Monday, December 19, 2011

Harvest Monday

There is much in the garden waiting to be picked these days. I realized this week, that's where it is staying. It's not intentional, though. It is easier to make and eat bread, fatten up on nuts, than to go root out a couple beets. With that now in mind, it was a pleasure to pluck a couple beets, carrots, and leeks from the ground yesterday for dinner. They met up with an apple and found their way into me through the juicer. Breakfast was a scramble of Brussels, leeks, spinach and garlic. 

This, and much more interesting Monday posts are inspired by Daphne Dandelions.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bright Autumn skies

There are beautiful days about. The rain has held off more so than normal. So has what we call cold. Luke and I took advantage of this and found ourselves a windfall, quite literally I suppose. The sun was warm, the shadows chilly, and the day good.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Garden super stars

The first of Brussels Sprouts were snapped from their stalk this week. Steve Solomon waxes poetic about the power of Brussels Sprouts, 'each a little package of vitality'. Brussels are super hardy, super cute and super tasty Are they the super stars of winter? It sounds like Brussels are an old friend of mine, but really we've just met. Like many other vegetables, Brussels and I got off to a rocky start. We met in an overcooked slop of misunderstanding. It is no wonder that I never put that small green bag of leaves anywhere near my mouth. I was young and they were stinky and strange. Brussels weren't alone. Beets were also barred entry, asparagus, too. I'm not sure if I had even heard of chard or kale, but I'm sure that they'd have been immediately black-listed as well. Though, I did love my spinach, peas and corn. I've always loved creamed-corn, which is odd, because it is the leader of slimy food movement. In any event, Brussels, beets and I have mended our fences. They now carry most-favored vegetable status and a prominate place in the garden. We have two variety of Brussels in the garden this year, Franklin and Roodnerf. All of them have put sprouts on, but one variety (Franklin) had the time to swell their sprouts to perfection, some nearing golf ball size. They snap off the stalk with a satisfying pop and do seem to be packed with vitality and courage.
Brussels chatting with broccoli and onion, plotting
their escape from the wok.

Cabbage also made another appearance in the kitchen this week. The first one was picked last week, and another came in with me yesterday. The remaining cabbage variety is savoyed, meaning its leaves are crinkly. Savoyed is an interesting word. It brings to mind dancing, rather than vegetable. I barely looked to see what else the word conveys. Wikipedia doesn't do it justice. I'm not certain where on the scale of slightly-to-heavily savoyity our cabbages are, but they are photogenic. Their leaves are a varied variety of healthy looking green. With the brilliant sun of yesterday on them, it seemed like everything was right in the world.

This post link linked to from Daphne's Dandelion's Harvest Monday post. Head over there to see what others are growing this time of year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Monday

Our sole Danish Ballhead. All of the others
are a savoy type that I need to pin back to
an actual name.
We picked the first of the cabbages this weekend. It was on the small side, but it was more than enough for the pumpkin curry recipe it was plucked for. The pumpkin curry isn't pictured, but it certainly warranted being captured. I have some for lunch today and I expect that it'll be as tasty as before.

Also not pictured are some truly gorgeous Collards that Shari picked yesterday (their leaves are a deep uniform green and look super healthy and tasty after the recent frosts), as well as the smattering of carrots, chard and onions that made it into the week's meals.  Not pictured for better reason are the few straggling tomatoes we managed to pull from the greenhouse. Actually they probably should have been posted, just to commemorate their fortitude.

For many well pictured posts, head over to Daphne's Dandelions for many Harvest Monday contributors.

Baking interlude

The hours of light are short. The temperatures have dipped. The sky its dripping. It is time to bake. It has been years since I've made bread on a regular basis. I let my sourdough starter go and turned my attention elsewhere. I have some attention again and have acquired part of a great starter from a friend. It is nice to turn some attention back to bread.
Multigrain just before baking.

A country-white, the essence of bread:
flour, water, starter, salt.

Multigrain cooling, delicious potential at 

Bagels with a nice chew.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Frosty Morning

There was a pretty thick fog last night that our 26 degree night turned into a blanket of frost. Everything is certainly hunkered down.

Non-Purple broccoli. It is an experiment.
I don't know if it will last the winter.
Up close with a frosty broccoli.

Purple Broccoli.

