Blessings of working at the local college:

  1. I still get to go to lectures and such and it is encouraged (like the Joel Salatin lecture I have failed to blog about yet)
  2. There is still that childlike glimmer of hope that a snow day could be in our future
  3. Yesterday they gave us notice of a two hour delay before I even had dinner on the table–Huzzah!

Now how we got to said snow delay is still boggling my mind a bit.  Saturday was 60 plus degrees outside–I was working in the kitchen garden beds in a long sleeved button up with a fleece vest and almost got a little warm.  My daffodils opened up to say hello to the mass groupings of crocuses I keep posting about.    I’m pretty sure that the woodland creatures of our forest did a chorus line in celebration of the springtime wonderland that was the outdoors.

And then a storm shifted in the just the right way so that we had copious amounts of fresh, beautiful snow instead of the cold, gross rain we’ve become accustom to.  While I feel a little bad for the crocuses, daffodils, and the woodland creatures, I’ve been telling them “it’s too early” for a while now (told you so!).  I’m hoping that a nice two or three day melt will give the gardens an added boost of moisture, plus it’s just plain pretty right now.  We’ll check out the damage that may be underneath next week when it’s all gone but in the meantime, we’re just having fun and taking advantage of the delay.


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I love recipes that inspire me to look at the garden in different ways.  When my dear friend made this recipe for dinner right before Christmas, I was delighted at it’s complexity, and grateful that she was willing to share it.  I was also incredibly intrigued at the thought that every part, more or less, of this could be grown here at the homestead.

This recipe has me specifically thinking about growing sweet potatoes (and other potatoes) and beans that can be dried.  It also has us thinking about canning salsa. Things to put on the list and plan for while we still have time to!

For this batch in particular I made it in triplicate–one large pan for this week, one large pan to freeze for later, and three bread pans which are about 1 serving a piece (two for the freezer, and one for one of my students at work).  It was super easy to make multiple batches at once, and I’m hoping it’ll add something different to the standard soup and casseroles that we have living in our freezer for those nights that we “don’t know what to cook.”

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas 
Adapted from, December 2011
Makes about 4 servings
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups low sodium broth 
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 sprig rosemary 
1 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes 
16 oz salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno
1 15 oz can black beans
1 12 oz round queso, divided
Olive Oil
8 8-inch whole wheat, high fiber tortillas
Limes cut into wedges and sour cream for garnish
To make filling, heat oil in deep saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, salsa, garlic, and  jalapeno; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Bring all the sauce ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk to combine, and reduce heat to low and let reduce.  Pull out the sprig of rosemary when the leaves start to fall off.
Once the filling mixture has finished cooking, mash mixture with a potato masher or with an emersion blender.  Add beans, cook five mintes.  Stir in half of the queso fresco and remove from heat.  Brush a 13×9 inch baking dish with oil.  Spread about 1/2 cup of Sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Fill tortillas with Filling.  Rill, and pack close together seam side down in the dish.  Top with remaining Sauce and other half of queso fresco.  Bake 15-20 minutes, and then broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly.  Garnish with limes and sour cream.  

Begun the Garden War Has!

We’ve been enjoying greens from our cold frame for weeks now.  And with the abnormally warm weather, they have been just exploding in number.  The shallot greens are in the same boat–we’ve been using those instead of scallions or chives in a lot of our recipes.  It still might be brown and dormant outside, but life abounds in the frames.

Last weekend JGL posted a picture of dinner, which also included a fresh cold frame salad, and one of my favorite professors at my place of employment quickly posted “Fresh lettuce? Begun the garden war has!”.   We got a good chuckle out of both the thought of a gardening war and the clever Yoda reference, but later that evening JGL said, “Crap.  This means we have to step up our game, don’t we?”

Yes, JGL, it sure does.  I have full faith that the good Professor is going to kick our sorry gardening butts, but we’ve got to give it a good ole college try, right?  Right!

Having never been in said Gardening War, I’m not exactly sure what it entails.  However, lists are being drafted, the Farmer’s Seed and Supply store was scoped out today, and once these cold frames are installed, it’s on like Donkey Kong.  Challenge Accepted!  😉


To say the past few weeks have been “mild” is a raging understatement.  We’ve seen temperatures in the upper 60s, and there have been plenty of days where my lunch-time walk has been outside and jacket free.  Who knows if this crazy weather will last, but I’m very much enjoying the signs of what may be an early spring (and as soon as I hit Publish we’ll be hit with a massive snow storm, I know it!)!

Starting the Seedlings

I vowed to start earlier this year–no dragging my little feet, making excuses, or just not doing it.  So this past weekend JGL graciously installed my grow lamp in the basement, and after procuring some fresh potting soil I began pulling out my trusty seed starting supplies:  pots, tray, soil, seeds and popsicle sticks.  There are several varieties of tomatoes, jalapenos, and the seeds I saved from the super hot peppers.  We’re about a month and a half ahead of schedule, compared to last year, and I’m really hoping that it will pay off in terms of helping the seedlings get bigger and stronger so we’ll get fruit out of them sooner.


To say this week has been a long one is an understatement!  There’s still a ways to go, but tonight I’m excited about having salad with fresh greens from the cold frame.  That’s right, folks, the cold frame has officially exploded with big, luscious, leafy greens.  How can a week be that bad when you have that on your table?

Tomato Tea

We’ve been battling a case of the ickies since New Years.  JGL came down with it first, and I succumbed shortly after, and while it hasn’t been as bad as we were last year, it’s been no fun feeling blah for the first few weeks of 2012.  The find of the week, however, came in the form of a Facebook post on JGL’s wall.  “Have you tried Tomato Tea?  Google it!”

What we found sounded pretty gross at first glance, at least for me.  Tomato juice and as much garlic and hot sauce as you can handle.  Meh.  But the combo does two things immediately opens you up (seriously, with as much hot sauce as you can handle what else can you expect?) and helps with congestion, but the volatile oils of the hot sauce and garlic act almost like a disinfectant for your throat.  Burns like hell, but oddly feels good.  JGL started drinking it well after the congestion fell to his chest and I started drinking before that happened.  I did not get hit half as hard as he did, and the congestion stuck (like glue) to my nose.  Not sure if I just had a milder case or if the tea worked, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt!

And as for the taste?  I have to admit, it wasn’t bad at all, and by the second batch it was almost tasty.  I added fresh herbs from the garden to help make it a bit more palatable.  This one will be put in the repertoire for future illness (and just another reason why I need to grow garlic in the garden!).

Tomato Tea
Adapted from Earth
2 cups Tomato Juice
2-3 cloves Garlic crushed (or more if you can–we were closer to 6 cloves)
2 T Lemon Juice
Hot Sauce (as much as you can tolerate)
2-3 large fresh basil leaves
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
Add all ingredients into a sauce pan and and heat until nice and warm.  Using an immersion blender, blend all of the ingredients together well, and let steep on the stove for about 5-10 minutes (longer it sets the better it gets!).  Once you’re ready to serve, sip slowly and breath deeply–the fumes and the tea both will aid with your congestion.  Careful, this stuff is addictive!