Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Think warm thoughts



I'm going to Ohio until Monday. The weather report says it's going to hover in the 20s and 30s the whole time, which would have sounded fine to me before I moved to the south and got soft.

I will probably post, but I can't promise much.

In the meantime, here's a pic of our brand new greenhouse. Yesterday it was 74 inside with the window and door open!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Highly recommended

This pomegranate gelato. It is dark lavender in color and absolutely decadent.

Please note that I needed three fruits to make enough juice. There are so many poms in the stores at this time of year, why not use them?

Savory

I got to use my half-size pie plate again! This time, predictably, it was a turkey pot pie.

There's no recipe for this, really. You just take leftover turkey vegetable soup, separate the broth from the meat and vegetables, and (using a roux and additional flour as needed) thicken the broth into a gravy. Combine meat, vegetables, and gravy in a pie shell and bake at 425 F for 10 minutes, then 375 F until brown and bubbling.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fruitcakes people will actually want to eat

How do I know? Because the s.o. and I snarfed one of them last night. They are delicious, and there's none of that creepy glacé fruit to be found.

These are made sans nuts because we have a couple of people in the family with allergies. You could, of course, add as many nuts as you like. I think pecans would be the best.

REAL FRUITCAKES
Makes 10 mini loaves (mine were about 5 1/2 x 3 1/2, but slightly smaller ones would work, too)

1 lb. raisins
1/2 lb. dried cherries
1/2 lb. dried figs, quartered
1/2 lb. dried apricots, quartered
brandy as needed
butter, shortening, or oil for greasing pans
1/2 lb. candied citrus peel, chopped fine
1/4 lb. candied ginger, chopped fine
1 lb. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. brown sugar
2 Tbs. molasses
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
8 eggs
brandy for brushing the cakes

Soak the raisins, cherries, figs, and apricots overnight in brandy to cover.
When you're ready to start baking, grease 10 mini loaf pans and line them with waxed paper. You may want to group them on jelly roll pans to make it easier to move them around.
Place a pan of water on the bottom oven rack and preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Drain the fruit that has been soaking. Combine it in a very large bowl with the candied citrus and ginger, flour, spices, and salt. Mix well to coat everything with flour.
Cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the molasses and lemon rind, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Oh-so-carefully fold the butter mixture into the giant bowl of floured fruit. Divide the batter among the 10 pans and gently smooth the tops.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until edges are a little crispy and a skewer inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean. If you use larger pan(s), you may need to bake them for as long as 3 hours.
Immediately tip cakes out of pans and peel away the waxed paper. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Brush on all sides with brandy (or wrap in brandy-soaked cheesecloth), then wrap tightly and store. Will keep for several weeks if you continue to replenish the brandy.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Looking forward



We didn't go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. (You couldn't pay me enough to fight those crowds!) Instead, we stayed home and started decorating the house for Christmas.

Some of you remember that in August, when my grandmother started to become seriously ill, I went to Ohio to visit her and started to bring home some of the family heirlooms that meant a lot to me. One of them was her and my grandfather's 1960s tinfoil Christmas tree, which I've always loved.

The s.o. and I put the tree up yesterday. For me it was a little tough, because Nana died on October 26 and I will be traveling to Ohio again next week for the memorial service. It was her time to go, but that doesn't change the fact that Christmas won't be the same without her around.

But it's hard to be melancholy for long in the presence of a tree that's straight out of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The tree brings back so many happy memories, as do the ornaments (many of them homemade--several by Nana--and all of them treasured). One of my favorites is a foil-backed Shrinky-Dink of a partridge in a pear tree, which was part of a set my mom and I made when I was little. I have no idea what happened to the rest of them, but the partridge was always my favorite and I'm glad I have it.*

The s.o. and I have decided that we need to find or make a new ornament to commemorate 2005, but we're still trying to figure out what exactly it should be. It will probably just "happen," as these things do.

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* The ornament in the picture is a little bit of an oddball--it owes its existence to the fact that one of my stepmothers used to work in sports marketing. But for some reason the s.o. and I especially like it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The answers to several turkey-related questions

To my vegetarian friends: I promise you that this is the last post about The Turkey That Shall Did Remain Nameless...except for the photo, which is coming soon.

