Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower and Spring Onions with Bacon

I hosted a small lunch with four fine ladies.  We had an Asparagus Gruyere Tart and this scrumptious dish.  Sweet tender cauliflower, just dug green onions and bacon.  Mmmm, bacon.  You can't mess this one up if you tried.

Roasted Cauliflower and Spring Onions with Bacon

8-10 slices thick cut bacon

1 Head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed
1 bunch spring onions
3 Tbls Olive Oil
Salt and FGP

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Arrange bacon on tinfoil-lined baking sheet.  Cook in oven for 15-20 minutes or until evenly browned and crispy.  Drain bacon on paper towel, let cool.  Stack and slice bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.  This may be done ahead of time.  Warning: your whole house will be filled with the intoxicating aroma of sizzling pig.

Slice trimmed head of cauliflower in half.  Then slice each half into 1/4-inch slices.  Place on baking sheet.  Cut off just the root portion of the onions.  Slice onions diagonally into 2 to 3-inch pieces. Toss with cauliflower.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and FGP and toss.  Roast in 450-degree oven for 20 minutes (carefully turning a few times) or until browned and tender but not soft.

Add bacon, toss, and serve warm.  Serves 6.

©Sweat Bread 

*For dessert, I must add, we had Smitten Kitchen's Big Crumb Cake with Rhubarb.  The cake is all hers so I can't take credit here, but I'm proud to say, the Rhubarb was all mine.  Make it and weep.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Forest's Lace Curtains

North Carolina's state tree is the Long Leaf Pine.  But, her state flower is the flowering Dogwood.  It is so beautiful and delicate, thought the blossoms are quite big.  From pale green, to cream-colored, to white or even pink, these blooms are booming right now, everywhere!  They grow wild in the forests but have tamed and captured our hearts.  Lovely Dogwood.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Early Spring at Sarah P Duke Gardens: A Tour

I'm inside now.  And have been for the past few days (except to get the eggs and chase the chickens back into the backyard (they've been hopping the fence again).  It is late on Sunday night.  I've got my furry boots back on and snacking off mini rye toasts and creamy brie.  Cranberry Pomegranate juice is sitting next to me on ice. I've turned the heat back on.

So how about a glimpse at a tour we took last Friday on Duke campus.  The Sarah P Duke gardens, they are a delight in every season.  I was hoping the giant Wisteria would be in full bloom because our smaller version is bursting with shades of purple and competing with the hyacinths for "best smelling" flower ever.

I find myself drawn to these gardens for inspiration.  What is coming up now?  What is in bloom?  Where is it planted? Here is what we found:

The Wisteria, not in full bloom, not even close.  

Yet, somehow it still manages to maintain gorgeous curves.  

But the bulbs, oh the bulbs!!!  Loved this yellow display.

These?  Are they pink anenomes?  

Flowering Cherry above Rosemary.

Stunning shapes at every turn.

I want this.  Have no idea what it is, but ... fantastic!

Made a mental note to plant some parrot tulips like these this Fall.

The remains of some little ducklings left in the pine straw. A fun find by Hazel.

The new and improved pond!

Look closely and you'll see the silhouette of a Harry Walker Contorta tree.  This is where we discovered this beauty and Dr. Gooch planted one near the screen porch.

In Spring it sprouts these romantically dangling flowers.

It's a Hellebores convention!!

purple and red, so royal

'Do Tell' how many years it will take to get my peonies this big and healthy?

Kissimus Profundis, a rare sight

These long-leaf pines are almost sacred here in North Carolina

One can see why.

For you, Dad.  A purple Lilac in bloom!  It is called Daphne Genkwa, from China.  

A shade-loving shrub that blooms in winter and early spring.  Edgeworthia Chrysantha, or Paperbush.  I want one.

Avery sits on the stone stamens of a Dogwood bloom hewn in rock. 

 I've saved the Dogwoods and Camelias for another day.  They each deserve a post of their own.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011




Dr. Gooch de-ghettoed our planter off the back porch. He covered the cinder block with real rock veneer stones.  I love the improvement.   I planted Hellebores and some ground cover amid the Hydrangea.  They all like shade and bloom at different times.  Now, if we can just keep the chickens from digging around in the dirt.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sowing Indoors for Transplants

It looks like it might freeze Sunday and Monday night.  It IS still March, after all.  Such a tease, March.  Perfect time to start your warm season crops indoors.  Here I did eggplant (because I LOVE eggplant in all its many forms), two varieties of tomatoes, and tomatillos. [The edamame like best to be direct sown in warm soil.  This is our first year for tomatillos and edamame.

