Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Rainy Day in October

The Chicago sky is shedding tears over the Cubs being booted out of their rightful path to the world series which pretty much the whole city--at least the north side--felt was destined in the year that marked 100 years since their last world series win.

Defeat in Wrigleyville but Victory in the organic garden--still going strong after these many months. I've been true to my pledge not to go to the grocery store for the month of August and have continued to stay away through the entire month of September and thus far into October-- only supplementing my supplies with what I buy at the farmer's market--mostly bread, cheese, corn and peaches. Our local farmer's market is over for the season on October 10. Unless, there is a frost, I see my garden going strong longer than that. I had a cold frame construted for one of my raised beds that will extend the season for my herbs and serve as a birthing place for my garlic.

I am still harvesting swiss chard, leeks, carrots, onions, lettuce, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, several varieties of peppers, celery and all kinds of herbs and edible flowers. The tears for the Cubs are producing a series of produce and flavors that are out of this world.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Green August

It's August 1, the first day of my third green August. My rules have changed a bit but my goals remain the same. I will for one month try to live green. I will make meals from what's ready to harvest in my organic garden. I will bike, walk or take public transportation all month.
Since my garden is somewhat sun challenged, the beginning of August is a little spotty. My tomatoes are still green, the eggplant and cantaloupe are way in the future. So what's for dinner?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Embrace Dandelions

After a long brown, gray and white Midwestern winter dandelions are a beautiful sight. A lawn filled with dandelions has not been sprayed with pesticides. It is healthy and natural as nature intended. Young children pick dandelions and make beautiful bouquets. It is only as one grows older that prejudice develops and the lovely yellow flowers are maligned.

Toast Spring with a glass of Dandelion Wine.

Dandelion Wine

2 qts dandelion flowers
3 lbs granulated sugar
4 oranges
1 tsp. cloves
1 gallon water
yeast and nutrient

This is the traditional "Midday Dandelion Wine" of old, named because the flowers must be picked at midday when they are fully open. Pick the flowers and bring into the kitchen. Set one gallon of water to boil. While it heats up to a boil, remove as much of the green material from the flower heads as possible (the original recipe calls for two quarts of petals only, but this will work as long as you end up with two quarts of prepared flowers). Pour the boiling water over the flowers, cover with cloth, and leave to steep for two days. Do not exceed two days. Pour the mixture back into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the peelings from the four oranges and cloves and boil for ten minutes. Strain through a muslin cloth or bag onto a crock or plastic pail containing the sugar, stirring to dissolve. When cool, add the juice of the oranges, the yeast and yeast nutrient. Pour into secondary fermentation vessel, fit fermentation trap, and allow to ferment completely. Rack and bottle when wine clears and again when no more lees form for 60 days. Aging longer improves flavor.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Winter Garden Week 8

The Harvest Continues--fresh herbs inside--zero degrees outside.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Take a Break from Chicago Winter

2008 Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show
March 8-16, 2008
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont, IL

Saturday through Wednesday: 9:30am-6pm
Thursday and Friday: 9:30am-8pm

Admission: $12 weekday and $14 weekend

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Seasonal Effective Order

Indoor Harvest

I'll be picking fresh herbs from my garden tonight. Tortilla soup with cilantro , cucumbers with sour cream and dill, and fresh mint for my strawberry shortcake. The goddess has outsmarted winter with a little help from her aerogarden.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Winter Garden Week Six

First Harvest
It is really amazing how much the herbs have grown in the past two weeks. I have began to snip small amounts to add to various menus. It is a treat to have fresh organic herbs available on my kitchen counter during the cold, snowy days of a Chicago winter.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dorothy Hyde Kuhrt--100 Year Birth Anniversary

Pretty as a movie star, my mom could have held her own in the Hollywood days of Joan Crawford and Bettie Davis. Lucky for me, Dorothy chose to be a mom and a "housewife." No, Mommie Dearest, fortunately--but the dearest and most loving of moms. Her baking gene produced award worthy treats which were gobbled up by friends and family. She was a perfectionist--our house was always super clean and beautifully decorated. She paid the same attention to my wardrobe. I was always dressed in the latest fashion of the times. She would spend hours taking me to stores to find just the right outfit--whether for the first day of school, Christmas, a new coat for winter or an Easter outfit. I especially remember times spent at Marshall Field's State Street Store and Gilmour's in Oak Park--trying on coats, hats, dresses and more. Happy 100th Mom--I know you're out there somewhere in the Internet. Love and thanks for all you did, Carole

Monday, January 07, 2008

Winter Garden--week two

Little Sprouts...

The chives are winning with dill in hot pursuit. The basils and cilantro are hanging in with parsley and mint just starting to sprout.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Under the Covers

Protected by a fluffy white comforter of snow the outdoor garden hibernates. Indoors, the garden under lights begins to sprout.

It's the first day of the New Year--a time for resolutions. My resolution for this year is to learn to make bread. Not the bread machine variety that comes in a package but the real thing. This is not my first attempt at bread-making. I spent the summer of 2006 pursuing this noble goal. My creative efforts were flat at first but as I continued I was able to produce a tasty loaf of white bread. Although I was never completely satisfied with the results--too dense, uneven, too yeasty--not quite right.

This year I resolve to make bread worthy of a French boulangerie--with me the boulanger. I will be studying the science of making bread in my kitchen. I will test recipes under various conditions and methodically record the results until I have perfected Pain Francais--the perfect loaf of French Bread.


From the future Bread Goddess