I just had to insert this non-gardening-specific post. Some things are that important.
Today is Patty Griffin’s birthday.
You go Patty.
If you’re unfamiliar, you can thank me later. Patty’s a life changer.
Here’s a clip:
Rundong Wang, a reader from Beijing, sent some garden photos to feature on the site. After numerous hacks, crashes, etc., I thought the files were gone forever. Today, after five years, I found the photos and the original email.
Rundong’s had this to say about his garden:
“It is somewhere to settle my soul. Swaying with the plants together, we breathe like a sort of plant.”
Thank you Rundong; beautifully said.
Here are the pictures; would you like to share pictures of your garden?
Last summer, instead of the typical mid-July explosion of color and density, the impatiens in my garden started to lose their color, their leaves, and eventually– their blooms. Within a few weeks, they shriveled and had to be pulled out of the beds. Typically, I plant several flats in a few colors in my deep shade areas.
At the time, I dismissed the event as a bad season: too much drought followed by too much rain. As I was considering what seeds to start this week, I decided to search “Impatiens 2012.” I discovered that the problem is happening on a global scale. It doesn’t seem to have impacted the seed supply, but any new plants (grown from seed) could become infected.
Horticulturist George Weigel attributes the condition to a “virulent new disease strain of downy mildew.” To complicate the problem, “the disease spores overwinter and can survive in infected soil for at least a year — maybe several years” (Weigel).
George recommends coleus, begonias, browallia, torenia, polka-dot plants (Hypoestes), sweet potato vines, caladium, and New Guinea impatiens as suitable replacements (New Guinea impatiens remain unaffected).
I’m wondering if nurseries will skip stocking impatiens walleriana altogether this year.
There is, however, some good news:
Plant pathologist Mary Hausbeck from Michigan State University says that the mildew will not harm or contaminate other species in your garden beds.
What do you think? Will you plant impatiens or find an alternative for 2013?
In October of 2012, after four years of college papers and too much sedentary living, I stepped on the scale and received a shock.
The truth is, I had been thinking about remodeling my diet and lifestyle for a few years. This memorable, cool October morning provided me with enough inspiration to make some serious lifestyle changes. Around the 15th of October, I decided to give up wheat and processed sugar. A week later, I committed to a low glycemic, non-GMO, low carb regimen. Knowing how much I loved food and cooking, I realized a major shift was in order. Since then, I’ve been modifying my recipes to accommodate these changes. To be honest, I’m still surprised by the ease of the transition.
Wheat, potatoes, and sugar are ubiquitous in the American diet; I knew they would be challenging to eliminate or replace. Despite any difficulties, I’m enjoying the journey.
Although I’ll never measure up to the progress of the contestants on “The Biggest Loser,” I’m happy with my weight loss (22 pounds so far).
Here’s one of my latest recipe renovations. Try it, and let me know what you think.
Note: Cooked carrots are the big splurge in this recipe; the glycemic index is in the moderate range, but most sources place it below the threshold for a spike in blood sugar.
I replaced traditional potatoes with radishes. If you cook them long enough, they will lose their spicy, peppery bite. Cooked properly, they taste exactly like potatoes with the same texture. Test them; when they taste like potatoes, the stew is probably ready for the table.
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
3 ribs of celery
1 cup of sliced or baby carrots
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
4 tbs. unsalted butter
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 pounds of 1” cubed beef stew meat (chuck, bottom or top round, rump roast)
24 radishes (slice off the bottom/root and the top, but keep them otherwise whole)
1 cup of burgundy or cabernet wine (I used a Pinot Noir; it was what I had available).
2 cups beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup of pearled barley
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, saute onions, garlic, mushrooms, and beef cubes in butter, salt, and pepper (uncovered).
When the beef is browned and cooked through, add wine and simmer for an additional five minutes. Add remaining ingredients, and cook uncovered at low-medium heat (should be a slight bubbling/boil) for 2 to 2.5 hours. Stir every 20 minutes to avoid burning on the bottom. In the last 30 minutes, add the barley.
Just before serving, you may thicken with a few shakes of dried potato flakes. Instead of dried potatoes, I now use a teaspoon of guar gum mixed with a few tablespoons of water. Stir thoroughly for a few minutes, and serve.
We were extremely lucky in south central PA; Nemo dusted the roads, but the storm left us otherwise untouched. I spent the morning looking at tragic photos from the northeast: digging out buried cars, snowdrifts, and accidents. Twitter was flooded with images; the numbers of families without power is devastating.
Today was bitter, and I made the mistake of trying to shop. Every plaza in Lancaster County was jammed with overzealous consumers: SUV drivers and line-jumping fanatics. I bought Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird for my grad class, and I bought ingredients to make a beef stew tomorrow. I’m low-carbing, and I’m going to try substituting radishes for potatoes in the stew. In prior trials, the radishes lost their peppery bite when roasted long enough. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Tonight, I treated myself to Lisa and Pete Silberman’s homemade tomatillo salsa: delicious! Thanks guys!
Today, I also began stalking some new plants for the garden. Two species caught my eye: Limnanthes douglasii and Nemophila maculate.The Limnanthes may reseed and naturalize. I may have to start them from scratch; I’ve never encountered either species in my local garden centers. What’s on your wish list for 2013?
Here’s the Limanthes:
And the Nemophila…
I’ve been combing the yard for evidence of emerging life: nothing yet…I’m waiting for the Snowdrops to push through the soil.
