Monday, October 26, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 26, 2015

I had a "catchup" harvest last Monday after being gone for over a week, fortunately the tomatoes were basically done before I left so I didn't come home to rotting tomatoes. But the broccoli went nuts in my absence.

Batavia broccoli
The Batavia broccoli heads seemingly tripled in size and the rest of the plants continued to put out side shoots. The only tomatoes that are still producing, just a bit, are the Camp Joy cherry tomatoes, which Dave claimed for his lunches.

Di Ciccio and Batavia broccoli, and Apollo brokali
The Tromba D'Albenga vines are going nuts, crawling all over their corner of the bed, through the old corn plants, up the bean trellis that I've not yet cleared out, so they keep producing. Most of the squash don't get pollinated but they still produce good long firm necks (the best part) before the seedless seed end of the squash starts to wither.

Tromba D'Albenga squash
The "summer" pole beans have been producing modest second pickings and one of my Padron plants that had been a modest producer through the summer has now found its way and is pumping out the pods.

Stortino di Trento and Purple Pole beans, Padron peppers
I got the Egg going once again for another smoking party - De La Vera and Craig's Grande Jalapeño and a stray Rezha Macedonian got the apple and almond treatment along with some NTRs that had spent the last 10 days in the fridge. I reserved about a pound of the Craig's Grande Jalapeños, including a bunch that I had harvested before vacation, to make another batch of pepper jam.

De La Vera, Craig's Grande Jalapeño, and Rezha Macedonian

When the smokers were done I raised the heat to roast a few more peppers, a big bunch of Giallo di Cuneo peppers ripened while I was away.

Giallo di Cuneo peppers

A few more Lady Bell and Florina Greek peppers were ready to harvest also. The Lady Bells got rather shaded by other peppers that grow taller so the harvest wasn't as good as in years past. I'll  have to remember that for next year.

Long des Landes, Florina Greek, and Lady Bell peppers

When the peppers were finished I roasted up about a pound of broccoli florets which went into a salad with chickpeas and roasted peppers with a smoky tahini dressing (my version of a broccoli and lentil salad - the original recipe can be found here). That salad was a real winner so I'll have to post my modified version of the recipe on my recipe blog, some day...

Yesterday I selected a variety of veggies to give to a friend. She got everything but the Syrian Three Sided pepper that was sunburned on one side.

Clockwise from upper left: Criolla de Cocina, Long des Landes, Padrons,
Syrian Three Sided, Mareko Fana, Stortino di Trento and Purple beans, Yummy Belles
She also got many of the Tromba D'Albenga squash and the eggplant.

Bonica eggplant and Tromba D'Albenga squash

One thing that I didn't get around to photographing this week was the shelled Mandan Parching Lavender corn. I was really pleased that my little patch produced 4 pounds of kernels. It wasn't as productive as the Cascade Ruby Gold or Floriani Red corns last year (5+ pounds each), but the plants are dwarfs and with small cobs, so I was expecting much less. I'll show a photo of them next week along with a photo of the Taos Pueblo Blue corn that I'm nearly done shelling.

Speaking of corn, the dried whole kernel corn keeps exceptionally well and we enjoyed some of the Floriani Red from last year as freshly ground polenta with long cooked broccoli. I tried a new-to-me method of cooking polenta that I'm definitely going to do again, oven cooked polenta. It's the most simple method I've tried yet and produced excellent results. You'll find all sorts of recipes for oven cooked polenta on the web, but here's the basics -
Combine 1 cup of polenta meal (not instant) with a quart of liquid (I used half stock and half water) and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together in an oven proof container (I used a Staub cocotte). Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in some butter. Back  in the oven for 10 minutes. Add cheese if you're going to use it just before serving. It can be held in a low oven before serving.
It is almost too easy! You truly do not have to stir it for the first 40 minutes - it looks a bit funky but it all comes together.

