on my mind a lot lately…so, on a whim, I stopped by a local fish market just a few miles down the road (open only during the summer months – one must take advantage of the few places open this time of year!!) and picked up an 8 oz. package of local crab meat.

Drove straight home and began dicing.

ingredients

A few minutes later I was in heaven.

crab salad on bed of greens

Fresh crab salad on a bed of crisp local greens – my lettuce never did make it…yet, that is…once cooler weather approaches, I will plant again…fingers crossed.

Anyway, if you like crab meat, have the ability to buy it – fresh – then do try this recipe.

Crab Salad

8 oz. Crab meat

One Celery Stalk

Quarter of a Shallot

Mayo.

Juice from one lemon

Salt

Pepper

Love

That’s it.

Find yourself some super fresh crab meat. Not in a tin.

8 ounces is just fine.

Flake into a medium sized bowl.

Finely dice celery stalk and shallot.

Add to crab meat.

Add pinch of corse salt,

and a couple of turns on a pepper grinder…

Add juice from half a lemon.

Then add one small spoonful of mayonnaise and mix.

Taste,

and adjust to liking – perhaps more lemon juice, salt or pepper?

Maybe it’s just perfect…

Serve between two slices of soft bread and fresh lettuce leaves or on a bed of greens with crackers served on the side…or enjoy by the spoonful…

No matter what – just enjoy!

Let me know what you think?

What would you do differently?

Enjoy.

xo

the last two weeks…

These last two weeks have been busy – and that’s a good thing – summertime in Maine is the busy season…

S-u-m-m-e-r-t-i-m-e….and the livin’s e-a-s-y…fish are j-u-m-p-i-n’…and the c-o-t-t-o-n is high…(click on the link and listen while viewing)…

Time for being outdoors…and taking things a little more s-l-o-w-l-y…

Gardening, playing, swimming, enjoying windows being open, going to the beach, being barefoot, balmy breezes, fresh strawberries, kale, peas, corn…boating without jackets (warmth jackets – not life jackets), blue skies, picnics, fans blowing humid air, fresh cut grass, seaweed in the air…lobsters, fresh Maine crab meat, time on the dock, feeling hot, being sun-kissed, sleeping with just a light cotton sheet…enjoying long light filled days with starry warm nights…

summertime…

fresh food. warm nights. open windows.

bliss…

pea tendrils

peas

Peas in the garden

marigolds

kale

garlic scapes curling

garlic scape facing downward

more scape curls

loosely tiedfamily maiden voyage - July 2015in the harbor

lovely boat in harbor

strawberry picking

strawberries

strawberries ready to eat

freezing strawberries

crab salad beginnings

seaweed

the beach

all done

Love it. Summer.

enjoy!

xo

it’s been far too long…

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I’ve needed to post.

Desperately.

So here it is.

In photographic form…

A taste of the last six months.

Yeah for summer!

What have you been up to?

enjoy

xo

the summer garden

Phew, it’s September 3rd and the garden is in full force! garden mid summer Corn is ready, fresh sweet corn   swiss chard has been prolific, swiss chard tomatoes are slowly coming along first ripe tomato beets have been the sweetest ever and the green beans were fabulous and abundant! beets and carrots beets and green beans Not sure how to cook beets? Check out this recipe for roasted beets – d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s !   This year, Finn and I have been able to keep up with the squash bugs, so we have lots of buttercup squash growing! Yeah! buttercup beginnings squash beginnings squash And the flower beds have done well despite the japanese beetles trying their best… front garden lilly garden spider We’ve been enjoying swiss chard in just about everything and I’ve even found a great recipe for a home made puff pastry, homemade puff pastry so I’ve made a few of my swiss chard tarts this summer too. Recipe for pastry in a future post! Oh, I can’t forget my garlic! fresh garlic garlic before cleaning opened bulb Wow. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to grow this simple and scrumptious bulb. Thank you Mim for giving me the garlic to plant and the encouragement! Store bought garlic pales in comparison to homegrown. Actually, there is no comparison. If you have space, at all, try planting garlic. While it’s not an expensive herb, it is a delicious and easy homegrown plant to try. Bonus, the scapes garlic scapes which come out in early summer… While school has begun, summer weather still abounds and there is still plenty to be harvested and enjoyed. Lettuce is growing again, spinach is planted and more beets and carrots are on their way…and some plants are also going to seed…gather, dry and save those seeds! Below are pansy seeds, which I started from store bought seeds, though this year will start from my own seeds. pansy seeds If you can’t or simply don’t garden, don’t forget to check out your local farmers markets – they are fabulous resources for fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they may cost a bit more than the supermaket, but not that much more and many accept food stamps too! What you may spend in dollars saves your health and supports your community. So do check them out! How does your garden grow? Anything exceptional this year? Anything troublesome? late august in the garden Happy gardening and eating! enjoy!

simple, delicious, comfort food…alfredo with veggies!

