Tag Archives: Potatoes

A Dinner Date

We are fortunate enough in our society to have the opportunity to prepare dinner every night. Yes, it is a blessing. Food doesn’t have to be a chore. But then it’s the “drag” of deciding every night what to eat, someone has to prepare it, and it can become a ho-hum event. Marc and I don’t like ho-hum events as a general rule.

At the very beginning of our marriage, we laid down certain suggestions to keep our marriage present, growing, immediate. One of my biggest fears was being taken for granted. Though I fall short of this much more often than he does. So we wanted to keep our marriage fresh so we remembered to be present with each other. We decided that we would always try to eat dinner together, sans distractions. No tv, no movies, no reading, we were to simply chew together. Sometimes this space that we allowed ourselves led to wonderful conversation. Sometimes we simply chewed. But we were together, creating a space.

Last night we decided to create more of a space. We decided on a dinner date away from our usual table. To the boat!

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And for dessert, I tried roasting marshmallows!

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One thing I love about Marc is his irony. There he is, perfecting his bed of coals for roasting the sausages and he turns to me and says, “Manda, I really think cooking over an open fire is the way of the future.”

We had such a chuckle.

What little things do you do to keep yourself present for tasks that would otherwise seem mundane? And, food over an open fire is Amaaaazing!

Dec 27th Potatoes

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So ya know how yesterday I was complaining about my lack of planning. If you will remember, I mentioned not having a garden to eat out of. Well, go ahead, prove me wrong…

Today I abandoned my tea for a good 15 minutes and tromped out to the garden. This is not a big endeavor as this is the garden just beyond my sliding glass door. I had a report from Washington state that a friend farmer had lost all of her potatoes to the cold weather.

I had been storing these potatoes in the ground as I was too lazy *ahem* as I was too busy knitting, tea drinking and Christmassing to dig these up. The top layer of smaller potatoes were mushy as a result of frost, but the biggers ones that burrowed deeper are quite crunchy and edible.

These babies are for dinner!

Also, our garlic seems a little confused. Last year I was told to plant garlic before Hallowe’en. I was obedient, I mulched it and let it sit over the winter. Then the garlic sprouted in February or March and we ate it in August. This year we planted a whole bed of garlic. We bought it from the garlic farm. But it’s already sprouting and pushing up through our cozy layer of mulch. Um, hello! Go back to sleep silly garlic!

And other things are sprouting as well!

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We went for a walk to check on the bee hives too. I cannot open the hives up because it is too cold right now. Honeybees form a cluster in the winter to keep warm. If I break their cluster, they can die from exposure. They bundle together and eat all their stored honey they gathered in the summer. I like their lifestyle! A very interesting fact is that summer honeybees live for approximately 6 weeks. Winter honeybees (those born in November) live for an ancient 4 months. The summer bees exhaust themselves in an effort to gather pollen and nectar. All the winter bees have to do is stay warm, eat, carry their dead sisters out of the entrance, and hold the hive over until the winter thaws and the Queen starts laying again. In our mild climate, she will begin laying in January or February.

To check on the hives right now, I try to clear away the entrance (which is reduced to fit one bee in and out at a time) as the entrance is littered with dead bees. And I press my ear against the box to hear any distinct hum of a live colony. Out of the three hives I checked, I heard one buzzing. It doesn’t mean the other two aren’t alive, they are both smaller hives and may not have enough bees to generate a buzz that I can hear from the outside.

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It still looks pretty green here, eh? If it stays this cold, I may have to go out and tap some big-leaf maple trees to see if I can procure any syrup for my Sunday morning pancakes!

Wishing you some sunshine wherever you are!

ExTreme SouP PuRsuiTs

First story.

My Grandpa is 86 and learning how to make soup from scratch. I’ve been told he makes a killer borscht. So this post is dedicated to him and his soup pursuits.

Second story.

My dad (Soup Grandpa’s son) is a wonderfully seriously silly man. We were on a hike one time when I was a kid, and a friend of ours was telling us that stinging nettles are very good to eat. Apparently they are similar to spinach and you can use them for lasagne, soups and other casserols. My father, wanting to get the best reaction possible, said “Oh well, if you say so,” and grabbed a stinging nettle leaf and stuffed it into his mouth.

It would not be over- exaggerating to say that he was still feeling the affects 4 hours later. His mouth was very sore after this stunt. So now whenever my family goes for a walk, we tell each other the story, we point out the nettles and tell my dad that we hear they are good eating.

Third story.

Tonight we made soup to the extreme.

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This is approximately 2 pounds of stinging nettles Marc and I foraged from the back woods today. And potatoes harvested from our front garden. These potatoes have been doned Magic Potatoes because of their disease resistence and prolific producing. You can seriously plant one of these suckers in the ground, forget about it and up it comes to create a bunch of tasty babies that lie right beneath the soil’s surface. I’m a bit of a potato-digging fiend. I love rooting around in the dirt, and coming up with treasure.

Last April, the first Farmer’s Market on island, they served little cups of stinging nettle soup for $2 with a recipe. We have subsequentally lost this recipe (of course) but the internet is a great friend. Apparently the nettles in the spring are preferred because they are young and tender. But our mild climate allows for tender shoots in the fall before the first frost.

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I know, looks appetizing eh? Well the recipe is here, tastebuds rejoice!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 lb. stinging nettles
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Sour cream, yogurt, or Horseradish Cream (optional)

Preparation:

  1. In a large pot, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook 15 minutes.
  3. Add nettles and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, pepper, and nutmeg.
  4. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processer in batches. For a silken, less fibrous texture, run mixture through a food mill or sieve.
  5. Stir in cream, if using. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if you like.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream, yogurt, or Horseradish Cream, if you like.

Makes 4 to 6 servings Stinging Nettles Soup

The best part about this, is there is no sting, Dad.

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Planning the Garden

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This is the site of my future garden. And I’m feeling overwhelmed. There are blackberry bushes to the right, rose bushes on the inside of the wooden fence. At the back there are the fruit trees. The far back left corner is where we’re going to grow our veggies. It’s the sunniest area. Can I just say, I wish I knew what I was doing! I feel like I have not done enough reading about gardening. I’m going to have to launch into research mode and get myself caught up on the art of producing produce!

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Perhaps it’s the snow fall from last night, but I’m having trouble imagining little carrot tops, leeks, onions, garlic, potatoes and tomatoes dotting the garden. We were thinking of putting sweet peas and melons against the inside fence so that the deer can’t nibble. But next year. The poly-tunnel you see in the back right is our neighbour’s garden that borders onto ours. They are excellent gardeners and produce veggies for the farmer’s market. I’m hoping they’ll be an excellent resource.

A friend on island is also hoping to start a veggie garden this year. She keeps waffling on if she should plant, or wait, and should she or shouldn’t she… And I keep saying “Just do it! You’ll learn as you go!” so I reiterate my wreckless confidence back to myself! This is not a performance. This is just vegetables. Just do it!

p3080005This is our future house. In June we’ll be caretaking a very large amount of property. Our plans for this land stretch longer than the sheep fence! We’re very excited!

Can you picture it? I’m starting to.