Harvest Monday April 22, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re still in the ‘between’ garden season here, where the winter veggies are slowing down and the spring crops are starting to come in. We’ve gotten about a pound of asparagus so far, and recent rains should really get it popping up. The kale rapini is winding down, but I got about a half pound of it last week and it has really been a treat. The Western Front and True Siberian kale plants have made a lot of rapini. We’re still eating kale leaves too but I didn’t cut any last week.

kale rapini and asparagus

kale rapini and asparagus

I had a flat of lettuce seedlings that needed thinning last week, and they had gotten large enough to save them and use them in a salad. Had they been smaller they would have wound up on the compost pile, but these were plenty big enough to serve as ‘baby’ lettuce. I got several cups of them, and we enjoyed them one day on a salad we had for lunch. I’m not a fan of wasting food and these were certainly worth the minimal effort to clean them up.

lettuce thinnings

lettuce thinnings

Meanwhile, I cut a bit more of the winter planted lettuce from the greenhouse. This is Salanova Red Butter, along with a bit of Tango that had re-sprouted after I cut the main head a couple of weeks ago.

Salanova Red Butter lettuce

Salanova Red Butter lettuce

Also from the greenhouse I made a big cutting of parsley to make a tabouli salad. The parsley plants in there are getting ready to bolt, so they won’t be around much longer. Until then we have lots of parsley to enjoy. I don’t dry it because I think it loses it’s flavor, plus we pretty much have the fresh version available year round.

parsley for tabouli

parsley for tabouli

And I continue to cut microgreens as needed. This is the Mild Microgreens Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I started more microgreens last week to keep the harvests growing. This time I made my own mix using seeds for collards, Tokyo Bekana and some old lettuce seed I had on hand.

mild microgreen mix

mild microgreen mix

In the future harvests department, the Patio Baby and Fairy Tale eggplants I started early and potted up into containers are doing well. I have three growing in pots and one in a grow bag. These should give us an early taste of eggplant at least a month before the ones planted in the main garden start fruiting. Both of these varieties are AAS Winners and do quite well in containers. I brought them in on Saturday night when a bit of frost was forecast, but hopefully that will be the last frost of the season.

container grown eggplant

container grown eggplant

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

 


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Harvest Monday April 15, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s officially asparagus season here, and that is welcome news! The paparazzi were out early one morning to witness the first harvest of the season. It wasn’t a lot, but it was sure tasty!

first asparagus harvest of 2019

first asparagus harvest of 2019

asparagus

asparagus

More spears are slowly coming up, and once the weather warms up a tad more they should really get going. Lynda got the asparagus beds weeded and mulched before the first spears came up, and she has it looking great. She used cardboard around the edges, shredded paper down the rows, sheets of newspaper for the walkways between the beds, and then covered it all with straw. I can only wish I had the main garden looking like that!

asparagus beds after mulching

asparagus beds after mulching

I’m still cutting the winter lettuce in the greenhouse. There’s not much left, and hopefully the ones I planted a few weeks ago will be ready to join the party soon.

Mirlo and Pele lettuce

Mirlo and Pele lettuce

The kale rapini has been the surprise star here lately. We’ve been roasting it for about 10 minutes in a 400°F oven. I also like to give it a quick saute with a bit of olive oil. The one in the below photo is from Western Front kale, and the flower shoots come with a few leaves attached. They crisp up like kale chips when roasted, so it’s almost like two veggies in one – kale chips and rapini!

kale rapini

kale rapini

I pulled the rest of the curly kale I had growing in a cold frame bed to make room for a new planting of greens. There’s two pounds of leaves in the tubtrug, and it was enough to share with a couple of friends as well as have plenty for ourselves.

curly kale

curly kale

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Photo Friday: 9 Years of Bread Baking

It’s hard to believe, but my wife and I have been baking all our own bread for 9 years now. Both of us had baked a lot of bread before that time, but we had never tried to bake all of our bread. My wife got on a kick baking bread from the no-knead recipes in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day books. One of our favorite things was when she made grissini breadsticks using the cracked wheat dough. They are just the thing to go with salad or a bowl of soup. Some of my other favorites she made were the Olive Spelt buns, the Chocolate Espresso muffins, and the Honey Raisin English muffins.

crispy grissini breadsticks

crispy grissini breadsticks

One bread I baked back in 2010 was the Pain de Campagne. This rustic loaf in the photo below was a blend of whole wheat, rye and unbleached bread flours and had a wonderful tangy flavor. The recipe came from Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine. It was not actually baked in the bread machine, though it was used to knead and ferment the dough.

