Archive for Michigan

Christmas Cactus!

“Good things come to those who wait” — or, “patience is a virtue” — only not a virtue of mine I’m afraid! When I moved to Michigan (four years ago!??) I worked part-time at a grocery store deli. The florist there gifted me with a tiny, straggly Christmas cactus.

My mom always had a huge Christmas cactus — it lived in a giant china jug in the basement of every home I can remember from childhood on — and it was always covered in glorious pink flowers from late every autumn on into the New Year.

I can grow some veggies, but I’ve never had much luck with houseplants. Dear G, however, took the cactus into his charge, and after four years of careful attention, it’s blossoming!

Now, to find the perfect china jug for it ๐Ÿ™‚

christmas cactus blossoming

christmas cactus blossoming!

Happy Sunday!

 

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Late October at Lake Superior

the path to lake superior

view of lake superior from the overlook near deer park ~ michigan’s upper peninsula

Finally we got a chance to head ‘up north’ to the Upper Peninsula — for a very quick and very long overdue couple of days hunting for agates on Lake Superior. The foliage has been late to turn this year — rather than the drab far-past-peak colors we expected, there were surprising bits of color here and there. Sadly my camera couldn’t do it justice…

road to lake superior

color a bit lacking on this road to the lake…

splash of color in the up

this road had seen some heavy logging ~ still a splash of color to be seen

fall color in the up

another splash of color outside our little cabin ~ nestled among the tall pines where myriad nuthatches (red- and white-breasted variety) and chickadees played morning and night…

It was only 36 hours by the clock, but a welcomed eternity for the soul ๐Ÿ™‚

calm lake superior

unusual to see the big lake so calm in autumn

lake superior agates

a few of the treasures we brought back… lake superior agates and other interesting stones…

path to the lake

the path my feet will be dreaming of until spring … leading to a little piece of heaven ‘up north’

Happy Monday!

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Heat Wave ~ Late Summer in the North Woods Gardens

We thought about going to Lake Superior last weekend — then the week turned hot hot hot — far too hot to leave kitties home alone for days. Not to worry, however, because the late flush of hot temps brought the garden back to life!

We thought about going this weekend too — but more of the same, 90s for days and all of a sudden there are cukes and squash and brinjal galore. I cannot complain ๐Ÿ™‚

 

summer squash

healthy young summer squash plants at this late date!?

korean squash

korean squash ~ the gift that keeps on giving ~ there must be a dozen on now!

red pontiac potatoes

dear g dug all these beautiful potatoes this morning ~ I stuck a penny atop one to show the size ~ the largest was over a pound!

red pontiac potato

all fresh and clean and ready to cook!

san marzano tomatoes waning

most of the tomatoes are dying down ~ here are the San Marzanos ~ this late heat wave is good for ripening on the vine

healthy rogue tomatoes

the healthiest tomatoes we had all season were the rogue-volunteers!

african queen tomatoes

african queen tomatoes at various stages of ripening

cherokee purple heart tomato

cherokee purple heart tomato, perfectly ripe ~ we ate this with miss m’s amazing basil salad dressing tonight!

chard

the chard has taken off again

baby beets and gai lan

probably my fav ~ baby beets and gai lan (chinese broccoli)

I bought a small yellow mum to set near the doorstep but it sure doesn’t feel like autumn yet…

how does your garden grow?

 

 

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Fall Frenzy

Another hurricane is busy wreaking havoc — this time on Florida with other states to come — here’s hoping all in Irma’s path are safe tonight.

The week since I returned from Mass. was mostly rainy and cold — so cold we covered the beans in case of frost on Friday night — luckily that didn’t happen. This week should bring better weather. Tomatoes are still trying to ripen outdoors and the squash and cukes have taken on a second life. Peppers are coming on strong and the little chinese broccoli seedlings are growing… kohlrabi too. The lack of heat has meant fewer brinjals and no okra at all. Still there are chard and beets and so on… there’s nothing to complain about with the gardens this year!

squash and long beans

beautiful long beans, summer squash and lebanese zucchini ~ with one lonely brinjal

daisy is dreaming of agates

daisy is dreaming of catnip from the garden

lake superior waves

I am dreaming of Lake Superior …

lake superior agate

and her hidden treasures!

