I was faced with the challenge of cooking for one again last week. I usually opt for something potato-ish. And fast. I don't want to linger in the kitchen for too long because I have some Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to catch up on. As a woman, a housewife (though not of the Beverly Hills ilk), I can attest to one absolute truth in that show: women and pack mentality. It gives me shivers. I have scars to prove it. So BH girlfriends: I can TOTALLY relate! Back to my soup. This came together in a flash. I have cabbages growing like there's no tomorrow in my garden. The cabbage is a staple in our home. Apparently it wants to become a staple in my garden as well. And if you'd like to be let in on one of the best kept weight-loss secrets while watching RHBH, well, here it is: cabbage. Add some potato, yummy Indian spices and you have yourself a delightful, light and super healthy dinner: Beverly Hills style.
Yesterday morning I headed out to Home Depot. I knew there were sales to be had. I could smell it in the air. And sure enough--discounts galore. I picked out some mums to add a pop of color here and there throughout the yard before the inevitable happens and freezing temps are the norm. I love the mum!
Here's a gardening tip for you: Leave them be! Just plant them in the ground, add some compost and mulch around them really well. . . then leave them alone. Let their little heads die back to a brown parchment of prickly twigs throughout the winter, don't clear them out. The stems of the mum heads are what feed the plant for next year. Mind you, they need all of spring and summer to grow into gorgeous plants in fall. You may even want to mark the area where you've planted them. I've accidentally raked over prior year's mums only to discover in June tiny shoots of a mum-once-gone growing little clusters of leaves in the spring. Once the plant begins to send up stems with flower heads on them in June/July, go ahead and give them a good pinch back to encourage a more bushy growth habit in fall. They are the easiest plants in the world in my opinion.
I planted these mums seven years ago. I pinch them back every summer. Given the heat and hellish-like conditions this year, I was worried. I literally ignored most of my garden from June on, truth be told. But like little gifts from the gardening gods--here they are. . . year number six.
And then there are the collards. I mean these things don't stop. Ever.
So now. . . planning for next year. As you can see, I've left the marigolds, basil and zinnias--how those collards go there, I have no idea. The marigolds act as natural nematode repellents. Or so I've read. I've allowed them to flourish here. I will keep them in place until the frost kills them. I plan to mulch the entire garden again for this fall/winter. I will lay another layer of newspaper over all of the veggie patch, then a layer of mulch over that. I will periodically add veggie clippings from the kitchen to this area to nourish the soil so come spring, we are ready to grow! I hope to also have my map of crop rotation made for spring so I can easily assess what seeds go where come planting time. I am also planning to begin my own tomato seedlings indoors again this winter.
Black-eyed Susans. On sale, half price! Newly planted for more color next summer.
Well. And then there I was in the check-out line asking to speak to the store manager at Home Depot. I ordered fifteen bags of mulch. (Which is nothing.) I had two carts in the check out line--mulch, plus half-priced hostas and other plant deals. They had discounted the bushes and trees in the parking lot to fifty percent off. Clearly no one had really "looked" at the inventory. Some of the bushes had brown patch. The trees and bushes are going to go to the compost heap for that price. I felt a seventy-five percent discount seemed more realistic. So I asked for the manager. Long story short--no deal. . . yet. But soon, she said. Store manager (a woman! --I sort of was like, whoa girl power) took my phone number and will call once the bushes and trees get deeper discounts. (But I'm afraid by then, my fall "recluse" self may have taken up residence.)
I was quite the "wacky woman" scene first thing on a gorgeous fall Saturday morning, to be sure. After summoning the store manager, suddenly I'm surrounded by helpers--two of them--to help me get my "goods" to my car! Then there was the commentary taking place along with stares: You've got a lot of work ahead of you. Well, duh. Who else is going to do this? I mean honestly? Have we grown into such a lazy society that the site of a mere fifteen bags of mulch enlists such commentary as "boy that's gonna be a lot of work". Please. (Sadly it was slow in the garden section.) Grant it, I may need two ibuprofen every couple of hours for the next two weeks--AND help getting out of my chair, but it is totally worth the extra bit of fall gardening work effort.
Dr. Thyme came out to assist with "acorn removal". This has got to be one of the worst years EVER for acorns. I had had it--trying to navigate the silly round nuts while walking the dogs. I begged for help. And he did oblige and pitch in. Even if he'd just gotten off a red eye flight from LA the night before! He's such a dear. Four wheelbarrows full later, we had this to show for it. All of that pile: acorns (well and our first few piles of oak leaves). Half the trees around here still have green foliage. It's going to be a long fall.
Vegan Curried Cabbage And Potato Soup
1 head cabbage, cored and chopped
1 onion chopped
3 russet potatoes cut into 1" chunks (you can leave the skins on)
4 cloves garlic
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
dash of hot sauce
4-5 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper to taste
chopped scallions for garnish
vegan sour cream (*optional--but really good!)
In a soup pot, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and saute until onion becomes soft. Next, add the potato, then cabbage and a cup of the broth. Keep an eye on the soup and allow it to simmer covered for the next fifteen minutes or so, stirring every now and then until the cabbage begins to wilt. Add more veggie broth as the veggies cook down. Add the seasonings and remaining broth and simmer soup covered for about a half hour--until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove lid and allow soup to cook for an additional fifteen minutes or so over low heat. Remove from heat. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and your choice of toppings. I like green onions and sour cream!