Bumper Crop

Bumper Crop is my attempt to celebrate the intersection of the garden and the kitchen — an intersection at which many of us love to linger, I think.  This week’s Bumper Crop is green beans.  We grow two kinds of green beans: Maxibel Haricot Vert (a nice skinny bean) and Romano Italian flats, and we’ve been very lucky to have a great crop of each this year.  That said, there are only so many times I want simple steamed beans, or roasted beans, or green beans with potatoes and ham, or the hundreds of ways I’ve been cooking green beans this and every summer of my adulthood!  So I came up with a new one:

Soy and Sesame Beans

Steam green beans for about 6 minutes. Immediately plunge them into some ice water to stop the cooking so they’ll be bright green and crisp-tender.


Put a little drizzle of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil in a bowl.  Add the beans and swirl them around to coat.


Put the beans in the refrigerator and chill for a few hours to get them good and cold.

Eat with chopsticks!

This is how I like my recipes: so simple it’s almost a crime.  Note: I’m not being cheeky with the last instruction—I firmly believe these beans are a more pleasing food experience if eaten with chopsticks.  Don’t you find that to be true about some foods?

For this iteration of Soy and Sesame Beans I sliced some Italian flats into two skinny pieces before steaming them.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your Bumper Crop; in other words, what are you doing with what you’re growing?

Bumper Crop


It’s time for Bumper Crop: What’s coming out of your garden, and, more importantly, what are you doing with it?  Every gardener knows the beautiful dilemma of having so much of a certain crop or two that you actually wish for the plants to stop producing, right?  So, leave a comment and tell me how you deal with your bumper crop.

Like so many southern gardeners, we have squash and squash and squash and squash.  I learned a great way to use it and some other vegetables that are also prolific in the summer: Summer Soup.  This recipe comes courtesy of Lynn Pugh at Cane Creek Farms in Cumming, GA.

Summer Soup

Chop up summer squash, potatoes, carrots and onion into relatively uniform pieces.  Chop up another 2 potatoes into bigger chunks and set these aside.

Put the uniformly chopped vegetables in a big stock pot with plenty of vegetable stock or bouillon to cover it (and maybe have an extra inch of liquid).  Bring it all to a boil, and add the bigger potato chunks at this point.  Let it all simmer until the first vegetables are nice and soft and the bigger potatoes are, y’know, soft enough.

Use an immersion blender (easiest) or pour the whole shebang into your blender (be careful not to burn yourself with splashing soup!).  Blend it into a nice smooth pureed soup, but leave some of the big potato chunks unblended or semi-blended.  They add a nice texture.

Add chopped dill and salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Hot farm, summer in the country

June is departing and, very nicely, leaving us with some cooler temperatures.  The Etc. garden is packed full, and I’m enjoying the bounty so much.  Tonight’s menu included roasted beets with their own sautéed greens and a Zephyr squash pie that turned out so much better than I imagined.  I used leftover Riverview Farms grits, mixed in a little garlic powder and pressed it into a pie crust.  Baked that about 12 minutes to firm it up.  Then I sautéed squash and minced onions, mixed them with some chopped flat-leaf parsley and the fantastic goat’s milk feta that I bought from The Goat Farmer at the Big Canoe farmers’ market.  Dumped the filling into the cooled grits crust, topped it all with some panko and put it in the refrigerator to wait until dinner time.  At dinner time, I baked it about 20 minutes total, and then L’Homme and I wolfed it down.  Yum!

What is coming out of your garden, and what are you doing with it?

too busy to blog

Sorry for the lack of bloggage — I believe my last post was on December 9th.  The holidays sure did pick up the pace around the etc house, and 2013 just kept up that crazy pace.

Now that Spring is here (and then gone, and then back, and then gone again), the garden beds are full, and L’Homme the Farmer is even busier than La Femme the Blogger.  I will try to get some photos on soon!


I’m joining Ginny for Yarn Along and Nicole for Keep Calm, Craft On, to show you my latest finished object, modeled by L’Oiseau:

The finished Oriental Lily!

