While to Do While The Garden Sleeps

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LeavesStrewn with hickory nuts and covered in a thick blanket of oak leaves, the vegetable garden is just a mere shadow of its former glorious self. But we still have Italian zucca gialla (yellow squash) that I have made delicious zuppa di zucca gialla (yellow squash soup) from; sweet and creamy and golden yellow, it is such a lovely soup for winter meals. Try my recipe for Squash Soup, substituting butternut squash for the pumpkin, but if you have a garden, you must plant zucca gialla next season!

Some other things we are enjoying fro this year's garden are Sweet One-Hundred cherry tomato soup. I just grab a bag of the tomatoes from the freezer and cook them down frozen, puree them, seed and skin them and add salt, pepper, sometimes rice or bits of fresh mozzarella cheese to the smooth tomato juice. The plum tomatoes that I dried are part of our winter antipasti, or are added to pasta or chicken dishes like the chicken with sun dried tomatoes and white wine that you can find on the recipe page. And the eggplants that we marinated are great on top of grilled bread, or just eaten right out of the jar! Summer in a jar in the dead of winter is a really satisfying thing!

One of the things you can do now even though the garden sleeps is to get yourself a notebook and sketch out your garden plot for next spring. Think of what you would like to plant, include notes on what has done well in the past and what has not. Look at seed catalogues which will begin to arrive in a flurry right after Christmas and include some new varieties to try. And rest. Because garden season is coming sooner than you think.

P.S. How many of you would be interested in learning from my husband Guy, the head gardener for Ciao Italia, how plan and plant a low maintenance vegetable garden for next spring on line on the garden page?

Let us know at feedback@ciaoitalia.com

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