Thursday, April 13, 2017

Farm Food: Not Fancy, but Friendly

Some special friends of ours live about a mile or so down the highway. I've known Ron since I was a little girl, and was delighted when he and his wife Jane relocated to Montana almost two years ago, and even more tickled when they found a beautiful home nearby.
Flower Farm Christmas
Our friends Ron and Jane at Christmas.

Last week Ron gave us all a big scare: a very serious heart attack.

During stressful times, there are really only two choices. Either you stop eating, or you eat like a locust. At Flower Farm, we are card-carrying members of the latter camp. So we helped the best way we knew: food offerings.

While in the hospital, Ron the Patient was getting broth and Jello on a hospital tray. For his worried wife and daughters, though, the situation clearly called for comfort food. Crockpots and casseroles.

So we cooked up some BBQ pulled pork, rolls, cheesy creamy potato casserole (I'm not calling them funeral potatoes because he lived! Ron lived! But that's what they were), a veggie balsamic-herb medley of asparagus, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onions, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Ron is home now and doing a little better every day. We are grateful. Because this world needs more Ron.

He is a big kidder and likes to laugh. I've been teasing him about his new "heart healthy" diet, insisting that he will now need to subsist mainly on twigs, nuts, berries and pebbles. (I used to be a healthcare professional. I know things.)

Today I'm sending over another meal, and since this one will include Ron, the menu selection needed more restraint, fat and calorie-wise. So I made soup.

The roasted tomatillo verde soup base doesn't
 look very appetizing, I'll grant you.
But trust me: it's amazing.
Cooked up a big 'ole pot of Montana-Mex verde soup, using a roasted base of tomatillos, Hatch chile peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes grown right here in the garden at Flower Farm last summer, scratch chicken stock, black beans, white corn, spinach, chicken, cilantro and mild(ish) seasonings. Spinach doesn't usually belong, but we'll say it's camouflaged it as "extra" cilantro for Ron, and his on-the-mend heart.

But toppings! This is where things got tricky.

Avacados are probably okay for our boy Ron. But Monterey Jack cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream? Not so much.
Organic, non-GMO and no salt... it all sounded hopeful.
But on second thought, no. None for Ron.
So I made some special food labels to distinguish between Ron-approved and Ron-prohibited toppings.

Sour cream label: "Sorry, man."

Cheese label: "Absolutely not."

And so on and so forth.

Still, I didn't want him feeling left out. So as an extra thoughtful and caring gesture, I also sent some special toppings, just for Ron.
Ron Toppings:
pinecones, gravel, sunflower seeds, twigs

Farm food and friendship. Nothing fancy, but I sure hope it does their hearts good, and gives them a little chuckle.

PS.  I also sent the food with an extra special delivery guy -- the boonies version of Waiters on Wheels. Pretty sure Ron and Jane will like that.

My Daddy, friend to all,
and the world's greatest food deliverer.
Pinned a note on my Dad, just in case he forgot what he was doing. (While he was here waiting for me to finish packing up the food, he went to the bathroom but forgot to pee. Just sayin'.We had a good laugh about that.)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Miracle Properties of the Red Solo Cup

You're thinking tailgating. Or a kegger, by a big-ass campfire. Maybe Beer Pong. Or perhaps even this little ditty:
Red Solo Cup,
I fill you up.
Let's have a party.
Proceed to party.
Nope. All these uses for the ubiquitous Red Solo Cup have their place. (Toby Keith is iffy.) But that place is not at your wedding or special event at Flower Farm.

Not unless you are a certain sort of Montuckybilly bride, intent on wearing, say, a camouflage wedding dress. Or bedecking your groom and his fellas with boutonnieres principally consisting of rifle shells and fossilized elk scat. Or menus that have any sort of nod to Velveeta, Spam, and Lil Smokies.

If you are that sort of bride, then I suppose there are only two possible reactions:
  1. "Let me talk you out of Red Solo Cups. Just think how charming some sweet little Mason jars with chalkboard tags will be! Or chilled Pilsners!"  But, if my persuasive powers fall short...
  2. Each to her own.
All that said, I rise with heartfelt gratitude to salute the Red Solo Cup.

That humble scarlet Solo, that rosy receptacle, that blushing bar beverage holder, and her lesser-known but equally useful Blue Solo sister, will be big big big players in your perfect wedding day, in vastly important ways. But behind-the-scenes. Without you ever knowing -- unless you read on.

Exhibit A:  Today, I planted bulbs, tubers and seeds down in the Flower Farm greenhouse. Any guesses on the perfect container for starting Casablanca Lilies, Stargazer Lilies, and any other member of the genus Lillium? How about the ideal starting pot for three sweet, wee little bulbs of Gayfeather, from the genus Liatris? (We may as well learn some Botany while we go along here.)

Yes. Correct! The perfect starting receptacle for these and many other plants we grow here at Flower Farm is the RSC.

You're sharp, I can see that. I'm not getting anything past you.

Head start: Bulbs started in Red Solo dirt cups at Flower Farm Weddings & Events. Soon, they will become gigantic, fragrant white flowers and showstoppers in your bouquets and centerpieces.

