In the Garden Mid-July 2014

photo 11One of my earliest memories is being in the garden with my family, sneaking ripe tomatoes off the vine and into my mouth before my Nanny could see. Nanny and Pawpaw always planted a huge garden, and I can remember watching them go through the huge process every single year. photo 111Planting, Harvesting, Canning, Eating. Summertime was great in our house. Sometimes our meals were made of things completely pulled from the garden that same day. Sweet slices of tomato, bright green onions, and chewy new potatoes cooked with fresh green beans. What a feast!

photo 4I’ve lost both my Nanny and Pawpaw over the past five years, but their lessons have stuck with me. We hung on to their house in northwest Tennessee for a bit, but in the end the family decided to sale it this spring. The good news is that while the garden may not be there anymore, I’ve kept the traditions alive and well in my own life. Andrew and I made plans in early summer for a “small” garden. In his mind I’m sure he was thinking about a couple of tomato plants and a pepper or two, but I sometimes tend to go overboard without realizing it (okay, sometimes I know good and well what I’m getting myself into, and I still take the plunge!).

photo 311Fast forward to mid-July and we currently have about 17 tomatoes, 10 peppers of all shapes and sizes, 10 squash, 4 eggplant, and rows and rows of corn, green beans, okra, cucumbers, and melons.

A small garden, right?

I’ll be honest: we’re not pros, but we’re learning! Everything has been planted without a tiller this year, and that was a lot harder (and more expensive) than we’d originally thought it would be. I can remember Pawpaw walking behind a huge red Troy-built in the hot sun throughout the summer, lifting the heavy machine up and turning it around at the end of each carefully placed row. Since this is our first year of planting a garden of our own, we weren’t ready to make such a big investment, and we didn’t bother renting one as the transport back and forth was a bit of an issue. Instead, we dug holes for the individual plants, and supplemented the existing dirt with garden soil and compost. Then we added a layer of landscaping fabric and wheat straw to hopefully stifle the grass within the garden bounds. photo 5We did the same sort of process for the rows of vegetables we planted from seed, although this did require us to come back once the plants had sprouted with an additional layer of newspaper and wheat straw to keep the grass from taking over. It was determined, but so were we!

So far we’ve had a plethora of zucchini, and more cherry tomatoes than we know what to do with (spoiler alert: I made a tomato pie). The big tomatoes are green and healthy looking on most of our plants and the ones we started from seed are looking the healthiest – we call them our “tomato babies”.photo 511 I picked our first “mess” of green beans the other night, and found 3 medium cucumbers hiding when I was staking up the vines yesterday. I had just been complaining that I was ready to make some pickles! The corn is short, but there are ears growing, and the okra has little fruit that looks promising. Our watermelon have exploded, and if all the little melons make it to adulthood, we’ll have plenty of sweet treats to last us.

photo 21It’s been such a fun adventure! No, everything isn’t growing – the planters full of lettuce, rhubarb, beets and chard hardly sprouted and I replanted the bins with flowers and squash last week. The crooked-neck squash stay small with really hard outer skin, which the internet says means they’ve cross-pollinated with the patty pans, so they’re pretty close to inedible. BUT – the butterfly garden has grown into a butterfly forest, and we love sitting on the porch and watching things grow. I love waking up early and wandering out to the garden with cup of coffee in hand checking out what’s grown overnight while Wally chases rabbits. It’s comforting and makes me feel like I’m back in my grandparents’ backyard.

photo 1I think they’d be happy if they saw how far I’ve come in the past five years. Things aren’t perfect, but I’m a long way from where I’ve been. And just like our garden, as the days, months, and years go by, I’ll keep growing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pickles to make.


Como Steakhouse in Como, Mississippi

photo 1Okay okay, I’ve been a busy lady. Please don’t think this blog has been brushed aside permanently, but let’s just say that work has been a bit crazy, and the extra time I once had to devote to personal projects has disappeared, replaced instead by rushed “lunch breaks” that consist of me scarfing down my lunch at my desk. Still, I’ll try to be better.

photo 2Even with the increased work-load at my M-F job, we’ve still been finding time to relax and explore on the weekends. In fact, family came to visit last weekend, and we made the trek down to Como Steakhouse. My boyfriend has been telling me about this place for months, so I was glad that we finally found an excuse to visit. Located on an adorable town square in Como, Mississippi, we waited for an hour and a half for a table. (Next time we’ll make reservations!) By the time we were seated we actually ate an entire basket of saltine crackers before the waitress could bring our drinks. It got pretty serious there for a second.

photo 3Spoiler Alert: if you’re looking for white tablecloths, pages of options, or anything vegetarian or vegan, you should probably skip this one. These folks have obviously paired down their menu to only the things they do well, and the meat is what people make the drive for. Yes, the sausage plate has a great reputation, but at the end of the day it’s cubed meat a cheese. As far as your side options go, you get a salad and baked potato (i.e. there are no options). But the good news is that despite what some might consider as  negatives, when your steak appears before you, it’s all worth it. Our entire party opted for ribeyes (I’m a little bit embarrassed to tell you that we each ordered the 20 ounce steaks), and they were everything a steak needs to be: juicy, well-seasoned, and a bit charred on the outside. So good!

photo 4The dining room can get a bit smoky since there’s a huge grill in the corner where everyone’s steak is cooked, but it wasn’t overpowering. If you’re planning a special night, I’d recommend going early, as many of the specials and desserts were sold out by the time we ordered. My heart broke a little when I wasn’t able to sample the Como Delight that I’d been hearing such great things about. If you find yourself at Como Steakhouse in the near future, have a slice for me.

