Monday 31 August 2015

Harvest Monday: August 31

I'm still stuck with my old computer so the five key doesn't work (I usually like to show the full date).  I also have no new produce so same old stuff, so this will be a short post showing much of the same I've had lately.  The basket above includes King of the North, some Jimmy Nardello (seen below) and most of the rest are jalapenos, Hungarian Hot Wax and sweet pickle peppers.

Jimmy Nardello peppers

Here is a pic of mostly tomatoes that I've already harvested in the past.

Two things stand out (or at least enough for me to point out) are (1) the yellow tomatoes: Dixie Golden Giant (I found them a bit bland) ...

And (2) the little zukes in the upper right corner are zapallito del tronco (unable to mature properly due to the squash bugs) but more than edible!

And more peppers which I used for a hot pepper sauce (recipe to be shared eventually):

Swiss Chard and Nero Kale:

Probably the last of the rhubarb:

More parsnips and carrots (which I pretty much roast every time I harvest any).

And more potato harvest, including Yukon Gold and Fingerling (drying in the cool basement).  More of these to come.

And now I'm trying to figure out how to harvest the sunflower seeds.  You can see that the critters are already getting to them (these empty shells are left on top of rhubarb leaves under the sunflower heads).

I have too many squirrels to keep them on the plant so I've cut them down and just keeping them in the screened porch to dry out ... hope that works?

This one is more than two pounds but already nibbled on.

Please visit Daphne's Dandelions for other harvests around the globe this week.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Smoking and Drying Peppers (Poblano/Ancho, Jalapeno/Chipotle)

With an abundant supply of hot peppers recently, I decided to preserve them for later use by smoking and drying them.  This was a challenge for me as I have only a single burner BBQ which means I didn't have the advantage of indirect heat. 

Based on past experience, one would normally put the wood chips on the heated side and the peppers on the unheated side of a two burner unit.  I had to play around a bit.  So this is by no means a tutorial on how to dry and smoke peppers as I had to kind of wing it a bit to make it work.  In fact, most of my facts here are from googling, so feel free to correct anything in the comment section.

I smoked and dried two batches in the past couple of weeks.  First up was the batch of jalapenos with some Hungarian Hot Wax mixed in (just because I had some on hand).  The jalapenos are "M Strain" from William Dam Seeds ... which then are referred to as chipotle once smoked.  I very much dislike canned chipotle peppers but that is because they are generally mixed with an adobe sauce.  I am not a fan of adobe.

The second batch was Ancho peppers.  Ancho is the variety of seed from West Coast Seeds; they are actually a poblano pepper which is then referred to as Ancho once it has been dried and smoked.

With a proper two burner BBQ, the usual technique is to lay out your peppers on one side of the BBQ and set up your wood chips on the other side.  Heat the side with the chips (usually soaked in water first), lay out your peppers on the unheated side, turn it on and you can keep the lid closed for hours to really let the smoke settle into the peppers.

Unfortunately, with a single burner, I had no choice but to open and close the lid a few times so I lost some of the smokey flavour.  But I still found them quite wonderful when done.

Basically the approach was to put the wood chip box, filled with chips of cherrywood, onto the BBQ for at least 10 minutes. Turn the heat as low as it will go, open up the lid and place the peppers (stem and seeds intact but sliced to help the smoke permeate) around the edge (as far away from the direct heat source as possible) and lower the lid. 

I checked one more time over the space of about two hours ... some had burnt from the heat which I removed.  The rest I just turned over and moved around to keep them as far away from the heat source.

So not the most ideal conditions but I'm pretty thrilled with the results, all things considered.  I've already used some of the peppers this past week when I made my recipe for pulled lamb tacos (based on a Rick Bayless recipe).

And I look forward to many other delicious uses for the smoky peppers!

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Inundated with Brown Squash Bugs

Arrghh!  I give up.  There are far too many of them now ... too many brown squash bugs.  I hate these things and there are just so many!  I would guess at least two hundred on this one zucchini plant alone.

The neem oil treatment was working well for the cucumber beetles but didn't have much effect on the squash bugs.  I've had many squash bugs before, although perhaps not this many.  I generally found they were unable to do enough damage until late in the season when the plants are weakening on their own.  So I guess that is what has now happened with the cuke plants (I pulled them a few days ago) and now the summer squash.

They are taking down one plant every couple of days (they inject a toxic substance causing the plant to wilt; this closely resembles bacterial wilt but has its own name: "anasa wilt" after their scientific name "anasa tristis").

They can have the regular summer squash, I've had enough.  But they have now taken over the Zapallito del Tronco of which I've only had one.  There are two more on the plant but unlikely to survive as the plant is almost dead already:

And it is right next to one of the few winter squash I have left, the Dickinson pumpkin plant.  I really hope that one lasts long enough to get one of the two pumpkins on the vine (but not counting on it).

Winter squash are some of my favourite veggies to grow so I will be disappointed if I have to take a break even for a year.  I guess it's all about better pest management.  I wasn't killing them as I saw them as they didn't seem to do much damage, so I let them get out of control.  And I didn't know what the eggs look like but now I do.

