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.

October Can Jam | Giardiniera

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Okay, this is the LAST October Can Jam post. Promise.

Until I buy 2 more pounds of peppers at next weekend’s farmers market.

Kidding! (Sort of.)

Anyhoodle, in addition to the peach-habenero jam and the homemade sriracha sauce I already made this month, the last thing I wanted to make for this month’s Can Jam was some giardiniera.

In Denver and Boulder, we have this ridiculously delicious sandwich shop called Snarf’s. I know, it’s possibly the most oddly-named sandwich shop ever. I’m not entirely sure why it’s named Snarf’s actually. I assume it’s a word-play on “scarfing” the food? Whatever, because the important thing here is, THEIR SANDWICHES ARE FREAKING TASTY.

I mean, I could wax poetic about the high-quality meats they use, or the toasty bread that acts as the canvas for the sandwich equivalent of the Mona Lisa. But the giardiniera, OH THE GIARDINIERA, I would watch a marathon of Sandra Lee episodes for a jar of their giardiniera. (And you know how much I abhore Sandra Lee.)

Oh, and just in case you’re totally lost here, giardiniera is the Italian word for pickled hot peppers and vegetables. Giardiniera recipes differ depending on preferences, region, etc., but the one from Snarf’s is particularly delectable. B and I both get giardiniera on our sandwiches at Snarf’s (his Italian, my turkey and avocado). Granted, we both end up fanning our open mouths with napkins and gulping water like it’s our job, but it’s just one of those things that you can’t.stop.eating, because it’s so damn delicious.

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So, I Googled and found a recipe for giardiniera over at Married…with Dinner. I compared her list of vegetables with the vegetables listed on the Snarf’s jar, and adjusted accordingly. Snarf’s recipe is very heavy on the hot peppers, so I used about a pound of peppers, in addition to calling for 2 bell peppers. But as I’ve said with the sriracha sauce recipe, you can adjust this recipe to your heat tolerance by changing the amount of hot peppers vs. sweet bell peppers that you use. I used about 8 ounces of hot peppers and 8 ounces of bell peppers to make up the pound of peppers called for. (That is in addition to the 2 bells that is standard in the recipe.)

Serve this on sandwiches, as a side to a meat and cheese plate, or straight out of the jar, depending on your level of hardcore-ness.

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Giardiniera a la Snarf’s

Adapted from Married… with Dinner who consulted Sunset Canning, Freezing, and Drying
Yields 6 pints

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
1/2 pound celery, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 red bell peppers, coursely chopped
1/2 pound cauliflower florets (about a half head), about 3/4 inch large
1/2 pound green pitted olives, coarsely chopped
1 pound mixed chile peppers of your choice, chopped
1 cup pickling salt
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 1/2 cups sugar

In a very large bowl, dissolve the pickling salt in 4 quarts cold water. Add the vegetables to the brine, and refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours. Drain the vegetables, rinse in cold water, and drain again.

Bring vinegar, pickling spice, and sugar to boil over high heat. Add vegetables to vinegar mixture and cook for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Ladle into hot jars. Pack vegetables into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling vinegar to cover vegetables, maintaining 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe rims. Apply lids and rings. Process for 5 minutes at a rolling boil, shut off burner and leave jars in canner for an additional 5 minutes before removing jars. Check for seals after 24 hours. x

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Apache Beat / Another Day

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