Monday, May 30, 2011

A Backyard Picnic Day

Yesterday we decided to eat solely from the backyard. I woke up with grand ambitions of making a carrot top puree that I read about last year in my sister-in-law's blog: Arielle Clementine. Obviously, by lunchtime, my self awareness kicked in and I realized that I was much too lazy to make that. (Maybe someday?) Thus an veggie omelet happened and it was good.

First we took inventory. What did we have?
  • Blackberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Beet Greens
  • Malabar Spinach
  • Carrots of all Colors
  • Herbs
  • Eggs
  • Butternut Squash
  • Amaranth Greens
  • Green and Purple Beans
  • Southern Peas
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes

Surely, we could make something happen with that.

Breakfast: Cantaloupe and berries. (And coffee.)

Lunch: Spinach Omelet and Green Beans

Dinner: Butternut Squash, Sauteed Beets and Carrots, Tomatoes and Corn.

It was delicious and very local and lovely.

Am I motivated to go another week? Not quite yet- maybe soon.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash starts out green and stripy. When the green stripies fade away, there is tan squash ready for picking. I was just reminiscing on the time we ate solely out of the backyard for a week. Eating butternut squash that week was just about the best thing that ever happened to me. What do they say? Hunger is the best spice? I think its time to call another backyard eating challenge. Maybe we will do a mini one this Sunday. Want to make a meal out of your backyard too? If you do- share it with us- either in person or on the Internet. In person would be really swell.

"But I contend that most of what we’re consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we’re consuming it — in the car, in front of the TV, and, increasingly, alone– is not really eating, at least not in the sense that civilization has long understood the term."- Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Malabar Spinach

I started to feel panicked when the kale and spinach bolted. I wasn't ready to lose my backyard salads. We made a shade covering for our new starts but it will take more than shade cloth to keep fresh greens during a South Texas summer. Collards are good, chard is alright and mustard greens add some kick but it is just not the same.

Enter Malabar Spinach which we are growing for the first time. With the little flowers, reddish stems and dark green leaves-it is beautiful! It needs to be trellised because it likes to climb. I like it raw as a fresh salad ingredient and in sandwiches. Apparently it can get slimy when sauteed. We haven't cooked it yet because that sounds completely unappetizing. What is it with summer veggies and slimness? I'm looking at you Okra.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Corn Meal

Tonight, while I was cooking our homegrown corn with homemade masa tamales *, a stroke of genius struck me.
*(considered a well rounded dinner in San Antonio. Corn can be considered a part of any and all food groups.)

It all happened in our kitchen counter compost container. Wait a second, I said to myself. We make homemade tamales at our house* and we have fresh homegrown corn husks, could we not dry our own corn husks?
* (by we, I mean, my father-in-law and by, at our house, I mean, at their house.)

So I took to the google. There were hilariously long ...drawn... out... 7 step lists for how to dry your own corn husks that I can boil down into 1 step for you all. 1.Dry the husks in the sun- will save for up to a year in a dry place. Well, I'll be. Our Christmas tamales just got a little homegrown.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Time to Get A New Fence

The chickens are getting an updated, jazzy new fence for their chicken yard. That involves digging post holes (or, alternately, bunny holes.) More updates when the fence is complete.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Birthday Berries

"Let me guess, tonight you are thankful for berries again."

Who would have ever suspected I would end up with a sarcastic three year old. She comes by it honestly enough.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Every night at dinner, we each say something we are thankful for. I have been saying backyard blackberries for the past week. Tonight Dirtiest Kid said, "Mama, you need to be thankful for something else." I asked what she would suggest and stated, "You should be more like me, I am totally thankful for everything ever." OK then. I am still incredibly thankful for fresh blackberries by the bowlful. Edamame and onions are pretty rad too though.

Lord I was born a bramblin man, trying make a living and doing the best I can.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yard To Table

Garden Design By Yard to Table

The Before Shot: featuring two of my other favorite Dirtiest Kids in the World.

Dirtiest Husband in the World owns his own business putting in vegetable and fruit gardens: Yard To Table. These are custom made and personally designed gardens according to your needs.

He works with all levels of vegetable garden design, from a consultation only; to a basic bed installation; all the way up to a complete design, dig, border, fence, vegetable planting, with monthly or quarterly garden maintenance- for those who love homegrown produce on their kitchen table but are too busy for garden tasks. He can help you pick out the right varieties of plants for our area and help you with the right time to plant your family favorites.

Most people don't like to dig a new garden bed in summer but this is the perfect time to remove that Bermuda grass and get your new veggie, herb or fruit beds prepped and ready.

He is currently running a summer special for a free estimate for your own backyard garden! He will come out to your home or place of business and discuss your dream garden with you.

We are passionate about helping you grow fresh food for your family and friends!

You can reach him at:
Javier Gonzalez
Yard to Table
San Antonio, Texas
(210) 560-6910

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Amber Waves of Grain

One of my coworkers is growing container corn on his patio. Bravo I say. But the corn seed is not coming up- appears to be rotting into mush. I looked into possible causes and came up with quite a few possibilities. Apparently rotting corn seed is not a rare occurrence. In no particular order: the seed could be too old, cough over watering cough, the soil could have a fungus, or there could be bugs eating them to mush. The most likely bug culprits are wireworm, seedcorn maggots or seedcorn beetles. If you know the seeds are not old, I'd dump the soil and start fresh and make sure the container is really well draining. The seeds need to be moist to germinate but not overly wet.

A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine. -Anne Bronte

What Would Life Be Without Homegrown Tomatoes?

Traffic Light of Tomatoes

Only two things that money can't buy and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How To Grow A Sunflower Fort

Even adults get excited about sunflower forts. I know I have written about them quite a few times but people keep asking me about them and we keep growing them. I originally got the idea from a book I highly recommend "The Last Child in the Woods."

We have made the sunflower forts two ways. For our first attempt, I planted rows of sunflower seeds near a back fence to make two living walls and used the back fence corner for the other two walls. The birds kept eating my seeds. I replanted the sunflower seeds and covered them with row cover to keep the birds out. That worked pretty well. We have used the same method (in the same place in the yard) with tall amaranth plants to make an amaranth fort.

Last year we let our sunflowers go to seed. Not exactly on purpose, more out of neglect. Now this year, we have a huge patch of sunflowers growing in the backyard. We pulled up a few plants in the front of the patch to make a doorway and then crawled in to pull out a bunch in the middle. Viola! No work- all play. May I just add- I wish everyone, adult and child, had a large, dense sunflower fort to play in. To a three year old it is giant, but even to a jaded adult, its pretty sweet.

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul. -The Koran

Monday, May 2, 2011


You have got to be kidding me! This is what purple asparagus looks like growing out of the dirt. The more you know...

When I saw a pack of asparagus bulbs/crowns at our local nursery, I snatched them up. Actually I think I bought two whole bags. It's not every day I come across a vegetable we haven't grow that I love to eat. It started growing little shoots that looked wispy like dill and then one day BANG! Asparagus. It is not recommended to eat any shoots the first year. These are perennials and apparently they can produce for up to 15 years! So choose their spot in the garden wisely. Waiting waiting waiting until next year for my fresh asparagus.

You needn't tell me that a man who doesn't love oysters and asparagus and good wines has got a soul, or a stomach either. He's simply got the instinct for being unhappy highly developed. -Hector Hugh Munro