Thursday, August 31, 2017

Operation Garden Salvage (or "The Adventures of Ted and Bob")

If anyone is wondering what I've been doing this week, this post will cover it.  Trust me.

I went out Sunday to find the garden destroyed.  The moose came back.  This time with a friend.

The way the tracks looked in the cabbage bed the moose were NOT happy to find the cabbages gone.  I, in a moment of a twisted sense of humor (if you can't laugh, what else can you do?) as I was salvaging what I could of the wreckage, thought of how the entire event HAD to have gone down.  I named the moose Ted and Bob for the sake of hilarity.
Ted *standing in what had once been the cabbage bed, looking around*:  "Hey, Bob!"

Bob *sniffing around and not finding any cabbages, realizing he's in trouble*:  "Um, yeah, Ted?"

Ted:  "I thought you told me there were delicious cabbages here."

Bob:  "Um, yeah, I guess the two legger came in and pulled them.  Or maybe that other moose, Abbot, down the road, got them."

Ted *looking at Bob like he's not believing a word*:  "Uh huh.  Well, Bob, you know what that means right?  You still owe me twenty bucks."

Bob *looking desperate*:  "But, Ted!  Look at these yummy peas!"  *chews on the peas zealously while making "yum" sounds*

Ted:  "Not good enough, Bob."

Bob *looking around*:  "Oh, hey, there's TONS of turnip greens!  If you just stomp on them like this..." *lifts hoof and stomps turnip greens into the ground hard* "...and then eat them, they are nice and tender and none of the spiky bits will bug you!"  *Eats turnip greens and isn't impressed but does it trying to sell Ted on the idea*

Bob:  "Ted?"  *Turns around to see Ted already walking away down the driveway*

Bob *chasing after Ted*:  "Aw, come on Ted!  I don't have twenty bucks!!!  Ted???  Ted!?!"

*Bob and Ted exit scene*
Anyway, you find reasons to not cry when you are picking up the meager remains of your garden.  The moose had pulled out some carrots by the tops, others they'd trampled into the ground and broke the tops off.  The turnips were much the same.  The peas were ripped out of the ground or eaten and definitely ripped off the trellis.  The garden, in short, was a huge moose riddled mess.  Oddly enough, the only thing that survived unscathed were the beans.  Bush or pole the moose just kind of went around them and didn't bug them.  They must not have liked beans or something.  So, the pole beans I carefully unwound from the remains of the pea plants and put them back up onto the trellis to grow more (after I put the trellis back up again), the bush beans got a bit bruised but are still alive and one lowly rat tailed radish survived in tact somehow.  Other than that the garden was shot.

So, Sunday started "Operation Garden Salvage" (or as I nicknamed it, "Oooooo!  I really hate that moose!"...say it like Yosemite Sam in your head.  You'll thank me later).

Here is what I was able to get out of the remains of the garden.  Be prepared.  This gets a bit weird.  But it worked!

1.  The turnips (not pictured, enough though I SWORE I took pictures of those things)...

The turnips were pretty small when I dug what was left of them (the only decent sized one, one of moose bit in comment on what I called it).   I was able to salvage a good portion of the greens, however, and I blanched and froze those Saturday and some on, I think, Monday (man the week has kind of rushed by...I THINK it was Monday...anyway...I blanched and froze the turnip greens is really the important part *laugh*). 

The beet greens...there wasn't much left of those.  I ended up throwing what I could salvage in with the turnip greens when I processed them.  Sad fate, that.  The turnips themselves I threw in with a beef roast I made last night (and thus they ended up as part of a meat pie tonight as well) as they were so tiny, what was left, that they could all be used at once.

Monday I actually made sauerkraut to steep down in the pantry for the next couple of months (well I guess at this point it's cabbage in a beginning brine to ferment over the next couple of months, but close enough).  My neighbor stopped by and checked out the destruction.  He felt sorry for me when he saw me staring forlournly at my beautiful garden laying in tatters and next thing I knew he came back over armed with two of his early harvest cabbages that he'd picked "just in case" as last year the moose had wiped out his cabbages as well.  He's been my gardening buddy since I moved in here years ago and his generosity made the day a bit more bearable.  We had as much of a conversation as I could muster that day with how bad my voice was and I told him I was so going to give him a hug when I was feeling better and I am definitely keeping myself to that.  I also grabbed a couple of jars of home made jams and jellies to bring over with me when I do to thank him for his generosity.

