Garlic scape & radish greens pesto

IF ever there was a time to eat more garlic and not worry about it… it’ s now during Covid.  For those people who just won’t stay 6′ or 2 meters away… they certainly will if you’re eating raw scapes! 🙂

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I’ve just started harvesting my scapes.  I like to wait til they’re curly.  My favourite way to eat them is with a bit of rubbed olive or grapeseed oil with some S&P and maybe a bit of lemon juice or lemon oil, then grilled.  We’ll be doing that likely in the coming week.

I found THIS recipe as noted in my last post for radish green pesto.. and thought instead of using garlic, I would use the fresh scapes out of my garden.

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Scapes are the “flower head” centre stalk of hard neck garlic.  the stem at the bottom can be woody like asparagus, you want to snap them off.  but the whole head and stem can be eaten – I typically cut off the top flat green piece above the white head if using raw, but leave it on when grilling.   You do want to pull/cut these because they will rob your garlic bulb in the ground if you let them “bloom”.   Use them any way you would garlic.. and more.   They are much milder and sweeter than the garlic bulb that is growing in the ground below, and I find a lot more versatile.  The great thing is, your garlic plant is giving to you twice!   My cousin dries them, and also ferments them.. they really are fabulous fermented.  I’m hoping to get a jar (or two!) from her this summer.  We tend to share a bit from our gardens, and she ferments EVERYTHING… but the scapes are my favourite.

I pulled out my trusty mini food processer, and before I got going on the pesto, I decided to pulverize all the egg shells we’ve been collecting to feed our garden.  We’re discovering that our green bin sometimes gets thrown right in the same  bin as the regular garbage on the weekly waste trucks, (so very disappointing!!)   so I’m hoping to do more composting, and using everything I can of my food.  Like the radish greens.  And all our egg shells, and coffee grounds to feed the garden.  These are going in the garden, because apparently in our area we are already very nitrogen rich, but our soil needs more calcium.  I baked the shells first in the oven, then cooled.  I’m guessing I could have processed them further into a powder, and may next time, but we’ll start with these.

Then a good clean out of the processor, and in went the radish greens, (prewashed several times and spun dry in my salad spinner) local cold-pressed grape seed oil with lemon from Niagara Vinegar Co., juice from half a lemon, heaping tbsp of Tahini, (the recipe link I shared from “From a Chef’s Kitchen” called for nuts, but i didn’t have any in the house that would work – so thought I’d try Tahini, and it worked.. really softened and rounded out any sharpness from the Scapes or bitterness from the radish greens) S & P and about 8 garlic scapes.

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The result is amazing.   I had quite a bit on some canape crackers.. and am now eating by the spoonfuls while I’m typing.. oh.. mmmmm.  SOOO yummy.

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I will definitely be saving all my radish greens from now on, and trying different pesto recipes.. and maybe even freeze some pesto cubes for the winter to have on pasta, chicken, in rice dishes.  mmmmm… Pesto season might be one of my favourites..

 

oh Guillermo… you better come have some, otherwise you’re not gonna wanna kiss me for about 3 days..

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now THAT’s a garden salad!

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did you know that Rutabaga leaves are edible?  I looked it up!
https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/growing-rutabaga-greens

If you remember… i had a big waxed Rutabaga on my counter a couple of months ago, and cut off the ends that were sprouting.. put them in water for a couple weeks.. then planted.

Pics from the last couple months :

 

They have TAKEN off in the garden!!  The root isn’t growing yet, but i have enough leaves for a few salads!

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The blogs I read said to take off no more than 3 leaves per plant.. I have 4 plantings, so this wasn’t a problem for tonight’s salad.

My sister and I had this interesting conversation about chlorophyl this weekend (found in our leafy greens and GREEN vegetables!) .. how important it is in our diet…  it makes us “less stinky”.  LOL!  There’s LOTS more great benefits… if you’re interested read HERE.
Just a few like:  skin healer, blood booster, cancer prevention, weight loss, natural deoderant, detoxification…  LOTSA great benefits!    

did you know that Radish greens are edible?

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Yup, they are too! Suggested to use for Pesto, not in salads because of their rough texture, unless you are using the very baby greens that are still tender.   I’m gonna bookmark THIS POST.. to make Radish greens pesto next time I harvest.. cause i think they might not be a proven winner in the salad bowl.

Last week I found a salad spinner on sale at my grocery store.  I’ve always wanted one, and with all the greens we’re growing in “Bill & Amy’s garden” I thought it was time.  Shhhh.. Guillermo doesn’t know yet.  Every time I bring home a new kitchen gadget he sighs… “where are you going to put THAT?” (cause even though we purged in a HUGE way 2 yrs ago when we demo’d our house for the renovation/demo and I have 3 times the cabinets.. somehow they’re all pretty full (but ORGANIZED!)   I’m pretty sure he’ll love it though, will have fun playing with it himself, AND I did have room, and still actually have a couple of empty cupboards… so.. until he reads this post… shhhh.. our secret.

So I wandered outside after work this morning (I’m working 7-10ish hours a week now during Covid.. the future is still unknown) with my salad bowl and started by picking the Rutabaga leaves, some mint and 2 kinds of basil and brought that inside to wash, spin and cut up.  the Rutabaga has a really lovely texture and a slight peppery taste… kinda like arugula. These I rolled in bunches, and then chopped all pretty fine.

