Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Brussels Sprouts Challenge

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
A while back I mentioned that my EIC (Eater-In-Chief), aka my husband Dave, challenged me to come up with some different ways to prepare Brussels sprouts. I had been in a bit of a rut, turning to my 2 favorite no-brainer methods of serving them up, and they were/are showing up frequently on our plates because I'm having a banner year for sprouts.

This year to date I've harvested 8.7 pounds of Gustus and 2.1 pounds of Hestia sprouts. And the totals for November and December of 2016 came to 4 pounds of Gustus and 3.6 pounds of Hestia. So that's been 18.4 pounds of Brussels sprouts in the last 3 months! And I need to get out and harvest yet more. I've only found one method of preserving Brussels sprouts that I'm happy with, dehydrating them. Yesterday I sliced up 1 1/2 pounds of them and dehydrated them. It's amazing how 24 ounces of sprouts dries down to 2.4 ounces! But now I've got a jar full of dried sliced sprouts in the fridge. I use a lot of dried peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini to make the frittatas that Dave likes to take for his lunch, now I'll be using dried Brussels sprouts in the frittatas as well. And I think I'll be drying more to make the dehydrated Brussels Sprouts and Carrot Salad that we take backpacking.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
So here in one place I'm presenting many of the dishes that I've come up with to enjoy the glut of Brussels sprouts in a number of different ways. In no particular order. Click on the links to go to the recipes on my recipe blog.

More Recipes for dishes that I haven't photographed:

Roasted Sprouts, Carrots, and Parsnips with a Mustard Maple Apple Cider Dressing
Stracciatella Soup with Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts Skillet Souffle
Back Country Brussels Sprouts and Carrot Salad

I also want to try to adapt my pudding souffle recipe to use Brussels Sprouts.

And I've  been using my Eat Your Books app to explore my books and online sources to find inspiration. Here's some recipes that are online that I want to try or tinker with: (Click on the links to go to the recipes)

Brussels Sprouts Kimchi Actually, I've got a batch of kimchi already burbling away that is inspired by this recipe, but I've made a lot of changes. I'll post my version on my recipe blog if I like the results.

Apple and Brussels Sprouts Salad I like the idea of this salad, although I know already that I'll tinker with it. I would rather use whole fat greek yogurt or creme fraiche rather than nonfat greek yogurt called for the dressing...

Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish and Pomegranate Seeds Hmm, horseradish and pomegranate sound like yummy compliments to sprouts. But I would skip the blanching and broiling the recipe calls for and roast the sprouts in the cast iron skillet instead.

JalapeƱo Bacon Brussels Sprouts Gratin OMG, does this look decadently good.

Brussels Sprouts Risotto No tinkering required with this one! And the Brussels Sprouts and Ginger Slaw recipe on the same page looks really good too.

Waldorf Style Brussels Sprouts Salad with Guanciale But wait, there's more! Another salad recipe that looks good to me...

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter and Shiso Here's another recipe that I think will adapt well to my cast iron roasting method. I like the sound of the flavors in this recipe but the execution seems rather complicated. I would rather keep things simple.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette Yet one more salad that appeals to me.

So, how about you? Got a favorite Brussels Sprouts recipe you would like to share? Please do.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Harvest Monday - January 30, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday. This will be the last week that I'll be stepping in for Dave of Our Happy Acres as the temporary host of Harvest Monday, be sure to go to his blog next Monday if you want to link up. Harvest Monday is where we celebrate all things harvest related. This is the place to share your latest harvests and what you've been doing with them. If you would like to link up you will find Mr. Linky at the end of this post.

I know that I'll be putting fewer Brussels sprouts plants into the garden for the 2017-18 harvests. The Gustus plants provided nearly 4 pounds of sprouts this week and there's more to come. I should have harvested more of the Hestia sprouts as well, but there's just so many sprouts I can deal with at one time.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The first photo is of the sprouts straight off of the plants and the photo below is after some trimming. I weigh them for the tally after I trim them.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
I used some of this week's harvest of sprouts in another cast iron roasting session, this time with carrots and parsnips (see below) and dressed the roasted veggies with a mixture of equal parts coarse grained mustard, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar. My eater-in-chief approved!

Brussels Sprouts & Squash 
Earlier in the week I used some of the previous harvest of sprouts in some baked sprouts and winter squash with a crispy bread crumb and parmesan topping. More forks up for that one!

