Here it is once again, my friends. Creeping up on one of my favorite times of the year, when the temps get warm enough to start thinking about putting plants in the earth.
Getting my hands dirty is one of the most satisfying things you can possibly do. I come from a long line of gardening gentlemen on both sides of my family. When I was a kid growing up, I never fully appreciated the gift of fresh from the garden food. It doesn’t taste the same as store bought food.
So I am challenging you, friend, to take up the task and feed yourself!
If you think you have a black thumb, stop. The Gentleman Caller is here to offer you some tips and insights to make your experience easy and efficient.
Today I offer my cucumber trellis.
The cucumber trellis is a simple lean-to structure. You can affix it to a fence, outdoor building, garage, any structure with some integrity. It will allow your cukes to grow upward rather than spread on the ground. This makes harvesting easier, and will likely give you an increase in your yield.
I used a wooden fence. Watch the YouTube video for full instructions.
As summer flashes by us, I am getting to spend some of its waning moments in beautiful Maine. I am up at Maine State Music Theater presently, and having one of the best summers in recent memory.
Firstly, Maine is indescribably spectacular. The weather can be a tad menopausal, but the natural beauty of its lakes, beaches, trees, architecture, and denizens make it absolutely enchanting.
This last week, my “Sandy” – incomparably cool Chelsea Williams ACTUAL Mainer – took me and the Dream Team to Thomas Pond in Raymond. An afternoon of intense sunshine, paddle boarding, a pontoon boat ride, a family of loons and a very energetic Boston Terrier conspired to make the perfect day off from the show.
How does one top a day like that? With a Gentleman Caller family dinner, of course!
This is one of the dishes I put down in front of my little Maine “family” on our final day off before heading back to the big City. It’s not terribly difficult but will punch you in the face with robust flavors and intense aromas.
What you need:
1 – 1 1/4 pound brussel sprouts
1/2 a white onion
1 large lemon
1 large fennel bulb
1/3 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic
5 or 6 large fresh sage leaves
1-2 tablespoons red chili flake (based on your taste buds)
fresh black pepper
Preheat your oven, preferably on convection mode, to 425.
Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with pan release.
Cut the butt off the brussel sprouts and halve them. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
Cut the fennel fronds off the bulb. halve the bulb lengthwise, then cut into 1/3 inch pieces widthwise. Add to mixing bowl.
Smash the garlic with the side of your knife; chop to the consistency you like. I like bigger pieces.
Rough chop the onion. Chiffonade the sage. Add to bowl.
Zest the lemon, preferably with a zester that allows strips and not a microplane grate. Add to the bowl.
Drizzle everything with olive oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, ample salt (at least a teaspoon, probably more), and pepper. Stir to combine.
Spread evenly on the prepared pan. Place in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. When the edges start to caramelize, remove from the oven and squeeze the entire lemon over the vegetables and add some additional black pepper. You could also opt to sprinkle with chopped flat leaf parsley.