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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.

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Tulips have long been one of my favorite flowers, and when I learned about Dallas Blooms several years ago, it went straight on my bucket list. We don’t get cold enough here in Texas for most tulip varieties, but The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden combats this issue by planting 500,000 bulbs each winter! Spring is a difficult time to escape from my own garden, with so many tasks needing attention – and Dallas is nearly a 4 hour drive. This year I finally had a good excuse, with my daughter living in Dallas for 8 months, and I was more than happy to pay her a visit.

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Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and were in line at 8:45, for the gates to open at 9. We were warmly greeted outside the garden by bold primary colors.

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Once inside, you have a spectacular lake view as a backdrop to a raised bed vegetable garden. I’m always impressed with how tidy professional vegetable gardens look, so different from mine!

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As you make your way through the vegetable garden, this beautiful view opens up, teasing of what is to come.

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We were lucky enough to see these Saucer Magnolias in bloom, which my daughter nicknamed “Tulip Trees”.

This formal garden was bordered on each side by a mix of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. On the left the colors mirrored the bright colors of the garden entrance – on the right, more subtle colors of white, yellow, and blue.

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This garden contained a few surprised as well. Behind one of the borders was a pop of purple and pink hyacinths. I don’t think I’d ever put this color combination together in my own garden, but it completely worked in this case.

Every angle of the formal garden presented a different visual experience. It seems that every inch has been carefully considered.

As we continued our journey through the garden, I was amazed at the different color combinations.

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There was even an understated white garden.

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This was my favorite of the day, so beautifully designed!

A few more of my favorite pictures.

The garden was absolutely magical! I was so happy to share it with my daughter, who seemed to be as geeked out as I was.

 

These beauties can always be counted on in the middle of winter when nothing else is blooming!