Pusa Rudhira Red and Starica Carrots
I pulled more carrots to use in the roasted veggie dish.

Gladiator Parsnips
Plus a few fresh parsnips.

The carrots were small, actually medium sized, and the parsnips big, as you can see in the photo above. I used all but the wonky carrot and only the large parsnip for the baked veggies. I think that that really big parsnip found its way all the way to the bottom of my nearly 2-foot deep raised bed, it was not easy to extract.

Tronchuda Beira
I experimented with making a salad with some finely sliced Tronchuda Beira and was quite happy with the results. If you like kale salads then you would probably like a Tronchuda Beira salad.

Pink Plume Celery
The celery is still growing well so I still get to harvest stalks as I want them.

Aji Amarillo Grande Peppers
The amazing Aji Amarillo Grande peppers are still ripening!  Some of the peppers were wrinkled and possibly damaged by freezing temperatures, but still usable. The rest of them were in fantastic shape for winter peppers. I've never harvested garden ripe peppers in January! By the way, the flavor of these peppers is fantastic and they are plenty spicy.

Golden Corn Salad
And finally, I "weeded" out all the corn salad that was growing in the spinach patch. It's enough for a couple of salads.

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

Gustus Brussels sprouts - 3.7 lbs.
Tronchuda Beira cabbage/kale - 4.2 oz.
Pusa Rudhira Red carrots - 3.8 oz.
Starica carrots - 4.9 oz.
Pink Plume celery - 4.7 oz.
Golden corn salad - 2.5 oz.
Gladiator parsnips - 15.3 oz.
Aji Amarillo Grande peppers - 13.9 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 6.8 lb.
2017 YTD - 25.3 lbs.

If you have a harvest you would like to share or share how you are using your harvests then add your link to Mr. Linky below. Then go check out what other bloggers have to share.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Harvest Monday - January 23, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday. I'm stepping in for Dave of Our Happy Acres as the temporary host of Harvest Monday for the month of January while he takes a much deserved holiday from the task of hosting every week. Harvest Monday is where we celebrate all things harvest related. This is the place to share your latest harvests and what you've been doing with them. If you would like to link up you will find Mr. Linky at the end of this post.

It was a big week for Brussels sprouts. The plants seem to be thriving on the rain and chilly weather. I can hardly keep up with the harvests and the sprouts are getting to be quite large. Fortunately the quality of the sprouts doesn't seem to be impaired by their jumbo size. And the chilly weather also seems to be keeping pests at a minimum.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
Last week I started to get caught up on harvesting the Gustus sprouts.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
Of course that means that I have to do something with them. I did go back to one of my favorite methods of preparing them, oven roasted in a cast iron skillet with some of one my last sweet red onions. And I made another "bowl meal" for Dave that featured Brussels sprouts. He loves a meal that he can eat from a bowl with just a spoon or fork. He's a lazy though enthusiastic and appreciative eater! Anyway, I had a pound of bulk Polish Sausage that I needed to use so I sauteed that along with onions and I don't remember what other seasonings, but it also included a pound of shredded Brussels sprouts. I called it Brussels Sprout Hash and it got Two Forks Up from Dave. And then I had to try something entirely new - the Brussels Sprouts Challenge continues. I adapted a classic Italian soup to make Stracciatella Soup with Brussels Sprouts. It was a nice quick, delicious, and warming dish to have on another cold and rainy evening. (OK, it's official, I'm tiring of the rain.)

Dazzling Blue Kale
I cut more kale to saute to accompany some winter squash as I describe below. You can see the difference between the two plants that are growing. One has big purple veined blue leaves and the other has smaller less colorful veins with greener leaves. Both are delicious.

Purple Sun and Pusa Rudhira Red Carrots
The carrots are holding well in the garden and I'm still pulling just a few at a time. The purple and red ones are looking particularly lovely now and they are sweeter than ever. I thought they looked very pretty together.

Bolero, Purple Sun, Pusa Rudhira Red
That's the last of the Bolero carrots. It's a very good carrot, quick to size up and sweet.

Cresses, Arugulas, and Mizuna
The greens that I tried to grow for winter salads were progressing soooo sloooowly that I gave up and cut them all down to make way for some lettuce seedlings that have been sitting in 4-inch post awaiting transplant into the garden. That's all of them in the basket above. Of course it's been so wet that I still haven't had a chance to get the lettuce into the garden. It might be better at this point to start more seeds.

