This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Monday, November 30, 2009

saving kitchen scraps for compost

kitchen scrap bucket kitchen scraps
squirrel on the compost bucket

In previous year's I haven't been very good about saving my kitchen scraps for compost. This year I'm collecting it all. My sister gave me a really nice container for my counter. It has a good lid with a carbon insert. And outside the door, I keep a big covered bucket for emptying this container. (The squirrel would rather it didn't have a cover.) When the bucket is full, it goes out to the tumbler.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

pumpkin soup

bowl of pumpkin soup
Its the day after the Feast. One of the best leftovers is the pumpkin soup. Its good plain, with creme fraiche, or even with a dollop of stuffing in it. Its a wonderful combination of ginger, leeks and pumpkin. Delicious.

Yesterday, we served the pumpkin soup as a first course with an exquisite champagne, grilled local kielbasa, creme fraiche and a garnish of cilantro. I did not hear any complaints.

The Jarrahdale pumpkin is the best tasting pumpkin I've grown so far. Bright orange color flesh with mild sweet pumpkin flavor. Here are photos.
jarrahdale with seeds
soup in the pan jarrahdale pumpkin on the board

To make this soup, I cut out a lid on my 8 lb Jarradale pumpkin then scooped out the flesh with a sharp-edged ice cream scoop. (A very sharp melon baller might have worked better since the pumpkin flesh is firm and thick.) I accidentally cut through the rind on one of the deep ridges, so I used the pumpkin shell to serve my baked squash and sweet potatoes. The 8 lb pumpkin gave enough flesh for the soup (2 lbs), plus 4 lbs grated pumpkin for a batch of pumpkin bread (recipe), and the rind will make another bread recipe I'm sure.

Pumpkin soup recipe link.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

bread basket appetizers
stir fried greens squash in pumpkin shell
thanksgiving buffet
squash and sweet potatoes pumpkin bread

Recipes (I'll eventually add links to all of these):

Pumpkin bread (recipe)
Black bread (recipe)
White bread (recipe)
Pumpkin soup (recipe)
Cherry wood smoked turkey
Cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples and celeriac
Baked squash and sweet potatoes (recipe)
Sauteed fall greens with ginger and sesame seeds (recipe)
Kristan's cranberry cake

Skippy and Bannor

skippy and banner 2

Skippy's new friend is Bannor - a very friendly 1 1/2 yr old Norwegian Elkhound - German Shepard mix that my brother and his family rescued a couple months ago. He sure appreciated his Thanksgiving scraps. As did Skippy.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

today's harvest

Thanksgiving harvest

A dark and drizzly November day. Beautiful. This is just about our last harvest of the year. I started our Thanksgiving preparations by bringing home 4 bags full of vegetables. The parsnips smelled sweet as I tugged them out of the ground. The baby salad green and arugula look really nice.

red romaine parsnips
garden plot

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baked butternut squash and sweet potatoes

Bake 5 sweet potatoes at 400*F til slightly soft (about 15 min).
Peel 2 butternut squashes. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a large casserole dish 30 min at 400*.
Peel sweet potatoes, cube, add to squash and mix. Sprinkle with brown sugar and dot with butter. Bake covered 30-45 min at about 375*.

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I'm in the Newspaper today!!

In praise of pumpkins’ promise of abundance: Here's the link! Here's the recipe.

thanksgiving menu

Appetizers
Olives
Cheese plate
Crackers (Mom)
Chips, salsa and cheese dip
Smoked salmon and anchovy wrapped olives
Spanakopita
Pistachios (Mom)
Grilled kielbasa (Ben)
Popcorn (the last of my homegrown crop)

Bread basket
Pumpkin bread (homegrown Baby Pam pumpkin)
Anadama bread
White bread
Rye bread
Black bread

First Course

Pumpkin soup (homegrown Jarrahdale served in the pumpkin shell)
Champagne (Dad)

Main course
Smoked turkey with herb rub
Cornbread stuffing with sausage, homegrown celeriac and apples
Gravy with giblets
Mashed potatoes (homegrown potatoes)
Baked butternut squash and sweet potato puree (homegrown squash)
Sautéed fall greens with bacon
Grilled parsnips and multicolor baby carrots (homegrown)
Fresh fall greens with cranberries, pecans and Gorgonzola
Cranberry sauce

Dessert
Apple pie (Mom)
Pecan pie (Mom)
Cranberry cake with hard sauce (Ben)
Pumpkin pie (Ben)
Vanilla ice cream

T minus 1 and the menu is ready. My brother Ben and parents will bring many of the dishes. I did my shopping yesterday. We're on schedule for T-day....

Today we begin food prep - starting in the garden. I'll harvest greens and parsnips. Wonderful fall weather for greens. They are perfect. This weekend will get chilly, so its perfect timing for a feast. I feel like a pilgrim.

