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Ahhh SPRING!

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Do you hear that faint peeping sound? It’s coming from my garage!!!

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This is what is coming from the garden. : )

It’s been a busy Spring here at the farm. More to come from Countess Cluck (shown above) and her little chickie friends.




Everyday Vegetarian Omelette

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Everyday. Seriously everyday. Okay, maybe 5 days a week. When I haven’t had one… I crave it. It jump starts my morning and I know that I’m getting a healthy portion of those vitamin loaded leafy greens. Often I will have vegetables in the refrigerator that are chopped and ready to go for the week but I do love to run out to the garden in my cowboy boots and robe to pick the chard for that morning’s omelette.

Now, I’m sure this recipe is floating around out there somewhere, but I swear I came up with it myself due to what I had on hand. As I mentioned in a previous post, my garden and I have been out of step most of the season… except for the Swiss Chard.

Holy Swiss moly. It is still going strong out there!

IMGP5718Pull together your ingredients…

IMGP5724Saute your raw vegetables in a small amount of oil.

IMGP5730Once they have softened, add your greens and seasonings; salt, nutmeg and thyme.

IMGP5734Pour in your scrambled egg and wait for it to set. Then sprinkle on your cheese.

IMGP5736Once the egg has set, gently fold your omelette in half to melt the cheese.

IMGP5743Plate that little darling up and ENJOY!

Ingredients:

  • couple drops of olive oil
  • 1/4 sliced small onion
  • 1/4 red pepper chopped ~and/or~ whatever is in the frig… green peas, sauteed leeks, cooked asparagus, mushrooms
  • 5 or 6 or 10 Chard leaves… washed, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 swipes on the grater of fresh nutmeg- or a dash of dried
  • 1 or 2 eggs…  1 whole egg scrambled with a splash of milk or water
  • sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese, feta or whatever you like
  • Red Hot sauce, Sriracha or salsa garnish

Instructions:

Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil into 8 in. nonstick skillet and heat to medium. Add onions and any other raw vegetables to the pan. Saute lightly until vegetables are soft. Add washed and chopped Swiss Chard (stems removed) to pan and let it wilt while stirring. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme folding all of the vegetables together. Cook over medium heat for approx. 3 to 4 minutes.

Once your Chard has soften and cooked, add your beaten egg(s) and gently swirl it around picking up the edges of the omelette to let the liquid meet the pan. After the egg has set up, sprinkle on your cheese of choice and fold the omelette in half. Allow to sit a couple of minutes for flavors to meld.

Garnish with Sriracha Sauce and fresh herbs. The creamy goat cheese compliments the spice nicely.

** If you find that there is too much liquid in the center of your omelette you can put it under the broiler in your oven on high for 2 or 3 minutes to set. Be sure to use an oven safe skillet and DON’T forget the handle will be/stay hot. I speak from experience!

 Tiny-Daisy

 




Happy Fall… Happy Dance…

I’m updating my website today. Oh my, what an undertaking. I completely forget all of the ends and outs of the software… but I am planning a sale soon (woo hoo!) and I want to make sure all of my designs are available on the guest towels (hint, hint).

The Clothesline Festival was fabulous in spite of the fact that my sister and I had to hold the tent down in the wind/rain storm that blew through. No fun. Nothing was damaged, thankfully, and it seemed that most of the people that were put off by the forecast on Saturday did come to shop on Sunday. It was wonderful to make new friends and see familiar faces… I have the some of the NICEST customers!

Recently framed paintings and drawings for the show.

There was an exhibit at the gallery titled “In Company with Angels- Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows” – it was exquisite. After having read “Clara and Mr. Tiffany” this past summer- it was such a thrill to see some of the exhibition lamps that Susan Vreeland wrote about. If the exhibit comes to town near you… you must go see it! You’ll be glad that you did.



The kids are back in school. Whew. Sigh. Yippee. Can’t quite ever decide. I supposed its a bit of everything. The first week in September is always a challenge- prepping for the show, Labor Day weekend and back into the school routine. After two full weeks LaLa was home sick today with a cold and fever. My how quickly THAT begins. : (

We used to call the school bus “the big yellow dog” when I was growing up…

Our “little yellow dog” passed out in the yard after a walk and a swim at the pond.

I am embracing the peace and solitude of Fall. The dogs are happy to go on their daily walks and my body, mind and spirit are thumping their collective tails with gratitude too. I occasionally hear the Canadian geese flying over and am reminded that it will soon be time to dig out the coats, scarves and gloves.

My favorite sugar maple is starting to turn. It is one of the first and I feel the immediacy of soaking the color in before it’s gone.

The fact is- Summer wears me out. Does it you? Is there more gazpacho and salsa that really needs to be made? My food processor has gotten a better work out this summer than my body has and I’m ready to put that thing and the garden to bed.

The Black Krim, and Brandywine tomatoes were delicious this year!

… except there are those tulips, crocuses and lilies that I promise myself every year that I will plant more of when Fall rolls around.

