French Breakfast Radish Toast

Radish Toast

Radish Toast

This might not even count as a recipe but I get enough flack in my family for it that I decided it does – mostly so I can build my tribe of people who also love it!

Serves 2

  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread – the grainier/nuttier the better

  • Butter or olive oil

  • Fresh French breakfast radishes

 Toast the bread – like you normally make toast and spread generously with butter or olive oil.  Slice the radishes about 1/8 inch thick lengthwise and arrange over the toast covering as completely as possible.  That’s it.  Radish toast makes a fabulous breakfast with cottage cheese and of course, dark coffee!

Let me know what you think in the comments (and don’t forget to tell your Mom you ate a vegetable for breakfast!)

April on the small holding

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April on a small holding feels like the Christmas rush in retail - absolutely everything needs tending! And things look hopeful for a bountiful fruit harvest later in the summer. Last year a cold spell stopped most of the trees from setting but so far so good this year. I’m even crossing my fingers that the baby nectarine tree (only about 4 ft tall) might make at least one.

Seed starting is the top priority

The green house benches are full and I’ve got a rotation schedule for the heated mats in the mudroom. Slowly but surely the pile of seed packets is getting lower and more and more things can be planted out into final position. At the moment that means cabbages and beets are planted (except for the Savoys that I forgot!) Lettuces and mustards are out and within easy reach of the kitchen. Peas are going in this week and the all the squashy relatives will get going in the seed trays too.

Letting go of guilt

I hate putting seedlings on the compost pile. It seems like such a waste of potential, not to mention effort. And strangely giving them away seems to create a sense of obligation in the reverse direction ‘fine, if I have to I’ll take one off your hands’. So I’ve stopped doing that, too. Bottom line is in the past I’ve crammed too many in, too close together and had the miniature results that this produces. I’m working hard to break this habit; improved this year if not perfect. The remaining seedlings hang around until I either need them, use them as micro greens or feed them to the chickens.

The big excitement

By far the biggest event in April will be the arrival of honey bees. The hive is ready, the location picked and the bee suit is on standby. Now we just wait until the end of the month when I can go pick them up, convince them I’m going to be a great bee mom and hope that they don’t mind a short trip on the ferry to get to their new home. There won’t be honey (for me) until next year, but I’m eagerly awaiting that as well.

Breakfast of many names - my Baby Dutchem recipe

A caldera of yumminess…

A caldera of yumminess…

Baby Dutchem

(serves 1)

For unknown reasons this breakfast confection has always been known in my family as a Baby Dutchem – the rest of the world calls it either a Dutch Baby or Pannekoeken. It is a close relative to, but not the same thing as, a Yorkshire pudding…  To avoid confusion with any other heritage recipes I’ll continue with my name for it.

  • 2 large eggs

  • ½ c milk

  • ¼ ts salt

  • ½ c all-purpose flour

  • 1 tbls butter

  •  Lemon juice and powdered sugar to taste

Preheat the oven to 500 F. In a small mixing bowl beat the eggs lightly, then stir in the milk.  Add the flour and salt and whisk until there are no lumps.  Set aside.

When the oven is hot put the butter in a 9 inch pie plate or cake pan (either will work)  and place in the oven. Remove it when the butter is completely melted – browned is good but burned is bad, so keep an eye on it.

Pour the batter into the pan now sizzling with butter. Place back in the oven and bake about 20 minutes or until the edges are brown and crispy. (do not open the oven door to check prematurely as this can cause it to fall like a souffle).   Remove the dutchem from the pan and place on a large plate. You may need a spatula to assist with this part. Add lemon juice and powdered sugar to your taste.  Enjoy!

 A few notes on ingredients: For optimal results use 2% milk. You can easily make this with almond or soy milk instead but the edges won’t rise as high. Just as tasty though!  You can reduce the amount of butter by about half if watching calories but the dutchem may stick to the pan more. I have a reduced calorie version as well. (link coming later)

Troubleshooting: Is yours flat as a pancake?  It happens – sometimes it’s the weather and sometimes there is too much flour/ not enough liquid.

If you make this let me know in the comments how it went!

A new gardening season is upon us!

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The greenhouse and cold frames are already beginning to fill up with seedlings. This year - unhampered by any broken bones (yeah!!!) - I’m trying to follow along with Charles Dowding’s No Dig. We’ll see, it’s early days yet but my goal is to grow all my own fruit and veg for the year excluding any tropical stuff. Seeds are germinating and there is a pile of new covering and netting just waiting to be laid out over tender plants. I can’t resist growing flowers too, so those are sprinkled in with the veg.

I try to be efficient and sort the seed packets by the month and then by the temperature required so I can group them on the heat mats. It more or less works out.

This year’s major addition to everything is honey bees. The hive is constructed and waiting in the shop so nobody else moves in. My new bee suit is hanging on its own special hook and the bees have been ordered and registered with the state. Some time around tax day I will head over on the ferry and bring back my very own bees! I hope they like me…

Oops - where did November go?

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Time really does fly when you’re having fun (and when you’re trying to meet a deadline…) Now somehow it’s almost Christmas! The beehive is almost complete - it just needs a few coats of Watco on the outside and then the finishing bits that aren’t supposed to get oily added on. And then it will be time for bees. Which I admit to being somewhat nervous about - and they’ll know, I’m sure of it. Hopefully the welcome mat of cherry blossoms will be out and they’ll be so glad to call Short Meadow home that they won’t care.

