Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Monday, May 02, 2011

Mama's Garden Advice: "Eat Your Vegetables"

Mother's Day - 2011

my mom and me
Mother's Day is coming up! Yea ... favorite holiday. I usually designate this day as one of my 2 annual "Slave Days", where my husband does my bidding ... usually in the garden. I also find it a nice time to reflect on my mom and her many unique and charming characteristics. Last year I blogged about her ability to find the sunny spot in the garden (A Mother's Day Garden). This year I've got vegetable gardens on my mind. I'm going to have a BIG garden, and have lots of plants and seeds ready to go in - on Slave Day! So, what's the vegetable - mom connection here?

Well, while she did tell my siblings and I to, "eat our vegetables", she didn't grow them. My dad was all that. My mom, however, would assist others in their endeavors ... my sister had a travel agency, my mom arm-twisted all her friends to go on cruises ... my dad was a backyard farmer, my mom was his chief weeder and canner ... I home schooled my daughter, my mom figured we'd want to do crafts, and saved us a zillion toilet paper rolls! Go figure.

mom's recipe box

Mom wasn't much of a cook. I have her old recipe box, with titles like, "Cabbage Chop Suey", "Dinner Pancakes (with meat)", "Mystery Pudding", "Phoney [sic] Abalone", and, "Ritz Cracker Pie". She and her housewife contemporaries seemed to treasure recipes using cake mix, canned soup or frozen vegetables. My husband still marvels at the olive sandwich she made up for him when we first moved back to California from Portland (canned sliced olives with a bit of mayonnaise!) Yum! But, I grew up loving to cook and she was thrilled to have me take over the kitchen, and would even do the dishes for me!

Here's mom's recipe for Lemon Cake and Custard, and another from Recipes From a Kitchen Garden by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff (available at Renee's Garden).

Mom's Lemon Cake and Custard

a flickr photo by James Bowe
I grew up in Southern California, and my dad always had fruit and citrus trees in the backyard. My mom made good pies, but, this cake was actually one of my favorites. Oh, and tapioca! (btw, I've actually never made this, so I don't want to hear any complaints if it turns out a mess!)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon rind and juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 beaten egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup canned milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks
  • Optional : 1/4 cup grape nuts.
Cream butter and sugar, add lemon juice, rind and salt plus the 2 egg yolks, mix with sifted flour. Add canned milk and water. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into cake pan and bake in 375 degree oven for 45 min (Put baking pan in hot water so the cake doesn't burn.).

Janice's Pickled Basil Beans

tri-colored beans
Renee's Garden is a  leading seed source for vegetable gardeners, Renee researches, trials, sells her own seeds, and is, now, a source of practical, site-tested, cookbooks as well. (Twice a week, Renee and her cookbook partner, Fran Raboff, get together with the available harvest to try out recipes. Lucky the friends and family who get to sit at that table!)

These crispy, basil-scented beans are a fine appetizer or satisfying between-mean nibble. One of our favorite ways to utilize a bean harvest. - Renee Sheppard
  • 3 - 4 pounds fresh green snap beans, rinsed
  • 5 cups mild white vinegar
  • 5 cups water (not softened water)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
For each jar:
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 - 6 large fresh basil leaves
Wash 8 pint or 4 quart canning jars with hot soapy water and rinse, or run them through the dishwasher.
Trim the ends of the beans. Bring to a boil the vinegar, water, sugar and salt.
In the bottom of each jar, put the peppercorns, garlic cloves and basil leaves, then pack them with beans, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Fill the jars with the hot brine, leaving 1/2 inch. Wipe the jar rims and seal. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (20 minutes for quarts). Wait about 4 weeks before opening to let the flavors blend and deepen.
Makes 4 quarts.

Well, that's it for this year's Mother's Day Tribute to my own sweet mom.

Happy Mother's Day, Everyone!

Ohhhhh...if you have the urge to grow some veggies but aren't that sure how or where to start, give me a call. We now offer Vegetable Garden Coaching by Jenn. It's a special art and Jenn's going to be helping me out with my mammoth endeavor this year, and can help you, too!!!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help!
Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

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