Showing posts from October, 2015

Sunday Supper: Chicken and Broccoli Ziti

It's been a while since I've reported on a Sundaysupper, but here's a really good one:

We still don't have a fully functioning kitchen yet, so Kirk is focused on easy dinners. This chicken and  broccoli ziti was an upgrade from the mac and cheese that we'd normally make, to spruce it up for a Sunday dinner.
To make this, Kirk boiled a box of pasta and added broccoli from our last harvest in the last three minutes of cooking. This is probably the equivalent of one large head of broccoli, but ours included lots of individual side shoots, which is what you get as the season goes on.
He also sautéed up a pound of chicken breasts, seasoned with dried basil and oregano, plus salt and pepper. 
Finally, the sauce is a standard bechamel with about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan and four to six cloves of minced garlic. He mixed it all together, topped it with breadcrumbs and some more grated parmesan, and it's all done!
This would probably make a good baked casserole-type di…

Indian Summer

Today wasn't the most gorgeous of Indian summer days, but I'll take the warmth as it comes, blustery clouds, scattered showers, and all.

This time of year is always a little unsettling to me. After a frost, there's suddenly not much left to do in the garden.

Okay, there's plenty of cleanup to take care of, but nothing is urgent at all right now. THat will change when the sugar maple finally dumps its elves everywhere, but for now it's a strange lull.

With no garden activities to enjoy, the warm weather seems kind of a waste. But I also feel a vague need to take advantage of the day, because the sun is setting early, and there's not so very much daylight to be had these days.

The roses, for their part, seem unaware that everything else has died off. They're still blooming almost better than they did in the spring and summer. Being right next to the house surely helps keep them warm and sheltered from the wind.
Come to think of it, lots of red flowers around…

One Last Summer Harvest

We often don’t have a killing frost here the first couple times it’s predicted, protected as we are by the ocean, which acts as a big heat source and keeps our temperatures slightly warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. In the game of protecting tender plants, those few degrees in either direction are crucial.
This year, though, there was no flirting with 33 degree nights. The temperature dropped right down to 30 last night, and that did in the last of the summer fruits. We prepared to protect our leafy greens, and yesterday I also went through the garden to pick anything that looked big enough to be worth saving: 

As a general rule of thumb, fruits will not survive a frost, but root vegetables will be just fine until a hard freeze, thanks to the insulating power of the earth. Leafy vegetables are a toss up: Basil gave up long ago and green beans are out, but arugula, cabbage, and kale are fine. Broccoli is also usually pretty tough, but we were planning on a stir fry for di…

All Snugged Up

It's that time of year again: Frost is on its way. That means it's time to get our butts in gear and protect our fall veggies from getting nipped back by the cold. With proper care, leafy greens should last through year's end, and leeks and carrots will be fine all winter (though there's no guarantee we'll be able to get to them, but they'll survive nonetheless).
We never, ever manage to take care of this until the very day temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. This year there's the whole kitchen thing, but there's always something. The trouble with that is that, without fail, the day we put up the tunnels us the windiest, coldest day of the fall.
Today was no exception. The streak is alive.
Still, we got it done. This year we put our longest ever tunnel in place:

This stretches the full 27 feet across our longest bed along the brick path. Inside are leeks, beets, turnips, bok choy, mesclun, and a handful of carrots.
We also covered some ot…

A Dozen Eggs

At least two of our new chickens — Rachel, the Rhode Island Red; Lizzy, the Welsummer; and Louisa Catherine, the Gold-Laced Wyandotte — are laying now, and we’ve collected a dozen eggs so far: 

This mis-matched set doesn’t include the four “seed eggs” that we put in the nesting boxes to help the girls figure out where to lay their eggs. Someone’s got it down, but someone else is still laying little eggs on the floor under the roosting bar.
But who’s laying where, and which egg belongs to which bird?   
All three of our older chickens are molting and appear to be done laying for the season. Martha and Abigail lay green eggs, so that’s not in question anyway. Sally lays light brownish-pink eggs, and you can see that we have three or four full-sized, light eggs in the box. We thought perhaps she was the one laying these big eggs in the box (despite the molt), but today I picked up an egg with a clue: 

The downy feather left attached to this light egg is a definite red-brown, and that me…

The Colors of Autumn

It's shaping up to be a gorgeous holiday weekend here, and we took a little time out from building kitchen cabinets to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. The leaves here are just starting to flush with color, and there are lots of pops of red and orange in the garden as well.

Our calendula was nibbled back a few times by a bunny or groundhog, so it's not as full as in years past. Good thing I still have plenty of it dried and stored from last year to make soap. The blooms we do have are lovely, though. 

Tough the vines have called it a day, the rose tomatoes are still ripening in the sun. 

The okra has also slowed way down in the cooler temperatures, but they're still blooming. The bees love these flowers, so I imagine they'll be all over this once it unfurls. These plants are easily eight feet high now, so the blue sky is always the backdrop when you look up to see them.

These tiny red petunias really took off this summer, and they're still going strong. You'l…

Autumn Greens

So there's no more fuss and there's no more scenes and my garden thrives! (You should see my nectarine.) But I'm telling you the same I tell Kings and Queens don't ever ever ever mess around with my greens!
~from Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim
We're still slogging through our kitchen renovation, and it's sucking up a lot of time that we would ordinarily be spending on preserving the last of our summer fruits — not mention cooking delicious meals using all that garden produce. An embarrassing amount of apples, pears, and tomatoes have been fed to the chickens due to our inability to eat them in a timely fashion.
One thing that's doing well and can be stored in place outside are the cool-weather greens. Though the back half of the summer was a dry one, we had a fair amount of rain early this month to get us back on track. The moisture and the cooler temperatures mean happy greens:

Cilantro, because it's related to carrots and celery, is at its absolute b…

The Cranberry Harvest

Back in April, a soil test revealed that the beds where we planted our cranberries and blueberries are nowhere near acidic enough for those plants to thrive. We replaced the sadder of our two cranberry beds with strawberries, but kept one around, since we had nothing better to put in it this season. As you can see, it's still pretty pathetic, despite adding some sulfur:

Given that we planted these cranberries years ago, they should be filling the bed by now. Because the pH of the soil is too high, however, the cranberries can't access the nutrients they need. That means they're growing very slowly. Here's the whole crop for the year, from three plants: 

To be fair, they do look nice. It's just that 40 square feet of planting area has yielded us only 25 berries:

By any accounting method, that's not a very good use of space. Should we hang onto the plants anyway and keep plugging away at making the soil more acidic, or should we give up on cranberries since we do…