The Potager

The Potager

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Turnip Greens on Halloween!

  Remember last week when I picked the Turnips from the Potager and said I was going to make the greens the next day?

That would have been a good idea.

Things kept coming up and it was a week before I had time to cook them. I don't recommend that. They were a bit wilted. But a bit wilted fresh from the garden tastes better that store bought!

Turnip Leaves are normally sandy, so the first step is to remove the side leaves from the stem and wash them in a bowl of water. Mine wasn't very sandy. (I run a clean garden - haha)

Turnips are a bitter green. It helps to de-bitter them by boiling them for 8-9 minutes in salted water. In the south, they cook them with pork fat in water for an hour. It's really not necessary.

Drain turnip greens thoroughly.

I made these in between answering the door for Trick-or-Treaters. Did you know that Jack o'Lanterns originated from carved turnip lanterns made by Irish children to keep spirits away on Halloween?  I'm sure those Irish moms cooked the greens left over from the carved turnips, just like we use the seeds left over from our carved pumpkins.
So turnip greens seemed like an appropriate side dish for a Halloween dinner.
 While the greens were draining,  I toasted walnuts. I just threw them in a pan over medium heat and cooked them, turning occasionally until they looked toasted. About 4 minutes. I toasted more than I need for this recipe. The rest will go in a salad. Toasting nuts brings out the flavor.
Remove nuts to a cutting board, chop and set aside. About 1/2 cup would be plenty.
 Add extra virgin olive oil to the already warm pan, and add the turnips greens, a clove of pressed garlic and 1/2 onion, chopped . Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Saute until onion is cooked and turnips are tender, about 5 minutes.

Yummy.  Thankfully, the turnips greens still tasted fresh and delicious. Waiting a week to cook my turnip greens on Halloween gave me a treat - not a trick!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Color in the Potager

Red Merlot Lettuce with Volunteer Dill

Swiss Chard

The Lettuce Bed

The fall bed

Monday, October 25, 2010

Garlic Planting Time

This is the first year I am planting garlic. I may be going about this the wrong way. From all I've read, I should be buying garlic bulbs for planting from a gardening center. But instead I bought an extra bulb of organic garlic from the supermarket and used that.
The issue with supermarket garlic is that apparently they spray some with something that inhibits it from sprouting. I am hoping they would not do that to food they are selling as organic.
So I turned over a section of a bed, added a lot of compost, some lime and some fertilizer and separated the garlic bulb. Each clove was planted in a hole, four inches deep, about 6 inches away from the next one, pointed end up....

When I was getting the compost from my compost pile, I found a garlic starting to grow in the compost, so I planted that too!

The garlic may sprout this fall, but it will go dormant over the winter and begin to grow in earnest next spring. They will be ready to harvest in July.

"No one is indifferent to garlic. People either love it or hate it, and most good cooks seem to belong in the first group." - Faye Levy

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Today's harvest - turnips!

I have grown turnips in the past without great success, but this year, they were beautiful! I wish I had planted more.
This is my entire turnip crop.
Enough for my husband and me for one meal - actually two meals, as we will eat the turnip greens tomorrow.

 But for tonight, we are eating Maple Braised Turnips and Carrots, a favorite recipe from Jack Bishop's wonderful cookbook "Vegetables Every Day."

You need about a pound of turnips and 3 carrots. The carrots in my Potager are not mature yet, but our grocery store had organic carrots $1.00 a bag.
Peel both the turnips and the carrots.
Cut the turnips into cubes and cut the carrot into one inch sections, halved or quartered if thick.

Brown the turnips in 2 Tablespoons of butter.

Add the carrots, 2/3 cup chicken stock, 2 Tablespoons maple syrup and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer until the veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.

Uncover the pan and bring the heat up to high until the liquid in the pan reduces to a thick glaze (about 2 minutes.)

Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pickled Peppers

 Peter Piper isn't the only one who can pick a peck of pickled peppers! Trying to do something with all those jalapenos I harvested last weekend, I pickled some!

This has got to be the easiest recipe in the world.

Slice up your jalapenos and pack them tightly into a hot jar. I really mean tightly.

I didn't pack mine tightly enough and in the end could have fit three or four more jalapenos in each jar.

 Bring 2 cups of white vinegar and 2 cups of water to a simmer - do not allow to boil.

Add a garlic clove and a dash of salt to each jar. Add vinegar/water mix to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Pop on a warm lid and sunggly screw on a ring and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

You'll know the jars are sealed when the top pings and pressing on it doesn't make it move. You can check it the next day by unscrewing the ring and turning the jar upside down.

I made 3 pints of Pickled Peppers and 9 small jars of  Jalapeno Jelly.

I also made 3 1/2 pints of Green Tomato Relish/Salsa, but I forgot to take photos of that. You can find the recipe here: Farmgirl Fare Green Tomato Relish. It was tasty. We had some on our tacos with dinner.

I still have a lot of jalapenos to do something with. I plan on freezing some and maybe making some escabeche. The pantry will be full this winter!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Last night's harvest

I know it doesn't look like much. It's greek oregano (which is threatening to overtake it's bed - reminder: move out of the potager in the spring!), basil and parsley.
I had several tomatoes sitting on my counter that ripened beautifully. Inspired by this recipe:
Summer in a Bowl
I cut up the tomatoes, added some green peppers (also from the potager), some chopped onion and garlic, the chopped up herbs and a splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Basically it's a Bruschetta. Yummy enough all by itself.

