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Bloom Day 4/18

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The spring has been very chilly so far, which is stalling many of the usual April bloomers. The roses aren’t complaining though. This is their best showing to date.

Belinda’s dream is stunning, and smells heavenly, but I am really loving Peggy Martin being the perfect shade of flamingo pink! All of the roses are repeat bloomers, which is a requirement in my garden.

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Bluebonnets are still going strong. They start at least a week later in my garden than some parts of town. I think it’s due to the gravely soil, and no additional water.

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Silvery-blue agave with bluebonnets, what a combination!

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The columbines have also loved the mild spring. They have hung on weeks longer than last year. I am loving how this bed is filling in. I had been unhappy with it for some time, but all it needed was the removal of 3 pale pink pavonias that were extremely happy, but poorly placed.

A few other bloomers.

The Wildflower Meadow

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Each year I add more wildflower seeds, and the meadow is really taking off.

Roses

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The roses are just starting to bloom, still a week or two out from peak bloom. This year’s first rose was Marie Daly, followed closely by Marie Gonzales. I am still waiting on Sweet Pea and Belinda’s Dream

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Making soup is often an all day event, allowing the flavors to slowly marry. As nice as that sounds, the reality can be quite different. Sometimes it is a Wednesday night, everyone’s hungry, and you have yet another ripe head of broccoli in the fridge.

The trick to quick soup, is to cook all of the individual ingredients separately.

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Chop the onions and carrots into small pieces and sautée them in butter, with some salt and pepper. Use butter instead of the usual olive oil, since it works better for making a roux. When the onions/carrots are almost cooked through, add a few chopped mushrooms to the mix.

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After softened, add 3 tbsps of flour. Cook on medium until flour starts to brown. Slowly add milk, stirring as you go. You can also add in some chicken stock for flavor.

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Steam the broccoli – taking the cooking time to under 20 minutes. I had great luck with romanesca broccoli this year – a very tasty and beautiful variety.

Cook a few red potatoes in the microwave. Once cooked, cut them into bite size pieces.

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I defrosted some previously roasted, frozen turkey.

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Once the soup is thickened,  add the broccoli, potatoes, and turkey, and shredded cheese until everything is heated through.

Serve with crackers or bread.

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Fried rice is one of my go-to recipes. It can be made with any number of ingredients, it just depends on what I currently have in the garden. This version used  cabbage, carrots, peppers (frozen), and onions. I also have been known to put in kohlrabi, greens, peas, roasted chiles  – you name it.

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The basis for the recipe is the same. Dice up the veggies and add them to a medium-hot pan of heated olive oil. Add salt/pepper to taste.  I chop the veggies in size based on how quickly they cook. I cut the carrots in smaller dices / thinner slices than the onions. The cabbage I cut in slightly larger chunks. Cook until soft.

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I used smoke chicken, that I had previously frozen, but fresh chicken, pulled pork, or brisket also work great.

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Once this meat is cooked, mix it in with the veggies.

Separately cook eggs. I like to pan scramble on med-high heat. I tend to cook scrambled eggs to a little drier texture for the fried rice.

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At the same time, cook the rice. Once cooked, add in soy sauce and optionally a little siracha. I like to add the soy sauce before the veggies, to keep the fresh flavors of the dish.

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Stir rice, veggies, and eggs together and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freezing Kale

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The dinosaur kale has really taken off in the garden, and will be bolting soon, as the temperatures are starting to rise. I decided to try freezing some this year. I won’t be able to use the frozen kale in fresh salads, but it will be great in frittatas, stir fries, and soups.

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The first step is to trim out the stems and tear into 2×2 inch pieces.

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From here I blanched the kale. This helps it retain color, texture, and flavor. You blanch kale for 2.5 to 3 minutes in boiling water.

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After blanching, put the kale immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process.

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After the kale has cooled, squeeze it dry and let any excess water drain out.

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I have a foodsaver, so I’m able to use this to freeze my extra veggies. You can also use ziploc freezer bags. Tip – There was still too much moisture in the kale, which messed with the foodsaver. I ended up par-freezing on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours before packing.

Austin Blooms

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Well it isn’t quite Dallas Blooms, but I did come home to a few pretties blooming in the garden – including my very own tulip.