We’ll get to the soup in a bit.  Right now I want to update the garden.  This could be a short post, “the garden is done”  actually the garden is never done.  Looking at seed catalogs on a snowy day is a gardening activity.

The tomatoes are done.  I pulled up the plants and gathered the red and green tomatoes.  Now, I have to decide what to do with the green tomatoes.  DSCF0008I let the ladies and Jack into the garden to clean up where the tomato plants were.DSCF0012As you can see they didn’t stay just where the tomatoes were.  Jack is in with the carrots.  Not much left in this garden, some leeks, carrots and parsley.  The other garden has kale left in it.

On to the soup.  I took a walk through some of the conservation land in town the other day, looking for mushrooms.  Found a nice “hen of the woods”, about the size of a cabbage.  Cleaned it and cut it up.  Froze three, 1 quart bags and made soup with the rest.

hen of the woods

hen of the woods


Wild mushroom soup.

4-6 cups of mushrooms,  1/4 cup leeks or onions, 2-3 tbsp olive oil,  1-2 cloves of garlic,  1/2 cup white wine, 1 cup of chicken broth, 1-2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups water as needed, salt and pepper to taste.

I’m very flexible with ingredients and amounts when I make soup.

Saute the leeks and garlic in olive oil till soft, add the mushrooms and cook till they brown slightly,  add the chicken broth and wine,  simmer 10 minutes.  Puree in 2 batches in a blender adding water as needed.  Return to soup pot, add cream, simmer a couple of minutes to blend the flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh soft pretzels warm from the oven.  I have a small bowl with melted butter to dip the pretzels in.

leeks and carrots

leeks and carrots


mumsDSCF0005more mums



Three years ago I bought a bag of dahlia bulbs at a chain department store.  They grew very large and bright flowers all summer long.  Here in New England the winters are too cold for the bulbs to be left in the garden so they have to be dug up and stored for the next season.  I thought my cellar was too damp and warm for a successful winter storage so I did something else.  Beside my garage foundation I dug a hole in the soft back-fill about 18 inches deep, buried the bulbs and covered the dirt with a small pile of fall leaves.  When I dug them up in the spring most of them were fine.  I still bury them beside the garage foundation but I put them in a 5-gallon pail with the wire handle standing straight up, so the top of the handle is just above the top of the dirt.  This is a much easier way to find the bulbs in the spring and to retrieve them without damaging them with your shovel.  I dug them up this weekend, split the large ones into two bulbs and planted them.

5-gallon pail with dahlia bulbs  5/12/13

5-gallon pail with dahlia bulbs 5/12/13

dahlia bulbs 5/12/13

dahlia bulbs 5/12/13

My original spading fork after digging in New England soil, ROCKY soil, for many years and bending one tine back too many times, broke.  A three tined fork just didn’t work as well.  I didn’t throw it out, it might be useful somehow, someday.  Well 2 years ago when my back was screaming at me for too much digging and spading in the garden I thought about one of those T-handled digging tools that turned your garden by twisting the T-handle.  Being a “frugal yankee”  I took my old spading fork, put a broom handle through the fork handle and gave it a try.  It worked rather well, had to be wired into place but it worked.  Well, it did until the fork handle twisted off of the fork.  No problem, I bolted a heavier T-handle to the old wooden fork.  This worked all through last year and a little of this season.     Then the old wooden fork handle split with all of the twisting.  I needed something stronger.  An old piece of 3/4 pipe, some bending and a new T-handle and we are good to go.  This reused spading fork works great.  It has long tines so it loosens the soil to a nice depth and is very easy on my back.

old spading fork with a twist

old spading fork with a twist

Now the mushroom.  Three or four years ago I bought 3 types of mushroom plug spawn from Fungi Perfecti;  Maitake, Shiitake and Pearl Oyster.  The Shiitake and Pearl Oyster produced mushrooms for a couple of years and then slowed to a stop.  Or so I thought.  I found this Shiitake growing on one of my larger logs this weekend.  It’s going on the grill this week .

Shiitake mushroom 5/12/13

Shiitake mushroom 5/12/13

Shiitake mushroom, gill side 5/12/13

Shiitake mushroom, gill side 5/12/13

I grilled this shiitake mushroom for supper tonight.  Marinated it briefly in vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Ten minutes gill side down , flipped and added slices of mozzarella cheese. Removed from grill when cheese started to melt, cut in half and made 2 sandwiches. A very nice evening supper.


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