Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The November 2008 issue of Sunset magazine had some great recipes that tied in perfectly with what is growing in the garden.

One of the more interesting ideas was cooking a whole turkey on the barbecue grill. We have done this twice now and it has turned out great. It also frees up the oven and gets Ed out of the house. The turkey cooks at a constant 350 degrees so some degree of supervision is required.







This particular recipe requires a juniper berry and sage rub. I also basted it with olive oil and fresh sage. The trick to the whole thing is to keep a pan of water underneath the grill. This catches the drips and reduces flare-ups. The bird comes out moist and smokey.


I also made stuffing with kale and used parsnips in the turkey stock. I planted my parsnips in my concrete block planter this year, thinking that it would be perfect for the deep rooted plants. They grew fine, but digging them out has been a challenge. There isn't a lot of room between the blocks to get my hand around the root. I end up doing a lot of excavating but have been able to pull them out.

From Thanksgiving

Dinner was fabulous and then I found another job for Ed.

I think I'll keep him.



Monday, November 24, 2008

Persimmon Dilemma

I moved into this house about ten years ago. The previous owner had forgone the lawn and instead tried to landscape it into an edible, Asian-inspired healing garden. One of the items she had planted was a Fuyu persimmon.

It was a cute little thing, not much higher than the grass that had grown around it. I weeded and gave it some water. The next year it rewarded me with one persimmon. Not to be discouraged, I continued to nurture it the next year. It thrived and put on several feet in height. That fall we had a wind storm and the thing cleaved in half. I dutifully sawed it up and chipped it into mulch.


I was a little distraught - I love persimmons, but figured I would just replace it in a few months when fruit trees were available. In March I went out to dig up the stump to prepare for the new tree, when I noticed it was sprouting new growth. There is nothing like a stump trying to come to life that tugs at me more. I let it grow.


The result is that I now have a persimmon tree that fruits. It must be some sort of wild root stock because the fruit is acorn-sized. They taste just like a regular persimmon but you have to eat about 100 to get the same serving size. I usually graze as far as I can reach and then leave the rest to the birds.


However, the tree is now approaching 20 feet and shows no sign of slowing down. Wild American persimmons grow to 80 feet. This thing is growing in front of my house and has already shown that it's easy to blow down. I could top it and try to keep it small, but I hate hacking on a tree and ruining it's form (although I don't seem to mind torturing my apples into an espalier.)


I need to make a decision. I have procrastinated on this for two years now. And dang it, if the fruit isn't the biggest it's ever been. They are the size of a walnut this year. It's a pretty tree...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beets!




Here we are almost at the end of November and we just now got a frost here in Springfield, Oregon. Finally! Maybe I can catch up on my weeding. I love living in the Willamette Valley but sometimes I'd like a little break from all this verdant fecundity.




I harvested some beets yesterday and plan on making them into soup.


I am growing the variety Bull's Blood. They are fabulous. The foliage is a beautiful maroon color and the beets are not too sweet. I planted them very close together. The beets that were thinned out ended up in salad or stir fry. This allowed for the beet itself to grow.

Of course, the problem with all that overcrowding is that some start coming out of the ground.


They are growing in raised beds. The soil is from my compost bin and I have added grass clippings as top dressing all summer. This has made the beds very friable and it is easy to pull the beets when I am ready to eat them.

I have cooked the beets a variety of ways. During the summer when it was too hot to bake I just sliced them up and threw them into the stir-fry. Now that the weather is cooler I have been roasting them. I cut their tops and root off, then give them a good scrub. Next I pop them into a baking dish and brush them with olive oil. I bake them in the oven at 350 F for about an hour. I peel them after they are cooled.
Next they go into the sauce pot with some chicken broth. I use my immersion blender to puree. Once it's heated, it's ready to eat! On the yard food scale it's about 75% pure yard food. Now that's living.