From Yule until Candlemas, the garden stands still. Any food that comes from it grew months ago and have been in “cool storage” even since. It is the time of cabbages and carrots, stored squash and onions and potatoes, bread and beans, with an occasional hard kiwi on the side. It is not a season of deprivation, but of limited basics. This year, I have come to understand why people put up so many pickles and chutneys. They are fine things next to weekly rice and kale. But, when the season turns towards Candlemas, or Imbolc, as the ancient Celts called it (we call it Groundhog’s Day…), the light returns, and, slowly the gardens wake up. And so does the Work List.
In February, we:
· Plant tomato and spring veg seeds, like onions, broccoli, kale, peas, and mustard, to be raised under lights in my classroom.
· Prune all of the trees and hedges.
· Build garden beds and trellises.
· Haul soil and turn in mulch.
· Establish cold frames.
· Fertilize the asparagus bed.
· Repair pathways.
· Make candles from last year’s beeswax.
· Continue to build soil by shifting the chicken coop, spreading bunny poop, scattering wood ashes, and turning in leaves.
Baked Chili Mac and Cheese
1 cup of cooked pintos
.5 pound of dried macaroni in a shape that holds sauce -- cooked
Make a white cheese sauce:
Sautee a chopped onion in 2 T of olive oil. Add chili power, cumin, garlic, maybe a can of chopped green chilies or a jalapeno you found in the freezer or some dried red pepper flakes. Stir in 2 T of flour and cook for a few moments. Add about a cup and a half of milk and cook on medium heat until thickened. Add a handful of cheese and melt in.
Mix the pasta, beans, seasoned sauce, a cup and a half of grated cheddar, and some frozen corn, then pour in a baking dish.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbly. A little extra cheese on top would enhance the decadence factor…Eat with salad.