the garden

My mom has always kept a gardening notebook through the years, to jot down notes and ideas for the garden she keeps with my dad. It's a small green (or is it yellow?) notebook that she fills with lists of what they planted each year, tiny sketches of where they planted everything, and tips for the next year. I've always loved paging through it and have decided to keep my own for our garden this year. Or, at least, I'm trying to. Right now my notebook contains a list of what to buy from the nursery that I wrote earlier this Spring, and the warranties for our boxwoods and rose bush tucked into the back pages. It's sad, but it's a start, eh?

In case you're curious, here's a list of what we planted this year, that I plan on writing down, with a pen, into my notebook. Sometime. Eventually.

3 rows of lettuce: butter, and romaine, for salads and sandwiches. Eh. We're not that impressed, and will try for a crispier variety next summer.
2 green pepper plants: for stir fry! Or stuffed peppers! Mayyybe salsa, if we can grow more than three.
1 row of green beans: for tossing with salt, pepper, butter, and lemon juice. And for freezing, when we're desperate for something fresh-tasting in the middle of January.
1 row of sugar snap peas: for picking and crunching into while lazily watching Ralph make tracks around the lawn with his tiny lawn mower. See also: stir fry! Note for next summer: don't plant them near the fence, because bunnies.
3 cucumber plants: bush pickles, actually. Extra crunchy and sweet, with small seeds. Perfect for pickling, and midday snacking, and drenching in bleu cheese dressing.
1 zucchini plant: for sweet zucchini bread, and that one dish with onions and tomatoes and basil and olives and cheeeeese.
3 tomato plants: my favorite. for stews and soups and sauces, and most especially, slicing and slurping.
1 cherry tomato plant: for the pop! factor.
1 strawberry plant: for, let's face it, the birds. We've managed to snag two that hadn't been pecked. Note for next year: some sort of cage?
Honorable mentions: my sweet herbs, sage, oregano, parsley, chives, rosemary, and mint. You have some work to do, dill and cilantro. You too, thyme.

Now tell me what you're planting! I love this stuff.

a recipe | summer lemonade

It's nearing that time of summer where back-to-school ads are arriving in the mail, and shelves of notebooks and loose leaf paper are stacked up at the store. I'm a lover of the changing of seasons, and usually things like this give me twinges of excitement, even if they always do show up a bit too soon. But this year I'm scrolling past all the pins and posts filled with sweaters and apple crisps much more quickly than I did last year. This summer has just been too good to think about it ending yet.

But. As much as I'm not looking, I see you, bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils. I figured I better get these recipes up before people start wishing for a hot cuppa cider over a glass of cold lemonade.

I've made these lemonades a handful of times already, and they don't last long in our fridge. The classic lemonade goes great with grilled burgers and oven fries, and the minty peach is exceptional with ice and a couple glugs of whiskey. If I do say so myself.

Classic Lemonade
1 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 6 lemons
3-4 cups water

Combine first two ingredients in a pitcher, and add water to taste. Stir or shake, and chill before serving.

. . .

Minty Peach Lemonade
1 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 6 lemons
1 ripe peach, cut into chunks
a handful of mint leaves
1 tsp sugar
3-4 cups water

Combine first two ingredients in a pitcher. In a bowl, combine the peach, mint leaves, and sugar, and muddle until juicy. Strain out solids, and pour the remaining juice to your pitcher. Add water to taste. Stir or shake, and chill before serving.

. . .

Simple Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water

Combine ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil on stove, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Makes approximately 2 cups.