The case of the mystery peas…

 

Last night Husband came home from mom and dad’s with an armful of mail and a ziplock baggie on the counter full of fresh garden peas.

I was standing in the kitchen feeding the baby and he plopped that ziplock down on the counter next to me.

“Your dad thought you might want these,” he said. “They’re from his garden.”

I held the spoon full of smushed plums in a hover position in front of my wiggling baby and with my other hand I examined that bag of peas in disbelief and envy.

“He does NOT have peas yet!” I declared to my husband who had moved on with his life, and pulled the hover spoon from my hand and into the baby’s mouth.

“No wayyyy!!!” I declared again.

“Yup,” said the man I married.

In my head I visualized the plants I examined in his garden just week before. In my head I thought there was no way they could have flowered and grown a plethora of vegetables while I was away on a camping trip for the love of Martha Stewart.

But my head was foggy. I was tired. Turns out the baby doesn’t sleep much on camping trips.

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And neither does her mom.

The dad?

The dad could sleep on the back of a cheetah chasing after a gazelle in the jungle. Wait, do cheetahs even live in the jungle?

Probably  not.

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I don’t even know things anymore. Earlier that morning I sneezed and immediately said “Pew.” Instead of “excuse me.” And then, realizing my error, I corrected it by saying “Thank you.” In front of all the family. They are very likely concerned. But what the hell? This baby took all of my brains.

Anyway, back to the peas. I left them sitting on the counter without further discussion while I went about making supper, cleaning up the baby, throwing a load of camping blankets in the washing machine and generally biding my time before the child went down for the night so I could too.

But I couldn’t get past the peas. He couldn’t possibly have peas already. Didn’t they just sprout a few weeks ago? Mine are barely visible leaves in a sea of black dirt out front. And while he planted them on Memorial Weekend like he was supposed to, and used a pile of sheep manure, and watered and weeded and basically pulled out his A+ horticulturalist game, there is no way that little vegetable plot could be that far along and that far ahead of mine…

Unless…

Husband came out from putting the baby down and sat in his chair. I plopped down the ottoman and stared blankly out the window while I mulled over my conclusion before turning Husband and declaring…

“I’m pretty sure dad transplanted his garden from a greenhouse. I mean, think about it. One day his garden is dirt and the next he has full fledged plants. I never saw the in-between! That has to be it. Those pea plants were started already when he put them in the ground. It makes sense. Makes total sense!!”

“Those peas were from the Farmer’s Market.”

“Wait. What?”

“Your dad. He got them from the Farmer’s Market.”

“Wait. What Farmers Market?”

“The one in Minnesota. He thought it would be funny to give them to you and tell you they were his. I didn’t know how long to let it go. He thought it would be funny to mess with you. And it was.”

Well that explains it.

If you need me I’ll be out in my garden…

Because this. This is what I’m dealing with.

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Garden Wars…

I’m having gardener’s remorse.

Up until now I didn’t know that was a thing, but it’s a thing.

My big fat mouth got me in trouble last year when I went around waving my giant carrots and perfect, beautiful green beans around like I was Queen of the Prairie and I opened up a can of worms that’s too full now to close.

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Yup, you probably remember it from last year. I dared say “My garden’s better than your garden” to Pops and now he’s throwing down the gauntlet.

And it’s not looking good for me.

In fact, at this point, I think I’ll be lucky to get a radish, seeing how, after ten trips to the garden (and ten back inside to soothe a fussy baby) I finally got the thing in a few weeks ago and now, no matter how I squint, I am pretty certain my peas are not coming up.

And neither is the spinach.

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But even if they did decide to make an appearance, it would have only been to face the magic cow who somehow got by the dogs and the fence to take a little stroll through the beans and a stomp on the cucumbers, the only vegetation in the entire plot that showed promise, besides the thistle.

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Meanwhile, down the road, Pops, who’s typically a pretty laid back horticulturalist, went to a special store and bought sheep poop for crying out loud!

I saw it in bags on his driveway in April and I knew shit was about to get real, in more ways than one you know…

And, before he had to endure last year’s episode of coming over to ask for tomatoes because his had contracted some unsightly spots, Pops would have shared this useful little gardening tip with me.