Q: What cooking method did you choose?

A: A fast, hot roast. I brought the bird very nearly to room temperature, then loosened its skin and rubbed it throughout with softened butter, herbs, and garlic. I seasoned it thoroughly and stuck a quartered apple and a quartered onion in the cavity. Then I tied oiled paper over the breast (for the first 3/4 of the roasting time only) and stuck little foil shoes on the tips of the legs. I put it in a 425-degree oven and it almost immediately started spitting juices.

Q: How long did it take to roast?

A: Believe it or not, only 1 hour and 15 minutes. I've never, ever heard of such a short cooking time for such a substantial bird. It pretty much defied the laws of physics, as far as I can tell. I must have stuck the meat thermometer in it 20 times--I thought I was going crazy! It came as quite a shock to me and resulted in a hectic scramble to finish all the side dishes. The s.o. gets major props for helping me in a pinch.

Q: Was it hard to keep it moist?

A: Um, a big no on that one. All the butter-rubbing was completely superfluous (except for the added flavor, of course), because that turkey was chubby as hell. Apparently I spoiled it. There wasn't as much fat as there is on a goose, but it was damn close.

Q: Get to the point! What did it taste like?

A: The white meat tasted like turkey. Turkey times two. The dark meat tasted like duck! All of it had more texture than you'd expect from a Butterball, but none of it was chewy or tough. It was absolutely the best turkey we've ever tasted. (And still is...we have a lot of leftovers to enjoy!)

Q: Will there be future turkeys at 10 Signs Farm?

A: Almost certainly yes. I am really grateful for this entire experience. Raising my own meat might seem pretty far removed from my 16 years of vegetarianism, but for me, it's consistent. I object to factory farming--I just think it's wrong. I've been a troubled carnivore these last few years, but this is something I can support.

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P.S.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope your holiday was as wonderful as ours. I am so thankful for my family...my smart, funny, awesome s.o....my beloved doggies...my friends here and everywhere...and the stars spinning in the sky over our little 12 acres of heaven.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

14.5 pounds

That's the official weight of our turkey (minus its innards and extremities). That's perfect, actually, but now I feel like a little bit of a wimp. It seemed heavier at the time.

Mental note: Don't ever feel tempted to raise ostriches.

Meanwhile, I'm up and at 'em because it's time for the preparation to begin! Today's tasks:

• clean house
• bake bread
• bake pumpkin and sweet potatoes
• cook cranberries
• singe pinfeathers off turkey
• clean and cook giblets
• chop vegetables for stuffing and side dishes

Gotta get to it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

nb II

When you're walking a dog past a giant bag of feathers, don't let your guard down, not even for a minute.

Monday, November 21, 2005

It's done

And the slaughter and plucking weren't that hard. After the bird goes into the cone, it ceases to be "Mr. Turkey" and is just "turkey." I don't know why, but I am grateful for it.

The evisceration I could have done without.

nb

A turkey won't take a second nip of Calvados.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wednesday Monday is D-Day

Today, with rain in the forecast, we pulled a tarp over the top of the turkey pen. The turkey has refused (for reasons known best to itself) to use the shelter in the pen. It has also refused to use the roost that the s.o. so generously built for it, using turkey-specific plans he got on the internet.

Although I suspect the turkey will enjoy staying dry, it did not like the look of the tarp. It puffed itself all up and started gobbling at the s.o. The s.o., of course, gobbled back at it.

Just a couple more days of cracked corn, oats, and garden scraps, and then it's time for a one-day fast before...IT...happens.

Friday, November 18, 2005

For once, I don't mind the onset of winter

Gingerbread with pears (recipe here), a dollop of whipped cream, and a teeny little glass of ruby port.

Cold weather brings out the home-and-hearth-seeking Hobbit in all of us, doesn't it?

Brrr



Hard frost last night. The tomatoes were already frost-killed and destined for green tomato salsa, but now everything is looking a little rough--even the stuff that's supposed to be hardy.