Keep the Philly Flower Show in mind:
Today was a challenge; my computer was hacked, and I had to close and establish new banking accounts. The temperatures were frigid, but in protest, I decided to spend forty minutes in the 101 degree hot tub under the stars. Needless to say, I’m feeling much better. No buds or blooms to speak of, the yard is frozen and uninspiring. On days like this, I turn to old music for comfort.
The first album I ever purchased was Elton John’s Caribou. A year later, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was released. These albums remain in my list of favorite music of all time.
Here’s a clip of E.J’s “Writing” from Captain Fantastic.
At the age of ten, I imagined him barricaded in a dimly-lit room writing feverishly until the perfect blend of words and music arrived.
Here’s another favorite from the album Caribou; it’s called “Pinky.”
I make several versions of rice and beans. Today’s version includes white beans and chicken drumsticks. I usually make this for large parties, so scale back the ingredients if you’re making this dinner for a small group.
Note: I usually use Pinto or Roman beans. If you can find them, Roman beans are my favorite; they have a rich flavor and a larger size. I also like to add fresh scallions and zucchini or yellow squash in the summer.
Depending on the ingredients I have available, I usually add a small amount of tomato paste to the sofrito ( about 3 tbs). For this recipe, I didn’t have any available, so I omitted it.
This recipe is my take on my friend Mary Rivera’s recipe; I begged her for several years to teach me. One Sunday afternoon, my wish was finally granted.
Ingredients (this is for a large batch):
1 large green bell pepper
1 spicy/hot pepper ( I used a sweet/hot Italian frying pepper)
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic
* you can add any other peppers you like. I added one half of a red bell pepper I had in the freezer
4 lbs. of undrained beans (I used white beans for this recipe)
Adobo seasoning (Goya)
Sazon seasoning (Goya)
24 chicken drumsticks
1/4 cup of olive or canola oil
2 tsp. dried chives
2.5 cups of white rice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Rinse the chicken and arrange on a 13 x 9 glass pan ( I used two)
Using Adobo seasoning, dust the chicken lightly on one side.
Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
The first step for flavoring the beans is making Sofrito. Remember to remove the inner membrane and seeds from the peppers. If you’re using jalapenos or another hot variety, make sure to rinse off the seeds.
Toss the peppers, onions, and garlic into a food processor and puree. If you don’t have a processor, finely chop the ingredients.
This will make about 4 cups of Sofrito. For this recipe, I used 2 cups.
You can freeze the remainder for your next batch. I also use this same Sofrito recipe to make chili. Just add it to your favorite chili recipe in the beginning stages.
Your sofrito will look green and frothy!
Dump about 2 cups of the sofrito into a large saute pan (big enough for 4 lbs of beans).
Add 1/4 cup of olive or canol oil into the saute pan.
Stirring often, saute the sofrito on medium/high heat for about 10 minutes.
Add four packets of Sazon seasoning (more or less according to your taste; you can always add more later). At this stage, you can add tomato paste (or not)
Saute for another 5 minutes.
Add 4 lbs of beans, 2 tsp. of dried chives, a dash of tabasco sauce, and saute on medium heat for 30 minutes. Make sure the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan; stir often. The mixture will thicken considerable.
Put 2.5 cups of white rice in 5 cups of water. Add Saffron seasoning. Bring to a light boil (med/high heat) and immediately cover the rice and simmer on low for 25 minutes.
Layer the bottom of a serving dish with rice, and add half the beans. Place drumsticks over the beans, and top them off with the remainder of the beans. Enjoy!
Happy New Year 2013: Resolutions for Life and the Garden
Hello blog, remember me?
Please accept my apologies.
It’s January 15, 2013, and I’m working on lots of new content for the coming year. This year brings many changes for me and the site. Since my last communication, I’ve been consumed with grad classes, remodeling jobs, and keeping up with holiday events and expectations. I’ve also embarked on some new life changes (diet and attitude…stay tuned).
New Year’s eve of 2012 was a game-changer for me. Thank you Krissy, Brad, Amy, Andy, Swanker, Steve, Maura, Drugh, Meghan, and Marc. I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices and attitudes I’d like to adopt in the coming year. Thank you for your support and inspiration.
Stella’s Yard Resolution for 2013: Build a community—whatever it takes.
My garden goals for 2013:
1. Build a full roof over the upper deck, and create a private courtyard beside the exterior of the hot tub room.
2. Fill the lonely full-sun garden bed gaps (created by uptight plants) with enthusiastic plants with positive attitudes.
A message to the birds:
I will be removing all of the Wisteria to make way for the new deck roof; foreclosure proceedings will begin in early April. I will add appropriate bushes and hedges to ease your transition. Let’s work together.
In the coming weeks, I will publish some back material that’s been waiting in the queue: some garden tours, weekend tours, holiday tours etc.
As usual, I’m listening to Pandora radio while writing; it never fails to inspire.
Today’s new discovery: Sera Cahoone’s “Deer Creek Canyon.” Here’s a clip:
Also, while listening to my Antje Duvekot station, I had the pleasure of revisiting“Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. If you haven’t seen the movie “Once,” check it out. Here’s a clip of the song:
Swanker: I promised you a link to The Milk Carton Kids. Here’s a sample:
Remember, the annual Orchid Show is coming up (January 19, 2013) at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA:
And, don’t forget the Philadelphia Flower Show in March:
I invite you to submit your comments and 2013 garden/life resolutions below:
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Happy 2013 from Stella’s Yard! Wishing you every happiness in the coming year.