Archives for June 2010

Earth to Table – a book review

Let me admit it right up front:  I’m a pushover for a beautiful book cover.  If a new book jacket features lush photography or an intriguing design, I usually can’t pass it up.  (That’s the one downside of my Kindle.  You still get to see the covers of the books you buy in e-format, but they’re in washed out shades of gray.  Not very appealing.)

So that explains how I happened across a new book by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann called Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm.

Crump and Schormann, according to the jacket flap, are chefs and members of the slow food movement, which is an international effort to preserve regional and traditional cuisine.  Slow “foodies” also support local farming and livestock practices.  There’s a political element to their movement, in that members want to raise awareness about the dangers of depending on too few genomes and varieties in our food supply, and that’s one reason it interests me.   I’m convinced that we need to save our heirloom food and flower varieties, and not let them disappear because big corporations control what kinds of seeds and plants we can buy.

Slow foodies also encourage organic gardening, as opposed to the use of potentially dangerous pesticides, and remind us that the opposite of “slow food,” which is fast food, isn’t a particularly good nutritional choice for most of us.

But back to the book.  Turns out it’s as beautiful on the inside as the outside.  The book is packed with how-to tips on such things as creating a compost pile, canning and preserving, and planting an herb garden.  Each chapter also contains seasonal recipes, so you can best use whatever is growing in your garden at any given time of year.

I won’t use everything I read about in this book; I can’t see myself gathering and preparing a dish of stinging nettles for my family, for example, and no matter how luscious some wild mushrooms may appear, I’m not going harvest my own for the table.  I’ve read too many warnings about how poisonous ‘shrooms can mimic the kind that are safe to eat.

But there’s plenty more that I can use, like a recipe for a refreshing watermelon drink sweetened with honey and tarted up with lime.  I’m already planning to make a Chez Panisse recipe from the book that makes corn soup with fresh corn, garlic, white wine vinegar, chicken stock, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Sounds delicious served with cayenne pepper sprinkled on top.
There’s a recipe for a beet salad made with heirloom beets, feta, and pumpkin seeds, and one for roasted autumn fruits.

I also enjoyed reading the profiles of heirloom cooks, dairymen and women, and farmers.  Makes me determined to eat more local and seasonal foods, not only to benefit the economy in my area, but also to improve the quality and taste of the meals I serve my family!

“Lord, make me see Thy glory in every place” – Michelangelo

June flowers

I knew my gardenia bush was blooming before I even saw it, because I could smell the perfume of the flowers from my porch last week.
I love June–that’s when my gardenias put on their best show.

Fortunately, these beautiful white flowers don’t seem to be bothered by pests or diseases, even in our hot, humid weather.

These purple petunias and orange blossoms are in a big pot on my front porch. The heat hasn’t slowed them down at all.  The picture on the right shows how they’re planted alongside scarlet red geraniums–love the “hot” color combination.

And this little turtle has been wandering around in my garden for several days; as you can see, he’s burrowed into some pine straw here. I wondered why he was hanging around, since we’ve been feeding some kittens in the yard–until we caught him eating the dry cat food one day.  Who knew?

“We give thanks to thee, O God; we give thanks; we call on thy name and recount thy wondrous deeds.” Psalm 75:1.


This week-end is the 3rd annual Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival in Douglasville, GA, and the hydrangeas have been more beautiful this summer than in years and years.  Maybe the heavy rains we had several months ago got them “plumped up” and ready to bloom, or maybe it was the late spring temperatures, which were cold, but not freezing.  Anyway, they are gorgeous!
This is a lace-cap, in case you aren’t familiar with hydrangeas.  The larger flower, shown above, is a mophead type.
You can modify the pH level in your soil to change the color of your hydrangea flowers, but I’ve never tried it.  I like these just the way they are!
By the way, if you’re looking for a source for hydrangeas, one of the best nurseries I’ve found is Wilkerson Mill Gardens, in Palmetto, GA (I am not affiliated with them in any way, and actually, I haven’t visited there in several years.  But when I used to go regularly, they were great.)
They have a wide selection of unusual and hard to find plants, and they take good care of them, so you don’t pay hard-earned money to get your plants home and find them root-bound or sickly.  They also know their stuff and can answer your questions.  Wilkerson Mill doesn’t ship plants during the summer months, but I think they’ll resume shipping in September or when the temperatures cool down.  Check out their website for lots of helpful how-to-grow information.