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Home Gardens Musings Recipes Uncategorized

Summer Garden Bounty

The end of July and beginning of August are an exciting time for Vermont gardeners.  Finally we enjoy a huge diversity of sun-ripened fruits, berries, and vegetables from our gardens and farms.  We’ve been savoring first raspberries, blueberries, cucumbers, fennel, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, broccoli, onions, garlic, and beets.  Waiting all these months, of course, makes it all much more exciting and delicious.

garden goodies

After several long rainy weeks, we’ve been enjoying a stretch of sunny low-humidity days and cool nights.  Though it’s meant fewer lake swims, it has been perfect weather for daily weeding sessions, keeping up with the ever-growing lush green lawn, and kitchen cooking projects.

End of July Garden

In the kitchen, I excitedly pickled a batch of kohlrabi, fennel, and beets.  They flavors and colors are blending wonderfully, turning bright pink (click here to learn more about natural fermentation).

July Pickles

buckwheat pancakes

I’ve also been LOVING a newly discovered recipe for Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes.  Buckwheat is a really interesting “grain” and  offers a unique alternative to wheat.  This recipe sprouts and sours the buckwheat, making it even more nutritious and digestible.  The pancakes were nutty and tender with crisp edges (be sure to use plenty of grass-fed butter in your pan), and a perfect vehicle for the delicious fruits and berries that are now in season. 

Happy harvesting, happy feasting!

lake sunset

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Home Gardens Musings Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes Uncategorized

July in the Garden and Kitchen

Vermonters are basking in a string of sunny summery days after many many (many) days of rain.  The change in weather means I can finally deal with the grass and weeds that have been happily growing in our lawn and garden.  I’ve also been able to enjoy the best part of summer in VT: after-work swims in Lake Champlain.

Lake in July

Over the past several weeks I realized I’d posted blogs in previous years about many of the seasonal tasks I was busy with in the kitchen and garden.  I’ve included a recap and links below, in addition to a delicious nourishing shortcake recipe we’ve been enjoying with our freshly picked strawberries and whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Nourishing Strawberry Shortcake: This recipe involves soaking the flour in yogurt 24 hours before baking.  To learn more about how this makes flour products more nourishing and digestible, check out this article and video.  (recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

Ingredients: 2 cups white flour, 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup yogurt/buttermilk/kefir, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 3 tablespoons maple syrup.

  1. Mix yogurt and flour.  It will be a very stiff dough, don’t worry.  Cover and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  2. Melt butter.  Mix butter and maple syrup into dough.  In a small dish, mix baking soda and salt, breaking up any little balls of baking soda.  Sprinkle dry mixture onto dough and mix, just until ingredients are barely combined.
  3. Divide dough into apx. 12 balls and place on baking sheet.  They will spread a bit while baking.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Enjoy with fresh strawberries and whipped cream!

biscuits

strawberriesStrawberry Season in VT: This year’s strawberry season was admittedly rain-drenched.  Luckily I was able to sneak in a few mornings of before-work picking.  We’ve been enjoying plenty of fresh berries in all our meals, and froze several gallons for the winter.  Check out this blog post to learn how to quickly freeze berries so that they stay delicious and easy to use in the future.

Other Firsts from the Garden: The last several weeks have brought the first crunchy harvests.  We’ve been enjoying kohlrabi and sugar snap peas in addition to plentiful lettuce, spinach, chard, and herbs.  And just a few days ago we picked the first handful of raspberries from our bushes.  It’s really starting to feel like July!

Crunchy first harvest

And Speaking of HerbsI’ve been enjoying going out to the field and garden each morning to gather leaves for my pregnancy tea blend (also gentle and delicious for other people): nettles, raspberry leaf, and mint.  ‘Tis the season to harvest herbs you’d like to freeze or dry.  Harvest most herbs now – they’re best when young and tender.  Check out this blog post to learn about harvesting and preserving herbs.

Tea Leaves

Garden Pests: Many flying garden pests are busy laying eggs at this time of year.  If you monitor your plants closely, squishing mating pairs of insects and any eggs they’ve laid (often on the undersides of leaves), you can prevent their population from booming in your garden.  This post has more information about pest control in the garden.

squash bugs

Granola: In the summer I find myself wanting something cool and fruity for breakfast – a big swing from my savory broth, soaked oats, and egg-based breakfasts of winter.  Unfortunately store-bought cold cereals and pasteurized milk are a pretty tough way to start the day for my digestive system.  Plus, they are often loaded with crazy ingredients and sugar and leave me craving more.  Thank goodness for my favorite nourishing homemade granola, homemade kefir or yogurt, freshly picked berries, and local raw milk!  Note to self – next year make a lot of granola early in the spring when the oven heat is appreciated in the kitchen.