All of the Thanksgiving vegetables will be homegrown from my garden. (Exceptions, I bought a couple of leeks and some cilantro for the pumpkin soup. Also a few sweet potatoes to add to the squash puree.) The garden produce will include: popcorn, pumpkins, potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, red Romaine, Boston lettuce, arugula, escarole, bok choy, kale, garlic, onions, carrots, parsnips and celeriac.

Its a long menu for the 10 of us. But hard to predict how much 3 (BIG) teenage boys will eat. And leftovers are half the point of Thanksgiving. (Gluttony is the other half.)

I like to do a big feast at Thanksgiving. And this year, we certainly have lots to celebrate. It has been a bountiful year. The land has been good to us. We will reflect, toast, taste, eat and be thankful. Together.

Cheers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

a collection of late summer and fall garden photos

pumpkin in the fall garden tall sunflower 2872898958_4aa6a38901_o
yellow leaf on cabbage collecting leaves
fall fences at the community plots spetmebere aerial of the kitchen garden skippy
late zinnia fall sunflowers at the community gardens
my september kitchen garden fall colors - the last cosmos' of the year

I'm actually trying to pick a photo to enter in the contest at Fine Gardening: The Autumn Garden. The prize is a time lapse camera, which sounds really fun. You can enter 5 photos until November 30. It'll take me that long to pick I think.

we'll be in a magazine soon!

Skippy and I will be in Fine Gardening's "GROW" in January. A little piece on pickling cucumbers with some of my photos. I'm watching for it. I hope Skippy smiled nicely.

garden aerial

aerial

Deep shadows. Piles of compost on the beds. Fallen maple leaves.

Still growing: Sage, parsley, oregano, collard greens, celeriac and marigolds.

The dahlia still hasn't frozen down. (Lower right of photo.) We haven't had a hard frost up next to the house yet. I usually wait til is dies back to dig the tubers, but will probably do this today anyway.

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the best restaurant around

The East Coast Grill! What a fantastic experience to eat here! The best local seafood and fresh vegetable cooked to perfection and then some! Its like heaven!

Of course every time we go there, the parking lot is full. (The scooter solved that problem - we pull up on the sidewalk.) And the usual wait is over an hour, and they don't take reservations. But an awesome bartender makes sure everyone is happy - until the chef makes them even happier.

I always come away with hundreds of ideas for new vegetables to grow and for preparing veggies. We have 2 of Chris Schlessinger's cookbooks, and I just ordered a couple more. "Quick Pickles" and "Grill It"

Today's ideas:
- The quick pickles are a mix of cucumbers, beans, carrots, and onions. I'm going to search for their recipe. Bet its in the cook book by the name...
- I had a super tasty side of greens, sauteed with bacon. I'll look for this recipe for my fall greens for Thanksgiving.
- The Cape Cod oysters fantastic right now. I wonder if I should try a horseradish plant in the garden next year. They are big but I love fresh horseradish.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

spicy coleslaw

I think I'll try this with my savoy cabbage heads this week:
spicy coleslaw

Friday, November 20, 2009

greens growing for Thanksgiving

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Last year my garden frosted hard long before Thanksgiving. But this year, it seems like we'll have fresh garden greens on the table.

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so much rain this week

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I checked my ran gauge last Sunday and took this photo. I forgot to empty it and I bet its overflowing now. Its pouring again. Great weather for the greens I'm planning to use for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

today's harvest

harvest
IMG_3836
That's a Black Spanish winter radish.

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"my" pumpkin soup recipe


My favorite pumpkin soup recipe is from a little book: Holiday Pumpkins by Georgeanne Brennan and Jennifer Barry. A very cute book with a bunch of nice pumpkiny ideas. But the soup is exceptional. Nice and simple: pumpkin, leeks and ginger. Optional cilantro and cream garnish. I made it for Thanksgiving a while back and served it in the pumpkin shell. I'm planning to do the same again this year.

Not wanting to copy a book recipe onto my blog, I searched online for someone else who has a similar recipe. Here's the exact recipe at trufflesandtrifles.com, but using sour cream instead of creme fraiche. Both neglect to mention that you should puree the soup after cooking the pumpkin.

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garden bloggers bloom day - collecting and appreciating seeds

seeds20 seeds18
seeds15 seeds16
seeds14 seeds13

The seed is hope; the flower is joy.
- Author Unknown

Skippy and I went out to look for flowers. The joy is gone, but we found lots of hope. Every size and shape of seed head and pods.

Its seed season. Leaves are faded laying on the ground, seeds ripening everywhere. Skippy and I walked through the wildflower fields. So many different shapes and types of seeds. I collected a handful of the big purple cone flower seeds. I admired these giant flowers this summer. The seed head dug into my leg through my pocket for the rest of the walk. Skippy collected a bunch of seeds too - all over himself as he ran through the fields.

(Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is the 15th of every month. This is a fun event started by Carole at May Dreams Gardens. I'm always very pleased with myself when I remember this in time to join in. If you head over to Carole's, there's a clickable list of everyone participating this month.)

seeds12 seeds11
seeds9
seeds6 seeds5
seeds8 seeds7
seeds17
seeds4 seeds3
seeds2 seeds19
seeds10

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