Monday, January 28, 2008

Gardening-Planting seeds for transplant & Greens Recipe

Yesterday I worked in my garden. Finally, all my seeds for transplant this spring are sown and tucked away in the cold frame Byron made for me. If the temperature drops too much, I can just plop down the window and have a little green house. I planted several types of tomatoes and peppers, celery, and artichoke. I'm really not sure if artichoke will thrive here. I don't know anyone who has grown any in our area, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Our area is famous for their Creole tomatoes. Myself? I have very limited success with tomatoes. I believe I need to pay more attention to the soil make-up and get the plants in the ground earlier. There are these horrible sucking bugs called "stink bugs" that descend upon my tomatoes every summer and leave them looking sickly and pale with pin pricks covering the surface. I tried controlling them one year by getting up early and sweeping them into jars of soapy water. The soap seemed to kill them. All of the old timers in the area cover their tomatoes with a cloud of seven dust, yuck. That takes away any of the pleasure in eating a home grown tomato. This year I am going to conquer or at least make progress in this area. I'm keeping my chin up in my toxic free oasis. If anyone has experience with these bugs, please your advice is more than welcome.

I also planted some garlic that had sprouted. This is the first time I have grown garlic. They require a very long growing season, so I planted the first batch about a month and a half ago. I think they're doing well, but I'm really not sure. There isn't a previous personal crop to compare them to.

I checked on the beets and they are forming globes, small still. The turnips are also making little pink orbs. My family loves "greens". Collards, mustards, and turnip greens make a great combination in this classic Southern Country dish. The local Creoles also have a traditional dish called Verde Gumbo. Its basically a green gumbo. All greens you have available are used in it. This is where I learned that carrot greens can be cooked with other greens and seasonings for a yummy dish.

Classic Southern "Greens" A tradition in our family
Portions vary you just kinda throw in what you have.

Bunch of Mustard Greens chopped
Bunch of Collard Greens chopped
Bunch of Turnip Greens chopped
Cup of Onions chopped fine
Cup of Celery chopped fine
Cup of Bell Pepper chopped fine
Smoked Sausage cut in pieces
Optional Bacon (Nitrate free)
Tony Chachere's (Cajun Seasoning- we eat everything "Well seasoned" as a friend from Gaithersburg said)
Olive oil or Vegetable oil or bacon grease (if you want to be authentic)

Method: Add oil to a large pot (if your using bacon, fry bacon crispy first) on a high fire sautee onions, bell peppers, celery and sausage (and bacon) til transparent. Add all greens and a cup or so of water. Sprinkle as generously as you dare with Tony Chachere's. Reduce heat and simmer until greens are completely wilted and some of the water has cooked out. (Cajuns prefer everything cooked to death)

All you have to do now is to eat it as is, or for a real feast, serve with corn bread and a sizzling pan fried pork chop. I'm making myself hungry! When I was growing up, this meal was prepared more times than I can remember. I guess I'm just dreaming about when I can go pick a "mess of collards". I did get to pick a head of broccoli Sunday and Byron and I ate it in our salads. Oh yes, the peas are making their first blossoms as well. A real blessing about living in our area, is the growing season really doesn't end. It just slows down and speeds up!

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