Dinner from the garden: first cabbage!

Hooray! Three months of dedication have led to my first harvested cabbage! A 5 pounder at that. It was chopped into jalapeno coleslaw and used to top Oliver's grilled Amberjack tacos. Since we had company over for dinner Oliver broke out fancy beer for dessert too (Founders CBS is divine).

Today is a very good day. Hoping you all can say the same. XO - Cullen 


We've got five awesome heads of cabbage quickly coming our way. Unlike the dozens of lettuce plants, I don't plan on pawning these darlings off on anyone. I've got plans for these leafy greens!

Foremost, I want to make kimchi! I've been looking up recipes. It seems like it may be a challenge but not impossible. If it goes well I'll be gifting jars of kimchi to my friends and family for the rest of the year.

Then I want to try sauerkraut. We don't have a fermenting crock but I've found a recipe or two that doesn't require one. 

And finally, my jalapeno coleslaw!

In other garden news: the eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach and leeks are looking great! Although I'm at a loss at to what to put in the cabbages' place once they're gone. Needs to be short, must do well in 8 hours of direct sun and should be front yard/main intersection appropriate. Any suggestions?


Spring Garden 2012: Week Ten


It's week 10 for the cabbage and bibb lettuce. The bibb lettuce shown in the top right photo is over 2 feet tall. (I had no idea lettuce could be 2 feet tall.) The cabbages have started to form solid heads and should be ready to pick in a week or two. I plan to make some of my jalapeno cole slaw but I think we also need to start looking for a sour kraut recipe or two! 

The strawberries are ripening one by one... I wonder if we will ever have more then one at a time. 
I added a watermelon vine today. It's our first time trying melon; I'm excited to see how it grows. Fruit should be ready to eat just in time for the hottest part of the summer! 

The three tomato plants are doing well. The top photo is the Phoenix Hybrid; the bottom photo is the Beefmaster. Not shown is the Rutgers heirloom. We transplanted it from a pot into the ground today and it's not looking too good. Hoping it rebounds soon. 

Also in the garden but not shown here: many pepper varieties, eggplant, spinach, leeks, spearmint, kale and arugula (left over from winter), onions, carrots, basil and thyme. 

Spring Garden 2012: Week Eight

I took pictures of the garden just before I picked salad greens for our party on Saturday. Our lettuces are at their peek. We have so many that I think we're about to start giving them away to our neighbors. (If anyone wants some free organic lettuce give us a shout!) If you compare the photos of  arugula from two weeks ago with those taken today you'll see that the plants grew a foot and bloomed. I just pulled out two and bagged the leaves for salad later this week. In their place we added more eggplants and peppers. The cabbage are still a big source of pride for me. I showed them off to every party guest that would humor me (thanks you guys). They're just so unexpectedly BEAUTIFUL! They've certainly added a new level of interest (to me) for cool weather vegetable gardening.

Spring Garden 2012: Week Six

The spring garden is growing like gangbusters. With daily inspection and removal of worms the cabbage have bounded back from their pest infestation. The lettuce and arugula are growing faster then we can eat them. Spinach is starting to look like spinach. Actual strawberries are appearing and we're becoming more certain that the leeks are leeks (and not chives). Two weeks ago three tomato plants were added: Beefsteak, Phoenix (like the symbol of Atlanta) and an heirloom. As well as an eggplant and three types of peppers. Dinner for the rest of the week will be lettuce from our garden with soft boiled eggs!

And while the plants love the springtime sun for growing.... it seems Topher loves it for something else - napping.

Good things are good


1. Avocado on whole wheat sour dough toast with a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of fresh lemon and sprinkle of red pepper flakes; it's one of our favs. We first had it at The Jane Hotel in NYC while staying there two Aprils ago. (It was breakfast the day he surprised me with a ring at MOMA). 
2. Our beautiful homegrown Bibb lettuce. Picked just before dinner and made into a salad. I'm so proud!
3. Toasted chick peas with cinnamon and chili pepper.
4.  My new favorite Chocolove bar: dark chocolate with almond and sea salt. Bite size squares that you can make last all week. Perfect alone or with a glass of red wine! 

