The Holly House

Citybarbs is pleased to add to our blogroll another local voice, The Holly House, a blog devoted to “green living on a blue collar budget.”

The blog owner, a 4th Warder like me, has begun developing a proposal for amending DeKalb’s municipal code to allow residents to raise a few hens for eggs, as well chronicling her efforts to gain support for the proposal both inside and outside city government. It should be interesting to keep track of her experiences and progress.

The City of Batavia put its Community Development Committee onto the issue around this time last year. Batavia ultimately approved a backyard chicken ordinance in May, joining Naperville and St. Charles in allowing chickens on certain residential properties.

Mid-Season Garden Blog: Abby, the Beetles, ‘Volunteers’ & More

Here is an on-the-job shot of our gardening supervisor, Abby. She joined the family late last fall so we do not yet know if she is also a garden tomato lover like our other German shepherds have been. We had one, Heidi, wouldn’t even wait for an offer, but would sniff out a fat ripe one herself, pluck her pick delicately from the vine and tote it intact to a spot of grass and shade.

You can see a bit of grapevine in the background. As in Garden Blog: Deck Photos, this year I once again weave the volunteer wild grapevine through the deck railing as it grows, machete as necessary and, for now, flick Japanese beetles off the leaves twice a day.

Warning: Bugs after the jump. Continue reading Mid-Season Garden Blog: Abby, the Beetles, ‘Volunteers’ & More

Welcome Juliet

Juliet is sized a tad bigger than what I would expect for a grape tomato but smaller than a Roma. Last night she ended up in a salad of just-snipped shredded basil, red onion, avocado, tuna and white beans.

We’re having fun with the salads this summer. Earlier this week, it was a mango slaw with mint and lime that had to be tasted to be believed. The rule is that something from the yard has to be thrown in.

Use this space as an open thread if you like. There seems to be a lot going on in our gardens and out. I see the DeKalb Public Library is the latest unit of local government sent to the doghouse, and that the synthetic skating rink is being dismantled. Is the Fire Department’s deal with NIU on your mind?

Open Thread 5/4

Use this space as a catch-all for commenting on the city budget hearings, to give good link for the new Open Books page (I am particularly interested in a few good databases), or whatever else is on your mind.

Forgot to tell you that Norway Farms is parking at G&L’s Auto Repair on Thursdays from 11-1:30. Milt does this every year because the asparagus always needs pickin’ from about a month before the DeKalb Farmers’ Market begins. G&L is on South Fourth across from the Lehan’s-Dollar General building.

Last Thursday I bought two 1-lb bunches for five bucks and sauteed about 3/4 lb of the slenderest tenderest with green peas and thyme. Today the rest goes into soup.

The Farmers’ Market starts June 3.

Fried Dandelions

dandelions Lots of the “weeds” found in yards have culinary and/or medicinal uses. If you visit mine, you’ll find burdock, chicory, garlic mustard and of course the ubiquitous dandelion.

Now is the best time for a salad or spring tonic made of fresh, young dandelion greens that haven’t become embittered, but one of my fave uses is deep-fried dandelion blossoms. I found it several years ago in a church cookbook and was skeptical of the author’s assertion that they taste just like the battered, fried mushrooms. They do! In fact the texture is better than ‘shrooms’ because there’s no “slime factor” and the blossom doesn’t separate from the batter like the ‘shroom does.

When you take your pan to the meadow, be sure to pick the brightest, youngest full blooms. The stem of the flower is quite bitter so take care to remove all of it. Wash the flowers in several rinses of lukewarm water and blot them, spin them and/or allow them to air-dry before battering. Continue reading Fried Dandelions

Got Marigolds?

A couple of years ago I suggested that S. 4th would look better if the community could borrow an idea from Dixon and plant flowers in those narrow parkways. Dixon’s community becomes involved in planting the petunias in the parkways, they have a Petunia Festival with a parade, and there is now a petunia wine. People do not have to mow those parkways although volunteers need to go back here and there during the summer to weed. Dixon looks great and it is a very low-cost effort to improve the appearance of the city, especially compared to TIF.

Now I think I have the perfect flower that would work–marigolds matching DeKalb Barbs orange. Continue reading Got Marigolds?

Another Sign of Spring

The asparagus at Norway Farms is ready, but the DeKalb Farmers Market won’t start for another month so Milt Westlake will truck it to G&L Auto Repair, 1310 S. 4th Street, every Thursday in May–yes, starting tomorrow!–from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or until he runs out.

He often brings other goodies, too, like new potatoes, onions, and flowers.

I’m going to try a recipe for asparagus soup I found in the Trib today.