It’s time for planting and painting. I’m excited… and doing a Happy Fall dance. : )




Resources for Vegetable Gardening

My reference library gets bigger every year. I’m a sucker for a good book… especially of the gardening kind. As much as I love trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, I am a nuts over growing vegetables and eating meals fresh from the garden. Here is my list of vegetable gardening books that I would highly recommend:

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible  by Edward C. Smith- All in one general reference book

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew- Valuable for gardeners with small plots

Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza- No dig gardening. Love it.

Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte- How to make the most of companion planting.

1001 Garden Questions Answered by Alfred C. Mottes- An old reference book (published in 1939) that I love.

Grocery Gardening- Great growing tips as well as recipes from friends that I met on twitter.

Serving Up the Harvest- A “go to” book for seasonal cooking.

Storing the Harvest-Great info on how to save, put up and freeze your seasonal produce.

I’m sure I’ve missed a couple but I will update it as they come to me. Do you have a favorite book that you would like to recommend? Please do!

 

 




The Potager in July


The view from the studio.

My how fast the summer is going… I can’t keep up. The potager is growing nicely this season although I have been rather inconsistent regarding watering. I can’t believe how parched the ground is. Let’s hear it for the sprinkler! I live on the gardening edge and water from ABOVE… gasp! Please don’t notify the gardening police, thank you.

I made a few planting changes this year. The entire back row of the design has been planted to asparagus and I’m looking forward to having a perennial section that will not need replanting next year. Thankfully this family loves fresh asparagus and I must admit that growing up I had never seen fresh asparagus. My only memories of the vegetable were once a year on Christmas Eve- a mushy, smelly substance out of a Campbell’s soup can.  Eegads. Imagine my delight at lightly seasoned blanched stems with lemon and butter. Ahhh.

Two sour cherry trees were planted this spring on either side of the bistro set. Farmboy loves a sour cherry pie and I FINALLY found two Dark Star cherries locally. They produced the most wonderful fruits this year. Maybe enough for a couple of pies but they never made it inside the house. Let’s just say between Farmboy, me and Gracie the dog (yes, Gracie) the pies didn’t stand a chance. Maybe next year…

Today I had our first tomato of the season in a tomato and basil sandwich. I should have photographed it… but I ate it instead. I believe the variety is Crimson Cushion. Delicious. Nice color, low acid and velvet-y flesh.

Hey, I did photograph it with today’s harvest! Broccoli anyone?

I think this post will get me over the blogging block that I have been experiencing. So much to see, do, paint, plant, cook and draw its hard to stay focused. Needless to say- lots to blog about- so come back, pour a glass of wine or iced tea and stay awhile with me and Toonces. Tell us what has been keeping you busy this summer!

Toonces doing his best to look sophisticated.




Summer is ramping up… and I’m already worn out.

Whew.

May was a whirlwind of activity.

Will one of you sweethearts remind me of this next year?

All of those snow-filled days last winter amounted to one very pent up gardener who was ready to dig up the entire yard this Spring just to enjoy being warm, outside and being active.

I now understand why Farmboy loves the winter so much. It represents rest. As soon as the soil wakes in the Spring the rush for planting begins. The crops getting in are the biggest priority for the month of May. Farmboy comes in from his IT job, changes clothes, grabs and bite to eat and then heads out. Numerous nights during the month we would meet in bed at midnight- exhausted from deadlines, orders and planting.

Just as we breathe a big sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks that the crops are finally in… albeit late, it’s time to cut hay, cultivate, mow as well as pack the trailer for my next show (Allentown Art Festival this weekend) and do three nights a week of lacrosse practices.


The potager layout… before.

This year I decided to splurge and purchased one of those handy Mantis garden tillers for the vegetable garden. It is very light-weight and its narrow width works well in the small beds of my potager. Speaking of which, the potager is almost completely planted… I’m thrilled! I think this year it will be a delight for the eyes and the tastebuds.

Getting started with planting.

I always “plan” to put a “plan” on paper before I start planting… but I never do. It feels like painting when I am out there planting on the fly- thinking about lines, shape, color and repetition. At least this year I do have rows marked and I plan to do an “after” drawing of what is there for next year’s reference. I have threatened everyone that they will “rue the day” if they touch my plant markers as this is the first year that I am actually using them to keep track of which varieties grow/taste better than others.

The Mr and Mrs.

I’m thrilled this year to have an Eastern Bluebird family in a nesting box right under the studio windows on our rose arbor!  It has been such a joy watching the coming and going of those busy parents. The male will come right out to the potager when I am there and perch on the pea trellises or tomato stakes. After years of never even seeing a glimpse of the elusive New York State Bird… its wonderful to have a family of them living here next to the garden.

Outside the studio window.

So friends, thanks for stopping by. I will soon be posting some recent paintings that I’ve been working on, a great list of vegetable gardening references, potager progress, and a fun French-themed dinner menu you will not want to miss. Now let’s all get to work on enjoying the upcoming LAZY days of summer as demonstrated by Pongo the cat.

Pongo taking his afternoon nap.