Between the two cabbages I had in the fridge and the two he gave me I was able to put up seven quarts of sauerkraut to ferment.  I was thrilled to put up a decent amount of SOMETHING for winter this month, anyway.

2.  The carrots (some of them seen up above number one)

I'm still not completely done with these, sadly.  I still need to blanch and freeze the bag of baby carrots I got from the plants, but the carrots that were left I placed aside and dealt with the greens first.  But, this is what I got done Tuesday in between everything else going on.  Notice the jar on the right hand side of sauerkraut that I STILL needed to put down in the dark pantry?  Yup, that's how with it I was this week *laugh*.
I made carrot top pesto with the carrot tops.  I made several batches.  In one I used a combo of parsley and dill (I had to buy parsley as the parsley in the Aerogarden never did get very big, but I had a ton of dill, thus why I used dill) and another batch with parsley and cilantro (parsley and cilantro were the only two herbs I could get at the store cheap).  I added a splash of lemon juice to the dill pesto to use on fish or chicken (since dill is such a strong flavor and such) and I used a half teaspoon of orange extract in the batch with the cilantro just because I saw that this recipe used orange juice and orange zest (neither of which I had) with some cilantro in the pesto, so I figured the flavors would go together okay.  I used a container of Blue Diamond raw almonds from the freezer that I've had forever (I bought a flat of them from Amazon years, and I mean YEARS ago and they have stayed good in the freezer all these years as I used them slowly but surely...I'm down to my last container now...I'll kind of miss them when they are gone) and used half the container for each type of pesto.  I used grated Parmesan (you know the stuff that comes in the green shaker) and garlic cloves from my braid of garlic I made last year (still going strong actually).  Overall I spent 1.98 on herbs (I had a personalized price on parsley and cilantro, oddly enough) and that was it for the materials I had to buy to make it.

Overall I'm looking forward to experimenting with the pesto and seeing what it works with in the months to come.  I got four bags of pesto out of the carrot tops, but I doubt I'll have to use a full bag for most applications, so I'm figuring on just breaking off what I need as I need it.
3.  The peas and pea plants

Yup, you read that right.  Pea plants.  Did you know that pea plants are completely edible?  Weird huh?

I looked at the remains of the pea plants and tried to figure out something to do with them.  I hadn't gotten many peas this year yet because of the weather and had JUST gotten my first sandwich bag full processed and put into the freezer for winter.  So, I was ticked and felt really cheated knowing that the peas were dead.  So, in a moment of utter frugalness, I ripped off EVERY single leaf from the plants, any flowers and ripped off any shoots/vines that were still decently tender (you don't want the thick vines as they get really woody) and threw them into a bowl right along with the few peas that were on the plants.  After staring at them a few hours I finally figured out what to do with them.

In Julia Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking:  Volume Two" she shares a recipe for "Edible Pea Pod Soup".  Well, I figured if the recipe was good enough for pea pods, it should be good enough for pea plants right along with the pods, right?  I did change a bunch of stuff in the recipe to make it more flavorful as the pea leaves and things weren't as heavily flavored as pea pods, I figured.  Like the original recipe called for just water to be used when cooking down the pea pods, I used chicken stock (well in this case reconstituted chicken bouillon since I didn't have any chicken stock in the freezer) and I added a piece of crisp bacon crumbled up to the onions to help give the soup base more flavor (I had the bacon in the fridge left over from a breakfast dinner...waste not, want not).

I finished the first stage of the soup last night, late, after simmering the pea plants/peas/pods/the whole shabang for an hour.  I then put it into the fridge to sit and went to bed, sucking on a cough drop (at least I AM getting better..just slowly...I could actually talk near normally today!).

Tonight I pulled out the good old food processor and food mill, and a bag of frozen peas, and got to work.  I pureed the pea plant soup cold in the food processor.  Meanwhile I cooked the bag of frozen peas (minus about 1/3 of a cup that I put into the meat pie for dinner tonight) on the stovetop.  I then put the pureed soup through the food mill (TOTALLY NECESSARY if you do this!  You will not believe how much fibrous material the soup will have in it until you puree it and strain it.  Trust me!).  I then drained the cooked peas, pureed them in the food processor too and put them through the food mill as well...just to add more of "kicked up pea flavor" to the soup base.

Here's the final product....
As it stands right now you would NEVER know that there were pea plants in the soup.  It tastes just like a really good pea soup.