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But not now. Nope. Because I guess I was a little too cocky about my endless supply of cucumbers and those spotless tomatoes, and, well, he’s just not having it.

Not this year.

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This year he bought sheep poop.

And I’m not positive, but I think he let that cow in my yard…

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Coming Home: Reaping what I sowed with garden boasting
6-26-16
by Jessie Veeder
InForum
http://www.inforum.com

Lord, it’s good to be humble.

It’s a lesson I’ve implemented in my daily life since discovering, at a young age, just as soon as I think things are moving along swimmingly is about the exact time I fall on my face.

Unless it comes to mini golf. Or bowling. Or board games … you know, all the things that matter most in life.

Yeah, give me a tiny golf club and I’ll ride it around the mini-golf course, galloping and whooping at my (lucky) hole-in-one. My team guesses my spot-on impression of Cher during a heated game of charades, and I am queen of the living room.

Get a strike in bowling, and the entire alley gets to witness my shopping cart/running man/stir-the-butter victory moves.

It’s obnoxious. People stare. And unless they’re on my team in charades, it makes my family roll their eyes.

But I’m afraid I’ve stepped out of my boasting comfort zone, taking that happy dance from the safety of the bowling alley and into a place where I might require a little more skill and a little less booze.

A place where talent and knowledge has been honed and passed on through the centuries by the masters of the craft.

A place that has been feeding men, women, children and the wily bunny for ages — the family garden.

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I blame it on last summer’s pregnancy hormones. I think they made me overconfident in my ability to successfully grow things, and maybe those hormones had something to do with the big fat tomatoes, the giant carrots and the never-ending supply of beans that appeared in full force despite the fact that I didn’t get a thing planted until late June.

Or maybe it was the magic in the soil my husband dug from in front of the old barn where cows have been pooping for a million years, but oh Lord, did I have a great garden.

And Lord, did I ever brag about it.

Check the newspaper archives for August 2015. You’ll see the evidence.

And when Dad, the man who has been growing things since he was still growing himself, decided not to plant beans or peas because of the wily deer who sneaks in the fence for a snack every night and then found that his tomato plants turned up with spots, when he humphed about his garden looking a little shabby, well, I took it as an invitation to make sure my biggest carrots and most perfect tomatoes were on the table when he came over.

And then I sent him home with a plastic bag full of peas and an “I’m sure sorry about your garden” comment through the smirk on my face.

But now I’m in trouble.

Because apparently an arrogant horticulturalist doesn’t sit well with him, especially when he taught that arrogant horticulturalist everything she knows about planting carrot seeds and on her first attempt she’s somehow outdone him.

The man has found the whole thing entirely annoying, and now I’m afraid he’s stepping up his game in retaliation.

I sensed this might happen. There have been comments. Snide remarks. Sideways looks.

But it became pretty evident when I went over to his place earlier this spring to find 10 big bags of sheep manure waiting to be spread on that garden plot of his, a sign that he’s determined to put actual effort into a task that typically comes naturally to him and his green thumb.

And now I have a competition on my hands with the guy whom I rely on to water my garden when we’re out of town.

A competition that I’m currently losing because, with a baby in tow, it took me a good 10 attempts to get my garden in last week.

Dad? Well, his has been in since Memorial Day, just like the books tell you.

He’s in the zone, and I’m obsessively checking to see if the radishes have at least come up.

I think I better spend more time watering and less time on my victory dance.

Because, Lord, it’s good to be humble.

But, Dad, the growing season’s still young …

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Sunday Column: Husband’s Homemade Garden Tomato Soup

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The weather’s getting cooler, the leaves are changing and the tomato crop is ripening. Fall is in the air and that means sweaters and boots and soups for supper.

It’s perfect timing for the last few months of this pregnancy. I might as well load up on cream based broth and hearty ingredients accompanied by thick slices of bread or cheese sandwiches while it’s perfectly acceptable for my waistline to be thickening and my wardrobe consists of plenty of stretchy pants.

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So we’ve kicked soup season off right around here by visiting the garden and revisiting the homemade tomato soup recipe Husband concocted during the first fall  back home.

