The Garden Is Growing Swiss Chard

img_5082Just planted this Swiss chard a few weeks ago and look how it has grown! My brother and good friends Joy and Gary Limbach are the only people I ever knew who grew it and they were in Ohio. It was very good but I didn’t get it very often. So this year my brother and I decided to plant some. We ¬†did and the results are amazing. I think this is now one of my favorite vegetables. I like greens; turnip, mustard and spinach with a little vinegar but Swiss chard is sweeter and when boiled just a little it’s perfect with butter and salt and pepper. Bacon grease is always good to put in the boiling water. Since the stalks are as good as the leaves put them in first for about five minutes then add the leaves and continue to boil another five minutes or until they are soft.image

Relax !! And eat fried potatoes and ham

imageThis cabin in the woods has brought the best part of us out. We can head up at a moments notice now that we keep coffee and extra clothes here. We find the time to read sitting by the fire and playing board games we haven’t done in years. Our grandchildren will find us a  challenge next time they play with us!  With winter coming to an end we may find ourselves hiking more and taking advantage of all the things there are to do up here but for now we just enjoy the fireplace and the porch view. So since I usually have potatoes on hand and ham in the freezer,  I fry them up and we eat and just relax. Of course we go out to eat anytime we want and have all the choices you can imagine. This weekend we brought my brother and since he’s such an outdoors person we decided we should get up early and watch the sunrise. We set the alarm for 6:30, made the coffee and out to the porch we went. Back in for more blankets and refills on coffee and still no sun! Growing up in Ohio and now living in a flat area of Georgia I now understand what mom always talked about when she mentioned the twilight you have with mountains. She grew up the West Virginia surrounded by mountains. The sun slowly creeps up and you have light way before you see the sun. We could have slept in another hour,  but then we would have missed drinking hot coffee bundled up with blankets hearing the mountains awake.image

Here’s What I’ve Learned About Gardening So Far….

¬†¬†At my age, ¬†I am learning as fast as I can about vegetable gardening! Lucky for me I have two very good teachers. The first is my brother, ¬†Jonathan, who sits with me in the mornings through the week and we have our devotions and coffee on the front porch where we can feel the weather of the new day starting, whether it be the sun or the rain and some wind on most days. ¬†Just listening to him talk about “our little garden” he tells me way more things than I’ve ever heard of. Plants are living things to him and he communicates that in every sentence he speaks. For example, one morning we were looking up to see if rain was going to come soon because he said you’re not to water until the plants bow their heads and ask because it’s good for the roots to grow deep in search of water and that makes them stronger. Then we walked to the garden and saw some dead leaves at the bottom of the plants and he said it’s better to cut them so not to disturb the ground by pulling which might bother the roots. And ¬†throw the dead leaves outside the garden so if they have disease on them it won’t get on other leaves. On another morning when we were watering because the rain wasn’t coming for several days I started to pull a few dead leaves when he said ” stop” and he continued to tell me that when the leaves are wet from rain or watering and you touch them with your hands you could get bacteria on the plant from your hands. Who would have thought!! And he talks all the time of the importance of the sun. The more sun the more vegetables and the better tasting they are. That’s why when planting he is so particular as to where the garden is planted to make sure shadows from the house or tall trees don’t fall on it so to allow the most sun available during the day.

Then I have my beloved brother in law, David Yaussy. Through the years I have watched him ¬†grow all kinds of things in between rocks and in drain spouts. In yards and places you wouldn’t even think possible. He’s never afraid to try. He’ll talk to me about ideas for hours and has spent time sending me emails with detailed lists of what I need to buy or build. So this year my son, Adam built our above ground garden using his math mind to calculate the proportions and it’s perfect! No bending over to hurt our backs and with the right soil combination the vegetables are growing crazy.

Thank you, to these important men in my life!! ¬†And I’ll have to say thank you to my husband ahead of time because when I’m gone to see my sister in California this summer ¬†he’ll have to water and collect all this wonderful bounty!!

