Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Gardener’s Daydream.

Looking out the window, I see the sun shining; the branches of trees swaying with the breeze.  I start to think that spring is just around the corner, and the ground will be softening up for planting.  I begin to daydream about my gardens, the ones I left behind, the new ones I’ll create.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, my home was surrounded by gardens I had designed and created myself.  It took many years, and there were many types: the perennial garden where flowering plants erupted into color each month from March until October; the shade garden filled with Hostas of every size; leaves deeply green or mottled with color; and Bleeding Hearts of pink, white and yellow.  The herb and vegetables gardens were my pride and joy.  I had two herbal gardens; a kitchen garden right outside my backdoor.  I could go outside and pick fresh herbs for a recipe.  Then there was the larger one where I would collect the herbs, dry them, and have them available all year long.  The vegetable garden was abundant, and I made sure to grow vegetables that could be frozen for later use.  I composted and mulched; fed and watered; these were children who I helped flourish.
The people who purchased my home said they loved the gardens, and that is one reason they wanted my home.  Liars!!!  I found out they immediately had all the gardens dug up, the beautiful trees cut down, and the lawn destroyed.  Why?  They needed places to park their motor home, excess vehicles, and…who knows what; they destroyed it all.  The neighbors were shocked at the destruction.  I wish I had known their plans; I would have dug up my rose and lilac bushes; removed all the herbal plants and as many Hostas as I could pack into our moving van.  What a waste of nature; so sad.
At my current home, the ground around the home was very neglected and abused; no one took care of the lawn which is nothing more than weeds; there were no trees, and only one rose and lilac bush which were terribly overgrown.  Last year we planted a Magnolia Tree out front, several rose and azalea bushes; trimmed the already existing bushes which are flourishing once again.  I started a small herbal garden outside the living room window.  However, I really will not know what did, or did not, survive the winter months until spring is officially here, and the weather stays warm.

Ah, but the plans are in the making; a rotor tiller to dig up an area in the backyard for a vegetable plot.   Plans to create a patio, and use the container gardening technique to help beautify the area.  I’ll be playing in the dirt, planning and planting, feeling the dirt on my hands, and hoping my knees don’t give out on me.  Daydreaming over the new gardens that will rise up around the home…it’s that type of day.
Therefore, a vegetable recipe seems appropriate for this post.
Vegetable Stir Fry
This is a basic recipe and vegetables can be changed according to tastes.  Using a Wok is preferred, but if not available, a large nonstick skillet will do.
3 Tbsp sesame oil (if not available, use peanut)
1 small red onion, slivered
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small zucchini and yellow squash, cut diagonally into ¼ inch slices
1 cup snow peas (if not available, use sugar snap peas)
1 tsp minced garlic
½ cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup each soy and hoisin sauces
½ tsp ground ginger
In a Wok, or large nonstick skillet, heat oil on high.  Sauté onions and bell pepper till they just start to soften; about 5 minutes.  Add in zucchini, squash, peas; cook another 5 minutes before adding in garlic, tomatoes, sauces and ginger; mix together thoroughly.
Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Makes 4 servings; can be served as is, or with rice or Asian noodles.

Mary Cokenour