Then I thought… what else do I have out there?  Another wander out, and I realized both my “salad bowl” lettuce and Romaine (from “Andy boy” lettuce roots, started in March in the kitchen window) were both ready for a bit of harvest.. and so were the radishes.

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I washed up everything really well, spun some more, and cut it all up, even the radish greens (super fine) and put them in the bowl.

I added in some cucumber & blueberries from the fridge (can’t wait til my cukes produce!) and roasted sweet potato before I dressed the salad.

I am SO looking forward to making lots of fresh salads out of our garden over the next few months, using the various greens, lettuces and other veg as they grow.  Beans, roasted eggplant, Daikon radish (and their greens!) peppers, zucchini.. mmmm   I think next year we’ll add in a few different potato varieties to the garden as well.

In the meantime we still have more “Andy boy babies and celery babies” starting in the kitchen window that I hope to plant this week to keep the crop going.

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I harvested a bit too much mint for the salad.. but it’s always great as a fresh tea, especially at hand while I’m blogging.

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Bon Appetit!

Ch-Ch-Changes and Growth

The gardens are changing everyday.. showing LOTS of growth.  It’s an exciting time to be home and being able to play in my garden – and helps keep me distracted from the roller coaster of emotions I’m on for the last week or so – contemplating my future with regards to work & ministry and wishing that God would give me a sneak peak  into what’s in store.  I need to stop.. talk to my Father.. and rest in Him.  He is my Provider – not just of worldly goods, but of LIFE, health, peace, strength… Everything.   Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. As everything else changes around me- HE does not.

One very interesting gift He gave us this last week was a new job offer for Guillermo at a different steel plant with a different group of people.. with almost 2 hours longer (per day) of commuting.. It’s not what we would have chosen, but are hopeful that it’s the right fit for right now.    He’s been off work due to Covid for 2 months – and we’ve REALLY enjoyed our time at home together, working in the gardens, in the house.. doing ministry together for our church as it navigates through the pandemic.  We’ve been BUSY… and really enjoying the time.  Monday was his first day back – but to a different plant.   The new longer commute &  workday means a 9-930 pm bedtime for us.. and a 430 AM wakeup call for him.  I’m guessing that his dad reading this is smirking.. saying.. “Yup.. sonny-boy, just like when we farmed.. without the commute.”   

The best part is– he passes by his parents home just over halfway in his commute (~35 min drive from our home) every day, so he’ll get to see them more often.


Like each new flower and each new leaf that comes out of the ground – I realize that  I may be the one tending the garden, and watering it.. but He provides me with the strength, ability and the water… just like He’s providing us with what we need for everyday, whether it be the reliable old van with an odometre reading over 306,000 that is going to earn 720+ km more each week in the next 3 months, and the gas to fill it, or Guillermo the renewed strength and ability to do this new job.. the rest we need each night to start each new day..

EVERY good gift and EVERY perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (JAMES 1:17 ESV)

In this world that is changing minute by minute.. and not all for the good.. It’s SO SOOO GOOD to remind ourselves that God doesn’t change.. and that He continues to give good gifts that help us to grow in Him.


this past weekend we noticed the first of the brilliant red poppies blooming. I’ve moved/transplanted and cut back these poppies so many times over the last 14 yrs we’ve lived here.. I have a love/hate relationship… the leaves are not pretty.. and they take up a lot of space.. and the flowers bloom for maybe 5 days out of the whole year IF we’re lucky..  so a whole lot of ugly and space for a very short time of brilliant beauty.  Is there a metaphor for life here?? Today, 4 days after writing this post.. the poppies are gone already.

The peonies are quite a bit better… they provide us with a fairly nice looking hedge for most of the summer… with prolific blooms for about 2 weeks (providing we don’t get a heavy rain).. and they give me the opportunity to share with others.  Last year the hedge provided close to 100 blooms for my niece’s wedding, and most years I give away at least a dozen large bouquets.   They are right on time this year.. and seem to be EXTRA tall! 5′ now, measured at almost 57″ a week ago)

Here’s a tour of how things are growing in our vegetable garden as of earlier this week – June 8, 2020)

First off we have our 3 zucchini (black beauty) mounds (planted from seed) that are getting quite leggy.. I fear they don’t get enough sun.. but we’ll find out in a few more weeks.  Next our transplated remaining rhubarb is doing quite well.  It got pelted by hail a little over a week ago, and has some holey leaves, but is mostly doing well.  We also transplanted some roots that didn’t show any growth yet at the time.. and they are also sprouting new leaves.  We’re quite hopeful that the new raised rhubarb bed will do quite well.  Next is first of 3 “salad bowl” lettuce containers.  They are at 3 various stages of growth which is perfect.. hopefully they will stay that way and give us lettuce for most of the summer. This one pictured is a repurposed Pointsettia planter from this past Christmas.

next we have our radishes!  Guillermo is not a radish lover.. but most of my family is, including my mom.  I hope to provide her with some fresh radishes soon.  I’ve done 3 separate plantings so far, each about 2 weeks apart.. and the first planting should be ready to harvest in the next week.. I pulled one today – and it was YUMMY!

Then i have a row of golden beets which are also suddenly taking off from their first little seedlings.

