The last week or so has brought fall weather here to our neck of the woods. And I for one am happy to see it, because I am ready for a change of season. The garden harvests have slowed down considerably, but we are still getting quite a few things to eat from our own backyard. Like the zucchini in the below photo. There are two Romanesco and one Striata d’Italia there, and a couple of them were hiding from me and got a little bigger than I prefer. These two squash plants have managed to keep on going all summer, and any squash they can produce at this point is a real bonus.
But even though the zucchini were big, they made some great zucchini bread! This is my Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe in the below photo, and I have found the bread freezes exceptionally well. That makes it a great way to enjoy the zucchini even when the harvests are over for the year.
A very pleasant surprise last week was a harvest of pole snap beans. Fortex and Musica have really done well this year, and I got a little over a pound of them one day. Like the zucchini, green beans in October is always a treat!
Back in August I planted some Slobolt lettuce in two of the cold frame beds, hoping it would survive the heat and give us a jump on salads for the fall season. I think it did quite well, and I need to make a note and try to plant some about the same time next year.
The lettuce in the above photo went into a Wilted Lettuce Salad my wife made for us. The wilted lettuce is always a real treat for me, no doubt in part because it has a little bacon in it and I don’t often eat bacon. The sweet and sour vinegar dressing nicely compliments the tender leaf lettuce too, without having it swimming in dressing.
The pepper patch is still producing like crazy. There are three Italian heirloom peppers in the below photo, the long slender Jimmy Nardello, the round pimento shaped Topepo Rosso and the smaller hot cherry pepper Piccante Calabrese. I’ve been a fan of Jimmy Nardello for some time now, but this is my first time growing the other two. Based on the results so far I think they will be back next year as well.
A few weeks ago I pickled some of the Piccante Calabrese. I didn’t can them, I just prepared a sweet vinegar brine, heated it, and then poured it over the peppers in the jar. I added a few cloves of garlic for added flavor. When the contents cooled I put the jar in the refrigerator to sit and pickle for a bit. They turned out pretty good, and the hot peppers are pretty tasty prepared this way. I’m going to make another batch using some of the Topepo Rosso peppers, though I will have to cut them into pieces before pickling. The pickled peppers are nice for salads, antipasto, pizza, and for making pepper aioli sauce.
I also harvested lots and lots of the C. chinense varieties this week. Trinidad Perfume and Aji Dulce #2 have been especially prolific, and you can see them in the below photo. Numex Sauve Red and Numex Suave Orange have been less prolific, but are finally ripening up here for me. I used some of these peppers to make a Fermented Hot Sauce, and I will dry the rest to use for a very distinctive flavored chile powder.
Even while summer veggies are still rolling in, the first fall broccoli is ready to harvest. That’s Packman in the below photo. It’s not the biggest, but it is almost always the earliest of the ones I plant, and I can usually count of lots of side shoots too.
Whenever I travel it seems like I always forget to pack something. For the trip last week, it was soap! Mind you, we have countless bars of homemade soap in the basement, but I packed nothing. Fortunately my wife brought along some for herself and was kind enough to share. We always like to check out soap makers when we travel, and so this time I was on the lookout for something I could use right away. We found plenty at Appalachian Natural Soaps. We wound up talking shop with the owner, Victor Taylor and when he found out we were amateur ‘soapers’ ourselves, he threw in a couple of extra bars of soap for us to try, as well as gave us a good deal on his specially made extra virgin coconut oil. I am keen to try his Neem soap which he told me contains a whopping 30% neem oil, which is great for the skin.
My wife and I love to visit farmer’s market wherever we go. The Western North Carolina Farmers Market is open seven days a week, and we went there a couple of times while we were in Asheville. Of course I also had to try out some of the local honeys at every opportunity. The sourwood and locust varietals were especially tasty, though I am guessing that any honey that is produced while the sourwood trees are blooming is labeled ‘sourwood honey’. I normally prefer to buy honey directly from the beekeeper but we didn’t get that chance on this trip. There is a tremendous difference in color in two of the sourwood honeys in the below photo, though they both have a lovely flavor. We also enjoyed some of the local apples, as well as some sorghum made the old fashioned way by an Amish family using horse and mule power.
I’ll also share a photo my wife got of me posing by the Flat Iron sculpture outside the historic Flat Iron Building in downtown Asheville. I’m wearing one of her t-shirt creations she dyed for me. She’s been busy doing more dyeing, and I will share some of the results soon.
And last but not least, I was pleased to be a part of the recently released Love It Evv Fall 2014 issue. The very talented Kana L. Brown asked me to do a piece on fall gardening for the Holistic Corner(page 28), and I was happy to oblige. Kana is a part of our Impact Community Garden this year, when she is not doing other things like being an esthetician and an editorial editor.
That’s a look at what’s been happening here lately. To see what other gardeners are harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays every week.