the lazy person’s guide to growing spinach

Plant seed in the early days of lovely September
when you need a break from canning tomatoes.

Pinch off baby leaves in October, November, December
Stir them with lemon in buttered potatoes.

Mulch with straw and hope for a mild winter.

I have tons of favorite spinach recipes. I was the kid in elementary school who took everyone’s spinach. Remember in 3rd grade when you had to clean your plate and Mrs. Gray checked every tray to make sure it was empty of food? Hmm…. that might be proof that I’m old….

I would rather eat spanakopita than brownies.

I’m a sucker for any meal that ends in Florentine.

When forced to buy greens, whether for cooking or salads, I always choose spinach, because, raw or cooked, chopped or whole, in eggs, on sandwiches, in dips, or just sautéed with onions or mushrooms… It’s always delicious.

But the curly Bloomsdale spinach that you can only get these days by growing your own is far superior to grocery store flat-leaved spinach.

Tonight we are just having it sautéed in olive oil and drizzled with lemon saba and salt and pepper. Simplicity at its finest.

But since you already know how to sauté spinach, I will give you one of my favorite easy recipes to take along somewhere. A potluck, a mom who just had a baby, or an easy meal for everyday — company or not. The next time I make it I’ll be sure to come back and post some pictures; in the meantime you’ll just have to take my word for it: it’s one of the best most hassle-free dinners you can make. Here’s what you need:

  • Spinach
  • Chicken, boneless (I cut boneless breasts in half, thighs I leave whole)
  • some tomatoes (The real recipe calls for sliced Romas, but I have halved cherry tomatoes, sliced regular tomatoes, and even reconstituted and chopped dried tomatoes)
  • your favorite kind of vinaigrette or Italian dressing — not Ranch!
  • parmesan cheese

Fill a 9×13 baking dish with spinach (one bag usually works).

Place chicken pieces on top of spinach. Place tomato slices on top of chicken. Pour some vinaigrette over the whole thing. (The original recipe called for a bottle of dressing, but I never use that much. Just make sure the chicken is nicely slathered  with the vinaigrette.) Sprinkle grated fresh parmesan cheese over all. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 until the chicken is done. Uncover it for the last 5 minutes to brown up the cheese a bit. Depending on the size of the chicken cooking times vary — smaller pieces take less time to cook. (Mine usually takes 30-40 minutes, but I always use a meat thermometer to be sure.)

While the chicken is baking, make some rice or cook some pasta or egg noodles because it makes its own lovely sauce that is yummy over rice.

And just in case you get the wrong opinion from this post, I am not a master gardener. I have done Absolutely Nothing in the garden yet this spring, except pick some kale and pick some spinach, and throw in some radish seeds on an 80 degree day in February… Potatoes? Not planted. Onions? Still in bags. Greens? Still in the seed packets. Partly I can blame the rainy weather: we still have a small pond where the onions are supposed to grow. But I got my bales of mulch today, and I’m ready. As soon as it stops raining…

 

Technology Battles

We’ve got some problems here, Siri —

you don’t come when I call,
you give me bad advice
or none at all.

you say, “I didn’t get that”
or you change the subject
and fall totally  flat.

 

You’ve gotten me lost —
your directions are wrong
and come with a siri-ous cost.

Yes Siri —

lying to your partner
is a capital offence
And so rude to be silent;
I demand recompense.
I’m reconsidering our relationship
You show no remorse —
I’m breaking it off,
Dissolution? Divorce?

I’ve set you up
and set you up
and set you up
yet still you ignore.
Oh Siri, Siri,
I’m showing you the door.

Oh wait,
maybe it’s because you’re American male?

I could give you one last dance—
and change you to British—
at least then when you’re wrong
perchance
I’ll be charmed by your accent
and the extent of your content
and you won’t be so frus-TRA’-ting
and I shan’t throw you in the dust bin.
But seriously Siri
This IS your final chance…

img_7946

On Organizing One’s World

Slipshod or Precise?

Messy or Neat?

Planned or Random?

Just what DOES your dining room table look like? Yes, I know, the only excuse for a messy dining room table is tax time… and ahem, yes, it’s soon upon us.

messy tableYes this is what the dining room table usually looks like. I thought about cleaning it off just for this photo shoot. But that would be putting a better face on me and my organizational skills than I deserve, and it might put undue pressure on you, the reader, to look around at your own house and wonder why you don’t measure up.

We usually eat at this table so (except at tax time) it can’t be too filled with junk. But I do admit that some evenings I have shoved stuff to the side just to make room for two plates. Sighs loudly. 

So I confess to being a disorderly, organized person. An ex-librarian for goodness sakes, and now a secretary! Files must be in alphabetical order, but the desk is often messy. I go in fits and starts. Stuff collects until I can’t stand it and then I go on a binge of organizing and throwing away, shredding, filing… Last year as we took tax stuff to our new accountant, I was rather nervous that in one of those binges, I had shredded important documents that she would need.

Indexing! said the librarian. Organization! 

And so, in an effort to start 2017 in good form and Organize My World (starting with paperwork) I’ve cleaned and re-organized the kitchen cabinet, my clothes closet, my nightstand, and I am seriously working on my own attitude toward busy-ness. I’m reading Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald (which has been on my unread bookshelf for four years now…) and it is speaking to me loud and clear.

MacDonald’s book is definitely about one’s private world, which is the heart of our moral compass, our self-esteem, our values, our conversations with God, our souls. Yet I can’t help but think if our outer worlds are messy, it must, in part, reflect our inner world.

“For me the appropriate metaphor for the inner spiritual center is a garden, a place of potential peace and tranquility. This garden is a place where the  Spirit of God comes to make self-disclosure, to share wisdom, to give affirmation or rebuke, to provide encouragement, and to give direction and guidance. When this garden is in proper order, it is a quiet place, and there is an absence of busyness, of defiling noise, of confusion.

The inner garden is a delicate place, and if not properly maintained it will be quickly overrun by intrusive undergrowth. God does not often walk in disordered gardens…”

garden statue
And in the next chapter, he continues the garden metaphor…

“Few of us can appreciate the terrible conspiracy of noise there is about us, noise that denies us the silence and solitude we need for this cultivation of the inner garden. It would not be hard to believe that the archenemy of God has conspired to surround us at every conceivable point in our lives with the interfering noises of civilization that, when left unmuffled, usually drown out the voice of God. Those who walk with God will tell you plainly, God does not ordinarily shout to make Himself heard.”

(My copy of this book was published in 1985 — way before the electronic revolution changed the type and amount of noise in our lives).

I long for simplicity — an end to clutter — both in my outer and inner worlds. I long to get rid of paper, unnecessary choices that complicate life, and I long to be the type of person who puts everything away in the correct place when I’m finished with it… Or, at least remember where I put it so I don’t have to spend twenty minutes searching for it.

“God does not ordinarily shout to make Himself heard…” That bears repeating, doesn’t it? And the still small voice is hard to hear when distraction, busy-ness, and clutter fill your heart, your mind, and your life.

Clean your house — and while you are cleaning, pray.

Weed your garden — and while you are weeding, listen to the birdsong.

Read your bible — and while you are reading, think on who He is and how to best honor Him in your life.

And for goodness sakes, clean off that dining room table — and while you are organizing, sing.