th-1We’re in a subzero cold snap that should last at least a few more days. The temperature was eight below when I got up and managed to make it only four degrees above the zero-mark before shivering its  way back down the thermometer.

But I don’t care (much), because the house smells so good.

After DF had his lunch he filled the five-quart West Bend slow cooker with the contents of the boiling bag, some vegetable cooking water from the freezer and the water left from last night’s boiled potatoes.

(That last included little bits of spud because I got distracted and let them boil perhaps a bit too long.)

This time around the boiling bag contained carrot tops, apple cores, the tough ends of romaine leaves, onion skins, potato peelings and a handful of very small, very green tomatoes from the greenhouse project. Although all of the bigger tomatoes and some of the smaller ones eventually turned red after we brought them indoors, the little ones were stubbornly bright-green and beginning to soften. Thus we sacrificed them to the soup and are already dreaming of next spring.


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A tomato haiku.

thThe first tomato sandwiches of the year have been enjoyed. Maybe a little too much, since the sighs I made while eating sounded nearly coital.

But dang, there’s nothing like eating a tomato that five minutes ago was on the vine in your own greenhouse.

Hence the haiku:

Just-picked tomato

Fresh bread, mayo, salt, pepper

Jersey girl heaven. 

If this were New Jersey I wouldn’t need a greenhouse – just a patch of dirt almost anywhere. My childhood neighbor had one come up in the middle of the lawn, uninvited.


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Putting food by.

GetAttachmentThe photo is a glimpse of harvest mania at Chez DIY. Those underachievers in the small glass dish are strawberries picked from our tiny patch, which we hope to expand in years to come.

In the bowl and large measuring cup are four quarts of raspberries that DF and I picked in an evening, quitting before we’d gotten them all. We’ve already frozen 14 quarts of the things for his oatmeal and my homemade yogurt, and also to eat the Alaska way: only partially thawed and with a big dump of sugar.

On the left are jars of jam I’d made from a previous session; it’s the second batch I’ve made this year. Seeing those jars gives me the urge to make another one.

Not that we need a third batch, or maybe even that second one; we’re still using up jam from last year. But I don’t want the backyard bounty to go to waste — and part of me doesn’t even want to give them away.

That’s the part of me that feels, every year, that primal urge: Winter is coming. Put food by.


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Salad days.

IMG_20150622_182817We had our first from-the-garden salad last night. When I say “from the garden” I mean that most of it was from our own little urban homestead.

The rest of it was from a great big garden somewhere else. Factory farms count, right?

Although the greens (and reds!) in the garden are starting to look respectable, we don’t want to denude them just yet.

So we possess our souls in patience and augment what we grew with romaine from the supermarket.

Here’s the lineup from the picture on the left:

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thI am officially an elder. My niece and her fellow went dip-netting in Chitina over the weekend and scored 60 Copper River red salmon.

Yes, the fish that cost a bomb in the Lower 48. Her sweetheart, who is Alaska Native, had a list of elders with whom he wanted to share his catch. Happily, DF and I were on that list.

“Elder” is still a term of respect among Alaska Natives. Older people get fed first, get the most comfortable seats and most important of all, get treated as though their opinions matter.

They may also get Copper River reds. At least 15 pounds of them – and already filleted.


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