My Little Victory Garden: “Potpourri for 200, Alex”


Last week I had a mid-recipe creation crisis. It happened in the kitchen and I decided that rather than write an entire entry about how many fails I experienced while trying to braise short-ribs with Oklahoma Sandhill Plums, I would just avoid the topic altogether.  Seriously, I was beginning to think that my recipe creation was the reincarnation of Groundhog Day, and that redemption in my life would only happen if I finally pulled out the perfect center of the plate post.

Then I started thinking about this rant I went on two years ago in my little research world.  One of my colleagues from a university in the northwestern U.S. was really down during one of our professional conferences and I asked him about his glum face.  He stated that he had devoted approximately three years and lots of money toward an on-line relationship education program only to find out there were no effects (no statistically significant findings).  So I asked him, “Why don’t you share THAT information?  Don’t you think the fails are as important as the wins?”  Then he said, “No research journal publishes ‘fails.'”  Maybe I embedded that little downer-nugget into my subconscious last week?

But hey – THIS isn’t a research journal, right? It’s a blog about my garden and by golly, I’m going to publish the fails!

And, I’m going to write about random things.  AND, I’m not really going to have an outline today – ha! I’m just going to ramble about “all things gardening” and see what happens.

Potpourri Point Number One: You win some, you lose some

I purchased a beef sampler from Clear Creek Monastery through the Oklahoma Food Coop last month.  I’ve enjoyed the soup bones, hamburger, stew meat, and have worked my way to the short ribs.   By the way, the stew meat was lovely…here is a photo of the beef, tomato, spinach and wheat berry soup I made with it.  There’s really no recipe – I just browned the beef, added onion, canned tomato puree, some beef stock, some beautiful Om Garden mushrooms, spinach, about 1/4 c. of John’s Farm wheat berries with some garlic, salt and pepper…and simmered it for about forty-five minutes to ensure the wheat berries were soft.

In case you were wondering, wheat berries are just the whole wheat grain. You see them in bread sometimes at the grocery store.  You can also boil them and eat them as a breakfast cereal, or put them in the coffee grinder and make your own whole wheat flour.

See, I told you this was going to be a random post.

Anyway, there I was see, staring at the short ribs.  I had just picked this bowl of Sandhill Plums and was thinking about how to make a recipe where they could both be used together.  I thought I had a brilliant idea.  But I didn’t.  It was only a semi-good idea, that didn’t even get off the ground because I only cooked the short ribs for two hours.

I’m glad I don’t have dentures, because I think I would have left my teeth in the meat while trying to pull it off the bones.  And, I’m REALLY glad I didn’t ask anyone over for dinner that day.  My daughter’s boyfriend did his best to give them the old college try, but he eventually dug into the pizza my husband had ordered.  Here’s the thing…if Mick and Tyler don’t eat it, it’s definitely a fail.  My first try had one redeeming quality – they were beautiful:

By the way, those cucumbers were from Peachcrest Farms and were delicious. The lettuce is some of my LAST precious leaves, and the potatoes are from a sack. Probably from Idaho, Colorado or Texas. *gasp*

So, the Saturday following my first fail I went to our Edmond Farmer’s Market, looked up the Urban Agrarian and purchased more short ribs.  Rather than use a beautiful red wine for some of my braising liquid, this time I used  a White Zin.  I thought perhaps it would pair with the plums a little better.  I cooked them 3 hours, the bones were falling off the ribs and I thought, “Ah Ha! THIS time we shall feast.”  But we just ate.  There was no feasting to be had.  The meat was edible, but STILL chewy, and the change in my recipe (I cut the vinegar, used more plums, and – well, I’m not sure what else I did wrong) didn’t work.  While the first time my liquid dried up and I scorched the pan a bit, this time the ribs looked kind of icky. They didn’t look “brown,” they looked gray. See for yourself:


This is the nice red vino I used in my first recipe. I think it was a good choice.
So, here we go again. I browned the ribs…
Then I prepared my liquid (beef stock, garlic, sandhill plums, white zin)…
Then I added my meat, and I cooked and cooked and cooked those suckers…

But they weren’t good.  I talked about it on Facebook.  I felt glum. I empathized with my research friend. And then I decided I needed to wait about two weeks or so, and I would try them one more time.  WITH the Beaujoulais, SANS the white zin, WITH a dash of vinegar, and MAYBE sans the Sandhill plums.  I also may add a bit of sugar-base to the liquid.  And, I’m going to cook them 3.5 or even 3.75 hours.  And then…”...if I have to lie, cheat or steal…as God is my witness,” I WILL have delicious short ribs for my family!

