tomatoes, finally!

It seems that for the last couple of months our garden just kept getting greener, wilder and more overgrown, but wasn’t producing much of anything. I wondered if we would ever harvest anything but herbs, salad greens and peas. And then seemingly overnight we are giving away big ole brandywine tomatoes to friends, neighbors, even the appraiser who came by this morning. I noticed that we’ll have a head or two of broccoli this week and it got me wondering about the fingerling potatoes in the ground… The dark, leafy greens we planted last week are sprouting too. Pretty soon I’ll be complaining that we have too much to keep up with – be careful what you wish for, right? Make haste and get the canning jars out, lovelies! It’s tomato season. Finally!

What are you harvesting from your patches of green, lovelies? Any fun farmer’s market finds lately? Cheers!


blueberry bonanza

Happy August, lovelies! We started the morning out with an early blueberry bonanza to beat the heat. Apparently, I just can’t eat enough fresh blueberries because we picked some last week too, but my supply was already getting a bit low. They’re just soooo good right now. I’ve been eating them by the happy handful every day. And no, I haven’t turned into a Smurf yet. Yet!

Truth be told, the little birdie isn’t a great blueberry picker at this age – maybe next summer. She loses interest in picking after about, oh, 60 seconds. But she loves to run up and down the rows, check in with her friends (err, boss them around), and occasionally, pop a big, plum-sized one in her mouth. Pure northern Michigan summer!

She also had a great time with her good friend, Cora. And they didn’t even fight over anything today! Girls are so funny: one minute they’re pulling each other’s hair out over a toy and the next, they’re hugging and laughing. Or holding hands…

How are you celebrating the arrival of August and beating the heat in the midst of these dog days? Any great blueberry recipes I just HAVE to try? Send ’em my way. Until then, we just eat them straight out of the bowl! mmmmm.

Cyberspace friends, thank you so much for your thoughtful, thought-provoking, understanding and encouraging thoughts regarding my anxiety over the arrival of little birdie #2. Your support and advice means a lot. Thank YOU.

love me some tomatillos

Growing tomatillos in our garden this year was a really great idea because I love their tanginess and their beautiful little lantern husks, but I had no idea how big the plants would get (yikes!) and how wide their arms would stretch. So wide that they created a roomy bear-hug around the pepper plants and completely shaded them from the sun. Oh well, those didn’t make it.  There are still lots of tomatillos out there on the vine and I’m hoping they hang on another week or two. Or three? 60s and sun should allow that to happen, right? Crossing fingers…

I just added two pints of roasted tomatillo salsa to our nest’s larder. Looking forward to saving a jar for a sure cure to the mid-winter doldrums when our souls are hungering for a fresh bite of summer.

What do you like to do with tomatillos, dear readers?

Virtual morel mushrooming, anyone?

Happy Monday, mushroom lovers!

How was your weekend? I happily crossed off a couple more items from my “Spring Forward” list yesterday, thanks to a sunny Mother’s Day hike at the Treat Farm. Cool but sunny meant a spring wildflower hike was in order. And maybe a meander into the woods for some morel-hunting if we were feeling ambitious. We were greeted with a forest full of trillium (some turning to their late Spring light purple hue already), jack-in-the-pulpits, columbine, forget-me-nots, purple and white viola, a few remaining dutchman’s breeches and other lovelies courtesy of Mother Nature.

Through the woods, across the meadow and out to the bluff…

On the way back, Chris wanted to cross the meadow and he spotted these. Have you ever seen such large, woody asparagus? Crazy!

Then we stumbled into the woods in search of morels, but instead we got some quiet moments and some leek-filled breaths. Somewhat dejected, off we hiked back to the car. Until… are you ready now for some virtual mushrooming, dear readers? Give it a shot!

Don’t pick them just yet. Wait until everyone has had a chance to “find” them…

OK, now you can pick! How’s that for a fun fun fun-guy adventure!?

Now what will you do with your bounty? I don’t like to *do* too much to them because the flavor is so delicate. My favorite partner for morels? You probably guessed it. Butter. Cleaned and lightly pan-fried in butter with a dash or two of salt and pepper. And some fresh asparagus… Sounds like we’ve figured out dinner tonight! Whew.

Still leeking.

Back to that leek.

A friend and fellow locavore sent me this article, which made me question harvesting the wild leeks. Seems as though the increased popularity of wild-harvested foods like mushrooms, leeks and fiddleheads comes at a cost. And not just to your pocketbook at your local market. To our favorite lady, Mother Nature. Commercialization could easily lead to extinction the article posits. Ouch.

