thoughts from New England

is this still on? May 27, 2008

Filed under: garden — tim @ 2:37 am

really? I still have this? Awesome.

the new house has the new garden, and today I tilled it up w/my new-to-me rototiller. I now have severely beaten hands; ouch.

I’ve got 24 tomato plants in the ground, and 6 broccoli as well. We had chives pop up from nowhere, and today I figured out what the other plant was: celery! We had no idea what it was but today I picked some and the scent was unmistakable.

I also have one jalapeno; I will most likely not be doing many hot peppers since I never use them, but with all of these tomatoes I just might have to grow some in order to make some salsa. Too bad I can’t grow cilantro for the life of me; otherwise I’d be all set.

Anyone have any luck with cilantro? Anyone out there? 🙂


Some Revelations August 24, 2007

Filed under: cooking,food,garden,joseph campbell,lifehacker,LL Bean,Recipes — tim @ 2:16 am

I learned a few things this week. Two things about my garden:

1. Purple peppers are not growing NEARLY as big as they should be

2. I have not had any zucchini because what I thought was zucchini is really acorn squash! That explains A LOT.

One thing about school:

3. Pop Culture In America, a class I was lined up to take this fall, had a reading list a mile long and what appeared to be zero focus on any non-book cultural reference. I would have had to read Da Vinci Code, Sisterhood of the Ya-Ya-Travel Pants, Harry Potter and the First Book In The Series, and The Crappy Notebook. Whatever! There wasn’t even a graphic novel in the reading list. I don’t know how you can seriously discuss popular culture without even talking about comics. So instead, I signed up for a class on Genesis and also Myth and the Modern Age, which is almost entirely based on Joseph Campbell’s writings. Woo hoo! I’ve somehow become a sucker for this — why have I been ignoring it for so long? Perhaps I had to take a hero’s quest to find out that the answer was there all along. (note: make it stopppppppppppp)

Also, I have assembled my “go-bag,” which is something I’ve always had and gone back and forth with using, but after misplacing the last one I had (which wasn’t really a go-bag and was more of a carry-all), I buckled down and committed to finding a good one. I went to LL Bean and picked one out and equipped it with all I need. Apparently, photographing and showing off what you carry with you all the time is a popular internet meme and there are flickr groups devoted to it. Instead, I submitted a pic of my bag to one of my favorite sites, for their ‘show us your…’ series. Usually it’s something like “show us your browser” or workspace, but this week was go-bags. I submitted mine and voila! It’s there. See the pic and my descriptions here. Mine is the only daddy-go-bag so far; just about everyone else is urban hipsters and/or students. Boo to that, I say.

4. Stuffed Zucchini is REALLY delicious:

Stuffed Zucchini

Incredibly easy — it was ground turkey, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic, hot peppers, one of the biggest zucchinis ever (although not the biggest), pine nuts, mint, and spices. OMG so delicious. Here’s how:

1. Split zucchini in half, use spoon to scoop out the center. Salt, and pre-heat oven to 350.

2. make the quinoa, set aside

3. brown the ground turkey and throw in the spices: cinnamon, sage, a hint of cayenne, salt, pepper, and the coup de grace: freshly ground nutmeg (if you don’t have this, start doing it). It makes the biggest difference by adding a deep Moroccan or Mediterranean flavor to the dish

4.  remove ground turkey from heat, set aside.

5. heat a little olive oil and sweat the onions, hot peppers, and garlic in the pan

6. roast zucchini halves in the oven with nothing in them for 15 min

7. slice cherry tomatoes in half

8. toss the quinoa, ground turkey, onions mix, and tomatoes. Stuff into zukes

9. roast for 15-20 min

10. enjoy!

This can be done with almost anything in the middle if you follow the quinoa/meat (or meat substitute)/onions/veggies route. SOOOOOOOOO good.


I Squash You, Bug; or: Japaneetle Bees July 17, 2007

Filed under: bugs,garden,gardening — tim @ 12:37 am

So I’ve discovered the source of my discontent in the garden — squash bugs. These lil critters look like this:

I’ve searched out the pumpkins and yellow squash for their eggs, and I’ve found quite a few. They look like tiny little orange/red dots on the underside of the leaves. I must have killed a city’s worth of these guys today. Hopefully I’ve been able to drastically reduce their numbers enough so the squash can live to see another day. I’m kind of kicking myself because I meant to grow butternut squash this summer for this exact reason: they are strongly resistant to pests such as the squash bug. But this spring, I had forgotten that piece of information and only remembered that I had to powder the tomato plants around my birthday to prevent mass horned tomato worm infestation.

