2013 – April Garden Log.

April Garden Log 2013

I was looking back over the plantings from this year. I seemed to have overlooked many of the greens we have already sown. We have been eating European mesclun for three months now from containers, but this month I actually got around to planting it outside.

4/3 Planted Cascadia snap peas started in containers 3/4, direct sowed radish saxa II (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), European mesclun (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), monstrueux de viroflay spinach (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), mizuna (Seed Savers Exchange), and lettuce leaf salad bowl blend (Botanical Interest) outside undercover. Planted seedlings from March (3/10), except poppies and spices, outside under cover.

4/14 I have been removing and replacing plastic as directed by the weather. We have had some pretty torrential downpours and heavy hail, but in between we have some absolutely gorgeous sun. Today I planted the onion starts I has sown on 2/24. I did one dedicated onion bed and then lined several other beds with onions. Onions are great because they can be planted with any other veggies and take up very little space. They also have the ability to deter pests.

4/16 Planted 24 hills of potatoes (all organic from the farm store): 5 red thumb fingerling, 6 each German butterball and cal white, 7 caribe. I also planted many more of my summer vegetables. Cucumbers: boston pickling (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Mexican sour gherkin (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), delicatesse (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), lemon cucumber (Seeds of Change), tendergreen (saved seed received in trade). Tomatillo: verde (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). Squash: big Max pumpkin (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), New England sugar pie (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), butternut – Waltham (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), bush buttercup (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), table queen (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), loofa sponge (saved seeds from Thyme Square Gardens).

4/17 Planted poppies outside.

4/20 Today I convinced the hub to make a new box to put around the raspberries. When we planted them about 5 years ago we did it on a hill…against an old rotten fence. Well we removed the fence and realized that we needed to put in some form of retaining wall so that all that dirt that had been pushed up against the rotten fence did not spill onto the neighbors much newer fence. The end result was a four sided box that also leveled the watering surface. Very nice!

4/24 Planted annual dahlia seeds.

4/25 Transplanted holy basil, dill and zinnia starts. The cumin did not get transplanted, but it needs to be. There were no black sesames that took.

Other garden updates: the kale, carrots and beets that I direct sowed outside in February are doing well. The peas a chugging along though I think they wish it was a little cooler. Our weather has been over 60 and even into the 80s, with the exception of two days, for the last 12 days with no end in sight. The news is reporting that our temps are reminiscent of the last drought years. Boo.  All that said the broccoli is flowering before it’s fully formed so I have been forced to pick it. The cauliflower and kale though seems to be doing well! The chard, cabbage, spinach and onion starts are all hanging in there as well. I am getting ready to plant tomato, pepper and squash starts (since it is not supposed to get to terribly cold again) and will likely get some beans and zucchini going outside in the next few days.

Happy gardening!


Filed under Flowers, From the Garden, Garden, Planting, Vegetables

2013 – March Garden Log.

march garden logWe had a fantastically lovely weekend and we got a lot of work done in the garden, including some overdue planting. Today, however, we are reminded that it is only the second of April and the chilly weather has arrived again. But my newly seeded friends are tucked safely inside under the warmth of my lights and the chill hardy spring veggies that were started earlier this month are nicely hardening off outside, waiting to be planted this weekend. Despite the cold I have convinced myself we are outside of the frost scare, which is a little early for us, but I have plastic hanging in the balance if absolutely needed. Alright, onward to last months plantings.

3/2 Planted January seedlings outside under cover.

3/4 Direct sowed alderman shelling peas (saved 2012 seed), sowed Cascadia snap peas (saved 2012 seed) in a container for transplant when their bed is ready (we are behind a little here, but they are going to be planted in the back of the potato bed).

3/8 Direct sowed radish saxa II (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) and mizuna (Seed Savers Exchange) outside undercover.

