By Tom Cowan, M.D.
As winter approaches, it is natural for us to turn inward and contemplate where we have come this past year. For me, this has been a year of tremendous change. We left the city we called home for 17 years; we left our flourishing garden in Napa, which provided about 90 percent of all our plant food; I left my medical practice and retired forever from being a doctor.
Despite these big changes, it never felt as if I was going through an “identity crisis,” as we hit the ground running in our new home. Now, happily settled in the Northeast, we are about to fence off an acre or so garden so we can put in vegetable beds, a greenhouse, a small orchard, a chicken coop, a couple of sheep (or alpaca) and a guard-dog house. We have new friends, new projects and new hopes and dreams for the remainder of our lives.
But, here is the key. It is you, our dear customers and friends who support us at Dr. Cowan’s Garden, that have made this possible. Without you, there would be no company, no farmers to support, no reason to build a huge and thriving garden to grow products for others. Also, as we all inevitably do during transitions, I have reflected on my life, how have I contributed, have I built anything that has meaning, have I made anyone’s life even a little better. We hear from our friends and customers all the time. You tell us that our efforts have made your lives a little richer, and as far as I can see, that is a good antidote for the despair that many of us feel during this time.
In this season of gratitude, I want to express my sincere gratitude for all of you. You have contributed enormously to make my life better.
I find one of the biggest blessings of summer is the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. Whether perusing a farmer’s market, local farm stand or nearby orchard, it’s inspiring to see what’s growing locally, and then deciding what I’m going to preserve. The month of July is a bountiful one, with gardens growing a plethora of veggies, and orchards offering their first fruits. Here in Michigan, we grow some of the highest quality cherries available, and this blog will be focused on what to do with the cherries that we’ve picked.
We are all accustomed to the idea of preparing food in advance. My freezer is stuffed with bones for making bone broth, already prepared meals that I’ve forgotten about, and dubious looking ice cubes. Other less suspicious items include frozen trays of butter balls, made with ashitaba, wild ramp, and salt and pepper. The seasoning changes slightly depending on what I’m cooking, but on the whole, it’s a basic seasoning I use for simple dishes like rice or scrambled eggs.