I had to break a half-inch of ice off the water tank this morning.

It's really pretty out, though. It's bright and sunny. That's the thing about the South; if it's below freezing, you can almost guarantee it's happening because there are no clouds to hold the heat in.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Adorable



What does this colander full of jalapeños and The World's Tiniest and Cutest Yams signify?

That finally, last night, our weather dipped to 32 degrees. So at dinnertime yesterday, I was out there constructing elaborate straw-and-garbage-bag houses over the tomatoes and eggplant (which is still putting out fruit...can you believe it?) and harvesting the vegetables whose time had come.

The yam plants weren't started until August, which was way too late for them to reach their potential. It was a whim: I had yams in the pantry that were sprouting like crazy, so I cut out the eyes and stuck them in a couple of dirt hills that happened to be empty.* It turns out they are phenomenally easy to grow, and fascinating, too. They send out a nest of yam-colored tendrils underground which, given enough time, thicken into tubers.

The plants were already beginning to curl from previous cold snaps. They are extremely sensitive to frost. I knew I wasn't giving them enough time, but there was no help for it. Still, I must say I was impressed with the small collection of mini-yams I managed to get, even after the season was mostly over! I can't wait to grow them again next year.

The s.o. thinks we should parboil these mini-yams whole and then deep-fry them in a tempura batter. I do love the way that man thinks.

As of this morning, I am not even sure we had a hard frost last night. But I don't regret the precautions I took, because the forecast calls for three more nights in the lower 30s and even (brr!) upper 20s. It really is time for the big change in the garden. To ignore that would be folly.

So now we turn our attention to plasticking the windows and stuffing insulation in our inoperable fireplace flues. It's time to be snug!

P.S. Our 12x14 hoophouse (polytunnel, for my U.K. readers) is almost done. I will post pictures when it is ready. One day soon there will be year-round salads at 10 Signs Farm.

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* Thanks to the work of my diligent enemies, the squash bugs. Watch out this year, you little bastards; I am armed with diatomaceous earth! You have been warned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Paging Chris Martin

Maybe it's because the weather has finally turned cloudy, bringing much-needed rain, but for the last two days I've been cooking bright-colored, cheery food. Specifically yellow.

Yesterday I tried a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe for a salad made of equal parts shredded apple, pear, and raw beet. It is dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and it's a fantastic, fresh-tasting salad. I'll definitely make it again.

You won't hear me say this often, but I think I did ol' Hugh one better: I used a golden beet instead of a red beet in my version. It looked so vibrant and happy! (Or, depending on your outlook, a little like an oddly crunchy egg salad.)

Fast-forward to today...

The cake in the picture is a half-recipe of what The Fannie Farmer Cookbook calls Daffodil Cake. It's a true spongecake with no butter or shortening; all the leavening comes from the eggs. Most of the cake is white, like an angel food cake, but it is interspersed with splashes of orange-scented egg-yolky yellow cake.

It is normally made in a tube pan, but I made my half-sized cake in an eight-inch round. I glazed it with a simple sugar glaze made with orange juice and orange zest. And yes, those are a couple of my candied tangerine peels on top.

The yellow parts of my cake were a little paler than I liked, and I wondered why. But then I remembered the free-range vs. commercial egg demonstration and figured that when the recipe was originally written, more people were using darker-colored eggs. I can't wait to try this recipe again when I have my own chickens!

Does anyone else ever go through a period of making food of a certain color? It's odd, but right now it's working for me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Memes: For those days when you have nothing to say

