Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Winter Garden

 The broccoli have been harvested and replaced by two rows of Oregon Sweet Pea Pods.  They are the peas with edible pods--ready for munching in the garden when mature.

Three PVC pipes have been erected between the rows and strings still needs to be threaded into the holes in the poles so that they may climb on and to make it easy for our picking in mid-April.

A row of red potatoes have also been planted and because of their size they were cut into smaller pieces--each one with at least one healthy eye.

The small white potatoes with well developed eyes were planted whole.

Once the potatoes are dug up, okra which is a warm weather vegetable will be planted in their place.

Somewhere in this garden plot, there will e space for Contender green beans--a sure early spring winner.

It is rather interesting that I am still plotting and planting the winter garden while I am also planning for an early spring garden.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Curly Kale

Kale has become rather popular these last few years.  It is a versatile green powerhouse of a vegetable, loaded with vitamins C and K as well as many minerals.  The more it is picked, the more it grows.  It keeps very well in the garden during the cooler months but may be frozen for later use.

Curly Kale
The green curly kale gives some texture to the otherwise straight greenery in my garden and it also adds color and texture to a salad when torn or cut into small pieces.

Milo Sammas in "Dr. Earth:  Homegrown Food" writes that the "Antioxidant action of vitamin A and C help boost immune system, protect blood vessels, reduce inflammation and protect skin and lining of internal organs."

Here is an easy, delicious, and different recipe for a Kale Salad:

Remove the large veins in a bundle of kale and then blanch until wilted, cool under running cold tap water, let drain and set aside.

Cut, dice or cube an apple and peel, slice and dice an orange to combine with the kale

Vinaigrette:  In an attractive Mason jar, combine 3/4 cup of (canola) oil and 1/4 cup of (red wine) vinegar with a dash of sugar and 2 tbs of mustard.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Make it your own vinaigrette by adding herbs of your choice and even a minced clove of garlic,

Thank you for visiting my blog and leave a message, if you like.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Winter Time Planting of Potatoes

It is the season to plant potatoes again in Zone 9 and they should, hopefully, be ready to harvest in April.  My potatoes have a good head start: they are sprouting vigorously. I have never had potatoes with such hefty sprouts.

Last fall, my store bought potatoes were beginning to sprout so I put them in a plastic basket that I had lined with crumpled up newspaper, then put the basket in a brown paper bag, and stored them in a dark corner in the Summer Kitchen.

This is the time of the year when the fall vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are ready for harvesting to make room for the winter vegetables that need to be planted or sown.

Among the primary winter vegetables that need to be put into the ground are the potatoes that are sprouting so vigorously in my basket.

The potatoes should germinate within two weeks but that will depend on the weather.  If there is frost predicted, I put a generous helping of mulch around the potatoes and even cover up the tender greens with the mulch.  If a severe cold snap is in the forecast, I have my frost blankets available.

We had to make a detour around a cabbage that was still in the ground, but that is all right.  Once that cabbage is pulled, it will provide a spot for an herb that is compatible with potatoes such as dill, basil, oregano or rosemary plus a few others that I would otherwise plant.

Also, I am planning to sow okra when the potatoes are harvested.  The professional gardeners recommend that neither corn nor tomatoes be planted in the same place in the same season as the potatoes:  they are all heavy feeders and will deplete the soil.

Happy planting!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A hearty Broccoli/Cauliflower Casserole

It wasn't that long ago since I harvested large heads of broccoli and left the rest of the plants to stand until I had put the current harvest into the freezer for later use. Deem of my surprise when the broccoli plants had grown small florets, not only once but twice.  How giving!

While I recently was pulling up the broccoli plants, I spied snow white cauliflower heads  peeking out from masses of tall and dense greens.  I harvested one cauliflower and gave a neighbor another but they need to be taken care of before too long.

I read a quote in the First Coast Magazine that read:  "Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."  -- Harriet van Horne

So, here I go taking out a bag of broccoli from the freezer and let it thaw while I cut the cauliflower into bite size florets enough to serve two hungry gardeners and provide for tomorrow's lunch as well.  I spread out the broccoli and the cauliflower florets into a greased baking dish and set it aside.

I grated cheese to make a cup and then some for topping the casserole.  I also set that aside.

Here comes the abandon part:  to make a white creamy and cheesy sauce for the casserole.  In a pot I melted a generous helping of margarine and gently cooked it together with a couple of heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour and a little mustard, stirring constantly to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

I slowly added 2 cups of milk, kept stirring, and finally added the grated cheese, and stirred until the cheese had melted and the sauce was smooth.  Nice going!

Now, I poured the sauce over the broccoli and cauliflower florets, covering the vegetables, and topped it off with the left over grated cheese.

The casserole was baked in a 400 F degree oven for 39 - 35 minutes.

This creamy and hearty casserole was served with chicken and a large biscuit.  Bon appetite!

Thank you for visiting my blog and leave a message, if you care.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Swedes are Coming! The Swedes are Coming!

The Swedes are coming!  The Swedes are coming and I am coming  with them too.  There are too many things going on in the garden that I like to record and share with you.

The Swedes are known as rutabagas in the Americas and Canada. Some say that they are a cross between wild cabbage and turnips.  Granted, they do have red tops.

Because the rutabaga grew best in cooler climates, they became popular in Scandinavia and especially in Sweden where they received their name "Swede."

In the last few years, I've grown rutabagas more or less out of curiosity.  It is not a particular popular vegetable but it has many uses.  Mainly I cube them and cook them with potatoes and they add a little extra flavor and texture to soups and stews.

Furthermore, they freeze very well when peeled, cubed, and blanched and cooled under running tap water.  Then I bag 'em and put them into the freezer for later use.

While I was searching for Swedish recipes for the holidays, this is what I found for making a rutabaga casserole:

Peel and cube about 1.5 kg (3 lbs) of rutabaga and cook until soft enough to mash.  I used some of the water that they were cooked in to moisten the mash.

In a bowl, I combined 1 dl ( 1/2 cup) of cream, touch of sugar or syrup, 1 slightly beaten egg with a dash of nutmeg, added the rutabaga mash into a baking dish and covered with bread crumbs.  I baked it for 1 hour in a 375 Fahrenheit degree oven.

Last fall, I sowed three short rows of rutabaga and thinned them out as they grew.  It takes about 7 days for them to germinate and about 72 - 100 days to maturity depending on the weather.  It is still recommended that rutabagas be sown in Zone 9.

Thank you for visiting my blog.