first fruit of the spring

While my darling husband did send me these luscious chocolate covered strawberriesfor Mother’s Day, I still made my own dessert. I’m a glutton, I know.

I had just begun my annual reading of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, which always gives me renewed enthusiasm for Rhubarb, First Fruit of the Spring. Since mine is always the first thing poking its soft little head up in the springtime and is already, by this cool May day, a tremendous bush, it was inevitable. That I then came upon the sad, strawberry juice-stained page with this beloved recipe on it sealed the deal… and the Breyer’s french vanilla in the freezer was just, shall we say, icing on the cake.
Here’s the fabulous recipe, reprinted from her website:

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups strawberries, halved
  • 3 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • cup honey
  • cup flour
  • cup rolled oats
  • cup brown sugar (or a bit more, to taste)
  • tsp. cinnamon
  • tsp allspice
  • ⅓ cup butter
Instructions
  1. Mix together the strawberries, rhubarb and honey thoroughly and place in an 8″x8″ ungreased pan.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients until crumbly.
  3. Sprinkle over fruit mixture and bake at 350° for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden.

Try it, my friends. It’s absolutely divine.

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in pictures

The hubs made it safely home with the new automobile on Sunday evening, bringing our weekend o’ girl time to a close. But here are some highlights via photo:

This is the lovely Dutch baby pancake I mentioned earlier… I will not admit to how many of these Olive & I ate over the weekend…. needless to say, they’re addictive.

These little beauties greeted my eyes Saturday morning – tomato plants! One week in the mini greenhouse and here they are, reaching for the dim sunlight of the window.
All the more heartening because it still looks like this outside:

Not too pretty. But hope is coming! In the 40’s this week, to 50 this weekend! Woohoo!
Olive & I hit Como Zoo Sunday afternoon, checking out the monkeys & other favorite friends. The zebras were going nuts (they have less space than I do – poor things! Oh, the cabin fever!). I figured if Olive melted down here – which, since she never regained her sleep after getting 4 hours cut out Friday night, was ever a real possibility – it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Who’d even hear her over the chimps?
Sidelight – why do kids never sleep extra when you need/want/expect them to? She never napped, went to bed late, and woke up at her usual time – on the button – every morning. I was afraid to go anywhere because who knew when she’d spontaneously combust?

She didn’t melt down, thank heavens (partly in thanks to Mommy’s brilliant plan of only going a couple of hours before closing so I didn’t have to wrench her out of there on my own!)

And look, here we are, still smiling after more than 48 hours of just the two of us and not nearly enough sleep. Miracles do occur!
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a sense of loss

This afternoon I pulled up most of my garden… brought in bagfuls of still-green tomatoes (some of which have been on the plants since July), plucked the salvageable leaves off my languishing basil, tucked the nine last little zucchini into my pocket before they began to rot on the vine. And I was melancholy. I am melancholy. That garden of mine seems an apropos metaphor for my own life as of late.

You see, it was a hard summer. I had such expectations, such hopes – for the newness of it and the fecundity and the sense of bounty. Not much surfaced. Like my garden, from which I took no peppers, watermelon, strawberries, rhubarb. A few mealy tomatoes, some zucchini that nowhere near matched my dreams of profuse baseball bats. Some misshapen cucumbers. A proliferation of kale, which I have discovered I like in small, infrequent doses.

I’m trying to remember the hope, despite the lack of rows upon rows of canned homegrown veggies on my shelf. Those last few zucchini are in the oven, baking into my favorite bread. I have a candidate I’m excited to vote for, rather than vote against. My annual donut party is this next weekend, and many lovely people are coming. I met some fabulous neighbors at the park this week and can’t wait to chat with them again as our kids run wild. I’m nearly finished with my latest yarn creation. I work with a fabulous group of people. So, though I am lonely in many ways and have needed this hiatus to regroup, I’m ready to begin again.

I’m getting my seed order ready for the plants that will grow next summer.

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>bounty

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Here’s some of what I brought in upon return home – not to mention today’s onions and broccoli. I made a pasta primavera tonight with all my own veggies (save some zucchini and mushrooms from the farmer’s market) and it was fabulous. Now I’m canning all these gorgeous yellows.

So, we’re home from SoCal – and I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I recover. I managed to catch myself a lovely cold the last night of our trip and it’s not wanting to let me go. Damn thing.

All to say, it was a whirlwind trip – lots of family, not nearly enough time. But like I said, I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I stop blowing out green stuff. Trust me, it’ll be better that way.

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>fourteen

>Fourteen: The number of bell peppers absconded with before I determined that squirrels are of the devil.

Seriously – it started months ago. I had a purple and an orange bell pepper both just shy of ripe (my first!) and I was SO EXCITED… until one morning they were in the middle of the cement in our backyard, a few mini bites taken out and then just left. As if to taunt me. I mean come on – if the little guy ate them, maybe I wouldn’t feel bad about it. But if it’s not even going to provide a meal…

And yesterday the little boogers – who knock over my garden gnome daily – had just taken off one whole branch of the red pepper plant, along with nearly every pepper – from quarter sized to full-grown.

It’s on.

I’ve tried cayenne, moth balls, two types of rodent repellent spray… Now I am ready for the big guns… or, in this case, the BB gun.

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To the bugs who have infested my garden:

You win. The tomatillo plant is yours. I don’t know what the heck you do with a tomatillo, anyway… I’ve heard of them in salsa, but otherwise, I don’t know – and I make a mean salsa without them.

I’m bitter, though. First of all, that you somehow managed to persevere through three different organic insecticides (all of which were quite expensive, I assure you). Second of all, that you continue to taunt me by going at it on all the half-eaten leaves of my plant whenever I come outside. I mean, can you get a room? Or at LEAST just wait till I go back inside? Seriously, judging from all the eggs ALL OVER my plant, you’re getting enough action. It’s almost embarrassing.

And I know – you’re still harboring a grudge over the kidnapping of one of your family. But I only took him to Bachman’s. It’s a happy buggy place, and I had to know what on earth you all were – so I could ward you off, of course. But not kill you, I promise! I swore I would garden organically, so I meant you no harm.

But you win. It’s over. After months of no tomatillos, anyway, I’m done. You can have it.

For the rest of the day, anyway. And then I chop it down and throw it in the compost bin.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

-Elle

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