Harvest Monday July 10, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re getting plenty of squash and beans to eat now. I’ve been harvesting bush beans for about a week now, and the pole beans are starting to bloom too so they will be ready to harvest in a few days. The Sunstripe yellow zucchini has been prolific so far. It makes for a striking contrast when prepared with the green zucchinis. We’ve gotten plenty of the white pattypan squashes too, which reminds me I probably don’t need to plant more than one bush of them next year!

squash and snap beans

squash and snap beans

I’m growing both Alpine and Alpine Gold daikon radishes this spring. I wasn’t sure if they were really one and the same, but I do believe they are slightly different. That’s Alpine Gold on the left in the below photo, with Alpine on the right. Both are doing well, and I plan on growing them both again for a fall crop since I have plenty of seeds.

Alpine Gold(L) and Alpine(R) radishes

Alpine Gold(L) and Alpine(R) radishes

I also pulled a few more of the Sweet Baby radishes. Some I harvested last month made a great kkakdugi kimchi, and I used these new ones to make another batch. It was just enough to make a pint jar of it.

Sweet Baby radishes

Sweet Baby radishes

Blackberries are still coming on. I got almost a gallon of them in one picking last week. Most of these wound up in the freezer.

Apache and Natchez blackberries

Apache and Natchez blackberries

I got the first Socrates cucumbers from the greenhouse planting. These are a parthenocarpic Beit Alpha type with tender skin and a mild taste. I turned these into refrigerator pickles, after saving a few slices to go on a salad.

Socrates cucumbers

Socrates cucumbers

I got more of the Harmonie cucumbers from the greenhouse. These are a pickling type, and I turned them into refrigerator dill pickles. I made these into a ‘stacker’ style pickle, cut lengthwise on my mandolin slicer. I seasoned them up like I did an earlier batch I sliced crosswise into rounds which turned out nicely. My wife is usually the pickle fan around here, but I have been eating some of them myself. The greenhouse cucumbers are still coming on so I better learn to like them I guess!

Harmonie cucumbers

Harmonie cucumbers

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 July 3, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I am again seeing some new veggies in the harvest basket, and they are welcome additions indeed! We got our first ripe tomatoes of the year, not surprisingly from Sungold. These first ones wound up on a salad. It was just a handful, but it looks like there’s more to come soon.

Sungold tomatoes

Sungold tomatoes

And I got the first snap beans of the season. I only planted a short row of Derby to give us an early taste of beans before the pole beans come on. Some of the pole beans are showing blossoms, so it won’t be too much longer before they start setting on beans. These first beans wound up getting skillet roasted, and they were tasty and tender cooked that way.

Derby green beans

Derby green beans

I pulled some of the spring onions that were bulbing up into full sized ones. I don’t think many of them are going to get real big this year, but that’s okay. I’m still learning how to grow onions, though I think I have found three varieties that do well here in our climate. This year I planted Candy, Superstar/Sierra Blanca and Red of Tropea, and it’s the sweet Candy in the below photo. Since we rarely use a whole full-sized onion at once, I have to say these are really a good usable size.

young Candy onions

young Candy onions

Blackberries are still coming on, with Apache joining the Natchez berries. We’ve been enjoying eating them fresh, and freezing what we don’t eat. I really appreciate the thornless canes which makes picking them painless.

Apache and Natchez blackberries

Apache and Natchez blackberries

And the greenhouse cucumbers are still coming on too. We’ve mostly been enjoying them made into refrigerator pickles, though one wound up in a batch of gazpacho I made for lunch one day last week. The big ones are Corinto and the smaller pickler is Harmonie.

greenhouse cucumbers

greenhouse cucumbers

I cut another big head of Emerald Jewel broccoli last week. The spring planted broccoli has turned out better than I expected. I didn’t get those perfectly rounded crowns like you see in the seed catalogs, but the broccoli was tasty and tender and plentiful. This one weighed almost two pounds, though some of that was a big stem that we didn’t eat.

Emerald Jewel broccoli

Emerald Jewel broccoli

I cut another head of cabbage last week too, this time one called Tiara I’m growing for the first time. Johnny’s Selected Seeds says it is a replacement for Gonzalez, which is a cabbage that never did that well for me here. Tiara did great though, and made a big head that weighed over three pounds. In the below photo it’s hanging out with Sunstripe, White Scallop and Clarimore summer squashes. The squash plants have been producing too, and if they took a little break I wouldn’t mind!

cabbage and summer squash

cabbage and summer squash

I don’t photograph everything we bring in from the garden. I harvested a couple more of the giant Kossak kohlrabies, bringing our total haul to over 50 pounds so far this spring. I made another batch of kimchi with one of them, and we’ve been roasting them almost daily for a side dish. I had about 2.5 pounds of kohlrabi before I brined it, and it was enough to make a quart and a pint jar of the kimchi. I have some more daikon radishes ready to pull and some of them will likely wind up fermented for kimchi. I have really come to like both the kohlrabi and radish  kimchi, and it makes for a crunchy and spicy side dish. I had some of the radish kimchi for dinner last night, and the Sweet Baby radishes I used for that batch turned a pinkish purple color and were crunchy, tart and spicy.

kohlrabi kimchi

kohlrabi kimchi

I’m continuing my experiments with using Kamut grain for bread. I bought some more of the whole grains so I am now well stocked for baking. Last week I made a Golden Kamut Bread that featured a bit more than 50% of freshly ground Kamut flour. Mine got considerably more loft than the photo on the King Arthur website, which is a good thing since I was afraid it might be dense. When I make it again I want to try using the White Kamut Flour I got from Breadtopia to replace the KA all-purpose flour in the recipe. I’m working my way up to baking the 60% Kamut Bread recipe in Chad Robertson’s Tartine Book No. 3.