After a few years I think this September soup is a tradition now. I’ve shared the step by step, photographic journey documented in the tiny kitchen of the old ranch house on my blog every year, but this year I thought it was time I put it in the papers so the whole state would get a chance to do something really great with their tomato crop.

And last night we made it again, just shifting the ingredients a bit (celery salt instead of celery seed and skipping the dill weed because I couldn’t find it in the mess of my spice cabinet) and it turned out just lovely, just like it does every year. Little Sister was over to help me with a project, we called up mom and Pops and Husband started making up some sort of spectacular ham and cheese sandwich with like four different cheeses and we had ourselves a little Sunday feast.

And now I’m going to have to have him make those sandwiches again so I can follow him around and write that shit down, because well, we all need more versions of the grilled cheese in our lives…

So cheers to growing babies, waistlines and tomatoes. I hope you give yourself a chance to stir up this soup and sit down and enjoy it with the people (and a sandwich) you love.

Coming Home: Husband’s kitchen skills and
heavy cream make most of tomato crop
by Jessie Veeder

9-27-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com 

There are many things I like about our new season — more cool days, changing colors and cozy sweaters, and less bugs, lawn mowing and sweat.

Also, recently, fall means cool air coming in from the open windows at night and more reasons to steal my husband’s big flannels from his closet on my way out the door to take photographs before the sun sets on this quickly changing season.

Yes, these longer nights have their benefits. Like, my husband and I will be seeing a little more of each other across the supper table these days because supper time isn’t being ignored while we’re out in the barnyard or in the pasture somewhere squeezing every minute of sunlight from the day.

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And more time at the supper table means more time spent in the kitchen with the man I married who happens to be really good at cooking things like homemade noodles and casseroles and German heritage dishes and other things that require a large dollop of butter and an even bigger swig of heavy whipping cream — a requirement, I guess, if we want to pad up our rear ends in preparation for a long cold winter.

And it’s no coincidence that soup season comes rolling at the same time the tomato crop starts turning red, which only means that the man has been forced to come up with a delicious way to celebrate them.

And when I say forced, I mean “gently” persuaded by a growing pile of ripening tomatoes on the kitchen counter and a pregnant wife declaring that she’s starving over here.

So to honor it all, the changing season, my tomato crop, unwavering appetite, affinity for heavy whipping cream and my husband’s kitchen skills, I would like to share a recipe he concocted during our first autumn spent back at the ranch.

After finding me in the kitchen stomping, whining and nearly losing an eye to a jalapeño pepper after my first attempt at the age-old-tradition of salsa making, only to clean it all up, put my hands on my hips, reach for my goggles and declare that I was now going to attempt tomato soup — 8 p.m. — I think he felt the need to run interference.

And so I ditched the goggles, picked up a pen and followed him around the kitchen as he whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by that jalapeño pepper.

And I’m so glad that I did, because the thing with my husband’s cooking is that it’s all in his head, like a story or a song. If it’s not written down, the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

But I captured it in its original perfection and now we make it a tradition year after year.

‘Tis the season! May your tomatoes never be stranded again. Enjoy!

Cowboy’s Garden Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup (about 3 medium carrots) diced
  • ¼ of a large purple onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream (room temperature)

Directions

In a large soup pot add the diced tomatoes, carrots, onion and garlic to ¼ cup water and simmer on low for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the tomatoes start to gently boil. Stir in the tomato sauce, butter, seasonings and bouillon cubes and simmer the soup on low, allowing the onions and carrots to cook, about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, slowly stir in the heavy whipping cream and say “M’m! M’m! Good!” while Campbell sobs silently to himself.

Heat (don’t boil) for a few minutes, serve it up and have yourself a happy and well-fed fall.

Sunday Column: An advanced apology…

There’s not much more to say about this week’s column except that I find it sort of interesting how I decided to plant my first garden in the same year I’m pregnant with my first baby.

There’s a little juxtaposition between putting seeds into the ground unsure of how it all might come together come August or September and finding two lines on the pregnancy test and praying for smooth and healthy nine months ahead.