The finished Oriental Lily!

I blogged about this pattern (it’s Oriental Lily from Ravelry) in this post.

Now if she’ll just wear it.  I was able to get this modeling session only because I promised that she could take the dress off (and put on her Sleeping Beauty costume) immediately after I took the picture.  Sigh . . . it’s a tad big for her, so hopefully her taste in clothing will change soon and she’ll wear it before the cold weather ends.  Right now she wants to wear only costumes: some days it’s Alice in Wonderland, some days Ariel or Sleeping Beauty, some days Dorothy (y’know, the Wizard of Oz Dorothy).

What is your latest FO?  Please show it off — Click the link below and then type in your URL:

Harvest Day


Here’s part of the haul on a recent harvest day at Etc. Farms.  I love how the carrots look like Rockettes kicking up their legs. (That’s Rockettes, not roquette, although we grow that, too!) Just beyond the carrots are French breakfast radishes and then Hakurai turnips, and more carrots – yum!

The carrots are super for winter growing.  They can be left in the ground through the coldest months and pulled whenever you want.  They are a variety called Hercules.

We get all of the seeds for these three great veggies from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Happy winter gardening!


Now, don’t go getting offended.  FO doesn’t stand for what you think it stands for.  It means Finished Object in knit-geek-speak.  I’m joining Ginny for Yarn Along and Nicole for Keep Calm, Craft On to show you the latest thing off the needles:

L’Oiseau’s new hat

And here’s where I blogged about it and explained the specialness of the beads: https://etcfarmsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/yarn-along-2/

I’m very happy with this little number, and super happy with how the beaded tassel turned out.  The beads were gifts from various friends at our baby shower years ago, so it has special meaning.  I’ve learned that the multi-colored round bead was made by our friend Steven.  Still hoping to ID the others as friends see the photo and claim their bead.

As for current projects, this is still on the needles:

Oriental Lily sweater in Noro silk garden yarn

But it’s a bit longer than it was in that photo.  Hopefully it will be finished soon and join the FO club!

What is your latest FO?  Click the Mister Linky button below to linky-link to your blog and let’s do show and tell! Please come back and leave a comment too. P.S. If you want to see all the links from other readers, you have to click the button, too. (But you won’t be committed to linking, so don’t worry!)

Peanut Sauce=Quick Dinner

One of my favorite quick meal fall-backs is peanut sauce.  If I need to take something to a party, it’s likely to be a dish of peanut sauce and fresh crudite to dip.  But I always make twice or four times as much sauce and use a potluck as an opportunity to stock the freezer with a quick dinner tool: stir fry some fresh vegetables, boil up some noodles, add some frozen shrimp or leftover cooked chicken and mix it all with the sauce.


Peanut Sauce

This yields about 2 cups sauce, enough to use for dipping one night and dinner another.

4 garlic cloves

a little less than 4 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup water

2 jalapeno chile peppers

Crush the garlic into a saucepan and add soy sauce, peanut butter, sugar and water.  Start the mixture on low-medium heat.  While the sauce is beginning to heat, seed the jalapenos and cut them into small slivers (Wear rubber gloves to protect against hot pepper injuries to your eyes or nose!).  Add the slivered jalapeno to the sauce and bring the whole thing to a simmer, stirring to smooth it.  Simmer about 5 minutes to heat and combine well.  Remove from heat and let cool. If the sauce ends up too thin, cook it a little longer to thicken.  If it’s too thick, thin it with a little hot water.  Serve half the sauce with crudite for dipping.  Freeze the remainder in 1-cup portions.

Thawed sauce — see the slivers of jalapeno?

When you want a quick dinner, thaw the frozen sauce and stir to smooth it.  Stir fry any combination of fresh vegetables and boil some spaghetti, udon, linguine or other strand-shape pasta.  Drain the pasta, reserving the water.  When the vegetables are almost done, toss in some frozen shrimp or some cooked, leftover chicken or pork.  Add the sauce and some of the pasta water to the pan of vegetables and stir to make a nice, coating sauce.  Add the drained pasta, stir and serve.

