Harvest Monday March 13, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The weather has been warmer than normal lately, but we had a sudden cold snap over the weekend that sent temperatures down below freezing. I decided to cut several heads of overwintered lettuce from one of the cold frame beds. They weren’t full sized, but they were certainly big enough to eat. I think young lettuce plants can take the cold better than larger plants, and I just wasn’t in the mood to gamble, especially when harvests are so hard to come by this time of year. We enjoyed some of the lettuce in a salad and a bit more in some fish tacos, and the rest is in the refrigerator to be used this week. Some of the lettuce is Winter Marvel, and I think there’s some Hungarian Winter Pink in there as well.

harvest of overwintered lettuce

harvest of overwintered lettuce

My other new harvest was another batch of sunflower shoots, grown under lights in the basement. I also cut a bit of parsley and Vivid Choi from the greenhouse for a frittata, and pulled a couple of I’itoi onions for use in a couscous dish.

sunflower shoots

sunflower shoots

Some of those sunflower shoots went into sprout sandwiches we had for lunch one day. I used homemade whole wheat bread, along with Swiss cheese and the sprouts. I spread a bit of ghee on the bread to help it brown in the skillet. I think hummus would have been nice on the inside but we didn’t have any on hand.

sprout & cheese sandwich

sprout & cheese sandwich

I’ve been running low on chile powder so I made two batches of it last week. I don’t like to grind too much at one time, so I do just enough to last me a couple of months. The peppers need to be brittle and crisp in order to grind, so I heat them in the oven for about an hour or so, with the oven set on 170°F (the lowest ours will go). I did one batch of the red Guajillo peppers, and another batch of smoked green peppers, which are mostly Anaheim and its hybrid cousin Biggie Chili. I use the Guajillo chile powder in cooking, and I keep a small jar of the smoked green chile powder for use at the table, where I sprinkle it on anything that needs a bit of smoky heat.

smoked green NuMex peppers

smoked green NuMex peppers

I have a good supply of the smoked green chiles left from last year but I have used up most of the Guajillos and its hybrid cousin Minero. I have made plans to plant more of these two this year, since they have wound up being my favorite for cooking. They are mild and slightly smoky tasting even though I didn’t smoke them. They also have a bright red color that makes a tasty and lovely sauce, and they have wound up on enchiladas and in chili con carne. I make my chile powders with one ingredient only – ground up dried peppers.

Guajillo chile powder

Guajillo chile powder

My homemade bread of the week was flat and crispy, in this case a batch of lavash crackers. Lavash is sometimes made into a soft flatbread much like a pita, but this recipe from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen  was rolled out thin and baked until crisp and browned. I made the dough from 50% semolina flour, 25% White Sonoran whole wheat flour, and 25% all-purpose flour. The dough is rolled out thin, brushed with an egg wash, and then sprinkled with sesame seeds and flaked sea salt. I am pleased with how they turned out, and they are probably the best cracker I have baked to date. I served them up with a lentil soup I made for dinner last night.

lavash crackers

lavash crackers

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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Photo Friday: March Birthday Boys

It has become somewhat of a tradition here for my wife to get a photo of me holding Ace, especially in March as we both celebrate our birthdays then. We got the first pic back in September, 2012 when Ace was six months old. He was pretty easy to hold back then.

Ace at six months

Ace at six months

By March of 2014, Ace was full grown and getting to be quite an armful.

Me and Ace in 2014

Me and Ace in 2014

I can’t find a pic from 2015, but we posed last year for sure. By then, picking up Ace counts as a weight workout! He doesn’t mind being held though.

the birthday boyz in 2016

the birthday boyz in 2016

This year Ace is now a mature 5 years old, though at times he still acts like a kitten. I am not telling which birthday I am celebrating, but I will say I can finally identify with this classic Beatles tune from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Clubs Band. Who knew it would ever come to this? :-)

2017

2017

I hope you have enjoyed the photos, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday March 6, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests are still pretty sparse here, but certainly welcome ones. I was happy to get a nice cutting of parsley this week from the greenhouse plants. This parsley is called Splendid, a bolt-resistant flat-leaf type from Wild Garden Seeds I’ve been growing the last several years. Some went of it into a pot of chicken soup and the rest will go into a batch of chimichurri I am making tonight to go with salmon cakes.