If this nice weather holds, we might be able to escape to the UP for a day’s agate hunting ๐Ÿ™‚

pickles and basil dressing

Meanwhile, here is Miss M’s scrumptious basil salad dressing, along with a mess of pickles we put up last night!

Miss M’s Basil Salad Dressing

I messaged Miss M to send me the recipe for the yummy basil dressing we had at her new apartment. Would you believe my baby is 25!??! She and her boyfriend made a salad of home-grown tomatoes (carried in bubble wrap all the way from Michigan!) with burrata — that creamy dreamy cousin of fresh mozzarella — with this fresh dressing drizzled on top.

Here is the recipe precisely as she told it to me ๐Ÿ™‚

“Take half a cup of olive oil, two cups packed basil, a bit of lemon juice–calls for 1/4 of a cup but I like less, and 1-2 cloves garlic. Salt and pepper to taste, blend together and enjoy!!

OH, and add three tablespoons pine nuts!!”

I used all the lemon juice and just love this dressing on any salad — but especially with burrata — check out this link!

 

Happy Monday!

 

 


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Saturday in the Garden

 

summer squash and garlic chives

summer squashย  “early prolific straight-neck” and garlic chives

The gardens in the north woods of Michigan are something of a challenge — you never know what will grow well. One year the tomatoes are awesome, the next it might be the peppers. I can’t complain about any of it, but it’s always a surprise. This year, the tomatoes all seem to have some disease so I can only hope for a few ripe ones before the vines die. The surprise has been the cucurbits — the squash and cucumbers in particular. My little Pickle-bush cucumbers have been going strong since June, and now the summer squash and Korean squash are growing beyond my wildest expectations! I’ve already had a mess of summer squash and the Korean squash are ready to pick.

summer squash blossoms

a mass of summer squash blossoms!

korean squash

korean squash climbing the trellis

korean squash ready to pick

korean squash ready to pick

Tonight’s supper included baby beets and their greens, summer squash and fresh lake trout, lightly smoked on the grill with coriander, pepper, and garlic sprinkled atop. Delish!

beets, pickling cukes, summer squash twins and green beans

today’s harvest included baby beets and greens, summer squash twins, pickling cucumbers and some lovely pole beans called ‘kentucky blue’

lightly smoked lake trout with baby white beets 'n greens, fresh summer squash

 

dinner (mostly) from the garden!

 

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Pick a Peck of Peppers

On Sunday we took a ride to the ‘Sunrise Side’ on Lake Huron, to see the lock on the Inland Waterway. I didn’t get a picture of that but I did get one of the huge USCGC Mackinaw — the icebreaker in winter — in the Cheboygan River. Not as pretty as the classic old Mackinaw, but impressive nonetheless. There’s also a cute littleย crib light peeking out from the river mouth.

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US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw in the Cheboygan River

mackinaw crane

close shot of the buoy crane

cheboygan crib light

Cheboygan crib light

Then we came home and picked a peck of peppers! ๐Ÿ™‚

banana peppers

loaded banana pepper plant

peck o peppers

various hot and sweet peppers – the first harvest!

Happy Monday!

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Happy Gardening from the North Woods!!

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potted herbs in the north woods – basil, thai basil, cilantro, and dill

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fresh dhania from the garden

Hooray for summer weather!

I am in arrears again — posting arrears! Do you even remember me, friends? I remember you all! ๐Ÿ™‚

School had barely ended last August when the busy autumn appeared and I was consumed with job-hunting and visiting back to my kids and my folks in Massachusetts. The visiting was a huge success.