So, even though the summer harvests are quickly winding down it was another good week. The shorter days have things growing and ripening at a slower pace (unless you're broccoli) so I don't have to rush to harvest the peppers as soon as they ripen, they keep well on the plants for at least a few days so I harvest them as I have time to deal with them. That means more peppers to come in the following week, but after that they will be nearly done.

Here's the harvest tally for the past week:

Purple Pole beans - 6.5 oz.
Stortino di Trento beans - 1 lb., 4.3 oz.
Apollo brokali - 11.9 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 9 lb., 5 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 15.3 oz.
Mandan Parching Lavender corn - 4 lb., .2 oz.
Bonica eggplant - 1 lb., 6.4 oz.
Criolla de Cocina peppers - 8.7 oz.
Craig's Grande Jalapeño - 1 lb., 8.9 oz.
De La Vera peppers - 15.9 oz.
Florina Greek peppers - 15.9 oz.
Giallo di Cuneo peppers - 3 lb., 10.5 oz.
Lady Bell peppers - 11.2 oz.
Markeo Fana peppers - 2.5 oz.
Padron peppers - l lb., 9.4 oz.
Long des Landes peppers - 2 lb., 1.2 oz.
Rezha Macedonian peppers - 2.1 oz.
Yummy Belle peppers - 8 oz.
Camp Joy cherry tomatoes - 15.3 oz.
Tromba D'Albenga squash - 10 lb., 15.6 oz.

Total for the week - 42 lb., 14.8 oz. (19.5 kg.)
2015 YTD - 1085 lb., 2.2 oz. (492.2 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres,  head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Broccoli Week, or What To Do With A Bonanza Of Broccoli

There were a number of heads of broccoli forming in the garden the week before I left for vacation back on the 10th of October. Wouldn't you know it, the fall crop decides to produce at a most inconvenient time.

The Apollo brokali had heads that were ready - three big ones that I knew would be completely overblown by the time I got home so I harvested all of them. We ate one head, one went to a friend, and the third went into the fridge to await my return. I was pretty sure that that one head of broccoli would still be in decent condition after 10 days in the fridge, it's generally the case if harvested and refrigerated right away. And it was still good enough when we got home but wouldn't have kept much longer. That one I prepared fairly simply, separated into long stemmed florets, blanched and served with sauteed bacon and onions.

Apollo brokali

My big dilemma though was what to do with the Batavia broccoli. Batavia produces the familiar broccoli with tight firm florets and short stalks. The day before my departure the heads were still quite small but not too much so. I had a hard time deciding whether to harvest them then and face a bunch of broccoli that would need to be consumed right away upon my return or take my chances and hope that they wouldn't explode into bloom while I was away. I decided to take my chances on overblown broccoli.

Upon my return I was relieved to find that the broccoli wasn't actually on the verge of blooming but it was huge and only days from turning into a loose gangly mess.

Batavia broccoli

I was really quite amazed at how quickly it had grown, it must have about tripled in size in only 10 days. So I ended up with 9 pounds of Batavia broccoli heads to deal with and almost 2 pounds of side shoots that I harvested from the rest of the plants. I did go a bit crazy with the broccoli planting this year. The plan was to pull out the summer planting when the fall/winter planting started to produce but I've not pulled out the summer plants yet...

The challenge now is to eat all this broccoli without getting bored.  I warned Dave - it's going to be Broccoli Week. I love really fresh broccoli that is simply cooked, steamed with some butter or hazelnut oil and a splash of lemon or vinegar is a favorite, but just how much steamed buttered broccoli can you eat in a week? Besides that, I want to turn most of the broccoli in main course type dishes. It was time to do some research and get creative.

The sidebar on my blog has a link to a website called Eat Your Books. It's a service that I subscribe to that makes it possible to search the indexes of a lot of my cookbooks very quickly (I have a LOT of cookbooks) as well as a couple magazines that I subscribe to and some food blogs. That was the start of my search for inspiration for Broccoli Week.