I divided the soup base into two cup measures in some quart sized freezer bags and then placed the freezer bags inside a gallon sized freezer bag JUST in case they leaked and put the whole lot in the freezer.  I ended up with four bags of soup base, which you are supposed to add milk, water and a bit of cream, or sour cream, to the soup when you finish it, which I will do (the cream might end up being milk with flour added, or I'll use sour cream powder, but it'll work fine) when we actually eat the soup, but as it is right now it's really tasty!  I was proud of this one, honestly :).

And so ends the saga of the 2017 garden...well unless the beans start really producing beans and I can actually process some for use over the winter months (which would be nice).  But, yeah, as salvage efforts went okay.  Wish there had been more to salvage, but I did what I could with what I had.

And now onto figuring out tomorrow's endeavors, working on monthly goals and other matters.  Hope you all had a better gardening week than I did!


  1. I've no idea how dangerous a moose might be, but I keep thinking that while it's horrible you lost so much of your garden at least you or your kids weren't outside and got attacked.

    You were clever with using up the parts that I imagine most of us, including myself throw away.

    I was impressed hearing you had bought a flat of almonds, I've never seen that on amazon, and they don't do flat sales here on anything at our stores.

    I hope your week goes well, you are always very inspired, what an awesome thing.

    The weekend is about to get pretty stressful for us, so I was proud of kyself as I went grocery shopping yesterday and did all my errends that I stayed within the $40 I had. I even looked at JcPenny where I had a 10 off 10 coupon to find something as a gift, or a need but nothing I saw would be close to the 10, so I gave my coupon to an older lady who was buying towels. I have already had to dip into part of septs budget already, so better to avoid more temptation.

    1. Yes, moose are scary, especially if you catch them by surprise. I was terrified all of this week once they found the cabbage plants that my husband was going to come home from work, get out of his truck and be in for a bad surprise as I could tell the moose were NOT happy with the lack of cabbages by the tracks in the old cabbage bed. Luckily he has been extra careful and made sure to keep a high powered light with him to shine around the garden to scare off anything that might be around, but still...nerve wracking.

      You can still get like a case of 12 containers of almonds on Amazon if you watch. Sometimes Amazon will ship them for other sellers so you can get free shipping and yeah...12 containers of almonds seems like it wouldn't last a while, but the 12 I bought lasted us over six years *laugh*. I just stored them directly in the freezer still sealed and haven't had even a stale tasting almond doing that.

      I get avoiding temptation. It's hard at first and then becomes easier. Now I go into the thrift stores and am always going through the list of things I need in my head, versus things I'd like to get. It helps to keep me focused.

  2. Oh Erika, I am so sorry that the moose came back and destroyed all your hard work. I admire you for salvaging what you could from your garden and finding ways to use the edible plant parts to help feed your family. Your overriding positive attitude is inspiring!

  3. Is there anything that will keep them away but a shotgun. Bet they will keep coming back. Sorry for your garden. Cheryl

    1. A twelve foot tall fence will, preferably electric. Unfortunately that's not in the cards. Amazon has a cheap greenhouse for 100.00 or so that people buy up here. I am thinking, if I can save some money, that is the route I am going for next year (since we are on a two year plan to move at this least) as it will help keep the bugs at bay too.

  4. Oh, how heartbreaking! But thankfully, "when life gives you lemons", to use your catch phrase, you really managed to turn it around and, at least, made some good come out of it.

  5. Honestly, I am seeing those two mooses (moosii?) having a talk! In the animated movie Brother Bear, there are two who talk, and I can hear their voices. Girlfriend, you are doing well. You're not letting the 'stuff' get to you, and you are making do in ways that would make many a housewife from the past proud. You are inspiring me, and I am a champion 'make doer'! Keep posting!

  6. Just wondering if the garden is worth all the time and worry? Maybe take a break? At least till you move? It seems you spend a lot of time on the garden often with little yield. Could you use the time better for other frugal indevers? Could you forage more for food? Barter your sewing/mending skills for produce? Trade applesauce for a friend's apples or jelly for peaches? Lots of folks have homegrown produce they can't use up or don't know how to make into yummy stuff like pie filling and jam. Just wondering? No judgement just thinking of other options.

    1. I guess the question of is gardening worth your time goes back to nearly when people started doing gardens out of a want more than a need. Is MY garden worth my efforts and toil? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, at least when it comes to getting yields out of it. I figure every year if I learn something it isn't a waste, though.

