Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Taste of Garlic

The garlic we planted last fall is not ready for harvest, but we are none the less enjoying a little taste in the form of garlic scapes. We’ve been adding them to various dishes but to use up the huge tangled pile I made some garlic scape pesto! Seems like garlic scape pesto is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. Goole it and you’ll find a recipe. I used toasted almonds, olive oil, parmesan and lemon juice without any measuring. Yum. Nice to have a little garlicky taste of what’s to come!

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Yes Peas! (and other stuff from the garden)

Today, a little look at a few things in the garden.

Peas. Looking good for a healthy crop!

Kale! Oh kale. There was a time when I thought kale was mainly for guinea pigs. But I have learned to appreciate it as a wonderful leaf veg. I started these plants in the cold frame and they all did spectacularly, so I’m very pleased. And the harvest has begun!

After several years of wondering why my swiss chard would always “dry up” I’ve discovered that it is due to vile little leaf-minors. I also started swiss chard in the cold frame and it was doing do well only to be struck down. No pictures of this, it just looks sad. We have another row or two just coming up but I’m not sure there is anything we can do to avoid a similar plight. I’ll look into it some more and if not perhaps we can just pick it all as micro greens.

Beets. I have been thinning these this week and we’ve been eating the thinnings. A few salads, and a baby beet green pizza. Still a bit more to do today.

And garlic scapes. They just look fun, don’t they.

I really enjoy thinking about what is out there when I’m trying to plan a meal, and see how much of our own stuff I can use. Of course, this gets easier and easier, but there is something so satisfying about the relatively early harvest.

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Checking in with the Chicks

(some of the chicks in a small box for playtime with Little R)

The chicks have been here for almost three weeks. Seems like longer, though not in a bad way! It is interesting to watch them grow and change, and to begin to feel a little more comfortable with chick care. They are not very tame – perhaps I haven’t spent enough time holding them, but I also didn’t want to stress them, so I’ll just let things take their course.

The older chick is, I’m pretty certain, a rooster. I am calling him Ernest. He seems very gentle, if a little daft. Looks a little confused, or stunned, or just very earnest. The others still look to him as a mother hen, trying to hide under him, which doesn’t seem to bother him.

Ernest, trying to hide.

Another Barred Rock rooster (?), as yet un-named. The rooster count is growing…

We have a tiny chick that doesn’t seem to be growing (see bottom left of first photo), though otherwise seems energetic and healthy. It does tend to get run over if there is excitement but this doesn’t seem to be causing him/her any harm, and there have been times when this little one has been the first to grab a treat. Not sure what to expect of this tiny fellow. It’s impossible not to be rooting for him/her, although I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be a rooster, or indeed may fail to thrive in the end, so I’m trying not to get overly attached.

Tiny chick and Black Australorp?

We are also pretty sure that one of our Plymouth Barred Rocks is actually a Black Australorp. It’s legs are darker, and feathers are coming in completely black, unlike the others, and just looks different. A bit of online research has me pretty convinced. No matter. Hope it’s a hen!

The chicks have been outside a few times. We don’t have a perfect arrangement for this, but if I take them out in shifts and plan to keep a very close watch it’s OK. They love it.

In the box inside I’ve been enjoying trying them on different foods and watching the excitement. Wild strawberries, herbs, bugs, yogurt, cooked egg, a spoonful of leftover porridge…. And today, for a sweet-smelling box, I strew some lavender springs about in their freshly changed wood chips.

 And the wood for the coop is bought, and it now remains to be seen how quickly we can build it. I’m sure it will end up being mainly G but Little R and I will do our best to help out.

Peep peep!

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Father’s Day Strawberries

Today I made use of the summer’s first strawberries for Strawberry Shortcake (of sorts) on a Father’s Day Picnic. We made our own whipped cream by shaking it in a jar when we reached our destination. Quite lovely and enjoyed by all. But  you do have to eat quickly and remain constantly on guard to defend yourself from “picnic” covered hands when Little R is involved. Ah, but this is surely life with a child. And one I hope G is enjoying.

