Monday, December 15, 2014

Harvest Monday - December 15, 2014

It feels like the start to a "normal" winter around here. The rain has finally arrived and is drenching the landscape. The garden is soaking it up and growing strong, as are the weeds. The harvests last week looked mostly typical for the season.

The micromesh tunnels that are protecting much of my winter greens held up to the strong winds that ushered in the first storm last week. I got out to the garden to do some harvesting before the storm came in. One of the tunnels yielded a first harvest of rapini...

Early rapini
and some radishes.

Pink Beauty, Helios, and Pink Punch radishes

The Di Ciccio broccoli plants managed to push out a few more shoots. They are fewer and smaller now but still good.

No frost yet means the pea vines are still producing. The fabric covered trellis supporting the vines was the most affected by the high winds. The poles broke but the fabric covering kept the trellis from falling over so I was able to add a couple of poles and prop the trellis upright again with the loss of only a couple of plants. These are the peas I harvested early in the week and I picked a few more yesterday when I repaired the trellis.

Super Sugar Snap and Golden Sweet peas

The Lacinato kale especially loves the cool wet weather. This harvest was sauteed with some garlic and pancetta and paired with Greek Gigante beans.

Summer crops are lingering in spite of the weather. This is the harvest of zucchini and cucumbers before the storm. I thinned the dead and dying foliage from the zucchini trellis which kept it from blowing over in the wind. The vines linger but I'm not so sure the the last little zucchinis will mature in the cold wet weather. The cucumber vines actually produced a few more fruits that I harvested yesterday.

This was my favorite harvest of the week. Many of the baby eggplants that set and grew in the mild weather that we had in November were ready to harvest. I pan fried about 2/3's of these and used some to make a eggplant and ricotta casserole (sort of like Eggplant Parmesan) and the rest were marinated with some preserved sweet peppers seasoned with crushed fennel seed, garlic, olive oil and served with white anchovies and tuna. I made a stew with the rest of the eggplant, some zucchini, onion, lamb, pomegranate molasses, spices, and smoked tomato puree. The smoked tomato puree was part of my smoked pepper experiments this fall, I put a roasting pan (an old one) full of tomatoes into the BGE with a batch of peppers, then I passed the smoked tomatoes through a food mill and froze the puree. I finally tried the puree for the first time with this stew and I'm declaring success - there will be more smoked tomatoes next year.

Bonica and Salangana eggplants

This next harvest shown below was the most disappointing of the week. Well, not the harvest so much, but the dish that I made with them was absolutely awful, one of the worst things I've ever prepared, thank goodness it wasn't intended for dinner guests. It was so bad that I'm not putting the harvest into the tally, it was inedible. What was this awful dish? A simple lamb stew with green peppers, tomato and wine. Quite a simple preparation which actually had a lovely aroma. But when I tasted the broth of the final dish it was bitter. Then I tasted a couple of the stewed peppers which tasted ok to begin with but left a terrible bitter taste in my mouth. But the worst of it was that the bitterness lingered. I had a sip of wine after tasting the peppers, not immediately but a while later - it tasted awful. I tried a different wine, it was equally awful. And the wine continued to taste bad for at least an hour or so - bleah! So it wasn't the wines, it was the peppers. Yuck! Fortunately, the lamb tasted fine. So I plucked all the lamb pieces out of the stew and tossed the rest. The rescued lamb went into the aforementioned eggplant and zucchini stew a couple of days later where it was delicious. The big surprise and disappointment from this dining disaster is that I've used these varieties of green peppers in other preparations and never had this experience. Generally I do not like green bell peppers, but I find other types of green peppers to be delicious. I'm guessing that the problem was that these peppers were less mature than they would typically be when I harvest them green so they hadn't developed their best flavor yet. It was that or perhaps the green peppers did not combine well with the wine that they were cooked in, that's a combo that I've not tried before.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Di Ciccio broccoli - 11.4 oz.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 1 lb., 4.7 oz.
Bonica eggplants - 1 lb., 10.3 oz.
Salangana eggplants - 2 lb., 11.7 oz.
Lacinato kale - 13.6 oz.
Super Sugar Snap peas - 7.6 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 9.2 oz.
Helios radishes - 4.4 oz. (w/ greens)
Pink Beauty radishes - 3.8 oz. (w/ greens)
Pink Punch radishes - 3.3 oz. (w/ greens)
Early rapini - 10.8 oz.
Tromba D'Albenga zucchini - 1 lb., 9.2 oz.

The total harvests for the week were - 11 lb., 6 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for 2014 up to - 1187 lb., 6.7 oz.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.


  1. My peppers always taste bitter in the winter, too, even mature ones. Why? But I keep them around, although they look awful, because they will leaf out and bloom very early. An exception is a four-year-old Serrano that is full of nice looking tasty fruit. It loves the cooler weather. After all,it is a "mountain" variety.

    1. Thank you Jane, that's good to know. I won't bother to harvest green peppers in December anymore and it's going to make it so much easier to remove the plants and sow a cover crop.

  2. Hooray! A friend has given me some seeds for Di Ciccio broccoli, so next year I shall be attempting to emulate your success (just need a liberal dose of your sunshine...). I'm interested in the Rapini - is that like "Cime di Rapa" or Broccoli Raab"? I'm guessing it's good stir-fried with garlic and soy?

    1. You are correct, it is a variety of broccoli raab. I like it sauteed with garlic, maybe anchovy or fish sauce, and finished with some sort of vinegar. Asian seasonings are good with it also. Sometimes I add it to a soup or frittata, it's very versatile.

  3. Lovely harvests. Too bad about the peppers. I've never been a big fan of green peppers either.

  4. Wonderful harvest, especially the gorgeous eggplants! Neither my taste buds nor my digestive system likes green peppers. Which is why I got so darn frustrated when my peppers started to mold before they ripened. This summer was just not hot enough here for peppers.

  5. Ooh, too bad about the lamb stew. It's good that you were able to rescue the lamb itself. Your kale and bean dish sounds great though. I love pairing kale and beans, and of course a little pancetta would be a classic combo I think.

    I'm loving the sound of those smoked tomatoes too. I'll have to add that to my 'try next year' list. I discovered another use for my smoked paprika yesterday: on popcorn! It was so yummy.

    1. Ooh, yes, smoked paprika on popcorn, fabulous!

  6. Beautiful harvests - especially those eggplants - just gorgeous! So sad about the peppers - I've had a few (umm...or more) inedible dishes in my day and I suppose the one good thing you can say about them is that they were all learning experiences.

    I'm so glad that you are finally receiving a good amount of must be such a relief after such a dry year.


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