Tag Archives: Garden

From the Garden to the Freezer: Making it Last

Saturday was a beautiful day; and not just because the weather cooperated and didn’t rain out my day. No, it was good because I spent it doing something I haven’t done in such a long time. 

I baked!

I used to enjoy baking, and even cooking a lot more. I haven’t had the time, or rather, I haven’t taken the time to do anything more than preparing a meal. But today, I decided to not allow the fresh zucchini and yellow squash given to me from a friend’s garden, go to waste.

The zucchini from Lisa’s garden was so large that I used less than half of it to make a full batch of the bread. I decided to get a little creative as well, using oat flour instead of white flour, and coconut sugar instead of white sugar. The texture was a little different, but they tasted just as good as any others I’ve made in the past. 

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Thinking ahead, I decided to bake them as small loaves so that I could freeze some for later. And with half the zucchini still leftover, I think I’ll make some time in my Sunday afternoon to make even more. They make the perfect quick breakfast; paired with coffee or a glass of milk and some fruit!

My friend blessed me with some yellow squash as well. And to be honest, I’ve been staring at them with guilt looking at them laying on the counter for over a week. I’d already prepared some for dinner on the stovetop, In my typical sautéed with onions and butter. And while that was nice, I just didn’t feel compelled to try to eat the rest of the squash in that fashion. But I also knew that the clock was ticking on their freshness. And I didn’t want to waste a gift of food, especially garden fresh food. So onward to a squash casserole I went.

From one large squash I was able to make two small casseroles. Of course, one headed straight for the freezer. The other one complimented the leftovers I had for dinner, with plenty still to enjoy later in the weekend. 

In between the chopping, preparing, and baking, I sat and vegged out on a marathon of another new, mindless reality show that I came across, stopping occasionally to play a word game on my phone; something I added recently to help sharpen my mind and help keep me focused.

Late afternoon found me outside cleaning out a car I’m preparing to sell. I made a promise to myself that any money I get from the sale will go straight into my savings account, after first paying off my dental bill.

By the end of the day, I at first thought I hadn’t really accomplished anything major, including the dishes still in the sink, the result of my sudden burst of domesticated kitchen goddess, I actually felt really good this evening. I’d been able to take vegetables from the garden and make some food for now, and some for the freezer to enjoy later. And since most of the items I needed for both dishes were already in the house, or things I needed for the house anyway, the cost was minimum.

My hope, dream, and future plan is to eventually buy a house with a reasonable amount of land where I can walk to the backyard, out into my own garden, and save money not having to go to the grocery store for vegetables, herbs; maybe even fruit from trees, while hopefully being able to bless others as I have been so fortunate to be blessed by friends over the years.

How fun would that be?!

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There’s No Goodbye in Friendships

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I had a nice visit with a good friend the other day. She is moving away from my hometown, so this was our last time together for a while. Funny thing is that what I call my hometown, truly is the place where I feel the most at home (high school, college, friends, family, etc.), however, I haven’t lived there in over 20 years! But ever since I left, I have made it a practice to visit, typically two times a year; always making time to see my close friends each time I’m in town. And now, she won’t be there.

As we sit back relaxing on a cushioned daybed, I stare out into the backyard from her screen porch, and wonder, why haven’t we done this more often. Mango tea in one hand, and no bugs to swipe away with the other, I am enjoying watching the birds bounce around on the large crepe myrtle, which has lost most of its flowers, but whose greenery still provides a safe haven for the tiny birds to play. In the distance, I can hear what must be squirrels jumping tree to tree; or perhaps it’s the rabbits she says have made themselves at home in her yard. It’s a beautiful sunny day; but hot and humid, as I remembered a South Carolina June day is suppose to be. The ceiling fan in the porch makes it tolerable, but of course, I’m here for the conversation anyway.

Lisa is unusually calm today. I expected to find her running around trying to take care of last minute things; maybe even stressing out that everything wasn’t going to get done in time. But she was just the opposite. Since it was her husband’s new job that initiated the move, she’s had the benefit of having his company handle everything for the move. So as the two women inside continue to wrap and pack up boxes in the kitchen, and the five or six guys continue to carry furniture out onto the large moving van, she had the time to sit and simply chill out with me for an hour or so to talk.

It’s been about a year since she first got word that this day might be coming. I remember the first time she asked for general prayer, that they would know which path they should take with some opportunities coming their way. The final determination was made months later; right as school was getting underway. So that meant making other decisions based upon their son’s school as well. The delayed time for departure, I think, gave her some extra time to prepare as much emotionally for it, as she had to do physically and logistically.