The solution to the squash bugs, besides crrrrrrrrushing their eggs, is some stuff called Red Devil or Natural Guard. Well, that’s the organic solution, as it uses a fairly organic means to eliminate these guys. Today I cut one of them open with my pocketknife and made him pay. That was only moderately satisfying.

The internet has been a great help to me in finding resources for gardening; I also was wondering why some of my tomato plants were wilting on the bottom leaves. A phone call to my dad revealed that I needed to cut the wilting leaves off right away– there was an infestation of some sort. The weirdest thing was, I couldn’t see anything at all!

Thank you, interwow: Tomato Russet Mites. So small, you need a 14X magnifier to see them! Good thing I cut them off, now I think my one or two affected plants will be okay. Still, I’m going to get some wettable sulfur in order to properly eliminate them.

This season has been much more about educating myself with pest than it has with the simple fact of growing things. I’ve found quite a few slugs among the radishes and I found one in the lettuce today. I need some skunky, cheap beer to get them to die. I also saw some odd worm munching on one of my habanero plant — it was very green on the outside and even greener on the inside. I don’t think it was a horned tomato worm, because I didn’t think they liked peppers. Still, I’ll be on the lookout and launch a preemptive shock-and-awe strike on them this summer.

Japanese Beetles are a pain — I was changing the trap bags this morning (which has become part of my Monday routine) and I remember how much this reminds me of my childhood. Well, Japanese Beetles, that is. My dad would always have to put traps up because they would just decimate our chestnut trees similar to Biblical locusts. K-ren, my youngest sister, was about 4 or 5 when she called them “Japaneetle Bees,” and the name has stuck in our family ever since. The Japaneetle Bees (which is a great band name, btw) have ravaged the wild grapes around the property, and had been munching on the peppers, the tomatoes, and the basil — although they haven’t gotten any of these too badly. I attribute this to the traps.

By the end of a week, the traps turn into a hanging bag of death, and I know I have to change them when more flies are on the outside than JBs. Still, it hasn’t been too bad this year — I think the wild grapes are holding them off.

Tonight we had a salad with homegrown lettuce — delicious as always. Did I mention that last Friday, Lidz and I picked wild blackberries from across the street? It’s true — we did. She absolutely loved them.

By the way, those bugs at the top of this post? Mating. Bet you weren’t planning on having to see bug sex this morning. Looks like you all got punk’d!


I need to take this blog more seriouser! July 13, 2007

Filed under: garden,gardening,local,vermont — tim @ 5:27 am

Yeah, I really do. Here’s some good updates:

Garden: the garden so far has a grade of a B. I’m not totally thrilled like I was last year, so maybe the novelty has worn off, but I’m also kind of disappointed by the outputs. The tomatoes are doing well except the Japanese Beetles, the bane of my existence, are loving to eat the leaves. The weaker plants have stopped being sickly looking and, while smaller, are actually producing tomatoes before the bigger plants. The peppers are doing okay, but not awesome. Something is eating the leaves on my purple bell peppers, which I cannot find. I’ve been spraying them with organic soap stuff, and it’s working on everything else but those are still getting chewed up a bit. The mystery squash turned out to be yellow squash, which I’m glad of because they’re easier to use and grow than acorn or butternut. I have about 3 of them so far with more to come.

The cucumbers suck and are just not growing. Well, maybe one or two are. The zucchini are so-so, we’ll see how they come out. Pumpkins are growing so they’ll do well. I don’t think I gave the radishes enough room because I had no idea that they would all actually sprout, so I’ve been thinning them out little by little.

The herbs are doing really well — we have so much basil that looks so healthy! However, this week I’ve been finding a few leaves that look like they’ve been eaten, so now I have another mystery to solve. Crap. Cilantro in its own planter is doing really well, but sharing w/parsley is not helping it.

The mint was great — we made mojitos on Tuesday night and watched the All-Star game and there’s plenty of mint left. The lettuce has also been good for one batch of salad and we’ll be ready for another batch tomorrow today — that makes us a big salad about once a week, which is a really nice perk. Once I have land, I will definitely be planting a good-sized lettuce patch.

We went to a Wilco concert at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont the other weekend and it was Lidia’s first concert. The sunset behind the band made for an absolutely beautiful backdrop for a gorgeous show — I’ve seen them eight times now and they never disappoint. Ever. They were fun, loose, tight, together, and above all, they put on a great family-friendly show. There were soooooo many kids at the concert and the setting was perfect.

I bought the book Buy Buy Baby this past week and I need to start getting into it ASAP. Oddly enough, I had to buy it, but I think that makes sense as marketing to the under 3 set is something that really bothers me. I am a very bad consumer and I need to stop consuming, so I am going to try and break this because what good is it, really? And what kind of example am I setting?