3/10 Sowed inside, poppies (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) — FLOWERS! But wait until you see what happens below, cumin (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), black sesame seeds (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), kohlrabi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), pink passion chard (Wild Garden Seeds), five color silverbeet (Seed Savers Exchange) , snowball self blanching cauliflower (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), early Jersey cabbage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), spinach (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

3/31 A beautiful day! A few days late, but I finally planted my tomatoes and peppers and a few other things. These seeds are inside under lights until the soil outside heats up enough to keep their little feet warm.3/31/13 planting day

  • Tomatoes: tomato gypsy (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), green sausage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), purple cherokee (Territorial Seed Company), sweet pea current (Territorial Seed Company), Northern delight (Territorial Seed Company), speckled Roman (Seed Savers Exchange), Tucker’s favorite (Seed Savers Exchange), granny Ozark (Heirloom, brand unknown)
  • Peppers: Hungarian hot wax (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), pimiento de padron (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), sweet pepper king of the North (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), jalapeño, traveler strain (Seed Savers Exchange), Wenk’s yellow hots (Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Peas: direct sowed more alderman shelling peas, sowed in container more Cascadia snap peas
  • Herbs: dill traded from a friend, saved sweet mammoth basil seed from my 2012 garden, holy basil (provided by Thyme Square Gardens)
  • FLOWERS! Yes you read that right, I planted flowers from seed, not bulbs, straight up seeds. A friend traded them to me so I have four kinds of zinnias and one black eyed Susan type in! Zinnias: pom pom, green envy heirloom, dwarf pink, Mexican yellow. Black eyed Susan: Rubeckia.

Whew! I think that I am done…with March. So much to happen in April starting with a healthy dose of compost.

Happy gardening!

1 Comment

Filed under From the Garden, Garden, Planting, Vegetables

Spring is here!

I will have a full photo update in the March garden log, but in the mean time you can browse one of only two cauliflowers that made it through the winter (this was completely my fault and could have been avoided). Every year I promise myself to commit to a winter garden and every year I don’t. I have a plan in place to maybe have one this coming winter. Maybe. I am just a spring gardener. I really am.

There are also some yard dog helpers…browsing some spring goods so they can strike as soon as I look away. Ha!

2012/2013 cauliflower

Cactus helps Ski helps with peasHappy Spring!

1 Comment

Filed under Edible Plants, From the Garden, Garden, Pups, Vegetables

2013 – February Garden Log.

December Seeds planted

February was a good month for planting outside. It was wet here but not so wet that we could not garden. We were able to get some beds dug and covered to dry out a little so they would be plantable and that really get me excited about the upcoming growing season. I know this update is a bit late, but we can all sit back and hope that because I am getting it out at all, there will be a March garden log at some point!

2/3 Today the hubs dug our first spring bed so that we can get it covered to dry it out a little before we plant.

2/17 Today we planted the 12/29 sowing outside. It signifies our first spring bed and that makes a gardener smile! Spring is in fact on its way, even if there is a little more dark, wet winter to be had before it gets here.

2/24 Today was a big day for the garden. It was lovely and sunny outside which made working much easier. The hubs dug two beds, one for the seeds that were sown in January which will be planted in a week or so and one for direct sown seeds. I planted danvers half long carrot (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), touchstone gold beets (Wild Garden Seed), and lacinato kale (Wild Garden Seed). This is earlier than I normally plant seeds outside, but they are under cover and I am hopeful I might get something to grow with expected temps around 40-50 moving forward.

I also planted some onion seeds in the house today. I planted half a tray of red of Florence and half a tray of yellow of Parma (both Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). I have had rough luck with onions. I have tried seeds, I have tried sets. I have direct sown. This year we are going to try transplants and I am doing long day varieties in lieu of the short day overwintering varieties I have tried previously.

Happy planting!

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden, Planting, Vegetables

2013 – January Garden Log.

Jersey Wakefield Cabbage

No too much happened in January, but I did get a second round of planting done.


  • calabrese broccoli (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
  • snowball self-blanching cauliflower (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
  • monstrueux de viroflay spinach (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
  • golden beet leaf chard (Wild Garden Seed)
  • bulls blood beet leaf chard (Wild Garden Seed)
  • early Jersey Wakefield cabbage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
  • early purple Vienna kohlrabi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
  • saved seed cilantro

Happy planting!

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden, Planting, Vegetables

Mom’s Beef Pot Roast – Paleo Style.

Mom's beef pot roast paleoIn 2011 I made some of my mom’s recipes for the blog. They are family recipes that hold a nostalgic soft spot in my heart, but they do include prepared food items as well as grain and dairy derived ingredients. These are things I do not eat anymore, and in fact, neither does my mom. So for myself, the blog, and mostly for her, I have remade one of her classics as a paleo dish (the recipe…not the process, I still use a crock pot, no camp fires for this girl). Yes, I know, it does still have high carb regular old potatoes in it, but once in a while, I think a homegrown organic potato is completely acceptable. Otherwise, this is the old standby now featured without dairy, GMOs, grains, and a million other corn based “food” stuffs. And while I am the first to admit this is not something you need to be eating every day, it is nice to have a childhood favorite made in a healthy manner so that it is available for those special, nostalgic occasions.

