Tag Archives: Swiss Chard

The Raw ingredients

July 29, 2016 (2)Spring planting season was simply a blur. Maybe I am starting to feel my age, or maybe it really was that busy at school. I hardly got anything planted. My potted plants all died of neglect. Ray kept the puppies, the nuggets and fish healthy, but my pots! me oh my oh! Deer took out nearly all the leaves and fruit from the trees in the front garden, and some kind of bug ate the salad out front. Those are what I see everyday. Yesterday, I ventured out a little farther.

In the midst of all the schoolwork I had to bring home to score, I vaguely remember popping a few seeds into the soil on the occasional Sunday night. I am overwhelmed with Joy!

July 29, 2016 (6)Green rows of lush Swiss, Peppermint and Rhubarb ChardThis is Peppermint Chard

July 29, 2016 (9)Volunteer Broccoli. No Idea what kind it is. We grow open-pollinated Thompson’s, Solstice and Umpqua.

July 29, 2016 (11)Joy! I had forgotten that I put in a few rows of snap beans! This is the blossom of a pink podded snap bean, simply called, “Pink” I also see evidence of yellow French beans, Jade, Purple and I think there might be a few Dragon Beans. We like a pretty plate of tender raw beans with a ranch dip.

July 29, 2016 (15)I love seeds! This is a thick row of lush summer lettuce. Most of it is different kinds of Roman (Green, Red and one of our favorites, Flashy Trout’s Back) I’m also seeing Grandpa Admire’s and a butterhead called Divina. They are growing in a bed with some randy snap beans and the peppers that I didn’t think would get so crowded… but I always think that in spring.

July 7, 2016 (24)I also found potatoes ready to harvest, loads of apples, herbs, sweet peas, tomatoes (wow do they need some attention!) garlic and shallots, even a very few summer onions. I just had to get myself past the disaster that is my back porch. Maybe it is time to clean off the porch so that I feel more like a farmer and less like a failure.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV

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The First Half of April in the Garden

April 2, 2016 (2)
April at The Toy Box. I cannot say that I have been working hard to get where we are this month, I like to putter about for a couple of hours after school every day. Maybe it would be better to proclaim, I have been diligent. Yep, that’s it, I am going with diligent. We have been checking off the jobs that need to be done in the days working up to where we are. Getting trees planted or trimmed, adding wood chips, running flats of seedlings in and out of the weather, protecting them from frost and floods of rain. April is when the “diligence” comes together. We are already eating some of this years salad with the last of last years herbs, leeks and kale.

April 1, 2016 (7)

Morning Prayer

Just when it seems like Ray can sit back and enjoy the beauty of our Suburban Farm, I come up with another major, pain in his back, plan. This season it involves moving two established SFG’s (square foot gardens) to make room for more BTE (back to Eden) growing areas. As subsistence farmers we want to get as much food from our little bit of land as we are able. I (Debs) started out as a foodie/hobby farmer. Best use of space was not part of my plan.

April 1, 2016 (2)

Winter Sown Artichokes (up-potted)

Seedlings: We have soil blocks of tomatoes waiting to be potted up. I have been saving that job for a rainy day. As of today (April 2, 2016) I am on the last weekend of Spring Break from school. The weather has been beautiful so I keep putting that job off. I am reading that rain is coming. The job will get done. The salad greens (romain and mixed reds) have been planted in the front yard SFG, one of the pots of sweet-pea starts were planted in the front garden. Our broccoli and cauliflower are huge and ready for planting out. (suddenly I am feeling just a little bit overwhelmed).

April 2, 2016 (8)

Swiss Chard makes a comeback

Everett, Washington had a very mild winter. We are not quite safe from a “last frost date” yet so I am still holding my breath. We garden just north of “don’t worry about killing frosts in spring” land. I stand amazed watching winter food become beautiful plants. The Swiss Chard in this picture is one example. Light frosts and heavy rain reduced is to an unappetizing mess that I was sure I would be digging out; but look at it. Instead of digging it out I need to dig out my recipes! We have grown the white stem type of chard ever since we have grown it. I have not learned to enjoy it raw yet so the beautiful colors available have not found a place in my chard patch… until this year. I am looking forward to a new variety labeled “Peppermint Chard”. It looks like it has a red-pink base and white upper stem and veins. Am I the only goofy ol’ woman who gets excited about a different color of chard?

April 2, 2016 (5)

Spring Artichoke

One Artichoke survived winter 2015-16 in our Everett, WA garden. In truth we have had roots survive to send up fresh growth but we have never had a whole plant survive the winter. One hard frost could bring it down so I am trying to not get too attached. But I cannot help thinking how totally kewl to have 2nd season artichokes this summer! I also have a beautiful, thick stand of delicious red celery growing in the same garden. It smells awesome! I have not read any good reviews about red celery yet…. here is mine. YUM.