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I’ve had to remove a couple of plants, and have to remove still more.. (same with the zucchini.. but i’m protesting there)..

I don’t like Pruning. It is so hard for me to do – I grieve each little plant or branch i pull.. but in order for good growth to happen, pruning HAS to be done.   I wonder how hard it is for God to prune us?  Is it like the age old saying when a parent disciplines.. .“this is gonna hurt me a whole lot more than it hurts you?”  I’m not a parent, so I’ve never been the “discipliner”.. only the disciplinee.. and I’ve never quite believed that saying.

But.. now here I am, having to prune.. and remove plants that I lovingly seeded.. to make room for the better ones to grow and produce.. and I DON’T LIKE IT!!!

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oh and cucumber.. i have to thin those as well.. they are to grow up these two arches on the North side of the raised garden.   I’ve harvested all the kale now, leaving one stripped plant that is boasting beautiful yellow flowers now and about to go to seed.   The garlic and onions planted last fall are all doing amazing and should be starting their harvest in about a month.  In the meantime, I’ve been cutting back the greens on the onion as needed for salads and dishes. In the foreground is a 5 yr old transplanted sage flowering, and a mint I’m cutting back almost biweekly.  as well as 3 jalepeno pepper plants.   3 rows of Daikon radish were direct seeded on Saturday, almost a week ago) and  sprouted leaves in 3 days after direct seeding!  This is something new for me to try growing, and I’m quite exciting.  I love Daikon (Lo Bok) in salads, fish tacos, or just to munch on fresh.

We have a section of my “kitchen scraps” that are growing amazingly well, 3 romaine (one didn’t make it) 4 celery (not pictured) and 4 rutabega… all from kitchen scraps.

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The new bean bed is taking off remarkably well.. the first plant has reached above the deck floor now.

I’ve really taken to container gardening..using every available space.. including the steps up to the deck where we have a ginormous mint plant, geranium, and my little herb garden that really needs a bigger container.

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I repurposed some flower pots from the garden centre to seed new kale plants for late summer/Fall planting (hoping to over winter & have for Spring harvest again) and 3 for Nasturtium to germinate in.  I hope to find a place to plant the Nasturtium where it can either trail or climb on the deck, giving shade and adding beauty with it’s orange, red and yellow edible flowers.  (behind the upper right nast. pot is a celery growing from kitchen scraps)

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We’ve REALLY been enjoying the new deck during this season, both during the day and into the evening. (showing the other 2 lettuce bowls at later stages of growth than the “pointsettia pot”)

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Never fear -there’s still lots of baking going on in “Bill & Amy’s Kitchen” … we found a VERY old partial case of Alexander Keith’s beer in the basement. (ewww) I had bought the case when a crew of guys came to build fences on our property line 5 years ago.  Thinking it had to be flat, and nothing to lose – I looked up recipes, and found one for Beer Bread. <–link to recipe here. It turned out pretty good. and VERY easy.

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Amazingly when I popped the top off the bottle, it was still quite fizzy- but i still wasn’t gonna drink it.   The bread was dense, but really sweet and flavourful.  Toasted well.  It’s recommended to go with soups, stews, chili.  I’m earmarking this recipe and stashing the rest of the case for Fall when I get back into the heartier cooking.

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More rhubarb/strawberry crumble, baked Kale chips, choc chip cookies, and a rhubarb/strawberry pie for my almost 92 yr old Father-in-Love.   I realllllly struggle with pie crust.  Guillermo really wanted me to make it with coconut oil, and I’ve tried a couple of different recipes.. (honestly, i did no better with butter or lard in previous attempts) but i just can’t seem to roll out a circle without big breaks or splits in the dough.

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This time I didn’t do a good enough seal around the edge.. and lost a lot of liquid to the bottom of the oven…. oh dear. Still, i’m hoping it tasted good, and it did look a bit pretty.  The heart cut-outs help. ❤️ 

This post has really got me thinking about the pruning, changes and hopeful growth in my own life – as I’m stretched in new ways.

God.. I’m trusting you as this pruning happens.  I know you are gentle and loving.

I leave you with this pretty edible bouquet of Sage flowers, mint and Kale blossoms.

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Blossoms, Beans & Baby Birdies

First off… is this not the CUTEST baby bird you’ve seen? 

Our Oriole family has been coming together to feed, Dad with baby daughter (pictured here) and sometimes Mom with baby son.  We have at last 3 adult males.. not sure how many females, the males I’ve been able to distinguish by their markings.  

Today Guilermo, with myself assisting, got the strings up for our growing beans.  I cannot tell you HOW excited I am for this.

As per my last post, I’ve been wanting to build my own “bean fort” for decades.. just like my Dad did.   The seedlings are doing well, and we look forward to watching them climb the Jute strings up to the pergola. 

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We buried the base board behind the beans, between the beans & the deck once we had all the strings evenly taut.  This is on the East side of the house, but we’re fairly confident they’ll get enough sun to grow and climb… they’ve already climbed considerably in the last few days, reaching for strings/poles not yet present.  I look forward to the big bumble bees and hummingbirds that will come to the bean blossoms in a few weeks.