So, let’s start with the original recipe, because you are going to use this recipe and simply substitute the canned cream of mushroom soup and the package of onion soup mix. I did add more carrots and less potatoes (and if you want you could add some parsnips or other root veggies). Oh and I also used a 100% grass fed, USDA organic chuck roast, Yum! My roast came from TX Bar Organics and was only 2 pounds, but do not fret, it turned out just fine with the smaller roast (if you are looking to feed more mouths, use two roasts).

Original Recipe: Please click here!

I was first inspired to remake this recipe by a paleo cream of mushroom soup recipe that I used on Christmas Eve. I have made it a couple of times since for other dishes and the only thing I did a little differently this time was to make it thicker (just add a little more starch) than I had in the past, so that it would hold up through 8 hours in the crock pot.  I also made a double batch of soup (we like gravy!). I put the soup in the refrigerator overnight so that it would be as solid as possible going into the crock. I did not measure when I added it to the crock, I just used all of what I made. The cream of mushroom soup recipe is here (I am not posting the whole recipe on my page because you should most definitely click through and check out And Love it Too): Please click here!

A few other changes I have tested with this recipe that may be helpful to know.

  • If you are looking to make this gluten free, not paleo and don’t use coconut flour, brown rice flour works very well.
  • If you do not use arrowroot powder (I personally do not prefer the flavor) tapioca starch works beautifully.
  • If you want to better control the level of coconut flavor you get in your final product and do not mind using refrigerated coconut milk (I know many people will not use it, this is just an FYI), the recipe works fine with regular, unsweetened refrigerated coconut milk.
  • Again, for controlling the coconut flavor, use refined coconut oil (however, I have tried both and I taste no discernible difference).

The second change to the recipe is to make an onion soup replacement. Here is what I made, storing it in an airtight container so I can shake it up before using. I used five tablespoons in this dish. Ingredients (which you can play with of course!): 2/3 cup dried, minced onion, 3 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, 2 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

And there you have it. Mom’s beef pot roast, no packaging needed. Oooh, this is fun! I am enjoying reinventing past posts on my blog with a grain and dairy free approach.



Filed under Beef, Crock Pot Cooking, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Midwest Inspired, Mom's Recipes, Outside of the Box, Paleo

Seed Babies.

European Mesclun Mix. Day  6.

European Mesclun Mix. Day 6.

Winter Red Kale, day 11.

Winter Red Kale, Day 11.

Ever closer we get to planting outside, yay!

1 Comment

Filed under Edible Plants, Garden, Vegetables

Smoky Kale and White Bean Soup.

smoky kale and white beanOver the last few months we have been perfecting this recipe. It has been a lot of fun because this soup is so good. This is a great winter weather dish, not only because it is soup and delightfully warm, but also because it really features the veggies you may have in your winter storage or still in the garden and greens you may be growing in your greenhouse or even outside depending on where you winter! It is also full of protein and stars my favorite healthy powerhouse: kale! Because this soup is so healthy and full of fiber we do not feel too guilty about pairing it with our favorite gluten free cheese bread that completely lacks nutritional value but tastes oh so good with a steamy bowl of soup (you can find a very easy recipe here, that we make with grass fed aged white cheddar cheese).

Smoky Kale and White Bean Soup. Makes 4-6 bowls.


2 tablespoons oil, coconut or olive

1 small onion, diced

2 large carrots, peeled (if you choose) and diced

3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

8 oz kale, chopped, stems and leaves separated (we use lacinato)

1 quart of smoked chicken stock (if you only make/have regular chicken stock use that plus one smoked ham hock, but be aware you will need to remove the fat, omit the ham, and shred the ham in the hock once softened, I have made it this way twice and it is fantastic, just more work — simmer ham hock in stock until softened and smoky flavor is imparted into the dish, about 2 hours)

1 quart of water

2 cups chopped ham or the meat from the ham hock if using that (we like using a lightly smoked fresh ham)

1 can of cannellini beans (BPA free) or equivalent soaked

sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper as needed to taste (your salt needs will vary based on your stock and ham choices)


Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a 3 quart stock pot. Add onions and carrots and sauté for 10 minutes. Add garlic and kale stems and cook for about 5 more minutes, until carrots and stems are softened. Add kale leaves and cook 2 – 4 minutes, until leaves are tender but not over cooked (unless you like your kale very soft, then you will want to keep going here until the desired doneness is reached). Add stock and water and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve.



