Thursday, November 8, 2012

week 23

Lettuce                Green Peppers               Green Tomatoes
Bok Choy              Mixed Radishes                Kale
Sweet Potatoes           Seminole Pumpkins      Garlic
Herb bag:      Cutting Celery  Curly Parsley     Dill      Sorrel   

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ―  Meister Eckhart

As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for successful garden experiments.  This new squash is an experimental variety for us this year, and we are well pleased.   Meet the Seminole Pumpkin.  This pretty little pumpkin is a Florida native (like Coree), and was cultivated and used extensively by early native Floridians.  It tolerates drought and wet conditions and has few pests.  The native people used it dried, but it can be baked, boiled, steamed, or fried.  The texture is creamy, not stringy, and the flavor is sweet and nutty.  It makes a fine pie, and don't forget to toast the seeds.  It was almost lost, but has made a come back thanks to the recent surge in heritage seed projects.  We had wanted to try this one for a couple seasons but struggled to find room for it in the garden.  The vines grow VERY long, and the squash can cross with butternuts, which we really don't want to do.  This year was no different.  We started a few, but couldn't settle on a good place to plant them out.  Late in the season, in desperation, we finally threw them in around the new compost pile, next to the chicken fence.  Plenty of nutrition there, plenty of light, and out of the way. They took off and created a swamp of squash vine and flowers.  We couldn't see much signs of fruit and didn't have time to mess with the jungle of it all until after the good frost took the vines down a bit.  Paul went wading out into the thick of it one day last week to see what he could find.   He returned later than he anticipated, having harvest 100 squashes!   When he hooked up the mower to cut the field, he walked through again and found a dozen more, and then smashed a few more besides with the mower.  Gardens are full of surprises.

The Bok Choys take the cake so far for nice big heads of greens.  We love the white stalks and dark green leaves.   What a treat.  These are great raw – cut the crisp white parts up like carrot sticks and use them to dip, or stir fry the whole thing fast.  Use it slowly, keep it wrapped up well and it will keep quite awhile.  Good accompanying flavors include ginger root, onion, cilantro, sesame or coconut oils, and small root veggies, like carrots or radishes.

Another option that should not be ignored is the possibility of fermenting your bok choy.  Choys make fine kimchi variations.  Kimchi is the Korean version of Sauerkraut.  Some version of fermented green exists almost everywhere in the world.  Lacto fermented food is extremely healthful, and tasty, and provides an easy way to store large quantities of certain veggies.

I'm including this recipe from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions for you to play with if you choose.  Fermentation is both an art and a science – so as long as you follow the directions in terms of salt and water content, the vegetable content can be EXTREMELY flexible.  Use what you like.  Taste everything often.  Just make sure there's always water on top.

1 head Chinese Cabbage or the like              1 bunch green onions (or a couple bulb onions)
1 cup carrots, grated or sliced                                   ½ cup daikon radish, grated or sliced
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger                          3 cloves garlic (at least), peeled and minced
½ tsp dried chili flakes (optional)                  1 Tbsp sea salt
4 Tbsp whey, or an extra 1 Tbsp salt

Place veggies, ginger, garlic, chili, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer to release juices.  Pack into a quart sized wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  The top of the veggies should be at least 1 inch below the top of the  jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

These next two recipes are from The Spice Box Vegetarian Indian Cookbook.  I've a strong suspicion that this soup will work just fine with kale:
Spinach Soup
4 cups water                           1 lb fresh spinach
salt to taste                             dash of black pepper
1 Tbsp oil                                1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onions, chopped   2 tsp lemon juice
½ cup sour cream

1) Bring water to a boil.  Add spinach, salt and pepper.  When spinach is cooked, puree in a blender.
2)Heat Oil in a saucepan and fry the cumin seeds until they puff up.  Add the onions and fry till wilted.  Add the puree and heat thoroughly.  Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and sour cream.

I tested this on a Seminole Pumpkin, and modified this recipe quite a bit –
Pumpkin Curry
4 Tbsp oil                                pinch asafetida
1 tsp turmeric powder           4 cups pumpkin, peeled and cut in small chunks
4 tsp coriander powder         2 tsp cayenne powder (I didn't use that much!)
salt to taste                             2 fresh chilies, seeded and chopped
1 cup water                            2 tsp mango powder
1 tsp sugar                              1 Tbsp dried grated coconut

            Heat oil in a wok and add asafetida and turmeric.  Fry 1 minute.  (Here I added an onion or two and some fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped – let it cook down for a couple of minutes before proceeding.)  Add pumpkin, coriander, cayenne, chilies (the hot stuff is optional).  Fry 2 minutes (I let them cook longer than two minutes so the squash actually browned a little).
            Add 1 cup water, cover and bring to a boil at medium heat until pumpkin is soft.  (Here's where I really departed from the print – I added a can of coconut milk, and a little water, then let it all cook until soft.)
            Mash mixture with a wooden spoon.  Add mango powder, sugar and coconut.  (I left out the sugar, grated coconut and mango powder altogether, and we enjoyed the chunky creamy pumpkin curry over rice with some cilantro to green it up, just like that!)

Cut the tops and tails off your radishes – they’ll keep well in the fridge.  Enjoy it all!
If you need special extras of anything for Thanksgiving – please let us know soon.
Peace be with you all.                                                                                                            The Entwistles

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