Monday, October 31, 2011

2011 Harvest Totals & Thoughts

Closed for the season: this guy spends his winter as a boot guard at our front door.
The garden is closed and packed away for the year. A midst a weekend of both rain and snow (very early for Boston) Gail and I hurriedly closed down the garden and finished winterizing on Sunday. It's a bit on the early side, but the weather has been crazy & I have lots going on with work and life, and there wasn't much left to do. For record keeping purposes here is a look at this year's harvest/
2011 Harvest Totals:
Arugula: 2.45 oz
Basil: 2.21 lbs
Carrots: 4.18 lbs
Dill: 1.35 oz
Garlic: 1.11 lbs
Horseradish: 1.44 lbs
Huckleberry: 1.80 lbs
Lettuce: 1.96 lbs
Kale: 1.53 lbs
Marjoram: 2.35 oz
Mesclun Greens: 11.95 oz
Mint: 1.0 oz
Parsley: 1.35 oz
--Bell 3.87 lbs
--Cubanelle 2.63 lbs
--Gypsy 1.89 lbs
--Jalapeno 2.63 lbs
--Wax 3.68 lbs
Radish: 1.48 lbs
Rosemary: 3.00 oz
Sage: 7.60 oz
Scallions: .85 oz
Swiss Chard: 11.45 oz
Tomato: 29.38 lbs
Walking Onion 7.45 oz
2011 Total: 64.57 lbs (1033.19)
This is just a hair over last year's total of 63.84 lbs! Between the 2 growing season's the quantities were vastly different in some cases, and almost the same in others.
There were a few total failures this year:  no beets, broccoli, bush beans, dry beans,  leeks, & zucchini grew at all this year.
The failures were offset with some great success's. The carrots, chives, horseradish, huckleberry, peppers, radish, sage, and tomatoes did really well. I won't be growing the huckleberries next year - they tasted downright terrible fresh, though they have a much better taste cooked with sugar for jam purposes they were a nice addition for my cranberry jalapeno jam. I still have some frozen, along with cranberries for another batch next year! I over planted horseradish and took home more then enough for the condiment and for re-planting!
I was happy with the walking onions, and will continue replanting some! Most of the herbs did really well too, especially the sage which really took off.
This year was a hectic but fun season gardening and I am already planning for next years season!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Italian Feather Bread

submitted to Yeastspotting
Back in May when Gail and I made cheese we had some leftover whey that we decided to save for me to try and make some bread with. We ended up freezing it in a mason jar so I could make the bread when I was ready rather then right away. As fall has hit us hard, practically running into winter with an early snow flurry, and a few inches in the forecast for  tonight I find myself willing to make more. Earlier in the week I thawed the whey in preparation for making bread.
A loaf cut in half.
We ended up with 2 loaves of delicious crust bread that was just the right balance of density and fluff. Nothing beats warm bread on a cold day, which held true as Gail and I split half a loaf on the spot to enjoy with our lunch!
Italian Feather Bread (with whey)
makes 2 loaves
2 packages active dry yeast (or equivalent)
1 Tbls granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup hot whey (or milk)
2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
 Stir the yeast, sugar, and warm water together in a large bowl. Let sit until yeast dissolves and begins to proof. While waiting for mixture to proof melt the butter in the hot whey and let cool to lukewarm. Add salt, and combine with yeast mixture.
Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, adding the flour 1 cup at a time, until the dough almost comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board. Use a scraper or spatula to scrape under the flour and dough, fold the dough over, and press with your free hand.
continue until the dough has absorbed enough flour to be easy to handle. Knead 2-4 minutes, keeping your hands well floured.  When the dough is soft and smooth, let it rest for 5 minutes, then divide in two.
Roll each half into a rectangle about 12'' x 8". Start from the wide end, roll this up quite tightly, pinchign the seams as you roll.
Butter one or two baking sheets well and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the loaves on the sheets, and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 50-60 minutes. Brush with beaten egg white and bake in a preheated 425 F oven 30-40 minutes, or until the loaves are a deep golden color and make a hollow sound when you tap with your knuckles.
Cool on a rack and slice when quite fresh.
My lunch was a plate of Jarlsberg, Smith's Farmstead medium cheddar, feather bread, & a trio of pates - accompanied with a homemade pickle and a horseradish mustard mixture. The trio of pates were leftovers from Friday night. Gail and I had an early dinner after work at Petit Robert Central before seeing Blitzen Trapper in concert (which was awesome!) Our service and stellar were both spectacular. We each enjoyed a crock of delicious french onion soup, while she had salad and I had a pate trio as my main. The pates were a chicken liver, a pork liver, and a mix of pork and chicken liver. They are all made in-house and have distinct and rich flavors. Despite my claim that I did not want the leftovers, our busboy packed them up for me anyway. Boy am I glad he did, the leftovers made a great lunch!
Cheese, Bread, Trio of Pate's & accompaniments 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hearty Beef Stew