      With the summer garden, honestly to me it is a need more than a want. Just growing lettuce, for instance. A pack of seeds for lettuce costs me a. It more than a dollar. But I harvest lettuce for salads constantly pretty much all summer long. A head of lettuce up here costs around 2.00. All the times I DON'T buy lettuce allows me to use that 2.00 worth of foid somewhere else...buying apples to make applesauce or buying strawberries cheap on sale, etc.

      Things like fresh peas, if I bought them at thr store, a little bag of them costs nearly 4.00 so even the small baggie I have in the freezer of peas paid for my seeds and we snacked on peas throughout the summer. Last year's bumper crop of peas lasted me till just under a month ago and saved me from having to buy frozen peas for pasta dishes and things all winter long...that 1.50 pack of peas DEFINITELY paid for itself.

      For me, for now, the gamble and work is worth it to give us fresh (and garden fresh up here is SO much better than store fresh up here) produce during the summer...any yields I get on top of that is a blessing.

      Forraging is kind of hard this year too. The rain and slugs have taken their toll, so I am searching for high bush cranberries as much as I can in between the rain and I just started to harvest rose hips yesterday. We shall see how forraging goes here this next week or so. Fingers crossed I can get a decent amount as forraging is definitely hard and nasty work.

  7. Erika! What a great save! You did an awesome job salvaging everything you could and look at what you learned from your effort. Yes, it is heartbreaking, but the knowledge you have acquired is more valuable than anything. No one can take the knowledge away from you. The old saying, "Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime", definitely applies to you. Every time you grow a garden, you end up harvesting more and more. It is the knowledge you have acquired and the ability to harvest food from things others never see is the skill you will never lose. Yes, you could go to the grocery and buy food, but what happens when the price of that food is more than you can afford, or what if it is not available?

    I also must praise you for eating the pea plants. I often munch on the tender leaves as I pass them in the garden, soooooo good, but never realized the plant was useful. Right now I am experimenting with cooking sweet potato leaves. I just learned they are edible and are eaten around the world. To be clear, I said "SWEET potato leaves" regular white potato leaves are poisonous, so don't eat them.

    I enjoyed "Ted and Bob" chatting in your garden. I too, hear animals talking in my head. It is comforting to know I am not the only crazy person in the world who hears voices. Oops. Did I just call you crazy?

    Jeannie @

    1. Thanks Jeannie! Coming from you that means a lot.

      Right now the price of food has me worried for sure. Gas will be going up thanks to Harvey, which will make the price of everything up here jump because shipping ties so much into the price of everything up here. Wheat did awful this year in the wheat belt which will raise the price on tons of things...yeah definitely worried.

  8. Replies
    1. In this case I took some inspiration from 18th Century Cooking on YouTube. I took beef roast and veggies I had leftover from the day before, dumped it in the crock pot, added a few more potatoes (since the other ones would definitely break down while cooking) and about 1/3 of a cup of frozen peas and then poured in two cups of beef broth (made from adding the beef and veggie drippings from the pan the day before and warming in two cups of water). I then just set the crock pot on high and walked away for four hours. Came back and removed all the solid bits to a deep pie dish. Poured the left over liquid into a pan. Heated 3tbs butter and added 3tbs flour and cooked into a quick roux. Added the butter and flour mixture to the liquids left from cooking the meat and veggies and cooked into a thick gravy (it didn't take long). Poured gravy over veggies in pie dish and topped with crust (in this case a lowly sheet of puff pastry I had sitting in the freezer). Stuck in a 375 degree oven for about 1/2 an hour and dinner was served. Leftovers have been sublime :).

    2. Thank you it sounds delicious. You should check out back in time for dinner on YouTube. It is very interesting how food changed through the years

  9. Your post reminds me of the year we had deer in our garden. We tried every suggestion given to us to get rid of them, and they still came. They even learned to pull the tops to get the carrots and beets. We finally bought huge nets and covered the garden, and they ate holes in the nets. The only thing they wouldn't touch were the hot chilies. Until I went out one morning in fall when everything else was gone, and found all of my chilies also gone.

    1. Ouch! Yeah, that pretty much covered my garden destruction, but slower and more thorough. A lot of the damage to my garden was just from them stomping on everything to find something to snack on. My garden is right up against where we park vehicles, so it's a small corridor for a big honking moose to jam itself through, but they managed it this year. Usually they are a bit more gun shy than that. Once they discovered the cabbages, I figured that the garden was doomed, but hoped that I could salvage some of it, but nope, my bad feeling turned out to be true. I am glad I was able to salvage some of it though and got something, albeit not what I was looking forward to, out of all of my hard work.

      Hot chilies, though. Wow. Those were some determined deer!