And month after month it’s grown a bit more difficult to bend my body over to weed, hoe and pick the growing things…because it turns out the season has been good to us…all we needed was a little sunshine and water.

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P.S. I’ve been looking for some different ways to use up my bean collection. Here’s a good recipe I tried last night. And while my main dish didn’t turn out as planned, these beans made up for it.  Loved them!!

Oven Fried Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
http://www.sugarfreemom.com

Coming Home: Garden gloating just a precursor to baby boasting
by Jessie Veeder
9-13-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

If this baby is growing as healthy as this little garden I planted outside my window, I’m telling you, you’re going to want to steer clear of me for a while. 

Because if I can get this obnoxiously proud of my straight, plump, perfect carrots, you can just start rolling your eyes now at all of the declarations of the cute chubby legs, perfectly round cheeks, the smiles/burps/giggles/hiccups and other regular adorable baby things that I am sure to exult about ad nauseam in your presence.

So this is your warning, your apology, because I’ve gotten a glimpse of the extent of my ridiculous pride this season as I tended to the little seeds I planted way too late in the summer and watched them, marveled at them, as they pushed up through the black dirt to become big, flowering plants that now—hallelujah!—are bearing all sorts of fruit.

Catch me out at the bank or in a coffee shop, and I’m warning you I will find a way to bring up my overzealous cucumber crop, offering up a bag of veggies to any acquaintance I meet.

Because I have cucumbers growing out of my cucumbers, beans appearing overnight and thousands of tomatoes just growing green and plump, taunting me and testing my patience as they take the time they need to turn red.

And apparently, this natural phenomenon that occurs when most gardeners put a seed in the ground turns me into some sort of proud garden momma who wants to shout “Look at this CUCUMBER!” from the rooftops.

While this is my first time growing a healthy baby, it’s not my first time growing a healthy garden. I was a 4-H kid, you know.

But now I’m a grown woman with a patch of dirt in my own yard with vegetables growing under my complete control and care and dang if it doesn’t turn out I have a green thumb, despite all of the wilty houseplants I’ve had to bury in the garbage over the years.

“Look at these CARROTS!!!” I declared, waving a bunch over my head like a trophy, sending black dirt flying toward the relatives who came over for an innocent visit turned garden harvest where I forced on them bags of beans, cucumbers, carrots and a lesson on how you need a dog to keep the deer out, a rigorous watering schedule and oh, you need to plant the radishes with the carrots, as if this gardening thing has everything to do with my knowledge and skillset and nothing to do with nature’s good dirt and sunshine.

I am nauseating and it turns out I just don’t care who I drive crazy in the process, including Pops, who called up last week to see how things were going and to finally admit that my garden came in better than his this year and “Dang it, it just p***es me off.”

That was his exact quote as I grinned and strutted around the kitchen on the other end of the line.

Because he voiced his doubts earlier this summer when he looked out at my dirt patch at the beginning of July.

And so did I.

But not anymore. Because look at these TOMATOES! This is my CALLING!

Till up the hillside, honey, next year I’m pulling out all the stops. Next year we’re planting corn and potatoes, strawberries and peppers, and I don’t even like peppers. Squash and pumpkins and gourds for the season; watermelon and sunflowers and marigolds next to the tomatoes to keep the bugs away; onions and herbs and a partridge in a pear tree and there I will live all summer long, me and this baby, weeding and hoeing and inspecting and marveling and obnoxiously making plans to can, dice, blanch and slice just like Martha Stewart herself.

Because look at this CUCUMBER! Now that’s a cucumber.

Yes, me and the earth and the sky, we made this and aren’t we good?

And if you think these pea plants are gorgeous, well, just wait until you meet my baby.

A cucumber crisis and a recipe for garden soup

photo (1)We’ve been through this before, but I have to tell you again. I have a cucumber situation.

And I owe you all a thank you for sending me along some great cucumber recipes to try to use up some of these veggies that multiply by ten every time the sun goes down and comes up again.

Seriously.

My other vegetables are coming along nicely, like at a regular and controllable pace. Need a carrot or two? Perfect, just head to the garden.