That's all the harvests for the week but I also had to contend with a couple of big Discus Buttercup squashes that were starting to spoil. One of them I peeled and sliced into about 1/2-inch thick slices, generously brushed with olive oil and roasted in a hot oven until tender and browned. Those I served topped with sauteed Dazzling Blue kale and seared sweet red onion all with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds. Dave loved it. I used part of the other squash in a new way, at least for me, I used raw coarsely grated squash to make individual Winter Squash Flans which are basically fraternal twins of the crustless quiches that I also like to make. Using raw grated squash saved a lot of time compared to first roasting and pureeing the squash and the texture of the flan was more rustic as well.

To end I thought I would share a collage photo of the Carmel River, one view from the height of the drought in September 2015 and another that I took Saturday when the rain stopped long enough for me to get out for a hike.

 Carmel River January 21, 2017 and September 22, 2015
I was standing on pretty much the same spot when I took either photo. Back in September 2015 there wasn't any need for a bridge to cross the "river" and now that bridge would have been under a few feet of water.

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

Apollo arugula - 1.7 oz.
Speedy arugula - .5 oz.
Gustus Brussels sprouts - 3.3 lb.
Bolero carrots - 8.1 oz.
Purple Sun carrots - 6 oz.
Pusa Rudhira Red carrots - 4 oz.
Greek cress - .8 oz.
Persian Broadleaf cress - .6 oz.
Dazzling Blue kale - 8.7 oz.
Ruby Streaks mizuna - .2 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 5.2 lb. (2.4 kg.)
YTD 2017 - 18.5 lb. (8.4 kg.)

If you have a harvest you would like to share or share how you are using your harvests then add your link to Mr. Linky below. Then go check out what other bloggers have to share.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Onions For 2017

Seed Grown Onions Ready For The Garden

I do believe I've really gone nuts this year so far as onions go.

Carried away hardly describes what happened.

Somehow or another I've got 20, yes TWENTY varieties to squeeze into the garden. Make that 19 varieties, one failed to germinate. Whew! Oh but wait, I noticed one seed had popped up this morning...

And the long keeping Zebrune shallots are returning too.

And then there's the I'itoi onions that are already in the garden.

So I guess that's actually 22... errr, 21

So, here we go.

The Onion Patch So Far...
I almost got most of the babies into the garden until the rain came in for good yesterday morning. So far I've got 15 varieties squeezed into the garden. There's up to 18 plants of each squeezed in 2 inches apart to be thinned to 4 inches apart. The rain has come just in time to get all those nicely settled in.

I'm growing most of the varieties from seed. There's 10 new varieties in the seed started lineup, although 1 of those is one I grew last year but from a different source. I'm also bringing back 3 of the best performers from last year but I've started 2 of those later. Those 2 I sowed just recently when I saw how well they've kept sitting in a basket on my living room floor (not ideal) and a little research about growing onions in this area indicates that it's not too late to start bulbing onions from seed.   And I'm trying a cipollini onion from last year that grew to be too large and split like crazy before it formed bulbs so I'm starting it later this year to see if it will form proper small bulbs. And I'm also trying 2 other cipollini types that I sowed just recently also.

There's 5 new varieties and one returning variety from Dixondale. A friend purchased a number of varieties from Dixondale and is swapping a few of each with me for some of my seed started varieties.

A few of the new onions are supposed to be good overwintering types and others are supposed to be good storage onions. I would really like to find a good storage onion that will store into and perhaps through winter. By this time of year my stock of onions is pretty much gone because I've had to do something with most of them because they either sprout or spoil in storage.

More Onions Getting Started

So, in alphabetical order, here's all of the varieties that I intend to grow. The description of each variety comes from the source. Notes are mine.

* New for 2017
** Same varieties from 2 different sources, one is described as long day and the other is described a short to intermediate day. One has the original Italian name and the other is in English. I'm growing both to see if they are the same or not.
*** These are returning from 2016 or before as noted.

Australian Brown (Baker Creek) *
Intermediate type - Introduced in 1897 by W. Atlee Burpee. This variety produces extra fine large bulbs that have superb flavor! The yellow-brown roots are a standard on our farm for their sureness to produce quality.

