September in the Garden

garden-trellis

fruits-of-septemberSeptember is, quite literally, a fruitful month in Vermont gardens.  Melons finish their journey to ripeness, apples and pears are ready in orchards, fall raspberry canes bow with the weight of fruit, and tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants continue to mature in gardens.  In our sunny southern sloping garden, we’re excited to be growing these heat-loving treats so successfully.  It is also a time for preservation as we prepare for impending frost.  Vegetables like kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans can be blanched and frozen.  Ingredients for salsa, tomatoes, pesto, hot sauce, and apple sauce are all ready to be harvested and canned.  Almost any vegetable or fruit from the garden can be pickled.

Here are a selection of some of my favorite recipes that may help inspire you to enjoy the bounty September has to offer:

Tomatillos-and-tomatoes

Salsa – Our basic recipe and ideas for inventive iterations.

sungold-harvest

This most delicious way to highlight cherry tomatoes.

IMG_8967

Pan Seared Eggplant, which would be great with Dukkah sprinkled liberally on top.

raspberries

Flourless chocolate cake, featured annually in our household smothered in fall raspberries.

pesto-recipe

Pesto – consider swapping another nut or seed for pine nuts, another cheese for parmesan, or another herb for basil.  So many opportunities for great flavored sauces!

pickles

Pickles and fermented veggies – The idea I always fall back on at the end of the day.  Almost any favorite vegetable or fruit can be pickled.  However (even more beneficially) wilty, less favorite, or overly abundant things can be pickled with equal success.

Wishing you a happy harvest season!

Posted in Home Gardens, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vermont Tree Goods

Spalted-butterfly-close-up

 

I’m excited to be writing to announce a new job!  I admittedly have been working at Vermont Tree Goods for a few months.   Between this transition, several summer weddings to attend, and lots + lots of gardening, I’m just now sitting down to make the official announcement.  My hopes for this professional transition is to have a job that leaves me with energy to cook, garden, and go on outdoor adventures when I’m not at work.  So far so good!

 

John-with-Picnic-Maple-Slabs2

 

Vermont Tree Goods mills planks and creates furniture from trees that have reached the end of their growing years. Through the transformation into furniture these magnificent beings extend their legacy by living on in homes and businesses.  Large old trees really do make spectacular slabs, which make beautiful table tops and other furniture.
bed-knock-out
My role at this new Bristol, VT business is to do pretty much everything that doesn’t have to do with sawing wood or building furniture.  It’s really nice to be working for a dynamic new business selling such high quality products with a spirit of environmentalism at its core. Check out the website: www.vermonttreegoods.com to see photos and learn more about the company and follow us on your favorite social media sites (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest) to stay in touch.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 3.12.55 PM

 

If you know of anyone who might be interested in our work, please help spread the word!  If you’re in Bristol, stop by to visit me Tuesday-Friday 11am-5pm (call ahead: (802) 453 – 4544 to confirm I’m working).  The showroom is also open 11am-5pm on Saturdays.

 

VTG-Showroom

 

alive-richmond-elm-2-1

 

Cherry-Slabs

 

MCT101e white windows
Posted in Musings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fresh-from-the-Garden Spring Rolls

Sometimes you just don’t have the time to dive into a multi-step recipe.  Summer days are often quite full of activity.  But summer is also the time when beautiful fresh ingredients abound.   Spring rolls to the rescue!  All you need to do ahead of time is keep a package of thin rice-paper spring roll wrappers on hand.  Follow the directions on the package, adding whatever fresh herbs and veggies are in season to make a beautiful but easy meal.  It can be fun to lay out the different ingredient choices and have each person make their own.  After ingredients are prepped, it only takes a minute or two for assembly.

spring-roll-ingredients

Delicious ingredient options:

-Any fresh herbs on hand: I love thai basil, regular basil, cilantro, mint, scallions, and parsley.

-Edible flower petals: It never hurts to add extra color inside and out!

-Thinly sliced veggies: really this can be any veggie you like eating raw.  Be conservative in your amounts – it is easy to be tempted to over-stuff your rolls.

-Protein and fat: A great way to use leftovers!  Sliced avocados, already cooked fish, pulled or ground meat, tofu (see below), toasted sesame seeds, strips of omelet, or bits or sausage or bacon turn your spring rolls into a satisfying and complete meal.

-Pickles: I prefer the garlicy gingery spark of kimchi in my spring rolls, but really any freshly fermented veggie will do.

-Leftovers: Do you have small amounts of cooked veggies, meat, or beans left over from a previous meal?  Include them in your ingredient offerings.

-Sauce: Dipping sauce is what really makes spring rolls so yummy.  The simplest option is a mixture of whatever of the following items you like and have on hand: soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic, hot sauce, miso, olive oil and/or sesame oil.  Be sure to include at least one salty ingredient, something sour, and an oil.  I like to mix in a generous dollop of peanut butter for a wonderful peanut dipping sauce.

Thinking ahead?  Marinate some tofu. This is great to do in the morning before going to work.  Drain tofu and put into a container with soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic, and sesame oil and shake gently.  Smear with a thin layer of miso paste and leave to marinate during the day. You can also give the same treatment to shredded carrots or sliced cucumbers for some yummy quick pickles.

spring-rolls

Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summery Garden Recipes

harvest

I’ll admit it: I’m not a recipe follower.  My approach in the kitchen is to start with whatever item we have in abundance, add spices or flavorings that we didn’t just eat in the past few meals, taste, adjust, and enjoy.

