With June beginning to warm up, we are seeing the first harvest out of our VHC Victory Garden. Seems like the mid-April planting was ages ago and now, after weeks of rain and cloudy skies, we have our first yield. In honor of National Fresh Veggie Day, we headed down to the garden, donned in wellies and gloves, to celebrate.
An hour later, we carted back softball sized dragon-egg cucumbers; pounds of zucchini, yellow squash and red potatoes; bushels of green beans; stacks of green onions and banana peppers, and the first barely ripe tomato. With the first bounty laid out in the break room, the office smells of fresh dirt and the crisp, sweet smell of organic vegetables. Is there anything more representative of spring than a table full of ripe, colorful vegetables?
Each year, we look at the bare soil and dream up a larger footprint, thinking, “this is going to be our best garden ever!” And each year, we are surprised by the quantity and vitality of our little garden. For us, it is more than just harvesting full-flavored, responsibly-grown vegetables. It is the pride and understanding that comes with hard work. That, and a summer of unlimited break room zucchini concoctions!
As I’ve aged a little (I’m 45), I’ve started to back away from the starches as a main course, side or food group. Sure, we eat pastas and breads etc, but in MUCH smaller amounts than in my 20’s and early 30’s. Without getting into the politics of starches and obesity and etc. I wanted to share a version of my NO PASTA Lasagna – a different, perhaps somewhat healthier version than the Italian classic. We have this meal about 2 dinners every 3 months, and it’s usually by request.I use Butternut Squash as the lasagna noodle substitute. In this case, it’s not even a front-and-center Italian flavor profile I am going for – no sauce here. I am using the word “lasagna” to refer generally to the layering of the ingredients, and to the baking thereof, but there is a cheese factor here as you will find below. Don’t be disappointed or pre-judge – this recipe turns out a great presentation that plates really well for dinner guests.
Assuming you’re dining area and kitchen can now pass the food inspector, the critic, and a Food Network contest, and assuming you have separated the lasagna from the sides of the baking pan, the lasagna may now be sliced. Be careful! Be sure to cut it nice and clean, and you have a fork or knife in your other hand, to gently slide it off the spatula and on to the serving plate. Many times a pretty lasagna has been ruined by not gently pushing it off the spatula with an alternate utensil.
For final showiness, I drizzle a little olive oil, and either sprinkle a parsley or chive or basil on the side of the dish. Sometimes I use paprika as a dusting which also looks good. Every once in a while I do a zig-zag of balsamic reduction. You choice, just make it look nice.
In some ways the “official” start of Spring at VHC Brands has nothing to do with products at all, instead, it’s all about the weather. Each year, we plant a fairly large garden, which in southwest Missouri in the Ozarks, is something we contemplate and discuss and plan from about January 2nd, until we can officially poke holes and stick seeds in the soil. Last frost is always around Tax Day, and by tradition we plant the seeds or sproutings the weekend prior to Tax Day. This year, the weather was too nasty to plant the weekend prior to Tax Day, and this past weekend (the weekend AFTER Tax Day) we expected (and received some) severe weather, so that didn’t work either. So we planted on a work day – Monday the 20th.
When you think of gardening, you might think of sunhats, butterflies, the meadow grasses swaying in a gentle breeze, shiny green Smith & Hawken mini rakes, etc. That would not be gardening in Missouri, at least not our garden – not the VHC Victory Garden. We started calling it the Victory Garden in 2008….more on that later if we have time. Turns out it’s not that kind of Victory.
What kind of Victory is it, you ask? We battle the elements – braving wind, variable temperatures, hungry bugs and animals and rocky soil – quite literally, gardener against the odds. Today we braved the cold and 20 mile-an-hour winds to get the tiny seeds into the soil. There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no quitting in VHC gardening. WE WILL WE WILL PLANT YOU. EVERYBODY WE WILL WE WILL…anyway you get the picture. As you can see from the image, the garden is officially started, and it’s going to be a really great garden this season. We typically end up harvesting 100 to 200 pounds of goodies A DAY in full swing, no kidding. We share with anyone who asks, which makes up for us not actually doing the professional garden prep work ourselves (best left to professionals). I look forward to sharing stories of the plants, critters and tastes as the season gets into full bloom.
To all our fellow gardeners – please share your story – and Happy Planting!
Ken Kline, CEO
With the flowers and trees finally budding, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas right now, but around VHC we are absolutely buzzing with excitement over our 2015 Christmas products! In fact, we’re so excited about it, we launched new Facebook and Pinterest pages so we have a place to focus just on the various seasons!
I know you’re asking yourself – What makes this launch so exciting? Well, not only do we have an amazing selection of country rustic options that our customers know us for, but this year we’re also offering some winter whimsy style products too.
One thing I love about this year’s Christmas launch is the details! We have cute buttons (and more buttons), ric-rac, cable knit, multi-color whipstitch, applique and more.
As they say, time flies, so the Christmas retail shopping season will be here before you know it! But we also know storage space is precious; pre-order now and we’ll delay the shipment of your products for a few months. Don’t wait! We sell out fast, and you don’t want to miss out and not be the cool kid at the Christmas table.
I’m sure you’re dying to see more photos of this year’s collections, see the catalog here.
Ashlee, Marketing Director