Pain Campagne loaf

Pain Campagne loaf

In the years since, I have baked a number of recipes from the King Arthur Flour website.  They have a lot of bread recipes there, and I can rely on them to be well-tested so they perform as described. Their recipes are often a starting point for my own creations. My version of their recipe for Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns is something I still make quite often, and it is my go-to recipe for buns. I’ve baked these so many times in the last 9 years I could almost do it in my sleep!

fresh from the oven Moomies Famous Burger Buns

fresh from the oven Moomies Famous Burger Buns

My Dark Rye Potato Rolls and Buns recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Flour Potato-Onion Rye Rolls recipe. I skipped the onions and tweaked the other ingredients for my version, and I bake these buns all the time and put them in the freezer for later use.

Dark Rye Buns

Dark Rye Buns

I got the recipe for Dark & Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls from the KA Whole Grain Baking book, which I liked so much I actually did a book review on it back in 2011. These rolls are much like the individual loaves of dark bread some restaurants serve with a meal, especially when you bake them into a mini loaf shape. They are soft and tender, mildly sweet, and you’d never know they contain 40% whole wheat flour.

Dark & Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls

Dark & Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls

Somewhere along the way I began developing my own recipes. One thing I wanted early on was a recipe that could be used with a variety of whole grains, both cooked and uncooked. It took almost two years, but I finally came up with a recipe that I really liked and shared it here on my blog. Whole Grain Bread works well with all kind of added grains, and my success with that recipe led me to create others.

Whole Grain Bread

Whole Grain Bread

My Multi-Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls recipe was adapted from that Whole Grain Bread recipe. I make these quite often, and they are a tasty companion to a bowl of soup. I also take them to carry-in dinners where they are always a hit with the bread lovers. They have a mix of millet, sunflower and sesame seeds both inside and out.

Multi-Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls

Multi-Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls

And then there are flatbreads! I’ve got several recipes for pita bread I make, and though it’s hard to pick a favorite, one I make quite often is the Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread. These flatbreads are good for pocket bread, or turned into pita chips. They’re also just the right size for an individual pizza.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread

And speaking of sourdough, for the last few years I’ve been baking a lot of naturally leavened bread. To get started, I captured my own wild yeasts back in 2011, and I’ve managed to keep that culture going ever since. I followed instructions in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book, and you can find similar information in this King Arthur blog article: How to make your own sourdough starter. I used a whole grain rye flour to get mine going, but I now feed my culture with a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and KA bread flour.

active, bubbly sourdough starter

active, bubbly sourdough starter

Since then, I’ve tried a number of different naturally leavened bread recipes from quite a few different sources, but lately my go-to sourdough bread is adapted from a recipe at Breadtopia: Artisan Sourdough No-Knead Bread. I scaled it up 50% from the original, and cut the hydration level a bit to make it easier to handle. I bake the loaf in their Breadtopia Clay Baker, and I have both the Batard and Oblong bakers which see quite a bit of use. They make for a crispy crust, and breads get a great oven spring.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

I’m still creating bread recipes too. I haven’t shared my formula for Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread or Rye Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, but they will be coming soon. I make these two a lot for sandwiches. I also have a Kamut Sandwich  Bread that is my take on King Arthur Flour’s Golden Kamut Bread.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

My latest bake is another recent recipe from Breadtopia, their Naturally Leavened Einkorn Bread. This one is made from 100% einkorn flour, which I ground fresh using our Nutrimill grinder. This made a dense but flavorful loaf, and should be good for toasting and other sandwich use.

Naturally Leavened Einkorn Bread

Naturally Leavened Einkorn Bread

I hope you have enjoyed this photo tour of a few of the breads we have baked here in the last 9 years. I can only imagine what baking fun we will have in the next 9 years! If you are interested, you can see most of my bread recipes on my recipe pages. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday April 8, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.There are a few new players in the harvest basket this week, plus some familiar faces. I cut a big batch of overwintered parsley from the greenhouse, with a few sprigs of mint added. They both went into a tabouli salad I made last week that had lots of parsley and a little bit of bulgur. Most of the parsley is a variety called Splendid, a flat leaf type from Wild Garden Seed with a great flavor. I saved out a little of the parsley to make a yogurt based Green Goddess style dressing that went on a bowl dish I cooked up one night for dinner.

parsley and mint for tabouli

parsley and mint for tabouli

I also cut the rest of a batch of mizuna microgreens. The microgreens have been so useful, especially at a time when the other harvests are quite small. Some of these went on a sprout sandwich I made for lunch one day.

mizuna microgreens

mizuna microgreens

I continue to cut lettuce from the greenhouse plantings. This batch is Salanova Red Butter, which has a great buttery texture to the leaves and decent reddish color for a greenhouse-grown lettuce.

