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Entries in Gardening (11)


Italian Peppers from Backyard Farms

Certified Backyard Farms Italian Peppers are here! I'm going to have to wait another week or two for my tomatoes though. These peppers will be served at lunch today, none will be spared!


The Cured Ham's Institute for Squirrel Bitten Apricots

You may not be aware, The Cured Ham runs The Institute for Squirrel Bites, Bird Pecks and Opossum Trampled Apricots (ISRBPOTA pronounced isur-b-POTA). 

The Institute, headquartered in my backyard, "pits" The Cured Ham against these creatures of the night and early morning; the squirrels (who am I kidding, squirrels come by whenever they f'ing want to; like pigeons in San Francisco...a menace), birds, and opossums or SBOs for short. The Institute is where properly ripened and picked apricots find their way on plates at my relatives and friends homes' until they are eaten. Grandma is a charter member of the Institute and regularly eats mature apricots.

It's been a tough Spring and early Summer at the Institute. Despite my early morning hose sprays, frequent backyard urination, the placement of a useless plastic owl, and colorful streamers, the SBOs kept coming for my apricots.

The Institute regularly has guest Vegans mind-meld with the apricots after harvest. One particularly ripe Apricot, named Brilliant Orange, mentioned to our guest Vegan, that she felt too much attention was paid to the foie gras ban in California this year, rather than the bird attacks that have been happening to apricots since the Garden of Eden.

Another slightly under-ripe Apricot, named Greeny, hoped to be placed in one of The Cured Ham's baked fruit cobblers, a high honor.

One rumor amongst the first batch of ripened apricots; they were destined for Grandma's Table, the highest honor granted at the Institute.

The story of the backyard apricot tree dates back nearly 20 years when the neighborhood was less populated with tall trees and places for varmints to hide. It was a simpler time, a quieter time. Those halcyon days have been replaced by regular paranoia, bumps in the night, and the slaughter of innocent apricots. Really, what have apricots ever done to a squirrel? Apricots literally just "hang out".

It sickens me to have to scrape half-eaten apricots off the ground and then bury in my backyard lime pit. The waste of food perpetrated by vermin is disgusting to me. I assure you, the apricots that survived frequent raids were salvaged by me and allowed a "vermin free environment" in my garage to ripen to maturity.


I had only a small handful that made it through, but they were sweet, delicious, and thankful that The Cured Ham tried to help. 

In his final interview, the apricot known only as Old Softy to his cousins, said "Thanks" and oozed apricot juice as he was picked up by The Cured Ham and quickly sliced in half for breakfast crepes. 

Apricots are like any other stone fruit, they just want to be placed in crepes, eaten whole, or put in a small crumble. Not bitten by squirrels or pecked by birds.



The Cured Ham and TL Garden 2011

The Sun is Out and it's time to garden! We'll see what type of crop grows this year. 2010 was a little weak and a little cold. We're giving these plants a head start under the make-shift greenhouse. How do you like those old-school blue plastic weights from the 70's holding down the plastic?


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Colca Canyon Garden

While not specifically food related, this flower was growing in the same garden that our food was prepared from during our time in the Colca Canyon. I have no idea what the flower is, only that it was photogenic.

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Foggy River Farm, Healdsburg

It's been an odd summer, a bit cool in Northern California. I shop for a lot of my food locally and a regular stop at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market is Foggy River Farm They've got a good little story and high quality produce. If I traveled less, I would consider the market box, until then, a la carte for The Cured Ham.

Farmer Lynda also writes a blog

I like what she's saying about Organic, which they are not. Remember, Organic is determined by the Federal Government, writer of the Tax Code and other such modern documents. And of course fees are involved. Foggy River is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

Highlights at Foggy River this summer for me have been their celery, squash, heirloom tomatoes, beets, potatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, and carrots. These squash blossoms are beautiful and delicious. And no, you can do something other than fry them.

Protein tends to be the star of most meals, but without a supporting cast of vegetables (I swear, their celery is really good) it would be like eating out at Morton's or Ruth Chris, just protein on a plate.


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