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It’s been a slow and mellow day today. I watered the plants, put the tomatoes out in the sun for a bit, took a walk, and added some books to our Alibris site.

I wanted to share the recipe for the lavender creme brulee I made Monday night for a birthday party. It was delicious.

2 1/4 cups heavy creamLavender Creme Brulee
1.2 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod
1/2 tsp dried lavender or 2 tsp fresh lavender flowers
5 large egg yolks
Sugar for the topping

Preheat to 325 degrees In a medium sauce pan, combine cream and 1/2 cup sugar. Slice vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Put seeds and pod in the cream mixture, add lavender. Bring to a boil over medium heat whisking constantly until it comes to a simmer and bubbles form along the edges. turn off heat and put the lid on the mixture. Let it steep so the lavender and vanilla flavors permeate the custard. Now whisk the egg yolks very well in a large glass measuring cup, then mix in the hot cream mixture until very well combines. Divide into ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill with water half way to the top of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 35 minutes. Cool on a baking rack then put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Before serving sprinkle the tops generously with sugar then either use a culinary torch or your oven broiler to melt and caramelize the sugar.

This was so good. The lavender flavor was very subtle along with the smooth vanilla. Some day I would love to grow vanilla orchids in the greenhouse. We paired our creme brulee with a pot of loose leaf plum black tea. It was a wonderful pairing.

Look for an update on our gardens tomorrow. The mints and herbs are doing great and the veggies are getting big. We’ll be harvesting radishes soon to make a big batch of radish relish for canning. Also the black raspberries are beginning to ripen. They are every where. So we will harvest some of them to dry and incorporate into teas, others to make jams, and the rest for experimenting with. I’m thinking lemon curd black raspberry tarts . . .

About a month ago, I planted a ginger root. Just a ginger root I bought from the grocery store. I soaked it in water over night first to get rid of the chemicals they put on them to prevent sprouting as that what I wanted it to do. Then made a mix of organic potting soil and biochar in a large pot, put the ginger root in a put a thin covering of the soil over top, this should be very thing it needs some light to be able to get to it. Then you wait.

Freshly planted ginger root

And wait. And keep it evenly moist. And wait And then . ..

Sprouted ginger

The ginger will sprout! If you are going to try this at home, remember that ginger is a tropical plant. It like hot weather, humidity, filtered sunlight, and moist soil. However, it does not like direct sunlight, frost, or very wet soil. If you live in a cool weather climate like I do here in Illinois, ginger will grow just fine in a pot. It does take about 8 to 10 months for the root to be ready for harvesting. I’ve read that you know when it’s ready when it’s leaves die down. I also read that ginger is a beautiful and fragrant plant. I’m excited to watch it grow!

As summer progresses we see things come and go. Flower and fruit, fruit and flower and we have to consider what to call progress. Some things such as raspberries flower and then fruit, others like broccoli, flower when it’s too late. Interesting isn’t it, how things work?

All the rain from the last couple of days is working wonders for the garden. It seems like the plants tapped into some underground source of energy and just grew like crazy. The banana mint is doing wonderful. We are thinking of a strawberry banana tea with dried fruits and banana mint making up the base. Also can’t wait for the peppermint to come up. Mint teas are amazingly relaxing and a perfect companion to most books.

Construction on the greenhouse has halted. Something has come up that may cause us to relocate, so we’re waiting and seeing — my least favorite thing to do. We probably won’t be going anywhere until the end of the summer, but it’s best to just wait it out with the greenhouse and put it up in our new location (I’m hearing whispers of California.)

Harvested lettuce and spinach mustard yesterday. Made a salad with the lettuces today for lunch. Yum yum. Trying to think of something extra creative for the mustard.

The goals for this week: continue to flesh out the Ellipsis business plan, weed, eat healthy foods, above all: be productive and go forward.

By the way, we’ve discovered Sundance Channel’s Big Ideas. It is a fantastic series on sustainable living is all sorts of facets of life. The episode on business is amazing. There are all sorts of practical and smart ways to enforce a triple bottom line, People, Planet, Profit. Things from recycled glass counter tops to recycled blue jean insulation to reclaimed wood tables are all possible and all make so much more sense than the current business model of consume to make money and consume more. A singular business model where only a few are benefiting is a dying concept. The changes happening every day, everywhere are brilliant. Check out Big Ideas: http://www.sundancechannel.com/big-ideas/. Or it’s on Netflix instant.

Today we planted the rest of our mints. The first is an orange mint which we plan on using in place of bergamot orange in Earl Grey tea. Growing up mom used to put it in iced tea and it was delicious. The smell takes me back. The second is peppermint. You can see below that it was just roots. We never ordered a barefoot plant before and couldn’t find any useful information on how exactly to plant it so we assumed the best strategy would be to put in the the ground and water it. We put some of them in laying on their sides and some of them sticking up in the soil, not sure which would work best. Watch for updates!

Everything is doing wonderful in the garden. The herbs are getting bigger and most of the root vegetables have sprouted. The radishes have gone crazy. We planted a mix of them as well as a row of watermelon radishes. Can’t wait to make radish relish!
Radish Seedlings

And the lettuces are huge. We need to find something to do with spinach mustard as it is ready to be harvested already. The corn also is popping up and the eggplant is getting loads of blossoms. Even the watermelons we transplanted from a friends yard are doing swimmingly.

Hopefully in a month or so the herbs will be big enough to start drying them for herbal teas. The greenhouse to is coming along. This is the finished base built with treated lumber and galvanized screws. We will begin putting together the frame soon.

Greenhouse Base

And of course as always we are working on our business plan for the brick and mortar Ellipsis. Today we hashed out the Break Even Analysis and our projected profits more than equal our projected costs! That is a good sign for the future.

On that note lets end with a lovely little bay tree:

Bay Tree

It’s a hot one in Galena today! We have basil, stevia, eggplant, and corn to plant, but man is it going to be a sweaty, dirty job today . . . Soon we will post pics of our herb garden, it’s getting to be quite nice. We can’t wait until it’s flourishing and we can harvest for tea making, especially the peppermint and ginseng.

In other news, the greenhouse base is almost complete. Today we will put screw it together and attach the floorplates and weight it down. Pics will be posted! So excited to grow our camelia sinensis! Also we are looking into dwarf citrus trees. Lemon and orange peal are wonderful additions to teas. Slowly we will build up a supply of spice trees and bushes, vanilla orchids, and hibiscus to have the best selection of teas.

The book business is also going well. We are always acquiring used and vintage books. Of course we are always looking for self-published authors as well. Remember to check out our online store at ellipsis.alibrisstore.com periodically for new additions.

Aside from lovely vegetables and herbs we also have some  beautiful flowers around the property. Here is a yellow gerbera daisy on the front step.

Gerber Daisy

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