So, as usual, I hadn’t really ‘planned’ dinner…I used to plan dinners, well, sort of… my idea of planning was and still is, to try and incorporate a new recipe every now and again – to help with the boringness of the ‘same old, same old’ – but now that I’m only home three nights a week, I tend to ‘wing it’ and simply use what I have on hand…sometimes it works, sometimes it’s still the ‘same old, same old’…but it’s always homemade, with love.

This night I was in need of a change, do you that know that feeling?

Our bodies need change, our minds need change, and our food prep habits need change…hence, how I ended up with this recipe…

I needed to use what I had (I live 25 minutes from the closest grocery store, one-way), and I wanted to utilize the abundance of fresh kale I had just picked from my backyard garden and I wanted comfort food.

first kale + swiss chard

So, guess what I came up with? Pasta with kale, dripping in alfredo sauce!

vertical alfredo

It was SO good.

I think all that cheese negated the health benefits of the kale, but such is life sometimes…

A few months ago (in the cold, dark of winter) I was wanting something rich, gooey, and comforting –  I needed a recipe for an alfredo sauce. A simple sauce of cheese, milk/cream, roux and salt and pepper. Nothing else would do. I connected to the internet (yes, I still have dial-up and yes, it still exists, sadly…) and after awhile I came across this delicious and easy to make recipe. I made it, I loved it and I printed it to keep – and I’m so glad I did.

I hadn’t made it since the dark days of winter, but when your in the mood for a rich and decadent alfredo sauce and you live in the woods by the sea, well, you better know how to make it, or at least have a recipe to help you know how!

So, I looked in the fridge – yeah, all the ingredients were there! All I had to do was prep.

No simple feat as a mamma of a pre-schooler, but with a little help from Michael, my partner – he entertained our four year old, while I chopped, diced, whisked and then finally, assembled – dinner!

pasta, veggies, alfredo

This recipe is so flexible, it’s ridiculous.

Here’s what you need and what to do;

Sautee any veggies you have – I used peppers, mushrooms and kale – in a bit of olive oil and set aside.

veggies sauteed

Boil water for pasta and begin cooking pasta just before you start making the alfredo sauce.

Prepare alfredo sauce.

Place cooked pasta on plate or bowl, top with alfredo, then veggies and voila, dinner is served! Finish with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and serve alongside a salad of greens and a feast is served! Enjoy.

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo Recipe – Print this!

Slightly adapted from Jessica at Delicious Obsessions

Ingredients;

1/4 cup

1/2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic

1 -2 tbsp. flour of your choice (I used 1.5 tbsp. unbleached white)

3/4 cup whole milk*

3/4 cup heavy cream*

**(I substituted 1.5 cups half and half and 1/4 whole milk for heavy cream and milk measurements)

1.5 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

What to Do:

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add garlic and saute until lightly browned.

Sprinkle the flour over the butter/garlic mixture and whisk around, quickly. You want to use enough flour to absorb the butter, without over doing it.  You want to create a roux (which is a mixture of flour and a fat (usually butter) used to thicken sauces and soups), which is slightly thick, yet fluid, without being gloppy.

Whisk this mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning…this helps remove the ‘raw’ taste the flour could have if undercooked. The flour should be very lightly browned.

After you’ve made your roux (cooked your flour), slowly add the milk and cream, all the while continuing to whisk. Keep whisking – or else your sauce will be clumpy – until it’s slightly thickened and gently bubbling…

While whisking, add the shredded parmesan, little by little, until all is incorporated.

Remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Things to consider;

Don’t have kale? Use spinach or swiss chard.

Don’t have peppers? Use caramelized onions or summer squash.

What about garlic? Or garlic scapes? Or fresh basil? What about freshly chopped parsley?

Like meat? Add sausage or bacon.

Play around with what you have and keep it simple.

Veggies and cheese over pasta, how can you go wrong?

Enjoy.