 

 




German Harvest Basket

For my gardening friends out there… you must have one of these baskets! I found mine at the Philadelphia Flower Show last spring and enjoyed using it all throughout the summer. I love it because you can rinse your veggies off out in the garden before bringing them in the house/kitchen. I was using a picnic basket before and all of the dirt came in with the veggies. Now, my veggies are dirt free, Baby. I also like the industrial look of this basket. Today it is in a chair in my kitchen in front of the french doors with green tomatoes ripening in the sunshine.

I cannot remember who I purchased this basket from at the show but they are available here. Enjoy and have a fabulous friday!




Fresh Spicy Salsa

Yesterday I made the most fantastic salsa with fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden. It will light your fire. I LOVE spicy food and this recipe is a keeper. I was running low on jalapenos so I chopped up and threw in a few green cayenne peppers with the seeds. Yowza! Sha-Zam! The seeds are where the heat comes in so adjust accordingly for your taste. And don’t rub your eyes while you are chopping your peppers if you don’t wear gloves like me! See important note below.

  • 8 Beefsteak type vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 Jalapeno peppers chopped fine- add seeds for heat
  • 1 green cayenne pepper chopped fine
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Grab some corn chips and hang on to your hat!

If you accidently get oil from the peppers in your eyes or heaven forbid your nose…give yourself a yogurt facial. Seriously! I have rubbed it in my eyes before and it was the ONLY thing that worked. Farmboy had to do an emergency search online because I couldn’t open my eyes to see the computer. Moral of the story… don’t chop peppers and inadvertenly get distracted on the phone. You COULD just do what you are supposed to and wear gloves. But tell me, do YOU have latex gloves in your kitchen?




Plant Trickery

My nightstand is piled high with vegetable gardening references this time of year. I cross reference everything since I might miss some juicy tidbit that could revolutionize my gardening plans. For instance, I purchased a charming little artichoke this year at a garden center. I’ve not seen them available here in central New York before. What a thrill! So of course I came home and read everything that has ever been written about growing them. Unfortunately my research enlightened me to the bizarre knowledge that I have to “trick” the plant into thinking that it is two years old. If you know me you know that I not good at tricks, pranks, poker, OR jokes for that matter. The trickery is written all over my face. I may as well have my forehead tattooed saying that I am not telling the truth. It’s a gift or a curse- not sure which.

Back to the artichoke- Artie, of course. I have told him that he is behaving like a 2 year old. The pouting and wilting has got to stop. I think he believes me at this point.  If he puts on buds I’m pretty sure that I will have succeeded in the plant trickery. I try to look at another plant when I discuss the Artie’s age so that my face will not give away my untruthfulness. I even feel guilty writing about it.

Upon a little internet research I have found that there is such a thing as Plant Trickery. There are plants that disguise themselves using their appearance or fragrance. We all know of the sneaky Venus Fly Trap and Pitcher Plant who lure clueless bugs they want to snack on. Talk about deception!  In either case THEY are the ones doing the tricking. For our purposes we will disregard this type of trickery since this is a post about tricking THEM.

If you have plants that you need to… let’s say, “disguise the truth” to here are some guidelines that you may want to follow.

  • Be kind. No plant likes being made a fool of. Do not ruin the trust you have built- the roots of your relationship if you will.
  • Wear glasses when telling the plant the necessary false information. If no sunglasses or groucho marx glasses are available, it may be necessary to avert your eyes. Remember your eyes are the windows to your soul.
  • Add some fertilizer. A little manure can help the trickery go down easier and “take”.
  • Tell the subjects’ neighbors to keep a leaf on it. Even if they know the truth they are not allowed to share it or “snip-snip”.
  • Lastly, when all else fails embrace your plant just as he or she is and call it a day. Life is too short to stress or not adore and embrace what you have.




Latin/Localvore Dinner Menu

A number of years ago a good friend asked Farmboy and me to participate in a dinner club. I had never used a food processor before and I think one of our first recipes was for some kind of wacky blue cheese coleslaw (it was delish… I’ll post the recipe later if I can find it). There was cabbage flying all over the kitchen. I became friends with the food processor and can now thankfully profess that I am no longer afraid of kitchen gadgets or appliances. That being said I can now confess that I am a Foodnetwork and TopChef junkie.

The last time we hosted was in the Fall and shown below is the delicious menu. My intention was to do a totally local menu with locally raised beef and vegetables. I was side tracked by the Green Peppercorn Sauce which took me down the trail of a more Latin flavored meal, hence the black beans and chipotle peppers. The Salsa Verde, Garlic, Greens and Yukon Gold Potatoes came from our potager garden. In order to get Grass Fed Filet Mignon we had to buy what the grocer had from somewhere like Bolivia! Uggh. I should have prepared better. I did not realize that the local farms often do not carry “retail cuts”. A local butcher could have gotten the beef if he had more time but it would have come from Nevada since apparently it is difficult to finish beef in our climate on grass. I’m still a bit perplexed by the whole thing, but I’m learning.

Farm

Black Bean Pica with Garlic Bruschetta

Salsa Verde with Corn Chips

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Green Chili Swirl

Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Garlic and Cheese Chipotle Mashed Potatoes with Seared Greens

Sweet Wine and Honey Roasted Pears




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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