20 Random Things About Me

1. I was born in the same hospital my mother was born in, and delivered by the same doctor.
2. I love dogs and can't imagine being without one. Which is good, because they seem to find me.
3. I once had a falling-out with a roommate for my unwillingness to do the dishes.
4. I'm a lot better about doing the dishes now; in fact, I almost always do all of them before I go to bed.
5. I was a vegetarian for 16 years, from age 16 to 32.
6. The last meat I ate before becoming a vegetarian was a bucket of KFC.
7. The first meat I ate afterward was barbecued pork shoulder.
8. I have drunk from the Castalian Spring at Delphi. It didn't seem to do anything for me, at least not at the time.
9. I am 35 and I don't have children. My biological clock hasn't said anything to me about it, so I figure I'm on the right track.
10. I have a master's degree in paleontology.
11. My undergraduate degree was in English.
12. I was the news editor of my college paper.
13. I am afraid of heights. I will work on ladders out of necessity, but I hate every minute of it.
14. Even though I am afraid of heights, I am unfazed by amusement-park rides.
15. I have an iron stomach. In fact, I am not even sure I know what heartburn feels like.
16. I have a hard time picking favorites of anything: food, colors, music. I like a lot of things.
17. I am divorced, and I still feel bad about the way it all went down.
18. Video games stress me out, and because of that I have never really enjoyed them.
19. Overall, I am hard-wired to be happy.
20. I would rather have time than money.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fooditude

It has occurred to me that I've been a little negative lately, here and elsewhere, using the "Ew" button on my keyboard with too great frequency. So I thought I'd share what I have been enjoying lately.

First there is a gorgeous discovery that I swear I remember from a cookbook somewhere, but perhaps I just dreamed it. You cook some chopped greens (mixed collards and mustard, for example) so that they are soft but not as collapsed as Southerners usually like them; then you drain the water away, add a little peanut oil, minced ginger, minced garlic, and soy sauce, and sizzle for a few minutes over a moderate flame. That's all, and they are spectacular.

Then there is the Passion Du Jour around here: mini pear mincemeat pies. The filling is adapted from a 1960s-vintage Farm Journal Freezing & Canning Cookbook I got at a flea market. So far I have canned seven pints of it, but there is always a quarter to a third of a pint left over, which is an uncannable amount (at least with the jars I own!). So the next afternoon there are mini mince pies, made with the freshly cooked filling.

PEAR MINCEMEAT
3 1/2 to 4 lbs. pears, peeled and cored (go for the larger amount if your pears are small, because you will lose a higher percentage of the weight as waste)
1 small apple, peeled and cored
1/2 lemon, seeded but left with its peel on
1 lb. raisins
3 3/8 c. sugar
1/2 c. vinegar
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

In two batches, run the pears, apple, lemon, and raisins through a food processor so they are chunky/pasty. Combine this mixture with the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes.
Pack into hot pint jars (and a half-pint jar, if you need it) and process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 pints with a bit left over.

Now for the crust:

YOGURT PASTRY
1 c. all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut up
2 Tbs. plain yogurt (nonfat will work fine)

Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. With your fingers, rub in the butter until the largest pieces are about 1/4 inch or smaller. Add yogurt and stir with a fork until dough comes together.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll dough out between two sheets of waxed paper. Cut circles with a biscuit cutter and press into a mini muffin pan. You should get about 9 circles the first time and you'll be able to get the remaining 3 by gently re-rolling the scraps.

Fill these mini shells with mincemeat and bake until golden brown and bubbling.

Wait as long as you can to eat them, because if you devour one immediately you might burn the roof of your mouth. Not that I would know anything about that.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

They're going to revoke my foodie license for this

As many of you already know, I hate olives. Yes, I know it is a character flaw. I like almost everything generally recognized as edible, and will often eat things that turn other people's stomachs, yet for some unknown reason olives taste putrid and rotten to me. Kalamata, Niçoise, green-with-a-pimiento-in-it, whatever--I despise them.

Somehow I even love olive oil, but not olives. In my world, olives might as well be cockroaches.

Yesterday I stopped for lunch at Big City Bread in Athens. I ordered spinach quiche and a house salad. The food there, in general, is lovely, and yesterday was no exception.

But.

There were about eight high-quality (I assume) black olives in a little heap on the plate. They were right in the middle, piled up against the hunk of focaccia bread that comes with the quiche and salad. Some of them were touching the quiche and the salad.

And so it was that I discovered that there is one thing in the wide world of food that is more disgusting than olives: Olives marinated in orange zest. I have heard this combination spoken of with reverence. Some people supposedly love it and seek it out. Make no mistake, it is horrific.