Golden Kamut Bread

Golden Kamut Bread

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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Skillet Roasted Veggies

Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out the flavor in them without a lot of fuss and bother. I think even somewhat plain tasting veggies like kohlrabi and carrots really shine when roasted. And full flavored ones like broccoli and Brussels sprouts take on another dimension when roasted. In the past, we’ve roasted them in a baking pan, but our new favorite way here at Happy Acres is to roast veggies in a cast iron skillet. My wife and I have found it’s an easy and tasty way to prepare lots of different vegetables.

roasted kohlrabi slices

roasted kohlrabi slices

In fact, we like it so well we actually have a cast iron skillet that is dedicated to roasting veggies. It’s a well seasoned antique that belonged to my mother, and is likely as old as I am. Mom’s old skillet is only 10 inches in diameter, but we have a 12 incher we can press into service when needed. Cleanup is easy afterwards, we just wipe out the skillet with a dishcloth after it cools. No scrubbing is required since nothing sticks! It does stay hot for a long time, so I like to keep a pot holder or the oven mitt sitting on the handle so we don’t grab it by mistake and get burned.

roasted broccoli

roasted broccoli

Our basic recipe for skillet roasted veggies goes something like this:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. While oven is heating, place cast iron skillet on rack in middle of oven.
  2. Prepare the veggies while the oven and skillet are heating up. Various sizes and shapes work well, but it helps to keep the pieces uniform in size. We have sliced, diced and spiralized the veggies and all those methods work.
  3. Toss the veggies with olive oil and a little salt. You can add other seasonings too at this point, but we find most of the vegetables don’t need a lot other than salt and maybe a bit of pepper. A splash of vinegar after roasting is nice sometimes, and you can always add things like nuts or seeds near the end of the roasting time.
  4. After 30 minutes of pre-heating, remove the skillet from the stove. I use an oven mitt to protect my hand and arm from the hot skillet.
  5. Add the vegetables to the skillet, in a single layer if possible, and put the skillet back in the oven.
  6. Check after 10 or 15 minutes, and turn the vegetables over so all sides will come in contact with the skillet and brown a bit.
  7. Test the vegetables for doneness after 20-25 minutes total cooking time. Most vegetables take about 30 minutes to roast, but it all depends on the size of the pieces and how soft you want the veggies to be.
skillet roasted Brussels Sprouts

skillet roasted Brussels Sprouts

The candidates for roasting are numerous, including potatoes and sweet potatoes, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, green beans, radishes and jicama.

roasted green beans

roasted green beans

Since summer squash has so much moisture in it, it doesn’t brown up like other vegetables do, but it does cook down and winds up with a good flavor.

roasted green and yellow zucchini

roasted green and yellow zucchini

Kohlrabi is one of our favorites for roasting, and we enjoy it both thinly sliced and spiralized. It is mild tasting when raw, but roasting definitely takes it to another level.

roasted kohlrabi spirals

roasted kohlrabi spirals

If you have a cast iron skillet that’s collecting dust somewhere, you might consider getting it out and trying some roasted veggies. And for those who use one already for roasting veggies, I’d love to hear your ideas on how you use it and what you roast in it. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Harvest Monday June 26, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Last Friday the remnants of tropical storm Cindy came through and gave us some much needed rain. I’ve been irrigating the garden, but there’s nothing like a good soaking rain to perk things up and we got over an inch all told. I was concerned about cabbages splitting with the moisture, so I cut several heads and brought them in before the rain came. The three in the below photo are Stonehead, and weighed just under six pounds.

Stonehead cabbage

Stonehead cabbage

I harvested another head of Stonehead also in the two pound range. That gave me enough cabbage to make four quart jars of kraut. I made four different versions, including a Salvadorian one I really like called Curtido that added onions, carrots, garlic, oregano and hot pepper flakes. Another one got a Tsukemono treatment with chopped scallions, soy sauce and lemon juice. Then I made a Lemon Dill kraut with dill seeds, lemon juice and garlic that should taste a bit like Kosher dill pickles. And I tried a new one called Pineapple Turmeric kraut that added chopped pineapple to the cabbage and was seasoned with grated ginger and turmeric powder. From left to right in the below photo are the Curtido, Pineapple Turmeric, Tsukemono and Lemon Dill versions, which made almost eight pounds of cabbage disappear quickly! I generally let these ferment for about a week before putting them in the refrigerator.

four krauts

four krauts

I cut one of the flathead K-Y Cross cabbages for general eating. My wife steamed a bit of it one night for a side dish. It is a sweet and flavorful variety, and I usually save it for other things beside fermenting. It weighed in at a bit over three pounds, which is a manageable size for us, enough for several meals for sure. I have another two plants of Late Flat Dutch cabbage still sizing up in the garden, plus a head of Pixie.