Bianco di Maggio cipollini (Gourmet Seed) ***
Excellent Italian cipollini with solid white flesh and sweet, mild flavor. Classic white cipollini, can also be grown out to a small early season onion. Short to Intermediate day. A bit later and larger than the Pompei. Untreated seed. 80 days
Note: this variety got to be too large to be a good cipollini onion last year so I want to try a later start so that they will be smaller when they start to form bulbs.

Bronze D’Amposta (Baker Creek) *
Attractive reddish-bronze onions are good-sized and sweet; an intermediate day type. A great variety for fresh eating, as it is not too hot tasting. A decent keeper in storage and a good overall red type. Named for the small city of Amposta, Spain.

Copra (Dixondale) *
Yellow, globe shaped, slightly pungent, hybrid
Size Potential: 3-4"
Storage Potential: 10-12 months
Days to Harvest: 110
Sweetest storage onion available. Best storage onion for Northeast and Northwest. Last year with the cooler and wetter weather in the Northeast they got much larger than usual. Normally it will make a nice round, hard 3" onion. Ideal for cooking since it maintains a nice flavor
Note: One reviewer successfully grows this variety in Santa Cruz which is only 40 miles away with a similar climate so that bodes well for growing them here.

Desert Sunrise (Territorial) *
100 days. A gorgeous, glossy crimson-skinned overwintering onion with flattened globe shaped, cippolini-type bulbs and crisp, white flesh. We love Desert Sunrise's sweet, yet mild flavor whether raw or cooked. Sturdy, productive plants.
Note: I started some of these in November but I'm thinking that I should start another later sowing in case they get to be too large.

Flat of Italy (Baker Creek) *
Intermediate type - Beautiful, red "cipollini" type, flat gourmet onions from Italy. They are bright red in color and very flat, perfect for fresh eating or cooking. This is a very old Italian variety that was mentioned by Vilmorin in 1885. A good choice for fresh market. Early
(I’m starting this one later so they don’t get to be too large)

Gate Keeper (Territorial) *
250 days. Intermediate-day variety. A very nice addition to the winter garden is the high yielding and easy-to-grow overwintering onion, Gate Keeper. The attractive brown-yellow, globe shaped onions reliably come through winter and are a welcome addition to your kitchen in the spring. The jumbo-sized onions have medium storage ability.

Highlander (Dixondale) *
Yellow, slightly flat globe shaped, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: 3-4"
Storage Potential: 4-5 months
Days to Harvest: 85-90
We had great reviews of this variety we introduced in 2014! Slightly flat, globe-shaped bulbs are lighter in color than most long day varieties, but the bulbs are very firm with thin necks. This is the main variety planted by large onion farmers in the northeastern United States for early marketing. Since it is an extra-early maturing variety, it can be planted in all the intermediate day areas, as well as the long day areas. It will store up to four months. With its tight, thin neck it is easy to cure. Highlander is tolerant to botrytis and downy mildew, the two most common diseases in onions.

Keepsake (Territorial) *
280 days. Intermediate-day variety. Combining jumbo-sized bulbs with a very long storage ability certainly makes Keepsake a keeper. Bronze skins tightly wrap the vibrant white flesh of the globe shaped, 3-4 inch bulbs.

Red Candy Apple
Red Candy Apple (Dixondale) ***
Red Candy Apple is absolutely the most beautiful red onion on the market. When planted in short and intermediate day areas it produces larger bulbs. It will not size to jumbo onions in long day areas. However, it will make a great red bulb to be sold early at the farmers' market in all areas. To produce larger bulbs in long day areas, push this onion along with additional nitrogen applications. Dixondale Farms' exclusive since we are the only ones with the rights to the seed. Stanley Farms in Vidalia, Ga is using this variety for their red Vidalia type onions. It is the sweetest variety available.
Deep red, flattened globe shape, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: 3"
Storage Potential: 2-3 months
Days to Harvest: 85-95
Note: I've grown these in 3 previous years, although not in 2016 and had great success with it. It doesn't bolt and it keeps relatively well. The only reason I didn't grow it last year was because I didn't want to grow out the minimum order from Dixondale and there are no seeds available to home growers.

Red of Florence (Baker Creek, new seeds) **
(Long-day) Oblong shaped, bright red onions; great for planting spring or fall; seems to do well in many areas. They are very mild and sweet, great for salads and pickling! A delicious Italian heirloom. Very rare.
Note: this could be the same as Rossa Lunga di Firenze except for the day length?