NO! You worms leave my cabbage alone!

Anyone who successfully grows anything organically has my full respect. If my organic goods were to appear at market they'd be chockful of pest holes. My five seasonal attempts at vegetable gardening have made me appreciate that every extra  dollar paid for an organic fruit or vegetable was well deserved. BRAVO to those who can do it and do it well!

As you might be able to tell - I'm having some pest issues; specifically with my cabbage.

We first spotted holes in the cabbage on Monday. Oliver Googled them and thinks they're most likely Cabbage Worms. The underside of our biggest leaves are pocked with the craters of opened eggs.  The organic solution is to (and I quote) "hand-pick and destroy any worms you find". Hi, for my more girly friends and readers, as well as those who consider them self squeamish, the organic solution to save my beautiful and cherished cabbages is to pick off increasingly large worms with my hands and squish them between my fingers. Oh great.

Monday, Oliver and I both took a turn thoroughly looking over every single cabbage leaf and smooshing every worm we found. Tuesday and Wednesday it was looking like our work had paid off. But today there was sudden resurgence in worm destruction. As soon as I got home from the office I threw on long pants and a long sleeve t-shirt (over my work clothes) and planted myself on all fours in front of our garden. The next six weeks it may be me versus the worms; welcome to battle at the GARDENDOME! It's worm smooshing season.
*Note: the three worms shown in my photos are not the smallest ones I squished.

Daffodils in the onion patch and other random things

In the backyard we have two kale plants (troopers planted last fall) and a few rows of onions. There was a moment last month when we got very excited because it looked like one of the onion plants had had  a major growth spurt. Then we realized - it was a daffodil planted in the "onion patch" a year or two earlier. Looks like we forgot where we planted our perennials. Opps...

The plants in the front yard are making progress - some for better, some for worse. The cabbage and bibb lettuce look great but two of the arugulas have already bloomed. That is not so good. According to everything I've found on the web, flowering arugula signals "that the season is ending and it's time to replace it with a warm weather crop"...


Last week's meals didn't get a lot of attention. That was due to a stressful work week not a lack of homemade goodness. Dinners were cabbage soup (shown here with potato pancakes and greek yogurt). Lunches were pinto beans. Breakfasts were oatmeal with coconut and banana. The work stress did crumble my no-weekday-booze goal (Tuesday I went straight from the office to our local watering hole) but it did not effect my ability to make it to the gym three times. (Yay! I have officially crossed into the 130s.)

Photo from Sunday's brewday. A month from now we'll be enjoying Oliver's double IPA on tap from our dinning room! Not shown here: the sudden cold temperatures and strong winds.

Topher on Sunday morning. 

Geaux LSU Tigers!

Spring vegetable garden 2012


February 18, 2012: The start of our vegetable garden for 2012! This is the first time we've planted in front of the house; until now there has been a slowly dying, ancient dogwood in the same space. We chose the spot because it gets the most direct springtime sun (something all of these plants require). The side and backyards get hardly an hour or two but we will return to them for tomato and eggplant season. (Speaking of tomato season - notice the grape tomatoes in the Blood Mary. They're the ones Oliver pickled from our very last summer 2011 harvest. Dill flavor, yum!)

I'm excited about the possiblity of eventually eating all of our pretty little plants but I'm equally apprehesive about squirrels running off with them. It's a problem I'm not sure how to address. Also, we're not sure the leeks are actually leeks. How could they be? They're so densely packed and skinny? Time will tell. Oliver thinks they are mislabled chives. And finally, was this too early in the season to put plants in the ground (as opposed to seeds)? Guess I'll be watching the weather closely and be ready with a ground cover if needed! Wish us luck!