Appetite Blogging

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Remember: giants sleep too soundly; [W]itches are often betrayed by their appetites; dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always; hearts can be well-hidden, and you can betray them with your tongue.

~Neil Gaiman “Instructions

* Just now, a few days out from Lughnasadah and a few weeks ahead of Mabon, I’ve been thinking a lot about food. About Witches and their appetites.

I’ve mentioned that this past, bitter-cold Winter killed off most of the plants in my herb bed. I lost half a dozen giant, old rosemary bushes, new lavender plants, a huge colony of German mountain sage . . . . Early this Spring, I was lamenting my loss to Landscape Guy when he reminded me that I never managed to use or give away enough of those herbs. He suggested that I look at my loss as an opportunity, as a chance to grow more of my own food here, on my little Bit of Earth.

Of course, he was right.

My herb bed is small, but I bought a grow light and put in six (way too many) pattypan squash plants, fish pepper plants, CalRed Pepper plants, Swiss chard, (too many) bok choys, lettuce, French Breakfast radishes, two new rosemary plants, and dill. The French thyme and French tarragon came back. I harvested more garlic than I can imagine using and put sunflowers in where the garlic had been.

I also grew cardoons, which I’ve always heard taste like artichokes. I’m counting the cardoons as a failure. The plants are huge, but they don’t taste like artichoke to me — they just taste bitter. I’m going to try blanching them to see if that helps. Otherwise, out they come.

But everything else has been producing more food than I can eat. I am eating a healthier diet, simply trying to keep up with all of those greens (and squash!). I’ve been freezing what I can, and giving some away, but my freezer’s almost full. Landscape Guy says I should get a separate freezer and freeze enough to make soup all Winter, and I may do it, once I’m sure that we’ve finally stopped the basement from flooding in our heavy, GCC (global climate change, according to G/Son) rains.

G/Son will pick squash and peppers for me (a skinny eight-year-old can really squeeze between the plants), but what he really loves, for some reason, is to pull a plant up whole from the ground. He’s not a big fan of eating bok choy, but he loves to pull a big, fat bok choy plant up from out of the ground and take it home with him. His mom grills them for a salad. Today, he kept pulling the radishes: “Just one more Nonna. Look this is big. Wait, I found a bigger one. They get fat under ground. I found another. You can make soup from the greens, OK?”

He likes to eat carrots and, next year, I am totally going to grow some carrots for him to pull out of the ground.

* Okra is a real Southern vegetable. The little plants produce a bounty here, but the secret (just as it is with, ahem, pattypan squash) is to get outside everyday and pick the fruits while they are small. I’ve been serving these to all of my guests, to good reviews, although I substitute thyme for the oregano.

* I eat the radishes sliced quite thin and placed on a slice of good bread spread with butter. Heaven.

* I’m still looking for a recipe for fish pepper sauce.

What are you growing? What are you cooking? What are you preserving for later? What will you grow less of next year?

Picture found here.

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3 responses to “Appetite Blogging

  1. Tomatoes were quite a failure this year — sigh — will try yet next year, again next year! Way too much sage but no basil ; the garlic chives are in bloom and the bees are still buzzing the oregano (I keep thinking they would be finished by now) …… reminding myself to make a list …… must try Swiss chard next year too ….. hot, hot hot here …… rain managed to slip right by our area without so much as a drop …..watering is a twice daily task ….

  2. Every year is different. This year is the year of cucumbers and tomatillos. Salsa verde here we come! I dream of having enough okra to pickle. Alas, here in the pacific northwest it remains a dream.

  3. Yes, every year different, Something will burgeon each year and produce nothing at all for three years after, so I get a different bounty and learn to cook all over again each year. In our garden, asparagus (done for this year), filet beans, mixed lettuce, pickling cukes, two summer and four winter squashes, carrots, chard, cantaloupes, four kinds of greens including two reseeding as volunteers, tomatoes, pepppers, kohlrabi (because wireworms tunnel into turnips and radishes here unless you use poisons, and I won’t), and cilantro, dill, and hyssop. There’s thyme and catnip in the flowerbed, and the beebalm (lavender flowering monarda) that makes better herb tea than you can buy anywhere. Someone in the state fair barns told me how she had a freezer and filled it annually with a pig, a lamb, and a goat from an organic farm. I was intrigued and now do the same with a quarter of beef and some chickens, surrounded by veggies, soups piled full of greens, fruits, homemade bread, and boxes of spare leftovers. It’s so nice to come home on a snowy evening and have a steaming bowl of stew with last summer’s vegetables or to make shortcake for a December breakfast from the strawberries we picked in June.

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