Monday 30 November 2015

Harvest Monday: November 30, 2015

Maybe I won't give up on growing Brussels sprouts just yet!  Okay, well these are probably half the size (or smaller) of what I would expect to get if I were buying them.  But growing my own vegetables means I have much lower expectations.   :)

Seriously though, I'm happy enough with these and growing sprouts really isn't much work plus they take up very little space in the garden (the plants can get large but they are mostly vertical).  I haven't harvested the sprouts from these plants yet but I figured the plants were about as far along as they were going to get and pulled them from the garden.  It won't be a huge harvest but enough that I'm satisfied with the results (i.e. yield versus effort).

I am definitely NOT satisfied with this next harvest although there wasn't much effort involved here either.  The picture shows 3 entire plants of Vates Blue Curled Kale.  Pathetic.  Really, really pathetic.  But it was the poor location more than anything else.  These were direct sowed back in late April!!  And this is as large as they got.  This is one of the plants ...

The area has less light than I had originally thought when digging up a garden plus it is right beside a pine tree.  I tested the pH levels early in the season and they were average, but it's not an ideal spot to be sure.  I can't imagine what I'll do with the space - probably just put grass seed down again ...

I admit it is a bit weird harvesting greens while they are completely covered in frost.  This is the first time I've grown kale this late in the season (also have radishes in the ground still but the soil was frozen so I left them alone).  And the leaves at the bottom are the last bit of Ruby Red chard from a container in the greenhouse.

And to follow up on last week's harvest, I did indeed use my micro beetroot harvest to make a pasta (I didn't have regular goat cheese so topped it with a chunk of goat's milk feta).  Very tasty!

I look forward to seeing what other folks around the globe are harvesting this week on Our Happy Acres Harvest Monday collection.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Harvest Saturday!

I'm heading out to Vancouver for a few days and didn't want to miss posting what I've harvested this week so posting it today.  I'll still try to link up with Our Happy Acres Harvest Monday collection to see what other gardeners are doing this week.

My single harvest is the last item from the greenhouse.  I had planted beet seeds quite a while back (wish I could remember when, but thinking at least 6-7 weeks ago) and not much was happening.  It's an unheated greenhouse and even though beets are okay with cooler temperatures, there just hasn't been enough sunshine or warmth for them to grow.

So I've harvested the greens!  I left on what little bit of beetroot there was so I'll probably cook them when I get back from the short trip ... maybe with some pasta and goat cheese (yes, definitely that's what I'll do)!

And just before signing off, I wanted to share a picture of a pie I made with leftover bits of roasted squash (butternut, acorn and sweet dumpling - it was tasty so I'll share the recipe at some point).

Thursday 12 November 2015

Sliced Cabbage Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Bacon

This is a great winter salad and makes enough for two large servings.  My version here is very simple, but you could also add julienned carrots or red peppers if you have them on hand to add colour and a different texture.  The dressing makes just enough for a light dressing on the cabbage but with plenty of flavour.

2 slices bacon
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 ounce Danish blue cheese
4 cups shredded or thinly sliced cabbage

Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl.  Crumble the blue cheese into a lidded container (to shake up your dressing) and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cook bacon in a small saute pan.  Remove bacon when crisp and set aside on a paper towel to drain.

With the pan on a low-medium heat, add the shallots and saute 1-2 minutes until they soften and begin to colour.  Rmove from heat, quickly add the vinegar and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Pour the mixture into the container with the blue cheese.  Pop on the lid and shake to combine ingredients.

Toss the cabbage with the dressing while it is still a bit warm and serve with the bacon crumbled on top.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Monday 9 November 2015

Harvest Monday: November 9, 2015

A basket of greens ... and happy to have it! 

In fact, I'm quite thrilled with this harvest of arugula.  This is the first year that I planned for greens in the fall.  Usually I plant greens (you know, lettuce and such) in the spring and they die off by September.  This year, I did a second planting of arugula, chard and escarole mid-summer.  The second planting of chard (that's Ruby Red chard in the basket) wasn't really necessary as the spring-planted chard was still producing ... so lesson learned.

I also didn't realize that arugula survived frost so well.  In fact, there have been a number of nights with freezing temperatures recently and the arugula is still in great shape!  This week's harvest of arugula is much more tender than a month ago (not sure why).

