Posts Tagged 'herbs'

What to Eat When It’s Just Too Hot

coleslawAt last, summer is here. In NJ that means the 3 Hs – Hazy, Hot, Humid. Hot is fine with me. Hazy is tolerable although not preferred. Humid is only good when the temperature is below 85. Above that – we all melt. I guess I am truly aging. There was a time when the humidity didn’t really bother me all that much. Now even I, child of the hot sunshine, find that hot & humid is uncomfortable.

I was working from home last week for several reasons. I had a lot of meetings and if I work from home, I don’t need to use a headset – I can use the laptop speakers instead. chickpea saladAfter a few hours, any headset is annoying. The company office is air-conditioned of course. And while many are perfectly comfortable with that, I am always freezing if the sun is not beating on the windows there. It was not – it was rainy and hazy on the non-rain days. There were some other good reasons to work from home as well, but those 2 top the list.

Working from home means that I can get up and walk about between calls. I can do chores during my usual commute time, and during lunch. I was possessed by the salad genie and for 2 days I created summer salads. Three of them could be made without any heat, and for the 2 that needed some cooking, I turned on the fans and dealt with it. 🙂 When I rested on the 3rd day I had a fresh green tossed salad, lentil salad, chickpea salad, coleslaw, and a pesto pasta with broccoli.

It’s always fun to watch the food creations come into being, but it was even better because I could walk out to the front garden and clip whatever herbs and lettuce I needed. pesto pasta salad My brother-in-law gave me the simplest most tasty recipe for coleslaw: shredded lettuce & carrots, mayonnaise, white balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and basil. I like my coleslaw dry, not wet. I find that 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed with the vinegar is enough sauce for me. I walked out to the garden and clipped 3 types of basil to add to the mix, instead of using dried basil. It was delicious. I know it was because my husband devoured nearly all of it within 2 days. 🙂 (He doesn’t seem to care for the lentils. That’s fine – I LOVE the lentils.)

I used the basil, dill, lettuce, lemon balm, and parsley fresh from the garden as well. Fresh herbs definitely make the flavors pop. Lentil saladWe have a farmers’ market every week in town, so we went up to the market and got fresh onions, fresh garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, bread and pickles. I had a chance to use the salad bowls I’d made many, many years ago when I was still “doing pottery”. They seemed the perfect touch. Dinner was a delicious stuffed bread with fresh veggies and salads. A perfect summer meal when it’s just too humidly hot.

Seeing is Believing

front gardenwith curly grass
Yesterday I walked about in my bare feet, toes digging into the still-wet earth. The last week has been wonderful for my psyche – the plants are coming back!!!! I walk out each day and simply STARE at the green leaves and the yellow and purple crocuses. I have things coming up where I know I planted something new last year. what is this?Unfortunately, the little sign is gone so I’m not sure WHAT it might be. I have other long-loved perennials pushing through as well. I know what they are by where they are, because I don’t always recognize the new growth. Last year I planted the curly grass (you can see it in the top picture) and it made it through the winter. I’m a little sorry I put it where I did, because there is typically a large planter in front of that spot so most people won’t see it unless they are looking at it directly.

lemon thyme wintered overIt’s also exciting to see how many of my herbs wintered over. In one of the pots I have either lemon balm coming back, or sorrel. Or maybe it’s a weed. *grin* I’m waiting to see. It also appears that both the bay and the rosemary might have made it through the winter as well. I usually lose both of those and have to buy new ones, but they are both still fragrant and supple, even if I’m not seeing new green yet. I can always hope. 🙂 The photos show the lemon thyme, sage and chives that most definitely wintered over.

The crocuses pushed through and the daffodils are all showing buds. I had more poppies but I do not have much luck with them. I’ve planted them several times yet they don’t seem to thrive. There’s only one showing at the moment. I noticed the Monkshood is coming up along the driveway. I try not to plant poisonous plants, but I ordered these last year anyway.yellow crocuses It was such a mild winter that I’m wondering if my canna lilies might come back. They never have in the past, so I’m not really expecting them this year either, but there does seem to be something happening in that general region.

Two weeks ago I needed more reassurance that spring would really get here. As I mentioned in the last post, I’d bought some bulbs and tubers. I also placed an order with my favorite online nursery, Heritage Flower Farm. I’ve mentioned before that I ADORE Rudbeckia laciniata var. hortensia, or as they are in the vernacular, the outhouse plant. *grin* Insult them if you wish, but they are gorgeous and a group of them tall and proud in the summer sunshine is a sight to behold.