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Want fresh green beans? It seems just the right amount are waiting for me.

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But the cucumbers are out of control. I only have three plants and the fruit they are creating has now taken up the refrigerator in the garage and the one in the house.

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No room for milk or ketchup. Nope. Just cukes.

Last night Husband and I enjoyed a cucumber and bacon sandwich with a side of noodle, bacon and cucumber salad.

It was delicious.

I think I’ll have it for my mid-afternoon snack.

Last week I tried to get rid of some by offering to make a big batch of cucumber salad for my brother-in-law’s rehearsal dinner, but my other brother-in-law beat me to the punch. Apparently he has a cucumber issue himself.

Tomorrow I have plans to drop off a bundle to both my sisters in town and then maybe I’ll sell them on Ebay or something. Or bring them to the nursing home. I don’t know.

I will tell you that earlier in the season I did make one of your recommended recipes. I am not one to have many ingredients around, because, well, you know I’m 30 miles from town, why the hell would I plan ahead, so I picked one with the least amount of ingredients and fuss and proceeded to feel like Martha Stewart regardless.

Shelia recommended this one:

Soak cukes in salt water overnight (after you have peeled and sliced about three of them). 
Mix drained cukes with about half a cup of sour cream
A teaspoon of vinegar and 
A small onion, sliced. 

Mix well, cool and eat. 

So that’s what I did. And then I put it in a Tupperwear to take with us on a little anniversary picnic to the lake a few weeks back.

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So Shelia, congratulations, you made my life with these cukes a little more manageable and so you are the winner of the Jessie Veeder Music package (I’ll send ya my new Nashville album “Northern Lights” and a couple other fun things). Watch for an email from me soon.

But there were so many great recipes shared with me. I’m especially hankering to try Barb’s Sliced Refrigerator Pickles, because, well, the only thing that sounds better to me than bacon right now is pickles. And cukes are just pickles in training, so I’ll let ya know how that goes 🙂

In the meantime, I wanted to share a family recipe with you as a thank you. Mom made it for me as a birthday meal, and I’ve had it a few times when I was a little girl living close to my great grandmother in Grand Forks. Great Grandma had a big garden out back that my dad used to help her care for and grow. He spent a lot of time in there as I recall, probably missing the dirt and the growing things helped him feel closer to his agricultural roots while he was stuck between the sidewalks.

Anyway, this recipe runs in my great grandma’s family, on my mom’s side, and it is a perfect way to celebrate all the vegetables that we harvest at the end of the summer.

Aunt Maebelle’s Garden Soup

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These photos won’t do it justice because I had to use the camera on my phone, but I’ll tell you I love it because it uses lots of butter, but you don’t feel so bad about it because, you know, you’re also getting a healthy dose of fresh vegetables too.

The only thing that would make it better would be to add bacon, but that’s just me.

Here’s how you get it to come together:

  • Get out your 8 qt. or 12 qt. stainless steel soup kettle (Maebelle was very specific)
  • Dice 3 LARGE sweet onions (the “heart” of this soup)
  • Melt a 1/2 stick of butter in the soup kettle and add onion and saute slowly until they are soft (but not browned). It will take a while
  • Add 6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed and 6 large carrots, peeled and cubed to the onion an cover all with 3 cups of water. Cook gently. Stir.
  • When the carrots and potatoes are partially cooked, add 1 pound of yellow klax beans (summer only) and 1 pound green beans (fresh or frozen). Beans should be cut up in 1/2 inch pieces. (See what I’m saying about the specifics?)
  • Add lots of fresh chopped flat leafed parsley and lots of fresh dill (or dry dill weed)
  • Season with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper (to taste) (Going against Maebelle here, but if you have a favorite seasoning salt you can go with that too)
  • When the above has cooked, add a can of cream style corn and stir
  • (Now here’s my favorite part) Add 1/2 stick butter and let sit (not cooking) for 1 hour or so. (This seems weird, but it’s the rules)
  • Bring heat up and add 16 oz package of frozen petite peas
  • Add 1 1/2 quarts of whole milk (she was known to slip a little half and half in also)
  • Adjust to your own taste. Try not to add more than 3 cups water. Maybe more milk (or I say, some heavy cream)

photo 1 (5)Now, when I flipped the recipe card over I discovered that Maebelle often made “bullet” dumplings to add to this soup. I have never had this soup with dumplings, but I’m gonna try it. But for now, I think I’ve given you enough to simmer here.

