Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life's Renewal

Finding signs of life
sleeping buds awake
wildflowers paint fields
hungry bees feed again
Energized to join all the activity

Mango Salad - yields 6 servings
3 mangoes - under-ripe
2 red Asian chilies - finely diced
2 teaspoon salt
1 small red onion
1 lime
1/8 cup chopped mint leaves

Peel the mangoes, and then carefully remove the flesh from the pit.  It is easiest to remove two large segments from either side of the pit.  Mangoes have a huge pit that can be about half of the fruit.  The pit becomes the cook’s treat.

Slice the mango flesh into thin strips and arrange them on a platter just slightly overlapping them.  Distribute the salt and chilies over the mangoes. Slice the red onion into very thin julienne and sprinkle over the mangoes.  Juice the lime over the fruit and let sit 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle with mint just prior to serving.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Setting the bell curve

The curve I am taking is sharp, and without those black and yellow chevron 
caution signs I am not completely sure how to proceed. I have very successfully germinated two-thirds of the seeds I want to eventually relocate to the earth. My tomato seeds erupted within six days very aggressively, which means the seeds I collected from last year’s bounty have taken along with the black eye peas I chose not to eat and the watermelon seeds that sat out the spitting contest. The husk tomatoes and peppers, both sweet and hot, are slowly but surely peaking through their soft, moist incubator. I am in no rush just anxious to get the confirmation that they have taken root. With the tomatoes and peppers I planted 18 rolls of each with no idea what variety went in each spot. I had quite the array of seeds – I figure the surprise will be in July when everything starts to put forth fruits. I just hope the chocolate habanero seeds I scored will be one of the ones is sending up a seedling. I am obsessively checking the little peat cups that house cumin seeds. My latest preoccupation is what plants can I grow for their spices. If they would along with the poppy seeds and dill I think next year I will have to expand my selection and build another raised bed.
As I take this bank I realize that the spot I have house my seed tray for the past 10 days was probably not ideal. Yes, it was warm and light came in but the light was not direct enough, and I now find myself with slightly spindly seedlings. The cucumbers have achieved at least a length of 5 plus inches and they have not even set a pair of mature leaves. I am not sure what effect it will have on the final outcome, and I am just glad that the weather has warmed to the 70/80’s allowing my tray to spend the day on the porch where light floods it evenly, and more importantly directly. If the weather takes a cool turn this tray will find a new spot by the French doors in the bedroom with good western exposure – I have quickly come to learn that the light must go to them.  

Marinated Red Onions Relish – yeilds approx.1 cup
1-large red onion – thinly sliced
2-garlic cloves – thinly sliced
1/4-cup fresh lime juice
¼-teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-teaspoon salt
In a small work bowl toss all the ingredients together. Let the onions sit for 30 to 45 minutes at room temperature.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beyond Anticipation

About two weeks to go before the vernal equinox though it seems for most of us this has been a winter that never was. I am sitting in a tank top today on a beautiful 70’s filled afternoon – the field outside my office window is still wet from the rain that deluged a week ago, and now robins, cardinals and finches are frolicking in that marshy spot. The pear tree has turned the corner on its showy display and the oak tree is now littering the yard with fussy cast-offs. Even without a cold, deep slumber the world awakes and every delicate wildflower seems drenched in pigment. Of course, without a hard frost there also comes an earlier arrival of the unwanted inhabitants of the balmier season – bugs. Though I have already caught a welcomed denizen of the garden, a ladybug travelling the young lettuce leaves hunting for its dinner I have also swatted a few flies.

I am overjoyed by this quick start to the growing season, though tucked away is the fear of a frost, I have actually harvested my first four asparagus stems from a now, three year old bed. A first, as this is the first year that I will take any asparagus; I wish I knew last year that their dark red berries were edible for I had plenty of them. Eight more spears have pushed the amended soil that covers them up over to reveal purplish heads – it is just a matter of a week or so, I will hopefully be serving asparagus every which way.

I feel like one of those Emperor penguins who protect their eggs and chicks from the elements giving up all sense of reason for themselves. I am obsessed with weather forecasts, and I’m at the ready to lay a trap, horse blanket even my down comforter over anyone who needs protecting. I am keeping the beds where seeds lay hidden damp, and check thrice times daily for signs of life. Will my poppies germinate, flower and produce a seedpod for me to harvest? The more tropically inclined pineapple sage has made it through the winter under a layer of crumbled bark and hay, and has started poking leaves out pegging to be rescued from the avalanche of mulch I laid upon it last October. Concerned that a sneaky frost plots to foil us I beg it waits just a bit longer.  Unlike myself sleeveless full of the premature, springtime snap!