Red River (Dixondale)*
Dark red, globe shaped, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: 3-4"
Storage Potential: 3-5 months
Days to Harvest: 95-105
We had great reviews of this new variety in 2014! Red River is a highly adaptable onion variety that can be planted in both intermediate day and long day regions since it is considered a long "intermediate day" or a short "long day." For customers that remember our very popular variety called Mars, this is the red variety that we feel comes closest to that maturity slot, flavor, and size. This variety boasts a strong root system and a nice dark red color. High yield potential and good storage potential. Resistant to pink root, fusarium, and bolting.

Rossa Lunga di Firenze
Rossa Lunga di Firenze **
A Florentine onion with excellent flavor. Distinctive long red Italian onion well-known as the 'Italian Torpedo', not to be confused with the top-shaped tropeana. Mild sweet taste and beautiful. Short to Intermediate Day. Untreated seed
Note: This is back for the third time in my garden. It is productive and resists bolting and is very tasty.

Rossa Piatta d’Italia (Gourmet Seed) **
Large flat-bulb variety of Italian onion, tender flesh, red-violet color. If you're looking for classic red Italian onion flavor, this is it. Not a great 'keeper', but fabulous for fresh use on salads, sandwiches, and more. (Red Flat Italian Onion). Intermediate day-length. Untreated seed. 105 days. 
Note: This variety kept fairly well. It had a tendency to split which is detrimental to its keeping qualities, but none of them bolted last year and I love it’s intense red color so I’m giving it a try again.
Note 2: this is the one that failed to germinate, the seeds were from last year so I'm not surprised. I'll put it on my list for 2018.

Texas Legend (Dixondale) *
Yellow, globe shaped, sweet, open pollinated
Size Potential: Up to 6"
Storage Potential: 3 to 4 months
Days to Harvest: 105 (matures 10-14 days earlier than the 1015Y Texas Supersweet)
Specifically bred for more healthful benefits than its parent variety, the original 1015Y Texas Supersweet, Texas Legerd is still as mild and sweet! The Texas Legend actually contains 25 active compounds that inhibit the growth of cancerous cells, help combat heart disease, and stimulate the immune system. It is also antibacterial and antifungal, to help ward off colds and relieve stomach upset and other gastrointestinal disorders. The Texas Legend matures 10 to 14 days earlier than the 1015Y Texas Supersweet and it is ideally suited for growing in the short day region.This one gives you a nice, globe-shaped, sweet, yellow onion that is open pollinated (meaning they are pollinated by wind, insects, or animals). This onion also has antifungal and antibacterial properties to help combat colds and relieve tummy aches, and other disorders of the gastrointestinal type. In the correct growing conditions, you should expect yields of 6″ onions, around 105 days after planting from transplants.

Top Keeper (Territorial) *
275 days. Intermediate-day variety. A top-notch onion whose name speaks for itself! Top Keeper is an overwintering onion that can store through November of the year that it is harvested. Top Keeper is less susceptible to bolting and splitting than other overwintering varieties. The flattened, globe-shaped, brownish yellow bulbs weigh approximately 3/4 pound.

Tropea Rossa Tonda
Tropea Rossa Tonda (Seeds From Italy) ***
This is one of the most famous onions in Italy and is the central point of a food festival, the Onion Festival of Tropea in July. Medium long day type, mid season. Round, red/pink on outside, becomes white in the center. If picked as baby, it is all white. Very sweet. 
Note: This was the best keeping onion of all the varieties that I grew in 2016. A few of them bolted in 2016 but they resisted splitting. Its good keeping quality is enough to make me try them again.

Tropeana Lunga (Baker Creek) *
Intermediate type - Long, tall bulbs are unique and popular with Mediterranean chefs. Harvest this gorgeous onion in mid-summer for your own delight or sell this winner for top prices at market. They are a lovely shade of red. This heirloom from Tropea is rare in America.

Yellow Granex (Dixondale) *
Yellow, semi-flat, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: Up to 5"
Storage Potential: Approximately 1 month
Days to Harvest: 100
This variety was developed right here in Carrizo Springs, Texas by basically crossing the 1015 and the Bermuda to make a deep, flat onion. You may not get them as sweet as the famous Vidalia, Georgia onion, but they will be the sweetest variety in your garden. This variety was approved through vigorous testing to be allowed to be called a Vidalia onion. Each variety has to be submitted every two years and approved by their committee. Only approved yellow granex strains are permitted in the 17 county region. This is also the variety grown in Maui, Hawaii and around Tyler, Texas, where it is called the "Noonday Onion." It stores fairly well for this type of onion at approximately 1-2 months.
We planted the first crop of yellow granex back in the 1960s and were the first to ship any plants to Vidalia. Now we grow over 100 million of these just to be transplanted in Vidalia. They will probably never admit they had their start in Texas, but we know the truth!

