19 Carrots

It’s been so long since I posted here, I didn’t know WordPress had added such a handy “new post” button to the tool bar. Bear with me as I creak back into the swing of things.

Upon reflection, I’m thrilled with how the garden went last season. I still have a freezer full of vegetables, tons of tomatoes, Red Kuri squash, a single Butternut squash, and a few Blue Hubbard squash big enough to feed the town. The pickled collard greens recipe I used turned out to be outstanding, and I’ll be doubling what I preserve next year. The other recipes for canning turned out equally wonderful (Thanks, Food in Jars!) We finished the Yukon Gold and Red Norland potatoes, and still have a few pounds of Russets, along with a few pounds of onions. I think there are two bulbs of garlic left (I planted a ton more this fall–there can’t be too much garlic in this house).

On the “Hmm, that didn’t go so well” front: I grew 19 carrots and 23 beets. These do not a winter root cellar fill. Not that I got that built, mind you, so it’s a moot point. Nor did I get the portable green house built, though I have the materials. I also really need to figure out the watering situation, especially now that it looks like the town’s water bills will be going up considerably.

The sweet potatoes were mostly bust. I got about a pound of tiny roots to eat (and they were delicious!). I’ll be skipping them this year, since there are farms in the area growing them organically, and they take a lot of room in the garden. I’ll fill that space with other root vegetables (I hope).

I ran out of time to get the garden completely cleaned up…but that will give me something to do as I pace the rows in April, wishing I could plant things. I picked two bunches of escarole in mid-December, saving them from shivering under their row cover, and that was the end of fresh-from-my-garden food for the season, which makes for a looong haul until May. Though, it was a good run from June to December. I planted an indoor herb garden using a “kit” from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and an apple seed that had sprouted inside an apple I cut up to eat (it’s two inches tall!) and that’s been the extent of fingers-in-the-dirt-time for me. I’m starting to get a little angsty.

But I’ve made my seed-starting chart, ordered seeds and seedlings, (I am once again the definition of over-enthusiastic here) shrubs and trees. Because eventually this snow will melt, and the garden and I will be ready to go again.

The picture above is evidence of a labor of love: squeezing key limes for their juice. My sister sends me a box of citrus for Christmas every year, and I asked for lots of key limes in the most recent one. She delivered, ’cause she’s awesome like that, and I have about two and a half cups of key lime juice in the freezer, waiting to be made into pie. I know there are other things I could do with it, but in this house, key limes=key lime pie.

Today, I made a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast that I could probably eat every day of my life. I sauteed a quarter cup of chopped onion, the greens from a grocery store bunch of beets (because I grew 23 of them, and we’ve already eaten the greens), half of a peeled, chopped Cortland apple, and some nutmeg in salted butter until the greens were wilted and the onion and apple were soft. I sandwiched some of that between two pieces of sharp cheddar cheese and slices of sourdough bread, and griddled it up. Starting the day with a kitchen that smells like melted butter is not a bad thing, let me tell you. And the sandwich was earthy and cheesy, with pops of sweetness from the apple and crunch from the bread…I think I’ve just talked myself into having it for dinner.

Oh! There have been so many fabulous books! Here’s a partial list:
The Sky is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Book 3 in The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater
Tell Me by Joan Bauer
Our World by Mary Oliver, with photos from her deceased partner, Molly Malone Cook
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

There are more, but that’s all I can remember for now. In other news, today was the first meeting of my Battle of the Books team at our local library: two fifth graders, a sixth grader, and a seventh grader. We have to read six books chosen by the contest’s panel, and in May we’ll compete in a Jeopardy-style tournament with other teams from around the region. The kids are a lively, delightful group, and I enjoyed our 45 minutes together. I have missed–sometimes gut-wrenchingly so–working with kids, so today was really, really good.

Yeah. Well. Hmph.
Look at these really cute dogs!

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