Rite of Spring

FINALLY. I can enjoy my garden again.

I never, ever could have predicted I would be the type of person who liked plants. Forced to water boring planters full of impatiens and pansies growing up, I thought that’s all there was. Then I went to England, and discovered peonies, bluebells, lily of the valley, primroses, delphinium, larkspur, hollyhocks, and so on. Most of these things don’t do well in Texas, so I make do with those that will and find substitutes for others. These are from one of my daily walks around the garden while the weather is still pleasant enough to do it.

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Victory Garden

Tomato plants from the feed store: $7.86

Compost and amendments to plant them in: I don’t even want to think about it.

It’s been about two years since we last successfully planted a vegetable garden. The year before last I decided to do away with conspicuous raised beds and incorporate the tomatoes and onions inteo our existing landscape. After all, the beds are full of expensive organic compost, so it should work. And it should be very French, on top of it. It didn’t work. Nor did it look at all French.

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English Christmas Dinner

We spent a bit of time this summer with friends in Lancashire, England. And call me crazy, but I love English food.

It’s so easy to be vegetarian in England. I don’t know if it’s because of the punk movement, Morrissey, mad cow disease, or general enlightenment, but I can walk into any Marks & Spencer food stall and gaze upon a sea of packages marked clearly with a green V. Seriously, delicious: grain salads with butternut squash and goat cheese, or tomato and mozzarella en croute, or portabello mushroom pappardelle.

I knew we’d be having Christmas dinner with my family, who tend to flake out on things like ceremonies and rituals and traditions. To stop the holiday being a huge disappointment for me, I decided to throw a pre-emptive Christmas dinner party for Richard and me. I made a mushroom Wellington, Yorkshire puddings, roasted Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, roasted parsnips and carrots, and roasted potatoes. For dessert, a Bûche de Noël with meringue mushrooms.

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