Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Salad Days

Too hot after (miraculously) watering everything and tying the tomatoes to do much else than reflect upon a favorite quote from Baltimore filmmaker John Waters: "Iceberg lettuce is the polyester of greens."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice in the Potager

Tidying things up a bit today after my vacation, I was surprised to see how tall my eggplant had gotten, along with a exuberant dill flower.  I've always had terrible luck with flea beetles completely destroying my eggplant, so I was cheered by their height.  I have a favorite recipe from Madhur Jaffrey for fried eggplant in a spicy green herb oil, as well a "napoleon" made with crispy eggplant, tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil oil.

Dismaying in their still petite stature were my basil and hot peppers.  I should be happy the basil has not succumbed to this new fungus that is apparently attacking basil here in Maryland, but it is putting a damper on my dreams of caprese salad!  The hot peppers are puzzling in their lack of height, and is worrisome for my dreams of hot sauce.  I think a call to the Cooperative Exchange may be in order!

Unfortunately, my hard drive has bit the dust, so I'm not sure when I will be including photos again, but bear with this green-thumbed Luddite, please!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sunflowers, 0. Creatures, 3.

Every year I've lived here, I've planted all sorts of sunflowers along the fence line just behind my potager.  The first year was the greatest success, and I was able to enjoy some sunnies I had rescued in the nick of time: dwarf, teddy bear, chianti.  But even then, it seemed that if the birds and squirrels didn't eat the seeds, the rabbits would graze the seedlings.  Last year, I bypassed direct sowing altogether (which is my preferred method for most things), and planted some little starters I had coaxed along.  Not one made it, even with my efforts at protecting the area with a net and then each seedling with rings of stakes.  Ironically, the potager is literally one step away yet its bounty remained untouched.  So, this year I decided I would just let nature sort it out again.  I emptied four packets of sunflower seeds and my saved seeds from my lone successful year into an empty jar, along with moonflowers and nasturtiums, mixed them with a shake, and planted them along the fence row.  I had read that rabbits detest garlic, so I planted a row of garlic, and for good measure, a row of onions in front of my seed line.  Then, for experimental purposes, I crumbled handful after handful of dried red peppers around.  I thought the combined smells would deter les lapins, without the nonsense of me driving to the store and purchasing a bag of dried blood.  So far, I am seeing the moonflowers' leaves unfurl, a profusion of nasturtium, and nothing else.  Bummer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meeeltiing...I'm Meeeeeltiiingggg!!

Feels like a zillion degrees with 200 % humidity outside...ah, welcome to summer in the lovely Mid-Atlantic states.  (Is it even summer yet?!)  Each course from dinner last night had a garden ingredient in it.  Don't you relish that feeling?  I grilled pork chops rubbed with olive oil, s & p, smashed garlic, and chopped oregano, thyme, and rosemary.  Nice green salad with mixed lettuces and a simple vinaigrette.  Then my dad treated us all to vanilla milkshakes made with heaps of strawberries.  Nothing better.

Here's the front edge of my potager, with the kids' garden in the background.  I love the jumble of textures and colors.

Potato flowers.  I planted red, Yukon Gold, and blue this year but I cannot remember in which order.  These are either the red or the blue potatoes.

Here's Maya's broccoli, which we will pick soon.  I love mine steamed yet crisp with a caper and browned butter sauce I found in a Nigella Lawson book.  Maya prefers hers with just some butter.  Alexander eats whatever I serve him, my biggest fan.