I like these biodegradable seed starters.  You can just rip them apart and stick the whole thing in the ground.  I have a favorite potting soil, too.  Happy Frog!  My friend and Gardener Mentor, Brie, introduced me to it.  It has the best consistency.  It is not a sterile soil, which is what is often recommended for starting seeds, but it has always served me well.

The biggest problem with seedlings started inside is legginess.  Something we all wish we had, right?  If the little plants get too tall (as they reach for the light in your window sill, they will flop over and have a hard time surviving the elements out of doors.  If you have a sunroom ... well, I'm jealous.  Just give them as much light as possible for as many hours of the day as possible, even moving them around if needed.

All these seeds take between 7-10 days to germinate, then I'll probably give them another week or two to mature (and for the weather to warm up) before transplanting them outside in the raised beds.

One of my favorite things about this area is the LONG growing season.  Then after the plants are spent by August, we have time before the chill hits for a whole other crop.  Year round planting AND four seasons?  Sign me up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How To Raise Chickens: 10 Easy Steps

1.  Build a small coop in the back corner of your yard with a roosting bar and laying "boxes" inside.  Or a small portable A-frame.
2.  Up to four Chickens per laying box.
3.  Get a water and feed apparatus.
4.  Line with straw.
5.  Make sure you have a fenced in yard if you have "close" neighbors
6.  Make sure you are not attached to any plants, shrubs or grass or mulch in your backyard.
7.  Buy a few chicks at around $3/each.
8.  Raise to 6 months for laying hens. (Kill and eat any roosters in the batch)
9.  Collect eggs.
10.  Make omelets galore.

(Repeat steps 7-10)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


These tulips are huge!  I wish they would last all summer.  But, I've been sticking seeds in the ground for that future flower show.  It feels like magic to me.  Plant tiny barely visible specks and poof! 

I planted jalapenos, cantaloupe and cucumbers yesterday.  I was picking up some Hellebores from the nursery and I couldn't resist these ready to plant varieties.  They are warm weather crops, but we have warm weather ahead of us and I'm willing to cover them if we by chance dip back in the 30s again.  If the need arises, I'll cover with a sheet, just don't use plastic if you have to do this, too.  Glad to get a head start because the melons take over 80 days to mature.  Good things come to those...

I used green onions from the garden in the green goddess dressing at our double birthday celebration on Sunday.  Also, the Rhubarb is ripe, just in time for a few spring brunches in our immediate future.  Pinch or cut the buds off the Rhubarb so all the energy goes into the edible stems.  Yummy tart desserts ahead!  


Check out my new sidebar feature "Harvesting Now"!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick, Butter-Braised Cabbage

For March 17th, I wanted something Irishy.  Braised cabbage.  Because I love cabbage.  But the recipe I looked up was brazenly asking for 2+ hours of my time.  It was already after 5:00.  So, here it is, a quick braised cabbage for all you Irish Procrastinators.  It was very satisfying.


1 Head green cabbage, chopped into pieces
1 onions, chopped into little moons
3 generous pats of real butter (maybe 4-5 Tbls)
Salt and FGP
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

Melt butter over medium heat in skillet.  Once melted, add cabbage and onions.  Salt and FGP to taste, add pepper flakes.  Cook for no longer than 3 minutes or until it looks like this:

Eat with potatoes and corned beef or solo.  Eat more for lunch the next day.  Serves 4.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Right Now

Every Friday here at Sweat Bread, we'll take a stroll in the vegetable garden to see what's growing or going on now.  A Friday Forage, if you will.

Bok Choy sprouts

Lettuce, Italian mix, that I flung free-hand.  And if you cut as the leaves mature you don't even have to thin out the plants.  

Look close here for carrot seedlings, really close.  I also just sprinkled these, but they will want to be thinned.  I may, or I may not.

Spring onions.  These survived the winter from a late fall planting. Bonus!  Behind them is a row of leeks and in front of them a row of spinach and cabbage.