When we were first married we had a neighbor across the alley we called Oma. That's the German word for Grandmother; that's what her grandchildren called her and, in fact, what I called my own German grandmother. She was in her eighties when we knew her and was one of those phenemenonal women you read about in books. Or, in this case, blogs.
One afternoon soon after we moved in, I looked out the kitchen window to see her standing on top of her house sweeping leaves off her roof. Not only was she fearless, she was crafty. She appeared one day and with an innocent look on her face asked Beaven to show her how to change the oil in her car. Naturally, Beaven did it for her. And every oil change afterwards she would just show up with the cans of oil and her carkeys. This evolved into lighting her furnace for her first thing every winter. I painted her bedroom for her. When we sold the house the new owners of the house called us in early November to ask Beaven how to light Oma's furnace.
In exchange she would make Beaven a custard. And taught me how to garden by the seasons.
To start with you have to get your potatoes and onions in the ground by Valentines Day. So you might have time now if you hurry. Around Halloween you could give up on the spindly plants. Oma would pull them up and throw them into the compost pile. Except for the tomatoes. They were her personal challenge and she tried her darndest to keep the tomatoes going until Christmas. And one year she had a few Cherry Tomatoes on Christmas Day. Of course, that depends on whether you have a freeze or not. Come the following spring she would sometimes get tomato plants that came up from the seeds of the previous year. She would call these "volunteers" and was very proud of them.
She had a smallish garden in her yard what wasn't more than about 6X10 feet. In it she had squash, onions, okra, peppers, potatoes, green beans and tomatoes. Her garden practically gave her all the vegetables she needed. The soil where we lived in Southwest Oak Cliff was perfect for gardens and most people in our neighborhood had a garden. Following Oma's lead I put in a garden but put in far more tomatoes than I needed. I harvested so many tomatoes I couldn't give them away. Big, blemish-free, brightly colored, perfect tomatoes. And far more than we could eat. I would take a huge grocery sack to the neighbor across the street, ring the doorbell and run away. I even made ketchup once. And, let me tell you, tasty though it was, it was just too damned much trouble.
Oma taught me to not be afraid of cooking. She would add a bit of sugar to most vegetables she cooked because she said it made it taste fresher. Even the stuff she brought in straight from the garden. She also taught me to not be afraid of motherhood, too. She babysat for me sometimes so I could run a quick errand. I forgot to leave diapers and came home to find she had changed Elizabeth into a kitchen towel when there wasn't a diaper. She used to sew for a living and I've never before or since seen anyone run a sewing machine as fast as she did.
Here's her Egg Custard recipe. It's Beaven's favorite. If you invite him over for dinner you could serve this and he just might change the oil in your car for you.
Baked Egg Custard
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
a little freshly ground nutmeg
beat until well combined but not foamy. Pour into six 6-ounce ramekins. Here's the important part: Put the ramekins into a 9X13 inch glass pan. Fill the pan with water about an inch deep. This will temper the heat so the custard doesn't burn or get tough. Or you can use a 3 1/2 cup souffle dish.
cook ramekins at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes
or 50-60 minutes if you're making one souffle dish
It's ready when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.