Cherry pie

With sour cherries picked last month and frozen, I made a pie and shared it with friends who made perfect whipped cream. A cool treat on a hot summer night.




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In Memoriam: Pamela Haley

My dear friend Pam Haley died peacefully on 21 July. Pam was a very caring person whose abiding generosity, good humor and natural tenderness embraced people, animals and gardens. May she now dwell in the Garden of Delight.

Pour yourself a glass of pinot grigio or chocolate milk, and toast Pam’s memory with me.

Pam Haley at the garden, spring 2014

Pam Haley at the garden, spring 2014

When Death Comes — Mary Oliver, a favorite poet of Pam’s

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world in my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

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“Garlic is as good as ten mothers”

IMG_2897I harvested my garlic crop yesterday. Lots of beautiful heads now cure in my kitchen.

I harvest the garlic when 4-5 of the leaves have browned but the paper that surrounds the head of cloves is still fully intact. This means I usually take some samples until I choose the day that seems best to me. Since I grow several varieties of both hardneck and softneck garlics and they mature at different rates, I always have a few heads where the paper has split and the cloves are exposed. Not to worry: you can still enjoy the garlic. There’s a certain amount of judgment and a lot of forgiveness in deciding when to harvest. Whatever day you choose, you will enjoy wonderful garlic.

You can clean your garlic by peeling off the outer leaf-paper or by gently rinsing off the dirt. There’s much debate about which is the better way to clean your garlic. Some don’t clean it at all and cure it as is. Others cut off the root beard being sure not to damage the root plate that holds the head of cloves together. I’ve tried all and always have had great garlic. I prefer to clean my garlic because it’s tidier to cook with later. I lightly rinse and dry it in the shade.

Garlic, once picked and cleaned up a bit, needs to cure for 4-6 weeks. I tie 8-10 heads together with cotton twine and hang them in an open, fully shaded, well-ventilated place. Curing allows the moisture to leave the cloves and concentrates the flavors. As a rule of thumb, I usually pick my garlic around the 4th of July and start cooking with it around Labor Day. (I also pickle garlic and often use the loose cloves from the heads with split papers. More to follow on this.)

It’s best to use up your garlic by December Solstice: otherwise, it rots or sprouts. Whatever you do, don’t store your garlic with potatoes or onions. The moisture that potatoes and onions release will cause your garlic to rot more quickly. Store it as able in a shaded, well-ventilated spot.

You can also cook with fresh, newly harvested and uncured garlic. Can you tell the difference in taste?

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IMG_2878The basil is ready for eating, for making pestos. Just perfect.

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Fruits galore

IMG_2875I go away for a week and come back to a garden bursting with produce. Six cups plus of raspberries. Beets and carrots for roasting. Three colors of fillet green beans. A green pepper, the first tomatoes, the first eggplant, the first squashes and the first cucumbers. Plus very sweet snap peas. And the garlic is close to harvesting. Enjoying all the bounty of it.



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Tarragon terrific

IMG_2851This year, the French tarragon — thriving, delicately flavorful and beautiful, is having a terrific year. For reasons I don’t fully comprehend, the thyme did not survive last winter’s bitter cold but the tarragon did. (Thyme and tarragon are perennial herbs which I leaf-mulch heavily in the fall to help them survive temperature fluctuations and extremes.) French tarragon is absolutely delicious raw in salads and added to dishes near the end of the cooking.

French tarragon has long, flat, slender spear-like leaves and, when plucked from the woody stem and crushed, a delicate anise flavor. According to Leanne Kitchen in The Produce Bible, tarragon came late to European cooking, arriving in France and England in the 16th century. Its ancient ancestor and current cousin Russian tarragon originate in distant Siberia and Central Asia. Of course, the French adore tarragon and it appears in classic béarnaise sauce.

I adore fresh tarragon leaves chopped in roasted beet salad with balsamic, olive oil and goat cheese. (Check your beets because baby beets are coming in right now for roasting and eating.) It’s also excellent chopped fresh in vinaigrette over roasted asparagus. And it’s easy to drop leaves into white wine vinegar or olive oil to infuse and flavor them.

What’s your favorite use of tarragon?

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This year’s garlic

IMG_2849This year, the garlic is slow to mature and be harvested. Usually I’m harvesting my garlic around the 4th of July but this year it’s not ripe yet for harvest and curing. Perhaps it’s the long, cool spring we’ve had. Perhaps it’s all the rain since garlic likes the soil moist but not wet. Or some combination.

How do I know the garlic isn’t ready to harvest yet? I look for the first five leaves on the stem to turn yellow. As you can see from the picture above, the leaves are all still green on the 4th of July. It may be August before the garlic is perfect and ready for harvest.


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What’s up and coming


Cucumbers are flowering and growing wildly up the trellis. Soon there will be many varieties of cucumbers to relish.






Bush beans (here) and pole beans are flowering. Soon there will be many fillet beans to eat cooked and raw. To keep your beans producing all season, keep picking all the beans off the plant. That keeps it flowering and producing beans all season.




Eggplants are flowering and forming small fruits. Can’t hardly wait until I’m harvesting gorgeous eggplants and roasting them for dinner.

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Summer fruits, part four: more berries


Black raspberries


Blackberry flowers and immature fruit

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More summer fruits: sour cherries

IMG_2811A friend invited me to harvest from her sour cherry tree. It was beautiful and laden with cherries. I’ve enough now pitted for a half dozen pies. Yum.

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