28 Feb

Winter still here? Tomato transplants are around the corner!

I don’t know about you, but I hope that the winter of 2017/18 is finally winding down. The sun has been shining the last few days, which has nudged the nighttime temperatures up a degree or two from below zero. I finally decided to put on my high-top rain boots in order to get to the back gate in the hopes that Bodie and I could take a walk along the ditch; however, needless to say, I needed thigh-high waders! Bodie didn’t enjoy our attempted excursion either, so we had to call it quits!  The next best thing for us to do was to start seeding the tomato transplants that are now on the website for  pre-order.

Even though I was born and raised here in Montana, one of the most challenging aspects of our winter season is the fact that I really haven’t made friends with the cold again, after living in Hawaii for 12 years. From early spring to late fall, I have been blessed to be able to be outside working in my gardens. Having my feet firmly grounded on the earth and the sun warming my body provides me the opportunity to go into a working/walking meditation. The chatter of my brain quiets and that inner sense of nothingness becomes palpable. I can still get there when sitting on the couch, but it is certainly not as easy.

I have been out working in the greenhouse starting the seeds that will be transplanted out into the gardens starting early spring. The tomatoes, peppers, mustard greens, broccoli, scallions and onions are already coming up! I’ve planted lots of flowers, too.  Edible flowers of violas, nasturtium,  calendula, citrus marigold have been a big hit with the local chefs.    When the sun in shining it has been over 80 degrees out there! I even had to start removing my layers of jacket and sweater. The feel of potting soil in my hands and the earthy aroma brought a smile to my face! I guess it is true that the simplest things can bring the greatest pleasure.  You might think that it is way to early to start seeds, but I am holding the door open for an early spring!

Tomato Transplants

Heirloom, organic tomato transplants are now available for sale on my website.   The photos and descriptions are already making my mouth water for summer salads and tomato sandwiches.  Nothing better than these sweet, juicy homegrown beauties!  I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy this wintertime comfort food stew.  It will warm your body and delight your stomach!

Better with Cheddar Cornbread Stew

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (14 ounces) Cheddar Smoked Sausage or any sausage you prefer
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large red onion, cut in small wedges
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1 package (8.5 ounces) corn muffin mix

Preparation

  1. Cut sausage into 1/4-inch slices and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring broth to a boil.
  3. Add vegetables, continue to cook for 10 or until vegetables are crisp and tender.
  4. In a small bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Stir until smooth.
  5. Add to vegetables, continue to cook and stir for 2 or until thickened.
  6. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese and sausage.
  7. Spoon mixture into a greased 2-1/2 quart baking dish.
  8. In a small bowl, mix corn muffin mix according to package directions.
  9. Spoon batter over the surface of vegetable/sausage mixture.
  10. Add remaining cheese to batter.
  11. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 or until corn bread is golden brown.

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