Homemade Granola

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Home Gardens Musings Uncategorized

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

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Home Gardens Recipes School Gardens Uncategorized

Invent Your Own Salad

Ahh, we’re enjoying more variety from the garden every day!  In the past few weeks we’ve enjoyed our first fennel, kohlrabi, beets, baby carrots, cucumbers, basil, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, edible flowers… the list grows and grows.  With such a large variety of fresh crunchy delicious items, I need to be increasingly creative to turn the day’s harvest into a meal.  My solution: “invent your own salad!”

Hmmm... how can this all go together in a tasty way?
Hmmm… how can this all go together in a tasty way?

Salads come in all shapes, sizes, and mixtures.  They’re flexible, and can include almost anything your garden grows.  They can be leafy and green, or crunchy with rainbow colors.  Here are the things I keep in mind when inventing a salad.

  • Don’t add EVERYTHING.  Feature 3-6 different items so that each flavor isn’t lost in the mix.
  • Start by thinking about what you have.  Then decide what other items might taste good with that flavor.
  • Consider briefly blanching (and then quickly cooling) certain items like broccoli, green beans, or beets before adding them into a salad along with raw veggies.  This brings our their sweetness and can make them easier to digest.
  • edible-flower-harvestGrow edible flowers.  They’re fun to eat, attract pollinators to your garden, and add color to your plate!
  • Pair veggie flavors with dressings.  I love beets with balsamic vinegar, asparagus or peas with creamy dijon dressing, basil and tomatoes with oil and vinegar, and cucumbers with soy or miso dressing.  Taste test and discover your favorite combinations.
  • When concocting a dressing, follow this simple equation: sour + flavor + salt + fat.  For example, balsamic vinegar + garlic + salt + olive oil.  Or lemon juice + garlic + mustard + salt + olive oil.   Make sure to include some fat in your dressings so that you can absorb the fat-soluble vitamins from your veggies.  And of course, always take time to adjust to taste.
  • Do you naturally ferment or pickle veggies?  Try using your leftover brine as a starting point for your next salad dressing.
  • Love it?  Write it down!  This can be especially fun with kids.  They can invent their own recipes and collect recipe cards in their own recipe box.  Salads are very flexible, so they’re a great place to start.

Here’s a recent crunchy salad we enjoyed, inspired by the recent arrival of early stem and root crops from the garden:

  • Cut several carrots, 1 beet, and 1 kohlrabi into match stick sized pieces
  • Finely chop up several fennel fronds
  • Add 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 1/4 c. olive oil, a splash of maple syrup, and a dash of salt
  • Mix everything together and adjust to taste
  • Crumble feta cheese on top

crunchy-july-saladWant more information or ideas?  Here’s our garlicky dijon dressing recipe, cilantro lime dressing recipe, parts of plant coleslaw recipe, and my thoughts on edible flowers.

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Children and Nature Recipes

Fun in the Sun

When I was in seventh grade, we were given the choice to  study anything we wanted.  Most classmates picked their favorite athlete, hobby, or food.  I picked Time.  Whew, that was a challenge to put into a paper and presentation!

This week at camp, we’re making sure to have fun in the sun.  When working with children, I still think it is fascinating to notice how the rotation of our earth and the sun are linked to the rhythms of seasons and time.    There are great legends from many cultures that can be read to explain the sun’s journey across the sky, the change in seasons, and the passage of time.  This week my campers created a human sun dial and shadow circus (photos and explanations below).  More important than understanding the physics and astronomy, I think these activities help us observe our surroundings and consider the other living things in our ecosystem in a new and interesting way.

human-sun-dial

sun-dialHuman Sun Dial: Stand on black top in the morning and trace your feet.  Every hour, draw a line under the shadow that your body is making.  The next day, stand in your foot prints, look at your shadow, and find out what time it is!  How does your shadow change over the course of the day?

chalk-drawingsShadow Circus: Have a friend trace your shadow.  Add silly clothes, awesome hair-dos, fun pets, and more!  Notice how your shadow is a giant in the morning and in the evening and a midget in the middle of the day.  What does this tell you about the path of the sun?

 

sunny-cucumbersEarly July Recipes: Meanwhile, the garden is loving the sun!  Our weather has been great for growing this year.  Check out these links to past posts for in-season recipe ideas: