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Kate Gridley's Blog

June 22, 2011 - 10:08am
By Kate Gridley in EatingWell Blogs

Believe it or not, my mother wanted me to carry a large head of lettuce for my bridal bouquet. “It would be beautiful,” she said, “I have always pictured it!” A head of lettuce is indeed a beautiful thing – in terms of color, texture, even form. But I managed to over-rule her on that detail.

I think her obsession with lettuce as a bouquet came from her father, my Grampsie, who used to say that all he needed to be utterly happy was to lie down in a bed of lettuce with a bottle of vinaigrette dressing. What would he have done with my bouquet had my mother prevailed?

We are in prime lettuce season right now, what with all the rain we’ve had and the cool nights. I have been making elaborate salads on the warm days and lettuce soups when it is cool.

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June 1, 2011 - 6:58am
By Kate Gridley in EatingWell Blogs

When I was a child, we planted the entire vegetable garden at once, over Memorial Day weekend. Finally it was warm enough to start thinking about planting, and it was a long weekend.

Warm enough, you ask? Indeed. I am talking about forty-five years ago when there could be snow in Connecticut in May. Frequently there were killing frosts. So Memorial Day weekend was not only family time, for being together and honoring those who had made sacrifices for our country, but it marked the true beginning of the summer growing season.

I grew up smack in the middle of New York City, but once it was warm enough, we travelled weekends to the northwest corner of Connecticut where we rented an unheated barn that had a kitchen tucked into a corner, 3 bedrooms in the hayloft and a simple bathroom.

At the highest altitude in the state, the barn was...

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May 15, 2011 - 3:53pm
By Kate Gridley in EatingWell Blogs

To the chagrin of our college age sons who don’t enjoy change on the home front, we have just taken out an overgrown crab apple tree and added another bed to the vegetable garden. This means there is less lawn (a good thing), less room to kick a soccer ball (a good thing from my point of view, a bad thing from theirs), no place to hang the hammock (a very bad thing though neither of them will be here this summer to lie in it), and much more sun-kissed ground in which to plant additional vegetables (a very good thing).

The new bed is an in-ground bed (as opposed to the six raised beds built over a former driveway). I will fill it with ingredients for soup: potatoes, carrots, leeks, parsnips, tomatoes, onions and butternut squash (my other soup ingredients are already in the raised beds: garlic, more onions, spinach, beets, celery, peas, sorrel, parsley...

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May 9, 2011 - 11:30am
By Kate Gridley in EatingWell Blogs

Here's the note from a neighbor I found under my door on Mother's Day morning.

"Happy Mother's Day!...Don't worry about your rhubarb...it will return and, in the meanwhile, we have enough in our garden for you to pick anytime you want it. If we are not home you may just wander down and get what you need. I am actually eating it while gardening now."

I think I will wander down. My rhubarb is recovering from the tree we took down that squashed it in the process, but there's not enough to pick (must be a Rhubarbic Recovery and Rest year). My sorrel, distant cousin to rhubarb, is ready for sampling though. This will be a week of sorrel tarts, or perhaps some fresh fish with cooked sorrel as a sauce. Every year, more sorrel plants appear. I will pot some of them up and give them away.

Meanwhile, I have bought my first chicks, three New...

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May 3, 2011 - 9:01am
By Kate Gridley in EatingWell Blogs

I have been busy lately! Too busy to blog, and even, horror of horrors, too busy to work in my beloved garden. But there it is. The garden exists in addition to my professional life, and though I wish to be working in it, especially now that the weather is warming, it is not always possible.

There’s not much to eat in my garden yet, except sorrel, which is just about ready to pick. This early in the season, the young leaves are great in a salad, adding a slightly lemony sour taste. We managed to crush the rhubarb when taking out a tree, so that is moot (we hope it is going to live to see another season). There’s a crowd of parsley that managed to winter over, but it will probably bolt and set seed early, so I have several pots of new parsley ready to go into the ground. Last summer’s bronze fennel, strangely, is coming back, but it, too, will...

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