diced leftover brisket ready for the crockpot
With so much leftover brisket and carrots from Saturday's great taste of fall dinner I had to find a way to use some of the leftover brisket because there is no way I could eat so many leftovers, no matter how hard I tried!!
I went for the obvious and easy choice: Beef Stew!
On Tuesday afternoon while working form home I fired up the crock pot and made a pot of hearty beef stew.
nice and hearty
 No recipe needed here.Very simple stew: leftover brisket diced, leftover roasted carrots, diced potatoes, onion, garlic, beef stock, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, & a dash of black pepper.  I saved most of the jus/gravy from the briskets and used some as the base of my beef stock. After 5-6 hours in the crock pot  the final product was perfect on a chilly fall night.  The original brisket, and resulting beef stew was good enough that even Gail, a  longtime vegetarian helped herself to a small portion!
the beef stew goes great with a heel of bread 
Over the course of the week Gail and I both slowly progressed to feeling fairly shitty. A nice hot bowl of stew really hit the spot. The remaining couple of portions have found their way into the freezer for enjoyment later in the winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Celebrating Fall...with Dinner.

I love fall. It is my favorite season. Having lived my entire life in New England or central New York state I am mesmerized each and ever year when the trees slowly transform from fields of green to rich pools of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns, while temperatures slowly drop and the air develops a crisp cool bite.
This year is a different story though, it's really come upon me unexpectedly. For me it's been a combination of the weather playing tricks on us and an extremely busy September & October. I managed to carve out enough time to harvest the last of it all and began putting things to bed for the winter. Some leaves and straw here, a nice weeding and digging there.
With garden work winding down and temperatures I turn from growing and eating fresh to savoring the abundance of the fall harvest and enjoying our supply of preserved goods that help us eat real local foods throughout the winter.
This past weekend Gail and I had some friends of ours for a fall (and slightly Jewish) inspired dinner that featured a combination of ingredients harvested from the garden, the Brookline Farmers Market, our stock of frozen and canned goods, and even a little bit from the grocery store (ha!).
It was a wonderful catching up with friends we hadn't seen, and enjoying a delicious meal full of fall flavors.
Fred & Gail's Fall Celebration Dinner:
Snack Plate
  • crackers & herb garlic capri from Westfield Farm.
  • carrots from the garden, fall cucumbers and radish from farms at the brookline farmers market.
  • plain hummus from Samira's Homemade of belmont, ma 
  • green bean & zucchini relish, our first taste of the batch we made back in august.
  • fresh baked rosemary & sage bread with rosemary & sage from the garden.
  • Stillman's Farm butternut squash puree 
  • Kimball Farm roasted carrots with thyme and garlic
  • noodle kugel (super market)
  • brisket Au jus and fresh made horseradish. The two (yes there were 2) briskets I made were from River Rock Farm purveyors of fine farm raised natural beef, and home to my absolute favorite burger patties. The fresh horseradish sauce came from the roots I harvested on Friday as part of Monday's final harvest (click the link for a good picture of a big part of the horseradish harvest).

Quite an ambitions meal for a kitchen barely able to fit 2 of us and all our kitchen clutter. I found myself up early for a Saturday morning baking bread and cake in what would prove to be a full day of oven use. The final product was well worth it. Here is a look at the snack plate & main event, followed by recipe info and a few more pics.
No Brisket recipe. I am keeping it a secret because it was passed down to me by Gail's 90-year old grandmother who makes the most incredible brisket I have ever had the pleasure to eat. If I were on death row her brisket would be my final meal. A secret like that is worth keeping.

hummus, cukes/radish/carrot, bread, green bean & zucchini relish, herb garlic goat cheese
kugel, carrots, butternut squash puree, brisket with jus & fresh made horseradish
Recipe Info
Snack Plate
     Green Bean & Zucchini Relish canned in August. Our first taste! It had a really nice subtle flavor. I loved it! (click link for recipe)
     Rosemary & Sage Bread
This bread doesn't require a lot of effort, but it takes some time so save it for the weekend.
3 cups flour
1 packet (1/4 oz) or equivalent instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
at least 1 tbsp rosemary
at least 1 tbsp sage
olive oil for brushing
Combine flour, yeast, salt and chopped herbs in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be a little sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest For 4 hours at warm room temperature (I had it on the counter near the oven which was warming up)
Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; folding it over onto itself twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 more minutes.
While resting, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot ( a 3 1/2 or 4 qt le cruset dutch oven is perfect for this) in oven as it heats.
When the dough is read, carefully remove the hot pot from the oven, drop the dough in, and shake a few times to allow the dough to settle.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake an additional 25or 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Brush with olive oil and a gentle sprinkle of salt. 
Let Cool.
Here's a look at the bread fresh out of the oven, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with a pinch of salt:

     Butternut Squash Puree follow the link for the recipe I used. I made this ahead and let it sit in the ceramic casserole dish it was served in. I added a spoonful of maple syrup while it rested, and then set it in the oven while the brisket finished off for about 30 minutes until it was warm.
     Roasted Carrots with Thyme & Garlic from Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl
     Noodle Kugel from the Kosher Gourmet Cookbook
     Horseradish made with roots harvested less then 24 hours earlier from my garden. Standard recipe of grated  horseradish root and a bit of vinegar. I will be posting more about horseradish later.
      Brisket made with care following Charlotte Michaelson Frank's original recipe, which was really great for my first attempt and something I'm really excited to perfect in the future.
Below is a photo of the butternut squash puree & the smaller brisket:

   Apple & Honey Cake from Fresh Flavors From Israel
   for a 10 in/26 cm spring-form pan
For the topping:
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 in slices.
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup warm apple juice (I used warm cider)
2 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1) Preheat oven to 350 F
2) Prepare the topping:  cover the bottom and walls of the pan with oil. Sprinkle on a uniform coating of the brown sugar. Arrange apples in one dense layer at the bottom of the spring-form pan.
3) Prepare the cake: beat the eggs with the brown sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add oil and honey and beat until smooth. Add the warm apple juice (cider) and mix well.
4) In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon , and cloves. Add to the eggs and honey batter and mix until just combined. Once mixed pour batter over pan.
5) Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs sticking. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan over a large flat serving plate, release the spring and gently lift off the ring. Serve at room temperature.

This time when I made the cake I remembered to adjust the time and temperature for a thicker cake, after I tried this recipe last fall and produced a cake with a very gooey center. This time it was baked to perfection, if anything it was a tad dry. Regardless of that, it certainly looked great:

It was an abundance of delicious food that highlighted many fall flavors. All of us ended the evening with full stomachs and big smiles!
What are you cooking that highlights the flavors and feel of fall??

Monday, October 24, 2011

Final Harvest Monday 10/24/2011

It's that time, the final harvest for 2011 was this past week. Aside from some leftover herbs we also harvested a fairly nice pile of horseradish:
The root on the far left of the above photo was definitely the biggest, coming in at about 6 ounces, it was about the size of a fairly large parsnip! I managed to save 8 good sized roots to plant  and pass on to others as well.
All in all I was able to pull nearly 1.4 lbs of horseradish root out of the ground!!! Given how deep the roots went, I don't think I managed to get them all, and it wouldn't surprise me if there were a few volunteer horseradish plants popping up next year.
Here's what made up the final harvest for 2011:
Chives 5.00 oz
Dill .35 oz
Marjoram .90 oz
Rosemary .75 oz
Sage 1.65 oz
Horseradish 1.3875 lbs (22.20 oz)
Total for the week: 1.93 lbs (30.85 oz)
Total for the 2011 growing season: 64.57 lbs!!
Just a hair under 3/4 of a pound more then we grew last year, which makes Gail very happy! I will have a recap and breakdown posted sometime next week.
All that is left to do in our little plot is clean up and put the garden to bed!

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We're Famous!! (not really)

Back in May I posted about our trip to Ricki Carroll's day long Cheese Making 101 and in early June a post about our subsequent raw milk/cheese making adventure appeared. Well, earlier this week I was checking my email and saw that I haad received Ricki Carroll's monthly moosletter! As I was scrolling through it I saw 2 familiar looking faces:

On the right of the photo, the lovely lady in the front is Gail and the guy next to her in the baseball cap is yours truly! What a pleasent surprise and great reminder for us to get back to our cheesemaking fun!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Long overdue harvest update! Monday October 10 2011

It's been a while! Due to traveling for weddings, Jewish holidays, and family gatherings we've barely had time to do much gardening and harvesting, but over the last 2 or 3 weeks we managed to harvest a nice little haul, including the below picture of our wonderful carrots that Gail and I are incredibly proud of! We pulled these up yesterday afternoon after some serious weeding. 
After many trials and tribulations we successfully harvested some really wonderful carrots, and not just 1 or 2, but a few pounds worth!!! I also pulled my 'tester' horseradish plant, it was the smallest of the lot because it was shaded out by the rest of the horseradish plants and other herbs, but it gives me hope - the remaining plants were easily 3 or 4 times larger then this one, so hopefully the roots will be a little bigger then what we brought home.

No complaints though, I still get to make a wee bit of horseradish with the 'tester' roots!

 Below is a look at the rest of the harvest over the past few weeks:
Swiss Chard: 11.45 oz
Tomato: 6.95 lbs (111.25 oz)
Radish: 2.65 oz
Carrots: 3.725 lbs (59.60 oz)
Rosemary: 1.25 oz
Dill: 1.0 oz
Sage: 2.35 oz
Mint. .10 oz
Horseradish .85 oz
Total for the last few weeks: 11.90 lbs (190.5 oz)
Total for the season: 62.75 lbs (1004.10 oz)

We are inching closer to last years total of 63.84 lbs. With only some herbs & horseradish plants left it is going to be a very close call if we hit the mark, but we are so close it feels good that we grew approximately the same amount in different quantities this year!