Spring/Fresh Veggies/Salads Galore

¬†I think it’s terrific how most cities are now having open farmer’s markets in the middle of there downtowns. This past weekend Roy and I met our friends Dianne and Jim Corn in Knoxville, Tennessee at the first of the season fair. Do you see the color and size of these radishes? You never find them like this at the grocery store. I had to purchase them right away and since I carry little packets of salt in my purse I ate one right then. Perfect! No pithiness inside of these jewels, just a peppery crunch. Here are a couple of new recipes you can try and of course just add them to any salad

  

¬†¬†MY VERY FIRST FOSTER SON / AND VEGETARIAN BURGERS

 After I had lost my job and had moved to a big house on the ridge, I needed more to do. My son was in high school and my daughter in nursing school and as I looked around at all the extra room we had, I thought why not share it! I had met a woman who was a foster parent and she gave me a phone number. One call lead to another and another and soon it got out in the fostering community that I was interested in being a foster parent and the phone calls started coming in to me. I had no idea there were so many agencies and even more sadly so many children needing a home.

This was nothing for me to just say “yes” and move anyone in. My upbringing was so different from my husbands. I knew never to go to the kitchen in the mornings without my bathrobe. You never knew who might have come for a visit in the night for a day or two or even a month! Both my parents were from different states and had gone to college in even other states and they kept up with all their families and friends so everyone knew they had an open invitation to visit any time. And people did. It was fun for me and my three other siblings. We got to know our aunts and uncles and cousins better that way and would not have otherwise since they all lived in other places. My husband on the other hand grew up in a loving home with just one brother and his parents. Their lives were more organized and quiet. Nothing is wrong with either upbringing. But for my husband to move in strangers was a much harder decision.

The day finally arrived and the knock came to our door. We thought a young girl would be nice since our children were older. Someone young enough we could all spoil and who would think we were so special to have taken them in. When we opened the door there stood a boy, not a girl and a teenager not the young child we were expecting! The agency man explained that they were in desperate need of a home right now for this child because his earlier foster home had been disrupted. There he stood looking at us with as much disbelief as we were at him. He was made to look even shorter than he was by standing next to the tall social worker. He had chains hanging from his sagging worn out jeans and he walked like they were going to fall down at any minute. There in his hand he held a big black garbage bag holding the only possessions he owned. He wasn’t expected but how could we say no.

His name is Anthony. He came from an abruised home and now had to live with strangers. As the days turned into weeks and then months, he taught us as much as we taught ¬†him. He was kind and missed his siblings, a brother and younger twin sisters. I learned quickly that I needed to pick my battles as we’re taught in the foster care ¬†classes. Keeping your bed made and room picked up meant nothing to a child that had lost everything they knew and the people who should have loved and cared for him didn’t do their job and now he had to live this way. ¬†So we talked a lot and compromised on many things. When your bed is made the whole room looks better I’d tell him as my mother had told me, so we just settled for that. And even though I preferred him wearing his pants up around his waist, I bought him new jeans and a belt and let him keep the chains and sagging style. At least the belt would help his pants stay up and if wearing them this way made him feel he had some control of his life, it was something I could live with.

The foster parents he had lived with before coming to us were vegetarians. We were not. He was able to get us recipes to try. So this is where these burger recipes came from. Eventually we enjoyed them too and with time  he started enjoying our beef burgers as well.

There was a single man who lived in a tiny house next door to us. He was very particular about his big yard, but with a house that small ¬†I can see why he stayed outside so much. One day he got on to me because the wind had blown some branches and leaves from our tree into his yard and he was very unhappy about that. He wanted me to cut it down. Well, he was very rude and made me cry. As I sat on the side porch I heard a loud knocking on his front door. I looked over and there stood Anthony. When the man opened his door I heard Anthony say to him “Don’t you ever make my mom cry again! ¬†She is the nicest person I know and does so much for others and doesn’t deserve to be talked to that way. ” Well, I must admit that at this time I was glad he was wearing those chains and looked like a thug! He really wasn’t that way on the inside. And I knew I had made some difference in his life and now I knew he also had made a difference in mine.

Anthony is grown now and he is not passing on bad parenting. He and his wife are lovingly raising their little son with all the joys parents should feel.