My mom and I went on a “date” this morning, first time I’ve taken her to a store since she fell quite ill with pneumonia in early January.  We masked up and went to our favourite Dutch store to pick up some groceries and treats.  Afterwards we went for a nice drive on back roads and ended up at Creekside Greenhouses on Fairlane Road in Jordan, ON.

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They had a fabulous plant sale, and mom bought me 2 of these gorgous “million bell” hanging baskets.. $5 each!!   We both also bought ourselves a front porch planted basket of geraniums with trailing plants.  ($10 each!)  

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Around the garden many plants are blooming, promising of future seeds or yummy vegetables.. like this Eggplant, that has more blossoms than I can count.. wondering if I need to thin it?  Maybe I’ll wait to see which blossoms produce fruit first, then thin possibly..

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I did a major thinning/harvest of our kale a few days ago, and put all the kale stalks that were going “to seed”  in a large vase on the deck.

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that day we had Grilled kale with chicken drumsticks & sweet potato for dinner, and a big yummy kale salad  with chicken,broccoli, cooked squash, chick peas and strawberries for lunch.

I’ve also been making more Kale chips, and processing kale for omelettes and soups/salads. 

The Kale flowers in the vase have come out bright & beautiful in the last few days.   I hope to harvest some seeds from the bouquet to plant this Fall.

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One last walk around to the front, and you’ll find our Kwanzan Cherry gave up it’s blossoms during this past week’s heatwave. (last week of May, 4 days straight of mid-30’s temps each day) 

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and to the back again, behind the new deck, Guillermo built a cedar mulch walkway between the deck and the remaining peony hedge (we gave away about half of our 40+ foot hedge last year when the new patio & raised garden were built) , which is currently standing over 4′ tall – getting ready for an early bloom in spite of the very long cool Spring.

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I think Spring blossoms are my favourite.. the promise of more.  

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Beans, Beans.. good for your heart…

…………………

and then you’ll want another meal, of BEANS, BEANS good for your heart!

we ate a LOT of beans as kids.. trimmed them, cut them.. ate them.  And yet, I still love beans.  My dad grew them, we trimmed them, mom cooked them, and we all ate them.   green beans, and “sneijbonen” or scarlett runners.  One of my cousins just reminded me that Dad used to call them ‘throat cutters’.   IF you wait too long to harvest them, they are pretty tough.. and then you just want to keep them for the legumes inside – which are fantastic.  Bigger than a kidney bean.. great colour, and so meaty.

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My mom used to cook them up in bacon fat with big cut chunks of bacon, and we’d eat them with mustard.  MMmmmm’mmm. Must buy bacon…

They also make a great candle holder.

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Funny story about these particular (scarlett runner) beans in the pic above.. they’ve been in this vase for about 3 years – and just this past Christmas I had a lit candle on top, which ended up melting into the beans.  A few weeks later, I poured the beans out, dusted them, and removed all the wax.   Fast forward to about a month ago, I decided to see if any of the dried beans were viable, so I soaked them for a few days in wet paper towel, and sure enough, they sprouted!    A couple of days ago, I planted those sprouts into our new bean bed, along with 2 other varieties of pole beans.

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This is the 2nd of 3 new raised planters that Guillermo is building this Spring.  This one is alongside our new deck/pergola, with the hopes that the beans will grow right up the side and onto the pergola. He’s lined the insides with Delta house wrap to protect the wood from rot, and the bottom with landscape fabric to keep weeds out.

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In a few weeks it will be really neat to put this photo side by side with the climbing beans.

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We’re not new to pole beans… we’ve been growing them for years behind our house, on the South side, where they would follow strings as high as we would allow them.  I’m sure they would grow up 5 storeys if we had enough string.  These pics are from previous summers.

I learned from a wonderful hobby gardener.. my Dad. He would grow scarlett runners up the side of his 2 storey steel barn, where they would reach the roof, and then curl on back.

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He also built a gazebo in the backyard on top of an old black walnut tree stump, and then grew beans up two sides of the gazebo.  We would sit in the shade under the vines and pick the beans, eating them raw.  (ps.. while my mom has to be the most photogenic person I know.. my dad.. not so much.)

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Whenever I play in my garden, i think of my dad and how he loved to grow things. He even used his own chicken manure from the chicken pen we had right in our Main Street village backyard.    He grew so much of our food, and we had incredible bounty to share and to store up.  Mom worked hard in the kitchen, with no Air Conditioning in the hot summer months, peeling, chopping, canning and freezing so many meals of food that kept our family going for months.  My sisters and I weeded, helped harvest, and helped with the chopping, peeling.  (to this day, i HATE peach fuzz and juice running down my arms)

Mom’s kitchen was busy every summer with canning peaches, pears, making grape juice, apple sauce, parboiling beans for freezing in milk bags.. and lots of other vegetables too – all to feed her family.

I haven’t gotten into canning yet, but I have frozen quite a bit of our produce.. and hope to do more this summer/fall, and will share the experience with my readers as we harvest.

Eat beans.

They’re good for your heart.  🙂

 

 

 

 

A clenched fist cannot receive

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Yesterday I told a story about our rhubarb thief in the golf cart from many years ago, and my resulting passive aggressive response.    I’m not happy about that.  Honestly, we very gladly and willingly give from our garden.  It was the cutting of the stalks at the time that irked me more than anything.  (pull your rhubarb people, don’t cut it!)  I found this great video on youtube about how to harvest if you’re interested..