Happy Father’s Day to my dear husband; a wonderful father.

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Marsh Greens and Wild Strawberries

On Sunday we met a man with a bucket on the beach who told us he was going to get some marsh greens for lunch. This immediately piqued my interested because I had checked the little bit of beach we frequent for edible plants and found none. I should have quizzed him, I suppose, but instead I let him get on his way and quietly watched him walk along the beach so as to be sure to know where I should look! The next day, armed with field guide to foraging, I set off before lunch to see what I could find. We took a short cut through a kind neighbours field and the moment I stepped onto the beach I found the plant I was looking for – must be the easiest bit of foraging ever!

Marsh greens, predictably, are known by many names. Goose tongue greens, seaside plantain among others. I found the most info online by looking for goose tongue greens. I was careful to follow advice to take only part of the plant, and not pull it by its roots, so it will be able to grow again.

Once home with the greens I set about deciding what to do with them. Most people seemed to recommend eating them with vinegar, as a side dish. I don’t tend to cook many side dishes. Maybe it’s being vegetarian, or maybe I just prefer on dish kind of meals. Anyway, my mind went “vinegar…..balsamic vinegar…strawberries” (perhaps a bit of a leap for some, but I love strawberries with balsamic vinegar) so Little R and I went round the outside of the house picking wild strawberries from the grass. I made a little collection and Little R ate hers.

I then had three ingredients on which to build a meal so I decided to throw together a pasta salad. It went something like this:

caramelized onion (done with balsamic and maple syrup)

noodles

feta cheese

marsh greens, boiled lightly

wild strawberries

in a dressing of olive oil with more balsamic vinegar and syrup and pepper

And then we ate it all up. Delicious. I will definitely be going back for more marsh greens!

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Craftsman

My father passed away a few weeks ago and though it has of course been very much on my mind, I was uncertain about mentioning it in this space. That whole public/private thing. But…things change, or fall into place, and I know now exactly how it fits.

On a recent visit my aunt gave me a lovely carved wooden scoop made by my father many years ago. They used it to scoop  feed for their sheep over 20 years ago, and since they no longer have sheep, and we now have feed scooping needs of our own, she decided to pass it on. Not, of course, that the usefulness of the scoop was the main reason – sometimes things are more than things (oh so eloquently put!) and I’m sure my father’s sister knows this, just as my father did. And as I do. My father was a “maker of things”, a true craftsman, and it is this aspect of him that I find most accessible, or that resonates with me, for what I hope are fairly obvious reasons.

So now that this beautifully crafted scoop has come to us, it will be used daily. A piece of craftsmanship that, even without embellishment, somehow manages to elevate a basic chore. (This is what it’s all about, really, for craftspeople, whether we know it or not, or whether we think poetically on it or just get the job done. ) And I’m pretty sure Dad would be pleased.

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Good Cheer Chickens

The newest excitement at Good Cheer is a box of cheeping chicks. 10 in all: 6 Plymouth Barred Rock and 4 Silver Laced Wyandottes. I have to say that obtaining the chicks was not a positive experience but now that they are home and doing well it’s great. Five of the chicks were “day-old” when we got them on Monday evening, four were a few days old and one…well, one is probably about two weeks, and looking very awkward. The others look a this bigger chick as a mother, following it about and ducking underneath, looking for a warm spot. They are, of course, unbearably cute. (though I was not prepared for just how dead a sleeping chick can look!)

We are hoping a good number of these chicks will turn out to be hens, and as such will go on to give us eggs! The roosters…their fate is not entirely decided, but one option is that after a short, but hopefully very good, life with us, they will go on to give us chicken pot pie. I say “us”, though as I haven’t eaten chicken in many years, it will likely be for Little R and G.

But I won’t talk more about their end just yet, since they are only beginning, and it is time to enjoy their fluffy cuteness. (again, oh so “Sofs”)

And it is also time to build a chicken coop!

(And just in case you are wondering, the box shown is not their home, just a box to hold a few for a visit with Little R.)

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