Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to letsgetdirty@gjsentinel.com.

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More purple potato pics

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I dug the remainder of my purple potatoes last weekend. The vines had all died and all but disappeared, so I figured it was long past time. The potatoes were on the small side, but I don’t know whether that was because purple potatoes don’t get huge or because mine were in a semi-shady area.




Yesterday, since it was supposed to be rainy, I figured I’d make baked potato soup.Mostly I was just curious if the purple potatoes would turn the entire soup lavender.


As you can see, the potatoes retained their purple color when baked, even after I chopped them up to put them in the soup.

I didn’t have any cream, but I had a small amount of buttermilk (I can’t remember why I had buttermilk in the fridge) and some sour cream, both of which went in the soup, along with a bunch of milk.


Sometimes I put cheddar cheese in baked potato soup, but I didn’t want the yellow of the cheese to affect the color of the soup, so I added just a few crumbles of blue cheese.



This is what it looked like on the stove. Can you tell it’s slightly lavender?







This is what it looked like in the bowl.

Potatoes are fun to grow, especially if you’ve got kids (or grandkids) to help dig them at harvest. I like growing odd varieties that you can’t find at the grocery store, like these purple ones. At the local nurseries you can find quite a few varieties of seed potatoes in the spring, but usually just red and white varieties. For a greater variety, try going to an online source. I think I got these purple ones from Territorial Seed.


Lack of water impeding late season gardening efforts

By Penny Stine
Monday, October 20, 2014

I’ve been periodically checking the three Brussels Sprouts plants I have in various places in the garden, but no little sprouts have formed anywhere. The plants are pretty big, but they’re not doing much.

I think they really could stand a little more water than they’ve received, but for some reason, we don’t have enough flowing in our ditch to run our sprinklers. They haven’t turned off the water yet in my neck of the irrigation woods, so I don’t know what’s going on.

The lack of water may finally convince those big green tomatoes still on the vine to ripen, but the Swiss chard, kale, carrots, kohlrabi, peppers, tomatillos and these sprouts aren’t too happy about it. Or at least that’s what they told me.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping the 50 percent chance of rain for tomorrow turns into a good soak for the garden.

I’m also hoping that these itsy bitsy little sprouts (they’re currently so small that you can’t even see them where the leave breaks off from the stalk, but really, they’re there - and they’re about 1 centimeter across) have an “aha!” moment and decide to grow bigger.  


One more way to use kale

By Penny Stine
Friday, October 17, 2014

I think I must have the perfect growing conditions for kale and tomatillos. I told myself I was going to figure out something that combined the two, but so far, I haven’t done anything inspiring that uses both. I have been dreaming up new uses for them separately, including this kale and picked beet salad I made last night.
In addition to the pickled beets, I also put in a bunch of blue cheese, some dried cherries and a few ground cherries from the garden, a splash of olive oil and a glug of the pickled beet juice. The vinegar in the pickling juice helps to take the bite out of the kale. Simply delish.  


Red flannel hash

By Penny Stine
Friday, October 10, 2014

Yesterday was rainy and cool, and I decided to try something new called red flannel hash for dins last night. How appropriate, given the weather. I found it when I was looking for something interesting to do with the two beets I found in the garden.



There were several different recipes for it online, but the recurring theme was beets and potatoes. I decided to include onions, garlic, half a chile, some greens, as well as two beets and both purple and Yukon gold potatoes, all of which I picked from the grocery store growing in my garden.

I chopped them all into fairly large chunks, which I prefer in hash. My husband said he’d prefer that I use my blender to chop everything, but my blender works too well. It would be a hash smoothie, and I don’t think that would be tasty.


We smoked a beef brisket last weekend, and I decided the last of the leftover brisket would be perfect in the hash, so I chopped it, too. 

I boiled the potatoes and beets first, just to get them tender and partially cooked. Then I sautéed onions, garlic and chiles and threw in beef, potatoes and beets. When everything was done and well-mixed and beets and taters were soft, I added the greens and a bunch of green onions.
When hubby came home, I poached eggs on top. I also threw on more green onions because I have them growing everywhere in my garden.
Hubby said it tasted better than he was anticipating. His patience for my culinary adventures knows no bounds. He had seconds, so I know he wasn’t just whistling Dixie. He did think the look of it was rather unappealing, but I thought it merely looked like red and green checked flannel. (I took the pic before I added the greens - the addition of the greens was even more colorful!)

I thought it was really tasty, and was quite happy to bring leftover red flannel hash for lunch, although in my head, I keep hearing that silly Toby Keith song about red solo cup whenever I think about my lunch.  


Tomatillos produce like crazy in the fall

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I started growing tomatillos several years ago. Once you have them in one section of your garden, your chances of them reappearing in that section are great. It’s impossible to pick them all at the end of the season and they’re full of seeds. The seeds don’t mind the freezing ice and snow of winter and sprout whenever it’s warm enough in the spring.

I’ve been growing tomatillos in this bed for at least five years and have to pick them almost daily right now. If they get too ripe, split the skin or fall to the ground, the bugs start eating them.
The first year I grew them, I tried to use them raw. Not really a great idea, although I do toss a few in my morning smoothie now and then without regretting it.
Then I made a peach/tomatillo salsa in the summer and started canning them with tomatoes, to make a Mexican flavored tomato base in the fall.
This year, I’m trying to experiment more with cooking them. I made a chicken tomatillo soup with lime last weekend that was really good. I think my phone was charging, so I didn't take a pic. Last night, I tried them in a frittata.
The key to cooking with them is cutting them into smaller sections. These are not small enough. There were a couple of large chunks of tomatillo in my frittata last night that were just a tad too bitter.
In addition to tomatillos, I started with onions, garlic, half of a chile and a small sweet pepper. Once the tomatillos were soft, I added chopped Swiss chard, chopped green onions and cilantro.
After I took the pick, I added four beaten eggs, then topped it with some Mexican cheese and let it cook on the stove for another 4 - 5 minutes before I put it in the oven (at 400) and let the cheese melt and the eggs firm up for another 4 - 5 minutes. I served it with avocado slices on top, along with some poblano salsa I made over the weekend. 
Pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. My husband didn’t say anything bad about it, but I could tell it wasn’t his fave. Tomatillos are an acquired taste, and he’s still acquiring it. He thought the tomatoes and cottage cheese were awesome, though. Admittedly, it is kinda hard to screw that one up! 

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