FREE March 9-13 – FROM SEED TO TABLE

S2T-5

Good morning – Just wanted to let you know that my book, From Seed to Table, is available for free download on Kindle today through Sunday, March 13.

This book is a compilation of my blog posts about gardening, harvesting, and preserving vegetables. It’s full of recipes and organized by the season. If you don’t have your copy, now’s the time to get it.

I haven’t been posting about gardening much in the past few years because we’ve been in transition and moving. But this month, my husband–the real gardener in our family–is building raised beds on the side of our North Carolina hill, foothill, mountain, and I’ll be posting his progress as he begins our new garden journey.

Here’s an excerpt From Seed to Table:

SPRING

Most years by the end of March, the seedlings are growing; onions and garlic are in the ground; spinach, lettuce, and cole plants await placement once the soil is workable. During the second week of March, Robert begins covering the areas of the garden with plastic sheets where he’ll plant first to protect the soil from the late winter/early spring snow and rain. The soil needs to be dry when he begins turning it over and readying it for planting.

Since there’s still a chance for frost or a freeze, we watch the weather each evening and keep the Reemay® near to cover the onions, if necessary. It’s a time of growth, but it’s a tender and tenuous time as well.

From Living Lightly blog – April 2, 2013

The spring of 2013 is late in coming to western Pennsylvania and other parts of the Midwest and Northeast. Spring sprung on the calendar more than ten days ago, yet the cold temperatures stymied our gardening plans. Seeds sprouted a month ago are now seedlings growing under lights in our family room.

I can tell they are yearning, as we are, for the warmer days and nights of spring, for the sunshine to heat the earth, and for soil large enough to spread their roots.

The onions should be in the ground by now or at the very least, they should be outside getting sunlight for a portion of the day. My husband has been putting them out for brief periods, but the temperatures are still too cold for any type of sustained sun bathing.

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The soil for spinach needs preparation. They’ll be ready to go into the ground as soon as the weather cooperates. If spinach is started indoors about a month before transplanting into the garden, the harvest will triple or quadruple, and huge succulent leaves will grow before the plants go to flower in June. Any plants grown indoors need to be slowly exposed to direct sunlight for a few days with minimal mid-day sun during the early spring.

The peas have been most affected by the cold weather of spring 2013. My husband worried for weeks that he wouldn’t be able to get the sprouts in the ground in a timely manner. He sprouts seeds on an old cookie sheet and covers them with several layers of damp paper towel. He has one tray all ready to plant, which he intended to do this past weekend. Then we heard the weather report for the first week of April: nighttime temperatures hitting the low to mid-20s. He said he’d put them in the ground even with predictions of high twenty temperatures, but 25 degrees is too low. He sprouted another set this past week because he’s fairly certain the ones already sprouted won’t last until he can put them in the

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peas ready to plant on March 30, 2013

ground. He put the tray in the basement, hoping to slow down the process.

We’re learning to be flexible with the unpredictable weather patterns of recent years. It’s not always easy, especially when we’re as eager for the warmer temperatures as the plants stretching for light right before our eyes.

 

If you enjoyed this excerpt, download the rest of the book for free until March 13, 2016 by clicking here.

If you prefer reading the paperback, click here. It’s $7.99 on Amazon.

Thank you and happy gardening. Would love to hear what’s popping at your house!

 

#Garden – Pea Time

June Garden 2014

June Garden 2014

I decided to take a break from my job today to give a brief update on the garden now that we’ve moved into summer here in western Pennsylvania.

The spinach has gone to seed, but we put up a few bags and ate quite a few meals of the fresh stuff. The raspberry bushes are alive with small white berries and the bees are buzzing around the blossoms. I watch daily for the first sign of red. I’m ready to pick and preserve–and of course, slip a few in my mouth.

The news this week involves peas. We’d been snacking on peas for the past week. I put some in a tuna macaroni salad, and we’ve been eating them raw. Late yesterday, Robert went out to pick and he came back in with a grocery bag packed with them plus enough for us to have large servings for our supper–we’d had a late lunch, so we made peas our evening meal. Tonight I’ll be blanching and freezing. Mid June Peas 2014

Peas should be blanched in boiling water for two minutes and then submerged in ice cold water for another two minutes. They should be a wonderful bright green and ready for putting in freezer bags for winter consumption. Peas hold up well for freezing, perhaps the best vegetable of all for preserving this way.

