and on the ground! December 1st began with a light drizzle that turned into a lovely snowfall. The first real (enough to track a cat) snowfall is always magical. Everything looks so pristine and dazzling with that sparkling frosting. It was pretty to view out the windows, but I was glad to be able to remain indoors as the temperatures dropped, and dropped some more. On Tuesday morn an unusual event occurred. Interstate 69 was actually closed in our area due to ice and dangerous driving conditions. That rarely happens, but of course, this is 2020 so we should expect the unexpected.
I haven’t mentioned Covid lately, but it has definitely expanded rapidly in our area. Our tiny little county of about 10,000 sturdy folks has now suddenly jumped to over 600 cases, and our status color is “purple,” meaning we have one of the highest infection rates in the state. We won’t be going anywhere for a good while.
Many of you did lots of cleaning, sorting, and DIY projects during the earlier lockdowns, but I was busy in the gardens. Now, however there’s no excuse so yesterday I defrosted the kitchen freezer and took stock of the contents and organized packages as they were returned. Two packages had been lurking in the bottom since 2018, so I let them defrost and when I still couldn’t identify the contents, out they went! I hate food waste, but in this case it was the only action since I don’t own a pig! I’m going to do at least one drawer or shelf a day and work my way through the house. It could get very interesting?!?
Meanwhile, another seed catalog (SeedsNSuch) arrived, and another seed order. This one was a small order from family-owned Nichols Garden Nursery in Oregon. They have a huge array of herb and vegetable seeds, garlic varieties and a nice selection of flowers. I’ve been to their store and gardens and met some of the family, so if you are looking for a good source for seeds, check out their catalog here. I took advantage of their Black Friday Specials and purchased a pound of buckwheat seed, which I haven’t grown since my homesteading days. The plan is to use some as a green manure crop. Buckwheat has tender, hollow stems in its early growth, so it’s easy to dig in and decomposes quickly. One bed will be allowed to flower for the bees and other pollinators who adore those small white flowers. And once the bees have finished, the grain will be allowed to form and harvested. I used to grow all my grains, scythe it, dry it, thresh it and grind it into flour. The flour mill is still down on the basement shelves, and it will be fun to put it to use again. Buckwheat pancakes anyone?
The two seed sources I use most were already out of cipollini seeds even though I ordered last month! Luckily, Nichols still had some of the true flattened white ones. Salsify also made the list. I haven’t grown it since I sold the herb farm, although I’ve planted the old seed that was left. Obviously, it was time for some fresh seed. If you haven’t grown salsify, give it a try. Grows like a carrot or parsnip, but tastes like an oyster (but with better texture!!) and makes a great soup just cooked, diced, in hot milk with a generous amount of butter, salt and pepper. Or, cook and mash, mix with cracker crumbs, an egg, some parsley, salt and pepper, form into “cakes” and fry in butter until nicely browned. Great served with some tartar sauce or Dijon mustard mixed with a bit of mayo. Stores well, but usually I clean and cook all the roots, slice them into pennies, cook them until just tender, and then freeze them in pint cartons, which is just the right amount for soup or cakes for two people.
I keep reading glowing reports about Borlotto beans, so I’m going to give them a try. Beans are so easy. These are Borlotto Cranberry, a bush type heirloom, so I’ll have to figure out a timing so they don’t cross pollinate with other beans if I want to save the seeds. And lastly, a flower. Last year I seeded white flowered money plant (lunaria) but only a half dozen plants germinated and grew. I transplanted them into a perfect, lightly shaded spot, but they were dug out by critters several times, and then later on all but one were eaten! I love lunaria, or honesty, so I’m giving it another try and this time I’ll put the leftover hardware cloth from making the berry boxes around and over them! I used to grow armfuls of the purple-flowered money plant and we sold big bouquets of them during the late summer and autumn. It’s a biennial and is usually a good self-seeder once it gets established.
I also baked a pumpkin cake for my mother’s 95th birthday, so there are only two pumpkins left to bake from this year’s harvest. Not a worry, since I found several cartons of pumpkin in the freezer. I really want to make pumpkin ravioli in sage/butter sauce with walnuts. Now that winter is here, and I’m staying home, there’s no reason not to (except the expanding waistline!) I haven’t made pasta other than gnocchi since our cooking class in Italy a few years ago, so it will be a challenge! What new things are you doing this winter?