Welcome to our garden...... where dreams grow and memories bloom.

I am not a professional anything. I'm not a master gardener, I am not a chef, I am not a horticultralist or naturalist. I am not trying to live off the grid, or prepare for the acololypse, or go totally organic. What I am is a 40 something single mom who works full time and attends graduate school full time and is trying to build a life that teaches some values, and skills to her children while giving them some memories to carry into their adulthood.

We are starting from scratch. We have virgin land that needs a lot of work. We have plenty of time and imagination, but a shoestring budget. We may not do everything right, in fact we probably won't do much right. But we are going to do it together, and that is what matters.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

WOOHOO!  It's Spring.  Almost.  Sorta.  We had a burst of wonderful weather that lasted for a record 9 days.  Then it went back to typical March in Indiana.  Easter weekend has arrived and the weather is pretty average right now. The kids will have to wear jackets for the egg hunts this weekend.  The surprise early warm weather started my excitement... and triggered panic.  We are nowhere near ready for planting season.

The trees are not cut down, the land not cleared, filled, leveled, enriched, tilled.  No fencing is up.  *sigh*  Life got in the way - I abruptly changed jobs last summer and had to build up a caseload so money has been tight.  Things are starting to look up financially so hopefully we can get back on track with getting the ground in shape and ready for the 300 garden challenge.

Things to do:
- cut down 7 pesky trees
- get an excavator into the area and take out the scrub brush etc.... and probably some buried trash
- backfill the low spots
- bring in topsoil for the garden
- install fencing
- buy second composter
- build raised beds and cold frames
- bring in manure (we have a source for free) for the gardens
- start seeds
- plant
- buy upright freezer
- purchase new canner
(I'm sure there is more).

All of this planning makes me anxious is some good and some not so good ways.  But thinking about fresh produce sends me to the freezer to see what I can make from last year's bounty.

Corn Chowder
The Cast of Players

Medium onion, chopped fine
1-2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1-2 carrots, chopped fine
1 medium potato chopped into small cubes
2 cups corn

Melt butter ( a couple of Tablespoons) over medium heat.  You can also add a splash of olive oil to reduce scorching.  Saute the onion, garlic, and celery until the onion is translucent and the celery is soft.  

Add a Tablespoon of flour or other thickening agent (cornstarch or arrowroot) and allow to cook on low heat.  While your flour is cooking.....

Blend 1/2 the amount of corn (1 cup) and 1 cup of milk.  This gives the chowder a creamier consistency (in my opinion).  Add this to the onion-flour mixture.  Be prepared, this is not for the weak of heart... it has a pretty unpleasant appearance at this stage.
Told you so.

Add the onion-flour-corn mixture to a crock pot or stew pot along with the chopped potato, chopped carrot and remaining corn.

Add 2 cups of milk and simmer.  Once the mixture is warm through you can adjust the seasoning by adding salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.

I usually start the chowder in the crock pot several hours before we are ready to eat.  If you simmer on the stovetop you can be eating in 20 minutes.

Recipe adaptations..... add chopped red bell pepper or diced chicken.  For a creamier chowder use cream or half and half instead of milk.  For a spicier chowder add cumin to the seasoning.

Comfort food to sooth the waiting until the ground is warm enough to plant and reep for another year.