Monthly Archives: January 2010

January Garden

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I have earthworms!  Fat, moist, wiggly gray earthworms. 

Now, let me explain to those of you who are new.  Last August, in the middle of high summer in my neck of the woods, I had the opportunity to plant a garden in the yard of a relative.  The plot of land had been covered for over twenty years by an RV.  So when I cleared the weeds, I discovered a concrete hard plot of dead ground.  Nevertheless, I tried to plant a very late garden.  I was only moderately succesful.  (Read my previous posts).   I decided that I just had not given the ground enough time to nourish itself through my ministerings of manure and mulch.

Yesterday, I pulled out all the dead tomato and squash vines.  I left the two plantings that really took hold:  Italian parsley and a couple of Best Boy tomato bushes (seen here).    Before I spread another sack of manure, I began turning over the areas of soil that I plan to replant in a couple of months.  Lo and behold, I found hundreds of earthworms.  Then, looking around on the remaining plants in the garden, I saw many ladybugs, like so many tiny ruby-red jewels.    Finally, I unearthed a seedpod from one of the huge magnolia trees in the front yard of the house.   I had dug up a winter food cache of one of the squirrels that hang around the neighborhood.

Life is coming back!   The micro-ecosystem of my garden is coming back online.  I hope this is a sign of good things to come this spring and summer.   In light of all the death and destruction I’ve been seeing this week on the news, this was a most welcome reminder where there is life, there is hope.

Lori G. (2010)

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Shaved Fennel Salad

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This simple salad is adapted from a recipe from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Cooking.   It is quite simple, but you do have to like the taste of fennel.  And I do love the subtle sweet flavor of this plant.

I took one bulb of fennel and a vegetable peeler and began shaving the bulb until I had a pile of paper thin pieces.  I layered them in a bowl.  Then I took a handful of thinly sliced white mushrooms and layered over that.  I made a simple vinaigrette and splashed a bit over the top followed by a handful of shaved parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of salt.     That’s it.

Lori G. (2010)

Chili Blanco

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Continuing my plan to make healthier meals for myself this year, I made a “white” chili a few days ago from a recipe in The Whole Foods Market Cookbook. It was rather labor intensive, but I was pleased with the outcome.     The cookbook’s recipe makes 8 servings so the next time I make it I will cut the amount of ingredients way down.

In summary, I diced boneless skinless chicken breast  into 1/2 inch pieces and marinated the pieces for a short time in olive oil with ground cumin, oregano, chili powder, minced jalapeno pepper and garlic.

Then I sauted in a skillet the marinated chicken for a couple of minutes.  Then to the pan I added chopped celery, white onion, leek, green pepper, a tiny amount of chopped chipotle chilies in adobo, and a bit more cumin and oregano.   A couple of minutes later, I added chicken stock and canned white cannellini beans.  The recipe called for a cup of beer  but I did not had any so I replaced it with water.

I put the contents of the pan into a slow cooker and crocked it for a few hours (this is not in the recipe but I wanted the flavors to meld).  Just before serving I added lime juice, a bit of salt and a dollop of sour cream.

The chili was a bit brothy so the next time I make it I will cut back on the liquids. But let me tell you, this is a HOT chili so if you can’t deal with spicy food, then cut back on the jalapeno and the chipotle.

Today, I am home with a cold.  This dish has all the benefits of a good chicken soup and a spicy hot chili,  and is perfect for clearing the sinuses and warming the soul.   I’ll certainly make this one again.