Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Another Quick Pasta Recipe...and an unexpected pokeweed eradication method

Tagliatelle sauced with some cream, tomato paste, thyme, and garlic is quite delicious especially topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. For one large serving, I lightly covered the bottom of a medium fry pan with cream, adding a minced garlic clove, a large pinch of fresh thyme, and two tablespoons of tomato paste.


Add several tablespoons of pasta cooking water and stir well.


Drain slightly underdone pasta and put in the pan. Gently cook and stir until sauce is thick and the tagliatelle is thoroughly coated which will take a minute or two. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper.

The pasta finishes its cooking in the sauce

Serve immediately, layer on the Parmesan cheese, and garnish with a thyme sprig.


The subtitle of this post easily could have been how the tree of heaven has become the tree of hell or perhaps even hounded by a foul-smelling weed tree from America to France.  This tree was the only spot of green in the concrete yard of my childhood New York City home. A born gardener without any plot to garden, I would hang out by that impossible tree, impossible because its ten-feet length grew out of an inch-wide cement crack. Therefore, its unusual 'fragrance' of rotting cashews was locked into my olfactory memory and was the reason why I was able to identify it finally after all these decades. This species is the one featured in the novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Looking on the bright side, they have laid to rest the poisonous and equally nearly impossible-to-eradicate pokeweed.

This one is about twelve feet tall

The two trees, both males as shown by their flat, white flower caps, are growing in our garden's wild area -- they have grown about four feet in a couple of months, a growth rate allowing them to reach forest canopies which leaves their competitors in the dust. How to get rid of them? I am going to lower their height so they get hardly any light which means I will need to trespass into the starling sanctuary, that is, the mass of brambles, to chop down the usurpers to suitable stumps or else we soon will be looking at a ninety-foot-tall grove which smells like a ripe compost pile. Since they not only spread by seed but also by re-sprouting roots when they are cut, this may happen anyway!


One of the two can be seen on the right, sticking up from the brambles

The peonies which I cut when they were nice fat buds are now fully opened.

That green blur in the lower right is a bit of fennel

The fennel makes a lovely flower arranging ingredient, not only because of its feathery form but also because of its pleasing, fresh scent. If I don't keep trimming it back it will grow to a towering eight feet.


The early season tomatoes are beautiful, husky plants that are giving out their first flower trusses.

There's a tiny, green tomato hidden by the yellow flower

These plants are now staked

The twenty-five late season seed potatoes are finally planted! I just barely got them done in time. These are storage potatoes and need about five months to develop which means a harvest is possible about mid-October, hopefully before any frost arrives.

The twenty five bring the grand total of all potatoes planted to seventy-five!

Perennial geraniums are lovely ground covers.


These pink ones are giving sedum, red dianthus, and abelia some serious space competition. They are about two years old and looking ready for division. Good news! There are pronounced weedy areas that need to be overrun with these beauties.


I have just a couple of days to get the remaining transplants -- melon, cucumbers, butternut squash, peppers, lovage, zinnas -- in the ground. The Calm One though only seen in the garden by appointment will help out in other ways like making lunch. His culinary repertoire may be limited to a few items, but he makes those dishes very well. The best cheese omelettes I have ever had are his as they are always tender and never rubbery since he patiently cooks it for nearly ten minutes over low heat, all the while gently lifting up the edges to let the still liquid bits spill underneath while the grated cheese melts. He then easily folds the omelette in thirds as he is flipping it onto a plate. I suspect bicep power is behind such skillful manipulation of the very heavy, cast-iron skillet.

He also does not spare the cheese!

When I am particularly frazzled by a demanding gardening schedule, The Calm One is wont to surprise me with a pain au chocolat noisette from a nearby boulanger. I feel immensely energised after eating one of those puffy, dusted-with-icing-sugar, filled-with-dark-chocolate-and-hazelnut-butter wonders. Who wouldn't?


À la prochaine!

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