There is nothing better on a cold winter night than to light a fire, open a bottle of a nice deep, dark red wine, slice up a warm loaf of crusty bread and dip into a hearty bowl of Savory Beef Stew.
A few words before you begin:
Start Early – although it is possible to overcook this stew, I’d count on at least 2 ½ hours to make sure that your beef gets to that ‘shredded stage’. I’m using our own grass fed beef with not a lot of fat, so slow and low simmering works best for me.
The Right Pot – use a good old fashioned Dutch Oven or treat yourself to a Le Creuset Casserole. Honestly, I got mine at a deep discount at Home Goods and it’s gotten more use than my car!
Herbs – herbs and more herbs – fresh is best, but if you are cooking this in the deep dark days of winter and the garden is a memory, used dried. I can’t stand to see folks waste their good $4 on a clamshell of half dead ‘fresh herbs’! (more…)
Just got back from a ‘Bucket List’ trip to Maui – 10 nights, 11 days exploring paradise with my family. Did I mention that we totally skipped the whole holiday thing? No tree, no lights, no stockings and no annual Christmas Party! Still got some of that in Hawaii, but honestly, I didn’t have to lift a finger, much less the 10’ Fraser Fir.
So, what they say is true: Hawaii is paradise. The Leis covered with orchid blooms, gorgeous purple/white dendrobium blooms hanging around your neck. Water, water everywhere – and torrential downpours at night followed by awe-inspiring sunrises and garden awaking lush and flush from their soaking the night before. No sprinklers needed at this time of year. Green, green and more green with punches of color everywhere. Fruits, flowers and herbs – passion fruit, star fruit, cherimoya, breadfruit, pineapple, bananas. Farmer’s Markets bursting with so many wild and wonderful offerings – fresh cut coconuts complete with a straw. (more…)
Humans are a fickle bunch, and try as I might, they are hard to figure. Say one thing, mean another. Say one thing, find out it wasn’t true. Commit to one thing, then change courses. Not saying I’m any different, but the dependability of nature (well maybe not weather) is something that brings me a lot of comfort. Cycles that repeat; you sort of come to depend on them. Geese come south, geese go north. Jenny wrens nesting in the same clay pots they used the year before. My mother in law’s daffodils emerging in late February, as they have been since she planted 30+ years ago. Even the sturgeon have decided the river is clean enough to make a comeback. We brought them to the brink of extinction, then we decided to bring them back. See what I mean? Fickle.
Well there is one cycle that is truly a wonder: the migration of the monarch. Their life cycle is equally awe inspiring but let’s focus on this trip! There are so many wondrous aspects of this flight, described as ‘epic’, so let’s start with this:
The monarch migration is the longest known insect migration on earth.
Chew on this: a monarch can leave Nova Scotia, Canada and travel to the mountains west of Mexico City, which works out to somewhere around 3,000 miles. A butterfly, mind you. Miracle? (more…)
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself However, I’d say it a bit differently:
“If I knew then what I know now, I may not have ever tried”
Which is just another way of saying that I was didn’t realize how much I didn’t know, but I had the confidence (and stupidity) to just keep going.
The easy part was the first 20 years; gave up a promising career in my mid twenties, but at that point, I had nothing to lose and I didn’t really like my job anyway. No kids, no mortgage and some crazy ideas about making making a living by doing what I loved. That pretty much worked for 2 decades. I had a thriving store, great employees, wonderful customers and greenhouses that pumped out plants that people wanted to buy. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard work, but it was a helluva ride. Spring and fall, we worked like mad. Summer and winter, we sat back and occupy ourselves with travel, vegetable gardens, a bit of hunting and raising a bunch of kids. (more…)
There is nothing new under the sun ~ 20 years ago, I took Dr. Andrew Weil’s advice and put myself, and my family, on a restricted ‘news diet’ to lessen the anxiety and tension of whatever was considered ‘bad news’ back then. Listening to what passes for ‘the news’ can easily send one into a downward spiral! How much not so good news can one take before depression sets in? I have found that taking news in small doses once or twice a week is about all I need and all I can stand to hear. And, I’m pretty picky about who I let give me that news ~ the less biased the better.
I’m a critical thinker, and please do me the favor of NOT EDITORIALIZING – ‘just the facts’. I’m old enough to remember when the news came in to our house, for about 30 minutes each weekday evening, and we considered ourselves well informed. I’m convinced that too much of a bad thing is bad … it can really warp your thinking and distort reality. Yes, there are a lot of bad things out there, but you know what, there are a lot of good things too. And, we have weathered a lot of tough times over our history (which goes back a very long time) and we are still here and kicking! (more…)
It’s nearly the end of 2016, and time for us to recount the highs and lows of this past growing season. We all have our areas of interest, but for me, it’s all about you …. Trends in what gardeners wanted this past growing year. Basically, what plant sold THE BEST in 2016.
And, the winner is: Eucalyptus, Silver Drop. Always in the top 5, but never a winner. This year, Eucalyptus pushed out Lemongrass and would have done even better had we not run out near the end of the spring.