I had a conversation with one of my sisters last night, about open hands and closed fists.  I’m not sure where the quote originated from.. but I found these 2 on line..

“We cannot sow seeds with clenched fists. To sow we must open our hands.”

— Adolfo Perez 

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“When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand.”

— Alex Haley

When we hold on too tightly to things, we cannot receive.. and we can often crush/destroy those things that we hold on to the tightest.   Jesus himself said “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) .. and if you yourself are a giver.. you know exactly what He was talking about.  If you’re not a giver.. you may never understand that until you open your hands and give – and find out the true blessing it is.

Honestly I don’t give in order to receive, but I’ve found it a really wonderful byproduct.

A year ago, we had to reallllly quickly move our veg/rhubarb garden for the construction on the back deck/patio.  We gave away about half of our rhubarb plants at the time- and we moved the rest to a temporary dirt pile beside our fence, with the intentions of building a new raised bed dedicated to these wonderful vegetables that we treat as fruit…

Guillermo built the fabulous new bed this week, a little over a year later. (WOW, time flies!!!)  A raised bed for our poor aging backs that suffer when bending to pull the delectable stalks.

Pic below, moving the old rhubarb patch April 2019.

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In the past year since we moved the rhubarb one shovelful at a time, it’s more than doubled.  We gave away half, and now we have double what we started out with!   So today again I put a call out on Facebook.. first come first served.. and gave away 7 mounds of rhubarb plants.

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One friend brought me grape hyacinths in return!  (Thanks Helen!!!)

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This year we’ve only been able to pull a tiny amount, enough to give a handful to my mom, and for one strawberry rhubarb crumble/crisp.

Recipe:
crumble with big fork or pastry cutter:

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup Brown sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
Cinnamon to taste

Reserve about 1.5-2 cups of the crumble.  Press down about 1/4 thick layer on bottom of greased 9×13 pan, and bake for 10 minutes in 350F oven.

cut up rhubarb & strawberries in a bowl – about 6-8 cups.. depending on how much fruit you want (more the better for me!!), cover with about 1/2 cup white sugar and 2 tbsp of corn starch and coat all the fruit. (i do this same recipe for blueberries, apples.. you name it.. adjust the cornstarch and sugar accordingly.  (Add a tbsp lemon juice when doing apples/blueberries.)

after 10 minutes baking the crust, pull out of oven, top with fruit mixture and then the reserved crumble, and bake for 45 minutes.   Let cool before slicing.


 The rhubarb we’re keeping  (for now) has been moved to it’s new bed, with room for 3 mounds of zucchini I planted beside it.

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The first I heard about the concept of “clenched fist vs. open hand” was from a dear friend, Laura Schular many years ago.. and it was in regards to prayer.. we need to have our hands open rather than clasped when we pray in order for us to receive.   Not that God is beyond the posture our hands are in.. but it really helps us to ready our hearts and minds when our posture is involved.

open hands

 

 

Kale Chips & Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

I may have a Kale thief. 

The other day I came home from doing groceries, and came out back to see what Guillermo was up to, and noticed one of my Kale plants stripped bare in the middle….

Hrmmm. Not mentioning any names, but I think I’m related to her.   🙂 

A few years ago I had a rhubarb thief.  I knew exactly who that was too.  They left golf cart tracks all the way through our wet lawn from beside my garden right to their house.   That particular thief actually cut the rhubarb stocks off with a knife, which kinda irked me just a little.  I’ve always been taught, you PULL rhubarb.. never cut it.  Pulling strengthens the root, and more grow back.  So…. harnessing my passive aggressive tendencies, I pulled some of the best and reddest juiciest stalks, washed them, and personally delivered them in a nice basket.. just so they’d have enough.  Don’t laugh.. I’m not proud of it. Honesty I’m glad to share from my garden- it’s not mine anyways… it’s all God’s. He’s the one that makes it grow- I’m just the gardener.

I dunno if you know this about me… but passive aggression is a very strong trait in my family, and somehow I got a triple dose of it.    It’s something I’m working on..  and working on….

Back to the Kale…. I harvested several leaves from a couple other plants (they are all going to seed now) and brought a bin full inside to wash up and break into large chunks. 

I don’t have a salad spinner, so I wrapped them up good in 3 tea towels and left them to dry over night.   Today while I was making soup and quiche for a dear friend going through cancer treatments, I decided to make kale chips in the oven. I had enough for 4 full cookie sheets.

If you’re new to my blog.. let me say.. i’m not your typical ‘recipe blog’… I look for recipes all over the interweb.. and when I find one.. i give credit to where I found it.. and typically don’t write out the whole recipe, unless I’ve done some major changes to it.  Please do go visit the original blogs where I’ve linked if this is something you’d like to try.

I found THIS GREAT RECIPE on line from “Oh She Glows” for All Dressed Kale Chips.  They turned out FANTASTIC.   Here’s the “dressing” (from Oh She Glows site)

 

I did 2 trays at a time in a 300F convection oven as she directs – and turned the trays halfway through.  My oven tends to run low/slow.. so I did a full half hour.  (She suggests 25 min total)

I will say this.. the process of rubbling oil on the kale and getting my hands all oily was the very best thing for my hands that are so dry and chapped from all the gardening I’ve been doing.   I’ve never used Nutritional Yeast before, so i was really curious about this recipe. 