So it’s back to work. I’m in the process of getting three books ready for publication. I participated in a Romance in a Month class and really did finish a draft of a book. It’s shorter than my previous novels so I should be able to publish Behind the Altar by September. 64

NATIVE_WEBNative Lands is next in my Florida Fiction Series. I started this novel in 2006, and then left it for a few years. I’ve been working on it since 2013 and it heads to my editor in July. I hope to have it published by October.

And finally, the third book, Odyssey to Myself, is a collection of travel essays I’ve been working on in my spare time for the past year. It covers a decade in my life when my world tilted. As I struggled to adjust, I traveled: Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile. There was a trip down Route 66 in between. Most of the essays were already written and published in various places. I’m just writing the transitions and pulling into one cohesive whole. I hope to publish this one before summer ends.NewKindleJune5

I’ve been busy. I imagine things to pick up with the garden with the ripening of twenty tomato plants. I’m excited to make Italian sauce and salsa since we didn’t make any last year, partly because the tomatoes didn’t perform as well and partially because I wasn’t performing at all.

What a difference a year makes. I’ve never felt better, and when I look out at the garden, it reflects my feeling of health and well-being. We’re eating broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce almost every night. Thanks, Robert, for a job well done!

What’s growing in your area right now? I haven’t been out to a Farmer’s Market yet, but I bet they’re bursting with local food.

Kitchen Love

Seven jars of love

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

This past weekend we put up seven quarts of Italian sauce from our tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and basil. See my post “The Tomato – Luscious and Delicious for the process and recipe.

This is our third year for preserving the harvest from our garden. We’ve developed a rhythm for our time in the kitchen as we make sauce. My husband washes, peels and cuts up the tomatoes, peppers, and onions. I prepare the garlic and basil. I squeeze the juice and seeds out of the tomatoes after my husband does his thing with them. Sometimes the process gets slowed down because he pulls out seeds from the very best to use next year.

Preparation

The whole process – from washing the tomatoes to pulling the jars of sauce out of the canner – probably takes four hours. It’s not a cost effective process if only dollars and cents are factored. But there’s other considerations. Nutritionally, the minerals and vitamins from the vegetables are outstanding. The taste alone justifies the time.

And then there’s the other and perhaps the most important part. Robert and I love working together in our kitchen handling the vegetables we’ve nurtured. We handle the tomatoes and other vegetables with loving care. I am lost in the texture of the tomato as I squeeze each one. The smell of garlic and onion sauteing in olive oil beats eau de cologne any day. For mere hours, we are suspended and lost in the garden of our creation. The love we pour into our concoctions cannot be calculated on any cost analysis.

As the sauce simmers and boils down, we begin taking the pulp and straining it into juice. Then it’s time for our Bloody Mary or Maria (with tequila) with juice from our garden. Last night we savored our first taste of the sauce on pasta (I wanted the flavors to meld so I let a meal-sized portion rest in the fridge for two days). We both agreed this year’s batch is definitely the best – until next year rolls around.

Ready for winter

How about you? Do you think preparing your own food (even if it’s not from your garden) is worth the effort?

 

Zucchini Relish

By P.C. Zick @PCZick

Anyone who gardens even a little bit knows the truth about zucchini. Once it starts putting off those beautiful blossoms, you need to be ready to do something with the bounty. We grill it, saute it with onions, shred it for bread, and thanks to a recipe I found two years ago in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, I make relish with it.

We use the relish for more than putting in potato and tuna salads. It makes a wonderful marinade for seafood. The day after I put up the jars of relish this year, I put it on top of a tuna steak in aluminum foil and put on the grill for 20 minutes. Perfection. Here’s my recipe adapted from Ball. If you’re not familiar with canning, here’s a good source to begin on the Ball Canning site.

 

This recipe makes approximately 6 pint jars.

Zucchini Relish ala Zick

6 large zucchini (I mix it up with yellow squash if I have it)

3 medium onions

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 yellow pepper

4 cloves of garlic

3 crushed cayennes

4 TBSP salt

2 cups of cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

4 tsp celery salt

2 tsp mustard seed

Chop all the vegetables – I do it in my food processor. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Cover with water and let sit for two hours.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil at the end. Drain, rinse, drain vegetables and add to the boiling liquid. Simmer 10 minutes. Place in hot, sterilized canning jars.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes (I live at 1,000 ft. altitude so I always add another five minutes to processing time.)