Blueberry Blossoms--so sweet!
After a series of spectacularly beautiful days (three of them!), it was time for a closer inspection of what might be going on in the garden. The lettuce bed was on steroids, I knew, but what about some of the more cherished treasures—like the tomato plants, for instance? A lot of the seeds I planted in April never came up because it’s been so cold. I went to the nursery—on Senior Day, of course—to get a few starts to replace the failures. I realized that the only seeds that came up were the tiniest ones: lettuces, radish, carrots, kale, beets, turnips. The big seeds, squash, peas, decided it was too cold, I guess. I learned an important lesson. Next time, I’ll prepare the seeds before putting them in the ground. I’ll put them between wet paper towels and get them to germinate first. That should help.
Or, I can do what I’ve done in past years. I’ll save some seeds from the best plants, dry them and grow my own starts in January, in flats in the house. I have a sunny, south-facing bay window in my office. I can put about four flats on the credenza and nurture my own seedlings. And with the hoop house in place, the babies can be moved and sheltered a little later so they have a good head start on our short growing season.
Now it is June 7th. What progress is there and what can the garden become in the next few crucial weeks? The lettuce bed, as I said, is on steroids, and that is to be expected. I have so much spinach I should freeze some, though I’ve never done that before (I just googled “freezing fresh spinach” and voila!). It’s early enough in the season that I should be able to get another crop in before it gets too hot.
Lone Asparagus Stalk
The asparagus is a disappointment, as it usually is. For some reason, I never seem to get more than one or two stalks at a time and they always seem to come up later than usual. The rhubarb is finally getting huge, and the beans are doing really well. Radishes seem to be all leaf and no radish so that’s a big disappointment.
The good news is the tomatoes have begun to bloom. Black Krim has a cluster of yet to open blossoms.
And the Meyer lemon tree that spent the winter in the house, blooming in the house, sending its heady fragrance throughout, is now outdoors in the sunniest spot possible, right next to the back door, and its baby lemons are getting fatter. There are only six, but the tree itself is only about three feet high, so I guess that’s okay.
Best of all, the bounty in the garden is beginning to make a serious difference in our food budget. Meat, dairy and staples are all I buy now as the garden gives more and more generously. As the season progresses, I can look forward to harvesting, freezing and preserving the taste of the sunshine of all the giving plants.
Here’s what we had for dinner the other night:
Kobe Style Sirloin Steak, Grilled Asparagus, and Risotto
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
1 tablespoon Mirin (in Asian food section of most groceries)
½ teaspoon hot Chinese mustard
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
½ pound beef loin sirloin steak (about 1” thick)
10 stalks fresh asparagus brushed with garlic/herb oil
½ cup Risotto rice (dry)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
1 ½ cups chicken broth
Combine first 8 ingredients for marinade. Pour over beef and turn beef to coat. Marinate at least one hour, turning beef occasionally.
In a wide skillet, sauté onion in olive oil and butter until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice and toss to coat, stirring for a minute. Add half the broth and stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed. Add more broth and continue stirring occasionally. Rice is done when still al dente, about 20 minutes. Makes two cups cooked Risotto. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes. Serves 3-4.
Heat grill to hot. Put meat on grill and sear about 2 minutes. Turn meat and put asparagus on grill, brushed with garlic/herb olive oil. Sear meat and asparagus an additional 2 minutes.
Hot off the Grill
Slice meat diagonally and serve with asparagus and risotto.
Sliced, Medium Rare