My only regret is that it doesn’t call for cucumbers. But if your carrot and bean crop is healthy and your fridge if full of butter, you’re halfway there.

Happy gardening friends. I’ll call you all when my tomatoes finally turn red. I have a feeling this will be another vegetable outbreak in need of taming…

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In the garden: A recipe hunt.

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When I first moved back to the ranch five summers ago (five summers ago?) I made a list of the goals I wanted to accomplish in my new life here.

One of the first on the list, (among writing and recording an album and learning to make chokecherry jelly) was to plant a garden.

A house project, a business project, a baby project, a hundred ranch projects and five summers later I finally got around to it…but not until late June…you know, after the lawn was planted, the CD was released and the big wedding was complete.

I didn’t have much hope for the seeds being so late in the game, but the knowledge I gained from helping Pops plant his gardens year after year reassured me that some heat and water could get things moving along nicely.

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And boy have we had heat this summer.

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So I provided the water and the watchful eye and pretty soon, when I wasn’t looking, things started sprouting and reaching their limbs toward the sun.

Now, in the garden of my dreams I was going to plant potatoes, onions, strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, pumpkins, gourds, peppers, peas, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, watermelon, cucumbers for making pickles and cucumbers for slicing, spinach, beans and a partridge in a pear tree.

But because Husband didn’t have the time or the dirt required to dig up sixteen acres in front of our house and I’m pretty sure I planted my garden at 9 pm on a Thursday before I had to take off across the state for shows, I stuck to the seed packets I picked up at Farm and Fleet and called it good–dad’s leftover tomato plants, radishes, carrots, beans, peas, spinach and cucumbers.

I figured if all went well I’d start to see some vegetable action come August, and so here we are. I’ve already sent my harvest of radishes down the road to Pops, because I can grow ‘em but I don’t eat ‘em, but the rest had yet to yield, despite all the watering I catch Gus doing behind my back, if you know what I mean…

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Anyway, earlier this week I noticed a few little beans starting to poke out, some tomatoes that I’m impatiently waiting to see get their red on, and the tops of the carrots that show promise for what’s happening down below the ground. I even thought I saw some tiny little cucumbers starting to grow where the frogs hang out under the canopy of big leaves. The pea plants still looked a little sad, which was what I expected, having failed to give them the head start they deserved.

So I took a break from my big computer screen to step out into the mid-afternoon 100-degree heat and poked around among the frogs and hoppers and was pleasantly surprised by my findings…

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Overnight the beans started stretching from blossoms to veggies,

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the tomato plants seemed to have made a hundred more green tomatoes,

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the carrot tops grew a couple inches and, well, I’ll be dammed if there wasn’t peas big enough to eat.

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But the best part? The giant cucumbers that grew overnight, ripe and ready for slicing for our anniversary dinner tonight.

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And just like that I was reminded why people love to garden. Because it’s magic. It really is. One tiny seed, a little sun, water and patience, and one day you wake up to a harvest.

I loaded up those cucs and headed inside, feeling a little like a garden fairy or a wizard or some powerful creature like that.

Now I just need to harness the energy of the Internet and you my dear friends to help me figure out what to do with all of these vegetables!

So I’ll ask you this:
Share your favorite garden (or cucumber) inspired recipe with me and I will enter you all in for a chance to win my new album “Northern Lights” and a T-shirt and Work Girl sticker to go with it.

Northern Lights Album Cover Sticker

Just email me at jessieveeder@gmail.com, head on over to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/veederranch or leave the recipe in the comment section here. 

Some of my favorites I’ll con my cooking cowboy into trying out in the kitchen and posting on the blog.

Because my garden’s inspired me and now I believe I can do anything.

Which could end up in eventual disaster, but today I’m just going with it.

Peace, love and cucumber salad,

Jessie the Garden Goddess.