K-Y Cross cabbage

K-Y Cross cabbage

I also pulled a few more of the giant Kossak kohlrabies before the rain came. I was concerned some of them might split too, or begin to rot. These four weighed right at 14 pounds after cutting off the leaves. I started a couple of jars of kohlrabi kraut, but there’s still lots of kohlrabi left from this and last week’s harvest.

Kossak kohlrabies and K-Y Cross cabbage

Kossak kohlrabies and K-Y Cross cabbage

The summer squash plants are setting quite heavily. I lined up a bunch of them for a group photo. From top to bottom we have the yellow straightneck Enterprise, Clarimore, Daize white pattypan, Flaminio zucchini and Sunstripe. I’ve been freezing some of it and we’ve been trying to eat the rest of it. It may be time to leave it on neighbors doorsteps soon! I spiralized some of the zucchini last night and served it up with a red marinara sauce made from last year’s tomatoes. The spiralized squash is tasty either raw or slightly cooked, and for the faux pasta dish I cooked it for about two minutes in a pot of salted water before draining and topping with the sauce.

medley of summer squashes

medley of summer squashes

Another thing I did before the rain came was dig the early garlic. I dug all the Turban and Artichoke types, about 100 or so in all. They look to be running smaller than last year, but the skins are all intact which is a good thing. I chose not to irrigate them for fear the weather would turn rainy and the quality would deteriorate. I’d rather have slightly smaller bulbs that keep well than have larger ones that don’t. Simonetti is an artichoke type that always does well for me, and makes nice big bulbs that are great for roasting whole.

Simonetti garlic

Simonetti garlic

I cut another big head of broccoli last week, this time from Emerald Jewel. It’s my first time growing this one, and this head weighed in at 27 ounces, just slightly smaller than the head of Gypsy I cut last week. I bought plants for both Gypsy and Emerald Jewel from a local nursery (Robin’s Nest Flowers) since I was having aphid issues with my own seedlings this spring. Maybe I need to let Robin grow all my broccoli plants next year! Robin did tell me she’ll have brassica plants for fall, so I am seriously considering checking out her supply. I do like supporting the local nurseries, and Robin grows great plants.

Emerald Jewel broccoli

Emerald Jewel broccoli

We have been oven roasting some of the broccoli in a cast iron skillet for a side dish. It browns up but stays crunchy, and is a quick and easy treatment for sure. It has become our new favorite dish, at least until the next new favorite comes along!

roasted broccoli

roasted broccoli

We’re still enjoying blueberries and blackberries. I picked a few of the Natchez blackberries one morning so we could enjoy them for breakfast. My wife is in charge of the blueberries.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

In other news, we’ve had a big hawk hanging out around here for a week or so. I believe it is a Red Shouldered Hawk, and it has found a nice perch on one of the garden fence posts. I apologize for the blurry image, but I did not want to get any closer and scare it away so I used the electronic zoom on my camera. It’s nice to see the big hawks here, and hopefully it is reducing the rodent population.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

I baked a couple of loaves of bread last week. The first bake was a recipe from Teresa Greenway’s EBook Discovering Sourdough called Griffin’s Bread. It’s a lower hydration (61%) bread made from a stiff ‘motherdough’ that is fermented in the refrigerator for at least 4 days. Everything about this formula was done to promote a truly sour bread reminiscent of a San Francisco style sourdough, and I have to say I think it succeeded. The recipe makes 4 pounds of dough, and I made one 2.5 pound loaf then took the rest of the dough and added 1/3 cup each of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. My wife and I enjoyed both loaves, and the bread wound up in sandwiches and crostini while the leftovers went in the freezer. I proofed these two in a brotform then baked in my Breadtopia clay baker.

Griffin's bread

Griffin’s bread

crumb shot of Griffin's bread

crumb shot of Griffin’s bread

Yesterday I baked a recipe from one of Teresa’s Udemy classes (#10 More Fun With Sourdough Bread Baking), a Kamut Sourdough Bread featuring 20% freshly ground whole grain Khorasan (Kamut) flour. Both loaves were proofed overnight in the refrigerator, and I did a zebra score on one for fun. My scoring skills need a bit of work, but I think it turned out okay, and it was very edible for sure. I baked both loaves on a hot pizza stone, covering with a roasting pan to trap the steam. After 15 minutes you remove the roasting pan and finish baking uncovered so the bread can brown up. I have another recipe with 60% Kamut in it I want to try but I need to get more Kamut grains before I can bake it. I am enjoying these experiments with naturally leavened breads, and of course I certainly enjoy eating them!

Kamut bread with zebra score

Kamut bread with zebra score

Kamut Sourdough

Kamut Sourdough

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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