my favorite things

I’ve been thinking about my favorite vegetable to grow, harvest and cook, and to my utter surprise, it’s swiss chard. It’s super good for me; it has vitamins K, A and C, and it is anti-inflammatory & has anti-oxidants.DSC_0031As a plant, it’s easy. It always grows; I’ve never had one die on me. It forgives me if I don’t pick it at just the right moment. It keeps growing all summer, and it’s pretty. DSC_0048It’s simple to prepare. I rinse the leaves off, pile them up, slice them lengthwise 3 or 4 times, then chop it up.DSC_0056 I saute it in olive oil and water with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (because red pepper flakes are good with everything). It’s tasty just like that.  But I make a ton of it and keep it in the fridge to do this:

  • add to eggs and omelets
  • spread over sautéed chicken & top it with swiss/parmesan cheese
  • spread on top of pizza
  • add to any kind of pasta
  • add to soups and beans
  • toss into salads
  • spread onto toasted bread (with or without cheese – oh never mind – WITH cheese)

So I have to give an A+ to swiss chard: healthy, easy, simple, delicious.

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free heirloom seeds

So, not only do my local libraries supply me with all the books I can read (no small task), the Woodbury and Pitman branches here in Gloucester County, NJ also lend out seeds.

Free packaged heirloom seeds

a selection of seeds at the Woodbury, NJ seed bank

They give me free heirloom seeds; I plant them, enjoy the bounty, and give them back some seeds at the end of the season. (And no fines if it doesn’t work out.) Sweet deal!

Below are just a few of the flower, vegetable and herb seeds I picked up. All it takes is a library card.

heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs

Watermelon radish, Traveler jalapeno pepper, Monarda bergamot, Callipe blend carrots, White sage

I’m hoping my backyard looks like this in a couple of months.

companion gardening

I just finished an organic heirloom gardening class, and I am wildly excited about companion gardening. That’s the art/science/voodoo of grouping plants that are beneficial to one another. I am planning small clusters of companion plants instead of one large plot with everything lumped together.tomato, basil, chive

I can feel a full garden re-do coming on . . .

tomatoes

Every year around this time, I start to run out of ways to use up all the tomatoes. Here’s a list of my current favorites:

1) tomato & pesto sandwich
2) tomato pie
3) tomato salad with green beans & black olives
4) pizza topping
5) salsa (always)
6) halve cherry tomatoes, chop green pepper & onions & sprinkle with oregano. Keep in the fridge ready to add to: pasta, omelets, salad, soup, quiche, or pizza

Cherry tomatoes, chopped green pepper & onions with fresh oregano

Cherry tomatoes, chopped green pepper & onions with fresh oregano

How do you use tomatoes?

gardening

I can’t keep myself out of the garden. The laundry is piling up and my desk is a mess because I am spending way too much time checking on the progress of the sweet peas and planting flowers around the herb garden.

There’s something so compelling about planting a seed and watching it sprout, nurturing the plant and then picking and eating the produce. It feels like a little bit of magic, and it makes me see vegetables in a whole new way.