Garden Review – Best and Worst Plant Varieties of 2016

As the growing season draws to a close, I wanted to take a few minutes and reflect on the successes and failures of some of the plants we grew this year.

When you move away from the few (usually lackluster) options available at big box stores, there is a staggering amount of diversity in the plant world. I'm always looking for the ideal plant varieties for my growing conditions, intended usage, and taste buds, but it can be really hard to wade through the masses of available cultivars to find the right plants for me. Hopefully, this post will help some people in similar growing conditions to mine (Western NY, zone 5b) to put together a few pieces of the puzzle.

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Hey, everyone!

Are you looking for a way to send out those last beautiful summer tomatoes and cucumbers in style? Do you need more genuinely delicious vegetarian recipes in your life? Do you crave Middle Eastern food?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above, keep reading. We're going to falafel!

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Vanilla Browned Butter Baked Steel Cut Oats

I feel like I’ve been heavy on the updates and light on the how-to’s lately. I’d like to tip the scales a little, starting with this – a recipe for the best breakfast creation I’ve found in a long while.

Vanilla. Browned butter. Steel cut oats. Throw in the cinnamon and nutmeg that I left out of that already long title, and a pile of fresh summer berries, and you’ve got the most decadent breakfast that makes your body feel as good as your taste buds.

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Garden Failures, and a Winter Sowing Update

I've been thinking about failures a lot lately.

Two weeks ago, I noticed a strange and unpleasant odor coming from our enclosed porch. Since my brother had just come to stay with us and was sleeping in that room, I (unkindly) assumed the odor had something to do with him. I made him wash all his laundry again and check through all his stuff for that container of old, uneaten food I thought I smelled. And for the first two days that week, I scoured the house for the source of The Smell, puzzling as the sickly, rotten food odor grew stronger almost by the hour.

Suddenly, on the afternoon of day 2, I stopped. With nausea worse than that induced by The Smell washing over me, I walked slowly to the big upright freezer that lives in the enclosed porch, and opened the door.

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The Ultimate Farm Girl Skirt (Victory Patterns Madeleine Skirt)

You know those pieces of clothing that you wear as often as (hygienically) possible, and you still find yourself missing them when they're in the laundry? Well, I made one.

Introducing the Madeleine Skirt from Victory Patterns, or, as I've been calling it in my head, the ultimate farm girl skirt! This is my second serious foray into sewing for myself, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

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Asian Steamed Buns (Char Siu Bao)

I'm pretty excited about this post. We're getting into prime vegetable harvest season up here, and these buns, besides being a family favorite, are the perfect companion to a quick stir-fry of fresh garden veggies.

What are char siu bao? Pork or beef, slow-roasted in a sweet-salty Asian marinade, shredded to bits, and wrapped up in a tender steamed bun. In one bite, you get the sweetness of hoisin, the richness of sesame, the saltiness of soy, the pungency of garlic, and the deep caramel taste of well roasted meat. And mellowing the intense flavor of the meat is the bun - fluffy, yet chewy - like the inside of a freshly-baked loaf of bread.

Besides being utterly, addictively delicious, bao are inexpensive, easy to freeze, and quick to reheat. Making them the perfect summer side to whatever veggies are growing in abundance near you.

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Garden Update – June 1st, 2016

It's been too long. I had a pretty good posting rhythm going there for a while - averaging about once a week - and then, I don't know. Life happened. I think the coming of warmer weather had a good bit to do with it. We're spending a lot more time outside now, and a lot more time working out at the property. Sitting in front of a computer sounds a lot less appealing when the weather is glorious.

But I'm going to try and get back on it. I've got quite a few posts in my head that I'd like to get out into the Internets. I'll start with a garden update, though, because we (and the plants) have been busy!

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Red Lisette Traveler Dress (Simplicity 2246)

You guys. I made a dress! An actual dress! Like, to be worn out in public and everything! And I sewed it! And it has buttonholes, and pockets, and a collar, and plackets, and interfacing, and all sorts of other fancy, intimidating sewing stuff. Which I sewed!

I'm just a little excited.

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Garden Update – April 11th, 2016

I've been thinking lately about the importance of keeping better track of my garden, week to week. In past years, I've recorded a lot of the bigger picture things - which vegetable varieties I bought and how many of them I planted; when I started, transplanted, and harvested crops; how big my harvests were (and how big I wished they were); what I spent in various garden-related categories... Stuff like that.

What I haven't done, and what I've been thinking about doing, is trying to get a better feel for what's going on in the life of the garden at any given time of the year. What was I thinking, feeling, seeing, planning, wondering, harvesting, preserving, dreaming? What was in my head, in my hands, and in front of my eyes? I want to be able to look back and see not just notes, but life - week by week, season by season, the dismal and the bountiful.

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