Harvest Monday August 22, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s looking a lot like winter squash season here lately. I harvested several of the Sugar Dumpling squash last week, after discovering two that had rotted on the vine. Our rainy, wet conditions are not favoring the squash family one bit. I decided to bring in all I could before I lost them too. It’s my first time growing Sugar Dumpling, which is a hybrid version of Sweet Dumpling. The ones in the below photo weighed around a pound each, and should be a nice size for roasting whole or as slices. I’ll let them cure for a couple of weeks before cooking any.

Sugar Dumpling winter squash

Sugar Dumpling winter squash

I’m also losing a lot of peppers to rot. We’ve had measurable rain here six of the last eight days, almost three inches total, and I think the water just sits on the ripening peppers causing them to develop bad spots. If I catch them in time I can still use them, but I’ve lost probably half of the ripe sweet peppers completely. Thankfully the plants are still loaded with green peppers, and the next few days promise to be rain free so perhaps some can ripen without rotting. In the below photo I have the yellow Early Sunsation, the orange Sweet Happy Yummy, Jimmy Nardello, Carmen and Corno di Toro Rosso.

sweet peppers

sweet peppers

I’m growing spaghetti squash again for the first time in several years. I’ve grown Small Wonder in the past, but this year I decided to try one called Angel Hair. It’s another ‘small’ one, though the ones I have harvested are running a bit over two pounds in size. I guess they are smaller than the kind you see in the grocery that can weigh four or five pounds. There were six squash on my one plant, which should be more than enough to keep us supplied. In the past I have struggled with how to use them. I don’t much like them as a spaghetti substitute, with tomato sauce poured over them, so I am looking for any and all other suggestions! I do remember Susie (Cold Hands, Warm Earth) making fritters out of them, which sounds like one good option. We’re also thinking about using them in a stir fry, sort of like a chow mein treatment.

Angel Hair spaghetti squash

Angel Hair spaghetti squash

I also cut four more of the Honeyboat Delicata squash. We’ve already sampled one of these, and it was sweet and flavorful like the ones I grew last year. These four averaged about 10 ounces each. I have no trouble figuring out how to use these, since roasting the slices is a favorite of both me and my wife. I’m not much on stuffing squash, though these are a nice size and shape for that.

Honeyboat Delicata squash

Honeyboat Delicata squash

It’s not all squash here though. Eggplants are still coming on strong. That’s the dark purple Nadia and the striped Fairy Tale along with pinkish purple Dancer in the below photo. All are reliable performers for me here.

Nadia, Dancer and Fairy Tale eggplant

Nadia, Dancer and Fairy Tale eggplant

I cut the Dancer eggplant in half, then brushed on olive oil and sprinkled with salt and some homemade paprika. I grilled them until they were tender, and they made a great side dish for BLTs I served for lunch one day. The flesh on Dancer gets soft and almost melts when cooked, making it one of my favorites for grilling.

grilled Dancer eggplant

grilled Dancer eggplant

I used a couple of the Nadia eggplants to make Eggplant Rollatini. I cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices, then baked for about 15 minutes until soft but not done. Then I spread a mix of grated zucchini, egg, and ricotta and Pecorino Romano cheeses on the eggplant before rolling up and placing in the baking dish. I topped the eggplant with a freshly made tomato sauce (from the Marzano Fire tomatoes), then covered and baked for about an hour until the eggplant was completely cooked and everything was bubbly. I added some shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese, and popped it back in the oven to melt the cheese. This dish had all the flavors of eggplant parmesan, but without the fried eggplant treatment. I can see me making this dish again while we have the eggplant. The below photo shows the dish before I added the topping of cheese. It made for a nice meatless main dish.

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

Most of the pole beans are taking a breather right now, but not the Red Noodle long beans. I get a handful of them every few days. We’ve been using them in stir fries, though I need to think about making a green papaya salad while I have them fresh. I’ve got cherry tomatoes and Thai basil, so all I really need is a green papaya, which I should be able to pick up in my favorite local international market.

Red Noodle beans

Red Noodle beans

Tomatoes are still coming on too. I’ve been slow roasting many of the small fruited ones. Some wound up on a pizza Saturday that was camera shy (I just forgot to get a pic) and more went in a frittata my wife cooked yesterday. I freeze the ones we don’t eat. It’s a mix of Artisan Seeds varieties in the below photo.

