Ah, this spring weather gets me going. I can’t wait to start planting the garden. Daniel plowed our garden plot a couple days ago in hopes to have it dry out faster. Digging deeper by plowing also helps some of those buried nutrients to get closer to the surface where the plants will be taking root. The way it sounds, we have more rain coming the next couple of days, so we’ll try to stay patient. There’s just nothing like fresh goodies from the garden. Equally fulfilling is watching the children’s eyes widen with delight as they help harvest veggies straight from plants they had started from seed, weeded and helped keep watered.
A couple girls from our church own a greenhouse, and they have been experimenting with growing greens all winter long. Now that is quite impressive, if you ask me. Fresh, nutritious salad greens in December surely is an amazing experience. Even children will eat salads more if they’re made up of tender young greens fresh from the patch. We have found, too, that having a good dressing to go over the salad does go a long way, whether you’re feeding youngsters or even Daddy! Daniel is just like my dad has been as long as I can remember: to them, it’s not worth even eating a salad if you don’t have some good old-fashioned, homemade dressing to go with it.
Another alternative I’ve found, when it comes to salad in the dead of winter or when you run out of patience while waiting in the springtime, is sprouting your own seeds. It doesn’t take nearly as long as planting and waiting till your lettuce is ready to harvest, and not only that, you can keep growing it on your countertop through every inch of rain that falls relentlessly on the outdoors.
Talking about rain, yesterday when Julia stepped inside after her walk home from school, she said, “Mom, I know what we could do to help the garden dry off faster. We could use buckets and dip the water out of those furrows.” Bless her heart. Obviously, she heard Daniel and me discussing the matter the day before and noticed all the water that still needed to dry out as she walked past the garden.
I went with her to investigate. Yes she was correct, gardening does look like it could be a little way off yet, but then this really can be an opportunity to be an example to the children of being thankful for the weather God sends us and not spend time pining over it.
Flowers are another thing I enjoy, but I need or want to keep things basic this year. Never again will I have this summer with two 1-year-old boys and a 2-year-old girl. As my aunt would say, “Your flowers run around.” Yes, I wouldn’t trade my darlings for the world’s most stunning flowers. Neither do I want my little ones to grow up with the memory that Mom was constantly saying, “No, no, don’t pick Mommy’s flowers!” So one lofty goal that I do have is having a few nice long rows of flowers in the garden, solely for the children to be able to go out and pick bouquets. I’m not sure what kind it’ll be yet, perhaps some gladiolus and freesias that cousin Owen gave. Since Owen is staying at our house, we also get to have his blueberry plants which he planted in large totes a year ago. A brainy idea, now he could just move it with him. I can just see the little boys’ hands reach up and pick fresh berries, that is if we can keep their hands off long enough to allow the berries to ripen.
Now as we think of springtime salads, how about trying our family favorite dressing to go with tossed salad?
GLORIA’S SPRING SALAD
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 cup sprouted alfalfa seeds
1 hard boiled egg, diced
1/4 cup each of the following:
Ham or chicken, diced
Raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans or nuts of your choice
Cut veggies, ham and bacon into chunks. Toss everything together. We prefer using chopped pecans and browning them lightly in a tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkling them with salt. This adds an outstanding flavor to the entire salad. Last but not least, remember to toss in only what strikes your fancy and don’t be limited to these options.
GLORIA’S HOMEMADE SWEET AND SOUR SALAD DRESSING
1 1/2 cups mayonase
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seed, optional
Mix and drizzle over your choice of tossed salad goodies. Extra dressing will store refrigerated for months. I like making up to eight batches of this at a time and using it for tossed salads, or Daniel even likes drizzling it over some types of casseroles.
Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.