June 24, 2009: Child Labor!

Yesterday my 11-year-old grandson, Kevin, came over to help me remove some sod for the new sitting area next to the garden shed. He did a really nice job, so all I have to do is smooth it out, put down landscape cloth, edge it with some cherry wood landscaping timbers and add bark mulch.

Kevin loves the garden and the food I grow in it. We picked a few raspberries, enough for all to taste one or two, and a few strawberries that went straight into his mouth. He has always been my "strawberry boy", since he was just a toddler. Then we grabbed a bowl, and Kevin got a lesson in picking beans. I hope he becomes real good at that, because it's one job I just don't like! After we had picked the beans, we pulled a good big bunch of carrots and the last of the sweet onions, then I got out the spading fork and we harvested a few shallots. My, how they have grown since I last dug one out!

From there we headed to the pumpkin and squash patches, where Kevin got a lesson on how to identify the male and female blossoms. He had just learned about hand pollinating in school, but they didn't teach him which was which. We found another female pumpkin, so I picked off a male blossom, and we hope we pollinated the female! He checked out the squash, identified the blossoms, and decided they could take care of themselves.

We washed off our garden produce with the hose, then Kevin helped me arrange it all for photos.

When we'd finished, we took the vegetables inside and washed, trimmed and weighed everything. I wanted to show Kevin how the "magic" purple beans turn green when cooked, so we boiled a few and did a taste test while we were at it. Kevin liked his beans cooked for exactly five minutes, while I found them to be a bit underdone for my liking.

Soon it was time to take him home. He left with a big bag of green and purple beans, a pound of baby carrots, half a pound of shallots, nearly a half pound of sweet onions, 2 heads of garlic, a pint of pickled beets and all the leftover pizza from Father's Day. A big THANK YOU to Kevin for helping Grandma today!

Back in the kitchen, I had a small head of cabbage that needed to be used before I cut the next one. I decided to make Hamburger Cabbage Casserole, a recipe I had made and liked before.

Hamburger Cabbage Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup uncooked instant rice (I use brown)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup water
4 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage

Heat oven to 400ยบ. Cook beef and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in rice, salt, pepper, soup and water.

Place coleslaw mix in ungreased 2-quart casserole.

Spoon beef mixture over coleslaw mix.

Cover and bake about 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. * I cooked mine for 30 minutes, as we like the cabbage a little crunchy.

Per Serving: 230 Calories; 11g Fat (42.4% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 47mg Cholesterol; 510mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat.

Source: Betty Crocker's Best of Healthy and Hearty Cooking

Tuesday's garden dinner:
Hamburger Cabbage Casserole (cabbage & onions from garden)
Green beans & carrots (garden)
Toasted french bread
Iced tea

!!!Isn't This Handy!!!

This was a little gift from General Mills. It's a refrigerator magnet that is actually large enough to write something on! Besides cooking tips, it has room for my daily menus and a grocery list. It has 52 pages, an entire year's worth! I think I might like to take this idea and make a veggie garden refrigerator magnet. It would be so easy to jot down my garden chores each day, with a to-do list.


  1. "This was a little gift from General Mills."

    Are you fraternizing with top military officials again? Do I need to inform Mr. H.?


  2. I just love that calendar!

    We call the purple beans magic beans, too. The boy sat there with his mouth open while he watched them turn green while in the steamer.

    Ahhhh...indentured servitude. We can't wait for the boy to start cutting the lawn.

  3. Gumshoegardener, *giggle-snort* He was an officer and a gentleman. What Mr. H doesn't know won't hurt him.

  4. I'm such a coleslaw lover that I rarely use it for anything else. They keep fine all summer long in my fridge. It must have been so nice to have your grandson helping in the garden. I couldn't imagine my kids doing that for their grandparents. I'm lucky to get them to eat out of the garden much less help with it.

  5. Ribbit, of eight grandchildren, I have one garden helper. Actually it was his father who was asked to help, but he sat on the patio and supervised!

  6. Daphne, I love coleslaw, too. Had it about three or four times last week, so we needed a change! I have to get more carrots and beets planted ASAP, the kids and their offspring are eating me out of house and garden!javascript:void(0)

  7. Wow... Kevin did a lot of work! I'm qualified to say that... because I have an 11 year old son!

    That spot near the shed will be so nice! Is that where the bench is going?

    Granny, I think that I'm having a problem with my onions... the leaves are starting to turn yellow. In your experience, is that normal? I'll post some pics on my blog.

  8. Toni, I showed Kevin a photo of Aaron. They look like they would be two of a kind! Kevin eats raw onions out of the garden, too :-)

    Yes, that is where I'll be sitting, in the afternoons, resting and watching my garden grow.

  9. Man, what a cheerful looking helper you had, Granny! He's a much better helper than I was in the garden when I was his age. I remember hating going out to the garden to pull weeds, and I voiced my opinions quite loudly. Fortunately for me my disgruntled wails fell on deaf ears, and my folks made me keep working. :)

  10. He is very willing to help outside, Rachel. Not so willing to do other chores! I think if I try, I can raise a gardener to take over the next generation ;-)

  11. Kevin is darling and such a great gardener in the making! I hope he get's to spend a lot of summer days with his granny.

    The casserole looks yummy and I am going to copy that recipe off to a file - because as much as I love coleslaw too - there is a point where I find myself poking around for a different way to prepare the abundant crops of cabbage.

  12. KitsapFG, that's the way I am. I have a big cabbage ready to be cut, so I see a kielbasa stew in my future, or maybe cabbage rolls. Although this casserole was basically cabbage rolls....unrolled!

  13. Your meals always look soooo good! I haven't really been able to harvest much from the garden lately other than the herbs. Once everything starts growing though I'll definitely put up recipes of my own! :D

  14. I'm looking forward to your recipes, Cynthia. I think it's fun to plan meals around the garden. If I didn't plan mine, I'd probably have a refrigerator full of forgotten produce!

  15. Great recipe! Now if only I could convince my husband to eat cabbage! lol

    What a handy meal planning thingie! Wish I had one of those!

  16. Mommyamy, if this is baked the entire 45 minutes, I swear you can't taste the cabbage! I love the meal planner, one of the best free offers I've received! I'll make sure to copy the last page and print off another year for myself :-)

  17. Well, I did miss this the first time around! I'm a huge proponent of child labor, but I wish I could get the children to join me more cheerfully! Kevin sounds like a keeper. Hand pollinating is one of my favorite jobs! Lucky you to have such an enthusiastic helper.

  18. Stefaneener, Kevin is a keeper in the garden, but a couch potato in the house. I love it when I can keep him busy outside!