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August 27th, 2010

tomato tasting!

All Fridays should have a tasting party. The Organic Gardening team and other Rodale employees gathered to taste and rate the tomatoes we’ve grown in the test garden. Even a couple of confessed tomato-haters gave the fruit another try. Next time I’m hooking up the web cam to capture some priceless facial expressions.

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Doug prepares the tomatoes so the taste test will be blind. It is rumored that one of the tomatoes is grocery store organic, just to see if people can taste the difference. Shh!
l_taste_2159

We gather in front of the wall, where we post the current issue.
l_taste_2157

The comments started to sound like a wine tasting. “This has a nice finish…” “Mmm, playful but never precocious…” and of course from the tomato-hater, “I need to come up with a new word for YUCK.”

Update–it turns out everyone spotted the grocery store organic tomato. It got a VERY low rating.

August 26th, 2010

the blanching of the corn

We got our CSA share, and our fridge is pretty full this week. I didn’t want this sweet corn to go to waste. Won’t it be a nice addition to some festive winter stew?

remove corn silk with a soft vegetable brush

remove corn silk with a soft vegetable brush

drop corn into boiling water

drop corn into boiling water

boil for 4 to 6 minutes

boil for 4 to 6 minutes

plunge corn into ice bath, I put one tray of ice per ear of corn into the bowl

plunge corn into ice bath, I put one tray of ice per ear of corn into the bowl...then goofed around with the light and propping of the corn, so the ice is pretty melted here

remove corn from the cob

remove corn from the cob

label and date

label and date

freeze

freeze

August 23rd, 2010

3 weddings and a Transcendental summer vacation

smint

Today is rainy (hooray! my garden needs the water) overcast and dark, but I’m still garnishing my ice water with herbs from the garden.

Summer has been full of so many adventures I accidentally let my oregano go to flower. The pollinators are having a field day, so all is not completely lost. Still, this grasshopper has no oregano to put away for fall sauces.

It’s been a summer of vacations, visits and vows and I’ve collected snapshots and ideas along the way. I kept meaning to post them, but kept running out of time. I better do it now before these ideas, like the oregano, go to flower.

My first vacation stop was New England. While wandering Concord, MA I was thrilled to see Organic Gardening prominently featured at the front of the shelf. That was pretty exciting.

bookshelf

That isn’t the only reason Concord is cool. The town has water conservation efforts for the hot dry summer, Walden Pond has limited visitation to protect the trails and water from erosion, and there are signs like this all over the place educating people on the efforts being made to protect the land.

pavers

We wandered all over Concord on foot, filling our heads with thoughts about the American Revolution and the Transcendentalists. On our way to the Old North Bridge we wandered by the Old Manse. This was a home in the Emerson family rented by Nathaniel Hawthorne when he was a newlywed. One of his wedding gifts, a garden built by Henry David Thoreau:

gift

manse1

This garden is a replica of the original, based on old records and notes. What an amazing idea for a wedding gift. With the renewed interest in growing our own food, I wish I’d thought of this gift when our friends got married in May. We all pitched in and got them a share in an Organic CSA as a gift, but a small edible container garden would’ve been a good idea too.

Seeing the Hawthorne garden gave me another wedding gift idea: Grow flowers for a friend’s wedding. Our friend Robyn made these great arrangements for her wedding. She filled her indoor wedding with bouquets in old glass bottles. The bottles were kept steady on little slabs of logs–beautiful!

flowers

On the way out of Concord, we happened by a little farm stand, selling rhubarb. As I mentioned, this has been a year of vows, and I happened to need rhubarb for another friend’s wedding. Becca and Josh asked 9 of their friends to bake pies for the centerpieces at their wedding. Hooray for Concord! (Or Bedford, actually.) My friend Jennifer helped me adapt a rhubarb-strawberry crisp recipe from the internet–complete with crumb topping, cardamom, orange zest and slivered almonds. The pie was a great success–Becca’s mom came over to say her table devoured the pie before the desserts had been served.

rhubarb2

rhubarb

Now I am home, and going through the snapshots, and I thought of one more idea for another garden-related wedding gift. Katie, Eric and I recently went to visit the Goschenhoppen garden to make a video for Organic Gardening.com. They mark seashells with the plant id name. The shell is flipped over by the plant, which protects the writing from the elements. Visitors to the garden can peek under the shell to see what the plant is. Hand made plant id tags would be a perfect finishing touch to a gifted wedding garden.

thyme






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