Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Amazing what a few dollars of seed potatoes, good soil, sun, water and a little love can produce! Today I harvested about 20 pounds of delicious red and white potatoes, as well as a small group of Russian Banana fingerlings.

Home vegetable garden, gotta love it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Jewels

Cherries! Cherries! Cherries!

Cherry picking season in Crestwood has officially begun...yesterday my brother Glenn and I picked for about an hour which resulted in 15 pounds of tart, ruby cherries. Unfolded paperclips in hand, a vinyl tablecloth, plenty of paper towels and several hours later my Dad, Glenn and I had pitted and sorted all the cherries.

It was getting a bit late to do anything with the newly pitted fruit, but I was prepared. A few days earlier I made a batch of pie pastry and it was calling out from the refrigerator, screaming to be used in a glorious cherry pie! I quickly assembled and baked the pie. It was left cooling on the counter top on a wire rack, for about an hour. It takes a pie several hours to cool so that it is edible, unless it is a assisted by half an hour of sitting over an vent blowing cool air ;) So at 8:30 p.m. Mom, Dad, Glenn and I enjoyed the fruits of our labor ala mode, mmmm, delicious!

I spent several hours today joyfully chopping, measuring, stirring and boiling cherries, sugar, and pectin to create the canned wonder of Cherry Jam. (Insert sigh of contentment.) I suppose some would consider it "work" but when you love what you do and the resulting creation, it is a cheery time in the kitchen.

Today's kitchen efforts also yielded a free-form Cherry Galette topped with sanding sugar, just as yummy as yesterday's pie (yes, the first pie is gone).

We should have enough jam to last us until next year...but I might just make another trip to the cherry trees, we'll see.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Duck Eggs Anyone?

We have a Mallard nest in the backyard, so I guess it is official, Sable is a spoiled indoor housepet and definitely not a hunter.

While working in the yard this afternoon, Sable got a little too close the area where a mama duck was hanging out and she flew off. Sable trots over to investigate the nest, which until that moment I was unaware of, and I think "Oh no, not a nest! Sable is going to be all over the eggs.". But no, our intrepid huntress sniffs the eggs and then runs away to get a toy. That's our girl, ever ready for playtime but lets a Mallard build a nest in her territory.

I'm all for protecting wildlife and ducklings are adorable but I would prefer them in someone else's yard. Since Sable seems to be disinterested in the eggs, I guess they are safe. I don't know what will happen when the eggs start to hatch, which according to internet sites is anywhere from 23-30 days. I will have to start posting Duck Bulletins on my blog to everyone up-to-date.

I carefully checked the area and took a couple of pictures and a count, there are eight large eggs in the nest, well disguised among the plants and leaves, clever Mother Nature!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Morning Sweets

What a lovely way to start Sunday morning, or any morning for that matter, than with a homemade quick bread.

This morning I made two loaves of Lucinda Scala Quinn's Coconut Bread, which smelled delicious as it was baking. Here is the recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/348472/coconut-bread

I followed the recipe exactly except that I used sweetened coconut as that is what I had available, and for extra crunch and sparkle I topped the bread with coarse sugar. The bread is light and not too sweet and plenty of coconut flakes give it a wonderful chew. I topped my slices with my homemade Pine-Cot Jam (pineapple-apricot), yummy!

Definitely give this bread a try if you like coconut, it will become one of your baking staples.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Garden Expansion

Yesterday was a beautiful day for working in the yard and I began expanding the fruit and vegetable garden.

The space we have been using for several years followed the original circular shape of the landscaped grass. Last year I considered expansion but didn't want to go through the work of saving the grass and moving it to another location. However, last summer's weather ravaged the lawn and we are left with a patchy, weedy ground cover--an opportunity for expansion!

My first step was to move the fence and change the shape from circular to a straight line. I pulled up the existing posts and tried to drive them into the ground in a new spot until I ran into rocks.
So I had to dig holes and remove rocks, lots of rocks. It was actually cool to find all the rocks, I wasn't in any hurry and I can use the rocks in the garden. 
My rock pile!
Aside from the rocks, there was the usual excavation finds of glass bottle shards, roof shingles, and one small piece of ceramic. Alas, I will not be reporting any dinosaur bone discovery to The Field Museum.

I did not labor alone, I was assisted by my buddy Sable.

I would like to be able to comment that in this photo Sable was bringing a pole to me to use on the fence.

However, Sable's only concern was herself and finding something to play with and chew.

Sable didn't bring me poles or tools, but she did accomplish some hole digging of her own in the garden and keep me company during the expansion project.

The fence has been moved and is in a straight-ish line (I wasn't too picky about that) and ready for a load of garden soil.
We will now have space for the raspberry plants, more beans, and of course more tomatoes and maybe a few things we haven't grown in the past. Suggestions?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Soup Day

The combination of chilly, rainy day and beautiful leeks at the grocery store inspired me to make soup. I made Potato Leek Soup for the very first time following Jacques Pepin's recipe.

The recipe was quick and easy and the soup is delicious. As it is Friday during Lent, I made one alteration to the recipe and used vegetable stock. I pureed about two-thirds of the vegetables to end up with a silky smooth soup with a few bits and pieces of leek, onion, and potato. I will definitely make this soup again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sprouting Up

Just a quick walk around our garden reveals so many natural wonders breaking through the cold, firm earth to brave the chill winds and get a bit of warmth from our Spring sunshine. What a wonderful world...



Bearded Iris



In the blink of an eye, we'll have such a colorful and interesting garden. Isn't Mother Nature great?!