Homemade concoctions to aid in making homemade concoctions.

A few holidays ago (I have no idea which one) Charlie started building me a drying rack as a gift. Six, maybe 8, months of starting and stopping later it's finally finished and in full use! It's basically a pine frame with slots to slide trays in. The trays are also pine and I hot glued taut screen on top of each tray.  The whole thing, though large, is lightweight and easy to move, but also slips nicely into place underneath the kitchen counter. So far I'm drying snow/snap peas and fava beans for fall planting, various herbs, and thin slices of a large beet.

The beet is an experiment. My favorite lip balm has a hint of beet powder in it to tint the balm. I'm interested in trying to make my own with fewer ingredients and perhaps a bit brighter color. Wish me luck, it may take me another 6 to 8 months to get around to making it!

Keyhole Bed: A recap

April 2011
May 2011
June 2011

Then in 2013 I didn't do much gardening...
I was pregnant with Fox. I did
get some onions in the ground in the fall.
Late 2012 the plum tree had bad blight so we chopped it down.

Sometime in early 2014 I put bricks we had on hand
for another project around the bed. This is April 2014.

Here it is now, taken over mostly with perennials, a few annual veggies
tucked here and there, and some flower seeds yet to sprout.

Tasty meaty figs

Figs are coming in by the bowlful, and, as usual, we're on the lookout for great ways to use them. Given the chance, Mabel will eat raw figs until she's sick. For those who know the benefits of figs, you'll understand why discourage that.

When Kate suggested we wrap them in prosciutto then grill them, I was immediately on board. Unfortunately we're on the 2-kids-in-child-care budget, so I went with a less classy approach: plain ol' bacon! We baked them at 350 for 30 minutes, then broiled them for 5 minutes on one side, flipped and broiled them on 3 minutes on the other side so they had that nice crispy texture.

Charlie and I give this use 2 thumbs up (each!). We even took a few over to a neighbor, and the bacon convinced him to finally (after years of my trying) to convince him to eat a fig. He ended up eating several, so I'll venture to say bacon is a good carrier for flavorful figs.

Using the Harvest

This past Saturday, these greens (a combination of sorrel, sweet potato leaves, and Malabar spinach), with the addition of some frozen chopped spinach, became a spinach and cheese pie.

Did you know you can eat sweet potato leaves? They're a great spinach substitute. I collect the young leaves that still have a bit of shininess to them. When I'm using them in a recipe like this pie I quickly blanch them prior to making the pie filling. 

The crust is a basic Pâte Brisée but I skipped the sugar because I don't like the slightest hint of sweetness with a savory filling.  The filling is very similar to this one, but I added some mozzarella since I had it on hand. 

Pretty powders

Of the gardening (spin-off) activities I can do with Mabel is get her to help me grind dried goods up in the small coffee grinder. To keep her entertained, she needs to see what's happening and to know she's not just doing busy work. Powdering things up is an activity with immediate results, and she gets to do most of the actual work. So far we've done this twice: first pulverizing tomato peels into a seasoning something like tomato-bent paprika, the second was to turn homegrown (and dried) stevia into a powder. All-in-all it's a time consuming tasks and requires an extra bit of patience with the toddler since the powder ends up everywhere, but our time together making things and the pride on M's face when we're done make it that much better. Plus, look how pretty they are together!