Browsing Archives for Farmhouse & Garden

Bouquet of the Week #1

May 31st, 2011

I thought I might be fun to try and create a bouquet every week this summer using just the plants that are growing on the old homestead.  And when I say ‘fun’ I actually mean ‘something to post about that requires little to no mental jumping jacks’.  Not that the posts around here frequently require mental jumping jacks, but gathering a few flowers requires virtually none and it’s summer people!  I’m trying to relax!

Here is what I found for the first bouquet…

Name – I don’t know
Location – Up by the orchard
Genus – Wildflower
Difficulty Level – Four out of five stars (Sticker patch, snake paranoia, scratchy leg syndrome, summer sandal blisters)

Name – Queen Anne’s Lace (I think.)
Location – Out in the middle of the meadow
Genus – Wildflower
Difficulty level – Four out of five stars (see ‘I don’t know’ above).

Name – Beats me.
Location – Also in middle of meadow
Genus – Wildflower
Difficulty Level – Five out of five. (Blisters from new sandals were hurting real bad by this time.)

Name – Valerian
Location – The old garden bed
Genus – Sturdy perennial
Dificulty Level – Zero out of five – it has never given me a lick of trouble.

Name – Catmint
Location – By the deck
Genus – Fabulous Perennial (remind me to plant lots more.l
Difficulty Level – Two out of five stars. Easy to grow, but almost too easy as it requires frequent dividing to maintain it’s lovely shape.

Bring flowers in the house.  Kick off blister causing sandals and rue the day you purchased them.  Wonder if you can take them back even though you have worn them all day long including on a hike all over your homestead looking for flowers.  Take flowers to sink.  Fill up a mason jar about half way with homemade flower food following Suzanne’s recipe.  Strip the flowers of their lower leaves, cut the stems to appropriate length for your jar and stick them willy nilly into the vessel.  Rearrange until you are pleased or sick of messing with them.

Lie down and rest in soft area with an icy beverage and a snack.
Happy flowering!

I found a few of these guys mowing down my carrot patch a few days ago.

It’s a swallowtail caterpillar.

Not wanting to harm him, I called in some reinforcements.

I wrongly thought that a nine year old boy would not mind transporting a few squashy caterpillars from one location to another, but I was wrong.  Jack did not want to touch the soft bodied creatures anymore than I did.  So we compromised and pulled off some of the carrot foliage that they were clinging to and moved them across the garden that way.

Over to my cilantro patch.

I have plenty of cilantro.  It re-seeded itself and is coming up all over my garden, so I don’t hesitate to share it.  My carrots however?  I only have three short rows and I have never grown them before and I am super excited to see if they actually produce any carrots and well… not really feeling very generous with them.

Sorry swallowtails!

But here’s some crappy cilantro for you!

And then I showed Jack the only swallowtail trick I know…

If you lightly brush their heads with a leaf or a twig…

These two bright orange horn things pop out.

I guess the swallowtail believes that this will keep a predator from gobbling him up.

I think the swallowtail might be sadly mistaken about the power of his orange horns…

But I did not tell him that.

In other garden news…

These are my beans.

They took FOREVER to sprout!

I almost gave up hope!

But they finally came up.


I acidified the center bed of the new garden by adding soil sulfur.

And then I planted a few acid loving plants in this bed.

Lupine – a perrennial flower….

And blueberries!

Here are my half frozen tomato plants.

They are doing very well.

So are the peppers and eggplant that also suffered frost damage.

So here is the new garden.

It looks pretty bare, but it is actually full of new life.

And here is the old garden.

Burstin’ at the seams.

And here is a potato flower.


It’s Spinach Week!

May 19th, 2011

Make that Spinach Month.

I am trying to consume all the spinach my garden can give me…

And I am failing.

But it is a fun kind of failure!  And delicious too! Here are a few of the meals I have made that include heaping helpings of spinach (and garden fresh oregano too!).

This is wilted spinach, sun dried tomatoes, shallots, garlic powder, red wine and salt all stir fried together in olive oil….

And added to pasta for a deeliteful pasta dish.  I also added some freshly grated parmesan and Romano cheeses to add a bit of bite, but if seasoned properly, this dish could easily be vegan.

Next up, I made some manicotti.

This dish is a huge hassle to make, but does it ever pay off! Even the boys liked it!  It is also super hearty which as a new vegetarian, I sometimes miss a dish that destroys my hunger in one fell swoop the way a burger or a steak does.  But manicotti really satisfies.  I used this recipe as a guide.  I especially liked how it did not make me cook the noodles prior to stuffing them.  It turned out great.

Although I would not call her particularly photogenic.

I made these black bean and spinach quesadillas tonight.

They are my favorite spinach dish so far.

I drained two cans of black beans and added one can of rotel to them as well as garlic powder, cayenne and salt to taste.  I mashed the beans and let them simmer down to a nice thick consistency.

In a separate pan, I heated some olive oil and added the spinach (about three handfulls) some garlic powder, cayenne, salt and about a tablespoon of vinegar.  I cooked it until it was just wilted and then set it aside.

To make the quesadillas, brown both sides of the tortilla in your choice of oil ( I used butter).  Then spread a generous dollop of the mashed bean mixture onto the tortilla, add the spinach and your choice of cheese.  Fold the tortilla in half and let the cheese melt for a few minutes and then remove from pan and slice in half with a pizza cutter.

I think the vinegar really brightened up the spinach and adds a nice punch to the mix.  It was yummo!

Sorry!  I am not much of a food photographer!