I had bought some a while back hoping to use it sometime, and this was the perfect recipe to try it out on.   I didn’t have cayenne.. but these kitchen staples of mine were what I rubbed in before going in the oven. One thing I learned last time I made kale chips.. go VERY easy on salt.. kale has a natural saltiness that comes out when baked.. you don’t need hardly any added salt at all.

They turned out so crispy and yummy… even Guillermo (not a chip guy) said they were “not bad”… (that’s high praise coming from him!) LOL

While the kale chips were in the oven, I got going on the Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup – a recipe I found HERE several years ago.  I love this soup.  It’s so easy, Springy, and zesty flavourful. 

I spent some time on the deck yesterday cutting up the carrots, celery & onion (I couldn’t bear being stuck inside!) and put the prepped veg in the fridge for today.  I like making “flowers” with the carrots for some interest in the soup.  Some of them look like windmills.. but they’re still cute.

 

This recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken legs.. but I only had breasts – which I cut up in 1″ small pieces and fried up with a little Avocado oil and garlic in my cast iron Dutch oven.   

After the chicken was cooked through, I removed it, and put the celery, onion, carrots in to cook.  Then thyme for about a minute, then 2 tetras of No sodium organic chicken broth. (1800 ml)  The recipe calls for 5 cups, but i’ve found that the orzo sucks up a LOT of liquid, and I always do more veg/meat than a recipe calls for anyway..   

With the chicken broth, I added in the cooked chicken and a fresh rosemary sprig.  (from Bill & Amy’s garden!)   Once it boiled, added in 3/4 cup of dry orzo, and simmered for 10 minutes.   Then I turned it off, removed the lid – and stirred in the juice of one lemon, 2 tbsp of fresh chopped parsley and about 1 tbsp lemon zest – and let it cool so I could portion it out for freezer/reheating.  it’s BEST when served immediately.. but it’s good later too. Here’s a closeup of the soup in a bowl. See those cute carrots wheels?

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As for Bill and Amy’s garden… the rhubarb/squash bed is done and ready for me to transplant.. and the pole bean bed is well on it’s way!  We’re having the BEST week of weather here in Niagara.. today it’s about 21 C with perfect blue skies and no humidity.

 

We are SO thankful to have our backyard to work in while we’re isolating during Covid.. to have this time now to work at home.  God is GOOD.  All the time… God is good.

This morning, before heading into the kitchen, I spent a couple of hours working on recording one very small 4.5 minute devotional video for our kids at church.  We have a really great summer intern who’s been doing some on line devotionals, crafts and other things for our kids at church while we’re not able to worship together. 

She asked me to do a short video for next week.. and wow, it is NOT easy.. i was happy to do it though.  My hats off to her and our Pastor who do this every week! I look forward to sharing the finished product with you next week when it airs… but in the meantime.. enjoy this blooper..

Update on Bill & Amy’s Garden

We had a very rainy “Victoria Day” weekend here in Niagara, Ontario.   Not as rainy as the weather forecasters predicted, thank God.  I actually spent some time in prayer about it, because originally they were calling for over 100 mm (over 4″) with dangerous flooding all in one day, plus the two other days of light rain.  Before the rains started, I picked an armful of tulips from our yard to bring in the house.

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Turns out we only had sporadic light rain for 2 days.. it was actually very lovely, and just what our gardens & fields needed.  We could likely use more.. but I’m not complaining that our current forecast is for 5 days of sun and lovely mild weather.  Not too hot, not too cold.

The kitchen scraps are doing well.  I planted 2 more romaine from our kitchen window sill and it’s taking well.

I have rutabega scraps from this big root end that I cut and have growing in a bowl of water, and not sure when to plant it. do I wait for roots?  (note to self.. google that..)

The zucchini and boston lettuce seeds I planted 5 days ago are already sprouting.  I bring them outside in the sun on nice days, and otherwise keep them in the house by a South facing patio door.

 

I wasn’t expecting visible growth so quickly, but am excited for it.   Nothing yet on the jalepeno peppers, other lettuces, radishes or cucumbers – but i’m hopeful.

Our Kwanzan Cherry tree survived the snowy cold weekend of 10 days ago, and now is in perfect beautiful bloom.

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A few days ago, we planted the 5 large white hydrangeas we bought on sale at Easter and kept in our living room for 6 weeks.  We also planted 2 blue hydrangeas from last Easter that survived the winter on the patio in their pots.   All together they will be  a lovely backdrop for the Liberation 75 tulips that are also finally in bloom along with Orange Star of Bethlehem.

One of the tulips broke off (squirrels!), so I brought it inside and placed it in this lovely bud vase we picked up 4 years ago at my Cousin’s flower shop in Renswoude, Netherlands.  It’s Italian glass, and one of my favourite special pieces.

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Today we planted 4 kinds of heirloom tomatoes, and the herb garden.   I pulled out a very pervasive and root bound mint plant from our main garden and gave it it’s own pot.

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Even though I had planted it in the garden, 4″ plastic pot and all.. the roots shot out and around and it kept sprouting up in other places.  It may get a little shock for a few days, but will likely thrive better in it’s own pot, cut free from the old plastic pot and give my garden more space for lettuces and other veggies.

