Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do not be afraid!

" You must bring freedom, relaxation, knowledge and imagination to the thing and above all, do not be afraid; a failure is no disgrace and may very often be more instructive than a success.... The sense of failure is, in any case, always sharper in the the mind of the practitioner than in those of the guests."
Richard Olney Simple French Food
The Mindful Cook pg 93
This quote just leaped off the page as I read a bit and eat lunch; one of my new creations straight out of our garden. Don't you just love the thought of cooking with freedom to do as you feel, to be completely relaxed, a touch of knowledge is probably good and with full imagination all the while doing it fearlessly!!
This past week, I got a chance to visit my mom and grandparents in AZ. While there my grandparents give my mom and I full freedom to explore and play in the kitchen. My grandparents are amazing and brave. As I write this, my grandma is having her 96th birthday today. My grandpa will turn 97 next month. How many people, no matter what there age, will give playful and creative cooks full freedom in their kitchen? The list is very short. Talk about fearless!
One of our dinner creations had a main dish of brats and sauerkraut. I know this is not all that unique but just wait, it gets better. The only brats I've ever seen cooked was in beer first and then browned on a BBQ or skillet. This is where not being afraid of failure comes in... I bought a can in the beer section called Tilt. How was I suppose to know it is not beer? The label said contains malt, had 8% alcohol and it was right next to Coors-which I know is beer. I wanted to get a single can so 5 cans didn't just sit around until my next visit. Hense, I bought one can of Tilt.
I opened the can, dinner was to be served in 35 minutes. The liquid that poured out was this fluorescent green, lime tasting stuff, obviously not beer. I tasted it - you kind of have to in this situation. First thing that happened was 10 minutes of hysterical laughter from me and my mom. I dropped the brats in the bright liquid and smiled, why not? From there it got messy, I proceeded to boil green tilt stuff all over my grandma's stove - repeatedly. I kept going until it was done, took it off, sliced it and browned it on the stove, added the sauerkraut to the pan and and exactly 6:00pm give or take a minute it was servied. And it was great/kind of green but great- who knew!!
Proceed without fear but with imagination, freedom, knowledge and be relaxed while you go. You may make a mess, scare your family and cause a few eyebrows to rise but you will be free to live and your memories will be crystal clear- or in this case bright green.
Wishing you fearless cooking,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lasagna bed experiments get an A+

This morning's newspaper had an article from Mike Stanly the project manager at our cities community garden. It is good to talk to or at least hear from other gardeners. A couple topics caught my attention. First, was the effect the cool and damp spring has had on our local gardens. Lots and lots of slugs are not just part of my garden but more of a wet spring thing. Slow to grow pepper and tomatoes are normal and his first experiment with lasagna gardens is so far a great success.

What does this mean to my own garden? Well since you asked, my tomatoes are growing great, with big stems, healthy foliage and new baby tomatoes. They do not look yellow or spindly but robust. I attribute their vigor to planting my tomatoes in my lasagna gardens. I can't remember if I told you but I built two more beds this spring. In one day, I built the beds and planted my tomatoes. Apparently, if you are highly motivated and creative, building these beds is a snap!

Anyway, I was excited to hear it was more likely the cool and damp spring and not my lasagna beds that brought in the slugs in such abundance. However, my lasagna beds have given me huge and beautiful purple potato plants, great big red beets and yummy onions.

Last night for dinner we pulled our first beets. Not only were they the most beautiful beets I have ever grown, the lasagna soil was incredible rich, dark, moist and so tender. It's hard to believe just a few months ago it was a bunch of shredded paper, chopped leaves, grass clippings, chopped straw, peat moss compost, kitchen scraps, etc...

With the hot weather finally here, I'm curious to see what the beds do with a little heat to match up with their incredible soil. Thanks also to a fellow gardener and lasagna bed experimenter for a few words of confirmation in the local gardening climate.
The lasagna bed shown above is my first built. The potatoes are on the far end. My tomatoes are in two other beds in my back yard. By the way, did I mention this bed is built on a bed of rocks. There is only about 1/2 -1 inch of top soil the rest if a solid layer of rocks. Not a bad garden if I do say so myself. If I had to rate the fun and success of lasagna gardening so far it would get an A+. As an added bonus I have only had to pull about 5 weeds out of this bed all year. My normal beds have tons more weeds!!
Happy gardening,