Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who knew a turkey could get so big?!

What do you keep in the back of your truck??  
Well the day  before Thanksgiving we had a 23 lb turkey from the Boucher Family Farm, a brining leg of pork in a 5 gallon bucket (see photo), and a box full of veg from the garden.  Quite the photo op at the co-op that morning.  I had forgotten the brown sugar so I had to add it to the pork brine in the parking lot.  I got a few strange looks from fellow shoppers.
 The pork came from our friend Eric at the Rockville Market Farm, he raised the piggies on the left over butternut squash seeds from the farm.  The turkey was a Broad Breasted Bronze, this breed has a richer flavor than the conventional white 'butterball' turkeys.  Yum.  I would love to try a heritage breed next year, has anyone ever tasted one??  23lb sounds huge right?  But the pride and joy at the Boucher's the morning that I picked ours up was a 40lb monster bird.  Woah...

This was the first Thanksgiving I had a major hand in so I tried to make it as special as possible. When I'm home I buy from Vermont farms because they are local, but I chose to bring them with us to Maine because we really are impressed by the flavors of this state.  From poultry to cheese, vegetables to fruits, our farmers make it very easy to eat local here.   Perhaps next year I will research some Maine farms to buy from.  That way we could explore a different bio region and avoid shuttling so much food across New England.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's only over when all the spinach croaks!!

I guess I really need to take the hint.  The ground is frozen, and the season has truly come to a close.  I just wish I had been able to get some of the parsnips out for Thanksgiving.  Darn...  
Last week we had some brutally cold weather, I harvested the last of the turnips, and a few of the parsnips.  The cold scared me off, and I figured I would come back to get the rest.  Silly me, the ground went from 1/4'' frozen to over 2'' of frozen topsoil in less than a week!  So I'll wait until the spring thaw, or perhaps I'll get impatient and build a cold frame.  I did grab the last of the chard, and some kale also a few beets that were still out there.  The beets were almost on top of the soil so the just popped right out.
The one plant that is still surviving in the garden is the spinach.  As I've said I have it under two layers of remay, and a little bit of straw, it looks great.  It isn't throwing out many new leaves now because our days are so short, but it is hanging in there!  Maybe it'll last until March, and give us some early greens.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tag end of the garlic

And then there was one....  well after I made soup there was only one left. 

  Garlic was a new endeavor for me last fall, and it proved so fruitful.  From the first little snippets of garlic flavored green in early April, then scapes (the flowering stalk of the garlic) in June to 40 huge heads of garlic that lasted until now.  I should say though that I used about 12 of those heads for planting in October.  That just about breaks my heart, seeing all that garlic go into the soil.  I know that each one of those cloves will become a whole head... but what if they don't come up, it's a gamble, and I bet most of my pot!!!

But perhaps there is another way...

This year, in addition to planting cloves of garlic for propagation, I planted bulbils, these are the small top set cloves.  They are harvested from the garlic flower/topset.   There can be hundreds of bulbils on one garlic flower/topset, but they are very small, sometimes the size of a grain of rice!  But according to the experts they will each grow into a clove by next July, the same time that the cloves I planted in October will be full heads of garlic.  The cloves that grew from the bulbils are planted in the fall, to be harvested the next year as a full head of garlic.  

Very confusing at first, at least for me...
The bulbils in other words are a three season garlic propagation technique.  
Year one allow a few garlics to flower and form topsets harvest them and wait until fall planting time.  Plant bulbils.
Year two harvest cloves of garlic from bulbil bed and wait until fall.  Plant cloves.
Year three harvest scapes and then garlic in July!!  Easy -Peasy right???

If anyone is still with me, the advantage to all this waiting is the volume of garlic that can be harvested in the third year, for me it will be 2010.  The input is very low so it sounds like a great way to grow garlic with out sacrificing my beautiful bulbs in the fall!!!

I'm crossing my fingers, yet very curious and excited at the prospect of that much garlic!!  Has anyone tried this method?  Had successes/failures?!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friend with a camera

Lucky me I have a friend who's a photographer!!  

Evan Dempsey is a photographer here in Burlington VT, he took a stroll though the garden a few weeks ago and took these beautiful photos.   How great to see the garden through new eyes.

purple top turnips

plum purple radish

nero di toscana

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A love affair.....

Oh turnips how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways...

I suppose it isn't that serious, but having finally gotten the hang of growing turnips I am ecstatic to be harvesting them!  Last year the turnips went in at the wrong time, mid summer, I had no clue what I was doing and had clearly done no research.  I wound up with the most massive, woody, pithy, bolting monsters.  Utter failure!  But from that came a new understanding of my fall loving friend.  This year the turnips went in August 12th and 18th, perfect!!  
This photo shows all of the roots that grew this year except the radishes.  There are bull's blood and golden beets, purple top turnips, excalibur parsnips, purple dragon, atomic red and scarlet nantes carrots.  

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fall harvest

I went down to the garden yesterday and peeked under all the remay and straw.  I found spinach and swiss chard.  The spinach is super dense, the leaves are a really rich green and very thick.  It is tucked in under a light remay.  I used a tomato cage, laid on its side to keep the fabric off the leaves.
  The swiss chard is still hanging on, of the two varieties I planted the fordhook is doing much better than the five color silver beet.  The fordhook is a green chard with white stems, whereas the five color comes up in.... about five colors.  I pick all of those leaf by leaf so that the plant can keep on growing.  The bok choi though I cut out whole.  I had to leave a lot of it in the garden, as there were slugs and snails tucked behind the stems.  
There is also futo negi left, they are the gigantic bunching onions I was given earlier this year.  They grow like chives but are very large, I can't wait for them to spread.   I think they will fall into the hardy catigory, they show up very early in the spring and are one of the last to go in the fall.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How Spooky!!

Is it a little strange that I just want pie and soup when I see all these pumpkins?  

Winooski did a great job with their pumpkins. They were up all weekend, and they had an armed guard! 

 I guess Halloween shenanigans will not be tolerated!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What to do with a pile of roots and bok-choi...

Well I say get your salt and chilies we're making kimchi!! Yum. 
I used the recipe from Sandor Katz's book Wild Fermentation. His web site is here.  

In short the process involves adding julienned vegetables to a brine, then mixing them with minced fresh ginger, chilies and garlic. The whole mess is then packed into a container, I used a half gallon mason jar.  It sits on your counter for 4 days to a week 
depending on the temperature, until it is bubbly and sour... in a really good way.  
Again that is the abbreviated version, it is pretty easy though, and very adaptable.  I had atomic red carrots, daikon radish, bok choi and leeks left so that is what went into the jar!  Last year we had beet, carrot, leek kimchi. Tasty but very pink.  Traditionally there can also be fish or oyster sauce added, I'm just not that adventurous yet.  
This batch has just the bok choi ribs in it, (not the green parts I thought they got too slimy) and I left them whole, but they are so mustardy
 that I might chop them up in the next batch.
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