Home again to Michigan, dear G and I settled in for the end of winter here in the North Woods. January and February were quite mild , but it turned out to be a long, chilly March into spring. Over the winter months we organized the garden seeds, and did some indoor planting with the new grow-shelf! This has turned out to be a perfect set up, and not expensive at all.

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lots of little tomato and eggplant seedlings under the grow-lights!

This year we are trying some dwarf tomatoes. The Dwarf Tomato Project strives to combine heirloom tomato size and flavor with smaller plants for smaller spaces. I am excited and have high hopes for fabulous tomatoes with less disease/trouble! You can check it out here:

Craig LeHoullier’s Dwarf Tomato Project site

Spring finally did arrive and with it a new job for me. I was lucky enough to land a job as a legal assistant for a local attorney — just what I hoped for! It’s a total career change and I have so much to learn — thankfully my new boss is patient and a great teacher. That said, I barely cook on the weeknights now — all this using one’s brain at work is tiring! ๐Ÿ˜‰ That means weekends are made for cooking and gardening. Although I don’t grow cauliflower, I love the huge $3 heads that appear this time of year — one could make meals for a week! Tonight I chopped one in half and came up with this mixed bag from a variety of sources — mostly Chef Harpal Singh and Manjula’s Kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚ I also cheated with a can of Progresso Vegetable Soup — that stood in for tomatoes as I had none. Do you guys ever watch cooking videos? I love them! Anyway, here’s my takeaway from those and thanks to the chefs! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spicy Cauliflower Yogurt Masala Gravy

For the base:

2 tsp canola oil or ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

2 tomatoes, chopped (or cheat, like me, with a can of soup!)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili pwd

2 tsp dhania-jeera pwd

1 tsp amchur pwd

1/2 tsp garam masala pwd

1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)

For masala yogurt gravy:

2 TB oil or ghee

1 tsp kalonji seeds

2 TB besan

1 tsp garam masala pwd

1 tsp kashmiri chili pwd (optional)

1 c yogurt, beaten smooth

salt to taste

fresh cilantro to taste

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Make the base:

Heat oil or ghee over med-high and add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Let them sizzle and add ginger garlic paste, stir a few seconds, then add onion. Lower the heat and cook 10 minutes, stirring, until onion is golden. Add the tomatoes (or soup) and the turmeric, red chili, amchur, dhania-jeera, and garam masala powders, along with a good pinch of salt. Mix well, reduce heat to med-low and cover. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are cooked or soup has thickened. Use an immersion blender to mix this all to a smooth gravy. Add cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup water. Mix well, cover, and cook over med-low until cauliflower is done to your liking – about 10-15 minutes for tender.

Make the masala yogurt gravy:

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add kalonji, let them sizzle, then add besan and cook, stirring well, for 4-5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add garam masala and optional kashmiri chili pwd – mix well. Off the heat, add the beaten yogurt and mix to combine. Add this to the cauliflower base mixture and stir well. Cover and cook on low for a further 5-10 minutes. Taste for salt, add fresh chopped cilantro and it’s done!

cauliflower masala.JPG

Perfect for rice as it makes lots of rich, spicy gravy — this one is a keeper.

I miss my blog hopping and all of my dear friends, so hope to spend some time doing that over the remainder of the summer — it will be fun to see who is still around!

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I’ll leave you with some pics of the little gardens in the north woods ๐Ÿ™‚

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African queen potato-leaf var.ย  – baby tomatoes

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bee bath full of petoskey stones from lake michigan

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black krim tomatoes from seed – in the front herb garden with horseradish, my nana’s rhubarb, and a few weeds ๐Ÿ˜‰

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korean squash growing up the trellis — corn behind

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dear g built a two-step deck for the tomatoes!

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orient charm, orient express, and thai long green eggplants – they love to live in pots on the tomato deck

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giant mariachi pepper plant – a fresno type – hope they will ripen to red!

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lemur in bee balm ๐Ÿ™‚

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