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Sunday Column: Gardens and Grass and Work Girl…

IMG_5428Things are starting to shape up around here. We spent the weekend with family and friends working on sprucing up the barnyard. We painted out-buildings, built new fences and painted those, pruned some dead trees,

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cleaned up old rusty pieces and parts, painted signs and made more plans for next time.

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It’s funny what a little bloom on the trees and a little paint can do the spirit of the place. This barnyard facelift has been a long time in the making, but tough to get to because when we’re all working full time and getting ready for cattle in the spring, sometimes all we have time for is the basics: fix the fence so the cows don’t get out, make sure we have water. Ride to check on things.

But because Little Sister’s wedding and the 100 year celebration of the ranch is coming up on us quickly, we have a goal to make the place functional as well as presentable to the public. And so that’s what we did.

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In the time in between, back over the hill at our house, my husband has been busy working on building the walls in the basement and I’ve been busy obsessing over our new lawn.

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And making plans, finally, for a garden of my own over here.

It’s coming on time for planting. It was pretty cold the last couple days, but in a week or two I think we’ll be in the safer zone for frost and I can get my hands in the dirt to plant some beans and peas and cucumbers and corn and carrots and onions and tomatoes and anything else I can find room for there.

This garden has been on my list since before we got this house built over here, and each year it seems more important projects sort of push it out of the way. So I head on over to mom and dads and help plant theirs so that I don’t feel as guilty when I raid it come July and August.

tomatos

But this year is my year. I mean, we got the grass growing. We got our fence up. We’re getting the barnyard under control. We’re getting our shit together…

And I’m getting my garden dammit.

Coming Home: Green grass inspires the year of the garden
by Jessie Veeder
5-10-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

And in honor of the work getting done around here, I want to share with you another song off of the new album, which will be available to download on CD BABY and at my front door TOMORROW!

“Work” Jessie Veeder, Northern Lights-2015 

 And if you order the signed album at www.jessieveedermusic.com today, I’ll throw in this cool sticker as a token of my appreciation 🙂

Sticker

Jessie Veeder discusses her Nashville album, “Northern Lights”

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok speaking of tomatoes…(because we were speaking of tomatoes weren’t we?) I am so excited to share with you some news I’ve been waiting for all summer while we grilled burgers outside at 10pm because we just got in and the sun hadn’t set yet. I love those days. I do.  And I love burgers, what girl doesn’t? But as the summer winds down and the days get shorter the one thing that keeps me from whining like a little girl who wants to stay up past her bedtime is this: longer nights divided by more Cowboy time in the kitchen = rich, hearty food that tastes like heaven…which results in a little something to take the edge off the cooler weather and inevitable winter…oh, and a little extra padding on my rear-end to help keep me warm.

Yes, cream and butter and hearty seasonings have blown back into my life with the autumn wind and I’m in the market for bigger stretchy pants because, you guessed it…

Cowboy’s cute butt is back in the kitchen…

And here he is, with his favorite ingredient: heavy whipping cream

and this time he’s outdone himself.

Now, I don’t like to push the man. Really I don’t. He has been busy this summer working on getting our new house squared away, building me picture frames, chasing cows around, fixing things I’ve recently broken, and, you know, working. So I haven’t asked him if he has any new recipes brewing up there under his hat. I haven’t mentioned to him that I am sstttaarrvvinng over here.  No I haven’t. But this weekend as he watched his dearly beloved sob and stomp and whine and worry and nearly lose an eye as she tackled the age-old tradition of vegetable canning only to clean it all up, put her hands on her hips, reach for her goggles and declare that she was now going to attempt tomato soup…at 6 pm…I think he felt the need to run interference.

Because he must have been starving too…and he couldn’t wait until 3 am to enjoy his wife’s amateur tomato soup attempt.

So last Sunday Cowboy swooped in and rescued his maiden in fleece pants from her overzealous self by suggesting that perhaps he could try cooking tomato soup. That maybe he had an idea for a recipe. That possibly it would be good for her to find her camera and computer and do what she does best…document it.