Chopsticks make it taste better

Ya-ya (yarn along, yarn along)

Yarning along with Ginny while also Keeping Calm and Crafting On with Nicole:

My current project is Oriental Lily in wonderful, wonderful Noro Silk Garden:

Oriental Lily and The Week

As for reading, all attempts to pick up a book and get serious about reading it have resulted in heavy eyelids — even at 11 in the morning!  So I’m sticking with nice, easy, modular reading in The Week.  I’ve said it before in an earlier Yarn Along, but here’s how I feel about this magazine: luff, loaf, lurv it!

I actually have some finished objects to show you — how’s that for excitement?  To quote an episode of I Love Lucy, one is swell, and the other is lousy.  The swell one:

Happy scarf times

I’m very pleased with this scarf — I wanted something like a keffiyeh (but please don’t consider that a political statement–I just like scarves with fringe or tassels and I’m much too shallow to worry about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, although I do care about it when I’m not thinking about my clothes), I wanted it to be a long, narrow triangle with ties long enough for 2 wraps around the neck and definitely tassels.  The shape turned out rather strange

scarf, unfurled

I think it looks a bit like a Dr. Seuss illustration on its own, but I do like it a lot when it’s all wrapped and fixed up around my neck.  And it is a great warmer.  The yarn is a mill end cotton that I picked up at Earth Guild in Asheville 4 years ago.  (Love you, Earth Guild!) I bought 2 massive cones for a total of $16, and I’ve knitted 3 objects from it, with most of one cone still left.  A slouchy hat to wear with the scarf will probably be next.

Here’s the lousy one:

[Note: There is no picture of the poncho yet, because the battery on my camera went dead as I was trying to snap it.  See?  That poncho is cursed.]

Yuckity, yuck, yuck, yuck!  This is the Sheer Poncho, blogged about hereIt is so tight, especially the bind off, even though I did the most elastic bind off I know.  It feels like a straight jacket.  It will soon be frogged, because I cannot stand to let that gorgeous Malabrigo yarn go unworn.  That’ll teach me to knit projects that are created and modeled by tiny 20 year olds. 

Good thing the tasseled scarf turned out so well—it helped ease the “I spent 3 months knitting this piece of *#@*” depression. Hopefully L’Oiseau’s Oriental Lily will continue my positive streak.

A World Without Spinning?

L’Oiseau and I recently watched Sleeping Beauty, and I remembered (with a jolt!) a small detail of the story: after the threat is made to the princess’s life, the king orders that every spinning wheel in the kingdom be destroyed.  In the Disney movie, there’s even a scene that shows a big pile of spinning wheels on fire.  Oh, my eyes!

It occurred to me that they neglected to show the scene years later when every person in the kingdom is either naked or dressed in tatters.

Where would we be without spinning?  Sure, knitting and weaving are important, but without spinning, those pursuits couldn’t have been possible–what would they have knitted or woven with?  I’m a knitter, and I very much want to begin spinning, partly because I realize that’s where it all begins.

It’s not often that I consider the immense history of this family of hobbies that I love so much, but it’s a long one.

Beyond the central necessity of spinning to pretty much every fiber-related pursuit, there is so much evidence that the act itself is extremely important to good and full human experience.  Some historians believe that the first drop spindles, which came around 5000 BC (!) may have been the inspiration that led to the invention of the wheel around 3500 BC.  And any discussion of spinning always brings to mind Mohandas Ghandi’s suggestion that all Indians spin for an hour each morning in order to realize the meditative effects of the practice.  I’ve been told that he once said that more people spinning would result in less violence in the world (but I haven’t been able to find the exact quote).

I know that technology has evolved so that the act of spinning is no longer necessary for creating fiber, and some would say it’s an arcane activity, but I have to wonder what the world would be like if that simple act hadn’t come about so many millenia ago.