June 2017 Letter

The View From Up Here This Month

June 2017 | jennifer@6ftmama.com

Capital M

My recipe for happiness in June always includes making mom's rhubarb bars, getting back into a groove with my garden practice, and planting tons of basil.  All of these simple pleasures represent the start of summer (and schlepping the kids to basketball camp - but let's focus on living the dream!)

My favorite rhubarb dessert is the one that my mom used to make when I was a little girl - it's still my favorite.  In Episode 571,  at the 1:10:00 mark, I thought it would be fun to give mom a call at the point in the show where I was talking about rhubarb (it's a "most wished-for plant").  Mom had no idea I was recording when I asked her to tell me the recipe so I could make this fantastic little dessert. 

See if you don't hear your own mother's voice as you read through mom's verbatim instructions:

OK.

Put four or five cups finely chopped rhubarb into the bottom of a 9x13 glass cake pan. 

Now what it doesn't say is I always took a frozen stick of butter and I just peel the wrapper back a little bit so I can keep my hands clean. (I don't take the whole wrapper off but just make it so you can use the end.) And I would go back and forth on the bottom of that cake pan and around the edges because you don't want it to stick for cleaning up, see? 

Then it's four to five cups of chopped rhubarb - and you're just dumping this stuff into the pan so you don't even need a mixing bowl - which is really nice.

Now, if you put in six cups of rhubarb - Oooooh well.

So four or five cups rhubarb chopped really fine - well, not really fine but nice fine - because you don't want a big clump of rhubarb in your mouth.

And you sprinkle one cup of sugar over that rhubarb.

Then you sprinkle one cup of miniature marshmallows (and if you don't have miniature marshmallows and only have big ones, you can take your kitchen shears and cut up big marshmallows into four chunks, you know?)

Then you add at least a cup of red raspberries.  (Just buy a couple of packages of fresh raspberries in the grocery store or you can buy frozen. But, if they're fresh then you know you don't have to wait for them to thaw.) 

[insert 70's flashback] This is where you and Lara (my best friend) got your hands all cut up because I was thawing out my frozen raspberries on the counter. Marj and I were out sitting on the picnic table and you both came out and your hands were all cut up because those raspberry cans at the time - you know when you peeled off the top then there was a sharp ridge all around the inside - had kind of a metal ridge, do you remember that?

So, Marj says, "What have you been doing?!"

And I'm like,  "Oh my! They got into my raspberries!"

[I didn't remember this - so mom continued on with the recipe.]

So, I would throw two packages of fresh raspberries over the top and now you pour over all of that your box of white jiffy cake mix. (And if they don't have that - it's just a half a box of another kind of cake mix - don't matter what kind you buy.)

You bake at 350 for about 40 to 50 minutes. You just watch and when it's all bubbly and the cake mix itself has browned so it looks yummy, you're done.

It says raspberries are optional of course but it tastes like a berry short cake if you use them.

And then you can serve that with whipped cream on top or ice cream - and it is also good plain. 

And then you refrigerate itafter it's cooled and everybody's had some of it.  Then if there is any left, you refrigerate the rest.

It's pretty darned easy. You just gotta have the ingredients.

Emma bakes rhubarb dessert

 

Now that she's done with her freshman year, Emma's back in the kitchen at least a few days a week. She's a baker at heart - like her Aunt Jill and Great Grandma Ruby.  Lucky me.

- - - - -

Gardening productivity is a bit of an obsession for me. I'm always trying to maximize my efforts in the garden, streamline my time, and feel a sense of accomplishment after working outside.

That said, every gardener is wired a little differently:

Some people want to get up and garden first thing in the morning while others wait to tackle their garden work late in the day.

Still others are weekend warriors.

But, whenever we talk about pursuing a hobby or a passion like gardening, it's important to remember that we're not doing it for a paycheck. We're not even doing it purely for happiness sake (because sometimes we can actually feel pretty miserable after being in the garden.)

So what makes us continue to garden and what makes certain that we don't give up on gardening?

The answer is a universal truth for any activity: It's being able to make consistent progress and feeling that our time in the garden is meaningful.

These thoughts on gardener productivity were the inspiration ofr Episode 572: Ten Little Changes to Your Gardening Practice That Will Make You Much More Productive

Ten Little Changes to Your Gardening Practice That Will Make You Much More Productive

- - - - - - -

One of the most popular episodes of the Still Growing Gardening Podcast came about almost by happenstance. I had been planting my yearly spring crop of basil and it occurred to me that basil might warrant it's very own episode. 

Many gardeners associate the smell of basil with summer.  Just by rubbing a basil leaf to release it’s earthy, rich, fragrance with hints of both mint and clove, makes me remember teaching my children how to harvest basil outside on the deck - where our kitchen garden is located.  In fact, one of the first recipes the kids memorized by heart is how to make basil pesto.  Now my family is definitely not alone in our love for basil - without a doubt, it’s among the most popular culinary herb. 
 
So what makes basil such a hot commodity in the garden? As the classic herb of summer, basil is a very well-rounded winner - from being a wonderful companion plant, cut-flower, easy propagator, bountiful producer, successful herb for preserving, a distinct aromatic addition to perfumes, a natural pest repellent, and absolutely amazing in the kitchen when used with an infinite constellation of 
recipes.
 
Episode 573 is simply called Basilmania - and it's my way of playing match-maker between you and the King of Herbs - Basil.  If you’ve never grown basil or cooked with basil - I want to make the introduction for you and if you’re already head over heels with basil (like I am), I want to give you even more reasons to keep your passion for basil alive.
 

Basilmania!

 
Wishing you a lovely June!
 
Still Growing,
6ftmama flower signature
 
 
Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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