Monday night was stir fried broccoli with onions, sweet peppers (still a glut of both of those too) and ground turkey in oyster sauce.  That disappeared pretty quickly.

For Tuesday night I did my version of Long Cooked Broccoli from Chez Panisse Vegetables - the same ingredients except I was too lazy to cut all that broccoli into 1/8 inch thick slices and just divided it into florets. It sounds icky, but it's completely different from stinky broccoli that has been steamed too long. There's lots of bold flavor from garlic, pepper flakes, and anchovies and lemon juice and silkiness from olive oil (and butter, my addition). It cooks down to a chunky sauce that would be great piled on bruschetta or tossed with pasta, but this time I chose to serve it with polenta made from homegrown Floriani Red Flint Corn and garnished the finished dish with some Tolouse sausage. Now that is my idea of comfort food. It's also a great way to turn 2 pounds of broccoli into 4 to 6 servings.

Tonight I'm inspired by the Charred Broccoli and Lentil Salad that I found on the Food 52 website, although I may do chickpeas instead of lentils and add roasted red peppers to the mix.

One thing that's handy about the EYB service is that you can bookmark recipes and put them into a customized list, so I've made a list of broccoli recipes that I want to look at more closely and perhaps try. Actually, I've come up with more ideas than I have broccoli for the moment, so this list will be handy as the broccoli harvests continue.
Not on the list because it's already in my repertoire is a crustless broccoli quiche. I'm also on the lookout for a good broccoli and cheese soup.

What would you do with a glut of broccoli? Don't say freeze it, that would likely be a stop on the way to the compost bin around here. I know Dave at Our Happy Acres has a Broccoli Walnut Salad that I have my eye on.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 19, 2015

My harvest report this week is what I would have shown last week had Dave and I not been hiking in southern Utah and northern Arizona for the past week. I hope I don't bore you, but I'll start with a few highlights of the trip. First we hiked a small portion of Buckskin Gulch, (the longest and deepest slot canyon in the American Southwest) entering via the Wire Pass trail.

Buckskin Gulch
Then we headed south where we accomplished the main objective of the trip, hiking from the south to the north rim of the Grand Canyon in a day (12.5 hours actually). Followed the next day by a hike out to Widforss point for a view of the canyon at sunset.

View of the North Rim from the South Kaibab trai
Then we headed back north to spend a day hiking the Fairyland Loop and Peek-A-Boo Loop trails in Bryce Canyon. We skipped additional hiking in Bryce on Saturday when cold rain settled in for the day.

Views from the Fairyland Loop in Bryce
We got back home late Sunday afternoon to a much anticipated dinner of Brokali with Bacon and Onions with Smoked Paprika.  The one thing I miss the most on these trips is fresh vegetables.

So now I'll show you what you came here to see, the latest veggie harvests.

I spent a lot of time in the week before we were away dealing with the glut of peppers. Many of the sweet peppers that I had harvested the previous week finally got roasted and preserved. The main harvest of Aji Amarillo peppers went into a batch of pepper jam.

Aji Amarillo and Padron peppers
The Sonora Anaheim plants were loaded with green peppers which got roasted, peeled, seeded and frozen.

Sonora Anaheim peppers

Rosso Dolce da Appendere peppers are large sweet peppers similar to Corno di Toro peppers. They are later to ripen than most of the sweet peppers that I'm growing. This lot ended up in the fridge to await my attention this week.

Rosso Dolce da Appendere peppers
My memory is failing me, I can't remember if I've dealt with these peppers yet. These look similar to the Rosso Dolce peppers but are quite different. These are some of my Mutt peppers that I grew from  the NTR (Not Topepo Rosso) seeds I saved last year. I think they may have crossed with the mild Sonora Anaheims, the skins are thick and shiny and the stems are long and hooked like the Anaheims, but they are more sweet.

These are the other Mutt NTR peppers that I grew this year. These are more similar to the parent pepper from last year, but one plant is producing an entirely sweet pepper about the size of its parent and the other produces one a little larger than its parent but with a touch of heat. This batch got smoked.

The eggplants have recovered enough from their bout with verticillium to produce a nice crop. I saved seeds from one Sicilian plant that I grew a couple of years ago and the plants that I'm growing from those seeds are producing different fruits. One is elongated and has fairly dull skin. The others are globe shaped and shiny, one with the expected lavender skin and the other a darker purple. They have all been good eating. These all got roasted, skinned, and frozen.

Sicilian eggplant
Bonica is a hybrid Italian variety that has been a reliable producer for me for the past few years. These also got roasted and frozen.

Bonica eggplant
Egads, all of the fall/winter planting of broccoli and brokali is in full production and the summer planting is still producing side shoots too. Brokali is a name used for broccoli/gai lan crosses that are similar to the trademarked variety named "Broccolini". It can be harvested when it has a compact head like broccoli but is usually left to produce long stemmed loose heads that are nearly flowering. All three of my brokali plants produced main heads in the week before I left for vacation. We had this one for dinner one night.

Apollo brokali

The Friday before we left I harvested two more heads, one of which I gave to a friend and the other went into the fridge to await our dinner last night.

All the rest of the goodies in that basket went to my friend as well. The Tromba D'Albenga squash is still producing, in fact it is trying to take over the garden. The summer snap beans are producing a fall harvest, a good thing since the fall planting is a total failure. As I mentioned before the eggplant made a comeback and I harvested some young ones that would have been overgrown by the time I got home. And the peppers, though they have slowed a bit are still producing some lovely ripe fruits. And the cucumbers are still putting out a few decent specimens.

I also harvested all of the Delicata squash. This is the haul from 4 plants, minus one squash that we've already eaten. I'm really happy with the production and the one squash that we've tried is super tasty.

Candystick Dessert Delicata squash

So, here's the harvests for the week before last.

Purple Pole beans - 4.7 oz.
Stortino di Trento beans - 11.2 oz.
Apollo brokali - 3 lb., 11.6 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 13.3 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 13.4 oz.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 16.1 oz.
Bonica eggplant - 3 lb., .6 oz.
Sicilian eggplant - 2 lb., 6.8 oz.
Aji Amarillo peppers - 15.2 oz.
Craig's Grande Jalapeño peppers - 7.9 oz.
Florina Greek peppers - 3.1 oz.
Giallo di Cuneo peppers - 4.8 oz.
NTR Mutt peppers - 4 lb., 8.5 oz.
Odessa Market peppers - 5.4 oz.
Padron peppers - 5.4 oz.
Rezha Macedonian peppers - 14.7 oz.
Rosso Dolce da Appendere peppers - 3 lb., 1 oz.
Sonora Anaheim peppers - 4 lb., 5.7 oz.
Syrian Three Sided peppers - 1 lb., 6.3 oz.
Yummy Belle peppers - 8.2 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 7.8 oz.
Candystick Dessert Delicata squash - 26 lb., 14.1 oz.
Tromba D'Albenga squash - 4 lb., 9.4 oz.

Total for the week - 62 lb., 6.7 oz.
2015 YTD - 1042 lb., 3.4 oz.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Now I've got to get out to the garden to harvest a glut of overblown broccoli - as soon as it stops raining (yay for rain!!!).

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Aji Amarillo Jam

Here's nearly my entire crop of Aji Amarillo peppers turned into an amazing jam.

I wasn't sure what to do with my haul of Amarillos when I harvested them. We don't use much hot sauce around here and we've already got more than we need hogging space in the fridge. There's plenty of dried peppers in the pantry and we can't eat enough fresh salsa to take advantage of all the peppers. Then I remembered that Dave has asked on more than one occasion if we had any pepper jam - he loves it with cheese. And I've disappointed him every time with a negative answer. In my opinion baccatum peppers make some of the best pepper jam, you'll never go back to Jalapeño jam once you've tasted an Aji jam. So it finally hit me that the obvious use for this bunch of peppers was jam.

Aji Amarillo peppers with a few stray Padrons

I have long been a fan of Capsicum baccatum peppers. The peppers generally have a fruity and complex flavor and can range from completely sweet and mild to blazingly hot. My tastes run to the sweet to medium heat.  Baccatum peppers are often simply called Aji peppers or just Ajis, they are native to Peru where Aji means pepper. So Aji Amarillo translates as Yellow Pepper.

My garden is in a climate that is actually a little marginal for baccatum peppers. Most Ajis need a long growing season and the cool summers here cause the plants to get off to a slow start, especially since I no longer bother try to get my solanaceous plants off to an early start. So I usually choose the smaller fruited and early ripening varieties. 

The Aji Amarillo peppers that I'm growing this year weren't part of my initial plans, the seeds came as a freebie with my order from Artisan Seeds. But I couldn't resist growing them and I'm really happy that I did.

My plants are growing in 10 gallon pots, seen here back in June. There's two Aji Amarillo plants in the foreground and two Peppadew plants beyond.

Baccatum peppers can overwinter in my garden if given a little protection which is why I decided to grow them in pots. When the weather starts to turn cold I'll move the pots to a protected spot and hope they survive. 

This strain of Aji Amarillo is a little different from what is typically called Aji Amarillo in Peru, they aren't as large and they don't turn a deep orange, although the flavor is supposed to be the same. When I went back to the Artisan Seeds website today I found that they are now offering the larger pepper and have dubbed it Aji Amarillo Grande and renamed the one that I'm growing Baby Aji Amarillo. Whatever, this pepper is delicious and it made an addictive jam. I'm sure it would make a fabulous pepper sauce too, it you don't want your sauce too hot. I was a little surprised at how mild these turned out to be, but pleasantly so, I just can't do really hot peppers these days.

I've updated my pepper jam recipe on my recipe blog for this batch of jam. I didn't have enough peppers to make a batch of jam using the typical packet of pectin such as Sure-Jell so I adapted the recipe to use Pomona's Universal Pectin. Pomona's comes with two packets in the box, one of pectin and the other with calcium powder. The product makes it possible to make just about any size batch of jam from tiny to triple sized, you just have to figure out how much pectin and calcium to use. It also allows for very low sugar jams and jellies. And it keeps seemingly forever, my box has been in the pantry for a few years now.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 5, 2015

What, it's October already?! I just went back to see what my harvests looked like on the first Monday of October last year, where I was greeted with the sight of some beautiful Charentais melons. That's not going to happen today or this year. Other than the lack of melons the harvests were pretty similar except that there were more tomatoes last year.

This was my one significant tomato harvest for the past week, one more basketful of Camp Joy cherry tomatoes. There was just a trickle of a few other tomatoes that didn't get photographed.

Camp Joy
I got a few harvests of beans like this, a nice amount, not too little nor too much.

Purple Pole and Stortino di Trento beans
The summer planting of broccolis continue to put out nice side shoots. Like the beans, not too little nor too much.

Batavia and Di Ciccio broccolis

The onions have been hanging around outside for weeks now. We had the promise/threat of rain last week, just a 20% chance which I would normally ignore, except that it felt like it was going to rain so I rounded up all the onions and brought them indoors. Here they are all cleaned up and tallied. They made a significant contribution to the week's total.

Rossa Lunga di Firenze onions

Tonda Musona onions
By the way, it did rain, a nice long gentle pitter patter that delivered about 1/4 inch - better than nothing and it did help to wash a lot of the accumulated dust away and make the morning smell so clean and fresh.

Here's the real work for the week, the pepper harvests. I am again reminded of the international selection that I have going this year.

From the US and Spain...