Zoey (Territorial) *
105-110 days. Intermediate-day variety. Zoey offers the best of the best in onions. These big, solid bulbs have a delectably sweet flavor and will keep up to an amazing 4 months! Protected by sleek, copper skins, the firm, white onions easily attain 3 1/2-4 inches across. The robust plants are very uniform and reliable in a wide range of growing conditions, but we recommend planting early for best yield.

Zebrune shallots (Baker Creek)
Long-day Type--(Cuisse de Poulet du Poitou) Gorgeous heirloom French eschalion or “banana” type shallot yields plump, long, torpedo-shaped bulbs. Bulbs are brown tinged with pink. The flesh is very mild and sweet, and large yields may be had starting the first year from an early planting. Excellent keeping quality makes these gourmet shallots useful over a very long season!
Note: These are the best keeping alliums I have ever grown. They will store in my cool dark storage closet with very little spoilage, although they do continue to dry down and shrink with time, but in general they keep well into summer and some even into fall.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Harvest Monday - January 16, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday. I'm stepping in for Dave of Our Happy Acres as the temporary host of Harvest Monday for the month of January while he takes a much deserved holiday from the task of hosting every week. Harvest Monday is where we celebrate all things harvest related. This is the place to share your latest harvests and what you've been doing with them. If you would like to link up you will find Mr. Linky at the end of this post.

It was a few more of the usual suspects last week.
Calabrese Broccoli Shoots
Broccoli was on the menu again. The Calabrese broccoli plants are slow to produce shoots now and one of my three plants has been struggling in the shadow of the towering Brussels sprouts plants so it hardly produces anything and then I pretty much ignored the shoots that were growing so this is the first broccoli I've harvested since December 6. 

Dave enthusiastically plowed through a bowl of brothy broccoli piled on toast. It's a nice simple dish that's so nice to have on a cold winter night. I blanched the broccoli first because it had a few to many aphids to simply wash away, then I chopped it and added it to a seasoning mixture of sauteed apple cider bacon, chopped I'itoi onions, and Aji pepper flakes. Then I let the mixture braise briefly in some poultry stock and piled it all on top of some toasted rustic bread that I smeared with some green garlic cream and then topped it all of with some grated pecorino romano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Pink Plume Celery
More celery came in from the garden for salads and soup.

Syrian Medieval Chard
A nice big bunch of Syrian Medieval chard found it's way into some cornmeal creamed chard.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
Not photographed was a basketful of big Hestia Brussels sprouts. I made another version of the Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad that I mentioned last week. This time I used pecorino romano cheese instead of parmesan, and I have to say that it was good but the version with the parmesan is better. But this time I did try to take a photo. Just this Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle published another version of a shredded Brussels sprouts salad, but that one has the addition of wheat berries, roasted mushrooms, and hard boiled eggs to make it a hearty main dish salad. I'm going to have to give that version a try soon.

Savory Brussels Sprouts Galette
And the Brussels Sprouts Challenge continues! I came up with two new ways to consume some of the glut of sprouts. One way is to use them as a filling for a Savory Brussels Sprouts Galette. And the other dish, which I did not photograph, is a Brussels Sprouts Skillet Souffle, which might also be described as a fluffy frittata. Both of them got two-forks-up from my Eater-In-Chief (aka my husband Dave). Click on the links to find my recipes.

The only other thing to hit the tally last week was one more tomato that ripened on the counter, still surprisingly good.

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

Calabrese broccoli - 13.5 oz.
Hestia Brussels sprouts - 2.1 lb.
Pink Plume celery - 9.3 oz.
Syrian Medieval chard - 2.1 lb.
Chianti Rose tomato - 3.8 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 5.9 lb. (2.7 kg.)
2017 YTD - 13.2 lb. (6 kg.)

If you have a harvest you would like to share then enter a link in Mr. Linky below, then go and see what everyone else has to share. Thanks for joining in the fun!

