I can’t begin to tell you how guilt ridden I feel on the days that I don’t have time to write a post. All day long, I have an internal discussion urging me to stop what I am doing and go inside to write. The problem is the weather dictates my schedule. We have committed to a vegetable garden and our growing season is short. A couple of days can make the difference between magnificent vegetables and run of the mill!
Putting in a veggie plot sounds simple enough – that is until you actually begin… First thing we did or, I should say, the first thing that Dad did was to cut the sod from a 60′ x 30′ patch of ground on the front pasture. Fifty years ago the whole top half of this pasture was vegetables. The farmer who lived here sold his crops from the back of his truck by driving from door to door in the city. Since that time, the pasture had grown over with hay and wild flowers. The sod was dense and extremely heavy. Once Dad had the sod cut and piled, Ralph and I moved it to a back pasture. It took us five hours in pouring rain, leaving us mud drenched up to our knees. As yucky as that sounds, there is a great feeling of accomplishment, once you peel your rain and mud soaked clothes from your body, knowing that the hardest part is behind you.
Next the earth had to be tilled. We bought a used roto-tiller from a farmer in Apohaqui, N.B….”just needs a belt”… uh-huh! Anyway, Dad worked away on it for a day or so and got it to the point where Ralph could use it to break up the ground. Once the earth had been sufficiently loosened, our daughter Sara and I picked rocks. Now I understand why the top pastures have so many random rock piles!
All of this labour is tough enough but, on top of it, we have to contend with black flies. Without a doubt, I have eaten several dozens! I open my mouth to speak and the next thing I know I am gagging my head off trying to throw up! The entire time that I am outside, I am swarmed by a black cloud of hungry biting black flies. My next investment will be a bug suit.
When all of the large rocks were removed, I hoed up the rows and hills to plant the vegetable seeds and starter plants. This is done because some vegetables grow better in rows and some thrive in hills. Meanwhile, Dad dug holes, with the back hoe, for our new fence. He had found beautiful 10′ posts up in the barn’s loft and thought they would make a beautiful enclosure for our precious veggies. Apparently, deer, skunk, raccoons, rabbits and any other critter who happens to be hungry will be my uninvited dinner guests! Our neighboring farmers use electric wire so…
I planted eight varieties of tomatoes – might have gone a little over-board! – buttercup squash, zucchini, dill cukes, smooth cukes, celery, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, jalepeno peppers, pie pumpkins, red onions all as starter plants. I planted carrots, purple carrots, radish, brussels, parsnips, pole peas, sugar snap peas, haricot verts, fava beans, radicchio, mesclun, spinach, beets and yellow beets from seed.
Dad dug a pool from a little brook that runs by the garden to which Ralph has installed a pump and hose so we have a good water supply.
Ralph and I caged the tomatoes, installed the netting for the peas and beans to climb and labeled everything…now we will pray for a good summer of just the right amount of sunshine and rainfall.
I am bruised, sore, full of fly bites and as happy as a clam!
One of the many benefits of doing so much physical work is being able to eat what you like without worrying about calories! The night that Sara helped me with the rock removal I prepared Jumbo Shrimp Marinara with Chocolate Chip and Praline Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert.
Jumbo Shrimp Marinara
click on the link for my Marinara sauce and prepare as directed…set aside
1 lb of jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat, until hot.
Add shrimp – once shrimp has turned pink on the bottom side turn them over and add garlic and seasoning.
Cook for 30 seconds and remove from heat. The shrimp will not be cooked but will finish cooking when you add them to the hot Marinara.
Prepare your choice of pasta for 4 people. As it is cooking, gently warm the Marinara sauce. One minute before serving, add shrimp to hot sauce.
Add cooked pasta straight from the cooking water into the sauce pot.
Toss and serve!
Chocolate Chip and Praline Vanilla Ice Cream
prepare the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe by clicking on this link and following my instructions. When ice cream reaches your desired consistency fold in 1 cup of best quality chocolate chips and pralines then freeze until ready to serve.
3/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
To toast pecans, place them on a baking sheet and toast in a 350*F oven for 10 minutes or until they are golden brown…allow to cool
Put the water and sugar in a medium-sized saute pan over high heat. Without stirring, cook for 3 to 5 minutes until mixture is golden.
Pour in toasted nuts and combine then pour on to a greased baking sheet and allow to cool and harden.
Chop the praline in a food processor or with a mezzaluna to a coarse chop.
Make sure nuts are completely cooled before adding to ice cream!
Thanks for reading