Any plans this weekend? Mine are simple: spend as much time near the lilacs as possible.
Because of late spring frosts and early budding during winter heat waves, we don't often get many blooms on the lilac bushes down in our little valley. But this year the show is spectacular. It might just be the best one I've seen during my twenty-one Aprils in Missouri. Everybody's lilacs look fantastic.
We had an unexpected hard freeze on Monday night, but most of the flowers on our bushes survived just fine. Even the scraggly old lilac that sits at the base of the hill by the sheep barn, marking the site of one of the many houses that were down here when this was a thriving sawmill community in the 1920's and 30's, is full of flowers this year.And of course the air outside smells amazing.
During my first spring on this farm with Joe, I dug up several starts that had sprouted up around our ancient little lilac bush by the laundry line and put them into small plastic pots. I temporarily set them near the entrance to my newly enclosed kitchen garden while I figured out where I wanted to permanently locate them.
Fifteen years later, there is no moving that one nine-foot-tall—and at least that wide—bush which, despite its abusive beginnings, is much larger and healthier than its mother plant, no doubt due to the fact that for years it was flanked on three sides by compost bins. I still feel a pang of guilt, though, whenever I see that cluster of plastic pots, half buried in the ground and long broken apart by the now massive branches at the bush's base.
My original plan was to have a whole group of lilac bushes somewhere that created an overwhelming spring show of beauty and scent. For some reason, I never thought to dig up any more starts after that first forgotten batch settled into the ground; I guess it just seemed like it would take too long for them to grow. So instead I have this one giant bush that is pretty much always in the way of the door to the greenhouse and the garden gate.
Visiting young friends (and donkeys) enjoying treat time in Donkeyland. (Love longears? Lots more donkey pics here.)
Any plans this weekend? We're staying around the farm as usual (by choice). Joe will be busy with lawn care and yet more vehicle maintenance (not by choice). Last week we had to sneak along the gravel back roads into town in our back up back up vehicle so we could go vote. Sometimes I wish the guys at the auto parts store didn't know us quite so well.
On the other hand, lawn care means the grazing fields are also growing up, and that's just what we want this time of year. The sheep and donkeys are very tired of eating hay, especially when they can smell all that fresh green grass.
It looks like my mantra this weekend is going to be Garden, garden, garden, with hopefully lots of nice clean laundry blowing on the sunny line, or if it starts to cloud up, I'll hang it out as rain bait. We need as much moisture right now as we can get.
Between the warm weather and a few little thunderstorms over the past week, everything is growing so fast you can practically see it. In no time the woods are going to be completely filled in and leafed out, which even after all these years always kind of blows my mind.
Egg salad gets pepped up with black olives, pimentos, salami, scallions, and parsley. Colorful, fun, and it uses up a dozen hard boiled eggs! (recipe here)
I've been making this protein-packed Confetti Egg Salad since 2007 and still love having a bowl of it in the fridge. It's a fun dish for a picnic or potluck, makes a quick and filling lunch, and is a great healthy snack. I've even eaten it for breakfast.
The grated eggs give it a very nice, spread-like texture, and you can adjust the amount of mayonnaise to suit your taste. Put it on crackers, use it as a sandwich filling (perhaps on some freshly baked Four Hour Baguettes or easy to make Farmhouse White Bread?) or eat it straight out of a little dish with a spoon. It tastes even better if allowed to chill for a couple of hours before serving.
Still hungry—or already out of eggs? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
These simple yet impressive scones are perfect for breakfast, brunch, and beyond (recipe here).
Light and moist on the inside, with a pleasant little crunch on the outside, my Savory Chive and Sharp Cheddar Scones are full of flavor and made with softened cream cheese instead of butter.
They would be lovely for an Easter brunch or Mother's Day lunch, but they mix up so quickly you don't need wait for a special occasion to serve them.
Offer them warm from the oven instead of rolls: plain, buttered, or with cream cheese, goat cheese, or homemade herbed yogurt cheese. I like to split and toast them in the toaster oven for breakfast, then slather both crunchy halves with butter. They're great for making little sandwiches, and I've even used them in place of burger buns.
Dividing and planting chives, one of my favorite herbs in the kitchen garden. Read more about them and my five other easy to grow favorites here. (I've been using my beloved hand-forged Korean garden toolto do nearly every job in the garden for over 22 years.)
Homegrown culinary herbs are an inexpensive luxury. They're easy to grow, cheap to keep, don't require lots of space or attention, and aren't usually bothered by diseases and pests, making them perfect for the organic garden. They're pretty to look at, bursting with flavor, and far fresher than those pricey little packets at the store, which may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals.
Chives, basil, Greek oregano, lemon thyme, Italian parsley, and lemon balm have been favorites in my organic kitchen garden for years, not only because they taste good, but because they've all done well in our challenging Missouri conditions. The bounty starts in spring, and I'm often still harvesting well into November. And because the chives, oregano, lemon thyme, and lemon balm are all cold tolerant perennials, that means you plant them once and they come back year after year.
One of the nicest things about growing your own herbs is that, unlike many vegetables, you don't need a whole bushel to make a worthwhile harvest; just a little bit will go a long way. Many can be grown in pots, and most herb plants actually benefit from from being regularly snipped back, even when young.
You've really got nothing to lose, especially since young herb seedlings can often be purchased for less than those little "fresh" packets at the supermarket. So even if you end up killing all your plants, you'll most likely have eaten more than your money's worth from them first. Let's get growing!
Looking for more kitchen garden inspiration?Check out these posts.