red flannel pantry

creative pursuits in the kitchen, garden, library and sewing room

Archive for the tag “radish”

tops & bottoms


The harvest yesterday was all root vegetables or “bottoms” as my family calls them.


When my kids were little, they were tickled by Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens–we read our well-worn copy over and over. In this clever trickster tale, an industrious laborer rabbit and a lazy landowner bear agree to “split” the harvest, with the rabbit on the winning end until the bear realizes he needs to do his own farm work.

Tomorrow it’ll be time to harvest some “tops”–lettuce, fennel fronds and rhubarb.

blooming and ready to eat


These lovely Japanese white iris are front and center this week. I like their upright regal posture and elegant delicate blooms.



Now that the white Festiva Maxima peonies have faded, the pink peonies get their turn in the spotlight. Although they have no fragrance, they are beautiful. Like the Festiva Maxima, they are from divisions taken from the garden at our old house. I don’t know this variety’s name.


Their frilly blooms seem to float above the foliage.


This purply-blue salvia is a great dependable perennial. The leaves have a minty aromatic scent, it’s drought tolerant, and butterflies and hummingbirds are fond of it–need I say more? After the first flush of blooms fades, I will cut them back and be rewarded by a second blooming later in the summer.


I am psyched to see that the white milkweed will be blooming this year!


Although I am not keen about their lipstick-red color, these knockout roses always make a grand showing.


The purple flowers are a perennial wild geranium. Their common name is bloody cranesbill (because of the flower’s color and because the seed heads resemble little cranes). In researching this particular variety, I learned that it is called New Hampshire Purple, which makes perfect sense: I was given this plant as a division by my friend, Ken, who is from New Hampshire. I need to find out if he brought the original plant from home. Again, butterflies love it, and if it is cut back, it will rebloom–bonus!


I picked a load of radishes this morning. My husband brought them to work to share.


I also harvested the first round of mesclun and lettuce–yum.

the radish cure


I grew up reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald.  I credit both Mrs. MacDonald and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for making the 8-year-old me understand the importance of regular bathing, which was not my natural childhood inclination.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

In the book, to cure Patsy Waters, the won’t-take-a-bath problem child, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle plants radish seeds in the dirt on Patsy’s skin–yikes. If that imagery doesn’t make you want to jump in a bath and scrub, nothing will.

Since I began growing vegetables on my own, I have come to understand why the author chose to have Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle plant radish seeds rather than carrot or lettuce seeds: radishes grow incredibly fast!

This week I picked the rest of the radishes we planted just a few weeks ago. What to do with them? In a recent New York Times article, Martha Rose Shulman shared recipes for pickling weirdo vegetables–including one for radishes. Jackpot!


Her recipe for pickled radishes is the quick pickle type–no canning necessary. You simply prepare the brine, add it to the sliced radishes, stick the container in the refrigerator, wait a few days and eat. The radishes turn a beautiful ruby color, ideal for a Memorial Day picnic–enjoy!

spring radish spread


We picked our first radishes yesterday. They are the Cherry Belle variety, a tried-and-true radish about an inch in diameter. From planting seeds to harvest, it’s just 22 days–hard to believe.

A simple and delicious way to eat radishes is to slice them thinly and put them on a slice of bread with some butter and salt–yum. But last night we opted to make spring radish spread, a recipe in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce published by the Madison (WI) Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (MACSAC). My copy is from 1996 and was given to me by my dear friend, Sarah. A more recent edition is available on Amazon; you can find it here.

Madison, Wisconsin has always been way ahead on food trends, so it’s no surprise that back in the mid-1990s there were already several CSA farms in that area.

I reach for this cookbook often when I am looking for veggie recipe ideas. The recipes are organized by vegetable in alpha order–so smart and easy to use.

Because MACSAC states on the copyright page that they “encourage the dissemination of the information herein” and asks only that I reference the source, I will share the recipe here.

Spring radish spread uses ingredients I have on hand and comes together quickly. It has a fresh crunchy bite that is delicious on crackers or bread.

mr. toad came a’ calling

mr. toad

When I ventured into the vegetable garden today, I almost stepped on our long-time resident, Mr. Toad. We found him several years ago in the yard and put him inside the fence with the raised beds. As you can see, he’s grown fat eating the bad bugs, slugs and snails for us. He loves the moist, loamy soil.


The lettuce, onions and carrots are coming along. The radishes (far left) should be ready to be picked by early next week.


The radishes we planted more recently have sprouted and are making a strong showing.


The dill is looking good. Once it gets a bit bigger, I plan to try to pot some to share with friends–two full rows were planted and we don’t need that much ourselves for pickle making.


I felt brave enough to plant the basil–surely we won’t get cold temps the second week of May?!  Last year I put the basil in pots near the house, thinking that it would make access from the kitchen easier. However, the basil languished–and thus so did pesto production. So it’s back in the ground again.


The rhubarb continues to unfurl its meaty leaves. I have my eye on its red stalks–there will be plenty for pie this year.


The fennel’s feathery leaves are shooting upward like green fireworks.


The best news? The tomatoes have blooms!

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