09 May 2011


Well, I been slackin'. On writing, though not on much else. Gardening, website design and business start-up, work at coffee boat, and cousin moving in with us has been keeping me quite thoroughly busy. Then there's all the tasty wild food that comes back in the spring, and trying to keep ahead of the bread, yogurt, sprout, crouton, etc usage in this house. Anyhow, here's some of my gardening bits, with foraging at the end. 

I used one of our trusty April Brews Day tasting glasses to roll seed starting pots. Each pot contained a half sheet of the Cascadia Weekly (a 1/4 sheet of full-size paper). A swift google search of "newspaper seedling pots" will turn up a slew of slightly varying methods to end at the same basic thing. I can't seem to find the friggin' blog that was closest to what I did in the end, but here is a video that is pretty similar. It's really, really easy, and if you find yourself wanting to be all fancy-pants and actually start plants indoors, well, I don't know why any home gardener would pay for beautiful, non-renewable, unsustainable peat pots when they can have these for free.  

This close-up contains a photo (and tiny caption) of the Red Elvises, my friend Reuben's girfriend Holly's favorite band. Or at least it was her favorite band once. They made it as a bumper sticker on her truck, so you know that's good. 

I planted brussels sprouts, broccoli, thai and italian basil, delicata and zucchini squash, marigolds, and nastursiums, which met with partial success. I get over-eager to start things, and I didn't want to bother with a grow-light, so the brussels got leggy, and the basil got grumpy, but I transplanted the squash, broccoli and flowers out, and then planted some more stuff, seen here:

From the back: more leggy brussels sprouts, more thai basil, more regular basil, and napa cabbage. 

As I've alluded to in previous posts, though I will be sad not to be back in a room of glass at 8400', I am excited to be around for things this summer, like the garden. After some further thought, I realized that this will be the first time in five years I'll be around all summer long. As a result, things long left to make do have been updated. For instance, we finally made the biggest bed a raised bed! It contains 40-year old fence boards from our friend Steve's farm;  homemade soil from a really nice guy named John, in Alger, who I met by chance, in a bar in Conway when I had been stood up by friends; and composted horse manure from down the road. I even bought two soaker hoses, eh. (I can't find a clip of my favorite Strange Brew moment, where Bob is in the beer tank with Pam and it's being flooded with beer and Bob says, "Me and my brother always said that drowning in beer would be like heaven. But now he's not here, and I got two soakers, and this isn't heaven, this SUCKS!" So here's another favorite, instead. Also, for clarification, my two soakers don't suck.)

Under the buckets you'll find the squash and broccoli, trying to make do with what sun and warmth they can get. Down in front, being dwarfed by the rhubarb (which makes me feel better about how small everything else is), are the peas. 

Some of my flowers, which do just fine without me. Better,  actually, seeing as how I just learned (literally, yesterday) that if you dead-head daffodils they don't bloom again, at least not for a year or two. I should have no blooms next year, and I'd wondered why lots of them didn't come back this year...

And now for some foraging. Salads with cat's ears, dandelions, bittercress, sheep sorrel, salmonberry blossoms, miner's lettuce, and oso-plum leaves (which taste like bitter cucumber). Roasted dandelion root ice cream. And, of course, nettles. This year I only ate a couple of nettle meals before the plants shot up and flowered: savory steel cuts oats with cheese, sausage, herbs and nettles; grilled salmon with garlic-sauteed nettles, and I had a taste of this nettle pesto (I gave it as gifts to our fisher-friends, Joel and Tele, and to John, from whom the garden soil came.).

 Stinging Nettle Pesto
(variation on Fat of the Land's recipe)

2 cups steamed or blanched Nettles (a witch's britches bag 2/3 full, fresh), squeezed well and chopped
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup Roasted Cashews (used because they're what I had on hand, though I would have used walnuts or almonds first. I don't like pine nuts as much--for basil pesto, either. 
2-4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup EV Olive Oil
1 T Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper

-I steam the nettles, for about a minute, and then drain and squeeze them dry. Save all of that delicious broth, to put in soup; or gulp down, still standing over the sink, like I do most of the time. 
-Put all of your ingredients in a food processor (you can start with half the oil). 
-Whirl, until blended. Add rest of oil, adjust seasoning, and whirl again until it is a consistency you like. 
-To store, I wrap about a cup at a time in plastic wrap, making a nice square package, and then put it into a ziploc and freeze. Langdon's (brilliant, particularly if you have extra trays) method is to dole out the pesto into ice cube trays, freeze, and then pop the cubes into a ziploc. Then bust off a corner, or pull out a cube, to swirl into pasta/sauce, over fish, what have you. 

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