photo 5




Como Steakhouse

203 N Main St, Como, MS 38619
(662) 526-9529

Open M-Th 5:00pm-10:00pm, Fri and Sat 4:30pm – 10pm, Closed Sundays

Bluegrass Pickin’ on the Collierville Town Square

photo 14I’ll let you in on a little secret: I haven’t always appreciated small town life and West Tennessee as much as I do these days. In fact, I was that high school kid who couldn’t wait until graduation so she could spread her wings and fly away to the big city… of Jackson, Mississippi. Ha! Yes, looking back now my logic was a little bit flawed, but living away from Tennessee taught me to really appreciate what was in my backyard all those years growing up.

photo 24These days I am not as social as I used to be, admittedly. While I love the great restaurants and free concerts in Midtown and Downtown, the drive and prospect of fighting the crowds is usually enough to keep me at home in my garden or curled up on the couch with a good movie or a Netflix marathon. However, we did find something awesome last weekend that made me happy we decided to venture out on a Friday night: Bluegrass Pickin’ on the square in Collierville. Stay with me now…

photo 32If you’re someone who loves watching live music, even if you’re not the bluegrass type (as my boyfriend can tell you, I am not), you should really check this event out. Every Friday night beginning late Spring through early Fall music lovers from all over the Midsouth gather on the beautiful Collierville town square beginning around 7pm. Depending on the week you go, you’ll find that folks break off into lots of small musical groups with every instrument you can think of from fiddles to steel guitars. It’s so fun!

photo 1We brought lawn chairs, but next time I’ll definitely pack a picnic. It’s a great event for people watching, and the entire event is incredibly family (and even dog) friendly. To be honest, I felt a little bit like I was back in Mayberry for a minute on Friday night – and I mean that in a good way!

photo 23This is by no means a professional-only event. There are varying skill and experience levels, and the group seems warm and inviting to new members – even if they’re not perfect. I truly enjoyed moving from group to group, seeing how the different musicians blended together. It was also fun to watch players move around the square, joining in for a few songs in one group and then moving on to the next. It made the entire experience a fluid one, where the sounds changed as time went on and new members joined in.
photo 13Don’t be scared away by the twang! If you’re a musician or just a music-lover, make your way to the square next Friday for a laid back, inviting event that reminds you of just another reason you chose to call the Midsouth (and especially small-town Midsouth) home!

You can find more information here! I’ll be back later in the week with a MS steakhouse review, and maybe even a recipe or two (I have to go grocery shopping first!). Have a great week!

A Thursday morning at the Collierville Farmer’s Market

photo 11I am a sucker for a good farmer’s market. Give me a bearded group of guys with guitars singing twangy songs, food trucks, and stacks of fresh/local vegetables and I’m in my own special kind of heaven. Don’t even get me started on the skinny jeans or the plaid shirts. A good farmer’s market should feel like a Mumford and Sons video in my opinion. But I digress…

photo 4The unfortunate thing about the farmer’s markets in the greater Memphis area is that they’re SO far away from where we live (I know, I know, it’s all about me, right?). Since we’re on the outskirts of the city, it can take us 45 minutes to get downtown, and that commute gets even worse when we hit traffic. One day I’ll tell you all the story of the night we attempted to go for a “quick dinner” downtown during BBQ fest. That was super fun.

Needless to say, when I heard that the Collierville Farmer’s Market was opening for the season just down the road from my office, I was excited – and then I realized it was only open each Thursday and had limited hours: 8am until 1pm. I work an office job five days a week, 8a-5p, so most mornings I’m stuck in front of a computer dreaming of my garden. Bummer. But I decided to look on the bright side and took an early lunch this Thursday to check it out.

photo 42While this one may not be as big and trendy as the Downtown Farmer’s Market that I drag my boyfriend to whenever possible, it’s still pretty spiffy! All the staples were there: my favorite “everything” bread from Lime Foods, the BEST local pickles from Old Apple Hill Brine, and lots of Midsouth based organic vegetable and meat vendors with everything I needed for dinners next week.

photo 12The market is based in the rear parking lot of Collierville United Methodist Church, and there was live music playing when I pulled up, with even a few couples dancing along! I definitely didn’t miss the crowds from the weekend markets, but there were still quite a few people shopping in the sunshine.

While the vibe was a little different, I still very much enjoyed myself, and I’ll definitely be returning next week. I’ve even convinced a couple of my coworkers to come along! If you’re like me and looking for local, fresh, organic products without the crazy drive into the city, you should spend your Thursday morning (or lunch break if you must), in Collierville.

Check them out on Facebook for more information. Here are just a few of the great vendors you’ll find there:

photo 21A New Life
Bartlett Soap Company
Bethel Road Farm
Cold Comfort Farm
Coldwater Alpaca
Daily Blessings Farm
Donna’s Kettle Corn
Faith Farms
Flavor Mavens
Fresh From the Farm
H&H Farms (later in season)
Jones Greenhouses
Las Delicias
Lazy Dog Farms
Leigh Ann’s Chicken Garden
photo 22Lewis Tomatoes (later in season)
Lil Brooklyn’s Italian Ice
Lilee’s Gourmet Bakery
Lime Foods
Mai Vue
Old Apple Hill Brine
James Overman
Robert Hays
Papi Joe’s Pepper Sauce
Paradise Seafood
Peach World
Pontotoc Ridge (next week)
Renaissance Farms
Ripley Produce
True Vine Farm
photo 5Wolf River Honey
Wolf River Popcorn

Have a lovely weekend everyone! I’ll be spending it snacking on the fresh plums and roasting up the gorgeous green brussel sprouts I picked up this week.