Monday, December 27, 2010

Dark Days Challenge, 2010 - Week 4

This week's challenge was a smoothie.  I'm going to try to eat more fruit this year.  I like fruit, I just don't eat that much of it.  This smoothie had strawberries from Homestead Farms and peaches from Farmer Allan.  Well, the peaches came from the orchard that is next to Farmer Allan's land.  I added some of the rhubarb concentrate made a few days ago along with milk from South Mountain Creamery.    I also put in a glob of honey from my mother's bees.

Hunk of peaches

Frozen berries

Mom's honey


Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Book Reads

2010 was filled with my usual themes:  mysteries, baseball, young adult.  Throw in lots of gardening, financial, getting into college, teen psychology and food related books that I didn't write down.  That about sums it up.  Here is what I read in chronological order for 2010. At least, this is what I wrote down in my little notebook.  Checking my inter-library loan history shows I read many more books.   (The * books were read for the mother/daughter book club)


Heat, Bill Buford
Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle *
The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson


The Whatchamacallit, Danny Danziger
Chefs on the Farm, Shannon Borg
Dogtown, Elyssa East
Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
The Rider, Tim Krabbe
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson


Less is more, embracing simplicity for a healthy planet, Wanda Urbanska


The Dead Beat, Marilyn Johnson
Emma, Jane Austen *
The Devil's Star, Jo Nesbo
Anatomy of Baseball, Lee Gutkind


Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie *
Rapunzel's Revenge, Shannon Hale
The Redeemer, Jo Nesbo


The Monster of Florence, Magdalen Nabb
The Snowman, Jo Nesbo
Bury My Heart at Cooperstown: Salacious, Sad and Surreal Deaths in the History of Baseball, Frank Russo


The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing, Tarquin Hall
The Double Comfort Safari Club, Alexander McCall Smith
Maus, Art Spiegelman *
Calamity Jack, Dean Hale


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith *
Cherry Cheesecake Murder, Joanne Fluke


Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon
Hunger Games, Suzanne Colllins *


The Corpse in the Koryo, James Church
Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman, Eleanor Updale
Montmorency on the Rocks, Eleanor Updale


The Princess Bride, William Goldman
A Northern Light, Jennfer Donnelly *
Montmorency and the Assassins, Eleanor Updale
Montmorency's Revenge, Eleanor Updale
Bryant and May off the Rails, Christopher Fowler


Mini-farming on a 1/4 acre, Brett Markham
Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev *
In the Woods, Tana French
Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End, Leig GW Persson

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's blooming Dec 23

Not a whole heck of a lot!  The only thing left is ornamental grass and even that, I chopped down this morning, in anticipation of the supposed snow storm coming this weekend.

My seed catalogs are coming so the next couple of months will be spent planning.  This year I am going to try to start some seeds (tomatoes, broccoli and maybe some others).  I'm also redesigning the median strip and getting rid of all the tall plants.  My neighbors are tactful in telling me it's a pain to get out of their cars into the jungle.



The bottom two grasses were chopped down this morning.

Winter Jasmine.  Hard to see the buds here but this will start to bloom in Jan with a couple of warmish days.  It's the first to bloom.


Dark Days Challenge, 2010 - Week 3

This week's Dark Days Challenge wasn't a meal but more of an apertif.   I dug out the bag of chopped rhubarb (from my garden) from the back of the freezer and decided to make a concentrate, to drink with seltzer.  I made this at the beginning of the summer and thought it was delicious.

I put the chopped rhubarb in a pot with water and sugar.  Brought to the boil and simmer until the fruit was soft.  Strain through a sieve.

Resulting concentrate

Combined with seltzer (bottled in PA, I count that as local!)

Opened the fridge this morning to find a message from my son

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How did my garden grow?

My friend over at Nyack Backyard wrote a post back in the spring on grading her garden.  Here's my attempt to remember what I planted and how they all did

Leeks, planted in the fall, harvested in the summer.
           The leeks did okay.  Most of them were pretty woody - lots of thick stem that needed to be cut out.  My garden friend, Edouard, started leeks this summer and we transplanted them in September.  I think I need to mound up the dirt more on them.

Peas.  Dakota and Canoe 
           The peas did not do as well as last year.  There were peas, but I think our spring was too hot too fast and they didn't produce as well as they have in the past.  Also planted snow peas which again did not produce very well.  Peas are cool weather plants so the hot weather so early did them in.

Radishes: Gourmet Rainbow Mix
          Radishes always do well.  I let many of them go to flower because they are pretty and the bugs love them.

Chard: Five Colored Silverbeet
          Chard did ok and believe it or not, it's  still growing.  The bugs ate them alot.
Mustard: Kyoto Mizuna
           I love Mizuna.  It's grows very well.  I replanted it in Sept and it does great in the cool weather.
Spinach: Bordeaux Red-Stemmed
           This spinach was lovely but barely gave me a crop.  Again, I think the hot weather in April did it in,
Spinach: Regal
           I don't remember how this did but I did not get that much spinach this year.

Lettuce: London Springs Lettuce Mix
Lettuce: Yugoslavian Red
          Lettuce did great.  I always cut when small, like microgreens.
Arugula: Seeds bought at local Italian market
          I didn't like this type of arugula.  It was very bitter.

