Strawberry Season

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I almost missed Strawberry Season for the second year in a row. Last year I waited until the last possible weekend to pick and came home with a single carton of overly ripe berries. I swore that next year I wouldn’t wait until the last minute. Guess what…I did it again. Facebook kindly reminded me late last week that this was going to be the last weekend for strawberries at the local farms, so I had planned to go Friday after work. And then that didn’t happen, it was hot and I was ready to come home after a long week. So Saturday morning rolled around and I was faced with what again seemed like the last chance, and I had absolutely no desire to get in the car and drive up to Glastonbury where I’ve always gone for all things locally grown. Ever since moving to Wallingford last fall, I’ve had no desire to get in the car and go ANYWHERE on the weekends. Driving into Hartford 5 days a week is pretty much my limit.

So I got online and found Pell Farms in North Haven and thought I’d give it a try. I also found out from their facebook page that their other farm in Somers has had their strawberries featured in deserts at Le Cirque and the Four Seasons in NYC as well as Puritan & Co. in Boston, so they ought be decent, right? My initial inclining was that it may end up getting it a bit pricey, but considering the money I’d save in gas by not driving to Glastonbury, I’d probably break even. Turns out I was wrong, only $2 a pound, and they were delicious! I picked about 9 pounds in a little under an hour and headed home to start washing, canning, and freezing.

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This was actually my first time with REAL canning (last year I made freezer jam), as evidenced by the tools I fashioned together below.

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I think I’ll buy canning utensils next time. I’ve decided that a jar rack is a must, trying to arrange towels in bowling water to keep the jars upright wasn’t worth the hassle. However, the tongs with rubber bands worked pretty well for removing jars from the pot, but might not work for larger jars. All things considered, it turned out pretty well! Can’t wait to try the jam as well as more canning this summer!

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Also made homemade granola this weekend and have been enjoying fresh strawberries with it this week.

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Also tried a new recipe from Pinterest. Strawberry avocado sandwiches were surprisingly good!

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Hope your week is off to a good start! Check back tomorrow for WIWW!

Dora

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A Kale Kreation

So I am growing kale this year for the first time…and this week, I ate kale for the first time (at least that I am aware of). It all started earlier this spring when I was buying lettuce seedlings for the garden. I was lured in to buying kale as well…only $1 for a 6 pack, and it just looked so fresh and green! Especially after this long winter we just had. Again, I’d never had kale before, but have heard good things about it being healthy and thought it was worth a try for the price. And so, it’s been growing, and growing, and growing the past 2 months while I’ve been doing nothing with it, except cutting off the leaves after they finally turn yellow and throwing them away…until this week!

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The problem was that I had no idea what to do with it. My first thought was to search Pinterest for recipes, but quite frankly, most of the pictures looked rather unappealing….until I saw this one! Kale mashed potatoes! First, the picture actually looked appetizing. And second, I figured if the kale turned out to be a bit too healthy or green for my liking, it could be easily disguised with cheddar cheese and bacon! Lets be honest, the recipe had me at “sauté in rendered bacon fat.” Terrible I know, but I am my father’s daughter: a bacon girl, through and through. And so I give you KALE MASHED POTATOES!

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Here is how I made them. Basically just the way my mom taught me to make mashed potatoes with a few additions.

You will need the following:
6 to 8 small to medium russet potatoes (or 3 to 4 large)
4 to strips of bacon
1/4 cup diced onion
4 leaves of kale, chopped in thin strips
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
Milk or half & half (I just use whatever we have)
Seasoned salt (I used Penzey’s Forward!Lawry’s is fine too)
Fresh ground black pepper

1. Wash, peel, and slice potatoes into approximately half inch pieces. Honestly the smaller the pieces, the better. Just make sure they are all about the same size. This may take a bit more time up front, but will save you even more boiling time on the back end. Plus, the smaller pieces are easier if you mash with a ricer.
2. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water until they are just barely covered. Boil on high approx. 15 min (depending on size of potatoes) until they are tender. I usually test by sticking a fork in them. If they flake apart easily, they are done.
3. While potatoes are boiling, fry the bacon over medium heat. When bacon is done, crumble and set aside. Sauté onions for 3 to 5 min in rendered bacon fat in the same pan. Then add the kale and garlic and sauté another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. When potatoes are finished cooking, strain in a colander to remove as much water as possible. Mash using your gadget of choice. Sometimes I use an old fashioned hand potato masher, sometimes I use my ricer, and sometimes I use my hand mixer, depending on what I’m in the mood for. You end up with coarse mashed potatoes with a hand masher, smooth and creamy with a ricer, and fluffy with the hand mixer.
5. Add butter and approximately 1 tablespoon of milk at a time, mashing in between until you achieve your desired consistency. Season to taste with seasoned salt and pepper.
6. Stir in cheese, bacon, and the kale, onion, and garlic mixture
7. Enjoy!

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Have a great weekend!

Love,
Dora

A Bumper Crop of Lettuce

I think I may have over planted lettuce this year…we barely had enough for 2 to 3 salads last year. So…..I put in 3 times as many seedlings this year, plus threw some old lettuce seeds in the city picker, and ended up with way too much!

See…

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This is what it looked like before picking:

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And after being picked clean:

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I already cleaned out the square planter and replanted with green beans, as much of the lettuce was starting to bolt. But the deck planters are already filling back out after all the rain we’ve had these past few days.

Peppers and tomatoes are looking good too! First pepper and tomatoes of the season made their grand debut this past week…

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Oh, did I tell you I’m also growing my own sprouts? It’s so easy! More on this later…

Have a good week!

Love,
Dora

Spring Garden

Here’s a sneak peak at this years garden. These pictures are actually a few weeks old now. I spent an afternoon cropping and editing them using this awesome app, A Beautiful Mess, but then never got around to posting them. Will post an update soon, the tomatoes and lettuce are growing crazy fast!

Tomato Earthboxes (2 Black Cherry, 2 Grand Pace, 1 Beefsteak, 1 Roma)

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Cucumbers and Peppers (lots of reds, my favorite!). Also can’t wait to try making pickles.

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Herb Garden.

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Random stuff on the deck…

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Thai Chilies getting a late start.

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First round of radishes.

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Front porch pots.

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