Pause, Cook, Enjoy

If I’m thinking straight, Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of the year, make course corrections and give thanks for the good fortune of family, friends, work, a home, and a generally optimistic outlook, which can help with the things for which one isn’t thankful.


A walk before or after dinner is always good–either to work up or work off. My guests would not be arriving until the afternoon, but another friend escaped the kitchen for a walk on Roosevelt Island. I wasn’t taking pictures on this junket, just talking, listening, and looking, so the photos are from a prior walk in November.


Afterward, I went back to my kitchen and started work. My brother called while I was stuffing lemons and apple slices in the chicken, so I put him on speaker and kept working. I had five people coming, so I did the fat chicken (alas, while I like turkey, the quantity left over from six people would pall over the coming week), a squash, some beans and the dressing.


Other goodies coming were an array of hors d’oeuvres, au gratin potatoes, rolls and wine. Glad I had that walk before! And then there was the gravy. Yummy it was: salty, sweet, apple infused and every last drop licked up.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fall Cleanup–In Stages

I have a lot of work to do in the garden. We had a hard frost on Friday and I did not go beforehand to get the last of the peppers and tomatoes. Ah well. I did get in there yesterday and pull the last of the zinnia skeletons and the Jerusalem artichokes, not to mention the frosted pepper plants, tomatoes, eggplant, et cetera…So it looks like this now… very end of season.


Next step: a good weeding and dig.

It’s going to take several weekends to weed, lay down some composted manure and leaf compost in my garden and the small Plot Against Hunger garden, then go after the zinnia skeletons outside the fence. I am still recovering from an evil virus that had me sick most of October, so can’t go at the cleanup for four or six hours at a time the way I normally would.


Some mustards, arugula and frisee survived the freeze.

After things are cleaned up and composted, I’ll set out my cold frame and plant some lettuces in it. I may also plant some beets under the accelerator, but we’ll see how ambitious I am for winter gardening. Right now, I’m feeling as though next spring might be perfect.


The accelerator last year at this time–I was a little farther ahead!

I do still have some turnips in the garden that I’ll be harvesting, but they should not look like this. I will be seeking out a new seed supplier next spring because I keep getting the wrong thing in the seeds of the supplier I used. Once a daikon radish in amongst the French Breakfast radishes; once Kentucky wonders in a Blue Lake pole bean package.


Mystery veggies or mutants? They are NOT purple top turnips.

In the meantime, I’m paying more attention to my three indoor plants. I had to apologize to the African violet on Friday for not raising the blinds earlier. The other plants (and if anyone knows what they are, do tell–there is a story behind them) don’t mind low light, so I merely promised them water soon.


Have a good week folks!!!

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Transitioning to Deepest Fall

I didn’t get to the garden this weekend. There was too much going on Saturday, and Sunday was wet and cool. But I thought of some photos I took in late summer that I never shared because I wasn’t blogging.


The zinnias, joy and scourge of the garden, were such a lovely restaurant for birds, bees and butterflies.


The figs, not mine, were ripening on their tree.


And who can resist a sunflower?


But it’s fall now, and although it sounds like November outside with the wind and rain, it is still not Halloween. I had read about people carving all manner of vegetables, including turnips, for jack-o-lanterns. I did not have a pumpkin, but I did have a small acorn squash, which I thought might make a good little lantern. I cut the top off and carved out a good sized hole, emptying the innards. I gave it a nice face, plopped it over a votive candle in a saucer, and behold! A pointy-headed jack-o-lantern.


I gave it a little vent at the back, so the candle wouldn’t gutter.


And in the deepest dark, it really does gleam. I expect to enjoy it for a couple more nights!


Happy Halloween!

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Sorry I Haven’t Written

Goodness. It’s been almost three months since I wrote a post for the blog. It’s been almost as long since I visited other blogs regularly. Honestly, I’ve really had only the energy to go on Twitter once in a while. I’ve gardened a bit, read a lot of fiction, followed as much news as I can bear, and just generally tried to hang on in the face of hovering dread about whether the guardrails of government can stand up to the reckless assault of a monster truck without brakes. It is emotionally exhausting.


Sage–I picked a few leaves. There will be plenty of uses for this in fall cooking.

I know quite a few of you are in the same place. Perhaps we can buck each other up periodically, exchange strategies for coping, and call each other to action when necessary. I don’t know.


Neeps! I am so tempted to boil and mash them, but they will probably be roasted…

But here’s what I’m going to try to do. I am going to exercise more and be out in nature more. Those endorphins can work magic. I am going to see friends more often rather than holing up. I am going to pay more attention to my spiritual life because being centered in a crisis cannot be bad. I am going to stay abreast not just of the outrage of the moment, but the news that gets lost in the magnified kerfuffle surrounding each breach of boundaries.


