Thursday, March 26, 2009

Catching Up Is Hard to Do

Phew! What the heck's been going on? I honestly don't know; nothing major, just lots of little fun stuff. Last weekend is a fuzzy memory, if only because we've been sitting under a wet, hazy front this week that has delivered some lazy-making weather.

However, I do remember sitting around last Sunday thinking, "Wow, this is great weather to be outside!" Except I was inside. I finally gave myself permission to be lazy, and enjoy the breezes coming in through the windows, without being chore-driven. That's a good way to take advantage of nice weather, too!

Sunday was also the day Miss Chef started her stock, as I chronicled in my last post, so I guess I'll start by showing you the final results:

Dark, rich-looking stuff, isn't it? Right around two gallons! That's from two batches, remember; she poured off one batch and added water back in to the bones and whatnot. The very best part of this last batch of stock is that I didn't have to clean any of it up! Yesss!! Miss Chef very responsibly took care of it on Monday while I was at work.

She also used a little bit that evening to make dinner--we had bought a frozen duck on sale, and she roasted it whole. And then she did something that separates her from mere home cooks like me: she used a failed batch of blackberry jam from last summer, which didn't gel, and reduced it with some of the beef stock to make a truly mind-blowing sauce for the duck.

One of the things I love about blogging is that it gives me a venue to share these wonderful experiences! Feel free to tell me how jealous you all are! :)

Ok, well, come Tuesday, the weather was about to change, and the lawn was getting excited about growing even higher and thicker with the oncoming rain. So I knuckled down and mowed it all after work. Before I did that, though, I wandered around the yard to see how our garden(s) grow(s), so I could share it here.

I'm gonna start with a cheat--I already had this picture, but wanted to tell you a little story. I don't know if these are wild or naturalized or what, but these little grape hyacinths are everywhere.

I think they're charming, in an English-cottage-garden sort of way. They just sort of pop up in bunches in our flower beds and even in the lawn. Miss Chef hates them. She finds the long, thin, chive-like foliage very messy and sprawling. I agree with her, but feel that the blooms are worth it. She, however, is dedicated to yanking them out whenever she weeds.

I got very fussy about it our first spring here, but then realized that the hyacinths are much more persistent in the garden than Miss Chef ever will be. So I let her rant and yank, and just enjoy them while they're here, knowing they will mysteriously multiply when she's not looking. Heh heh heh.

I decided that day to take the opportunity to yank Miss Chef's chain a little, by creating this charming little bouquet:

She did admit that it was very pretty, since the limp foliage was absent. See, compromise is a wonderful thing! I can't believe how well the camera captured the deep blue of these flowers; this must be my favorite color.

So, let's see what else has been growing out there. My peas are coming up enthusiastically:

They are even more and bigger since I took this picture. I now have over 20 little ones coming up. I'm a little concerned about training them to the trellis, but it should be a fun learning experience.

So far, no rabbit invasions (knock wood!), though today Rosie and I spotted a pair over by the pond in the common area. I kind of wished I didn't have to hold her back. I mean, I don't want her to think she's not allowed to chase them out of our yard! Don't worry, animal lovers, she's not fast enough to catch them, in spite of her fascination with them.

Miss Chef finally planted the herb bed she's been working on for the better part of a year.

She had to do battle with some fire ants that had moved in over the winter, but she was tired of looking at this half-done pile. Looks much better now! Let's see, starting clockwise at noon, we have sage (transplanted from last year's garden), cilantro, marjoram, flat-leaf parsley in the middle, oregano in front, then more marjoram, curly parsley, and a small lavender plant hiding between that and the sage. There's more cilantro and oregano in the back, and there's thyme in there somewhere. Maybe it's the dark stuff I thought was oregano. Huh. I obviously have a few things to learn here.

Now, we have no idea how some of this stuff will do, but surely some of it will prosper. I've already mentioned our great success with basil last year; we planted it with the tomatoes, as Miss Chef read somewhere that they support each other, I think by chasing away each others' pests. Or something. I dunno, but it worked well for us. We also have some chives in a planter, which come back every year to our continuing surprise. And the rosemary bush has had a tough winter, but is still joining the springtime bloom!

My cheap little camera doesn't do up-close focus very well, but those are very pale lavender blooms there, not bits of toilet paper stuck in a bush. Honest.

Well, Wednesday the rains began, and Miss Chef and I spent part of the evening at the library. We were both getting hungry while we were out, and Miss Chef kind of wanted to just eat out quickly somewhere. I got a little Mom-ish on her, and we finally agreed to go home to cook our own meal. After all, she had already thawed out a package of that great grass-fed beef we got at the farmers' market. We would betray our principals to go spend money on industrially-raised meat! Not that we don't do that often enough...but, one step at a time, right?

Anyway, when we got home, she said something along the lines of "I cooked last night, so you're gonna cook tonight, right?" I objected at first, but it's true that I am fully capable in the kitchen, and could certainly use the practice! It was easy, since Miss Chef had already decided the menu--burgers, roasted potatoes and "some kind of vegetable you can nuke."

So I leave you with Flartus' own version of dinner. It's much less glamorous than a Miss Chef creation, but as she says, she's the last one to complain when somebody else is doing the cooking for her!

(That dimple in the middle of the burger is how Miss Chef told me how well-done it was--she can tell the "temp" of any kind of meat by pressing it with her finger. How cool is that?)

Bonus shot: Ooo, I just stepped into the backyard in the rain and the dark, and the jasmine smells AMAZING! So here's a picture of it in brighter, drier times.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, where I will ask you to vote on something near and dear to my heart!


  1. I looooove jasmine!!

    And cilantro is one of my absolute fave fresh herbs.

    Very enjoyable post. I'd like to know how you prepared the potatoes for your dinner- they look yummy!

  2. MC's stock looks luscious - I'm afraid all I've ever used is canned. I like the hyacinths and I'm very happy you were able to make a pleasing little bouquet - the color is awesome.

    And, Flartus, you can cook for me any time!

    Nancy in Atlanta

  3. Liz, I just diced them fairly small (b/c I wanted them to cook FAST!), then tossed them in a little oil, with salt & a garlic & herb seasoning mix I use. Then put 'em on a sheet pan and into a hot oven...I think it was 425? It's easy-peasy, and Miss Chef loves 'em.

  4. The only problem with this gorgeous beautiful lengthy post is that once I finally get to the bottom, I forget what I was going to comment on from the top. And the middle. And at the end I have to scroll back up and remind myself.

    The stock looks amazing and, yes, I'm jealous. Very very very jealous.

    Contrats on the grass and mowing. That's a sure sign the dormancy of winter is really really over.

    Love the garden. You must be so proud. What a joy to grow your own vegetables.

    The herb garden is more mmy speed and I am so happy to report I could identify all the goodies growing there. I have my own batch going pretty well too. We'll see how long before the plants die.

    And I had stuff about the end of your post I was going to comment on, but I flipping already forgot what. I'll come back later. I'm tired.

    Love you!

  5. Oh yeah... the deep blue of the bouquet - it totally rocks! Amazing azure to be sure.


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