Monday, May 25, 2009

The Weekend of Haphazard Gardening and Cooking

I love long weekends at home. We rarely go away for Memorial Day, and while I always feel a twinge of jealousy when friends drive off to the beach or the mountains, I mostly feel glad I'm not. It's quiet at home and with no one around, we have nothing to do. Hence, home things. I've been gardening all weekend, in fits and starts, weeding here, transplanting there. I'll overhear a snippet from my stepmother or a friend about hollyhocks needing sun or lily of the valley liking sandy soil (I'm making all of this up, but you get the idea), and I'm off, rearranging, filling in holes, buying more favorites at the local garden center.

I had a lovely surprise the other week, upon returning from a week long trip to Nebraska: we had gorgeous pink and purple columbines blooming in the front yard. I vaguely remember buying the seeds three summers ago. I knew nothing about them but had seen them in Colorado and thought that they were lovely. So, I planted them, having no idea what the greenery looked liked. They never came up, and I remember thinking that the seeds must have been bad or I under-watered or the like. So, it was an unexpected pleasure to see them up, and they had lovely greens that I had seen for two summers and specifically not pulled, even though I was pretty sure they were considered to be weeds.

Last year I got some rhubarb from Keja, as she mentioned, and I put it in a nice sunny spot in my flower bed. It is thriving. I had another small rhubarb plant in another spot where very little ever grows. I cannot figure out why, since it's sunny and protected from running children, but I usually end up moving whatever I've planted there. So, a few weeks ago, I moved the other rhubarb next to Keja's. It's slowly looking alive again. It's all about experimenting. Or at least, that's how I go about it. Haphazard gardening is fun.

Strawberry rhubarb pie with an orange twist

Inspired by Keja's post, I went out and cut some rhubarb. It was pretty small and I only got about 3/4 of a cup full. I had imagined a full-sized strawberry rhubarb pie, overflowing with fruit. Instead, I used a cake pan and half of a pie crust recipe. I cut up about 2 cups of large strawberries into quarters. I put them in a bowl with the rhubarb slices and added the zest of one orange. I also added about 1/4 cup of the orange juice and a bit under one half cup of sugar. I don't like using sugar in fruit pies but rhubarb is a special case because it is so sour. I often use honey in a fruit pie, but rhubarb gets watery, as does honey, so I caved and used sugar. Anyway, I used just over half the crust on the bottom of the pan and covered it with the rest. I cooked it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and turned it down to 350 for another 40 or so, until it was browning a bit on top.

No comments: