Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Friday, December 23, 2011
Just in time to combat the January blahs, I opened my mailbox and found a wonderful present, the 2012 Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog! (go here to get yours)
This is a catalog to beat all catalogs. It's like the kind I vaguely remember my mom getting when I was a kid, with colorful, glossy pages and gorgeous pictures of vegetables, herbs and the occasional fruit.
I ordered plenty of seeds from Baker Creek last year, and I was going to blog about their performance compared to the seeds purchased from Park Seed or the ones I got at Bookcliff Gardens. Sadly, I never did.
I will say that I ordered a lot of exotic, unusual things from Baker Creek simply because they were offered, and many of them turned out to be so-so. Whether that was due to the growing conditions in our area and my garden, the seeds themselves or simply because I discovered that I don't care for the taste of tigger melons or Mexican sour gherkins (AKA mouse melons).
I also learned that quinoa doesn't grow here, at least not in the semi-shady area of my garden in which it was planted.
In spite of multiple busts last year, I will order seeds from Baker Creek again this year. I can't resist. Could you, after looking at these photos? When was the last time you got so excited about eggplant and squash? (And don't try to tell me that you don't find these photos exciting.)
By Carol Clark
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
During Thanksgiving I discovered I didn't have enough matching glasses for everyone at the table. Then I remembered seeing canning jars as drinking glasses in a magazine, so I tried it.
My unappreciative daughter visiting from Denver said,
"Grand Junction, where we drink out of canning jars and talk about how to kill chickens at Thanksgiving dinner." The poor thing has been away at college too long.
But, I loved the glasses and they are now the only glass I drink out of. And what better way to use all those empty jars in the winter months.
Searching the internet I found many other fun uses for jars and thought I would share them with you.
Drinking glasses - luxefind.com
Yarn holders to keep your yarn from tangling -HomeMadeSimple.com
Frosted candle Holders - Gleefulthings.com and theinspiredroom.net.
Silverware holder from Etsy.com
Lampshades - momprepares.com
Flower vases - Pinterest.com
Delicious baked cheesecakes - Theitaliandishblog.png
How do you use your empty jars?
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Faithful blog readers may remember the giant Hubbard squash my mom gave me back in October. It was so huge I split it with a wedge and a mall, as if I were a logger from Coos Bay, Oregon...
Then I cooked it (one half of the squash completely filled my oven, but fortunately, I have two ovens!) I froze it in plastic bags, ice cube trays and random plastic containers that used to hold sour cream, feta cheese or cream cheese. I wondered what I was going to do with all that frozen, cooked Hubbard squash.
The other day, my husband said he wanted four cheese mac and cheese, with Italian sausage. I never met a meal I couldn't add veggies to, so I decided to add some cubes of squash to the sauce. Then I decided to pick the last of the kale that was still standing in my garden, as well as some sage and throw that in, too.
I tossed in a handful of dehydrated tomatoes just 'cuz they're pretty.
The pasta was delish. I'm sure it was healthy, too, in spite of the Italian sausage and the entire bag of four cheese Italian blend (really, it was a small bag!) in it. I used whole grain elbow macaroni, but also used real cream in the sauce as well as the squash.
The cooked squash is great for thickening, adding a rich color and taste, although I'm sure the cream contributed to the richness, too.
I saved some of the Hubbard squash seeds back when I cooked it in October.
Guess what will be new in my 2012 garden?
By Penny Stine
Monday, December 12, 2011
What's a gardener to do when the southern bay window that's always held our Christmas tree in years' past now houses a giant plant shelf and an even bigger tomato plant that's still yielding tiny, tasty tomatoes?
Well, I'm certainly not getting rid of the tomato plant!
So my Christmas tree isn't visible from the curb this year. Big deal!
I could have done a better job stringing lights on the plant shelf, though. At least it's festive. Tacky, but festive.
By Carol Clark
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I am convinced that my husband's ancestors were Scandinavian sailors. He is light complected, burns easily in the sun, loves seafood and salt and can tell the weather by looking at the sky.
He gave way to temptation and ordered a couple dozen fresh oysters from Fisher's Market overnight ed from the Pacific. They were $13 per dozen including shipping. This is a small price to pay when you want some really fresh seafood.
If we lived by the sea I am sure we would have much experience harvesting and shucking beautiful, delicious oysters, but we are Colorado born, raised and seafood-ignorant. Here is what we learned about preparing barbecued oysters with garlic herb butter.
1. Never use a kitchen knife to open oysters. You will cut yourself. Nobody was hurt too badly.
2. Wear gloves. Those little suckers have some strong points that can lead to injuries.
3. The oysters should be closed tightly. Any already opened should be discarded.
4. Oysters don't like people prying them open and it can be frustrating. Calm down and ignore your spouse who is fainting with hunger.
5. Carefully pry with the flat shell up so you don't spill the delicious juice. Disconnect the muscle from both shells.
6. When you are ready to eat grab the shell with two fingers and your thumb and slide it into your mouth. You don't want to take small bites because you don't want to see what is inside the oyster!
Olan's Oyster Recipe
First make garlic herb butter by mixing softened butter with garlic lemon juice, green onions, dill, thyme, basil, parsley. Roll it into a log and wrap it in plastic and refrigerate.
After you have your oysters opened and loosened in their shells nestle each one in rock salt in a heat proof pan. This insures that the oyster won't turn over and lose it's juice.
Cut thin slices of herb butter and place on each oyster.
Place the pan on the barbecue until the juices in the clam shells were bubbling.
Make sure to slurp your oyster correctly by tipping your head back and enjoying the flavors as they savor in your mouth.
We didn't realize how tough those little guys were going to be but it was definitely worth it in the end!