Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CSA Week 20

Sorry for my absence from this place as of late. I just needed a little break from blog writing. The creative juices have not been flowing and I was even boring myself.

Today pictures, because the pictures say it all.

November 11 and tomatoes (from the hoophouse). Also hot peppers, eggplants or tomatillos, carrots, jerusalem artichokes, jelly melons, watermelon radishes, greens(mustards, arugula, chard, kale, sorrel), savoury mint and leaf celery

Have a wonderful evening, my friends.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CSA Week 17 and Sugar Beet Latkes

My house has turned into a jungle over the past few days.
About 2 weeks ago I dug up 3 African Blue basil plants, a number of peppers, rosemary,House tomatoes, sweet marjoram, a geranium, Amish Cockscomb and a few more that I couldn't bear the thought of parting with via the sure death that is frost.

They lived in my garage for a while as they adjusted to the pots and the lower light levels, and as of last night, they came all the way in.
Some are under lights, some are in the front window and I'm hoping that my cats will be gentle on everything.
The chickens enjoyed having the plants in the garage, scratching at the dirt, pecking at my sad little impatiens as though they were the only plants in the world.
Of course they had everything, absolutely everything available to them to peck, but my treasured little plants were their focus.
I'm hoping I can keep them all safe indoors with my cat crew.

Some of them will be starter plants for a new crop next year.
In a few months I'll start taking cuttings from the rosemary and basil, and begin all kinds of new plants, some for my garden, maybe some for yours. One season leads into another and I'm already thinking of 2015.
There are also a few more gaping holes in the garden too.
My little mustards, arugula, salads and chards that I seeded are growing nicely in my greenhouse for winter crops.  Last year I successfully dug up a number of kale plants very carefully from outside and moved them in the hoophouse, and I've done the same this year too. I dug deep and left lots of my lovely clay attached to their roots, waiting for overcast days for a successful move.
It's been pretty successful. There have been no droopy leaves, no apparent transplant shock at all.
Instant gratification.
Todays baskets were pretty root oriented, with a continuing hit of summer....and heat.

Still a taste of tomatoes in the baskets, a good helping of peppers which survived outside because I have been careful to cover them, carrots, winter radishes, kale, thyme, rosemary, leaf celery and a sugar beet which is pretty large.
If you want to experiment with making your own sweetener with it, be my guest. You will find instructions HERE Essentially you are boiling the beets and using the sweetened water.
But sugar beets are very tasty and obviously very sweet which is why I grow them. If you boil them to eat, then use the sweet cooking water as a sweetener as a side benefit. They are also good roasted, and the greens are fully edible as well.

This recipe is adapted from "Modern Farmer"

Sugar Beet Latkes

4 cups shredded sugar beet
11/2 tsp kosher salt
pinch of cardamom or fresh herbs if preferred
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3 egg whites
olive oil for frying

Stir the shredded beets with the salt and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid.
Combine the cardamon and flour, then stir in egg whites, and the beets.
Form into patties and fry until golden brown.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Repeated from several years ago, things have changed since this post, but remained very much the same. Pickle is gone, but not ever forgotten. No one lays eggs anymore, they are beyond that. But they remain awesome, especially Ruby with her stellar personality. New family members have come on board, notably "the kittens" ,Basil Rathbone (BR) and Stella, and also Edina, Esmerelda, Alice and Charlotte, my hens who needed a new home. Love 'em all.
Happy Thanksgiving!

...for wonderful memories,

... my girls,

..my friends who need me (and I need them!)

Well, yes.  For Pickle

...for someone to cuddle.

...for small miracles,

...for diversity,

 and for the chance to do what I love.

Of course, for tomatoes....

...for beauty and...

the opportunity to carry on.
There's so much to be grateful for.

