"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Recent Rambles--THE GARDEN GOURMET
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres
January  2008

THE GARDEN GOURMET

Beginning with this column, readers will find something new about the content of the monthly Rambles I have been producing for several years, all related in one way or another to The Great Outdoors. 

The Great Outdoors still is great (maybe not quite so good, but still great.) But time brings changes, and this is a time of change. Anyhow, I would like to share more of my gardening and cooking experiences, so here is an opportunity for me to delve (computer-wise and physically) into the realm of the two wonderful activities without feeling that I am doing something that is not “outdoorsy.” This is, you know, still an All Outdoors column, and a ramble is a ramble wherever it may be situated. It will continue to be so. More than half a century (45 years of it with the largest newspaper of the state) is much too much to scrap. It is still All Outdoors.

So, Happy New Year, Happy Gardening, and Happy Cooking of the things you grow.  And, as they say:  “Bon Appetit!” Let’s get with it!


FIRST, FOREMOST--Neither gardening nor cooking is the deep, dark, mysterious activity that it is purported to be. You put some seed in the earth and some of them (maybe all of them) will sprout and reproduce plants of their kind. It is part of the grandiose plan of life. Improve their growing conditions and they may produce more.

Likewise, if you put veggies or meat in a pot, add heat (not too much) and the veggies will turn into a tasty dish for man. Add water, seasoning and the cooked veggie becomes even tastier for man.

Gardening and cooking the things you grow (even the things you don’t grow) and the commonest of dishes can become a gourmet delight (that is equally nourishing) with some seasoning. Cooking is that simple, you can do it plain or fancy. So Ramblings this year will deal with the things I have learned in many years of gardening with my father and mother (the late Laura and Jake Scifres)  and the cooking techniques I have picked up from the days of clinging to my mother’s apron while she cooked.

For cooking, both my late grandmother (Missouri Dobbs) and my late sister (Maxine Chandler) have been invaluable. Over the years I have flat-out “filched” some of their recipes and techniques while changing others to suit my culinary needs.

What is more, I will be the cook and gardener (the keeper of the pen) but I will welcome--even hope for--readers to participate by e-mails, or by notes and letters.

For example, I will reveal a technique George Emmelman, then a tackle manufacturer’s rep, taught me about frying fish as we camped on an island in the Mississippi River and prepared din-din.

“Use enough pepper to track a rabbit!” George tersely told me. I remember that every time I take a peppershaker to fish.

Incidentally, while we will deal with flat-out recipes in this feature of the web page, they are not necessarily a must. Though I deal with recipes from time to time, I consider my works of the range procedures. As I see it, there is nothing more boring than a dry recipe. But give it some life (a direction) with tips for the potential user and a recipe becomes interesting reading matter, even if one does not use it.

For example, one of the most omitted bits of information I find in recipes is the statement that establishes whether the pot in question is to be “covered” or “uncovered”. If the pot is to be either, by all means say so. It’s important.


DOUBTER--“You can only garden four or five months a year . . . How do you justify that?” says a friend of mine.

“All very true,” I defend gardening, “but outside the growing season (the fall and winter months) there is much to do in preparing the earth for another crop.” 

Now, for example, I have cleared my garden area of stakes and plants I do not care to turn back into the earth. The area will get a good peppering of cow manure (with lime) in the next month, then turned over on warm days of late winter to further enrich the soil. This will even help flowerbeds.

When spring comes (potatoes and peas should be planted in March or very early in April), a garden rake and hoe will be all that is required. 

Irish potatoes (white) are planted from seed potatoes cut into eyes, and (as old-time legend of spring) holds that best results the planting is best done on Good Friday-March 21 this year [2008]. I am not one to defy tradition, but my most recent planting of spuds was several days later. [More on cutting seed potatoes in March.]

Another semi-popular veggie for early planting is the pea, either bush or vine variety, the latter more complicated because they require something to climb. However, strong cord droppers from a sturdy support will fill the bill.

There are, of course, radishes, onions (green or bulb), lettuce and a number of other early plants for starters. 



 
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All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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