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Food & Drink

Why I Garden #18

French Tarragon, drying

We had the first hard freeze of the season last week. There were no light frosts, the low temps went solidly below zero (Celsius) in one night. The local meteorologist gave us ample warning so we pulled up tomato plants, harvested squash and chile and tender herbs. It was an exciting end to a full year of watering, weeding and tending. Tomatoes and tomatillos are slowly ripening, herbs are hanging to dry in the kitchen and apples are being sauced or fermented.

On Not Cooking with the Seasons

Peach Pie - Homemade

Peach pies are a thing of glory and, it turns out, a true thing of summer.

I have been saving a peach pie recipe for a while now and finally got the time, the peaches, the crust all happening at the same time. Go for it! The crust rolled out nicely and I crimped the edges. So far so gorgeous. I blanched the peaches and put them in cold water so the skins could slip off. This was the first problem and I probably should have stopped there and found a bunch of apples that looked like they needed pie-ing. But I get an idea in my head and...there you go.

Facing Down the Crisper

I, again, have a crisper full of weird things: daikon, sunchokes, scorzonera (or black salsify, if that helps any). I keep pushing them around and making things with carrots instead. They just look weird and I need to get over that. To think I thought turnips were strange.

Why I Garden #17

New Mexico Hops

I planted New Mexico Hops (Humulus lupulus L. var. neomexicanus) in the backyard several years ago and they have flowered prolifically this year. Each year these perennial vines spread further and are close to covering the fence they grow over. Hop flowers aren't likely to win a beauty contest but they are wonderfully fragrant in a way that few IPA lovers can resist. Now it's time to visit the local home brewing store and find a beer recipe to go with wild hops!

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What is Sustainable Wine?

Grape vines at Talley Vineyards

I drink wine and have noticed a few new words on bottles in the wine shop. Natural, Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic are appearing on certain wine labels. As I'm learning about wine and grapes I thought I should learn about sustainable wine making. It turns out that viticulture (the science of growing wine grapes) is a complex science and sustainability adds to the complexity. So, I started small by touring a sustainable winery on the central coast of California.

Why I Garden #16

Squash Blossoms and Honey Bee after the rain

The monsoon rains have been coming pretty regularly and everything in the garden is growing with vim and vigor. I expect that the various squash and other vining plants will soon break out of their beds and overwhelm any slow moving bystanders. Of course that includes the weeds, but the fruit and veggies are keeping pace. My only worry is that I might miss pulling any of the insidious Siberian Elm (aka Chinese Elm) seedlings that are sprouting from any and everywhere.

Game On

Apricot Jam, Butter and in Marsala

I would have written sooner but I’ve been canning. The apricots are here and it’s game on.

Due to an amazing turn of weather this spring, fruit trees all over town actually escaped a late frost and managed to set fruit. It has been several years since this miracle happened last and right now I see piles of apricots lying in the street all over the place. It practically makes me want to weep. Pick your fruit, people! Someone, somewhere will appreciate it not only because it is delicious but also because you can avoid attracting vermin to your neighborhood in search of rotting sweets.


All that drippy sounding stuff I said in April about spring being here? Forget I ever mentioned it. It proceeded to snow again amidst the usual punishing wind of a New Mexico spring. The only good side to that is that I can make soup without feeling like I’m clinging to the wonders of winter cooking. I really can move forward when situations change, really I can. But soup is so wonderful, what can I say.

Why I Garden #15

Wild Plum in bloom with snow

I love gardening, but to paraphrase the old saying - it's not all a bed of roses. Case in point, the apple, almond and plum trees are in bloom and the apricot trees are just past bloom. The problem: the weather last night - snow and a low of 29.5°F and the forecast for tonight is below freezing again.

One pound of pinto beans

Apple Tree in bloom

The birds are singing, La! The fruit trees are blossoming, La! All this April is busting out all over, but the bummer of taxes due remains. And what a bummer it was. We wrote checks, we crammed forms into envelopes, we raised our voices in thanks for TurboTax, and then off to the post office and the bloody things were off. We have made our contribution to civilization.

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