So far it hasn’t been real bad winter here. We’ve had a few brief cold spells where temperatures got down to near 0°F, which killed off the kale that was unprotected and the arugula that was protected by a cold frame. But other than the five inches of snow we got back in November we haven’t had much frozen precipitation. Which is a good thing, because I am no fan of snow and ice! We got rain yesterday, but it was too warm for snow. A little to the north of here it did snow, and that system is prepared to dump even more on the East Coast. It’s quite a while until spring arrives though, and there’s still plenty of time for snow here.
We eat a lot of foods from storage this time of year, and one staple is sweet potatoes. We have quite a few left from last season, and one of my favorite treatments is to make oven fries with them. I cut the sweet potatoes (skin and all) into half inch thick strips, then toss them with a little olive oil, sea salt and some of our homemade paprika. I bake them in a 425°F oven for 20-30 minutes until they get a little browned. I think I have come to like the purple ones more than the orange ones prepared this way, and this time I used the Purple sweet potatoes I got from Norma last year along with an orange Beauregard. I sometimes use other spices and herbs to vary the flavor a bit, but I generally keep the seasoning light so I can taste the sweet potatoes themselves.
Carrots are becoming a staple here, now that I have figured out (mostly) how to grow them. I pulled the last of the fall crop a couple of weeks ago right before the weather turned frigid again. I wanted to get them out of the ground before it froze up, though as it turned out the cold weather was short-lived and the ground quickly thawed out again. I harvested 35 pounds of them last year from a four foot square bed. The fall harvest won’t last us all winter, but we will sure enjoy them while they last. Bolero has proven to be one of the tastiest varieties I’ve grown so far and I plan on growing it again this year.
Some of those carrots went into a Golden Lentil Soup I made last week, using Petite Golden Lentils I bought from Purcell Mountain Farms. These split lentils are small and a bright yellow color. I put a few brown lentils next to them for reference in the below photo, so you can see how small they really are.
I decided to go with a yellow/orange theme for the soup, and sauteed some onions, celery and carrots in olive oil before adding chicken broth, minced garlic and ginger, and ground turmeric. When the veggies had cooked a bit I added the lentils, plus some chopped cauliflower, salt and pepper and continued cooking. The lentils were done in no time, and I topped the soup with a little chopped cilantro from the greenhouse before serving. The cooked lentils look like little kernels of baby corn in the soup.
The cilantro from the greenhouse turned out to be the only harvest of the week. The cilantro also went into some pesto I made for dinner one night. I used the pesto along with grilled chicken and veggies in some wraps. I love the cilantro pesto, made with only oil, almonds, and a bit of garlic and salt added. It is truly one of my new favorite things, and I can’t believe it took me so long to try it. It helps that I have lots of fresh homegrown cilantro to make it with. I’ve got lots of parsley in the greenhouse too, but parsley pesto is not what I am craving lately.
Another one of my new favorite things is homemade sauerkraut. I made batches using cabbage, kohlrabi and turnips last fall, and stored them in the refrigerator after the initial fermenting period. I believe they have improved with age, and I can (and often do) eat them by themselves for a quick shot of beneficial bacteria. I made the turnip kraut from the red skinned Tsugaru Scarlet turnips, and they add a lovely color and taste to the milder tasting fermented kohlrabi and cabbage. All three starred on a meatless Reuben sandwich I made last week, using some of our homemade rye bread and Swiss cheese.
I’ve almost finished ordering seeds for the 2015 garden. I’ve already received my orders from Fedco, Johnny’s and Baker Creek, and the ones from Territorial, Totally Tomato and the Seed Savers Exchange are on the way. Seed starting will begin here in about a week, starting with parsley, lettuce, and some other cold weather greens. More on that later! To see what others are harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.