April 2, 2016 (10)

Leeks and (umm) chicken food

The last of our leeks and celeriac have been lovely! This year the guys did not get out to gather fallen leaves so I never did get leaf mulch piled around my root crops, they were fine. There was only one day that I went out to harvest for a winter dinner that turned into a fail because of frozen ground. The last few leeks I have harvested have had woody centers, a sigh that they are getting ready to bolt so I need to use them as quickly as possible. The garlic I planted last October is beautiful. I made such a dumb mistake.

April 2, 2016 (9)

Green Roman and Valentine Mix Lettuce

I remember Paul Gautschi of the BTE film saying that I should put my very best potatoes right back into the ground for the next harvest; which I did. What I missed is that they will come up the following March, which they have. Mean while I thought the replant of potatoes was a total fail and planted my garlic over the former potato bed. While the potato sprouts are still fairly small, both are doing fine. Last year all of my garlic was volunteer. The garlic I planted was from the best of those cloves. This season I found dozens of new garlic volunteers while cleaning up a bed for early pea plants. I should have plenty of garlic this season (assuming everything goes well in my garden world). We have made so many soups and put up so much stock that we are plum outta garlic already! Lately we have been clipping green garlic with our parsley (another winter survivor) when we make a dish that needs a spicy boost.

April 2, 2016 (11)

Climbing pea and bean frame

For the first time since moving to Everett, I will not be planting my main crop of peas in a SFG. We have a whole system of support to attach to the SFG beds. Back when I planted tall peas in Robe Valley (east of Granite Falls, WA) I quit planting tall peas because they were too difficult to keep upright when the vines were heavy with our famous rain combined with the occasional wind storm. Ray has built a frame for the BTE garden that we have high hopes for. The legs of the frame go a little more then a foot into the ground. I have planted peas on the port side of the frame and plan to plant green beans on the starboard side in late May. There will be a short season when both are growing on the frame, but the peas should be done by mid July when the beans are just taking off. We are hoping for a fantastic harvest (knees bent, fingers laced!)

April 2, 2016 (12)

Fava Bean sprouts

Strawberries are coming up through the wood chips, raspberries are making buds, the logan and marian berry vines are already looking lush. Still no sigh of Asparagus, but I guess it is a little early. I have spotted early leaves of Rhubarb and it is beautiful. The comfrey is fixen to take over the berry beds. I’ve also seen early signs of deer damage. Gurrrr! The fava beans (also known as broad beans) we planted in February are looking great, except for one little problem. The garden looks so empty in February that I tend to plant far too many of , well, everything that gets planted early. Good thing we love Fava beans! (they are not really a reason to drink Italian wine… or so the  theory goes).

April 2, 2016 (13)

A living grid in the SFG

A living grid of carrots, radishes, spinach, mixed greens, fennel, scallions, bok choi, and I forget what else; was the plan for one of the tomato beds. Somewhere in the planting, I forgot that I was making a grid and started squeezing in as much as I could. Looking at the bed now, if everything grows, it will be a tight fit but I am sure I can still get those tomato plants growing and keep them happy. Some mistakes are happy accidents. That is what I am hoping for this one.

April 1, 2016 (5)

First, a cuppa jo, then we work

We have entered a time of year when there is a new check list every two weeks instead of every month. We are still looking for a multi-espaliered sweet cherry tree. Does anyone even make those? Beds need to be moved, seedlings planted out, framework put up for the tomatoes, maybe a new tomato tent if we have a sudden cold snap. The pepper bed needs more soil mix and the kitty kover should go over that bed. I really need to get busy on the new herb garden since Ray has terraced the hill side with the stones his mother chose for her porch so many years ago. It just needs a good weeding and the plants I’ve been growing for it. Beet seeds need to go in…. somewhere. So many happy puzzles to figure out.

April 1, 2016 (1) For as long as this post is, this is the short version of how my garden grows. How about you? Be sure to include where you garden and let me know how you are feeding your self (or making the world a beautiful place with your flowers!) where you live. I hear that the strawberry harvest is already over in Texas.

Debs… who only has time to sit because it is Sabbath. Tomorrow we will be getting out and getting dirty, with joy!

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Cold, cold July (until today)

The Toy Box

Suburban Farm Episode #25 (Season 3)

I have no idea why or how you-tube chooses a cover picture. This looks liked my pumpkin vine growing outside of the fence. By the way, I did finally get my lawn mown. Sorry about the mess.

Is that a dragon fly sitting on my corn?

Today was warmer outside than it was inside, we have not had many days like that. Blue sky, 75/57 sunrise at 5:37, 15 hours and 15 minutes later the sun set at 8:52. I am missing my late walks with the dogs.