And boy am I glad I did. Because the thing with Cowboy’s cooking is this: it’s all in his head, like a story or a song–if it’s not written down the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

So I gladly handed over the metaphorical apron, grabbed my camera and notebook and watched as the man I married whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by a jalapeno pepper. It was a beautiful thing and I know you’re going to love it….

and I am only just a little jealous of the ease at which this man tackles life…and soup.

So grab your favorite autumn brew and those pesky tomatoes…and then grab a few more because you’re going to want to make a double batch of this stuff:

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok, here’s what you need, gathered and deliberately documented by following Cowboy around the kitchen using the journalist skills I acquired in college, and that cute little reporter hat, pen and paper pad.

  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup, or 3 medium garden carrots (use more if you wanna)
  • 1/4 large purple onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic (I have to tell you, I was looking everywhere in this tiny kitchen for fresh garlic when I was making my salsa. I whined and dug and threw things around. Cowboy mentions he would like some garlic and it just magically appeared in the cupboard. This is my life. I get a mess, Cowboy gets a magic cupboard…anyway moving on)
  • 1 12 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dill weed (haha, dill weed)
  • 1 Tbsp basil (fresh would be best, but I forgot to plant basil, so dried tastes great too)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro (or dried will work too)
  • 1 tsp rosemary (we had a little rosemary debate, you know, now that I am an expert. I didn’t win. But if the little rosemary seed floaters annoy you like they annoy me, just put in a 1/2 tsp)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
  • 4 bouillon cubes
  • 1 stick butter (or 8 Tbsp if it makes you feel better)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (get your cream out of the fridge before use and set it on the counter for a bit. This way, when you add it to the hot soup it will blend well.)

Step 1: Call your Pops who is home alone to invite him for supper. I mean, he was kind enough to grow these tomatoes (and carrots) for you.


Step 2: Serve you and  your cook an Autumn Ale, you know, to keep with the mood of the season. 

Octoberfest. Perfect.

Step 3: Sharpen your knives.

In Cowboy’s kitchen, this is the step that takes the longest. I mean, he has a knife briefcase. 

Really.

And in that knife briefcase lives this mamajamma.

I know this looks weird, but Cowboy tests the sharpness of his knives by attempting to shave the hair off his knuckles…just like John Wayne or something, I dunno.

I think I said something like “Holy Shit!”

Step 3: Chop and simmer the veggies

  • Dice three cups worth of garden tomatoes


and put those babies in large a pot to simmer on low while you prep the other veggies

  • Dice three garden carrots. Look at these heavenly creatures!

I especially like this one. Pops said he was holding the rest of the carrots together when he found him.

What a nice little carrot. I liked him so much I ate him.

Ok, yeah, anyway,  dice about one cup worth of carrots.

  • Now dice up 1/4 of that large, purple onion…

..sniff, sniff..please don’t cry.

  • Add the onions and carrots to the pot with the tomatoes
  • And pour in the tomato sauce
While the veggies and sauce simmer on low, move on to
 
Step 4: The seasoning
First, plop in the butter
Yup. The whole stick…or if you’d like, just 8 tablespoons.
Now, in no particular order add the seasonings to the pot, tasting and testing as you go to make sure you just love it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dill weed
1 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
1 tsp rosemary
Ground black pepper to taste
1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
4 bouillon cubes
Beautiful.
Now let the concoction simmer this way on low for a bit.  Have some more brew. Set your table. Read Cowboy magazine, whatever. You must cook this all up, letting the flavors blend and allowing the onions and carrots to cook.
About 30 minutes.
Onward!
Step 5: The best part

Need I say more?

Once the veggies are nice and cooked, measure yourself out a heaping cup of your room temperature heavy whipping cream and slowly stir it into the soup.
Now say “mmmm….mmmmm….mmmmm….” while Campbells sobs silently to himself…
Let warm for a few minutes and…well…what you will have there people is some damn good tomater soup.
Damn good!
So waste no time…
Step 6: Serve it up!
If you want, make yourself a grilled cheese to go with it.
But honestly, you won’t want to touch that stupid sandwich. My photos in the dim lighting of my home do not do it justice.

All you will want is this soup.

Forever.

And Ever.

Amen.