Monday, November 19, 2012


Fall is the time to plant garlic, and as garlic is one of my favorite foods, I planted enough bulbs to almost completely cover the entire area of my two raised beds. The only area not planted in garlic is growing kale. I think I could live the rest of my life on nothing but garlic and kale.

I planted four varieties: Inchelium Red, Spanish Roja, Music, and Romanian Red. The night before planting I carefully separated individual cloves from the bulb. On planting day I placed the bulbs about five inches apart, labeled each row, and covered the cloves with one to two inches of soil.

Then I used our reel mower to chop up a big pile of fallen leaves. (In this picture the leaves don't look very chopped, but I assure you, they are.) I raked the chopped leaves into a cardboard box and dumped the box over my newly planted garlic cloves as a layer of mulch.

I had a very good leaf cruncher for a helper. She meticulously crunched one leaf at a time while studying every aspect of each leaf and taking breaks to chew on the stems.

And now all I have to do is . . . wait. The hardest part! I'm so looking forward to seeing shoots peeking through the leaves this spring!

Besides the amazing flavor and culinary diversity of garlic, it's pretty much a miracle substance. I call it a "substance" because, well, what is garlic, really? Is it a food? A spice? An herb? A medicine? It seems to fit into each of these categories but none explain it fully. It's too diverse to be pinned down to a single label. Did you know that garlic has been used medicinally for over 5000 years? It's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It's lipid lowering and anti-inflammatory. Garlic is great for all sorts of infections, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, imbalances in intestinal flora, boosting the immune system, warts, cold and flu, ear infections, burns, circulation problems, and yeast infections. In fact, garlic is good for almost any ailment; the only time it's not recommended is around the time of surgery because of its blood thinning properties.

I was very intimidated by the thought of growing my own garlic. I have no idea why. Perhaps because it isn't anything like your typical garden vegetable, but so far the process is completely non-intimidating. We shall see if I'm singing the same tune this spring.

One of my favorite uses for garlic is in my famous hummus. I like a really garlicky, lemony hummus, and this is just the recipe for it. What about you? What are some of your favorite garlic recipes? I hope to be needing lots of them this spring and summer!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Historical Re-Education

Earlier in the week, I stumbled upon a great resource for my historical re-education. It's a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. It features episodes 20-45 minutes in length, on all sorts of different historical topics and events. Clint and I listened to "Who was Tokyo Rose?" the other night, and it was very interesting and enlightening. I'm eager to listen to more and expand my knowledge!

As a side note while we're on the topic of podcasts, I've also been listening to a podcast from one of my favorite blogs (Chiot's Run) called Cultivate Simple. The podcast is described as, "A chronicle of a simple life." If you're interested in gardening, raising chickens, living simply, and the like, I really recommend the blog and podcast. But be prepared, it'll have you itching to begin all sorts of projects and read all kinds of new books. I love it! (Poor Clint though, I'm already petitioning for some chickens and a chicken tractor, thanks in part to this podcast!)

Back to the topic of history, I'm particularly interested in learning more about the Native Americans. I want to know more about their day-to-day lives, their herbal medicines, their agricultural practices, etc. Any book recommendations? I would also like to learn more about the Amish. Yes, I grew up in Amish country, had Amish friends and an Amish babysitter, but I don't know all that much about them, and I think my ignorance in this area is a shame. Plus, there is quite a bit about their lives that I admire and respect, and I'm so interested to know more. Any recommendations there? Lastly (for now), I would love to learn more about the Aztecs, particularly their agricultural practices. I recently read that they obtained seven harvests per year, the most productive agricultural system in world history. Wow. How did they do it? Why has this practice been discontinued? I want to know more!

What interesting things have you been reading or listening to lately? What have you been learning about? I would love to know!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Re-Education

Looking back at my educational experience, I sometimes wonder, "What did I do during all those years that I was in school?" Really, how did I receive a high school diploma without having ever read one scrap of authors like Dickens, Thoreau, Twain, or Hemingway? On top of that, my lack of historical knowledge is simply astounding. Historically I'm in even worse shape than I am in literature. I'm genuinely embarrassed about how little I know about past events.

Well, not being one to sit on my duff in the face of such dire circumstances, I've decided to embark on my own re-education. I'm going back and reading any great, classic, or important works of literature that I've missed, and I'm re-reading the few that I was fortunate enough to be exposed to in high school. I have a couple lists here and here that I'm using as a loose starting point for the building my literary knowledge. Many I will read, some I won't. Some I already have. Some I will re-read. (By the way, these lists come from a high school student I know. She's one intelligent and admirable young lady! I will be a happy mother indeed if Vivian has similar attributes to her when she's grown. This student has an amazing mom who I suspect has something to do with her daughter's excellent character . . . ) I may write out my own official list eventually, but for now I'm taking a more relaxed approach and just reading whatever I come across that fits into my idea of educating myself in important works of literature.

So, what about you? What are some of your favorite classics or even modern "must-reads" that I should add to my informal list? What is the one book (ok, or a few books if you're like me and too much of a book-lover to narrow it down to one) I absolutely must read? I'm also especially interested in books about historical events. Any recommendations there?

Update 11/10/12: Ok, so I made a list. I can't help it; I love lists! Link here or you can click on the "Re-Education Reading List" tab.