Browsing Archives for April 2009

Seed Potatoes With Joe

April 30th, 2009

My father-in-law Joe grows a large, beautiful garden every year.  His children grew up selling cantaloupes from a roadside stand beside their farm.  He is always experimenting with a new crop, or building a trellis, or trying out a new way to plant tomatoes.  No matter how he plants his garden, the food he raises is always delicious.  I have literally almost fainted from pure bliss, right at his kitchen table, after eating his home grown asparagus beans, baby potatoes, fresh sliced tomatoes, and sweet, crisp cucumbers.  

On a recent visit to our house, I sat my father-in-law down and pummeled him with as many gardening questions as I could muster during his short visit.

“How do you plant potatoes, onions, lettues, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant…?”

“How far apart do you space everything?”

“Have you ever tried companion planting?”

“What do you do about cutworms?”

“Do marigolds really keep bugs away?”

“When can I plant my seeds?”

“What do I do if it never stops raining?”

“How do I build a trellis?”

“How do I get over my fear of planting zuchinni?”

“I can’t seem to thin any of my seedlings.  How do I choose which baby plant gets to live and which one must die?”

“What do I do with all these milkjugs I have been saving?”

“Am I going to fail?”

“Can you promise me that I will at least produce one beautiful tomato?”

 

My father-in-law patiently answered all my questions and I wrote everything down.

 

So that when my garden fails…

 

I will not be the one to blame.

The Morel Report

April 28th, 2009

This winter we have been slowly finishing our basement.  The Country Doctor did all the wiring, and right now we are in the passionate throes of sheetrock.  A man, whom I will refer to as ‘Mr. Morel’ has been installing ‘the rock’ for the past two weeks.  When he is not hanging sheetrock in our basement, he is a passionate morel hunter.  Every day when he arrives at our house, he gives me the daily morel report.  He tells me how many he has found, what his hunting conditions were the night before, how many beers he drank while he hunted them, how he has to sneak into some places while people are at work so they don’t know he is on their property finding mushrooms, and whether or not  he thinks there will be good hunting after he gets off work.  He won’t tell me where he finds the mushrooms, but I know he takes the same route everyday.   A few days ago, he had a good haul and he brought me some to try.  I have never had a morel before.  He told me exactly what to do to store and prepare the mushrooms.  I followed his directions precisely.

I placed the morels in a dish of water in my refrigerator and changed the dirty water several times.  One time, I found a roly poly in the water.  This made me not want to eat the morels at all, but then I remembered that I have a blog.  What is a little rolypoly in your food compared to having nothing interesting to write about on your blog? 

So I dumped out the rolypoly, added new water, tried to clear my mind of thoughts of rolypolys in my food and went out and bought a box of saltines.

 

This is how ‘Mr. Morel’ told me to fix the mushrooms.

 

Ingredients:

Crackers, eggs, butter, morels (with rolypolys removed).

 

Look morel over closely for any more rolypolys.

 

 

 

Shudder.

 

 

Swallow hard and continue with recipe.

 

 

 

 

Smash crackers.

 

 

 

 

 

Mix in eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

Try not to think about rolypolys.

 

 

 

 

TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT ROLYPOLYS!

 

 

 

 

 

Fry in butter.

 

 

 

 

 

Force children to eat them first.

 

 

 

 

 

Force children to write their thoughts about eating rolypolys… I mean MORELS!

 

 

 

 

 

They didn’t hate them.

They also did not love them.

The morels tasted like eggs and mushrooms.

I can not imagine EVER hiking through a bog to find one.

But that is just me… 

As far as I am concerned…

The rolypolys can have them!

Several weeks ago, Cynthia of Dahling, I Love You But Give Me Park Avenue! sent me a link to New York Times article with a photo of a ‘colonial garden’.   She said that it looked like something that would go with my house.  I followed the link and knew immediately that I had to have the garden in the photo. I sent the link on to the Country Doctor and said, “Hey honey!  Let’s make our garden look like this!”

This is conversation that followed

approximately…

CD – “Like what?”

ME – “Like the photo in that article I sent you!”

CD – “You mean the flowers?”

Me – “No… I mean the way it is laid out.”

CD – “You want to plant flowers in our vegetable garden?”

Me – “Probably a few… but what I am really getting at is the lay out… the way it looks…”

CD – “You mean the flowers?”

Me – “NO! I don’t mean the flowers! This has nothing to do with the flowers! I am talking about the layout!”

CD – “I thought we were going to do a vegetable garden.”

Me – “WE ARE GOING TO DO A VEGETABLE GARDEN!!! I JUST WANT TO PLANT THE VEGETABLE GARDEN IN THAT STYLE!!!”

CD – “Where are you going to put all those flowers?”

Me – “OH TRUST ME HONEY…I CAN THINK OF A GOOD PLACE TO PUT THOSE FLOWERS!!!”

CD  - “Where?”

Me – “Can you please explain to me how you really managed to get through four years of medical school and become a doctor and not be able to UNDESRSTAND THIS EXTRAORDINARILY SIMPLE THING THAT I AM TRYING TO TELL YOU!”

CD – “Okay… Okay…I get it… I get it… you want to plant flowers in the vegetable garden!”

Me – “AAAARRRRRGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH!!!!!!!”

After another three days of discussions, I finally managed to get him beyond the ‘flowers in the vegetable garden’ and onto the ‘lay out’ of the garden.

And then he built it for me.

Just like that…

Sometimes I think he just likes to torture me.

 

 

Originally, the Country Doctor wanted to put our garden on the far side of our pond.  

 

 

 

I carefully explained to him several times… slowly and loudly… each time more slowly… and more loudly… that placing the garden a half day’s hike from the house would probably not result in a bountiful harvest.






“Why is that?” he asked.

 

 

 

 

 

“BECAUSE THAT DOESN”T MAKE ANY SENSE!  WE HAVE A HUGE SPACE RIGHT NEXT TO THE HOUSE!!!  WHY WOULD WE PLANT OUR GARDEN SO FAR AWAY FROM THE CONVENIENCES OF MODERN LIFE?!?!?!… FROM WATER… FROM A BATHROOM… FROM A SNACK… FROM THE AIR CONDITIONER!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, I won that particular battle.

 

But not completely.

 

I really wanted to center the garden on the dining room windows, but the CD had just planted a tender stand of grass in that area and was not about to smother it with a ‘colonial vegetable garden’ full of flowers that he felt really belonged on the other side of the pond.

 

 

 

 

 

And then he made a bunch of stakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And each time he drove one into the ground, it was like driving a stake into his heart.  

He was building a garden in the wrong place… that would be full of flowers… and was not even going to require him to suffer mercilessly to take care of it.

 

Whenever my husband’s life is easy… it is actually very hard.

 

 

 

 

And whenever it is hard… it is easy.

 

 

 

I have no idea how the two of us ever got together!