In the meantime, I'll watch for the plant to die and remove it as quickly as possible (with bugs still attached) as far away as I can.  Then they'll move to this crookneck squash plant ... and I'll do the same (it's already showing signs of wilt in the upper leaves).

They overwinter so I can surely expect a big bunch again next year.  I will look more into companion plants to deter them (maybe dill or catnip, but the nasturtiums certainly didn't work this year!).  I can use diatomaceous earth to deter them and floating row covers will help.  And use plant resistant varieties (I've heard Tromboncino for summer squash and Moschato varieties of winter). 

Either way, I don't think I can give up my winter squash so I'll have to figure something out ...

Monday 24 August 2015

Harvest Monday: August 24, 2015

Picking vegetables, pulling out plants, putting in new seeds for fall harvests ... plenty going on this week in the garden.  I have finally successfully grown a cabbage (seen in the basket above).  It's a Tiara cabbage from William Dam seeds.  And I have several more that are almost ready.  Maybe I could have left it a bit longer, but I don't think they get much bigger from the photos I've seen.

Also new this week are the two acorn squash in the basket.  Otherwise, it's filled with more of the same ... ancho peppers, jalapenos, Hungarian Hot Wax and a smattering of tomatoes.  Oh, and I think that's another spaghetti squash in there.

On the subject of winter squash, I cleaned out most of the three sisters patch.  There has been a lot of rain lately and the borlotti beans were flopped over and lying on the ground.  In my attempt to pull all of the beans, I ended up pulling all of the squash as well as I noted many of the vines were dying off or just rotting. So unfortunate that my single butternut squash is a bit immature, but I think the Marina di Chioggia squash (the second of only two I managed to grow) and the Sweet Dumplings were about as mature as they were going to get considering the state of their plants.

I could use some advice on how to properly store winter squash.  The immature butternut won't last long, but I want to make sure my two Marina di Chioggia keep until I'm ready to use them.  I'll do some checking on other bloggers sites, but if you have a good method for storing squash, I'd like to hear about it.

And then I have lots more of the same ...

Various toms, my last cuke and a crookneck squash
So many peppers (jalapeno and HHW)
Mostly sweet pickle peppers and more mouse melon
Mostly ancho peppers and some King of the North
Oops I let a couple of zukes get away on me
Mostly Jimmy Nardello peppers

I've been cooking a lot this past weekend.  I made oven-dried tomatoes with all of the chocolate cherry tomatoes I've been picking.

And I picked up a bushel (about 50 lbs) from a local market for $25 and spent the weekend making Red Wine and Herb tomato sauce (7 litres), my homemade salsa (3 litres) and passata (4 litres).  Whew!

Please stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or storing this week.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Sauce Casserole

It is about to start pouring rain here, so I thought I'd get a quick post in beforehand - so I can sit and look out the window.  I LOVE watching thunderstorms.

This is a recipe that I prepared about a month ago, shortly after harvesting my first of the very few spaghetti squash I've gotten from my garden.  It's quite similar to a recipe I shared last year for a spaghetti squash and swiss chard casserole.  Darn tasty!

4 pound spaghetti squash, baked
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
3-4 cups tomato sauce
Cheese for topping

After baking the squash (cut in half, remove seeds, bake at 400 degrees C until tender), use a fork to pull into spaghetti-like strands.  Mix with the ricotta, egg and season with salt.

Top with your favourite tomato sauce.  I made a quickie sauce with onions, garlic and a can of tomatoes (because when I made this last month I didn't have enough tomatoes from my plants!!).  Cover with sliced or grated cheddar or mozzarella.


Bake the whole thing for about 30-40 minutes until the sauce and cheese is all bubbly goodness.

Monday 17 August 2015

Harvest Monday: August 17, 2015

I love August harvests - so much colour and variety.  Pictured above is a basket picked entirely from plants in the greenhouse.  The jalapeno plants are growing very well with the extra hot atmosphere.

I've had more beans but the production has slowed enough that I decided to pull the plants and use the space for fall greens.

And I noticed a few beans had this going on ... I think that's rust?  I've never had it before and luckily it only happened this late in the season.

And I've picked the one and only Marina di Chioggia squash that has grown so far.  Thanks to an anonymous commenter pointing out my confusion on my Cucurbit update post, it turns out what I thought was a funny coloured Marina di Chioggia was actually a Sweet Dumpling squash which I had forgotten I'd planted.

Marina di Chioggia squash

And then more of the same.

Japanese Black Trifele

More crookneck and another spaghetti squash

Tuscan Black Kale

Parsnips, carrot, some small onions, Yukon Gold, Fingerlings

I used the escarole to make a version of Dave's Escarole with Potatoes (his recipe called for mashing them a bit, but I left the potatoes whole).  It's a delicious combination!

And that is my submission for Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions.  Pop on over for a view of other harvests around the world this week.