This leads to a broad diversity of results that carry us through weeks of enjoyable seasonal meals.  But sometimes I feel the need to switch things up.  To try something new.  Or to use some new combination of flavors I just wouldn’t have thought of when trying to pull together a quick dinner from scratch.

Sometimes, especially starting around August, I also start to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of certain veggies and tired of my standard way of preparing them.  Bring on the recipes!

Here are a few ideas we’ve enjoyed this summer:

beet-risotto

Beet Risotto: Crafted by a friend and creative chef, this fun combination, enhanced by a generous amount of lemon zest, was a great way to enjoy our first true harvest of beets.  Check out her other recipes if you ever need in-season inspiration!

kale-ribbons

kale-salad

Raw Kale Salad: I was doubtful at first – I don’t love raw kale or dishes without enough sour, salt, and fat to balance out kale’s strong bitter green roughage.  It turns out the trick is in fine cutting and dressing ahead of time.  Yum!

rainbow-pizza

Rainbow pizza: When I saw this online in January, I immediately thought: “I can’t wait to try this in August!”  If the cauliflower crust in this recipe intimidates you, try it with a regular crust.

zucchini-fritters

Zucchini Fritters: After inventing a handful of variations on meals featuring zucchini and summer squash, I was excited to find this one to add to my repertoire.

Homemade fudgesicles: Ok, we didn’t grow any of the ingredients in this one.  AND, we ate them all without taking a picture.  BUT, it is a simple recipe with relatively whole foods and very delicious results!  I especially appreciated how the subtle sourness of the yogurt enhanced the overall flavor of these delicious cold treats.

Be sure to send your favorite summer veggie recipes my way, I’m always in need of new ideas!

Posted in Home Gardens, Musings, Personal Sustainability: How-To, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

July in our Vermont Garden

Ahhh, July.  In our Vermont garden, July means…

Days that actually feel summery.

sunny-cucumbers

Drought.

Followed (hopefully) by dramatic afternoon thunderstorms (hopefully not too dramatic).

lake-storm

First tastes of beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, husk cherries, tomatillos, basil, summer squash, raspberries, and sweet corn.

late-july-harvest

Followed quickly by an overwhelming abundance of beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, husk cherries, tomatillos, basil, summer squash, raspberries, and sweet corn.

Saying goodbye to peas and asparagus.  See you next spring!

end-of-pea-season

A chance to try out colorful sunshine-infused recipes I collected in the dark depths of winter.

Rainbow-Salsa-Ingredients

A relief from constant mowing as dry parts of the lawn turn crispy brown.

A proliferation of one garden bug, worm, beetle, or another.

japanese-beetle-harvest

Knowing that the hotter, sweatier, and dirtier I get, the better jumping in the lake will feel.

Lake-Champlain

Posted in Home Gardens, Musings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Celebrating Beauty in Daily Life

Events near and far over the past few weeks have provided me with a steady stream of reminders to cherish the bounty, beauty, and stability of my daily life.   It is an incredible luxury to live in such a beautiful place AND have the time to tend a bountiful garden, walk regularly in the forest, swim in the lake, and prepare meals with delicious fresh whole foods.  Here are some pictures I took while remembering to intentionally soak in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures in and around our home.

I am grateful for:

edible-flowers

Edible flowers

view-from-philo

The view from Mt. Philo, and that Mt. Philo is in my back yard

daily-harvests

Daily harvests

shades-of-green

Shades of green

sunsets

Camp porch sunsets

grandmother-trees

Grandmother trees

this-breakfast

Tasting the rainbow

sharing-the-harvest

Having food to share – with friends and wildlife

orange-yolks

Orange yolks

Lake-Champlain

Long swims in Lake Champlain

food-as-art

Food as art

rainbows

Standing out in the sun and rain to admire a rainbow

wheelbarrow-of-weeds

A full wheelbarrow of weeds

patterns-in-nature

Having time to notice beauty in nature

 

Posted in Home Gardens, Musings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Garden Pest E-rabbit-cation

mr macgregor

Err… I mean garden pest eradication.  My focus in the garden has transitioned from weeding to pest eradication.  Yes, there are still weeds, but when I walked through the garden several mornings ago and found pea vines snipped from their roots, a major pruning of our aronia bushes, AND the my first sighting of cucumber and Japanese beetles, I realized my priorities needed to change quickly!

Read this post to see some great pictures and get practical tips to eradicate our most common garden pests organically.

This post puts a nice twist on garden mysteries and will help you avoid garden pest disasters.  We realized this week that baby bunnies could fit through the holes in our garden fence.  Uh oh!  We’re now lining the bottom section of our fence with chicken wire, which has smaller holes.  Meanwhile, I’ve been channeling my inner Mr. McGregor and literally running through the rows chasing baby bunnies out of the garden with my rake!

garden-rabbit-removal

Speaking of channeling book characters, I’ve also been working on my Captain Hook impersonation.  Armed with long sleeves, pants, and a sharp machete, I’ve been busy axing down mature parsnip plants.  A machete is much better than a weed whacker which will spray plant juices everywhere.  The juices of the parsnip make your skin highly sensitive to the sun, leaving burns that take months to go away.  It is important to fell these irritating plants now before their seeds mature and create thousands of baby parsnips.

machete-parsnips

Despite my recent focus on death and destruction, I’m now feeling much more happy and calm when I wander through the garden each morning.  I no longer have to worry about finding plants mysteriously felled or infested now that our pest populations are being kept at bay and our neighborhood rabbits are locked out.  They’ll have to look elsewhere for their next yummy meal of peas, beet greens, and lettuce.

mid-july-garden

Posted in Home Gardens, School Gardens, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments