I’m not sure how it came to be August 18th, and a few weeks have gone by without a blog entry. When I was last here we were just getting used to the kids being away. Turns out, we did just fine. When we weren’t whipping our dining room into shape we were eating out in great restaurants and generally relaxing. We crossed Eigensinn Farm off our bucket list too. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a culinary experience like no other. World-class chef Michael Statlander gave up city life and bought a farm near Collingwood, ON where he grows or raises just about everything he serves to the 12 guests the farm dining room can accomodate per night. We sat down at 7:00 and got up at 11:00, very full, a little drunk, and extremely satisfied. It was very expensive and fairly inconvenient and I couldn’t recommend it enough. While at Eigensinn the WorkHorse and I did spend some time poking around in the farm’s kitchen garden and were pleased to see that their veggies didn’t look unlike ours. He can cook them a whole lot better though!
After our weekend of wonderful eating, the second week of our kid-free vacation passed quickly. I finished painting the jam cupboard and we moved it in to the dining room along with that pig painting we had our eyes on. I’ve got a little sewing project to do and we’re waiting on our mason jar light fixture, and then the dining room will be good to go. It’s quickly going from my least favourite room in the house to my most favourite. I’ll post pictures when it’s done.
At the end of it all, we collected the babies from the woods. Both the boy and the girl not only survived, but flourished at camp. They canoed, kayacked, swam, played dodgeball, logrolled, caught frogs, made leather bookmarks, ate copious amounts of tuckshop junk food and generally had a fantastic time. Both were noticably taller and just a little more self-assured when returned to us.
Back at Northbrook, things have been growing and changing too.
The potatoes are out of the garden, which has cleared up space to plant more things. Same with the onions. I’ve been tucking in rows of kale, lettuce, spinach, arugula, beets and radishes – for one last bit of garden goodness before the cold comes. (The mornings are already feeling cool, and I haven’t been out on the front porch with my tea as much as I was earlier in the season.)
The tomatoes are completely out of control. Many of those that are becoming ripe have damage of some kind or another,but we’re eating what we can. I’ve also become a champion of plucking off GIANT horned caterpillars and stomping on them – it’s amazing what they can do to the plants! Today at the farmer’s market in Lindsay I asked a farmer about my less-than-perfect tomatoes. Here’s what he said: “For every tomato you see here, I’ve thrown out three. That’s the nature of tomatoes. Plant a lot more than you need. And keep asking questions”. I was very reassured. We were even more pleased with our efforts tonight when we ate homemade (by me, but mostly the girl) potato gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce from the garden. The potatoes, tomatoes and basil were all grown just a few feet from where they were consumed – bliss.
We haven’t had too many tomatoes that are ready to eat yet, but those we’ve had have been wonderful. Only two of three of the cherry tomatoes have even made it into the house – they’re perfect for snacking on out in the garden. I expect we’ll be eating a lot of tomatoes in the coming weeks.
We’ve also been eating cucumbers with nearly every meal, which is delightful. The cucumbers, both pickling and regular, have been a great crop and we’ll definitely be doing them again. We’ve been making lots of refrigerator pickles. We had thought we’d be canning lots of pickles but we haven’t found a recipe we like more than a refrigerator pickle recipe we’ve been using – it’s sweet and sour and completely perfect. Besides, at the rate we are plowing through them, there won’t be any need for pickles that last more than 2 months. The pickling cucumbers are slowing down now, but that’s okay, because so is the dill. All good things, right?
I had to take out all of the lovely (but bug-ridden) nasturtiums and replace them with awful marigolds. It’s my theory that insects are as horrified by marigolds as I am which is why they are successful at repelling bugs. In any case, there were big gaps in the garden and we needed a bit of colour, so I’ll live with it.
We’ve had a good bit of zucchini, although our plants have been struggling with powdery mildew, which is affecting the yields. I noticed in on the cucumber plants as well. I’ll be out applying baking soda spray again this weekend. The girl and I did whip up a batch of Anne Lindsay’s delicious and light lemon zucchini muffins for yesterday’s visit from the Fairy Grandmother. We’ll be making those again. And, because there is always too much zucchini, I made a late dinner for me and the WorkHorse last night which included the Barefoot Contessa’s Zucchini with Parmesan – delicious.
The pumpkins are also struggling, despite the show of all of those leaves and flowers. We had one sizeable pumpkin growing but we found it rotting this weekend. Who knew pumpkins would be so tough?
One of the most exciting developments with the Obsession is that the WorkHorse, without really knowing it, has fallen prey to the gardening bug. He’ll never admit it and I don’t think he’ll be planning what to plant and where for next year’s garden, but I do see him out in the garden peering at the plants, pulling weeds and generally acting like a gardener. This is making me quite happy. We’re planning to add the L-shaped exterior beds this fall so that they are ready to go in the spring. I’ve learned so much this year that I can hardly wait to get started next year! Today I bought a whole pile of garlic at the farmers’ market that I’ll put into the ground at Thanksgiving. I can’t wait.
Fortunately, we have just begun our long stretch of farm vacation – more than two weeks of Northbrook living. I’ve been here for 48 hours, happily in sweatpants and a pony tail, and this is how I intend to remain. We’ve got guests coming for much of our time here, so there will be lots of cooking, eating, swimming, roasting marshmallows and more. And when all of that is done, back to school and real life. But let’s not think about that yet, shall we?