I think that sometimes we forget about the emotional toil that major life changes can have on us. People often only consider the financial challenges or physical changes that might be ahead. And while we may all be impacted differently when our lifestyle is forced to go through a change, we are, nonetheless, all still impacted! Preparing for your new life mentally and emotionally is just as important as all of the logistics you might handle to prepare physically. It’s definitely not an area you should neglect as you make plans for your new normal.

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Before I left, I picked a bowl of blueberries from her backyard one last time (and threw them in a salad later that day). Jokingly, I told her I would be back next summer to meet the new owners, just so I could help myself to the blueberry bushes.

I’ve alway loved what they did with their backyard, filling the landscape with peach trees and blackberry bushes. Though the pending move made her skip planting a vegetable garden, it has in the past been just as spectacular as the vast array of carefully planted daylilies, and black-eyed Susans; mums and daisies; azaleas and multiple magnolia trees. It’s a Southern girl’s dream yard!

So of course I said yes when she offered me some of her hundreds of daylilies, and then gave me a large container herb garden filled with everything from chives to rosemary; mint and oregano. Graciously, I promised to take good care of it all.

Best news of all…she’s actually moving about 350 miles closer to where I live now!

Back in the Garden

Autumn will officially arrive some time Sunday afternoon. And while all of the markets and produce aisles are overflowing with reminders of the many varieties of squash you didn’t plant this summer, and the pumpkins you gave up on too soon…never fear! It’s not too late to make another go at becoming a more seasoned gardener. Our friend TL (or the Garden Gal, as some of us call her), has already been back in her garden, growing kale, spinach, and even turnips from seed. And it looks like she’s going to be able to reap a pretty decent harvest before the cold of winter sets in a few months from now.

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If you live in a warmer zone, you still have time to grow and harvest some vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, radish, and even spinach. According to the Farmer’s Almanac‘s Gardening by the Moon Calendar, late September is “fine planting days for fall potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots, beets, and other root crops.”

If you want to know more about what to plant now and what to buy now, visit a gardening website like (http://www.burpee.com/vegetables/) and check out the options for your specific gardening and temperature zone.

So take advantage of these still warmer days, get outside, and start a fall garden now. Then, harvest, cook, freeze and/or can your bounty to enjoy throughout the winter months! The time you spend in the garden now will save you lots of money several months from now. And how cool is it to know exactly where your food came from when you serve it to your family?!

The Garden Gal

TL grew up on her family’s farm in a small Kentucky town. The middle child of three kids, gardening was always a part of her life growing up. “We grew a large garden that we would plant, raise, and pick,” TL described. “Mom would can enough vegetables each year to get us through the fall, winter, and even into spring.”  As a child, TL says she didn’t enjoy having to garden every day. “I’d much rather be chasing bugs.”  But eventually, she came to enjoy the hard work, as well as appreciating the food that came as a result. “When I graduated and moved away from home, I missed the farm, and the animals, and sometimes even my family,” TL joked.

After moving to Nashville, TL eventually moved to a home she rented from an older couple in East Nashville. “The home had a large back yard, and my landlord, Mr. Huffine, had a huge garden. One day, after his tiller stopped working, I asked him if I could take a look at it. I’m sure he didn’t know at the time that I was raised on a farm, and had learned how to fix farm equipment from my dad.”  After that day, TL and the Huffines became more than tenant and landlord, they became friends. And for the next 15 years, TL worked beside Mr Huffine in that backyard garden, not just growing vegetables, but learning lots of life lessons from his 93 years of life experiences. “We would work together almost every day, planting, preening, hoeing, and even more importantly, talking.”

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TL says that one of the biggest joys she gets through the gardening experience is sharing the harvest with other people who needed it. She and Mr Huffine would give away tomatoes, green beans, okra, and other items to anyone who asked or who they thought might need it. We loved watching other people enjoy the work of our hands and the blessings God had given us that year,” she continued. “All the sweat, the blisters on our hands, the years of some times having to replant the garden due to climate issues, are small drops in the bucket compared to the joy your heart feels when you give it all away.

100_3648TL is a full-time nurse in the ER at a Nashville (TN) hospital. Gardening is a passion she takes seriously. “Gardening’s not for everyone, because it does take a lot of time, but if I can do it with my schedule, then anyone seriously interested in it can learn how to do it as well. It does require time management and a commitment, but the rewards of eating my own organically grown vegetables far out weigh the time and cost.”

It’s been almost a year since Mr Huffine passed away (October 2012). And TL continues to garden, growing not only vegetables, but wildflowers for Mrs Huffine, who comes by to see her and see how the garden is doing. This year, TL was even able to show the Huffine’s daughter how to plant a garden; something their daughter had always wanted to learn to do from her dad.