The hideous olive-and-orange flavor permeated and destroyed whatever it touched. I had to leave half of my lunch on the plate. I wanted to swap it out for a new, oliveless dish, but there wasn't actually anything wrong with it, it just had these repellent orange cockroaches on it.

I need to remember to ask servers to leave the olives off. Even in situations where the olive taste doesn't mar my food, I feel guilty leaving a pile of olives on the plate, because I know they are seen as a delicacy. They are intended as a special favor, a lagniappe. I feel like a cad for rejecting them.

Also, I hate to waste things. But eurrrrghhh! I am damned if I am going to eat them.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Go ahead, tamper with tradition

Serve this bright-red sauce instead of the usual jellied can-shaped stuff.

CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE

12 medium to large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (a mixture of tart and sweet is best)
2 c. fresh cranberries
1 c. water
1 to 1 1/4 c. sugar (to taste)
1 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Combine apples, cranberries, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer slowly, partly covered, until the apples dissolve into sauce. If you have some particularly crispy apples in there, you can help them out a little bit with a masher.
Add sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Serve warm.
Cranberry applesauce can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The peel sessions

I love a complicated, multi-stage recipe. For example, I adore making Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Three Dishes from One Goose." Or, as I like to call it, "Goosapalooza."

I've embarked on another big, complex project. In a couple of weeks I'm going to make fruitcake. Not the kind everybody jokes about and uses as a doorstop, but the real kind, soaked in good liquor and brimming with real, honest fruit. Possibly chocolate. It will need a month to soak in liquor so it will be ready for Christmas.

I will not be buying any of that weird technicolor candied fruit they sell at the grocery store at this time of year. My fruitcake will include dried cherries, raisins, and the homemade candied fruit peel you see here. I made it especially for the occasion.

On the left is grapefruit peel; on the right is tangerine. Against the advice of the recipe, I cooked them together. They still came out wonderful. If you're planning on using them as straight-up candy, though, you may want to keep them separate so the flavors don't blend even the slightest bit.

Here's how it's done:

CANDIED FRUIT PEEL

Cut the peels off 3 large grapefruits or 5 oranges or tangerines (or a combination). Leave the white pith on. Julienne the peels.

Place the peels in a large pot and pour boiling water over them. Simmer 5 minutes. Drain well. Repeat this sequence 4 more times (yes, really). This removes the bitterness.

Set the peels aside for a moment and combine 1 cup of water, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 tsp. powdered ginger in the pot. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peels and simmer, partially covered, 1 hour or until the peels are translucent and soft. Stir occasionally.

Lay the peels out, not touching each other, on wax paper until they are cool. Dust well with additional sugar. After an hour or two, scrape them off the wax paper and roll them in sugar on all sides. Spread the peels out again.

Continue to air-dry them for several hours, then pack in an airtight container. Keeps almost indefinitely.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Playing with fire

This recipe is very, very good. Simple, but good. (How much skirt steak is there per steer, anyhow? Like, if we bought half a steer from a local organic farmer, how much delectable skirt steak would we get? A lot, I hope.)

We made dinner completely outside on the grill today. The s.o. even cooked the tortillas on a cast-iron pan on the grill. The firewood came from our woods. The cilantro came from our garden.

We ate on the screened porch. The sunset was pink.

Afterward I suddenly remembered something.

"The coals have gone out, and I forgot to make s'mores," I pouted.

"Oh, you're right."

"Wait! We have a gas stove."

I speared two marshmallows on a fork and laid out graham crackers with a couple of cubes of Swiss milk chocolate. I sparked a flame and started toasting my marshmallows.

"WHOA!" I shouted, blowing furiously. It had taken me approximately three seconds to catch the marshmallows on fire. I repeated the catching-on-fire-and-blowing-it-out action six or seven times and then judged that if I waited any longer the marshmallows would fall into the burner. I rushed the molten sugar to the waiting chocolate and graham cracker and squished it all together.

"How is it?" asked the s.o., who was abstaining because he isn't very fond of sweets.

"Great, but it's missing something," I said.

"Smoke?"

"Kind of. But mainly pieces of charred stick."

Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby...but it's still really good.

