Category Archives: Recipes

Seed Starting

Last year, I noticed that my seed starting trays – an ABS system from Gardener’s Supply Co – were getting a little Continue reading


Big Garden: Relearning Old Lessons

So, I’ve admitted to being a garden slacker. I’m intending to mend my ways but I got another reminder of why the old ways don’t work.

In the good old days, when gardening was new and I was learning, I poured over every catalog that came my way. It took me a while to get over being ready to order every “garden kit” that showed beautiful cartoon-like drawings of what my garden could look like.

In fact, I almost fell for a few before I kept reading and learning and soon, thankfully, realized that the plants shown would never bloom at the same time and so, therefore, my garden would never look like the proposed selection.

That was a particularly hard lesson to learn. But, I got past it and while it meant I needed to learn a lot more about colors, heights, and blooming times not to mention, sun requirements, I was learning.

Until I got frustrated and shut down. I realize that now.

SO, going forward, I will NOT just pick up a plant that looks interesting. I will actually PLAN what goes into a Perennial Border, just as I have always done with the Vegetable Section.

But, here is the lesson from today: I wanted to order some seeds for direct sowing and waited too long – most were out of stock.

Lack of inspiration led to procrastination and now disappointment.

May 25 – Gazpacho

My family knows I am in "summer place" when I just can’t wait any longer and head to the farmer’s market for the ingredients for my gazpacho.
There are a lot of possible recipes for gazpacho, and I don’t recall where I found this one, but it is the first thing I ever made for Donny. We used to make it together and we have some rules about it that weren’t in the original recipe.
It was the reason I started BG in 1994 – to be able to make gazpacho with veggies I grew.
Now, my boys crave this cold Spanish soup, and I know growing vegetables has gone a long way to teaching them how to eat. They consume spinach, arugula, broccoli, asparagus, fennel, okra, Brussels sprouts, and much more because they know where it comes from – our backyard, ideally, but a lot of other nice farms when not.
So, while I can’t claim it as my own (despite our rules/modifcations), here is how to make it:
1-1/2 t kosher salt
1 t freshly cracked, coarse black pepper
2 large bulbs garlic, smashed and peeled (yes, learn how to do this like the chefs on Food Network…)
Place salt, pepper and garlic in a mortar and pestle, and work into paste (Don’t have a mortar and pestle? Make a pile on your cutting board and use the blade of your BIG cook’s knife to mince/smear until well combined) – scrape all into a very large, glass (no metal because of the acids in the soup) bowl.
Add to bowl;
2 cans consomme
1 qt V8 (do not substitute plain tomoto juice – you need the complex spicing of those 8 veggies…) I have not tried the spicy/hot versions of V8 nor the low sodium variety… I might try the spicy but you need the salt as this is a big batch of soup
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I cook with nothing less; it may be more expensive but the flavor is worth it!)
At this point, just stir and start adding chopped veggies; roughly chopped (some recipes and some bowls I have gotten in restaurants are finely chopped and even pureed – all good, but not what we love; and there is a lot to chop so big pieces are quicker. Of course, a blender could do fast work – just find another recipe for that option):
1 bunch scallions, whites and greens too, if that part is fresh enough
2 cucumbers, peeled, cut in half, seeded (use a spoon and the half will look like a little boat) cut in strips and chopped; pieces will be about 1/4" square
2 green peppers, cut into similar size as cukes – just make sure to get out the white membrane and seeds to keep the soup looking nice…
8 tomatoes – probably the most time consuming, controversial ingredient:
I have peeled them (crosses cut in the bottom, dropped in boiling water until skins split and then into an ice bath – too much work!!!) but no longer bother. I DO seed them- cut into quarters and cut out all membrane and seeds under running water. I am funny – I just don’t like those parts, particularly in tomatoes I have to buy. In fact, if you are not using home grown, heirloom, or farmer’s market (meaning local) tomatoes, look for Romas which will have a thicker wall that holds together well and will not be the mush you get at the chain store around the corner. THOSE aren’t even real tomatoes… (
Stir to combine, cover and chill for 24 hours – if you can keep everyone out. Truly, we call this part "cooking" and it is hard to wait, but the flavors intensify each other and blend into "summer in your mouth".
Top with a dollop of sour cream, if so desired. Croutons could be added and the recipe calls for a garnish of parsley. I have never done this since I first assumed they meant tht curly stuff on the side of restaurant plate back 30 years ago. I now understand it HAS to be the flat-leaf Italian variety and I now grow it. Don’t even think of putting in the dried spice (not that I have a thing about dried spices – they just have their plac and this isn’t one of them).
Just try to keep the kids from eating right from the big bowl and be delighted when they ask for seconds! Of vegetables, really!!!