I am.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jo's Roasted Carrots

Yesterday morning, I had to actually scrape frost off the windshield.  Whenever I wake up and see frost on the ground, the FIRST person I think of is Linda.  Maybe it's becuase I live about five minutes from her, but I know my frost is her frost, and there are still So MANY unreaped crops in those fields, I can't stand the thought of them dying due to Mother Nature.

But it's that time of year, isn't it?

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and although I tend not to celebrate Hallmark holidays, I do tend to find myself visiting my parents this time of year, and usually (because my sister and I are longtime vegetarians) my mom usually makes potato skins or grilled cheese sandwiches.  It's kind of funny!  Potato skins are our best tradition.

This morning I found myself wondering what to do with two week's worth of heirloom carrots from my CSA basket.  I love carrots and eat them raw or dip them in hummus, but there were just so many.  I wanted to find a signature dish, and maybe something to share with my family.  Carrot cake, maybe?  I can't say I like carrot cake.  Google was failing me so I turned to my Fountain-Of-All-Knowledge... my friendslist on Facebook.  "Lots of colourful heirloom carrots.  Recipe ideas please!" turned into many many suggestions for roasting, with one suggesting the Jamie Oliver tactic of parboiling first and another suggestion for roasting-with-feta.

Mmmm.  Feta.  A couple of years ago, I did a blog post here for roasted beets and feta, and I'd almost forgotten how delightful it is with sweet root vegetables.  It's a bang-on combo of flavours.

My friend Jacqui actually suggested cilantro and feta, but I didn't have any cilantro in the house (oh the humanity!).  What I did have was lots of Linda's stellar parsley.  She knows I'm a parsley junkie, so tops me up most weeks.  This is the BEST part of "knowing your farmer".  I thought it was a marketing ploy when I first joined the CSA, but it's actually a magical way of being so in touch with community and your food and your body and your farmer.  It's hard to even articulate how wonderful this is.  Linda knows I'm allergic to bell peppers, so despite her bumper crops, I never get them in my basket.  She knows I make gallons of apple butter at a time, so frequently I'll get apples when no one else does.

I decided to roast those carrots up.  I had lots of potatoes, too, so roasted root vegetable day it was.  Nice chilly morning to heat up the kitchen with the oven on for 45 minutes too. I think this is the first time I've had the oven on since spring!

So I took the last heirloom onion I had floating around and plunked it in my brand new handy slicer-dicer-chopper-processor ($10 at the soon to be bankrupt XS Cargo!  Why didn't I own one of these things years ago??)  I put in all the parsley and a bit of garlic and some of Linda's rosemary too.  A nice blend of minced green mixed with some melted butter and olive oil, and I tossed in the parboiled carrots and potatoes.  Added a few generous shakes of a spice blend called "21 Spice Salute" but I'm sure a Mrs. Dash would be just fine too.

Roasted for about 40 minutes at 400F and they were delightful.  I will say that I made two trays -- one "less crowded" as per Jamie Oliver's instructions, and they almost all blackened.  The tray that I crowded steamed a little more, and came out perfect.

Top with feta, and Voila.  My new signature carrot dish.

Recipe (no measurements, as I honestly have no idea LOL):


carrots cut into bite sized pieces
small potatoes cut into bite sized pieces

parsley, minced
one small onion, minced
two or three cloves of garlic, minced
one teaspoon of rosemary
seasoning (I used Trader Joe's 21 Spice Salute, but Mrs. Dash or something like that would work fine, too)
salt and pepper to taste
butter or oil


Cut veggies into bite sized pieces and parboil in water at a rolling boil for about five minutes.  
Drain and toss in the colander to roughen the edges of the veggies.
In the pot, melt some butter or add a few tablespoons of oil and add the minced parsley, onion, garlic, rosemary and seasonings.  Mix well.
Add back the vegetables, toss and coat well, making sure all pieces are coated.
Place in single layer in a roasting pan and bake at 400F uncovered for about 30-40 minutes or until all pieces are soft when you put a fork in it.  If you like them blackened, cook longer or spread them out amongst several pans so they are less crowded.