Leeks, beets and chard. There are carrots
tucked down  beneath the autumn leaves.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blustery Harvests

It is fall, the first leek came out of the ground the other night. It was a beauty, a good omen for the coming winter. This leek found its way into the wok. There it met some green onion, garlic and chard. Leeks are one of the many vegetables that I didn't know what to do with a few years. I could think of nothing aside from Potato & Leek soup. That always seemed too hard, too involved, too heavy. Then Alicia Silverstone told us, through her book The Kind Diet, to steam it with a bit of vinegar and pepper. It is terribly simple and terribly tasty. Now I can incorporate a leek or two into any dinner in a matter of minutes.
The first of many leeks to come

It was also a week to pick the last of the peppers and tear down the couple remaining tomatoes that were still outside the greenhouse. We are down to less than a 5 gallon bucket of green San Marzano.  I'm not sure what to do with them, aside from trying to let them ripen. I've read that they are easily canned, but that still doesn't tell me what to do with them. It would be fine to let them go to compost, but I'll look around a bit more before that happens.
Shades of green -- Tomatillos, the last of the peppers
and a handful of San Marzano Romas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A squash per week

Squash is a super-food, packed with vitamins and 'good stuff' according to nutrition writers. I don't doubt this at all, but I don't think that one vegetable thrown into an unhealthy diet is going to save a person. Everyone should throw in handfuls, gobs, mounds and mountains of greens, reds, and oranges. That'll lead to profound changes.
As for us, we need to eat at least a squash a week if a have any hope of making it through our stores by the time spring is upon us. It is a good 'problem' to have. Last year we lost several to freezing temperatures. Without a cellar, it is a challenge to find storage. I will try to insulate them better this year.

Pictured is a sunshine kabocha. The meat is dry and sweet. They are supposed to be good keepers. I can tell you, so far, that they are good eaters. A simple steaming was all that was required for this one to be super tasty.

Also pictured is my other sunshine, in front of a mound of chard that is awaiting the wok.

This post was added to Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday entry. Go take a gander and see what's growing around the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


First real frost of the year (11/5). That's not much of an entry, but I'll surely ask myself next year this very question.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Harvest Halloween Monday

Sized up for winter.
Not many photos these week
The garden remains productive. I noticed that many of the broccoli seems to have another round of side growth of good size. I definitely will be growing more Fiesta next year. The Chard is superb this year. It tastes like Spinach, which I hadn't noticed before. Maybe I just wish I had more Spinach in the ground.

The late plantings of carrots seem to have grown out to a good size. I hope that these are good representatives. We have about 15' of carrots. Also in that bed are beets, chard, and leeks. Many of the beets are of picking size also. I'm not expecting a lot more growth of of any of these this year.

Sweet Potatoes
We also dug the sweet potatoes. The yield was underwhelming to be generous. Many of the tubers did not fill out. They were the right length, but remained thin. Shari peeled, steamed and froze what we got. Next year I'll put them under plastic for the entire season. The undersized tubers may have a use. I am going to try to ave and sprout them in the spring.

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harvesting purple broccoli seed

We love our Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It is easy to grow, early to produce and tasty to graze on. It is a great bridge vegetable, delivering a fresh vegetable when most others are just going into the ground. I also love the plant. It is super stout, going into the ground near the end of the summer and then shouldering whatever winter throws at it. Around here (Tacoma WA) winter doesn't throw much at us. The Territorial catalog tells you that purple broccoli is hardy below 10°F. We are unfortunate if we get below 20°F, a far cry from the sub-zero temperatures I imagine elsewhere. The broccoli plant itself is pretty amazing in how it copes with freezing temperatures. As the temperatures get closer to freezing, the plant introduces more sugar into its system. This lowers the fluids freezing point, natural anti-freeze. The plant also draw moisture away from its leaves, so expansion during a freeze isn't as likely to burst its cells. This behavior isn't unique to the purple broccoli plant, of course, but it is the one that we plant, watch slump against the ground during a freeze and bounce back when the temperatures rise again, pretty amazing.

Seed Harvesting
I harvested seeds from a couple purple plants that I let go this spring. There was nothing to it except to give them time to complete their cycle. The seed pods come on super thick, eventually drying and cracking down their mid-line. Each pod has about twenty seeds divided into two rows. The seeds pop easily from the pod once it is dry. Some shaking and scuffing of the pods within the confines of a bucket was all I needed to do to extract nearly every seed. I gathered just over two ounces of seed in no time at all. I am very confident that they'll grow. What I don't know is what they will grow into. Broccoli will cross pollinate with any other brassica, however I may be out of the woods. I didn't have any other brassica growing during the time that the purple broccoli were flowering. I'll have to wait another year to find out.  The purple broccoli for Spring 2012 is already in and ready for the winter. This year's seed harvest quality won't be proven until the Spring of 2013. 
If you want to try some of this seed yourself, let me know. I have enough to grow what we need for ten years in these couple ounces. I'd be happy to send you some.

