gardening, fish or cut bait edition

Fish or Cut Bait Gardening 1

So remember what I said earlier? How I have no experience with ANYTHING having to do with gardening? Keep that in mind. Because of my insane nerdspaz tendencies, I own FOUR gardening books. FOUR. I had yet to plant anything (beyond the seed of doubt in my mind that any of this will be remotely successful, of course) until this past Sunday. I’ve probably spent more time on Google in the past few months than the people who WORK at Google. If there was a show for information hoarders, I would star in the first episode.

As I mentioned, last weekend I dug up all four of the garden beds, and also spent a few hours looking like an uneducated stalker at the local Southern States and nurseries. Seriously, I went to TWO local nurseries, and TWO different Southern States. And I asked for people’s opinions at every single place I went. At one of the nurseries, a woman implied that I might be biting off more than I can chew for my first year of gardening. (Actually, there was no implication. She straight just said, “you’re biting off more than you can chew.” I left after that.)

I stopped asking people for help after that.

Thus, my “fish or cut bait” title — which is really the Politically-Correct-Food-Blogger Version of another less-than-popular colloquialism that I decided not to use because I’m too classy because I was afraid people would be offended. Basically, I figured it’s time to stop asking questions and just DO SOMETHING.

Fish or Cut Bait Gardening 2

I think, out of sheer terror of not having a plan of attack, I’m going with the Square Foot Gardening technique this year. It’s good for newbies like myself, and it keeps you organized and such. I figure later on, once I get my bearings, I can change it up if I see fit. So at 4 beds each measuring 8 feet by 4 feet, I have… 132 squares to fill with plants.

My first thought was something along the lines of, WOW THAT’S A LOT OF SQUARES. Which was also my husband’s first thought, although our interpretations were somewhat different in a very men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus way.

Me: “Wow that’s a lot of square feet. Shit, I hope I can grow at least ONE tomato or else I’m going to look like a total ass.”

Brad: “Wow that’s a lot of square feet. I bet we’ll grow so much, we can sell the extra tomatoes to the neighbors for $6 a pound.”

Um, no, husband. You can go inside now. Go sit inside with your high expectations. Go sit inside where I can’t see you.

Anyways, here’s what has gone in so far:

1 square of lacinato kale (planted from seed on Sunday 3/4/12)
1 square of spinach (planted from seed on Sunday 3/4/12)
1 square of red cabbage transplants (planted Thursday 3/8/12)
1 square of mustard greens transplants (planted Thursday 3/8/12)
1 square of cauliflower transplants (planted Thursday 3/8/12)
1 square of broccoli transplants (planted Thursday 3/8/12)
1 square of arugula transplants (planted Thursday 3/8/12)

Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it till you make it”? I’m thinking I’m going to officially name my garden the “Fake It Till You Make It Garden” since I basically have no idea what I am doing. Case in point – transplants, how do you plant them? I heard somewhere you were supposed to tease the roots away from the ball of soil, so that’s what I did.

It’s been a week, and theoretically my spinach should have sprouted, but we did have a two nights with below-freezing temperatures this week, so I’m just going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll show up soon. It makes you wonder about using wooden greenhouses sometimes. The transplants look much the same as the day they left the nursery, except now they’re in the ground.

Tomorrow I’ll plant beets, radishes, leeks, peas, turnips, and rutabega. And then after that will come carrots, lettuce, onions, and even some seed potatoes… whenever I figure out when to plant them.

Thanksgiving 2010 | Broccoli Puree with Parmesan

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If you’re particularly observant, you might have noticed that I’ve never posted a recipe for broccoli on the site before. If you have noticed this, I humbly ask you to stop stalking me congratulate you on being so detailed in your blog reading. You are creepy awesome!

Anyhoodle, the reason I haven’t posted any recipes for broccoli is because it’s one of my… how should I put this? Controversial vegetables. It’s controversial in that I haven’t quite figured out how exactly I like broccoli. Kale used to be in the controversial veggies, but then I found out I love it raw in salads. And until this past February, I thought brussel sprouts were “nasty, disgusting midget cabbages,” but it turns out, if you douse them in bacon and balsamic vinegar, they are freaking delicious. (Go figure.) Cauliflower and delicata squash are still in the doghouse, but I’m working on them. I think I’ve said this before, but basically my belief is: if I don’t think I “like” a vegetable, then it’s not like I won’t ever find it tasty… I just have to find the way that I like it. I thought for sure that asparagus would break the mold – I thought it was NASTY for so so long – but I found a soup recipe that uses it, which I love!

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So yes, this is the first broccoli recipe that I found that I really, actually, WANT to eat. I know this might be hard to believe for some of you… you are probably cut from the same cloth as my mother, who steams broccoli in the microwave and eats it with a smidgeon of salt straight out of the steamer. I applaud you, you healthy person, you. (I would like to think that the puke-green color of the microwaved broccoli is why I’ve never been attracted to it… but it’s not your fault, Mom. Even though that brown Pampered Chef steamer has haunted my nightmares for the past 23 years… don’t go blaming yourself.)

Like I said yesterday, my menu usually sticks to the same structure; one “starch” dish, whether it be mashed potatoes or bread, one dessert, one salad, and an entree. Then I do one or two vegetable dishes as well. I loved this dish because it was kind of like mashed potatoes… but healthier. Fresher and lighter, not gluey or heavy like mashed potatoes. And it’s green. Which is awesome.

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Broccoli Puree with Parmesan

Inspired by Martha Stewart Living, November 2007
Serves 6 to 8

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The original recipe uses broccoli romanesco… which if you can find, use it. But if you’re feeling bougieous like me, then just go with regular broccoli.

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Gather:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

large, wide skillet with tight-fitting lid
food processor

Prepare:
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and garlic, and cook until bright green, about 8 minutes. Remove and reserve a few pieces for garnish, if desired. Add water and 1 teaspoon salt to skillet. Cover, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the broccoli to a food processor, and pulse until pureed. Transfer puree to a mixing bowl. Puree remaining broccoli in food processor. Bring milk and cream to a simmer in the skillet. Add milk-cream mixture to food processor with second batch of puree, and pulse to combine. Transfer second puree to mixing bowl, and stir into first batch of puree. Stir in parmigiano-reggiano, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Make ahead: can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance; store in mixing bowl in refrigerator, and reheat in 300 degree oven, covered with aluminum foil, until hot.) Garnish with additional grated parm before serving.

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Thanksgiving Menu 2010:
Autumn Salad with Apples and Spiced Pecans
Steak over Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onions
Glazed Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Puree with Parmesan

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Thanksgiving Background Music Recommendation of the Day – in our house, we like a constant stream of mellow background music to enjoy along with our holiday festivities. Here is a week of safe-for-childrens’-ears, no-curse-words-to-creep-out-Grandma, soft tunes to accompany your turkey and mashed potatoes. (And not one of my recommendations will be a washed-up-musician’s rendering of Christmas hits, I promise.)

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She & Him / Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

Besides the overwhelming girlcrush I have on Zoeey Deschanel, this album is fun and happy, with a soulful song hidden among the 13 tracks. Volume Two is a great album, too… but Volume One is my favorite.

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