I’ve started painting upstairs - in the hopes that I can live up there soon. Whitewashing is really a messy business but it does look good! It looks like I will have to forego underfloor heating for now - which is a disappointment but does mean I can probably get the floors done sooner and possibly do them myself… famous last words but I do like a challenge.

I will resolve to post on a more regular basis in 2019!

Cold frames and chipmunks

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It’s always amazing when one of those non-essential but important projects, that somehow lingers for years, finally gets done. Top of the list were these coldframes. The delays were numerous, from running out of screws to being too cold or too hot. The broken ankle didn’t help either. But now they are done, and I’m willing to look past the gaps and uneven corners!

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The location was mostly out of convenience, next to the greenhouse where there is still space to walk. This puts them under the pine tree which also has the birdfeeder on the other side. I installed the lids in situe on a rather windy day so I wasn’t too surprised to see Sarah, the chipmunk zipping around between her woods and the birdfeeder. I was amazed, though when she stopped and turned around on the fence to come back to see what I was doing. She didn’t mind the drill or big windows being moved just feet from where she was gathering seeds. In all she seemed to understand about needing to get things under cover and ready for winter.

Sarah draws the line though as cell phones with cameras- then I instantly became a suspicious character and she refused to come close until we negotiated for a few brief portraits (and yes, I then went away and left her in peace.) The wind seemed to work in her favor as it kept most of the birds away - which aren’t really a threat, but their constant motion makes her nervous. I put down a fresh handful of seeds to make sure she could make the most of the day.

Very little of my work at Shortmeadow goes unsupervised and its always nice to have a friendly face to talk to!

First frost

Saturday morning it appeared - in the vale by the chicken house. A light coating of white on the grass and mowed weeds. Elsewhere it was heavy dew but there is no ignoring the first frost to hit. It means plants must be relocated. So now most of the hanging baskets have been emptied and the greenhouse is beginning to fill up. A red geranium is sitting on the kitchen counter dropping scarlet petals on to the dining room floor - neatniks will be appalled - it makes me smile. This will be the first winter with plants in the greenhouse which isn’t heated. I expect to have regrets over some decisions of what goes in the house I just wish I knew what they were going to be now!

At the same time seeds are germinating for winter vegetables - some for the greenhouse beds and some in the cleared pots on the back porch. All but the cabbage and corn have been harvested and it’s time to put the Excalibur 2000 (the dehydrator) back on the shelf.

You may remember Sylvia, who lost her home recently in the glazed orchid pot when it came inside? Well, she re-emerged yesterday on the same table sitting on the small Buddha statue. She’s changed her coloring to match and while I think she’d really prefer her pot back, I find her posing with the Buddha to be most evocative…

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Fyi, I did put a cabbage in a small pot on the table since that can stay out indefinitely but as yet she’s shown no interest. I can’t blame her - orchids to cabbage is quite a comedown!

The Season of Cold Toes

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There were some hard conversations at Short Meadow the last few weeks. The season has turned, the rain has returned and the thermostat is dipping down into the 40’s at night. That means its time for the orchids, summering on the porch, to come back inside. This was met with great dismay by several amphibians who had enjoyed the ancestral memories of broad tropical leaves. Knowing they were likely in residence, this was a physically gentle but emotionally difficult separation. Sitting in the bottom of the outer pots, frogs looked at me square in the eye and blinked sad eyes. At least one relocated to the only plant staying out, a small fern, where it sat barely hidden by a frond and continued to observe my activities with what can only be described as grumpiness.

The orchids, now back in their winter abode in the kitchen and living room, are still decorated with random deposits of frog poop. Something I never thought I’d be able to identify. They too seem to miss their friends and the bigger community that exists outside. I plan to conduct an experiment of playing them frog noises everyday just to see what happens.

Meanwhile, the chickens still have the same routine, but even if I wait until 7am it is now dark when I let them outside. Also deeply in touch with their ancestors they distrust the dark (wise!) even when it is securely enclosed. They stick their beaky noses out and then turn around and look at me voicing their distrust loudly. It’s made clear that this is my responsibility. All except Daisy of course, who cheerfully and bravely hops out the human door with me to explore, trusting I’ll keep the bad guys at bay. I’m prepared to do that for five feet and ten seconds until I can scoop her up and deposit her back in the pen. She is a most intrepid chicken.

Which brings me to consideration of ‘science’ and the frequent accusation in the world of anthropomorphizing. I recently heard someone on the news say animals have relationships but to say friendship was going too far. Seriously?

There was a time not too recently that the only medical information that had value was what could be stratified on a blood test. Now we’re ‘rediscovering’ intuition and celebrating those that persist in the face of a negative blood test. Which we should, but I’d point out we never lost these skills we just lost the courage to use them. I have a lifetime of friendships with animals that didn’t live with me and weren’t fed by humans, removing most of the motivations the lab coats would recognize. Sure, I add my own interpretation to their actions but heck, I do that with other humans!

I think if we ever want to live well and gracefully we have to live as part of the Earth’s community and not apart from it, and that means making friends with our neighbors.