Yup, that looks like a fall garden…

It is truly fall. I have a lot of clean up to do in the garden, but yesterday I took in more than I expected to find there–turnips, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, and some sage leaves.


Now these I did not expect, but peppers do traditionally bear until frost.

My gorgeous zinnias are at the end of their time and have no doubt seeded prolifically, but I will not be allowing them to take over next year. I have two rows of carrots coming up, some scallions, and a few radishes and turnips. They will take me deeper into fall.


Zinnias and Jerusalem artichokes. I didn’t have the heart to take all of them out since there were butterflies and bees on them still…

I am not sure what the winter will bring. I do know that we need to lean in to each other, for strength, for purpose, to know we aren’t alone.

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Beating Back the Flower Coup

After talking last week about the zinnia coup in the garden, I got in there this week and started to fight back. I was feeling immensely guilty about ripping some of them out, but along came a fellow gardener who was eager to transplant them into hers. I hope it works. After all the rain, there were a lot of weeds to take out as well.


The weed pile was impressive…

I had quite a few tomatoes, a cucumber, and some peppers, which made for a nice harvest. There was also a large white turnip, whose seed was somehow mixed in with the radishes. I’ll be cooking it with some of the carrots I still have from earlier this year.


Part of the harvest…

I am excited at the possibility that I may be able to make tomato sauce this year. it is so much better than anything I can buy. The tomatoes are in their August doldrums, but still bearing.


The San Marzano tomato plant is pretty loaded, but also succumbing to the fungal wilt that’s in our soil. I hope to get quite a few before it stops bearing.

Other things look good, too. I’m particularly pleased with the sage plant.


Those shameless zinnias photo bombed the sage!

In the next couple weeks, I’ll do some more clearing, make a few decisions, and start putting in seeds for the fall garden.


All in all, there are still plenty of zinnias for bouquets.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep enjoying the zinnia crop.


This week’s flowers for the house…

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Returning to Flowers

Well, I got back from the wilds of Central Illinois, but only after changing my flight to accommodate the summer nor’easter that blew through the mid-Atlantic states Friday and Saturday. It gave us about 7 inches of rain, which on top of other rain this month shoots us to more than a foot for the month of July.


The flowers in my garden are full of bees and butterflies and goldfinches. It’s a wonder. I need to pull some out, though as they are shading vegetables.

Things are back in order again here at home with clothes unpacked and put away, the fridge restocked, and the garden visited. I am going to have to rip out flowers, there’s nothing more for it. At least around certain plants that they’re shading.


I picked some cool colors and some hot colors. In the hot bouquet, I cooled things down with blossoming mint and artemisia ludoviciana or “silver king.”

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the bouquets. I made two large ones, one of which I gave to a neighbor, and two smaller ones. I was able to put flowers in the living room, at the workspace and in the bedroom.


I may take this bouquet in to work tomorrow…

So my home is full of garden flowers, just the way I like it!


The living room bouquet smells of mint and rosemary, which is a nice addition.

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A Little Tour of the Whole Garden

The garden is doing well. I have had tomatoes, a cucumber, some beans, and some peppers of late. There are, of course, lots of flowers.


You’d hardly know there were vegetables in here…

I dropped a protective can over my late-planted okra, which is being eaten by an evil lagomorph.


The rusty coffee can: beloved by gardeners, despised by those who have only seen Beatrix Potter illustrations…

My eggplants are beginning to recover from the yearly flea beetle attack and my sage is thriving and beautiful.


Wait until you see the eggplants in a neighboring garden…this is sooooo lame.

Last weekend, I planted some fall crops–peas, lettuce and turnips–and built an enclosure I hope will keep out the voles and the rabbits. Nothing has come up yet.


I’m hoping I can use this as my bean enclosure next summer. The survival of the peas will tell.

A few tomatoes are ripening, and I am hoping the surrounding flowers will distract.


Distraction? Maybe…

Normally I head right to my garden and stay there, but today I took a little tour. Goodness there are some lovely gardens here.


Get a load of those eggplants…

There are also novel ways to hide tomatoes from bird, vole and squirrel depredation.


Wrap them up in orange netting!!!

And melons as well.


Wrapped in several layers of bird netting.

There are lovely flowers all over.



Some are deliberately planted and others are part of the garden produce.


Some of the gardens are beautifully interplanted with flowers and vegetables.


And Derrick and Jackie are not the only people with owls in their garden!


This little guy looks as though he will not tolerate predators!

I didn’t do much today except take pictures and drop a can over the okra because I was waiting for my Elfa installation in the kitchen. Wowsers, it satisfies my workplace and cookbook storing needs!


Now I just need my bar height chair to arrive! This is perfect for working and having a little coffee…

Next weekend I will be heading to Illinois to visit my family, so will not likely post or read your blogs most nights. But I’ll be back in touch the following week!


Bees and butterflies were feasting today.

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