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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Been away from this blog too long

Now that we've gotten our first freeze, and the garden is wearing a mantle of frost, it's time to hunker down for winter and start thinking of winter menus, and winter projects, like planning next years garden.

Tonight will be an easy lamb chop, baked potato and salad dinner and tomorrow night we'll turn on the fireplace and have some cheese fondue and I'll make some kind of dessert to go with that. Monday I'm making a seafood and chicken gumbo and taking it over to our sons place. He's flying in before the family to open up the house and take care of some other things and it will be easier for us to just take dinner over there. Plus, he has a great wine cellar and likes to share even his best wines, so we'll have a good dinner, great wine and some time alone before all the rest of the family and friends arrive for a full house of family and friends for Thanksgiving at their place.

My garden did pretty well this year. This is my second year doing the square food gardening in two 4X8 by 2feet deep beds. The only thing that didn't do well for me in the beds were the bell and frying peppers and beets and I don't know why. The hot peppers in the grow box system did great, so I think I have to check the soil in the square foot beds. Lettuce, arugula, beans, tomatoes, kale, carrots, onions, broccoli, celery, spinach,fava beans etc. did great. But the beets were just leaves with almost no root, and the pepper plants looked stunted. So I need to find their ideal PH and either adjust it or just continue to grow the peppers in the grow boxes where they do very well. I may just get another one of those grow boxes next spring. Last year I did Eggplant in the grow box and it did great. This year I skipped the egg plant altogether since I plated some at our sons place. I didn't grow any squash here for the same reason, but I may try one plant next year. There's an Italian heirloom zucchini that I really like. It will probably take up four squares, but I decided against doing fava beans again only because you really need to grow a lot of get anything worth cooking. I think I got about a cup from 18 plants - just not worth giving up that much space in two raised beds for so little food.

I had major surgery almost 3 months ago to repair a paraesophageal hernia and that took at least two months out of my garden and studio time since surgeons order were no bending or lifting for 8 weeks. Fortunately I had started a lot of seeds indoors and done a lot of my early spring planting before I went in for surgery, so the beds were about half planted and I finished the rest in late May. 

I'm now waiting for this sudden cold spell to leave and when it warms up a bit I'll be out there pulling up tomato and bean cages and cleaning out the rest of the non producing square.We got our first freeze two days ago which is very late, so we got lucky with a lot of late tomatoes and lettuce. My winter lettuce is covered with heavy remay but it went down to 19F the other night, and I doubt if the lettuce survived that even with the heavy remay.

I got a few winter saffron crocus bulbs planted a couple of weeks ago and did some late summer planting of lettuce as well as clean up some of the squares in the beds. There are about ten or twelve yellow tulip bulbs in the fridge which I haven't gotten around to planting, and if the ground freezes too much and I can't plant them, I'll just put them in pots in soil and force them in the spring for the house. I'm also, slowly getting back to some studio time and after the holidays will get into a more regular routine.

There's still some more testing to do with slips and decorating techniques with this new body of earthenware that I'm transitioning to after about 40 years of working in high fire reduction and then soda and salt firing the last twelve years. It's been frustrating at times making such a big shift, and it's been almost a year of testing. You can't get much progress in pottery in six months or even a year especially if you're only working part time and dealing as I was with a medical issue and settling in to a new home; but I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

We have settled in pretty well in a year and a half, done a lot of work to the house, added a new range top and vent which is making my cooking chores a joy. The old range top was woefully inadequate - no power to speak of. My new one isn't perfect for the burners are amazingly powerful. Every burner has the power that a wok burner would have. It took a bit getting used to all that power. The simmer doesn't simmer. It boils, so I just learned to shift the pot off to the side. I have to check out their website and see if they've come up with a fix or a plate that you can put over the burner when you need to simmer something.

Well, that's it for this long overdue blog update. Hope everyone had a great summer and fall and are looking forward to winter pleasures.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Check out my friend Lora's blog today. She takes you on a tour of one of the most amazing food shops you'll ever see in Munich, Germany. Enjoy!

A lot has gone on since my last post. Over two months ago I had surgery to repair a really bad paraesophageal hernia and was in the hospital 5 days and am just starting to feel like my old self ten weeks later.  Fortunately my physical activity was only limited to heavy work and bending (it's not easy bending over with an 8 or 9" scar from your solar plexus down to below your navel), so I've been able to get a lot of time doing sitting and standing  chores which meant cooking and computer work. There was no garden time except to harvest veggies and plant some seeds in my raised veggie beds. Doctors orders were strict - no studio work, bending or heavy lifting for 8 weeks.

The past couple of weeks I've been back in my pottery studio a bit, but the heavy lifting of those slip and glaze buckets is not going over well, so I'm spending more time on my computer and in the kitchen.

After breakfast yesterday I made a nutty fruity breakfast bread. I got the recipe on the King Arthur site and it's our favorite breakfast bread . Since I had pottery related chores in the afternoon, I decided to make dinner early. It was a cold, rainy morning and a pot of hearty Tuscan bean, sausage, escarole, potato and carrot soup seemed like a good choice. I only made 1/3 or the recipe and that's enough for two meals for the two of us.

My husband celebrated his 80th birthday Saturday and we went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant  in Talent - Sammy's Cowboy bistro. It's a very upscale establishment, and not like the name implies. and we had a fabulous dinner, as always. The chef sent out an amuse bouche of pate on dark German bread that was delicious and very filling. It wasn't a typical, tiny amuse bouche. We both ordered the house smoked salmon on top of a potato pancake which was also delicious. They made their own bread so I had a small piece of that when we first sat down, so by the time our duck breast entree arrived with the veggies and cheese gnocchi, I was pretty full and wound up taking most of my entree home for the next day, so I could save a bit of room for the cinnamon ice cream dessert. It was an eating day and it was fun; but we don't want to make a habit of that!  We are sure that the good wines helped to cut the cholesterol a bit. :-)