sage wintered overWhen I’m ordering plants I try now to stick to perennials. I’m trying to save both dollars and my energy. If it’s going in the ground, I want a perennial. I’ll put the annuals in the big pots. I always want to find flowers for the pollinators – trying to grow native plants. I have very little area that is full sun, so I need plants that will also tolerate shade. And I like tall, bushy, wild-looking plants. Some people do color-themes, but I like a riot of color. Every time I say to myself that yellow is my favorite flower color, I realize that I love orange too, and there’s a lot to be said for red, and you need white to bring out the contrast, and purple picks up the colors in my awnings, and blue is spectacular. You can see why I have LOTS of colors. They are all the best. 🙂

here come the poppiesThe rest of my current order from Heritage includes Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop, Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed, and Boltonia asteroides False starwort, Bolton’s aster. The Butterfly weed is to encourage the monarch butterflies that still exist in our area, and it grows 2-3 feet tall. The hyssop blooms later in summer and is blue, when a lot of my late summer is orange and yellow. It grows 3-5 feet and does not require full sun AND the deer don’t like it. Given how often I’ve come home and found a handful of deer grazing on my neighbor’s lawn, I try to find things they DON’T like Chives wintered over(and hide the things they do like behind those). The Bolton’s Aster is new for me. I was intrigued by the description and height (6′): “cloud of profuse, spectacular small white daisies cover this 6 foot tall Midwestern native. Exceptional because it flowers in fall”. I’m not sure yet where to plant this. I think I may need to dig up some more of my lawn. 🙂

Soon. Soon. Soon. Digging in the dirt, removing the debris and weeds, preparing the beds. Soon.

My Winter Garden

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I love my garden. I love flowers, I love growing herbs for cooking, I love the smell of greenery. I know that I have many bulbs I could dig up and winter-over, but it’s all too much effort at this point. rosemary and bay At the same time I’m very happy come the fall and I can stop taking care of all of the plants. 🙂 Maybe some day (that oft-referenced, never-actioned retirement) I’ll be the kind of person to dig up bulbs and store them in the basement. That day is not today. I do, however, attempt to winter over the succulents. They are interesting and comparatively tidy. Even more relevant, however, is the fact that the cats appear to be uninterested in them. This year I also brought in one of the palm trees from the front porch. I’m not sure which species it is exactly, but I checked all of the ones that look like what I have and they were all okay for cats. I bought it at Home Depot so if anyone can put a better identification on it, that would be helpful.

When I had the kitchen updated a bit approximately 12 years ago, I added grow lights to the bay window. I had visions of starting plants from seeds, and growing herbs in the winter. kitchen succulentsI did some of that but not very much. Instead I’ve been using that area to winter-over the succulents. I started with succulents a few years ago after seeing the beautiful arrangements my sister made. I had one pot, and it was small enough that I could bring it in and out. Last year I expanded to another pot, a big one that was on a roller out front. It weighs a ton. My husband brought it in for me and we had it on the floor by the door to the deck. This year that location is no longer available so we had to lift it up to the window seat in the breakfast room bay window. Oh my, that thing is HEAVY. Two of the three palms had already died by the time we were moving the plants inside, but one of them still appeared to be salvageable. I pruned off all of the obviously brown and broken fronds and we brought that in as well.

The major problem with bringing the plants inside is the water. First I need to remember to water them. Second I need to remember not to over-water them and flood the shelf underneath. The pot in the kitchen is easy – not too big, not too heavy.breakfast room plants The other 2 pots are extremely heavy and I thought they might crack anything that wasn’t metal or soft plastic. They are sitting on platters that function but are not aesthetically pleasing. My new kitchen and breakfast room are definitely about aesthetically pleasing. I’m on the hunt for some platter that is attractive, of the correct depth, and waterproof. And THAT’S why there is no picture of the base of the pots! I also moved a grow light into the breakfast room – you can see the pinkish light in the photo. I’m not sure that will be sufficient light for the succulents, but I hope it works. My memory tells me that the palm does NOT need direct sunlight (it was on the porch, after all), so I am hoping that it will have sufficient light from the window and what it gets from the grow light.

Many of my herbs winter-over with no assistance from me. The mint has been coming back for a few years as do the chives. Last year the thyme also managed to save a bit of itself. winterized porchI take all of the big pots, take the flowers out and put them in the compost (or in the leaf bags) and put the now plant-less pots on the porch. Then I take whichever herbs have survived the frost and cold and place those pots as the second row. They line the railing so they can get whatever sun and rain comes their way. The chives seem to manage on this benign neglect so I put them in the corner where I hope they will get the most sun and rain. We’ll see how the others do. The pot with the rosemary and bay leaves is way too heavy to move. I’ve considered digging up those 2 plants and bringing them inside simply for the lovely smell. Maybe if I get super ambitious this weekend I’ll do that. But if past performance is any indicator of future earnings – probably not that likely. 🙂

And now for the obligatory cat photo. GC was all curled up on the couch. She meowed a few times but obliged me by staying in that spot. She’s such a sweet girl.

GC on couch

GC being adorable


Stat Counter

wordpress analytics