Broccoli Raab, Cima di Rapa 
          This was also done in by hot weather.  It bolted pretty quickly and didn't really develop any little broccoli type shoots.
Broccoli, DiCicco 
          Disaster.  I seeded these and did it too late.  The broccoli plants grew large but no broccoli.  This winter I will try starting them inside.

Beets, Chiogga.
         I love these beets.  These did very well although I didn't really have enough to pickle.

Cucumbers,  pickling and regular
         The cukes were the most successful plants in the garden this year.  I must have gotten 100 lbs of cukes!  I'm kidding but the cukes were stars.

         My tomatoes didn't do much at all. I tried one of those upside down planters and it didn't work.  The tomatoes were planted in the shadiest part of the garden this year and it showed.  The cherry tomatoes did well but to be honest I don't remember buying cherries.  These may have been volunteers.

Potatoes, Desiree and German Butterball
        Potatoes always do well and there were no exception.  Tons of potatoes.

        I planted these last Oct because the packet said they would winter over in my zone 7.  They did not, however, survive all the snow we got in Feb so I replanted in March.  The yield was ok, not great.  Favas are my new favorite legumes, so I will try these again this year

Green beans
    The green beans did very well.  I planted the filet kind and put in multiple plantings so there were beans all summer.  My gardening neighbor gave me some purple Italian pole beans that were delicious so this year I will try growing pole beans along my fence.

    Carrots always do well and this year was not an exception. Had enough to pickle and vacuum seal.

Sweet potatoes
    Nothing could compare to last year's  harvest.  This year the harvest was good but not nearly as prolific as last year.

Winter squash - amber cup
    I planted this squash a little later than usual because I was trying to stave off the bugs.  The bugs still came but several squashes were harvested.  Overall, this did well.

Summer squash, zucchini
    This did very well.  Plenty of zucchini.

    Garlic is planted in Nov and harvested in June or July.  It's now Dec and I'm still working on a great pile of garlic from the summer. 

Fennel - did not sprout, seeds may have been old

    I think I'm going to give up on peppers.  None of the plants did well, maybe because they were in the section of the garden that gets the least amount of sun.  I don't like the run of the mill green peppers so I usually plant banana and a couple of other kinds of red peppers but nothing really did well.

    Shallots did great.  Lots and lots of them.

    Also did great. I have a freezer full of them, waiting to be used.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dark Days Challenge, 2010 - Week 2

I know, I just posted on Monday my first meal and it's only 3 days later for week 2.  The challenge started on Dec 1, a Wed - so by all accounts, I'm into week 2.

Chicken with broccoli and sunchokes

This fall, I purchased a chicken share from farmer Allan.  This means, as of today, there are 6 whole chickens in the freezer.  He gets them from an Amish farmer in PA who from what farmer Allan tells me, employs all the right methods in raising them.  They are pretty tasty chickens.  I took one out of the freezer a few days ago to thaw and roasted it last night.

Ever since Sean and I watched the show with Jacques and Julia deboning the turkey, I've been fascinated with cutting apart a chicken.  Last spring, Sean and I took a knife skills class and the last part of the session was cutting apart a whole chicken.  You tube is a fabulous source for videos on how to butterfly or spatchcock a chicken.  I've done it a couple of times now and last night, I went a step further and cut the leg/thigh apart from the breast.  My only problem is I only have kitchen shears for herbs and Sur la Table is having a problem re-stocking the poultry shears.

I took some butter (from South Mountain Creamery) and rub it with herbs (my garden) in and around the pieces.  Roast at 450 for about an hour.

Last weekend I went to our neighborhood farmer's market - they come from PA - and bought some broccoli and sunchokes.  Sunchokes are also called Jerusalem Artichokes and are really easy to prepare.

I cut the broccoli into pieces and steamed it lightly,  Then sauteed in olive oil (not local) and added garlic (my garden) and lemon juice (not local - I've only seen citrus trees at the US Botanic garden here in DC).  The sunchokes were coated in hazelnut oil (again, not local) and roasted for about 20 min.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dark Days Challenge, 2010 - Week 1

This morning was my first meal in the Dark Days Challenge.    I am thawing a heritage chicken as I write for later in the week but since this  morning is cold and blustery, I decided to make an old standby for the first meal.

Grits with butter and sausage.

The grits are from a place in Raphine, Virginia called Wade's Mill.    A friend of mine recommended this place last year for the challenge when I was searching for a source of local flour.  I did buy flour, grits and corn meal this year although the flour is mostly sourced from the midwest.  Close enough.  The grits are the best I have ever eaten, really creamy and tasty.

The bowl was topped off with some butter from my local dairy, South Mountain Creamery.  I get a weekly delivery of milk along with butter, buttermilk, eggs, cider, cheese or whatever else looks good for the week.

The sausage comes from the 1/4 of a hog I bought from Farmer Allan.  He runs the CSA I've participated in for several years.    The tale of the hog delivery is in a previous post. 

The breakfast was delicious if not exactly low fat and low calorie.  Time to leave to walk to work!