Salanova Red Butter lettuce

Salanova Red Butter lettuce

I cut a bit more kale rapini and side shoots from the purple Sprouting broccoli. We are loving both of these seasonal treats. There’s not a whole lot of them at one time, but just enough to use in some sort of dish or as a side veggie.

kale rapini and purple sprouting broccoli

kale rapini and purple sprouting broccoli

This time I put them together  and roasted them briefly to go in the above mentioned bowl creation. First I browned cubes of tofu in olive oil until crispy, then removed from the skillet and drained. I added cauliflower ‘rice’ to the leftover oil and cooked for a few minutes, long enough to soften it a bit but not enough to make it soggy. Meanwhile, I roasted carrots in the oven and added the rapini and PSB to the pan at the last. I topped it with yogurt sauce blended up with avocado, chives and parsley, thinned with lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar. We often bake our tofu before adding to a dish, but the pan-frying is another treatment I really like as well.

Crispy Tofu Bowl

Crispy Tofu Bowl

And I cut more curly kale from a cold frame bed. I am ready to clean the bed out and plant something else, so I pulled two plants for this harvest. There’s about seven or eight plants left in there, so we will be eating on it for a while longer.

Starbor kale

Starbor kale

In the future harvests department, my wife found the first asparagus coming up in the beds. She has been working hard to get the area weeded and mulched and has it looking great, just in time for the harvests to start. Last year we cut 24 pounds of spears in an 8 week period. It is a good thing we love our asparagus!

first asparagus of 2019

first asparagus of 2019

Finally, in non harvest news, mama bluebird has been busy, and she wound up with 6 eggs in the nest. I have seen her in there on the eggs, so I will not sneak any more looks until they have hatched. If all of them hatch, it will be a nest box full of baby bluebirds for sure.

bluebird eggs

bluebird eggs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Harvest Monday April 1, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s hard to believe it is April already, and that’s no fooling! Our March this year was windy, cloudy, and rainy and I have to say I won’t miss it much. April brings much promise in the garden, including the first asparagus spears poking up from the ground. And it brings the hopes of baby bluebirds, since we have a nesting pair that has already started laying eggs.

first bluebird egg of 2019

first bluebird egg of 2019

We’re still waiting on the asparagus to arrive, but meanwhile we have plenty of greens to eat. My wife got a pic of me harvesting lettuce in the greenhouse one day. Much of that batch wound up in a salad we had for lunch a couple of hours later. You can’t beat that for freshness! I cut more later in the week that wound up in fish tacos. We love fish tacos, and I pan cooked a piece of grouper and made homemade corn tortillas for the occasion. I added fresh mango salsa, mashed avocado and homegrown lettuce, and it made for a tasty and healthy meal.

me harvesting lettuce

me harvesting lettuce

I also cut more kale from the greenhouse and cold frame plantings. In the greenhouse, the curly Winterbor has starting putting out rapini. I was quick to cut a few and we enjoyed them one day as a side dish along with a few of the young leaves from the bolting plant. I blanched the rapini for about two minutes then drained. I sauteed the leaves in olive oil along with a little garlic, and added the rapini at the end. Next time I’ll blanch the rapini for just one minute since they were really tender enough to eat raw.

kale rapini

kale rapini

Winterbor kale

Winterbor kale

I made another small cutting from the purple sprouting broccoli. Santee has done very well for me overwintering in the greenhouse. I’m trying one called Burgundy this spring, a non-heading purple broccoli that is supposed to produce lots of side shoots and also have good heat tolerance. Our spring weather here usually gets hot quickly, and it can make growing broccoli a challenge. So we will see how Burgundy does. I’m also growing Piracicaba again, which is a broccolini type that was bred in Brazil to withstand the heat. I’m not sure why I stopped growing it, but we will see how it does this year. The broccolini (or baby broccoli) types seem to do better for me here, so I am planting more of them. Apollo and Artwork are two longtime favorites that do quite well for me.

Santee broccoli

Santee broccoli

I made another  cutting from microgreens last week, and this time it was mizuna. These are mild tasting greens and work well on salads, sandwiches and in soup. I’ve also got seedlings of several red leaf mizunas I’m growing this spring, including Miz America and Red Kingdom. I’ll be planting these outside soon. And I’m growing Mizspoona Salad Select, which is a mizuna/tatsoi cross that resembles mizuna more than tatsoi.

Mizuna microgreens

Mizuna microgreens

I baked a loaf of No-Knead Sourdough Bread last week. We used some of this loaf for a tuna melt sandwich one day for lunch, and I sliced and froze the rest for later use.  I make the four ingredient tuna melt topping from tuna, avocado, a dab of mayonnaise and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top. The crusty bread holds up well to the tuna mix.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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