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Cobb Salad and Natural Gardening

It’s that time of year that I like to be outside, my toes dug deep into warm soil as a dig weeds out of every nook and cranny in my garden. I’m a bit anal about keeping those free riders out of my expensive organic fertilizer and compost. If you don’t give me something in return, then you must be a weed. Out damn weed! We’re having a really great time this year with our garden. It’s definitely a big change from years past where a “garden” consisted of three containers of tomatoes and a dying, aphid infested basil plant.

What moving out of the city has taught me is that there is so much more on offer in the sticks. Not only am I lulled to sleep every night by symphonies of owls and frogs, but there is a vast ocean of dirt, plants and grass to greet me every morning as I sip my 16 ounces of caffeinated bliss. (One thing I don’t give up in pregnancy is my coffee, only one mind you, but that one is mine.)

I’ve been talking so much lately about our garden and all the hard work we’ve been putting in, so I thought I would actually share some of the information I’ve managed to scrape by to make it successful. As well as photographic evidence, of course.

We started everything indoors in small peat discs, which were encased in their own little greenhouse. We used this one here. We waited for seedlings to be about 2-3 weeks old then transferred them to boxes so that we could reuse the greenhouse. This was all done indoors, and the seeds, once germinated, were left in our sun/laundry room. It’s unheated, but it is technically indoors.

We have yet to move many of the seedlings into the garden yet, as we had some late frost this year and lost one round of starters already.

We have also been watering using 100% rain water for the time being, as we do live in the Pacific Northwest, there is no shortage just yet. We are on a septic and well system and need to keep every precious drop of water to ourselves as long as we can. Those cloth diapers don’t wash themselves you know!

We recently discovered that our (lazily) uncovered rain barrels were severely infested with mosquito larvae. In my panic, I took the first advice I got on Twitter and squirted some natural soap in, stirred like a mad women and covered with wood planks. The bubbles are supposed to block the icky little things breathing tubes and they drown. Well, it did work, but I hear a drop of oil will do the trick, or just don’t start rain barrels without a mesh cover, which we now have in place.

As of today, we now have the following growing somewhere, either in the sunroom or out in the garden:

  • Beets – Golden Detroit
  • Radish – Flamboyant Sabina
  • Corn – Canadian Early Supersweet Hybrid F1
  • Mesclun Salad Mix
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Sweet basil
  • Rocket (Arugula)
  • Perpetual Spinach
  • Oregon Sugar Pod Peas (Snow Pea)
  • Purple Runner Bean
  • Tomatoes – Roma, Strawberry and Lemon boy
  • Rhubarb (unknown variety)
  • Red Romaine
  • Green Leaf lettuce
  • Carrots – Sweet coreless
  • Shallots
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Grapes – Concord + two unknown varieites
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli or some kind of Kale (given to me by my aunt…we’ll find out!)

And that should do us for this year! I’d love to give you all kinds of advice on how to sow, grow and harvest but I am as green as any of you. I rely heavily on Google, my aunt the gardener and the actual seed packets themselves. Let’s just say I wing it! I find most gardening is pretty self explanatory. The packet of seeds tells you when to sow, harvest and transplant and also when to fertilize, the amount of sun or shade needed, etc.

For the most part, we’ve had pretty good luck when it comes to harvest time and this year we’ll surely have enough to keep us going through until fall.

If you do want some advice though, I have a pretty good repertoire of information stored in the old brain bucket, so give me your questions and I will try to answer in a timely fashion.  Send e-mail to me here.

As for all that good stuff you may be growing in your garden, why not use some of it in this salad?

Cobb salad has been around for a long time, 1937 to be exact. Having been invented by the chef of the Brown Derby restaurant, Robert H. Cobb for one Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre fame). Although stories on the origin differ, one thing is certain, I love this salad. I used to eat it often when I was working in restaurants, as some of the ingredients can be pricey and working on a dishwasher’s salary had me confined to eating fancy stuff only at work. Everything I love is there, avocado, bacon, cheese, turkey or chicken breast, juicy tomatoes, did I say bacon?

So if it’s high time you ate a nice meal while sitting on your patio in the late evening sun, than this is surely the recipe for you to try.

Classic Cobb Salad

1 turkey breast (about 500 gr)
5 strips thick bacon
2 roma tomatoes (or whatever’s fresh!), chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, cubed
4 crimini mushrooms, cubed
1/2 head of Romaine lettuce
1/4 head iceberg lettuce
You could also try using a mix of other greens like endive, chicory, escarole, etc.
100 gr Chèvre, blue cheese, roquefort, etc., crumbled

1. Heat a frying pan and cook bacon until desired crispness. I’m one for extra crispy, but I hear some people don’t like it so crunchy…whatever works for you! When done cooking, lay to drain on kitchen towels and set aside. When cool, chop or crumble into bite size pieces.
2. Season turkey breast with a little salt and pepper, then rub in a tbsp or so of oil. Cook on a preheated grill on medium high heat for about 15 minutes, turning ever few minutes or so. Breast is done when juices run clear. Set aside. When cool enough, dice into cubes or shred with fingers.
3. Tear lettuce into bit size pieces and lay on plates.
4. In rows, lay each ingredient across the lettuce base, forming it’s own line.
5. Serve with dressing of choice.

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