Friday, April 17, 2015

Spinach and Radish Soup

colander of spinach and radishes posing with my lettuce and giant lima sprouts
For several days, I have been trying to find creative ways to use the beautiful, huge, plentiful spinach in my garden. I grew it, so I don't want it to go to waste. I had tossed around the idea of this soup for a while before I actually found the courage to try it with my children this evening. They tend to be funny about the way food tastes.

As the cool sprinkles fell from the sky I made my way out to the garden. I am so amazed at what peace I have come to find there...even when I have to pull some weeds. :)

With my trusty colander and scissors in hand, I cut some spinach leaves and pulled a couple of radishes I found that were ready. I had hoped to find more radishes, but it seems I will have to wait a little longer. I guess it's a good thing I had a bag of them from the store that I bought the other day.

Inside I came to wash my ingredients, and the chopping and tossing of things that sounded good into the pot began! The result was a very yummy soup that had even my children sayings, "Mmmm!" With results like that, it had to go on the blog!

So without further Adieu, I present for your palate's pleasure...

Spinach and Radish Soup

2 T butter
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package Polska Kielbasa, sliced
1 lb radishes
32 oz chicken stock
1/4 t turmeric
1 t salt
4 c spinach, chopped
1 T sugar, optional

In a large stock pot, melt butter. Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add in sliced kielbasa, and lightly brown. Add in radishes, allowing them to cook a few minutes while stirring occasionally. Add in chicken stock, turmeric and salt. Cook until radishes are soft. With a potato masher, mash the radishes lightly to break them up. Add in spinach and allow them to wilt. Add sugar to cut any bitterness if desired. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Feeling Blessed

When I was young, I learned my grandparents lost a daughter when the girl was just a baby. She was my mother's sister. Some time later, my grandparents' home burned down, and they lost all the precious reminders of the dear little one they lost. The story always troubled me so because it was so sad to me.

It was also as a young child that my grandparents built a home atop a tall hill at the base of Fort Mountain in north Georgia. Oh, the precious memories and peace those mountains hold for me still to this day! In their home hung what seemed to me as the most sad picture. I couldn't understand why anyone could want a picture of a burial of a child on their wall. I just figured it must bring sweet memories of the daughter they lost. The picture was always dim and not clear, but it was okay with me. I didn't want to inspect it, and I spent a lot of time avoiding looking at it.

Today, as I walked around my garden and yard looking at my plants, I remembered that picture.

Jean-Francois Millet’s painting The Angelus
I remember the day someone finally pointed out that picture was in fact not a burial, but a couple praying over their harvest. Oh, goodness! As silly as I felt when someone pointed out what that picture really was, I was incredibly relieved. Even still, I didn't grasp the full beauty of that picture that is not until the last few months.

For so long I have wanted a garden, a real garden. A garden productive enough to feed my family food I knew was healthy and chemical free. The trouble was that I had no clue about gardening. I kill house plants in a matter of days, my flower beds are full of weeds and ants, and my sod is dead. Can you understand my hopelessness? The only thing I am truly gifted at is growing huge, rampant weeds! Though I come from long lines of those with beautiful green thumbs, mine is as brown as brown can be. How in the world would I ever grow a nice garden?

I did what I always do when I don't know what to do. I just prayed. I asked God to show me something about gardening that I could understand, because I truly don't understand traditional garden rules, do's and don't's. It is like trying to understand Greek to me. I asked Him to teach me and guide me, and show me what to do. It was hard to not be envious when many friends talked of garden plans and what they were getting from their gardens. Yet, I chose to be patient and listen and pick up any morsels of knowledge I might gain from their conversations, like Naomi and Ruth gathering wheat that had fallen to the wayside from the harvested fields. It wasn't long before a video about the Back To Eden Gardening Method came across my path from a dear friend. The video was so beautiful to me. I felt God sent it to me, because, finally, I understood something. I got it! Also beautiful to me was the whole idea of covering streaming throughout the whole video and how vital it is to the healthy growth of the garden. Since the teaching of prayer covering was new and precious to me, the amazing way God works was just absolutely beautiful and astounding to me! How beautiful he works and teaches if we are willing to be vulnerable and open our hearts and minds to listen. His words and ways are sweet as honey! I remember crying in thanksgiving and awe while watching parts of the video. God is so incredibly good.

Still, it was another year before I could put my garden in. When I knew for certain I was ready, and it was time, I still had obstacles to overcome: Convincing and teaching my husband who became quite frustrated with me, blocking out naysayers, and finding materials. Still God has been so incredibly faithful. I never did convince my husband. I had to give that over to God. I didn't want to argue with my husband or make him feel he was wrong. I just shared a couple videos and prayed. God eventually opened his heart and mind, and he became just as excited, if not more than, me! To those who doubted or said it wouldn't work, I just had to let their comments go in one ear and out the other. Most who gave me reasons it wouldn't work were dear to me. They were very experienced gardeners with beautiful harvests each year. I had every reason in the world to listen to them, yet God whispered to keep going. I loved them dearly and respected them, so I just sat and listened with respect. You know, there were still grains of knowledge in their words from which to learn. I'm so glad I sat and listened without argument! The supplies were also tricky. I had a bit of a challenge locating all I needed and some things fell through, yet God provided as always! I was amazed that each time we were ready to put out a layer, my husband would say, "We don't have enough. It's not going to cover everything." I distinctly remember not saying a word other than we would do the best we could. I would just start praying as I started work on putting out the material. I prayed that God would bless the material and stretch it. Then I would pray that God would bless the garden that it would be in the end. I would thank God for leading me to the method I could finally understand, and I would tell Him I trusted Him to provide. With each layer of material, we would have just enough or even a little left over! That is my God!! I later told my husband of my continuous prayers through the process, and he heartily agreed that it was God who stretched our materials.

So this morning as I walked around looking at the beautiful plants growing in my garden and the tiny plants sprouting up from where I just simply scattered seeds around in different places in the field, I felt so incredibly blessed and loved. It was as if God gave me a hug. Even my cabbages that I was sure were completely lost to a frost a couple days ago were still alive! I still don't know if they will continue to grow and thrive, but even if they don't, I know God is right there teaching me something He wants me to know! When I came inside to the plants I started inside with 100% germination, the feelings of incredible love and thanksgiving continued! Those plants are huge, and there is simply no reason they should be that big and still be alive-I've already told you my history with house plants! As I marveled and questioned how in the world it was possible they were still living and thriving, my answer came. They were alive because I didn't grow them. My faith in God and His promise grew them! Wow, wow, wow!!

As I ready myself to plant the bulk of my garden in the next couple days, I have no confidence in my ability to make the garden work, to keep the weeds out, to keep the pests out, to water it well enough, etc, etc. BUT I do have full faith in God to teach me what He would have me know. My garden could completely flop, but I know my God is right there teaching and guiding! For now, I am holding to the faith that He will continue to grow my garden just as He has already started to do.

Also for now, if anyone has a copy of the picture above they are going to throw out, I would love to have it. It is now near and dear to my heart, for I get it. :)

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!