Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Mint" to be--the persevering mint plant has some redeeming virtues after all

Words I never thought I'd hear myself say—"Did he really dig up all of it?"

All last year I wished the pesky mint plants in my flowerbed closest to the back porch would magically disappear.

Efren, who helps us with our yard, weekly--at my instruction--plowed most of it under, but almost immediately sprigs would begin peeking their heads up again--around the gladiolus, through the lantana, and under the hydrangea planted nearby.

No matter how many times we'd uproot it and turn the soil over and over again, before long mint springs would return to their habitat. (One Internet comment called mint the "demon spawn of all garden plants". Apparently I'm not alone in my frustration.)

"You can never get rid of mint," Efren finally told me by way of explanation. "It'll always grow back no matter what you do." Mint, indeed, seemed to persevere.

At first I mumbled, "Grrrr", at Efren's counsel . . . then I realized that his words, indeed, would preach.

Suddenly I began to see that nuisance mint plant in a different light. I'm at a stage in my life in which my heart's greatest desire is to PERSEVERE . . . to persevere in healthy living, to persevere with my gardening. to persevere in prayer, to persevere against some seemingly insurmountable obstacles I face, to persevere in seemingly impossible projects on which I'm working, and to endure in a host of other ways.

Recently, in fact, I underlined in my Bible the verse, We considered blessed those who have persevered (Jas. 5:11). It goes on to mention Job, by example, and cites his perseverance as a character trait to be modeled. Those who persevere are considered blessed, or happy.

My mint sprigs don't let any obstacle stand in their way--even another plant that has been put in the dirt over where they belong. They just keep nudging their way upward until victory is achieved. (One nontoxic suggestion I turned up: mix one gallon white vinegar, two cups salt, and a squirt of dishsoap into a well-marked spray bottle. Coat the mint plants liberally again and again, but don't expect it to ever work fully.)

Which brings me back to the comment I reported in my opening paragraph. This year as the garden started to materialize, I initially saw no mint sprigs. I asked my hubby what happened; he said Efren made a very thorough sweep of them as he got the flowerbeds ready for spring.

"Did he really dig all of it up?" I asked. Golly gee whiz, I did like to have an occasional mint sprig in my iced tea or lemonade along with using it for recipes that call for it. Besides, the fresh mint was fragrant as I passed the flowerbed near the porch. I wasn't actually ready for ALL of it to be gone.

I needn't have worried. Sure enough, before very many weeks, the mint again persevered. Although the amount was greatly reduced in number from last year, I had ample mint plants from which to prepare the Fresh Corn and Tomato Bruschetta Salad recipe that appears below. Mint is the ingredient that gives the Fresh Corn and Tomato Bruschetta Salad (recommended by Prevention magazine) its extra bit of pizzazz.

(Besides mint, this recipe utilizes freshly picked sweet corn, which doesn't have to be cooked but simply is cut from the cob, as well as tomatoes, green-onion tops, and sweet onion. It's a good source of antioxidants for the heart and lutein for the eyes. The dish also can be served as an appetizer spread on bread or toast.)

When I served my Fresh Corn and Tomato Bruschetta Salad at dinner one night last week, amid a sea of compliments, I felt blessed . . . or happy . . . indeed. Must have been "mint" to be.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Bruschetta Salad

2 cups cherry tomatoes or Roma tomatoes, cut into small sections
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 up chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons copped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped green onion tops
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine corn, tomatoes, onion, mint, basil oil, vinegar, onion tops, salt, and pepper. Toss well.

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