Potpourri Number Two: Random things I’ve loved about gardening and Oklahoma this past week or two

My tomatoes are showing promises of deliciousness. This is my Big Zebra heirloom tomato. It will be green and red striped when it's ripe.

This was my Sandhill plum mother lode source. Just beautiful and ready to pick, right on Highway 51. In 45 minutes, I had about five pounds picked and loaded into the car.

So GLAD my Yukon golds are now ready for picking. And eating. Sigh.

I tried to put my Sandhill plums through a cherry pitter with moderate success. Of about 200 plums, I had about five pits get through. Not too bad!

I marvel at the massive leaves of a rhubarb plant. I think in some parts of the country, rhubarb plants and elephant ear plants meet in a secret place at night and wrestle.

I also love the PROMISE of more and more and more rhubarb, even though I cut it and eat it!

I love seeing how the little tendrils of my Cucuzzi squash plants reach out, grab, and cccuuuuurrrrrllll around my tomato cages.

This might be hard to see. It's the base of a white onion. THIS image is telling me that in about 2-3 weeks, I'll be drying, braiding and hanging beautiful onion bunches around my house so I can look at them and smile. And then, cut them off one by one and cook them GONE!

This is the last of the last of the last tender lettuce of Spring. With Christian Mild Cheddar Cheese on it (from Kingfisher, OK) and cracked pepper. I put the camera down and ate it.

This is Tonks. She's about 65 pounds now, and walks to and from the garden with me. When it's hot, she comes in...PLOPS on the tile, looks at me like this (with her tongue hanging out) and sends me a telepathic doggy message: "If you go outside one more time, that's it. No more, chick. I'm vetoing the idea."

And that’s about all I think I’ll share for Potpourri Number Two. On to Number Three…

Potpourri Subject Number Three: I can’t get enough rhubarb

A few weeks ago I saw a Tweet by The Pioneer Woman.  She was sending a link for a Rhubarb Margarita recipe she found on a food blog.  Then my mind sort of drifted to rhubarb soda pop, and rhubarb pie, then rhubarb short ribs! (Just kidding about the short ribs…)

Then I ran out to my rhubarb plant only to discover that I had only cut it the day before and had to wait. Ugh.

So I did. And it grew and grew. And finally, I was able to cut a few stalks. I needed a rhubarb crisp and I needed it soon.  My excuse was that “Julie at the Ranch” was coming through town with her hubby and they might need a little refreshment.  I used this recipe.

Here are a few photos of me making 1/3rd of that recipe (I only had about 2 cups of chopped rhubarb), and to begin your photo viewing, I would like to offer you a little view of me. Chopping and chopping. And loving every minute of it.  When I think about statistics, and literature reviews and methodology and online class instruction all day long I need “rhubarb chopping therapy.”

Just chopping, chopping, chopping! from Kelly Roberts on Vimeo.

And now…for the accompanying photography tour…

P.S. I love raw oats!
Done. Finished. Yummy!
How about a little bite with "Zero Sugar Added" ice cream? It's my little way of balancing out the calories.

Okay, that’s enough potpourri for today. It’s at least worth one question on Jeopardy: “This cut of meat frustrated Red Dirt Kelly so much, she posted a Gone With the Wind video link on the Red Dirt Chronicles in June of 2011!”

“What is short ribs, Alex?”

“Correct for $200. You have control of the board!”

Have a great week…



My Little Victory Garden: Berries Doing Their Vines Proud / My Little Victory Garden: Leeks and the Squash Monster



2 thoughts on “My Little Victory Garden: “Potpourri for 200, Alex””

Comments are closed.