The Crispy Moon

We’ve come around again the the crispy, crunchy month of August. The grass has browned and my perennials are shrinking back into themselves, conserving water in the heat. Luckily we haven’t had any of the weather extremes people are getting elsewhere in the country. Just garden variety summer’s end.

My vegetable garden has turned into a jungle between the lima beans, tomatoes, tomatillo, peppers, basil, morning glories, and massive 14-foot sunflower that isn’t flowering.

Unfortunately there isn’t an overwhelming amount of produce on all this greenery. There’s still time and blossoms, though. I’m hopeful. And happy for the fresh things I’ve been able to harvest.

One nice thing about the end of the summer is that my toad lilies are blooming.

Plus the raccoons and I appear to have reached an agreement–if they’re still stopping by for drinks, they’re not trashing my plants too much. I’m also blasting country music 24/7 in hopes of making my back yard less appealing to them.

It’s corn and tomato season, so recently John and I mixed up some corn fritters and tomato gravy. It’s a very summery food, and was one of my mom’s favorites. Growing up, my sister and I protested it so much that she rarely made it. (It’s not the most attractive and we weren’t big tomato fans.)

Quite a few years ago, though, I must have asked her how to make it, because I still have a card she wrote to me that includes the recipes.

To make it, you start with fresh corn, cut the kernels off, mix them into a sort of corn pancake batter and cook them on a griddle. Meanwhile you slice up some tomatoes, dredge them in flower, brown them, then cut them up and add them to a white sauce. The tomato gravy is served over the corn fritters.

This time John and I got them just about perfect.

We followed the corn fritters with a great peach pie made with fabulous white peaches called Carolina Belles. I’d gotten them here in town and froze them just before John and I left for vacation. Delicious!

Great Gardens of Europe

John and I are just back from two weeks of adventures in Europe–seeing the sights, visiting great gardens, but mostly just visiting our sisters. John’s lives in England and mine in Germany.

Pictured above is the first great garden of Europe. It isn’t grand in size or at a castle or something, but it does belong to John’s sister Anna and her husband Mark. And it has chickens in it, so it qualifies as a great garden.

Anna and Mark live in Guildford, Surrey. It was a lot of fun to meet the chickens and to see that each one had her own personality.  I can definitely understand why they consider the chickens to be pets.

Also while in Guildford we got to visit the special Saturday farmers market where we sampled good food and where I got some great photos of produce. Then we ate sandwiches in the gardens surrounding the Guildford Castle Ruins before walking along the footpaths outside of town.

We did plenty of other picturesque, outdoorsy things in England before heading to my sister Kirsten and her husband Thilo’s apartment in Veitsbronn, Germany. Veitsbronn is a picturesque town with a picturesque church at the edge of the fields.

While in Germany, we visited an open air history museum with beautiful gardens and houses from various eras of Germany’s past.

This was one plant I kept seeing in Germany. I would love to know what it is:

While in Germany we also visited the town of Sommerhausen, known for wine and art galleries.

We sampled the regional wines, which were very good, and stopped in a couple art galleries that were open. One had a garden out back that was filled with art . I loved the glass items in particular and would love to replicate the look in my garden.

Another gallery had some funky tree art that I liked as well. It was strings of beads and flowers dangling from a tree’s branches and a terra cotta face on the tree trunk with a doll head as one of its eyeballs.

So there it is: my inspiring gardens of Europe. It’s kind of a random summary of our two weeks of travel, but all the better!