Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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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.
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!
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The only good thing about the garden season being over is that I don't have to worry about irrigation. Seriously, I don't like cold weather, I'm not crazy about short days and long nights and I miss the smell of fresh basil.
I planted onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips and spinach in the late summer and into the fall. The pic on the left is the parsnips, which were one of the summer plantings.
I also planted cauliflower in the middle of summer. Neither one did much, so I'm hoping they'll survive the winter and produce something in the spring.
The spinach is still underground, so I'm not worried about it, but everything else sprouted before winter hit hard. I'm not worried about everything surviving the cold, but I'm starting to seriously wonder whether I should go water everything.
Here's the broccoli
and the garlic.
Aaargh! Thanks to dirty water, finicky pumps and clogged sprinklers, I don't enjoy irrigation when it's 100 degrees outside! But I think everything's a little thirsty.
Whaddya think? Do I need to get out there with a watering can every now and then?
By Penny Stine
Monday, November 28, 2011
Usually, my wintertime tomato consumption is reduced to eating whatever I canned or dehydrated in the fall. I hate buying tomatoes in the grocery store. They're expensive, and they don't taste like tomatoes.
This year could be different.
In late October, when all my tomato plants looked tired and done for the season, one of the plants in a pot on my back patio looked like it wasn’t ready to give up the ghost. It had new blossoms and new tiny tomatoes. So I figured I’d bring it inside and see how it liked life in the living room, where we have a big bay window that faces south.
So far, the plant is doing just fine.
In fact, since I wrote this and took the photos (which I forgot to post last week), I've noticed new branches, more new blossoms and more tiny tomatoes! I don't think I'll ever have enough at any one time to do more than pop them in my mouth, but I don't care. Tasty, juicy tomatoes in the middle of winter will be a treat.
Perhaps I'll have five or six at a time and can put them in a salad.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do once I turn my living room into a greenhouse to start all my spring garden plants, since this tomato plant is hogging all the good sunshine on the plant shelf, but in the meantime, I'll savor every tiny tomato.