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Oil Preserved Asparagus

May 30th, 2019

Last fall I purchased the book ‘Preserving Italy’ and spotted the recipe for asparagus preserved in oil. Fast forward to last week when the asparagus was coming on strong and I finally had enough to give the recipe a try. The asparagus is lightly pickled by being blanched in vinegar/water for 2 minutes. Then it’s dried, put in a jar, then topped up with olive oil.


It’s still mellowing in the fridge, but I’m looking forward to trying it. There’s a similar recipe in ‘River Cottage Preserves’ only the asparagus is roasted first. I may give that recipe a try this weekend to compare which one is best. I like that both of these recipes aren’t the traditionally fully pickled asparagus like so many are.

Are you an asparagus fan? Do you preserve any for the off season?

The First Tanager

May 29th, 2019

This past weekend Mr Chiots and I spotted our first scarlet tanager of the season. It wasn’t super close, so I couldn’t get a great photo. It’s always exciting to watch for birds to return in the spring. The first bluebird, indigo bunting, robin, and phoebes always give reason to celebrate.


For bird idenficiation, we have both ‘The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North American’ and ‘Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America‘ and use them both regularly. If you’re into birds they’re worthwhile additions to your library.

Are you a bird watcher? What birds do you most enjoy seeing in spring?

Cedrus Libani

May 23rd, 2019

I’ve always admired Cedar of Lebanon trees. There’s just something about the size, the form, and the coloring of these trees. All of the ones I’ve seen in person are small, around 15-20 feet tall, I’ve only seen the mature specimens in photos and on film. When I visited Paris in early April, I spent one day walking around Jardin des Plantes. This garden wasn’t even on my list of places to visit, until I read ‘American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic’ on the plane ride over to France. One day, while Mr Chiots was in a meeting, I took the subway up and spent a few hours walking around this lovely garden. That’s where I spotted this amazing Cedrus Libani.






Cedar of Lebanon is marginally hardy in our zone, technically it should be, but that isn’t always the case. Some cultivars are hardier than others, I’ve recently found a cultivar that’s supposed to be the hardiest of all. I’m going to be purchasing seeds for this variety to give them a go. While I’d never spend $150 on a tree that may or may not survive, I am more than happy to spend $10 on seeds to give them a go. Here’s a great article from Arnold Arboretum about hardier strains of Cedrus Libani.

Do you have any trees you’ve always admired and wanted to add to your garden?

New Itoh Peony

May 22nd, 2019

Two weeks ago I happened to be at my local Sam’s Club picking up a few items. I spotted an Itoh peony for $35, which is a great price. I’m not typically one to purchase plants from these kinds of stores, but the peonies looked healthy and well cared for (often the plants look less than happy). Lucky for me, I had a $25 gift card to use up, so I got my Itoh peony for only $10.

I selected the perfect spot for it and planted it right away. Yesterday I noticed it had a few buds on it already. This is a great plant for my peony collection. I have a lot of herbaceous peonies (probably 20 total) and a few tree peonies (2 total). Peonies are one of my favorite plants. I’m actually considering turning the potager behind the house into a peony garden.

Do you love peonies? Do you have any of the other types or just herbaceous?

Back in the Saddle

May 20th, 2019

Last week Mr Chiots and I were in Ohio visiting family (and Mr Chiots had a work meeting). I had grand plans of writing blog posts and scheduling them to post while I was gone, but there was too much to finish up in the garden before we left. I’m also trying to spend a little less time working and a little more time doing the things that I love. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I no longer write daily blog posts, taking vacation times away is also something I’ve been doing. When we were in Ohio, we took a day trip to Kelleys Island, a place I’ve visited several times in my life.

We made sure to stop at the glacier grooves, a place I distinctly remember visiting as a kid. Then we had a picnic lunch and drove the golf cart around the island looking at gardens and houses. We hiked out to Sheele Preserve and were awed by its beauty (despite the terrically muddy trail to get there).












It was a wonderful day, perfect weather for a day outside on the islands. This was our first day trip of this kind, in the future we are thinking of planning vacations to other destinations (if you have any recommendations let me know).

Seeds and Sundries
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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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