It’s still hot – and DRY ! I feel like I’ve spent all Summer watering the garden. It will be cold soon enough though, and we’ll be glad of the “stored heat” in all the things gathered and squirrelled away. I dug horseradish root on the weekend and added that to the already harvested cayenne, garlic and onions as a base for fire cider. Fresh ginger and turmeric made it in too, along with a few herbs that called out to me: rosemary, wild bergamot, calendula and echinacea. Heat to melt Winter’s cold !
Lamb’s Quarters (chenopodium album) is considered an edible weed. But go ahead and grow it on purpose. Put it with the kale and the lettuce; civilized like. Pampered, it’s much more tender, and cooked it is much tastier than spinach. Throw some radish greens into the mix. They’re prickly, but cooking sees to that. Oh, and add turnip tops; the bottoms do better in the fall anyway.
Heck, it is the heat (and the humidity). That’s southern Ontario for you; one week there’s frost warnings and the next, it’s a steam bath ! The garden has been taking up more of my time and things are coming along pretty good. The garlic is looking lovely ,
and our chums (cross between a cherry and a plum) blossomed profusely the last two weeks.
They’ve proved to be exceptionally hardy ! The other stone fruit trees didn’t fare so well. It was a hard winter on trees; we had a number of freeze thaw cycles. Then to top it all off, there were two ice storms in late winter/early spring. So, no blooms on the peach, apricot, plum or plumcot. They’ve all leafed out well except the peach which is limping along. Hopefully it will hang in there.
But hey, it is rhubarb season so time to celebrate! This year I decided to try rhubarb syrup. It makes a spectacularly pink elixir that was a welcomed treat with water and ice today. I thought it deserved a pretty name and came up with “Rhuby Slipper”. Not original alas, a quick google search showed others had similar thoughts. A refreshing local sub for lemonade !
Simmer 4 cups of chopped rhubarb with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water for ~20 to 30 minutes.
Strain and keep the syrup refrigerated. The leftover cooked rhubarb is great on toast.
Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of syrup to 8 – 10 oz of water (sparkling would be nice).
Serve with ice.
Put a Ukelele tune on (Wild Child)
Try to keep cool !
While we’re on the topic of cold drinks …
Dorothy’s Green Dream
In a blender that can handle ice:
Blend 4 cups of water, 2 lemons (peeled and seeded), 2 strips of lemon zest, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fresh french tarragon and 2 cups ice cubes.
Later in the season basil is good in place of the tarragon. Some day I’ll try mint.
I love when people take things and make them their own. I was revisiting a cake recipe today because I found my first two bakings too “wet” for my liking. I checked out the comments on the online recipe and sure enough there were some good suggestions. There were also several readers who wrote along the lines of, ” I loved this recipe – I just changed …” followed by a list of 4 or 5 things. This happens all the time with posted recipes, often the recipe is pretty unrecognizable by the end ! My smile for the day.
All this reminded me of leading art workshops. Some people follow the recipe and some people go off on their own and change everything (shout out to my friend Natali)! I cast my vote for enthusiastic self expression !
The fruits of my (changing) labour :
Winnie the Pooh and Rabbit Have Cake
Some honey for Pooh, some tart lemon for Rabbit, together they have cake. Or, if you don’t have a taste for whimsical you could call it Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes.
2 small organic lemons
4 large eggs
1 cup of honey
2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
Boil the lemons whole for 30 to 45 minutes, or until soft. Yes the whole thing, peel and all (thus organic lemons).
Cool the lemons, then cut open and remove seeds. Place lemons in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Add eggs, honey,almond flour, salt, baking powder and poppy seeds and pulse until well combined.
Scoop a generous 1/4 cup of batter into each paper lined cup in a 12 cup muffin tin.
Bake at 375 °F for 10 minutes, rotate pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more (or until done).
If you are feeling decadent, some lemon cream icing would be lovely !
Green is busting out all over and it sounds like Hallelujah ! No names do justice to the green dialects currently on display. Maybe I should be painting it, but instead I’m eating it, fermenting it, preserving it, planting it and spending my days letting my eyes just listen to it. Too soon everything will dress up in summer’s green and I’ll have to wait another year to pick up this conversation.
Chippy likes it too.
I was actively soliciting rain yesterday so that I wouldn’t have to water the garden. Well, nature delivered – in quantity ! It seems like we’re in for another stretch of cool weather. The tomatoes alas, will likely be staying green for longer. When it comes to weather you just can’t please everyone in the garden. But, when you diversify what you are growing usually somethings will do well. At the moment, the beans are particularly happy, so I’ve started making some lacto-fermented dilly beans. They’re awesome, and good for the tummy too ! Last year we tried dill pickles, and while our pickling cucumbers are still small, I found some at the farmers market so I could get more batches in this year.
PS: I use horseradish leaves in all my pickles so they stay nice and crunchy. Grape leaves also work, and possibly raspberry leaves, although I’ve never tried them.
With my stash of rendered beef tallow in hand I had a few projects I wanted to try. As an avid organic gardener, I’m always trying to keep the diversity of species around our house maximized. In addition to leaving seed bearing plants like sunflowers and cone-flowers standing through the fall and winter, we also have a couple of bird feeders I try and keep stocked. The tallow meant I could add another type of feeder. I’ve been inspired in a number of ways by the books of Irmgard Kutsch and Brigitte Walden about the Children’s Nature and Garden Centre in Reichshof, Germany. In Autumn they have a description of making a bird feeder from seeds and fat placed in a clay flower pot with a branch attached for a perch. The picture makes it all clear!
I hung this near our established feeder before Christmas. Then I waited – and waited. Come the beginning of January I was starting to worry that the birds wouldn’t figure out where the food was, or maybe the really cold temperatures were making the tallow too hard. This week, however, the birds proved me wrong and a chick-a-dee found the treasure ! After that all her friends joined in, including nuthatches and a downy woodpecker who is our biggest customer. While we see these birds eating seed from a feeder, in the spring and summer they are voracious eaters of insects (especially during nesting season). Our three friends all made the top 10 list of The Best Birds for Your Garden. Here’s hoping a little extra fat will help this winter !
The next use for tallow was in helping ME this winter. The dry conditions inside do a number on my skin, so I’m always on the lookout for an even better moisturizer. A little time on Google turned up this recipe which claims animal fats are much better for our skin (makes sense, us being animals and all). I used avocado oil instead of olive oil and added some shea butter for good measure. It has been working great so far !