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John in his garden

John in his garden

I married a really great guy. My husband John is smart, funny, handsome, and a fantastic husband and father. He is also my business partner and a gifted salesperson. On top of all this, he has a bunch of hobbies which, taken together, make him the ideal “Frontier Wife.”

It all started when we moved in together. I came from an apartment in Washington, DC with a burning desire to plant a garden and grow tomatoes and herbs. He came from a rented house in suburbia wanting to plant the backyard garden of his dreams. In very short order, we removed the pine trees that took up half of our backyard and, in their place, built four raised beds that would eventually become our kitchen garden. His passion for planting soon overwhelmed mine and now the garden is his domain.

Today, our garden takes up 420 square feet and yields asparagus, lettuce, spinach, green beans, edamame, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts, blueberries, collard greens, carrots, shallots and swiss chard. Each year, he also picks one “fun” thing to grow. Over the past few years, we’ve had peanuts, tobacco, and cotton, to name a few. There is even a small bed in which he has planted a wildflower garden to attract butterflies. It’s incredible what he has been able to do in a small space!

We both enjoy cooking and ever since John planted the garden, it has inspired him to come up with new and interesting ways to cook the things he grows. Last year, he made infused vodka with hot peppers. It makes a great base for Bloody Mary’s and a very nice homemade holiday gift. This summer, he has taken up canning and preserving. His first foray into canning took place in June when we picked fresh raspberries and blackberries and he made jam. Today, he is planning to make peach chutney with the peppers he grew and the peaches from a local peach festival. Next up? Pickles!

My husband is good not just in the kitchen, but also on the hunt. He has always been an avid fisherman and a talented marksman. Usually, he shoots clay pigeons, but last year, over Thanksgiving, he went hunting and learned how to breast pheasant (courtesy of a friend who he calls “Captain Jack”). That pheasant meat later became pheasant gumbo thanks to his aforementioned cooking skills.

He can hunt, he can garden, and he can cook. He is also solidly in touch with his inner Martha Stewart (his nickname around the house is “Marty Stewart”) and has shown a burgeoning talent for flower arranging. Last year, he made a beautiful and very artistic arrangement using branches from the cotton plants he grew (with the bloomed cotton on them!) and dried chilies from his garden. Over the holidays, he puts cranberries in a glass vase with water and then adds flowers for a festive centerpiece on our table.

As if all of this wasn’t impressive enough, his new obsessions include beekeeping and raising chickens. I think I have successfully discouraged the beekeeping (he is allergic to bees and our four kids are terrified of them), but I have a feeling that, come next summer, we’ll have a few chickens out back and fresh eggs here in the house.

In the event that we are somehow magically transported back to the 1800’s and Annapolis becomes like the frontier, our family with flourish. In the meantime, it’s been pretty fun to sit back and enjoy the fruits of John’s labors. Today, that will include slow cooked beef brisket with a fresh tomato tart for dinner, followed by homemade peach ice cream – all served on a table set with a beautiful wildflower arrangement straight from the garden.

Mmmmm… how I love my Frontier Wife!

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