gardening

NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Kabees El Lift is a popular Lebanese dish, often served as a lighter side to heavy meat dishes. The dish sports a vibrant pink color, which is made by adding beets to the turnips as they ferment. Fermented foods are great for adding natural probiotics into your diet. And, as Paul Jaminet points out, there is evidence of fermented foods like kimchi helping against autoimmune diseases and allergies. Plus they’re tasty.

I’m not sure how long this dish has been around, but I do know that turnips have been around for a long, long time; the Romans talked about them, and some of their original names were in Greek, which suggests they were eaten in Ancient Greece. Beets have been around just as long, although early forms were only the beet greens, and the bulbous root was developed/cultivated later.

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I’m going out of town for a while so I wanted to pull all of the cantaloupes just in case they spoiled while I’m away – but now I have 10 unripe cantaloupe sitting at my house. I ate a small one with my dinner tonight, and surprisingly it tasted like a sweet cucumber. Weird, I know.

I also pulled one row (out of three) of my carrots, to store them in the basement while I’m away. I ate a couple and they’re still a little bitter; chances are the other two rows will be nice and sweet by the time I get back and pull them up.

Now that the weather in Maryland has cooled down a bit, and we’re (for the moment) free of earthquakes and hurricanes, we finally got our yard in order over the holiday weekend – the grass is freshly shorn, weeds are pulled, and the compost bin is newly stocked full of fallen leaves.

At the same time, it’s time to take a look at the extent of my garden’s summertime neglect.

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It’s been a while since I’ve updated on the garden, but here are a couple choice photos. Above you see the back veggie garden as of a few weeks ago. We adopted a dog for a couple weeks, who had a fondness of digging up my plants; this wreaked havoc on the lettuce and carrots. Still, I was able to save most of the upturned carrots (I’ll share a picture in another post) and we ended up with so much lettuce that we didn’t miss the ruined stuff.


the culprit

Since taking the garden picture above, the tomato plants have doubled in size, the lettuce has all been eaten (by both us and a huge swarm of bugs), and the garlic was harvested. The eggplant (in between the two pairs of tomato plants) are also getting pretty tall. The garlic came out pretty small, but I had planted it last fall using grocery garlic just to see how the process worked, so it wasn’t a big loss.

The middle-right row lettuce was basically knocked out by the dog, so I planted a cantaloupe plant there instead. I really should have researched how big those plants get, because I have a feeling that they will overtake a tomato plant or two by the end of the season.

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I’m pretty sure this is the nicest that my front yard flowers are going to look this Spring, so I decided to send them off with one last shot. I figure that by the time all the tulips bloom, the daffodils will be gone (they’re already starting to wilt).

I’ll close by saying that I’m really happy with how the flowers turned out, and excited that they’re going to come right back next year without me having to do any real work. To anyone thinking about trying out bulbs: do it. They are well worth the time invested.

It’s been about a month since my last update, and things have progressed really well. Above, you can see that the daffodils are in full bloom. Also, grape hyacinths have started to sprout up around the daffodils, and the tulips will probably bloom next week. When I planted everything last fall, I was afraid that I planted them too early and they wouldn’t bloom this spring. I’m happy to see that everything’s coming up as planned.

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