Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Dark Days Challenge: March, Week 18

Phoning it in.

Michael is doing one of his long days at work.  He's out of here by 6 am and probably won't be home until after midnight.  That leaves me to be catch as catch can about meals.  I spent all day in both gardens planting peas, onion sets, chard, and romaine lettuce, doing some tilling and lots of raking.  The chickies kept me company while I was down at the lower 40 and Marley, Megan's half grown kitten, was practicing stalking them.  Either Mabrey, Megan's full grown cat, has warned Marley that the girls can beat the snot out of him or he's figured it out watching Mabrey turn tail and run.  Either way, it's amusing.

I don't remember what lunch was, I pretty much just raided the fridge and then headed back out.  Supper was using up bits and pieces.  There was a little free-range turkey stock left and in that I poached about 10 cloves of our homegrown garlic, Asian greens from the Harvest Moon, and two of our eggs.  The cilantro that's been growing all winter still is growing so I ran out and cut some of that.  Some lime juice and some sriracha, a few rice noodles and I ended up with a faux pho.

A couple of aspirin for spring gardening aches, a steamy shower, a steamy, comforting bowl of soup to eat with a movie, and I'm ready to call it a day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Pretty Pie Crust

Presentation is everything.

That phrase has been applicable to almost every working aspect of my life from my career as a cook to my second career as a graphic designer and glass artist.  How something looks affects how much someone wants it.  Desirability, curb appeal, eye candy, food porn.  It's all about presentation.

With that in mind and with Spring/Easter celebrations happening, a gorgeous pie to end the feast is in order.  No matter what the filling, a pretty golden pie crust makes the filling taste better!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Dark Days Challenge: March, Week 17

We've been experiencing summer temperatures and spring rains all at the same time here in Floyd.  I've been desperate to get the cool season crops in but the rains have been spaced just far enough apart to ensure that the ground is too wet to till and the weather is warming up fast, almost too fast for cole crops and peas, and some greens.  Michael's weather station has been telling us night time temps have been ranging between 45F-55F.  That's nearly warm enough at night for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants!

But I have been getting some things in and yesterday the weed wacker and I set to work reclaiming the herb beds.  Days when I'm running full out I rely on last summer's preserves for our evening meal.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Dark Days Challenge: March, Week 16

What Michael and I learned from the DDC (and other sources) about what we grow, what we eat, and how it's affecting our future plans and choices.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Preserving Floyd: The Highland Maple Festival - Road Trip!

Every year in March for two weekends Highland County welcomes visitors to help them celebrate the tapping of the local sugarbush and all things Maple Syrupy - The Highland Maple Festival!
We went this past weekend to lay in our yearly supply of syrup, eat a stack of buckwheat hotcakes loaded with butter and this year's "vintage", tour the sugar camps, and finish it all off with a fine trout dinner served up by the McDowell Volunteer Fire Department and some maple doughnuts.

There's still next weekend to get your fix, March 17 & 18!  If you decide to go and you're from the Floyd/Blacksburg/Christiansburg/Roanoke area, take Rt 220.  It's far more scenic and pleasant a drive than Interstate 81, just as fast, and will drop you right in Monterey, VA, the center of all things maple in Highland county.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gardening Floyd: Newspaper Pots and Transplanting

Two and a half weeks after planting the cole crops they have their first real leaves and it's time to transplant them into larger pots.  These seedlings are going into newspaper pots which, in a couple of weeks, will be planted directly in the garden without disturbing the roots again.

Cooking Floyd: Dark Days Challenge: March, Week 15

This week is a double Dark Days Challenge: The Vegetarian Challenge.

I was able to score some really nice baby bok choy at the Oasis Market in Blacksburg last week.  That along with some NC potatoes and not local or organic, but sustainable and ethical chick peas and black beans were the players in our vegetarian meal.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gardening Floyd: What Were They Thinking?

Obviously they weren't thinking.  Probably they were lazy as well.  Because they knew this would be somebody else's problem eventually and now it is.  My problem.  And I'm pissed.

All around the edges of the lower property we bought last year runs a lively little branch.  That's what a tiny streamlet is called.  We knew when we bought the property that the previous owners (and the previous owners before them) had been dumping their trash around the edges but until I started trying to clean up a couple of weeks ago I had no idea to what extent they had trashed it.

I thought I'd start with the most obvious problem: the tires that were lying along the southwest edge of the property.  I didn't think there were that many and I was going to recycle them into towers for growing potatoes.  So far I've pulled approximately 40 tires out of there in varying states of decay.  Far, far more than I need for potato towers.  What the hell were these people doing?

Husbanding Floyd: The Girls are Alright!

It's our laying hens first birthday!

You might remember these adorable balls of fluff:

Now they're all grown up, responsible, reliable egg layers.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gardening Floyd: Indoor Seed Starting Continues

Last week I seeded our cole crops.  I also set up the sweet potatoes in jars to start growing slips.  You may remember doing this in elementary school.  Or maybe not - I don't believe our kids ever did this.  But when I was a kid in kindergarten we grew lots of things in paper cups: beans, tomatoes, marigolds, and sweet potatoes in jars on a sunny window ledge.
It takes a good bit of time for the slips to start so you have to be patient.  Especially if you start the slips from grocery store sweets because they've likely been treated to discourage sprouting.  But sprout they will!  Once you have a good sized slip started you clip it from the mother tater and put it in a jar of its own to develop roots.  Each potato will develop multiple slips so keep snipping and rooting them until you have as many as you want.  Once the slips have good roots and the weather's warmed enough, into the garden they'll go!