Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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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.
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.
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!
By Penny Stine
Monday, October 6, 2014
I love homegrown honeydew melons. When they’re fresh-picked at the perfect time, the taste is unbelievable. Knowing that right time is not my strong suit.
Because they’re so disappointing if you pick them too soon, my tendency this year has been to wait and wait and wait some more. (Which is why I’m picking and writing about melons in October, rather than the hot days of July and August, when they would have tasted oh, so refreshing.)
On Saturday, I noticed that one of the smaller ones that I’d been keeping an eye on had split, which means it was ready to be picked the day before it split.
Obviously, the ants noticed it and got there first.
I was going to throw the entire melon in the compost pile, but thought about how few honeydews my vines produced this year, how much I love them and how easy it would be to cut away the split and the affected parts of the melon, along with the intruding ants.
So I did.
I would never buy produce from the store that looked like this or that had ants crawling on it, but I’ve worked too hard to just toss out the 3/4 of the melon that was still perfectly fine.
Trust me, it was perfectly fine - ridiculously sweet and full of flavor.
By Penny Stine
Friday, October 3, 2014
I planted quite a few different veggies mid- to late summer, hoping for a fall crop of something. I threw some leftover carrot seeds on the ground when I was planting everything else, not really expecting anything, since they germinated so poorly in the spring.
I completely forgot that I did that, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was picking beans one day and saw the carrots growing here, in this spot where beans didn't germinate very well.
I had several carrots that went to seed in another area, so I scattered the seeds, hoping that would hang tight and germinate next spring.I think they actually sprouted and are about half an inch tall. Well, there’s something growing in that area - it’s either carrots or that invasive flower, love-in-a-mist.
Btw, gardening experts don't advise doing that - most carrots are hybrids, so you don't get true to whatever you planted in the first place. However, one year I didn't notice a carrot going to seed in a little corner, and the next year, I had the most prolific (and tasty) little carrots ever in that spot.
So I do it, regardless of all the advice telling me not to. I'm a rebel that way.
I planted quite a few kohlrabi, and a grand total of five sprouted. I had both purple and white kohlrabi seeds.
I’m pretty sure this is the purple one.
I’m pretty sure this is the white one.
Kohlrabi does well in the cold and isn’t hurt by frost. I’m hoping they actually form little kohlrabi bulbs by early November. It’s just so fun to have something yet to pick in the garden even after the first frost or after the irrigation water is off.
I've also got a few beets growing that I planted sometime in the middle of summer that should be ready by the end of October or the first of November. I planted some spinach a couple of weeks ago, hoping for a very late crop. I've seen a couple of itty bitty seedlings pop up, and then disappear by the next day. I think grasshoppers, crickets or some other bug is chomping on them before they can get established. I may have one little green thing that's spinach in the bed, but I don't think I'll get a very good fall crop of spinach.
Perhaps that's another reason why spinach planted in November that's allowed to germinate and sprout sometime in late January or February survives. The bugs are all frozen!