Artisan Seeds tomatoes

Artisan Seeds tomatoes

And I’m getting a nice flow of slicing tomatoes too. Chef’s Choice Orange and the red Garden Treasure are a favorite for sandwiches, with Better Boy, Celebrity and Jetsetter also showing up often. I’ve gotten one Cherokee Purple, and I have to say it wasn’t particularly memorable. Next year I am looking to grow one of the CP hybrids like Cherokee Carbon.

Garden Treasure and Chef's Choice Orange

Garden Treasure and Chef’s Choice Orange

But I’m not completely ready to give up on big o/p tomatoes. A newcomer here this year is one called Captain Lucky. According to Tatiana’s TOMATObase, it’s a tri-color tomato, with shades of green/yellow/pink when ripe. It has potato leaf foliage, and my plants are growing well over the tops of their remesh cages. It’s a little tough to tell when these are fully ripe, but I think I got it right with the one in the below photos.

Captain Lucky tomato

Captain Lucky tomato

captainlucky2

As for the flavor, I’m loving it. Despite the almost chartreuse green color inside, it has a nice blend of sweet and tart flavors going on. My wife and I both enjoyed it, and she is not as big a fan of green-when-ripe tomatoes as I am. The taste of Captain Lucky reminds me somewhat of Aunt Ruby’s German Green. The plants are very vigorous, and must have some disease resistance if they are loving our hot, wet, humid summer. There are more starting to ripen, and I am looking forward to them for sure!

slices of Captain Lucky tomato

slices of Captain Lucky tomato

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Harvest Monday August 15, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I had a mixed bag of harvests last week. One of the smaller ones volume-wise was big on flavor though. I cut enough of the Corsican basil to make a batch of pesto. I have been using this basil for other things, and I really like the flavor, so I decided to see how it would do for pesto. My wife and I both liked it and it got the HA four thumbs up rating! Michelle (From Seed to Table) did a Spotlight on it earlier this year, which is where I first heard about it. I planted it over in the Wild Garden with intentions of letting it bloom for pollinators, but I have been using it so much it has not had a chance to bloom yet! I think it has a better flavor than other purple leaf basils I have grown in the past, less ‘spicy’ than Dark Opal or Amethyst, and the plants are vigorous as well.

Corsican basil

Corsican basil

Tomatoes are coming on strong finally, though I am still losing quite a few to rot. Juliet is doing quite well though, as it usually does here. I harvested almost two gallons of them on Friday, along with some of the paste types and slicers.

Juliet tomatoes

Juliet tomatoes

One of the standout newcomers in the tomato patch this year is one from Artisan Seeds called Marzano Fire. This was developed from the classic San Marzano paste tomatoes grown in Italy, and likely has some Speckled Roman in its lineage as well. It’s great for sauces, with thick flesh and relatively few seeds. I also haven’t seen any blossom-end rot on these tomatoes. I used these and Juliets to cook up a batch of Homemade Tomato Paste yesterday. It took about three hours to cook the sauce down and another three hours in the dehydrator to make the paste. It sure shrunk down ten pounds of tomatoes!

Marzano Fire tomatoes

Marzano Fire tomatoes

The hybrid slicers have been doing reasonably well this summer. My old standbys like Better Boy, Celebrity and Jetsetter have been joined by Chef’s Choice Orange for many sandwiches and side dishes. The newcomer Garden Treasure has been a prolific producer, and the large tomatoes have a nice balance of acid and sweet flavors. Garden Treasure was developed by University of Florida tomato breeding program, and was derived from the heirloom beefsteak German Queen tomato. Currently, the seeds are only available through a $10 donation to the UF Tomato Research Fund, which gets you seeds to both Garden Treasure and Garden Gem. I’ve gotten my money’s worth from both these tomatoes, and I have enough seeds left to plant them again next year.

Garden Treasure tomatoes

Garden Treasure tomatoes

I’m bringing in more winter squash as they mature in the garden. In the below photo we have the first Honeyboat Delicata squash I harvested. Unlike most delicata squash, this one has tan skin with green stripes instead of the usual cream colored skin. This squash weighed a bit over one pound. I cut it into slices, tossed it with a little olive oil and salt, then roasted it in the oven until browned and tender. The flesh is sweet and flavorful, and even the skins are edible. We love our delicata here for sure, and this is our favorite (and simple) treatment.