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Harvest Monday - January 9, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday. I'm stepping in for Dave of Our Happy Acres as the temporary host of Harvest Monday for the month of January while he takes a much deserved holiday from the task of hosting every week. Harvest Monday is where we celebrate all things harvest related. This is the place to share your latest harvests and what you've been doing with them. If you would like to link up you will find Mr. Linky at the end of this post.

All week long I've been hearing warnings about the Atmospheric River that is zeroing in on California's central coast. It's supposed to inundate us with rain like we haven't seen in 10 years but so far it been less than overwhelming in my neck of the woods, the bulk of the rain seems to be falling to the north of here. Although, as I sit here on Sunday afternoon working on this post it seems like the river has finally wended its way here, it's pouring. What we have been experiencing here for the last couple of days is high winds. The wind had me out in the garden on more than one occasion to secure plants and covers that were being tossed about. Still, the weather has not stopped me from harvesting what the garden has to offer and there is actually something new in the harvest basket!

Gangbusters Spinach

Merlo Nero Spinach
The spinach that I sowed back on November 10 and put into the garden on November 22 is big enough to start harvesting. I'm growing 2 varieties and both are new for me. I combined both of them in a Greek Cornmeal Pie From Epirus, my version of the recipe at least, I made a number of ingredient substitutions but the form of the dish was the same. Basically you mix some cornmeal with olive oil, yogurt, and water and spread half of that in the bottom of a baking dish, top it with a mixture of wilted greens, onion, herbs, and feta, then spread the remaining cornmeal mixture on top and bake it. I ground some of the Puhwem corn from this year's corn harvest for the cornmeal. And I also used some I'itoi onion greens and some fennel tops from a volunteer red fennel plant. Dave loved it even though I overbaked it a bit.

I'itoi Onion Greens and Red Fennel Tops

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The Brussels sprouts harvests continue. About half of that bunch above got roasted in a cast iron skillet and then combined with some leftover cubes of roasted Buttercup squash. Dave challenged me to find something NEW to do with the sprouts, not that he hasn't been enjoying what I've been doing with them, but I have pretty much stuck with variations on either iron skillet roasting or shredding and sauteeing. So I went to my Eat Your Books recipe index and browsed through the recipes that featured Brussels Sprouts and found inspiration from a couple of recipes for shredded Brussels sprouts salads. I made a rather simple salad with raw shredded sprouts, grated Parmesan, toasted slivered almonds, extra virgin olive oil, Meyer lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. It was a hit and I will definitely be making it or a variation again. You can find my recipe for the salad on my recipe blog HERE.

Pink Plume Celery
The celery plants are producing big main stalks very slowly in the short cold days of winter, but the plants have made a lot of side shoots with thin stalks. Those thin stalks are just as tasty as the fat stalks so I've started to cut those. Perhaps the plants will put more energy into producing the fat main stalks if I trim the skinny ones away? I've been using the celery in soups and salads on a regular basis.

Purple Sun and Rotild Carrots
More carrots. Also for salad and soups and some snacking with hummus.

Tronchuda Beira Cabbage, Gladiator Parsnips, Rotild Carrots

And the last 2 Rotild carrots, a few Gladiator parsnips, and Tronchuda Beira cabbage leaves for a Sunday Evening Soup for which I also cooked up some Black Coco beans from last year.

There's still tomatoes that are ripening on the kitchen counter but more are going into the compost now than into the harvest basket, but those that were fit to eat last week were pretty tasty.

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

Gustus Brussels sprouts - 1.7 lb.
Tronchuda Beira cabbage/kale - 14.8 oz.
Bolero carrots - 4.2 oz.
Purple Sun carrots - 3.1 oz.
Rotild carrots - 9.5 oz.
Pink Plume celery - 11.6 oz.
Dazzling Blue kale - 8.7 oz.
Gladiator parsnip - 7.1 oz.
Gangbusters spinach - 8.5 oz.
Merlo Nero spinach - 7.8 oz.
Chianti Rose tomatoes - 7.7 oz.
Pantano tomatoes - 3.8 oz.
Piccolo Dattero tomatoes - 4.2 oz.

Total harvests for the past week - 7.4 lb.
YTD 2017 - 7.4 lb.

Update Monday morning. About that Atmospheric River I mentioned above.

