April 2019 Garden

In our high desert climate, April gardening is done indoors as much as outdoors. I typically start the vegetables that are not tolerant of the cold nights and occassional freezes indoors as seeds or seedlings in pots that I can transfer to the garden beds when we are past the danger of frost.

The garden beds planted with cool weather crops have sprouted, and the peas, kale, spinach, radishes and lettuce are up. I planted carrots, parsnips, beets, onions and potatoes in mid-April, but those have not yet emerged.

The perinnial herb beds are starting to come back, and we’ve had two cuttings of asparagus from the asparagus bed. The goats and donkeys are enjoying fresh chives from the garden and a little sage. The parsely is just starting to take off and the peas are showing promise.

As we end April, the potted plants indoors have sprouted and you can see growth daily.

Outdoors we see a little change, but more is going on underground than above ground.

Corned Beef And Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

St. Patrick’s Day is still a week away, but we just couldn’t wait another week to enjoy a nice slow-cooked Corned Beef and Cabbage. This time of year, just before spring, the evenings are still cold and this hearty meal is welcome after a day of pre-spring yard cleanup. This version is my own take on the traditional dish and is cooked in a slow cooker giving us time to do some chores and then come into a meal that is ready to serve at the end of a busy day. Most of the prep can be done the night before if you happen to want to have this waiting for you at the end of your work day.

Ingredients

1 - 3 to 4 pound corned beef brisket (can also use the round, I just prefer the brisket for slicing for Rueben sandwhiches if there are any leftovers)
1 large or 2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon Pickling Spice
2 12 oz. bottles of Guiness Stout Ale (optional)
1.5 oz. of Madeira (optional)
24 oz. water - more or less as desired
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces (alternately, these days small peeled carrots in the bag are available in most grocery stores)
3 - 4 stalks of celery, cut into bite size pieces
1 - pound of small red potatoes, washed, skin-on, cut in 1/2 or quarter if potatoes are larger than a walnut
1 large head or 2 small heads of green cabbage

Instructions

  1. Dice onions, celery, and carrots. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add peeled garlic.
  3. Open corned beef from package and rinse, reserving spice packet.
  4. Add corned beef and spice packet, along with pickling spices to the slow cooker, on top of the carrots, onion, celery and garlic.
  5. Add the two bottles of Guiness, the Madeira, and the water to 1/2 cover the corned beef. The vegetables will float a bit.
  6. Set the slow cooker to high heat, and cook on high for 2 hours if you are home to mind the cooker. If you are not going to be home, continue with the next step immediately.
  7. After two hours, or at the outset if the cooker is going to be unattended, set the slow cooker to low heat and add the potatoes and cabbage to the cooker.
  8. Continue cooking until potatoes and cabbage and corned beef are fork tender. Cook time should be around 6-7 hours for the high/low heat method. 8-10 hours for the slow heat method. This will vary based on the slow cooker.

Note: A good way to finish the corned beef is to remove it from the cooking juices, place in an oven safe dish and slather with a mustard and brown sugar glaze. Roast in a 325 degree oven until the glaze carmelizes and develops a crust, but does not burn. For the glaze use 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup whole grain or brown mustard. In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar and water. Heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the mustard. Continue simmering for another 2-3 minutes. Coat corned beef with glaze and bake until the desired carmelization occurs. You will need to check the corned beef in the oven after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes to make sure the glaze is cooking to the desired carmelization. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.