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Winter Dreams

Frosty, foggy sunrise at the Toy Box. December 9, 2011

I have my plans. I am full of ideas for next year and beyond at the Toy Box. Not getting in a fall-winter garden for two years in a row is pushing me. The mill Ray works for is shutting down. I am more determined (or is that desperate) to feed us from what we can grow in the yard YHVH has graciously put us in. We talk of rabbits and fish tanks. Of Cherry trees and potatoes, wood stoves and outdoor kitchens. Expanded rain collection systems and hoop houses. At the back of our mind is the knowledge that we might be forced to walk away from all of this, but until that day we will live where we are, knowing the act of our Lord, the display his power that put us here.

Garden Sage

Garden Sage 12/9/11

Days before the holidays, garden catalogs are coming. Cook’s sent me last years catalog, apparently to keep me interested until their 2012 wish book (and truly Cook’s is a wish book) comes out. I am coveting a collection of their raspberries. Three each of black, an early red, a late red and a yellow. Jason and I are the only raspberry lovers in my house so why do I need these? I want to put one of each type into a huge pot the way we did with the collection of three from Flower World. But I also want to put a short double row in the ground where my determinant tomatoes are currently set. Vine berries are one of the few plants that do very well in the sorry excuse for soil we have in the Toy Box.

Marion Berry Leaves

Marion Berries planted spring 2011 on 12-9-11

Last year Ray and I put in Marion Berries and Logan berries after we noticed that the brambles and small wild black berries do exceptionally well just beyond the fence. The small sample of marion and logan from their first summer were wonderful. I have two more vines of each that I want to find a space for in an already crowded garden. We are desperately missing the jam that I did not make this year because of the new glass top stove. While reading about how to use the automatic oven cleaning feature I came across a blurb in our owners manual that promises me that I can use the glass top for canning under careful conditions. Ray still worries, but I am determined to give it a try. Having nothing but applesauce from 2010 in the pantry and only frosty herbs plus a few leaves of kale and chard in the garden is distressing.

Apple Leaves

Only a few yellow leaves still cling to the apple tree 12-9-1

The multi-apple tree is doing all right, the sweet cherry gave us a taste of her candy. We are still waiting to taste a single pear. The tree that does exceptionally well is the sour cherry. If we are able (trees are so expensive) we want to add two more sour or pie cherry trees. A dwarf orchard is planned for the front garden. The front garden is only partially fenced. Every dog walker in our community lets their dogs (and we think they are huge dogs) come visit our front lawn. That needs to be prevented with good neighbor fencing. We do not like most of the industrial landscape plants in the front garden. We chat about pulling most of that out and replacing them with my lavenders and some herbal flowers such as ecchenicca (purple cone flower), calendula and stinky but useful valerian. Sunflowers too since this garden tends to be soggy.

Custom Made Clouch

The last of the Cilantro under the Clouch (chard and parsley)

I can grow some protein in the Toy Box. We have discovered Fava (Broad) Beans and a small cranberry type of bean, treasured on Whidbey Island for years, known as Rockwell that provide some tasty protine. The nuggets give us eggs. Even so, we are talking about rabbits for meat (and poo that is gold in the compost) and a Talipa aquaponics. Ray actually seems jazzed about fish farming. All of it takes money to start.

The Old Windmill

Grandpa's old wind mill at sunrise

No one ever really knows what a day will bring. YHVH give us the privilege, the delightful hope, of dreaming about what we will do should he allow. We are sharply aware that the future belongs to our Elohim/God. We want to keep the eyes of our hearts on him. He is far more secure than healthy hens or  a pantry full of jelly.  Things can change in the blink of an eye. One day the mill sent the workers home with a letter informing them that the sale of the mill is all but done save for a few details, get your applications in to the new company. The very next day we found out that everything fell apart. 700 people who depend upon their wage from the mill will join the ranks of the unemployed. The temptation to succumb to depression dogged us most of the day.  As individuals and as a couple who have come through so many things before this, we had to stop and remember that our Lord has made one promise to us. He will never forsake us.

December 9, 2011 Windmill

December 9, 2011

We choose hope. It is hope, not presumption that keeps us dreaming about what we can do this coming year. It is the lovingkindness of our YHVH in his son Y’shua that causes us to stand firm (rather than proud) on his promise. We do not know where we will be next year, but we know it will be beyond what we are able to dream. We are blessed, that is all we know for sure. God shows us that he favors us again and again. The rest is just details…..details that do not fall apart in negations.

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Early July 2011 in the Toybox, Wet and Cold

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Buckwheat Soba, Lentils and Chard with Sasuage

 Too cold to barbeque, no plans except to pray for the boys and girls, men and women really, who offer their blood for my freedom. What should we do for dinner on this cold wet Memorial Day? Does it sound like I am a character in one of Dr Suiss’ books?……so we just sat there Sally and me….. There was a recipe in Deborah Madison’s’ book, “The Greens Cook Book”  that I have been thinking of trying. Today is the day.