Splendid parsley

Splendid parsley

My other fresh harvest also came from the greenhouse, a cutting of kale I made from a couple of True Siberian plants. I’ve been growing this one in the greenhouse the last few winters and I can count on it to give us leaves in winter as well as early spring before it bolts to seed. There’s no sign of flowers on it yet, though it did have a few aphids on the lower leaves. It wound up in a garlicky braised kale dish I made for dinner last night, a simple treatment with minced garlic, olive oil, Aji Angelo pepper flakes and the chopped kale leaves. Our garlic supply from the 2016 harvest is holding out nicely, and I am using mostly the artichoke and silverskin types now. It was one called Idaho Silver that wound up in the kale dish, and it has proven to be both a good performer and a good keeper for me.

True Siberian kale

True Siberian kale

And using a couple of our 2016 sweet potatoes from storage, I am now fermenting my first ever batch of Sweet Potato Fly.  It’s a sweet and fruity fermented drink from Guyana in South America, and the basic recipe I followed is from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz (recipe here). First I grated two medium Beauregard sweet potatoes, skin and all, after scrubbing them clean. I rinsed the grated sweet potatoes in water to remove some of the starch, then I added them to a half gallon jar and poured in a quart (32 oz) of filtered water and 3/4 cup of sugar. I used a half cup of plain water kefir for a starter, but you can also use whey or a ginger bug. The water kefir is loaded with probiotic bacteria and yeasts, so I thought I would use that for my first ever batch. Various spices can also be added to flavor the fly, but I tried to keep it simple and added only a few whole allspice berries and a half stick of cinnamon. I let this ferment for three days, then strained the liquid out and bottled it up for a secondary fermentation so that it would carbonate. It has an interesting flavor, tart and spicy, and I can see me making it again using a purple sweet potato.

Sweet Potato Fly fermenting

Sweet Potato Fly fermenting

Last but definitely not least I want to mention a Cherry-Walnut Sourdough bread I baked up yesterday in the clay baker. There’s nothing homegrown in it, but it is chock-full of dried cherries and chopped walnuts. It’s a version of the Cranberry-Pecan Extraordinaire recipe from Breadtopia I baked back in December. I think the sweetness of the cherries goes well with the crusty exterior and the moist sourdough crumb. I love walnuts in sourdough bread, and perhaps I need to make a loaf using walnuts and no fruit next time.

Cherry-Walnut Sourdough Bread

Cherry-Walnut Sourdough 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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Harvest Monday February 27, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It was another light harvest week for me. I made a decent cutting of the Vivid Choi pac choi in the greenhouse, about 12 ounces worth. It took several rinses to rid the leaves of aphids, but I managed to get them cleaned up. My wife stir fried them up for a side dish one night for dinner. I’ve started cleaning out the greenhouse to beat back the aphid population. And I’ve taken Michelle’s suggestion and ordered some Pyganic (an OMRI approved pyrethrin) to spray in there. My plan is to get rid of all the affected plants, leaving the kale, onions, chives and parsley, then spray everything down real good including the benches and shelves. Hopefully I can get them under control before I start moving seedlings out there.

Vivid Choi pac choi

Vivid Choi pac choi

My other small harvest for the week is more sunflower shoots. These are so quick and easy to grow, going from seed to harvest in less than a week. I’ve been starting a batch every couple of weeks, and in fact I started some more yesterday. I started more cilantro for sprouts too. Once I get the aphids under control in the greenhouse I will plant some cilantro out there as well.

sunflower shoots

sunflower shoots

My bread bake of the week is a real treat for me, a Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread that brought back some fond memories. My buddy Dave worked at a couple of bakeries (including Dunkin Donuts) while he was going to high school and college. After he graduated, he bought a local bakery which he ran for several years. He made some killer cinnamon bread there, but I have to say this sourdough version might be a tad better than his. It is loaded with raisins and cinnamon, and made with 40% freshly ground Red Fife whole wheat. This is another great tasting Breadtopia no-knead recipe. The clay baker makes for a crispy crust, and the bread is tasty when toasted too.

Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

crumb shot of Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

crumb shot of Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

We’ve been having warmer than normal weather here lately, and thing are budding out and blooming earlier than usual. Our white saucer magnolia tree started blooming last week. And early daffodils are now in full bloom. Our friend Jane reports she has asparagus popping up already! So far ours is still sleeping, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a week or so. It will be nice to have some fresh asparagus, since we enjoy it as a homegrown seasonal treat and don’t buy it from the grocery. We had a hard freeze Saturday night, but the temps are supposed to warm up again this week and get back into the 70°F range. That should get things popping up again for sure!

magnolia blossoms

magnolia blossoms

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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