Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Herbalist

Several weeks ago, in a desire to preserve some of this year's flourishing herbs, I had carefully snipped my way through the garden and filled a large colander full of insanely aromatic sprigs.

I ended up tying three bundles with string, covering them with paper bags to keep off the dust, and hanging them in a cool, dry room upstairs.

  • catnip - for the kitties, of course
  • culinary mix - oregano, rosemary, thyme
  • potpourri mix - bergamot, lavender, hyssop, yarrow, eucalyptus

Today I checked in on the herbs and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had dried nicely. I de-stemmed the dried leaves, gave them a gentle crush, and bottled and bagged them up. The catnip went into a tightly-sealed baggie and has been placed OUT OF THE CATS' REACH; the culinary herbs went straight to the pantry for future dishes; and I divided the potpourri mix between two small muslin bags, perfect for throwing in a closet or room to keep things smelling herby and fresh. I wish you could have smelled the house while I was crushing those leaves...

It worked out perfectly that the herbs were ready, as I needed some dried oregano, rosemary, and thyme for a Sunday night soup I was whipping up. In a fit of CSA-inspired hunger, I created what I am affectionately going to call "Deep Woods Soup", due to the very earthy and hearty ingredients used: Field Roast Apple Sage sausages (cut into coins), leeks, cremini mushrooms, wild rice, kidney beans, garlic, and fresh tatsoi (a delightful Asian green, similar to bok choy).

The base for the soup included a pint of canned tomato juice and a pint of whole tomatoes, as well as the aforementioned herbs and dashes of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. I must say, this was a definite winner, great for cold fall evenings. Serve it up steaming hot with a few slices of my Aunt Bonnie's oatmeal bread, and ladies and gentlemen, you're in business. Bring on the week!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heavenly Blue

It's finally here, one of the garden moments I've been waiting for all year - the morning when Clark's Heavenly Blue Morning Glory unfurls its first tender petals.

Last winter when we were knee-deep in snow and frigid dreariness, I was curled inside busy researching seeds for 2011 and came across this listing at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. A true blue is a very rare color to find in the flower world - sure, there are plenty of purples, violets, lavenders, and eggplants, but I'm talking about BLUE. Despite all of the warnings from my mother and other gardeners about how morning glories can simply take over a garden with octopus-like writhing tentacles, I knew I had to give this beauty a chance.

Point, click, buy, sprout, transplant, and wait. I had to stop and catch my breath this morning when I looked outside and finally saw the first vivid swatch of electric blue dotted with a soft lemon yellow center.

Yes, it did sort of end up taking over a corner of the garden, but let's face it, in early fall, many plants are already starting to crisp, brown, and head downhill for the year, anyways. The lush green leaves and bright blue flower cups are a welcome infusion of life, in my opinion. I love the art nouveau-esque coiling and vining of the tendrils.

This plant would be a great choice for a trellis, fenceline, or handrailing.

Kiss the Cook

Something about cold weather moving in that makes a cook want to hunker down in the kitchen and create things...delicious things...

Mocha Dark Chocolate Truffles - homely but divine

Goat Cheese and Balsamic Onion Tart - made with local Capriole goat cheese

Pumpkin Beer Bread - made with The Bruery's "Autumn Maple"

Sprouted Lentils - ok, so these created themselves - if you haven't tried sprouted lentils you need to - they have the peppery nutty bite of lentils and the sweet succulent crunch of fresh pea shoots