Fresh chard from the SFG May 29

  The garden was lush with greens. The chard especially needed to be used. Ms Madison calls for one bunch of red or white chard for this recipe. I’m just not sure how much that is so I just cut all the large leaves that needed to be used for the dish. I also needed parsley, there is plenty in the different gardens. The leeks came from the Snohomish Farmers Market. The rest of the vegetables came from Trader Joe’s.

Gather and prepare the ingredients so the dish can go together quickly.

Ingredients,.
1 12 oz package Italian turkey sausage (optional)
6 to 8 oz. Buckwheat Soba Noodles
1/2 cup French lentils washed and sorted
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt and fresh pepper
1 bunch red or green chard
6 Tablespoons EV olive oil plus extra
2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
2 medium carrots cut into 1/4 inch cubes
 

1 celery stalk cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1 large or 2 medium leeks white part only, finely chopped

2 tablespoon parsley chopped

Parmesan cheese

In a large fry pan with a lid, glaze the bottom with olive oil and fry the sausage. While the sausage begins to cook, fill a large pot with water for the noodles and bring it to a boil. As the sausage cooks, turn it occasionally, browning it on all sides.

In a smaller sauce pan, add the lentils. Cover them generously with water. Add salt and pepper with a bay leaf. Cook at a slow boil for 15 to 20 minutes. If the lentils are over cooked they will lose their shape and texture. When the lentils are done, drain them, return them to the pan with a little olive oil, salt and a grind of pepper. Set at the ready.

Cut the stems from the clean chard and slice the leaves into 1 inch ribbons. Set at the ready.

Salt the noodle water after it comes to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain reserving about 3/4 cup of noodle water.

Putting it all together: Remove the browned sausage to a plate to slice.  Add 4 Tablespoons olive oil and garlic to the fry pan. Gently heat the garlic to flavor the oil. Be careful to not brown to garlic. Cook about 1 minute. Add the lentils to the garlic oil with the carrots, celery and leeks. Stir to coat with oil and cook for about a minute. Turn up the heat slightly (a little hotter than medium). Return the sliced sausage and the chard to the pan with a half cup of noodle water. Turn everything with tongs and gently cook, covered, for a minute or two until the vegetables are tender. Add the noodles and gently toss everything together. Remove from the heat.

Buckwheat Soba with French Lentils, Chard and Sausage

Serves 2 to 4

Grate cheese over all and sprinkle with the parsley.

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Swiss Chard in Lasagna

A lady that I used to walk with gave me a mess of Swiss chard from her garden one evening in spring. I was not sure what to do with it. I had read that it was a good substitute for spinach in lasagna. Since I do not like spinach in lasagna I felt skeptical. Turns out that it should completely REPLACE spinach in lasagna! Actually, when I grow my own greens and use them the day I pick them, they are quite good. Those, like spinach, that I thought I did not like, are yummy when they are fresh picked.

Swiss Chard

Here is the lasagna.

Lasagna preparation is an assembly line. It helps to have what you need ready to add. If your sauce is made (and plain canned sauce or jarred spaghetti sauce both work as well for this as home-made sauce) then you can put it together easily, even quickly. By the way, this works with raw or cooked lasagna noodles. I usually do not precook the noodles but if you are using whole wheat you might prefer the taste of whole wheat noodles from salty water.

Have Ready…..
Tomato Sauce (canned or fresh)
12 lasagna noodles (half cooked or uncooked)
1 pound grated or thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup or more freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese mix (low fat is fine)
9 x 13 inch pan

Ricotta Cheese Mix
2 cups fresh ricotta or cottage cheese
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bunch fresh chopped Swiss chard (spinach or a mixture of greens is fine)

Pulse in food processor or mix by hand and set aside.

Assembly:
1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan.
3. Arrange a single layer of noodles across the bottom of the pan (break raw pasta to fit pan)
4. Arrange half of the ricotta mix in mounds on the noodles.
5. Drizzle 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the ricotta.
6. Sprinkle 1/2 of the Mozzarella over the sauce.
Then….
7. Arrange another 1/3 of the noodles over the cheese.
8. Add the remaining ricotta in dollops to the noodles.
9. Drizzle on another 1/3 of the tomato sauce.
10 Sprinkle on the remaining Mozzarella Cheese
11 Cover the cheese with the last of the noodles and sauce.
12 Sprinkle the Parmesan on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Check after 30 minutes. If the cheese is getting dark, cover the dish with loose fitting foil. Alternately you could wait to add the parmesan cheese until the dish has baked for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Original recipe adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook (1977, 1992 Ten Speed Press, Berkely) by Molly Katzen

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