According to the article,

(All) this attention isn’t good news for the leek, says Gérald Le Gal, president of the Quebec-based Association for the Commercialization of Forest Mushrooms and owner of Gourmet Sauvage, a company that sells prepared wild fruits and vegetables.

He doesn’t think anyone should be selling ramps.

“Don’t touch the stuff. It’s just too vulnerable,” he says. When you pick a ramp, you take the entire plant, including the bulb. Once the bulb is gone, there is nothing left of the plant; it will not grow back the next year. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority considers it to be “a species of conservation concern.” And eating a nice sized bulb could be the equivalent of dining on an old-growth cedar. “It’s a really, really, slow-growth plant. A bulb could be 18 to 20 years old,” Mr. Le Gal says.

Ouch. Now I’ve got a bad case of green guilt. You? Anyone know of a way to sustainably harvest the wild leeks, like the article briefly mentions? Perhaps if we just pick a couple handfuls for our own personal use and resist the temptation to bring a car load to the farmer’s market? What’s your opinion, dear readers?

Man the pumps! We’ve sprung a leek.

That’s right, folks, we’ve sprung a leek. Millions of them. They’re springing up and making the nearby woods smell earthy and oniony. Spring has sprung! No morel sightings yet, but the leeks are here in a big way. (They’re also known as “ramps” in other parts of the country. Maybe in your neck of the woods?)

Check them out in this photo. See all that lovely green stuff popping through last fall’s leaves? That’s them! I wish this could be a “scratch and sniff” photo, but technology hasn’t gotten there quite yet…

These yummies are great with fresh asparagus and morels, but we’re not that far into spring in these parts. So how ’bout these ideas?

Spaghetti with wild leeks

Wild leek and sausage risotto

Roasted chicken with wild leeks and potatoes

Wild leek & potato soup


According to Traverse Magazine, here are some helpful wild leek tips:

  • Do preserve leeks by pickling, drying or freezing. Just blanch first for 2-3 minutes.
  • Do use both the bulb and milder leaves
  • Do use a tool like a long knife or dandelion digger to help loosen the root hairs that grow from the tip of the bulb
  • Do store, unwashed, in refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Don’t leave piles of leeks on the kitchen counter too long or your kitchen will smell like a bus in Rome on a midsummer day


If you don’t have time to pick your own or can’t find them near you, consider ordering some Pickled Wild Leeks from Food for Thought.

Isn’t that a lovely photo? I can almost taste them. Enjoy!

A real Fun Guy.

We’re soaking up the sun while we can because a bunch of wet stuff is coming our way. Or so “they” say. Honestly, dear readers, I’m looking forward to it. One word. Morels! I’m actually not a huge fan of eating morels, but the hunt is awfully fun. It’s just a great excuse to get lost in the woods for a few hours. And there’s so much mystery surrounding where you might happen to find them. Every year this seems to get even more confusing with new advice from just about everyone in northern Michigan. But NO ONE shares where they actually find morels, but they might share clues with you. If you’re lucky.

Supposedly helpful clues I’ve heard. Ground that’s been disturbed by a wild fire. Sandy soil. Near rivers, but not near a bog, silly. Six weeks after the ground thaws, but not if it’s been too dry. Never in clay unless there’s organic material nearby. Not near pines, but hardwoods, but not maples. Mostly oak and poplar. Right after a warm rain, but don’t wait too long. And be careful of those false morels! Are you confused yet? Whew. Last year, we found some right in our yard amongst some rocks at 605. And a friend found some in mulch that had just been delivered to her driveway. Boy that Mother Nature does love to keep us on our toes, doesn’t she? Crazy lady.

Maybe this weekend we’ll get out and look in our favorite spots. Chris likes to say, “Ash, you can always look!” He likes to say this throughout the year just to be funny and it always makes me laugh.

In the meantime, isn’t this illustration of a morel just lovely? You can order it through Etsy here.

Still got the Bunny on the brain? I think I’ve got the Bunny on the butt, if you know what I mean. Better get out for a run to burn off some of those mini Cadbury Eggs. Oof.

Happy Monday to you! Speaking of Monday, has the “meatless Monday” trend caught on in your nest? Thinking about it a lot. More on that in a future “ponderings of a wanabee vegetarian” post.