Thursday, June 3, 2010

Volunteers and Birthday Presents

First with the presents. B had an awesome birthday this year, with a proper party and a proper dessert and proper lusty singing from great friends and family. He also got some rocking presents, including a seriously top notch pair of pruners from my parents (he had been using lousy ones at work and it was getting to his hands) and a variety of baking stuff, you know, now that he's the Bagel Guy there were some essential gadgets he needed. But I'm here to tell you about the most last minute gifty I got for him, the one that he basically got because I refuse to pay for shipping on Amazon and so this got thrown in with something else. I mean, I didn't even wrap this one because it arrived after I got wrappy on everything else. Sorry little guy, had I known I would have done you better:

Behold the garlic press. We had both been so resistant to getting one of these - the garlic press of my childhood was laughable, with half of the clove squashing out the top and a small dribble of juice and pulp meandering out of the screen. Well clearly someone spent the last 25 years working that shit out, because this here gizmo is effing amazing. One, you don't even need to peel the clove. This is HUGE for us, since we get by mostly on our own garlic and fresher garlic is grumpy about giving up its skin. Two, I swear to you, what is left in the press is but the thinnest hull of skin; like a potato chip. The first time B used it he turned to me and said, among other things, "Woah. You really have to watch out for the velocity on this sucker." Like you could take someone out with what shoots out the other end. Which, as long as I'm getting geeky on this, is pretty much perfectly minced and uniform bits of garlic. We love this thing.


We continue to have just the most ass kicking weather a girl could ask for. A few days ago I threatened to get the sprinkler out, and wa-la, the next morning we woke to a gentle soaking rain. Now we are trading stormy afternoons with sunny mornings - a recipe for GROW. It's a little scary. This morning I picked more chard than would fit in a shopping bag, just because these particular leaves were beating up on my coreopsis, dahlias, and lavender:

Please someone give me some new ideas for chard. My body is craving fresh, so the dishes we normally throw this stuff in are kind of off the table. Note for the garden book: too many cooking greens.

Also in the garden: cauliflower! I completely forgot that we planted this and just thought that we had some slightly disabled broccoli growing out there, and then these cute little white heads started peeking out and it totally made my day. Mmm, roasted cauliflower with butter and cumin.

Cabbage, flax, borage, dill.

Last year *a lot* of cashed out flowers went into our compost, and the upshot is that now our garden is full of volunteers. Flax, poppy, marigold, cosmo, batchelor button, borage, and ton of dill and cilantro. Three years ago I couldn't have told you what a baby batchelor button looked like for love nor money, but that's what time will do for you. We are frequently accused of being Very Neat gardeners, but this year we're letting a lot of the flowers go for it and it's really pretty. We've had to move some stuff and I think in general the poppies are a no go (you were right Jenni) - they just get too honking big, but the flax is great since it's so tall and willowy and the marigolds are tucked in here at there. Between these flowers and the Exploding Raised Bed of Color, we have finally been seeing some beneficial insects. So awesome. In particular we have been seeing a lot of hoverflies or flowerflies. These guys munch aphids so you can imagine how psyched we are. I think I've linked to this book before, but we absolutely love this book for insect identification. I do wish there were more photos of eggs; turns out that last year I probably squished several pods of hoverfly eggs, damn it. Anyway, the cilantro: has anyone tried freezing chopped cilantro in ice cubes? How bothersome is it that cilantro has usually bolted its ass off well before your other salsa ingredients are ripe? Very.

Last, our one surviving blueberry bush is on. Fresh blueberries and strawberries in the hand, how extravagant is that???


Marla said...

Idea for swiss chard:
- lightly saute some onion and garlic in olive oil.
- Add in some pine nuts and allow to toast up.
- Add washed & torn chard leaves with water still clinging to pot along with some dried cherries or cranberries.
- Cover and cook/steam until chard is done; no need to overdo it.
- Squeeze on some lemon juice, S&P to taste

sk said...

First, I'm interested in your garlic press! I've now added it to my amazon wish list. I've always resisted them, too, but it sure would make dinner quicker.

Second, here is what I love to do with chard:
Chop the stems really finely and saute them for a few minutes until soft, move them to one side of the pan, then add some minced garlic (courtesy of your new press, maybe 1-2 cloves depending on size and taste)to the other side of the pan and saute until fragrant. Then add the leaves (cut into ribbons) and stir-fry until cooked to your liking. Add a sauce of olive oil, salt, pepper and a good amount of lemon juice and you're good to go. I can devour a whole bunch of chard this way. I found the recipe in Jim Denevan's book Outstanding in the Feild-- he used beet greens though.
Third-- your garden looks awesome! I have garden envy! This is the first year our blueberries are going wild, though, and it's pretty exciting.

Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams said...

I can't live without my garlic press. It's a crucial tool in my kitchen.

Jenny said...

I've seen a lot of raw kale salads, where they just slice it really thin and toss it with something. I think something like that would work with chard, but probably not mustard or other itchy greens.

I can't get enough of the cooking greens, we love them more than lettuce or even peas in my household. The other day I baked eggs into wilted radish greens, even. Wheee.

queenbeehoney said...

Wow, that is one bad ass bunch of chard! It took me a minute to figure out what it was sitting on. A chard leaf as big as a glider seat! And we are still waiting for those tennis moth scores.

Any chance of posting the belly photo on your blog so I could send the link to family? I just have no luck sending photos in the body of my e-mails in gmail.

cake said...

i have to grow cauliflower next year! i love it so much, why have i never planted it?

i found a good mixed greens recipe in D. Madison's _Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone_. it knocked our socks off, and was super easy. i think you have that book?

also, thanks for the identification of the hover fly. just today, cosmo noticed one, and asked what it was. i had no idea. now, i know, and it is a beneficial insect!

cake said...

oh, and last year i managed to plant some cilantro seed in mid july, and had it ready for salsa season. i've also heard of people just planting some every two weeks, all season.

Cathy said...

You might be totally over the chard thing but here's a link to a recipe that I really like. It's better than the picture makes it look. I sometimes use feta in place of the chard.