Simple needs of a Stargazer Lily bulb: Dirt, water, sunshine, and a Red Solo Cup, A good playlist from Flower Farm Weddings & Events also doesn't hurt.
Still, right at this moment, you're probably thinking to yourself:
"Big deal."
"She planted a big gigantic head of ugly garlic in a plastic beer cup. So what?"
Allow us to explain. Just a few short months from now, that garlicky-looking thingamabob is going to turn into this.

And maybe a few weeks later, I'll be down in the garden with my new nippers.

(New nippers! I got new nippers! Also: new bypass pruners. And get ahold of yourself, this is a tsunami of mind-blowing fantastic-ness right now, and I realize there's a limit to how many world-rocking revelations I can spew forth in just a single paragraph, so I probably should meter out all this thrilling news just a little more slowly and gently...  But wait.  Just wait until you see my new gloves.)

Excuse me. I need a moment. I feel sweaty. Jiggy. Light-headed.

In fact, on second thought, these gloves are a whole separate post unto themselves. Later this week. Wait for it.

Meanwhile, let's just say say the UPS man visibly winces and braces himself in reaction to my spirited, enthusiastic, shimmying, full-throated responses to his comings and goings. Spring at Flower Farm is way better than Christmas, obvi. But he seems afraid. Of me. Whatever.

I digressed. Where was I? Ah, yes. I was out with my new nippers in the cutting gardens of Flower Farm Weddings & Events, imagining two months from now, and the delicious romantic scent of lilies wafting up my nostrils. In my mind, I was cutting flowers for you, my friend.

For your gorgeous wedding bouquet. Like the one I made for Ashley.
Jake, Ashley, and her simple, gorgeous Stargazer Lily bouquet.
Or to tuck whimsically behind your ear, because maybe you are a bohemian bride. Or snipping some gayfeather stems to soar with fuzzy floret abandon above the dinnerplate dahlias and Queen Anne's lace in your centerpieces. You know. The ones that will leave your guests gasping and dizzy with delight at the eye-popping extravaganza of your event flowers.

But where are the lowly Red (and Blue) Solo Cups, you ask? Their duty done, their service complete, their function as a vital, virtual uterus gestating lovely flowers, they are gone. Put away. No longer in evidence. Back in the box, stoically bearing their unsung fate like the burden it is. (Discussion. Uteri metaphors in a wedding business blog? Too much? Talk amongst yourselves.)

So. Let us pause, reflect and raise our cups in honor. Thank you, RSCs.

All right. I'm finished.

You were praying I was finished, weren't you? Weren't you!

But if I'm going to be perfectly honest, there is one more big way that RSCs powerfully contribute here at Flower Farm that cannot be overlooked.

The distance between the house and the greenhouse on our property is about 100 paces, up a slight grade.

From time to time, in the evening, I may or may not enjoy an adult beverage while working in the greenhouse. Say, a Keystone Light. (Who's the Montuckybilly now, huh? Okay. Fair point. But shush it, hipster beer elites. Macro-brew has its place.)

After a Keystone or three, my 51-year-old bladder begins sending ever-more urgent signals to my brain.  My 51-year-old bladder will not be ignored, my friends. It is insistent.

The total elapsed time for a greenhouse-to-house round trip should clock no more than five minutes. But inevitably, I reach the house and adult ADHD (or Keystone Light) kick in. My eyes alight on laundry that needs changing, meat that needs thawing, dishwasher that needs starting. God forbid Facebook emits a happy, hopeful little ding.

These distractions beckon and propel me like a heat-seeking missile, toward "things that are not gardening." And that's a problem.

Because: Your bouquet. Your centerpieces. Your whimsical, bohemian hair flowers. Remember? I do it all for you, you pretty, pretty bride, you.

So one evening last year, I improvised and problem-solved. Devised a little time-and-motion solution to wasteless time on bio breaks while working in the greenhouse. And my solution involves...

Yes. A Red Solo Cup. You really are very quick on the uptake. Quite clever. Round of applause to you.

Fine. Act appalled. Be aghast, like Greg was, the first time he came upon me and my -- ahem -- cup.

When you think about it, his reaction is the very definition of sexism, because that man walks around pissing on trees and marking his territory day and night. Day and night, I tell you! But just once, let him find me efficiently and practically taking care of my own bodily needs, and he glares like he caught me gutting a tiny soft furry kitten. In a tone heavy with accusation and disapproval, he manages, "What is wrong with you?"

The greenhouse is made of windows. I'll grant him that. But crouched between the potting soil bin and trash can, I am practically invisible. Far as I know.

In case you are wondering, my trusty Red Solo Cups not only help produce bountiful blooms (because I do it all for you, have I mentioned?) and address my bodily needs. But in a stroke of brilliance, it also dawned on me that I could use my cup contents for additional good.

Pee it forward, so to speak.

Sloshing RSC in hand, at the end of a greenhouse session, I now walk through my perennial beds and rock gardens, broadcasting liquid gold onto my less deer-tolerant plants.

"Take that, Miss Doe!  That Hosta doesn't seem so delicious anymore, does it? High-yah!"
[Me, making karate chop hand-motions toward imaginary deer while flinging fountains of my own urine into my own yard from a Red Solo Cup.]
"This isn't the salad bar at Sizzler, sister. Move along."

Greg just read this draft, and among other gentle suggestions, he pointed out that I might want to promise never to put a pee flower in a beautiful bride's hair. Excellent point.

Apropos of nothing, behold Blue the Cow Dog. Just being her beautiful and bossy self while supervising greenhouse work.

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