But wait! Then I put it over hot spaghetti and grated fresh parmesan cheese on top.
It was delicious!
How wonderful to eat something so summery on a cool night in the middle of October!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foggy Morning Potager

The lack of vegetation and early morning fog makes it look so empty!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Afternoon in the Potager

I saw an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where she prepared a snack for her husband and they ate it in the garden. I keep telling my husband I need to expand the potager so we can fit in a small table and chairs. He thinks I'm nuts. But we did have lunch in the potager today.

Cheese, apples, some crusty bread and a local (to my daughter) wine - life is good.
(Even if it's not as pretty as the Barefoot Contessa's garden table!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Putting (part of) the Garden to Bed

While there are no frost warnings forecast, I realize that it is getting dark earlier and that if I am surprised by a frost warning, there would be no time after work to gather all my vegetables, so I decided to put my garden to bed early - well, not the fall garden obviously, but the tender annuals. This is what my garden looked like at lunch time:

And this is what was left by dinner time:

I will add lime and compost to this beds and cover them with a mulch of grass, 
but for now they look so forlorn!

However I ended up with this:
A BIG basket full of produce - I should show you the bottom layer -

That's a LOT of jalapenos! The jalapeno was the only plant that was not affected by the cooler weather we've been having.  It kept producing like mad! So I will make jellies for Christmas gifts, freeze some for winter chilies and ...who knows what else?  I'll let you know what I do with it all!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Green Tomato Bread

Green Tomato Bread

There has been plenty of rain and not much to do in the garden, so early this morning I decided to do something with those green tomatoes I had harvested. I decided to make Green Tomato Bread!

I started by cutting up the green tomatoes to go into the food processer (a blender would work too). I cut up four tomatoes.
 The cut up tomatoes were processed to a mush.

The mush was drained of it's liquid. I ended up with 2 cups of the drained mush, which is what you want.

The resulting mush juice went into my compost pile. There has got to be a ton of nutrients in that!
 In a large mixing bowl, I mixed together 2 cups of white sugar, 1 cup of oil (I used Canola) and 3 eggs slightly beaten.
 When that was mixed I added 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 3 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg.

I mixed this in with the egg mixture.

At this point I was thinking I should have used my stand mixer. It is a very thick batter at this point.

Then I added 2 cups of the green tomato mush and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the batter loosened up a bit and was much easier to stir by hand.

I then stirred in 1 cup of chopped walnuts. This is totally optional. If you don't like nuts, leave them out.
 It was suggested to me that raisins would be good in this bread also. So if you like raisins you could add 1 cup of raisins in addition to or instead of the nuts.

 Divide batter between two bread pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour or until done. Let cool in pans for a bit before you take them out.

Voila! A beautiful loaf of Green Tomato Bread!

It was really very good! Try some.. it's a great way to use up those green tomatoes that may not be in good enough shape for ripening indoors.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Potager

 The face of the Potager has changed. It's getting cooler and Tropical Storm Nicole knocked over some plants, so it was time to give the garden a fall clean up.

The two large Ugli tomato plants were knocked to the ground by the storm. I picked off the green tomatoes and took the plants out. I'll let the healthiest looking green tomatoes ripen indoors. The other will be chopped up and made into something yummy.

The empty space where the tomato plants dwelled was refreshed with lime, fertilizer and compost and some more asparagus was dug up from the old bed that was destroyed and put in. Now the Asparagus bed is full, as I planned it and should remain undisturbed for the next 20 years or so.
Unfortunately for us, we won't be eating any Asparagus from our garden for a few years. But the fond memory of how wonderful the fresh Asparagus tasted will give us the patience to wait for it.

The turnips and radishes are getting big and the beets and swiss chard are looking good too.
I'm not sure if the carrots will get big before the first frost, but this whole box is liking the cooler nights.
 I love Mums. The Zinnias had done their duty in the garden. They needed to be removed. The mums add a pop of color instantly.
Mums are perennials and would come back in the spring if I were to leave them there, but I am planning on treating these like annuals and tossing them once they die back.

The bell peppers are doing really well with the cooler temperatures. They are producing dozens of flowers which I will remove so all the energy can go into these peppers before the first frost.

 The jalapenos are heavy with peppers. I'm hoping to make more jelly and freeze some for use during the winter.

The basil will continue until the first frost. It will be completely picked before then and made into pesto for the freezer.
The parsley, or what's left of it after the caterpillars, will be available until Thanksgiving, and then should survive as a cutting until Christmas. I've never had luck digging the plant and keeping inside.

And lastly the lettuce is getting bigger daily, as is the volunteer dill. The red leafed Merlot lettuce has all come up, most of the Black Seeded Simpson is up and getting big, but only about a third of the Little Gem Romaine has come up and is growing very slowly. I'll cover the lettuce when a light frost is predicted, but will have to rig up some kind of a cold frame to give them more time to mature.
I can't believe how quickly this gardening season is passing!

"There ought to be gardens for all months in the year,
in which, severally, things of beauty may be then in season."
Sir Francis Bacon