Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gardens, Recipes and eBooks

So my over-winter Alliums are doing well and my Walla Walla sweets are in the ground, and now I have to decide what else I will plant. After all, I should raise something besides onions and their relatives (i.e., shallots, garlic, leeks).

Tomatoes, of course. Can't have summer without tomatoes. Little, sweet ones, big, tangy red ones. To me summer smells like tomatoes, warm from the sun, so juicy that the drips leave stains on my shirt when I bite into them. And snow peas. They are in the ground too, but after two weeks I can't see a single emerging shoot. Perhaps it was too cold and too wet to plant them yet. But I couldn't wait. The sooner I plant the snow peas, the sooner I can eat them.

Do you get the idea that I love to eat? Oh yeah! And I love to cook almost as much.
Perhaps you read mysteries when you're eating alone. Or romances. I do, but even more frequently, I read cookbooks. Especially the ones with pretty photos. Of course, I rarely try any of the recipes, but it's fun to see what interesting ingredients people combine. Balsamic vinegar on ice cream (I did try that and it was good, after I'd caramelized the vinegar). Krispy-Kreme bread Pudding (just reading the recipe gives me a sugar high). Jellied Cole slaw (made it once, but was underwhelmed). Anything that starts with a can of soup (some sound good, but all that salt...).
I've become an adventurous cook, often inventing as I go along. So far I have not had to toss anything out, but I admit that some of my inventions have been less than tasty. Others, though, have warranted a note-to-self to repeat. Like the caramelized yams I did the other night. I'd already cooked the thick yam slices to almost-tender. A half teaspoon of butter, melted in a small skillet, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a teaspoon of brown sugar, and plunk the yam slices on top over medium heat. Cook until slightly browned and a little crusty on the edge, turn over and repeat. Delicious, low cal, healthy, and super easy.

But this began with my garden, and it should end there. One more thing I plan to plant is nasturtiums. Volunteers from ones I planted about five years ago keep springing up, but they've all reverted to yellow, and I like the red and maroon ones too (the photo shows them the first year I planted them). They look so pretty in a salad. Yes, nasturtiums are edible. The flowers add color and a bite to salads, the buds  can be used like fresh capers or pickled, the leaves are great salad greens and a good substitute for watercress in sandwiches (buttered white bread with the crusts cut off and cut into dainty triangles, if you want to be traditional). And of course, nasturtiums add brilliant color to my vegetable garden. I can hardly wait.

I guess I should mention that in April I'll have a new Regency short story coming from Uncial Press. Common Ground is about a young woman with an untraditional ambition, a young man who'd rather not be heir to a title, and a duck-chasing dog. It's available for preorder now, at Amazon and elsewhere.

So...tell me about your garden. Or about your culinary adventures.


Mary Thornburg said...

Your early gardening makes me a little jealous -- today it's sunny & nearly 50 degrees (above zero) here in Bozeman, but I know it'll be mid-May before I'd feel secure about getting anything started. However, I've taken a solemn vow to try some tomatoes this year, in big pots so we can move them in if (no, when) it freezes before they ripen. Wish me luck!

C.S. Fuqua said...

Gardening of flowers and vegetables...not so much, but I like to plant and tend trees, which, in the desert, means indigenous such as mesquite and desert willow. Perhaps if I move back to my native south (which I have no plans to do!), then I'll return to vegetable gardening as I once did. I do enjoy picking a ripe, juicy tomato, warm off the vine right into the mouth. Nothing better. Congrats on the new book.

Jana Richards said...

I'm with Mary. It will definitely be mid-May before we plant anything here in on the Canadian prairies. We still have a little snow on the ground and I'm pretty sure the soil is still mostly frozen. Good luck with your gardening!

Jude said...

Every climate has its gardening challenges. Ours is rain. right now my soil is way to wet to dig in. In August I won't be able to keep it wet enough. Last year we had a hot spell in early June and it cooked my snow peas.