Filed under Beans, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Pork, Soup/Stew

2012 – December Garden Log.

Broccoli Seed

It’s New Years Day. I suppose that means I must resolve to return to the blog in 2013…or maybe I need to because as I looked back over my 2012 posts and did not have much to show for the last 365 days. 2012 lacked luster for this girl, but on this first day of a new year, I turn a hopeful face to the next 364.

So I have started off on the right foot (and who doesn’t…) with a blog post and some gardening. I got my December planting done and right on time. On 12/30 I planted arugula (saved 2012 seed), European mesclun mix (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), packman broccoli (Territorial Seed Co), Calabrese broccoli (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), candid charm cauliflower (Territorial Seed Co), snowball self-blanching cauliflower (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and winter red kale (Territorial Seed Co). Some of these are hold overs from my pre-heirloom, open pollinated days. Eventually we will have all heirloom seeds and save as many of those year over year as possible. Slow but steady, I suppose, we will get there.

I have all of my seeds under lights and the greens have already germinated. The brassicas will go outside under cloche in February and the greens will make their way to the kitchen when they are ready for eating. I have my 2013 planting schedule mapped and I am already looking forward to planting more later this month!

Happy gardening and of course Happy New Year!

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden, Planting, Vegetables

Mexican Style Hamburgers.

Photo compliments of the hubs…he still eats wheat!

I have not been posting much recently. On the recipe front I have been making more of other people’s recipes than writing my own, which is fairly strange. But I think this stems from my major diet and lifestyle changes. As I get used to cooking without most grains and with limited dairy I have found it easier to use other people’s recipes, you know, to get my toes wet. I am also on a quest to remove all GMO foods from my diet. This is particularly difficult, even more so than most people have to come realize, but I will save that story for another day.

On the garden front, we have finally bedded down the garden. The garlic is planted (200 bulbs!!) and there are some broccoli and cauliflower plants that are looking strong as winter nears. I am the first to admit that the summer garden suffered this year and that is why there have been no posts about it. We had a very successful hop harvest, which I shared with you in September, but that was by far our most successful garden item this year (thankfully the hubs was manning their care faithfully!). The tomatoes, peppers, and squashed suffered from uneven watering and hot/dry weather that came too little too late. The beans did very well , as did the potatoes. And I did harvest 117 (I think) garlic bulbs.  But at the end of the season, I feel defeated and I am looking forward to planting my cool weather crops soon. To starting over in the garden, so to say. My 2013 early spring and summer gardens are planned. Next step is to plan the 2013 winter garden which will come in time.

Enough moping about my garden frustrations, and back to something I did right! These burgers turned out great. They are lean and mean, free of GMO, feature a little garden in the cilantro, garlic and jalapeño, and taste great without a bun!

Mexican Style Hamburgers. Makes four 1/4 pound burgers.


1 lb grass fed ground beef

1-2 T fresh organic cilantro, finely chopped

1 t ground organic cumin (I am really excited to be trying to grow my own in the 2o13 garden!!)

3 cloves of organic garlic, minced

1/2 t sea salt (I used smoked sea salt)

1/2 t fresh ground organic black pepper

1/2 small organic jalapeño, seeds and veins removed (to your heat tolerance), diced finely (or a tiny one like I had leftover from the garden!)

thinly sliced brie, or other creamy cheese, don’t do dairy? I strongly recommend avocado…or both!


Combine all ingredients except the cheese, mixing well, but avoiding beating up the meat too much. Divide into four burgers and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook. When you turn the grill on, remove the burgers from the refrigerator and place on the counter to warm them up a little.

Preheat grill to 425, place burgers on the grill over direct heat and cook for 4 minutes. Do not squish the burger with your spatula or turn before your timer goes off. After 4 minutes, flip each burger, place cheese on burgers if you are using it and cook another 4 minutes. This process will produce a medium to medium rare burger depending on how thick they are. If you want them medium to well, cook for 5 minutes on each side.

Remove burgers from grill and serve with toppings and buns if you are using them.



Filed under Beef, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Grilling, Mexican Inspired, Paleo