Craig's Grande Jalapeño and Sonora Anaheim
De La Vera
From Ukraine...

Odessa Market
From Czech...

Yummy Belle
From Nicaragua and Chile...

Cocina de Criolla and IPK CAP 268
 From France...

Long des Landes
From Spain, Macedonia, and Greece...

De La Vera, Rezha Macedonian, Florina
From Italy...

Giallo di Cuneo
From Spain via Italy...

Shephard's Ramshorn
From Czech, USA, and Romania...

Yummy Belle, Craig's Grande Jalapeño, Gogosar
From USA...

Lady Bell

The peppers kept me busy with the Big Green Egg and in the kitchen. I now have 4 types of paprika - a smoked Rezha Macedonian, an unsmoked Rezha Macedonian, smoked De La Vera, and unsmoked IPK CAP 268 (I need to give this pepper an unofficial name) - so that's a mildly spicy smoked, a mildly spicy unsmoked, a sweet smoked, and a sweet unsmoked. Go it?

I also experimented with a couple new preserving techniques. Some of the Long des Landes peppers have been seeded, cut in chunks and salted. They are now packed in a jar in their own salty juices slowing curing in the fridge. It's basically a slow fermentation process.

I'm also trying a Sott'Olio method with some of the Yummy Belles. I seeded them, cut them in strips, and salted them for 24 hours. Then they were drained and immersed in red wine vinegar for 24 hours. Drained again and then tossed with garlic, mint, and olive oil and packed into a jar with olive oil to cover. They're spending some time in the fridge to develop a bit more flavor and so far they look excellent.

Yesterday I roasted up a bunch more peppers which will go into more jars of preserved peppers "a la Hank". I've been working on Hank's method to streamline the process which I'll post about when I get a chance.

There were a few other harvests that I didn't get around to photographing, like cucumbers, eggplant, and squash - they're listed in the details below.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Purple Pole beans - 16.9 oz.
Stortino di Trento beans - 13 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 9.7 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 9.2 oz.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 8.3 oz.
Sicilian eggplant - 8.2 oz.
Red Candy Apple onion - 15.1 oz.
Rossa Lunga di Firenze onions - 23 lb., 2.8 oz.
Superstar onion - 1 lb., 3 oz.
Tonda Musona onions - 20 lb., 6.8 oz.
Tropea onions - 1 lb., 14.9 oz.
Criolla de Cocina peppers - 1 lb., 9.7 oz.
Craig's Grande Jalapeño peppers - 16.9 oz.
De La Vera peppers - 1 lb., 5.5 oz.
Florina peppers - 1 lb., 14.4 oz.
Giallo di Cuneo peppers - 4 lb., 9.1 oz.
Gogosar peppers - 13.8 oz.
IPK CAP 268 peppers - 11.1 oz.
Lady Bell peppers - 2 lb., 10 oz.
NTR peppers - 2.2 oz.
Odessa Market peppers - 5 lb., 11.8 oz.
Padron peppers - 8.8 oz.
Long des Landes peppers - 1 lb., 12.6 oz.
Rezha Macedonian peppers - 1 lb., 1.7 oz.
Shephard's Ramshorn peppers - 3 lb., 9.3 oz.
Sonora Anaheim peppers - 1 lb., 12.4 oz.
Yummy Belle peppers - 2 lb., .7 oz.
Amish Paste tomatoes - 1 lb., 5.6 oz.
Camp Joy cherry tomatoes - 5 lb., 15.1 oz.
Chianti Rose tomato - 5.4 oz.
Penn State Plum tomatoes - 7.5 oz.
Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes - 8.2 oz.
Candystick Dessert Delicata squash - 2 lb., .7 oz.
Honey Nut Butternut squash - 11.7 oz.
Tromba D'Albenga squash - 3 lb., 12.5 oz.

Total for the week - 99 lb., 1.6 oz.
2015 YTD - 979 lb., 12.7 oz.

Harvest Monday is now being hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.