It amazes me every year how fast the garden grows in just one month. We have been eating salad for months from the cold frame, which is now home for a stand of sunflowers and a few lettuce plants I am letting go to seed. As plants emerge, I thin out the rows making room for more growth. Every thinning from radishes to broccoli raab go into our salads. My greens list include Asian greens, spinach, baby romaine, a provencal meslun mix, beet green thinnings, arugula, and swiss chard thinnings. I plant new greens every few weeks to keep fresh greens coming all summer.
We have been eating Asian greens and bok choy sauteed with ginger. Arugula salads with garlic anchovy dressing adapted from Silver Palette. I tried a recipe for chick peas and wilted arugula salad from Mark Bittman that was delicious. And today we are having arugula and pistachio pesto. Some goes on pasta and some goes in the freezer. I am picking Swiss chard and broccoli raab. Peas, snap peas, and snow peas are past and all the vines have been pulled and tossed on the compost heap just in time for the cucumbers that are starting to trail. That last picking of peas will garnish the pasta. First batch of basil pesto is already in the freezer along with frozen raspberries from this year’s banner crop. Frank is making batches of raspberry vodka and we tried a recipe from Chez Panisse with raspberries in cognac for a winter treat.
At the beginning of July the garlic bulb sends forth its seed pod, the delicious garlic scape. I have just run out of garlic and we don’t harvest the garlic until end of July. So these scapes make a tasty substitute. We made garlic pesto served on pasta. We also separated the curly part of the stems to chop up for cooking, saving the seed pods in oil. The garlic flavors the oil, but the pods make a beautiful garnish not to mention how pretty they are in the jar.This was my sink after washing greens. The tiny beet leaves have totally colored the water.Clematis on the left and a volunteer stand of breadseed poppies. I forgot how much I loved them, so quickly ordered seeds and began a row. You can use these seeds for baking.
Thinking I was deleting a photo, I deleted the whole post which I learned today is irretrievable. But what I do remember was the fantastic Mother’s day dinner Frank made me with lamb shanks—the lamb a gift from my brother’s flock. And the fabulous cocktail we had before dinner called the Martinez. Dating before Prohibition, this classic cocktail is the precursor to the Martini. Combine 2 full jiggers of Dolin Sweet Vermouth, 1 full jigger of Plymouth Gin, 1 stirring spoon of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, with 5 dashes of Bitter Truth Orange Bitters. Garnish with 1 Luxardo Maraschino cherry. Divine.
Dessert was fresh cut rhubarb compote over ice cream. To make the compote cut rhubarb stalks into 1/2 inch pieces and cover with sugar. I use 3/4 cup of sugar to 4 cups of rhubarb. Let it sit for an hour or so and the sugar draws out the juices. Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb breaks down. The fresher the rhubarb, the faster it will cook. Pour over a strainer and gather the juice. Cook this down till reduced by half and it is syrupy. Add the rhubarb and you are done. For those winter months, I fill up freezer bags with fresh cut rhubarb and freeze. Frank makes a rhubarb sauce to go with pork tenderloin that is amazing!Above on the left are flats of seedlings for the tender plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, celery and lots of annuals. We start them indoors bringing them out on sunny warm days. There next home is the cold frame to get them ready to live outdoors in their final destination —the ground. On the right is our rhubarb plant in full regalia. We are eating fresh lettuce and spinach from the garden and finishing up what was started in the cold frame (see below). Winter was so mild, spinach and lettuce from the fall came back. I gathered some of the volunteers and replanted them. This is the inside of the cold frame planted with spinach and lettuce in the fall. By March everything was coming back to life and ready to eat in April.
Below is a view of the garden as of the first week in June.
Everywhere I go, I hear cardinals singing to each other. And tonight the peepers are out. It’s impossible not to be obsessed with every little hint of new green and the promise of everything in bloom. The first to flower is the witch hazel tree. The blooms are sparse but lovely nonetheless. The forsythia is forced. Above is the before and after. You can begin picking as early as January and guaranteed fresh blooms about every two weeks. The pussy willows are a new discovery poached from the roadside. The snowdrops are all over the gardens, but I couldn’t resist potting one little plant for indoors. The cold frame is already full of baby spinach and lettuce ready to pick. Fresh salads are the dearest this time of year, full of memories of abundance last fall. Newly dug parsnips are so sweet from overwintering in the garden. It’s spring and we begin again.