Honeyboat Delicata squash

Honeyboat Delicata squash

roasted Honeyboat Delicata

roasted Honeyboat Delicata

I grew Honeyboat last year and it was one of the sweetest delicata squash I have ever tasted. This year I have several others I am trialing, including Hessel’s Sugar Loaf. In the below photo there’s another Honeyboat on the left and Sugar Loaf on the right. These are the two squash that were crossed by author and plant breeder Carol Deppe to create Candystick Dessert Delicata, which I am also growing this year. According to Deppe, the normal curing time for delicata types before eating is seven to fourteen days, so I will wait at least another week before sampling the Sugar Loaf.

Honeyboat (L) and Sugar Loaf(R) Delicata squash

Honeyboat (L) and Sugar Loaf(R) Delicata squash

Besides tomatoes, it has also been a good year so far for eggplants. That’s the oval Galine and long Millionaire in the below photo. I’ve gotten a lot of these two lately, along with the striped Fairy Tale.

Galine and Millionaire eggplant

Galine and Millionaire eggplant

As pretty as the eggplants are to me, the bowl they are sitting in is even prettier. My wife made more of her clothesline cord bowls recently, using some cord she dyed using a familiar Happy Acres fruit: blackberries. You can read about the process she used here on her blog Dyeing with Blackberries. I love the color, and it’s especially precious since I knew every blackberry personally! I also got a handkerchief/bandana in the process, which wound up with a more muted color.

clothesline cord bowl

clothesline cord bowl

blackberry dyed bowls

blackberry dyed bowls

I’ve been using the eggplant in quite a few dishes, including stir fries and in a Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Roasted Summer Vegetables I made last week. I roasted eggplant, sweet red peppers, zucchini and yellow squash and combined with cooked quinoa, olives and halved cherry tomatoes, adding crumbled feta cheese right before serving. I used the Corsican basil in this dish also, skipping the mint and pine nuts called for in the recipe and letting the basil have a prominent role. I served it up with some fresh baked whole wheat Lavash bread, and my wife and I made a meal of it. Actually it was two meals, and the leftovers were even tastier!

quinoa salad with lavash

quinoa salad with lavash

It also promises to be a good year here for peppers. The plants have grown large and lush with our ample rainfall. I got my wife to get a pic of me out in the pepper patch the other day, standing next to one of the overwintered baccatum peppers. I am close to six feet tall and you can see the plant is almost as tall as I am. This is the Malawi Piccante pepper, used to make ‘peppadew’ style pickled peppers, and it is loaded with green ones. You can see the little round peppers on the plants, as well as lots more blossoms. The overwintered Aji Angelo plant is just as tall, and just as loaded with peppers. I have to call my overwintering experiment a success, and I think I will try digging these plants up again in fall and potting them up for the winter. I will surely have to prune them back quite hard to get them in the house!

me hiding in the pepper patch

me hiding in the pepper patch

The other peppers are gradually starting to ripen. In the below photo you can see (from top to bottom) Boldog Paprika, Topepo Rosso and Celia Dulce. I dried the Boldog peppers to see what kind of paprika they would make. It’s dark red and has the slightest amount of heat. I think they would make nice smoked paprika, which I will do later in the season. I like to pickle the Topepo Rosso peppers, though they are also a nice shape for stuffing, like a pimento. The Celia Dulce is a Mexican heirloom pepper I’m growing for the first time, shaped much like an elongated mini bell, and they too have just a slight touch of heat.

Boldog Paprika, Topepo Rosso and Celia Dulce peppers

Boldog Paprika, Topepo Rosso and Celia Dulce peppers

I’ll close with an update on our bluebird babies. It would appear they have fledged the nest. My first clue came when I went into the yard yesterday and both parents starting swooping me in a protective manner. Then I looked over at the nest box, and one young bluebird was half in, half out. It looked like it was channeling The Clash singing Should I Stay or Should I Go! I haven’t got any photos of them out and about yet, but if I do you can bet I will share them here.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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