14 Oct

Garden News – October 14, 2015

The gardens are really slowing down now, with the cooler nights and shorter days.  The leaves are falling and some of the trees are already bare while others are slow to let go of their fall clothes!  As I walk around the yard there is a crunch where there once was soft grass.  I guess it is time for one last mowing and then the raking that will go on for several more weeks.

That wind last Sunday did some damage here.  Three sections of my cedar fence went down.  The  4X4 cedar posts snapped off at the ground.  John Pugrud, my savior, will be coming to fix everything this week.  I don’t know what I would  do without him.  Thank you, John!  Some of the wire fence for the tomatoes also blew down.   The tomatoes are so heavy right now, but I am not going to worry, as I will be harvesting them all soon, depending on whether it freezes of not.

My friends Steven and Robin Earles are also bringing me lots of leaves and grass clippings that I will be spreading over my gardens getting them ready for bed.  Thank you Robin and Steve!  The garden and I love you!  I am also bringing in manure.  A light tilling will then be done and the garden will be ready for winter sleep.  Rest and rejuvenation are important….for me too!

This is the final pick up for the following subscribers.  Virginia Bryan, John Pugrud, Charis Cravens, Sonya Whiteley, Lindsey James, Paula Larsen, Vanessa McNeill, Merita Murdock, Kat Pakora, Alicia Pettys, Kerry Sandelin, Sue Tanner, Carol Wardell, Jordan Westerholm, Nancy Wilkin,  Mike Williams.

These remaining subscribers will pick up their last share on October 22nd.  Susan Baak, Jessie Browning, Annika Charter Williams, Steve Charter, David Duke, Pamela Gustafson, James Haney, Halcyon LaPoint, Paula & Tom Larsen, Vanessa McNeill, Nanette Kuhl.

I am not quite sure what the selection will be in your share this week, but for sure there will be  winter squash, eggplant, bell peppers, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, dry onions, broccoli side shoots, red cabbage, tomatoes and cucumbers.  With a possible frost and even a freeze looming just around the corner, I will be trying to time the harvest getting the more tender veggies out of the garden first. It is really dry out there and things are still growing, so I had to water with city water this week  as the water in the canal is too low to pump anymore.  The county empties the canal on the 15th of October.

With the crisp fall temperatures, its time to start thinking about those meals that feed the body and spirit….I like to call them “Soul Foods”.

Creamy Winter Greens Gratin

Serves four as a side dish.

You can make this gratin with your choice of spinach, Swiss chard, kale, or broccoli raab. You’ll need to boil the greens first, following the instructions below. You can also substitute any hard cheese for the Parmigiano.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2-1/2 oz. bacon (about 3 strips) or 1-1/2 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
2 cups cooked winter greens (spinach, Swiss chard, kale, or broccoli raab)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or a combination of Parmigiano and another hard cheese like Gruyère, Emmental, or aged Gouda

Prep and cook the greens:

To get the 2 cups of cooked greens you need for the gratin, be sure to start out with the amount of raw greens specified below.

Cut off and discard the tough stems (use a small, sharp paring knife and trim around the stem). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, submerge all the greens, and cook just until tender (see cooking times below). Drain well and then spread on a towel to absorb excess moisture. If the greens still seem very wet, squeeze them gently to remove excess liquid.

Spinach
Start with 1 lb. mature spinach, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped to yield about 7 cups tightly packed (or 12 oz.); cook for 30 seconds, just until wilted.

Broccoli raab
Start with a 1-lb. bunch broccoli raab, tough lower stems removed (almost half the bunch), as well as any discolored leaves, and the rest very roughly chopped to yield about 6 heaping cups; cook for 2 min.

Swiss chard
Start with 1-3/4 lb. chard, stems cut away and reserved for another use (slice, freeze, and add to your next vegetable soup) and leaves roughly chopped to yield about 9-1/2 cups (or 12 oz.); cook for 1 min.

Kale
Start with 1-1/4 pounds kale, tough stems trimmed away, leaves roughly chopped to yield 6 cups tightly packed; cook for 8 min.
Assemble and bake the gratin:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Have ready a shallow 4-cup ceramic gratin dish or casserole dish (any shape is fine as long as it’s shallow). Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter and toss it in a small bowl with the breadcrumbs and a pinch of kosher salt and a little ground pepper; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and garlic to a boil over medium-high heat (watch that it doesn’t boil over), immediately lower the heat, and simmer vigorously until the cream reduces to about 3/4 cup, 4 to 8 min. (Don’t over-reduce.) Take the pan off the heat and remove and discard the garlic cloves. Let the cream cool slightly, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming. Season with 1/4 tsp. of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat until crisped and browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels, and carefully pour off most of the excess fat in the skillet (but don’t wipe it clean). Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter to the skillet and let it melt. Add the cooked greens, season with 1/4 tsp. salt if using bacon (omit the salt if using pancetta), and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Transfer the greens to the gratin dish and spread them evenly.

Crumble the bacon or pancetta over the greens. Sprinkle on the cheese. Pour the seasoned cream over all, and top with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until the gratin is brown and bubbly, about 25 min. Let rest for 10 to 15 min. before serving.

For a change, serve these gratins individually. Just divide ingredients among four small gratin dishes and bake as directed above.

Emeril’s Favorite Cabbage

8 to 10 servings

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 head green or white cabbage (about 3 1/2 pounds), cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
Directions

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until browned and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, salt, cayenne, black pepper, sugar, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir to mix well. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage just begins to wilt or soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the beer. Stir to mix.
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

Thai Squash Soup

Refreshing and earthy, this recipe puts a Thai twist on winter squash soup.

Serves: 4
Ingredients

  • 6 shallots, unpeeled
  • 1 can (13 1/2 ounces) light coconut milk
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro + 1 tablespoon chopped, for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions, green parts only
  • ground black pepper

Directions
1. Preheat the broiler. Spray a sheet of heavy foil with organic cooking spray and place the shallots on top. When the broiler is ready, broil the shallots, turning occasionally, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened and blackened. Remove from the broiler, let cool, then peel and halve them lengthwise.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the shallots, coconut milk, broth, squash, and the 1/w cup of cilantro. Cook just until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat, add the salt, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Stir in the fish sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
3. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of the minced scallion greens and the chopped cilantro and season with pepper to taste.
Recipe Tips
To make an edible soup bowl, cut a thin slice from the bottom of a small pumpkin or squash. Cut off the top and scoop out the insides, leaving at least 1/2″ of shell intact. The bowl may be cooked or served raw if it’s cooked, you can eat it when you’ve finished the soup!

***This is important!  Be sure and let me know if you are coming to pick up your share.  I know  it might be confusing with this last pick up because of the half shares.  It is confusing to me, too!  Just give me a call, or send an email to confirm that you are  coming, or if you have questions.