The final product, 2oz of seed,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jalapeno remains

Remains of the jalapenos, the parts that were not canned. After taking this, it occurred to me that this would make a great brine for pickles. 

The other parts, the solids, were extracted with the food mill and canned as puree.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harvest monday, night

The last eggplant, super tasty.
The last eggplant is on the left of the board, snuggled up with the broccoli. A handful of chard are on top, their stems below. The eggplant was sauteed with the chard stems, tomato and some green onion. It was then tossed with a red sauce and some penne. The chard leaves were lightly steamed. The broccoli was for Luke. I was inspired by Diary of a Tomato. While not following it exactly, I ended up with a very tasty dinner last night and lunch today.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The season of broccoli

We continue to go to our backyard store prior to dinner these days. There are green onions to pull; broccoli, chard and cauliflower to cut; and what can only be called gobs of tomatoes to graze on. Some things have been picked clean. I cooked up the last of the green beans tonight, finished picking over the front bed of canning tomatoes this week, harvested the jalapenos and the last couple eggplant. On the maintenance front, we had a nice weekend. I was able to take advantage of it, cleaning and prepping beds for garlic and winter. 

It's a long way up, but he'll make it.
It is a nice time of year. The garden is more relaxed, less demanding this time of year. It is still growing, be is slowly, but still providing plentifully. 

Our broccoli has is the clear over-achiever these days. Our dozen plants have been producing consistently for a few weeks now. The second variety, Fiesta, has put out huge heads. The one here is 4lbs. I don't think we'll get much more out of these, but the other variety, Packman, are still full of side shoots. We should get another couple weeks of of those. Many have started to go to seed, but that hasn't deterred me. I can say that broccoli flowers are just as tasty as their non-flowering siblings. Eaten raw or in stir-fry, they are just as good. Don't let a little flower deter you.

Luke's vegetable sculpture. 

Just over 4lbs of peppers - jalapeno & Big Bomb,
neither really much more spicy than a bell,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Monday

Relegated to hang out with the recycling and garbage cans.
Thankfully, this isn't from this year. This technique (or is
it a trick?) did work. Most of these tomatoes found
their way into canning jars. 
Back to the present, here's an interesting mix of summer
and winter pickings. There are still a few eggplant
after this one. This butternut was on the small side, but
went very well with the potatoes, broccoli and beets
that shared my dinner plate.
Each of these beets was a pound. I was afraid
that the may have turned tough, but
was happily disappointed. They were excellent.

The last of the beans were tasty, along with mounds of
broccoli, chard, and tomatoes and jalapenos in last night's stir fry for
today's lunch.
The chard is plentiful and sweet all the
way to the end of the stalk.

Head over to Daphne's Dandelions for more Harvest Monday folks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A walk around the beds today

We have 3 San Marzano. They are loaded, but always late.

A handful of beans is all that remains from our plants. The
plants have been mostly relocated to the compost pile.

Behind the beans are a few tomatillo plants. We'll get a
few from these.  Tomatillos grow great around here,
producing nicely until is freezes.

The broccoli continues is proliferation. This is a central
head from a Thompson. We have a few of these and
many Packman. The Packman continue to produce load
of side shoots.

The Brussels Sprouts are beginning to form. Will they
make sprouts by the time winter really sets in?

An outstanding head of cauliflower.

..and one that has started to bolt. I'll steam it up just
to make sure it is bitter and horrible.

The cabbage, Danish Ballhead, are really
starting to form heads.

This little Sunshine Kabocha is just a little too late. It
is cute, but won't amount to much.

That little Sunshine, above, came from this bed. It was home
to squash, lettuce, and potatoes this year.

After taking out the squash, I added fertilizer and put
some Broccoli in. I'm curious to see if anything comes o
 something planted out this late. I have another ten plants or so. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Sun" dried tomatoes

These tomatoes are sun dried, in as much as the sun is the source of all life in our solar system. With respect to our local frame of reference, we continue to use our oven's drying mode effectively. It takes about eight hours at 145 to turn these Amish Salad tomatoes from their plump selves into their shriveled counterparts. The results are good. I really like the texture and sweetness of a dried tomato. We use them on pizza, in tacos, and really anywhere we'd ut a tomato.

If you have the means to dry, it is a great way of preserving and saving space.