The screen shot below shows a composite radar image for the precipitation over the weekend. The scale on the map shows precipitation going from a trace represented by light blue progressing through the color range through white at 10 inches, the red blobs on the map show where the rain was most concentrated. That red blob at the bottom is Big Sur, the red blob in the center is the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the red blobs on the right are the Sierra foothills. I happen to live to the north of (above) the Big Sur blob in that area that goes to green which is why the rain seemed less than overwhelming to me, we're in the rain shadow of the Santa Lucia range. The AR dumped big time around here but not on me! I haven't learned much yet about local consequences, but so far I know that local rivers did have some minor flooding but nothing devastating. We're getting something of a break in the rain today, just showers are predicted, but more rain is due tomorrow. And King Tides...

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Variety Spotlight - Zebrune Shallot

Every once in a while I write a spotlight post about a variety of vegetable that I grow and that I particularly like. I started this series when Liz at Suburban Tomato started the meme as Saturday Spotlight. Liz hasn't been blogging for quite some time but her page with links to Spotlight posts written by herself and other bloggers is still standing. I've dropped the Saturday aspect of the series since I only occasionally get around to writing up a post and they rarely get published on Saturday, but I do keep a list of my posts on my Variety Spotlights page. Dave at Our Happy Acres also maintains a list of Variety Spotlights so you should go check his favorites also.

Zebrune shallots have proven their worth in my garden for 2 years and I'm growing them again for 2017 so I think it's time to do a Spotlight post about them since it seems that they've become a fixture in my garden and kitchen.

This type of shallot is often called a banana shallot because of its shape. In France it is called Cuisse de Poulet which translates as chicken thigh or it may be called Oignons Piriformes meaning pear-shaped or spindle-shaped onion. Botanically shallots and onions are both Allium cepa so technically it's not incorrect to call a shallot an onion. Most shallots are Allium cepa var. aggregatum and are generally grown from sets planted in the late fall. They sprout in the spring and divide to form clumps of bulbs. Banana shallots are different in that they are not aggregating onions, they generally produce a single bulb, and they are grown from seed. They also differ from aggregating shallots because of their large size and elongated shape. Their size and shape came from having been originally bred by crossing a typical shallot with a long onion, an onion which would have been similar to the Rossa Lunga di Firenze onion that I've also been growing for the last couple of years.

In my mild zone 9b climate I can sow my seeds as early as November and as late as January along with the onion varieties that I grow from seeds. I sow all the seeds into a 4-inch pot and allow them to grow for 8 to 10 weeks before separating the seedlings and setting them out in the garden. The earlier the start the larger the bulbs. Like any other onion they are day length sensitive so they start to form bulbs when the days are long enough regardless of how large they are. Some of the earliest started plants form bulbs that are as large as the smaller Rossa Lunga di Firenze onions.

The way my drip irrigation system is set up dictates how far apart the rows are - mostly about 9 inches. I've been setting the shallots out 4 inches apart along the rows. In the winter I have to cover up the little seedlings because the birds like to pluck at them, not because they like to eat them but I suppose because they think they might be tasty.

Later in the season I can uncover all the onions and allow them to grow on. When the greens start to fall over it indicates that it is time to lift them. Once a few of them start to topple over I'll go through the patch and bend over all the stalks.

In 2016 I lifted all the shallots on July 29 when the tops started to die down, they were the last of the alliums to come out of the garden. In 2015 I didn't note the date that I lifted the shallots but it was also at the end of July. You can see in the photo above that some of the tops were still quite green but I needed to make room in the bed where they were growing so they all had to come out.

As with any onion they can be harvested before they need to be lifted and cured. In particular I will cull the few that may bolt and the ones that split. The youngest ones are also good used when they are in the scallion stage but I tend to not harvest them that young because I always set out extra onions to be used as spring onions.

One of the things that I most like about these shallots is that they keep extremely well. Back in November I was using the last of the shallots at the same time that I was sowing the seeds for this year's crop. It is the longest keeping allium that I've grown. I keep them in a cool dark closet in a basket. I do have to keep an eye on them for sprouting and spoilage, some of them split into 2 or 3 bulbs within the outer wrapper and that makes them more prone to spoiling in storage so I try to use those first. After that I try to use the smallest ones because they shrink over time as the out layers dry out and the smallest ones eventually shrink down to almost nothing. I tend to use the bulk of the crop after I've run out of onions, they make a good stand in for regular onions in many dishes.

Zebrune is one variety of banana shallot and the easiest to find seeds for, I've purchased seed from both Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek. It's been easy to grow, reliable, delicious, and a good keeper. So it is a keeper indeed.