 

Guillermo has been hard at work on our new raised rhubarb and squash bed.  I’ll share more pics when it’s done.. this is just a teaser. He’s lining the sides with Delta wrap to preserve the wood on the inside.

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I found this valiant Dandy of a Lion peeking it’s way through the rhubarb patch today.. and hadn’t the heart to pull it.  Tomorrow I  need to pull rhubarb & buy some strawberries.. if you know what I mean… 😉img_9258

Orioles and hummingbirds are back at the feeders, I’ve been graced with many photo ops with the Orioles, but none yet with the hummingbirds… I hope to soon to be able to share the hummingbirds with you.

We finished our puzzle of Prinsengracht, Amsterdam just as the rain ended.  I’ll admit, Bill did all the hard parts.   This was our first puzzle we completed left missing ONE piece.  For now I’m keeping the puzzle  on the table, in hopes that we’ll find that piece.. along with my car keys i’ve been missing for 2 weeks… Arrrgghh

I’m really looking forward to sharing more of Bill and Amy’s garden with you in the coming weeks.

Our main thought for this week is one that our Pastor brought up in this Sunday’s message about God’s faithfulness.   It was our church’s 90th anniversary celebration, and I was blessed to be able to partake in a virtual choral group singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness”  Click HERE for the link to the video.

The question I leave you with is this…

Do you have a standout memory of God’s faithfulness that ignites praise in you?
What was the situation? How did God prove Himself faithful?
What helps you remember that time in your life?
I’m ruminating on this.. and thinking I need to spend more time remembering.. building “cairns” to God’s faithfulness.  Writing, recording… cause you know what?
God is good.
All the time.
God is good.  

 

 

 

 

 

Guillermo baked Gingerbread

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Guillermo (my sweet William) has a very sweet tooth.  Not for candy, or gum.. but milk chocolate, cakes, cookies, squares.. if they’re anywhere NEAR the house.. he’ll sniff them out.  I’ve taken to trying to find the most obscure hiding places.. but when his sweet tooth calls.. he finds whatever I’ve hidden.  Even the darkest chocolate that he normally would never touch and I can keep in the house for months so it’s there when i need a small bite.. he’ll find that and finish it off.  and HE’s the thin one.  So unfair.  LOL.  Good thing he’s very handsome!

When he was a wee lad, he said to his mother one day… “I want chocolate cake!” and she promptly replied, “well then, you better learn to bake one!”  and so he did.  He has a chocolate cake recipe that is quite incredible – he baked 2 of them for my birthday earlier this year.  img_5043

I was supposed to blog that recipe and him baking last year, and realize now that I never did.. .I will definitely do so next time he makes it.  He also makes the most amazing silky smooth cheesecake.. mmmmm… cheesecake.  Honey, if you’re reading this.. when Covid is over and we can have company again for dinner.. you’re on dessert duty!

THIS week though, it wasn’t the chocolate cake or cheesecake that he was craving.. it was Gingerbread.   Now, being a good Dutch girl.. when I hear gingerbread.. my mind doesn’t go to cake.. it goes to Speculaas.. Gingerbread cookies.  I learned that gingerBREAD is an actual thing when I married my Sweet tooth William.

I was busy doing something elsewhere in the house, when I  started hearing pans clanking in the kitchen, measuring spoons clunking around, and tell tale signs (murmuring, singing, humming, mumbling) that he was about to go to work.   This VERY old recipe of his that came from some newspaper likely 40+ years ago is glued into his own Hillroy lined paper recipe book. (think school workbook)  Unfortunately the COLOR photograph is not included in his recipe book)

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This bread/cake has an overwhelming molasses taste… it’s NOT my cup of tea, but he loves it.  And it’s pretty simple.  He doesn’t include the poached apples – which actually may temper the molasses a bit, but you can BET he includes the whip cream!

 

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We don’t actually have a 9×9 pan that this recipe required.. we may have had one before the “great upheaval” renovation/move-out/purge in 2018.. but we no longer do.. so he used two loaf pans instead.

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Looks like chocolate cake, doesn’t it?  That rich darkness is all from the Black strap molasses.

And below his first serving… yes, I can hear you laughing… I finally understand.  He only needed a vehicle for his whipped cream.  HAHAHA

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In other news, and for the sake of rememberence… we’ve had SNOW this week.. in almost mid May.. other years we’ve had to turn the AC on in late April.  May 12th and we’re still running the heat every day.

We’re not happy.

We want to porch visit our parents.  Go for long walks.. garden, be outside!! But the weather is not cooperating.  We’re still hovering in single digits (Celcius) most days, and have another frost warning for tonite.

I planted some kitchen scraps that I was growing on the window sill a couple of weeks ago when I had hope for them.. but they’ve wilted.. likely frozen.

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Never fear.. i have more Romaine lettuce growing on the windowsill, and will plant them when we are sure that Jack Frost has left the area.

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I had a rutabega on the counter also growing sprouts.. so i’ve decided to see what that will do.. not sure if the wax will be an issue.. but it’s growing, so I’m gonna try it!

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In keeping with our hopeful theme of “Bill and Amy’s garden” for the next few weeks… here’s a pic of our poor magnolia that isn’t having any luck this year with all the frosty nights.