The top portion of the basket is Tuscan Kale.  I harvested a small amount for a meal I was planning, but I left a bunch just so I have something to post next week for Harvest Monday!

Pop by Our Happy Acres to see what other folks around the globe are harvesting this week.

Monday 2 November 2015

Harvest Monday: November 2, 2015

Although I will continue to check in throughout the winter with the Harvest Monday contributions at Our Happy Acres, my harvests are quickly coming to an end.  I might have something next week, but there isn't much left.  Luckily Harvest Monday's are about all things related to harvests ... including what we do with them!  It's been a while since I posted a recipe but managed to squeak one in yesterday as I sat inside watching the windstorm (remnants of Hurricane Patricia).

 As it happens, even as my harvests are coming to a close, I have managed to come up with two newcomers!  The first new crop this year are Jerusalem Artichokes.  I had planted them in the spring of 2013, my first year in this location.  Having had experience with them in the past, I am well aware of their invasive nature.  However, they don't seem to be growing at the rate I had expected them to.  There are some pros and cons to that.  Well, one pro and two cons.

Pro:  I'm not as worried now about an uncontrollable invasion that would eventually spread into my neighbour's yard.

Con: (1) They grow so poorly in this location that they never seem to flower and (2) the tubers are very small.

Assuming the small size doesn't impact the flavour/texture too much, I believe the pro outweighs the cons and I will continue in the current location.

My second new crop ... Brussels sprouts!  Oh my, they sure are a challenge to grow.  Last Monday, I announced my intent to give up on growing cauliflower (well, unless I have some seeds left, but not buying anymore!) and I believe I will officially give up on the sprouts as well (again, unless I have some seeds left).  The plant that produced these minuscule sprouts was started from seed in late March and planted outside in mid-May.  After all this time, these are the largest of the sprouts on the plant (that's just a regular soup bowl, so the largest is about 1.5-2 cm diameter).  Argghh!  I started to harvest from the bottom up and went less than halfway so there are still some left.  But they are so small, I expect not to harvest much else ... although there is a bit of a warm spell this coming week so you never know!

And my only other harvest this week are shown in the main photo (along with the sprouts) ... Tuscan Kale and two radish!!

I've almost managed to put everything away in preparation for winter ... a few more pots, garden tools, etc. here and there to put away.  Unfortunately, I still have a massive pile of soil in the driveway but my new snowplow guy doesn't seem overly worried.

Looking forward to seeing the other Harvest Monday contributions at this time of the year.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Butternut Squash and Kale Brunch Tart

I really haven't been keeping up with my recipe postings although I've made lots of new dishes lately.  Hopefully, I'll get more of them written up now that gardening season is almost done.  One of the few productive crops left in the garden is the Tuscan Kale so I thought I'd share a recent recipe using it.  Although I am still getting kale from the plants, I'm pretty much left only with the top leaves, so they are almost as much rib as they are leaf!  Here they are before and after removing the rib (stem).

Most of my tarts (those using a single pastry shell) follow the same technique ... put some savoury ingredients into the bottom of the shell, add in an egg/cream mixture, top with cheese and bake.   The combinations are pretty much endless even if you limit the ingredients to vegetarian.  In this version, I've started it off with bacon, but it can easily be omitted.

Single pastry shell
3 slices bacon (or similar amount of chopped pancetta)
75 grams kale, rib removed, then chopped (2 cups loosely packed)
1 cup cubed, cooked butternut squash
2 large eggs
2-3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup 10% cream
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Oven should be set at 400 degrees F.  Blind bake the shell for 10 minutes then set aside.

Chop bacon into 1" pieces and cook until most of the fat is rendered.  Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the fat (I just pat around the pan with a paper towel) and add the chopped kale leaves.  Toss the bacon around with the kale and cook until tender.  Allow to cool slightly.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl then add in Parmesan and cream.

Combine the kale with the squash and spread out on the bottom of the shell.

 Pour the egg/cream mixture over top, then finish with the crumbled goat cheese.

Bake about 30 minutes or until filling is set.  If crust starts getting too dark, finish baking with a piece of tinfoil lightly covering the tart (so it doesn't touch the filling).  Let sit for about 8-10 minutes to set properly.

Serve hot or cold with a side salad or as part of a brunch menu.