Friday, March 6, 2009

Little Green Trees

"Your grandpa was so proud that he had the blackest dirt in Lyon county"

Shortly after his passing in 1995, my grandma told me that little tidbit about my grandpa. My grandpa worked tirelessly in his garden as long as I knew him. It was always a labor of love. A time when he and God could fellowship together.

To this day, the scent of drying onion skins, mixed with a slight dampness and dirt reminds me of my grandparent's fruit cellar. Throw in a hint of muskiness from ripe cantaloupes, and I am suddenly thrust back in time to when I was about 12 years old. It is a fond memory for me.

My mom and dad continued with the tradition of cultivating veggies in the summer as their parents and grandparents did before them. My brother and I would watch from the patio as our dad tilled the dirt and mixed in homemade compost. Then Dad would plot out where things were going to be planted for the season. Mom would be sitting in the grass breaking apart the little plastic tomato and pepper pots.

Then came time to plant the beans. This job was set aside for us kids. Mom would take the garden hoe and neatly make 2 rows in each bed for beans. Then she would instruct each of us to hold up our hands. She would show us on our pinkie fingers how deep to plant each bean. Next was the spacing, two inches apart. No closer. Then cover them and water them. Sounds easy enough. Except my brother and I were about 7 and 11 when this task was delegated to us. So we did as we were told for about 5 beans. Then as soon as Mom went inside, we threw the beans down the trough and quickly covered them up. Now this plan was all well and good until the beans began to grow. And grow they did, in clumps. Not only did they grow in clumps, they grew in the yard, and in the tomatoes, and in the brussle spouts, and in the potatoes... well, you get the picture. Needless to say, Mom and Dad watched us plant beans from that day on.

Because of the hands on involvement with planting, I learned to love raw veggies. My husband, however, is a meat man. His family raised chickens, pigs, and the occasional cow to butcher. So that means my sincere adulation for vegetables is met with some resistance. I have learned to how to "sneak" them into a lot of the dishes I prepare. (He helps buy them at the grocery or farmers market but never knows where they end up) Sometimes, though, the best way of getting him to eat veggies is to hide them in plain view. Oh, and adding some bacon doesn't hurt ;)

This is a recipe for a raw broccoli salad that my husband and I both love. We've brought it to several pot lucks and come home with a clean bowl every time.

Broccoli and Bacon Salad

4 cups uncooked broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
4 slices bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds

2 teaspoons vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup light miracle whip or light mayo
1/4 cup light sour cream

1. Combine dressing ingredients in a medium serving bowl.
2. Add broccoli, crumbled bacon, red onion, cheese and sunflower kernels. Toss to coat.
3. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

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