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BUT… we are Very pleased to have our friend Mr. Redbreasted Grosbeak return.. plus quite a nice little flock of Baltimore Orioles that I’ll share with you on your next visit to billandamyskitchen.ca

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Bill & Amy’s Garden

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For the next couple of weeks the Blog focus is shifting from our kitchen to our garden(s) as we hope to spend more time outside than in.    While April here in Southern Ontario began with lovely warm days, the last 3 weeks for the most part have been unseasonably cool, with the odd warm day thrown in.  Today started at 6C, but  i’m sitting outside, wrapped up in fleece and determined to enjoy these Spring days at home during Covid-19.

I started this blog a few years ago introducing ourselves with a post showing pics of our crazy overgrown vegetable garden.   First post is HERE.    A lot has changed, especially since June 2018, almost 2 years ago, when we tore it all apart.  If you’re interested in that insane story.. it starts HERE.   One thing remains.. i still grow a LOT of garlic.. mostly for the scapes, that I’m very much looking forward to grilling in a couple of months.

This morning, Guillermo and I had to run a couple of errands, and stopped at a couple of roadside flower stands.  I picked up some hyacinths, mini daffodils, and bright orange star of Bethlehem  (these have been on my garden wish list for YEARS)

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After planting the new bulbs, i took a tour of our gardens, and will now take you along with me.

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We have a lovely Kwanzan Cherry that is about to bloom.  This past Sunday the  thermometer held in the mid-high Twenties (close to 80F) and a lot happened in our garden.  Since then it’s dropped down to single digits up to low teens.  (mid 40s-low 50s F) Everything is late this year.. and growing slowly.  I finally have tulips starting to open on the East & West sides of the house, but the North is just starting to sprout stems between the leaves.

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One of my favourite Spring blooming plants (and for some reason one of Guillermo’s least fav) is this bleeding heart I transplanted years ago from the hedge line between our driveway and our neighbours.

 

Our previous neighbour Helen (who we lost several years ago) had something planted EVERYWHERE – her back yard was a jungle of vegetables, fruit trees, perennials, fruit bushes, weeds….  and I very gladly inherited quite a bit from her.  I love meandering around the yard and remembering the original owners who gifted me their plants.

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Most of the variagated hostas & Solomon’s seal that are vibrantly sprouting up  are from my sister Judi’s garden – transplanted when she moved from Ontario to Vancouver over 10 yrs ago.  Garlic bulbs in our new raised garden came mostly from Helen’s garden over a dozen years ago, the kale and onions are left from last year’s late summer planting, and doing well.

Two different mint varietals were gifted last year from our landscapers.  Now mint… that’s interesting..

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Mint is VERY invasive.  I’m surprised we received that from a landscaper..   I actually left the two plants we have in their pots, planting ‘pot and all’ into the dirt “hoping” that would contain them, but the shoots had a bit of a party in the fall, winter and early spring.  I cleaned them up yesterday, and washed all that I harvested and immediately made a pot of fresh mint tea.

It reminds me of our time in Holland 4 years ago when we often would order mint tea, it came with several mottled sprigs in a tall glass mug of boiled water and a pat of honey.  No tea bags there!  I had my first cup with cranberry honey, then found I didn’t need it.. the mint was fresh and more than sweet enough on it’s own.

 

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We retained about half of our peony hedge with the new deck/patio installation last year, and they are well on their way for a June bloom.

 

The faithful rhubarb seems to have greatly multiplied, even though we gave away more than half of it.  I can see some rhubarb crumbles coming along soon… mmmm

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This month Bill is boxing them in and giving them their own new space, while moving these dark purple peonies (rescued from Helen’s Vegetable garden – don’t ask) and tulips back to their rightful spot behind the cottage in a new rebuilt garden.   This pile was only meant to be a temporary transplant while we renovated.

The sweet cherry tree is beginning to blossom, and beckoning it’s faithful pollinators.  Without the orchard behind us, the bees are rare, but we hope to see them return soon.

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Sadly, our magnolia is suffering… there are a few factors.. the cold Spring, a few hot days mixed in with sudden frost causing damage.. and SQUIRRELS!!  The little beasts have not only figured out how to forage at our “squirrel proof” bird feeder, they’ve been eating the blossoms right off the magnolia.   ARRGGHHH… where’s my super soaker?

 

 

While wandering, I went out into the field behind our house.  When we excavated for our new addition 18 months ago, a large pile of dirt from the front of our house went back into the field for us to re plant with.  Our neighbours have been whittling at the pile during the last year (with our permission) and I’m curious how many of my plants they inherited!🌷 Today I found several tulips, poppies, and narcissus on the remaining dirt pile.  I laughed when i found them and immediately went back home to get my tools to dig them up and transplant back home where they belonged.

 

That leaves our container garden.. which will soon have lettuces, heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs for daily picking throughout late summer & autumn.

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2 hydrangeas that were meant to be planted last year, stayed out on the new stone patio in their original planter all winter, and survived.  THIS Spring they will finally be planted and the waiting game will begin as we find out what our new soil in the North facing front garden produces.. Blue or Pink?  Pink or Blue..   Almost feels like a gender reveal party in the making. 😎 👫😀

Hope you enjoyed the tour.. we look forward to what the next few weeks reveals, other than tired muscles. 😉