Indian summer continues

Now the daytime temps have risen into the low 80s. I'm really enjoying the beautiful weather, and finally we've got some red and orange leaves, too.

My arugula and Shogoin turnips are up!

I would post something longer, but I am furiously canning my way through bushels and bushels of apples and pears, and I'm really tired...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The birds

I went out in Athens last night and returned home an hour and a half after bar close. As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed that some considerate soul had pancaked a skunk on the road right in front of our house.

So of course when I walked the dogs this morning, the first dog in line (Gracie) jetted out the door after the inevitable flock of vultures. After the initial leash-choking (oops! you're not supposed to pull, remember?), she calmed down and we watched...and listened.

Has anyone else noticed the sinister sound vultures make when they fly? There's a loud FLAPFLAPFLAP component--graceful they are not--but also a creaking sound, as though their wings need to be oiled.

The vultures gathered in a tulip poplar tree to wait while the dogs busily sniffed around the yard, marking all the spots where deer had pooped during the night. I was not previously aware that the dogs were in a dominance war with creatures not even of their own species, but apparently that is the case.

The turkey didn't like any of it. He spent a lot of time puffed into the classic "kindergartener's hand" turkey shape. Every so often the moist morning air was punctuated by hysterical gobbling.

Moist morning air--yes! Finally. But will it bring rain?

I should mention that daytime temperatures are in the 70s this weekend, with nighttime lows in the 50s. Hello, Indian summer! Nice to see ya.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Kitty's gone

The s.o. put Taxi into the travel crate today and then off they went on a road trip. But she's not coming back. She's going to go live with the s.o.'s dad in northwestern Georgia. It's not far, and I'll get to see her pretty often, but I am devastated.

I know it's for a good cause--so that cat-chasing Gracie can come inside more of the time--and that kitty will get more attention lavished on her at her grandpa's house. But it's still really hard.

All I can do is concentrate on the fact that I won't have to clean the cat box.

It's not working.

*sniffle*

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Daily ritual

I've gotten so every morning, while walking the dogs, I gather a big handful of wild onions for the turkey. Those of you who suggested "pre-marinating" our feathered tenant were absolutely spot-on. There is nothing the turkey likes better. You should see it eat them! Keep your fingers out of the way or you'll draw back a nub.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Slack gardener mends her ways

Nature is persistent, I have decided, because gardeners rarely are.

I showed my garden to a friend yesterday, and while I am certainly proud of the bounty it is producing, I also must admit to being a little appalled at the weeds that had sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere. Also, things were looking a little dry. Is it possible I had been feeding the turkey and playing fetch with Gracie at times when I had previously been puttering in the garden? Nothing wrong with that, certainly. But the garden needed help.

This morning I knelt next to a row and found that, yes, my new crop of cilantro had germinated (taking its sweet time, I might add! Isn't it a little late in the year?! I might have to repot some of it as a houseplant), but it had been completely obscured by weeds. I pulled everything that wasn't cilantro and suddenly it was a model of garden elegance.

I filled in gaps in the carrot and purple sprouting broccoli rows. I hate uneven germination. I don't know if the new seeds will do anything, but why not give it a shot?

I also planted entire rows of the following:

• Shogoin turnips (a Japanese snow-white variety that comes highly recommended for this area; am looking forward to this way more than is probably appropriate)
• Batavian endive (cheap seeds from the dollar store--why not try?)
• arugula (ditto--I will plant the "good stuff", AKA the Astro arugula, in the spring when I know it will succeed for sure)

And now the progress report:

Last week I had moved the slug-plagued red cabbage from the front flowerbed into the garden proper, where there is no slug problem to speak of. It looks as though it is getting its footing now. The green cabbage is beginning to form heads. I am watching the Brussels sprouts to see if I can spot any teeny sprouts along the stems, but no luck yet.

The tomatoes from my August planting are finally approaching ripeness. All I need is another week or two for the biggest ones to redden. I've been watching the weather predictions like a hawk, and if I see a hard frost on the horizon, I'm pulling all the tomato plants so they can finish ripening indoors. I think I'm gonna make it!