For the last few years I have been teaching illustration. I am very proud of my Children’s Book Class at The New Hampshire Institute of Art. In 15 weeks, my students complete a storyboard, 32-page dummy, 3 full color spreads with text and a full color wrap around cover.Two of my students, Ryan Haywood and Ken Duquet, have been accepted into the 2011 Society of Illustrator’s Student Competition. I feel just like a proud parent. Below are the winning choices as well as some student work from previous semesters.
the blind men and the elephant©ryan haywood
little red riding hood©ken duquet
jack and the beanstalk ©caitlin guinta
little red riding hood©matt smiegel
the emperor’s new clothes©mike weinstein
the flower and the weed©keegan brennan
I am beginning a project about cats, so decided to combine my sketches from the one into another accordion book. Can’t stop making books!
Another wonderful thing about teaching is I can take a class virtually for free. So this semester I am taking Book Arts taught by Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne. This class had done exactly what I had hoped—to inspire me to go back into my studio to experiment a bit before I jump into the next project.
The assignment was to include a visit to the library for research and inspiration to then include into an accordion book. I chose foxes and the “m” format and decided to make mine two sided. The orange paper was the creation of Remy and Sterling who made their own wrapping paper this year. I painted an orange wash over it to make the fox color. The decorative paper was also wrapping paper I couldn’t part with. The collaged foxes are made from tracing paper washed with acrylics a la Eric Carle. I gathered my fox facts and went to town.
some close-ups of some of the panelsThis shows the two sides of the book when folded.
I shared with Mary a book artist and print maker I have loved for years, Antonio Frasconi. Look what she just sent me! I love it when the stars are aligned. http://www.exeter.edu/news_and_events/news_events_12019.aspx
The New Hampshire Institute of Art presents the 10th Annual Minumental Exhibition featuring a selection of Institute alumni, student, faculty and staff artwork from all disciplines. All artwork is no larger than 2” x 2” x 2”. The maximum price allowed is $44.95. The show is at the Amherst Street Gallery in Manchester until February 20th.
I fashioned these in the old style of Norman LaLiberté using acrylics, oil pastels and a wood burner. I am happy to say I had a buyer before the show even began. Thank you Ed, for cutting all the wood for me. Excuse the photo, as it came straight off my phone.
It’s hard to believe what we all accomplish in the month of December. No wonder we are all exhausted at the onset of the new year. We had a great holiday this year and hope that all of you did too!
Pots of amarylis and paperwhites, Frank’s preserved Meyer lemons and a little kitten I knit for Rainer.
I love to wrap! Pomander balls make everything smell delicious.
On top of the cabinet are little white lights stuffed in canning jars, the idea courtesy of our friend Phyllis. The tree is covered in a collection of red ornaments and other little finds. I used to bake cookies for the tree, but after the dog ate the bottom two thirds leaving sad little strings behind, we stay away from edible ornaments. I had also made cookie gift tags which made for another impossible task of remembering of what went to who.
Christmas eve we spent the afternoon making cookies so Sterling could pick her favorite for Santa.It is amazing that Santa always finds his way to Frajil Farms!Sterling and her new doll.
Rainer having a private moment to herself. Photos courtesy of her mom, photographer Orianna Riley.
Of course we cooked a big dinner. Standing rib roast courtesy of Frank.
Roasted Brussels sprouts with grapes adapted from Whole Living Thanksgiving issue. They are so good and ridiculously easy, we keep making them. Usually we pick Brussel sprouts straight from the garden, but crop failure sent us to the farm stand this year.Fresh baked challah and noodle pudding (kugel), sweet and creamy.
Charlotte, Jack and Jen making more cookies for New Years Eve which happens also to be our anniversary. No one quite made it to midnight, but almost!