There are some treats that are nearly impossible to enjoy if you don’t have access to local produce. One of them is scapes.
Scapes are the immature flower stem of garlic. They come out in late spring and are generally cut off before they bloom to allow the garlic to develop more fully. They have a lovely curl to them.
They are also delicious. They have a much more mellow taste than garlic and are something like a cross between asparagus, small green beans, and a chive. You can saute or steam them and eat them as a vegetable or mixed into an omelet or pasta. You can also make them into a pesto. Here is a pasta dish we made with cut up scapes and scape pesto. Delicious.
The tragedy of scapes is that they are hard to get unless you know someone who grows garlic (and they only appear for a brief period once a year). You might see them at a farmers’ market, but we’ve never seen them at a store.
Brad and I imagine that there are fields and fields of garlic somewhere with scapes not being enjoyed. Some day, maybe we’ll seek them out and spread the love.
Some wild and some planted….
We are just back from an 11 day, cross-country road trip. (I wrote most of this as we traveled, knowing that when we got home, we’d have a lot of work stacked up to catch up on.)
My older sister just got her masters degree (yay!), and we decided to drive to Ohio to see her graduate. We were originally planning to make it a baseball-themed trip, but, weirdly, it turned out that no Midwestern teams were playing in the Midwest during our travel window.
We left on a Tuesday, driving to El Paso to pick up a rental car so we didn’t have to rack up all the miles on our car. From there, we drove through Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, camping along the way. We stopped in St. Louis to go up in the arch, which was fun. On the way to Ohio, we also stopped in the small town of Tolono, IL, where I lived when I was small. It was easy to find the house we used to live in.
After a lot of miles, we reached Dayton on Thursday night. We spent Friday with my parents, and then the graduation was on Saturday. We were happily surprised to learn that one of my nephew’s friends, who has visited us a couple times, was also graduating.
On Sunday morning, we set out again, planning for a slower trip home with a few more leisure stops. Just as we were leaving Ohio, we got a phone message from some people who were staying in our house saying that one of the plant beds was flooded and the water tank was empty (not unusual….there is a timer that sometimes sticks) and that there was a screech owl living in the bathroom of the new house (that is new…although since we’ve been home, we haven’t seen it; hopefully, it’s found its way back to nature). Well, it’s always something I guess.
Our first stop was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I’d been there several times as a kid (thanks to my mom and dad for taking us there; it was nice to remember being there as a family….and seeing several little kids on our tour, I realize it probably wasn’t easy); Brad had never been there. We took a 2 hour cave tour that we both really enjoyed. It started with about 325 steps down through a very wet part of the cave. The tour ended with the famous Frozen Niagara. We would like to come back another time and do some other tours.
After that, we drove through Tennessee, stopping at a wonderful Indian buffet for lunch in Elizabethtown. It wasn’t long before we reached Arkansas, where we spent two days in Hot Springs. I’d been there several times for work and always liked it. While we were there, we hiked in the national park, visited Garvan Woodland Gardens (new for me), and of course, soaked in the hot spring water. We also had a nice visit with a friend we hadn’t seen in a while.
The next stop was Dallas for a Rangers baseball game. That was fun, and the Rangers lost 5-2. (Brad says that our team is so bad that we’re reduced to rooting against our rivals.) I didn’t realize that Rangers Ballpark, the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, and Six Flags are all in walking distance of each other.
The return drive through Texas was long but seemed to go faster than the first time through. There was a lot of wind.
We got through lots more of Anna Karenina on this trip (we’re reading it aloud). We’re at about 80% now. We also worked in a couple movies and several sushi excursions (our guilty pleasures when we’re in town).
This trip was especially nice because of the lovely spring weather. Everywhere we went seemed to be blooming with brightly colored flowers. And places that would be crowded with tourists in summer were much more empty. Thumbs up for spring road trips.
And we’re spending a lot of time outdoors. This weekend, I finally finished prep’ing the last of our six new beds. (The rock walkways between each bed were made from rock filtered from the dirt in the beds. We have lots of rock in our soil here.)
Our compost is finally going really well. I sifted out three big wheelbarrows full today. I think that some factors in the success have been: putting it in a big pile instead of the spinning composter, which never really worked (large mass seems to be a key), more water, and the addition of a microbial solution.
Our starts are thriving, and I’m getting anxious to get them out of the house and into the garden. Two more weeks and then everyone out! We’ve been eating asparagus, and of course, lots of lettuce, and we have our first tiny strawberries.
My winter rye has formed seed heads. (This was a green manure cover crop planted to enrich the soil and retain moisture.) It grew well, so we’ll save the seed and plant more in the fall.
Lastly, our hedgerow has been started. So far we’ve put in holly hocks, penstomen, gaillardia, salvia, Jerusalem artichockes, and sunflowers. They’re all very tiny right now, but stay tuned.
I can’t wait for the next step of getting seeds and plants into the ground!
For a long time, I’ve had a plan to build a few built-in bench seats to be book nooks for reading. The first one is now (mostly) done.
As with most wood working projects, we started by carefully selecting the wood and preparing it. We glued these boards together the same way we did the new doors, with routed channels and small pieces of plywood to add strength. Here is the wood after it was glued and sanded, but before any finishing.
And here’s the (near) final product.
The windows here face the mountains in the west and offer a great view. There is storage under the seats. (Note the charging station plugs with USB and regular outlets.)
I think we’re going to cover the front of this with the same material we use for the kitchen bar…hopefully distressed corrugated metal if we can find some we like.
Oh, and we finally found that pesky electrical short. Fortunately, it was behind the part of the wall that is still just OSB, not behind the brick. Good news!
What a great story! This was shared with us by one of our fellow seed librarians. Nice to see something positive on the news.
The daytime temperatures here have been warming up, and we’ve been eagerly anticipating this:
The first shoot of asparagus!
We put in a lot more plants last fall, and so we’re hoping soon to have more asparagus that we know what to do with.
The lettuce and broccoli continue to thrive, and my conference table is full of tomato starts. This is a great time of year here.
We had a bit of snow last night. Most of it burned off by noon, though it’s still cold. It’s been a cold winter here, relatively speaking (lots of nights in the teens).
These are the garden beds, hoops blanketed with snow.
Gardenwise, my lettuce has been doing great, and broccoli is ready to eat. And all my starts (still inside) are progressing nicely.
We just got back from an organic farming conference in New Mexico. We learned a lot about cover crop, no till farming, recommended varieties for our area, year-round growing, and soil health.
We also recently finished our annual soup making sprint (fundraiser for our local fire and rescue). This year we made cauliflower cheese, garlic potato, potato leek, and cheddar beer. Yum!
Karen and I drove up into Horseshoe canyon and took a hike today — off roading I call it. We dress for climbing through weeds, the occasional cactus etc. on days like these. It’s funny how nice and smooth things look from a distance and how rocky and scratchy they can be up close.
There’s a nice panorama here.
I decided to try out a new google app called Tracks. It tracked our walk, including time, elevation change, distance and the path we took. In the end we got this cool map of our walk.
There is a way to see the walk in Google Earth — it was amazing, but I can’t see anyway to share it.