tart & tasty

tart & tasty

Yup, today is a bowl full of cherries. These cherries came from my neighbor’s tree. The wife of the couple grew up in the house and her mom used to make jam from these tart cherries. But she doesn’t and they have always just left them on the tree for the birds and squirrels to feast on and make a mess of. Until today. Bookman and I have never picked cherries before and it turned out to be easy and fun. Don’t worry about the squirrels and birds not getting any. There is still at least another two huge bowlfuls on the tree. Of course we had to taste them and yes, they are tart. But after the first tangy pucker they are quite palatable. Still, I wouldn’t eat them as a snack all on their own.

Right after picking, we went out and bought a cherry pitter, a nice little hand tool that pushes the pit out of the cherry quickly and easily without too much mess. Then Bookman and I spent about two hours pitting all of them. We have five

look at that herb spiral!

look at that herb spiral!

quarts (4.7L) currently in the dehydrator. These will go in granola and baked goods like scones and muffins. We have another tightly packed 5 quarts in the freezer. These will be made into pie and maybe a little jam. I wanted so badly to bake a pie today but the weather outside is so very hot and humid — 90 (32.2C) with a dew point of 67 (19.4C) — that the prospect of turning on the oven, even with the air conditioner on, was not appealing. So the pie will have to wait until it cools off a bit. By the looks of it, that might be next weekend.

Thursday was Independence Day and Bookman and I were both home. We had hoped to continue working on our new garden path but there were no free wood chips from the city at either of our nearby locations. So instead we did some weeding. There is always weeding to be done. It got hot fast though so after about 10 a.m., we were chased indoors where we spent the rest of the day lolling about.

peas, lettuce, chamomile & nasturtium

peas, lettuce, chamomile & nasturtium

We have been enjoying lettuce and spinach from the garden but the spinach is about to bolt in this heat so I picked the last decent leaves this morning. The lettuce is still hanging in there but I suspect not for too much longer. However, the peas are now ready for picking! I picked some snow peas that Bookman is going to use in a risotto for dinner tonight. I also picked shelling peas which I shelled this morning. I love fresh peas from the garden they are so much bigger and tastier than the frozen ones you buy at the market. There are still lots of peas and I’ll be picking them all week. I also picked some mustard greens that Bookman will be sauteing up with garlic and onion and kale to go along with the risotto tonight.

There is a section of the veggie garden I planted cabbage seeds in and only one cabbage sprouted. I’ve never grown cabbage before and I am not sure what I did wrong, but the one sprout is growing valiantly. Still, it leaves a big bare patch, so I’ve planted a few more radishes, more beets, and more lettuce that will hopefully be ready in September. We’ll see.

I picked up a couple books from the library that I have been patiently waiting my turn for and they are both really good.

Mexican hat & blanket flower

Mexican hat & blanket flower

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants you Didn’t Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos. I knew about some of them like dandelions and rose hips. But did you know dahlia tubers are edible? They can be eaten raw, grated and used like zucchini to make bread, boiled, roasted or baked. They apparently have a radishy taste. I don’t have dahlias because they have to be dug up and stored to overwinter and what a pain. But now I am interested in giving them a try. And daylilies. I know the flowers are edible but so are the tubers. Harvested in fall you eat them like fingerling potatoes. They supposedly have a delicate flavor when roasted with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I happen to have quite a few daylilies. Come fall, I will be digging up a few tubers to try! And all the volunteer spiderwort I have growing on the south side of my house? Edible green when cooked. So many surprising plants in this book that are edible and the author lets you know how to harvest and use them. I will let you know which ones I try and how they taste.

beardtongue, I think

beardtongue, I think

The other excellent book I got is The Edible Landscape by Emily Tepe. At last, an edible landscaping book for the upper midwest! It’s all about the edible and ornamental value of food plants. Tepe encourages the gardener to consider how beautiful food plants can look and how they can be used all over the garden, not just in a traditional vegetable bed. Very inspirational!

For those who were interested in Bookman’s potato salad he attempted to recreate it for you. When he made it originally he created it on the go so his recipe is a guess at what he did. Enjoy!

Starting to bloom this week: Mexican hat (because they look like little sombreros), bachelor buttons and calendula (both in the herb spiral which is looking fantastic), beardtongue (I think that’s what it is!).

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