I’m a nutcase. If I find something I like I can’t get enough of it. My latest craze is gold spray paint. In September, I helped my former employee, Seniel Seward, with her wedding floral arrangements. Her colors were gold and green. I used lots of grasses and gold sprayed astilbes and hydrangea flowers. Those flowers last forever in a dried winter arrangement. Now, in order to complete my outside Christmas decorations, I am spraying everything from rakes and shovels to grapevine wreaths. I must say they look great but talk about overkill.
I laughed on my way to Edgartown recently at the entry to Windsor Drive. The holiday arrangement on the street sign was covered with greens and gold spray painted sea shells, including horseshoe crabs. Now why didn’t I think of that?
I still have a remarkable assortment of food in the vegetable garden. I have yet to get into some serious collard greens and kale picking. I have not experienced a hard enough freeze to kill the little gray aphids that still are hiding in some of the leaves. Trust me, inspection with reading glasses is a must with produce. I’ve noticed that the prewashed lettuce and/or spinach mixes purchased at the market can use another rinse. Nothing is more unpleasant at supper than a sandy salad.
I planted some field peas as a cover crop on several vegetable beds. Some critter, a rabbit I believe, is faithfully eating down the rows. I figured I’d beat him to it and picked an armload of the six-inch tall shoots. I tossed them into the crockpot with some chicken stock and onions. After everything was tender, I took the handheld blender to the mix. I was thinking pea soup minus a ham bone. The pea stems would not blend and would require some serious chewing. Not one to waste food, I put it through a strainer and, honestly, ended up with delicious soup.
I sorted through some of my stored potatoes and noticed that the early Red Norlands have already begun to sprout. They do not store as reliably as the Russets or Katahdins. Guess I’ll add them to the pea soup.
I finished Mike Madison’s book, Blithe Tomato. It is an insider’s wry look at farmers’ market society. There were so many interesting characters in the book. One, a chicken farmer, had so many different varieties of chickens affording a vast array of subtly colored eggs. He spent lots of time at the market repositioning eggs in their crates. He considered it an art form. In our huge agribusiness culture, creating uniformity and eliminating diversity is the norm. Just as people and ideas are healthier and more interesting when differences are celebrated, so should our food reflect variety.
Another interesting character sold melons. While they are out of season here in the Northeast, you may be happy to learn how to judge the ripeness of a melon. Cantaloupes and other melons with netted rinds should smell richly fragrant and should yield slightly on the stem end from thumb pressure. A honeydew can be shaken next to your ear. If ripe, the seeds will be loose and you can hear them sloshing around. If the seeds are tight and quiet it will never ripen. For a watermelon check the spot that was on the ground in the field. If it is yellow the melon is ripe - green or white means again, it will never ripen. Thumping the melon is useless.
Violet and I have been enjoying various Christmas decorations in our town this week. The Grinch in the present-filled sleigh at E.S.S. across from the Vineyard Haven Fire Station is quite well done. We are crazy about the sleigh in front of Island Entertainment. It is pulled by several small tractors sporting moose and elk antlers.
Speaking of Christmas, the First Baptist Church is hosting its annual Holiday Tea from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Parish Hall, tomorrow, Dec. 17. It is a lovely event.
It’s hard to believe we will be having the G.O.P. primary fights until June. I wish I could say something remotely entertaining about Newt Gingrich. Even his own sister, nevermind former Republican colleagues, have disparaging remarks. He does toss red meat to the far right base. It is astonishing how the American electorate has such a short memory. They think he’s great and he is reminding them of that fact every time he speaks. He does, however, make the other candidates look much more acceptable. Did I actually say that?