I think that there’s something to be said about getting back to the land; but not necessarily like that. I think that we can use a good combination of neo-Luddite attitudes with some awesome technology thrown in. I do enjoy modern conveniences, but I’m seriously thinking about lobbying to get rid of TV. What’s on that’s so important that the internet or DVDs can’t provide? I’ll do it as soon as the Red Sox season is over, I swear. 🙂

We’re trying to save for a house, but consumption isn’t really helping, you know? I need to figure out a way to get our electric bill down, it’s insane. I need to get on a budget, for real.

Having a kid who is suddenly soaking up everything you do and say really makes you stop and think about what you do and say. What kind of person are you molding? How will they develop and grow, and how much of that is a result of what you’re impressing on them? All things that I need to remind myself and think about.

In the meantime, make a panflute out of tampons.


Week-end Update June 24, 2007

Filed under: concerts,eat & drink,food,garden,grilling,maine,Recipes,school — tim @ 9:46 pm

There’s so much! Where to begin? Garden is going, work is work, and kids is kids.

Been very busy between work, school, and the lil one. She definitely keeps me busy!

How about the wrap-up:



Garden 2007 is here, baby June 17, 2007

Filed under: garden,gardening — tim @ 4:16 am

Well, I finally got some time to get things planted in the garden. I didn’t want to go bigger than last year, but I ended up having to get 5 more pots because I didn’t want to crowd anything like last year. Here’s my mistakes from last year:

  • overcrowding (4 grape tomato plants in one pot, 4 big pepper plants in a medium pot)
  • no tomato stakes — sticks & twine don’t work
  • not spraying for tomato worms
  • not catching the things that ate the zukes

So far, I didn’t have much luck sprouting anything except a few pumpkins and squash — none of the zukes or one of the other kind of squash came up. I planted the pumpkins and whichever squash this is — I honestly have no idea. Butternut? Buttercup? Acorn? We’ll see.

I bought a bunch of plants at Longacres in Lebanon:


  • Better Boy tomatoes (6) — planted 3 in their own M size pot, and 3 in a L pot
  • Olive (Grape) tomatoes (4) — 2 in a large pot, 2 in a hanging basket. This will be an interesting competition.
  • Roma (4), 2 to a large pot (New this year!)
  • Peppers:
    • Habenero (same pot as last year — tiny)
    • Cherry Bomb & Banana (NEW) (sharing a M pot)
    • Thai hots and Cayenne (each in their own S pot)
    • purple bell peppers, planted 2 to a tire, as seen above (NEW).
  • Herbs:
    • peppermint
    • basil (4) — it looked really fresh so I’m hoping to get a good crop from this
    • Cilantro (4) — try this again this year
    • Chives & Parsley are STILL going strong — using the same plants that survived all winter indoors
  • Lettuce: I have 6 mesculin mix plants in 2 pots on the stoop. I am eager to see if I can grow our own salad!
  • I also planted cukes, zukes and radish seeds in the ground to see what would happen. The radishes have already poked through, and it’s only been 4 days. They should be ready in about 3-4 weeks.

    So, it’ll be a productive and busy season in the garden again, but hopefully I learned enough from last year (like, get tomato cages on early — check) that this year’s will be more rewarding.

    Photos at flickr.

    Powered by ScribeFire.


    Maple Cayenne Sauce October 13, 2006

    Filed under: cooking,eat & drink,food,garden,yum-o — tim @ 1:06 pm

    It’s been a cooking day here in the kitchen, and this is what I’ve been up to today:

    Maple Cayenne Sauce
    probably about 50 cayenne peppers, tops n bottoms cut off

    1/2 c+ white vinegar

    1/2 c+ apple cider vinegar

    2 tbsp Kosher salt

    soy sauce

    2 cloves garlic

    2 small carrots, chopped into small chunks
    1 tsbp maple syrup

    put peppers into a small pot, cover with the first cup (1/2 c white & 1/2 c apple cider) of vinegar and the salt. Simmer over medium high heat, adding vinegar if necessary to always keep the peppers submerged until the peppers have reached a mashed consistency. Remove from heat and strain, reserving remaining vinegar.

    Dump peppers into food processor (I used a Magic Bullet so you may want to start with a food processor and then go to a blender) and add soy sauce, carrots,  maple syrup and garlic. Process until smooth, then add reserved vinegar to reach desired consistency. If you want it even smoother than you can make it with the reserved vinegar, add white vinegar until desired consistency is reached. Pour into jar or squeeze bottle and refrigerate.

    Pic to come!