Our long dry spell continues here, but despite that the garden is still giving us plenty to eat. Both the peppers and eggplant are coming on nicely. I generally let most of the peppers get ripe before harvesting. That’s the yellow Flavorburst bell pepper hanging out with the pinkish purple Dancer eggplant in the below photo. Both got grilled and eaten last week. Dancer has a mild, sweet flavored white flesh and is a great producer here for me.
Also still producing are the pole beans. They truly seem to like the dry conditions much better than they did the wet rainy weather we had earlier in summer. I picked the vines clean before we left for Colorado, and when we got back I was surprised at all the pods that were ready to pick. I have yet to supply them with additional water, but they managed to give us over a pound of beans to eat. There were a few shellies, and I mixed them in with the pods and cooked them up together. It’s mostly Fortex and Trionfo Violetto in the below photo. I’ll give them some water and see if they can produce another flush of blooms and pods.
The Good Mother Stallard beans don’t seem to be minding the dry conditions either. I harvested quite a few of those last week, and brought them inside to finish drying before I shell them out. They are one of my favorite cooking beans.
Local apples are coming in, and I picked up four different varieties from one of our producers, about a half bushel all told. They had others ready, but I picked Jonathan, Jonagold, Ruby Jon and Honeycrisp. I think Jonathan and its offspring are so good for eating out of hand as well as for cooking and drying. I dried about three batches last week in our five tray dehydrator, which makes me wish we had the bigger eight tray model now. I also baked some, and my wife whipped up a batch of her Yummy Fried Apples. The below photo shows a tray of the Ruby Jon apples after drying. For long term storage I seal them up with the FoodSaver. Apples are so easy to dry, and we use them in both hot and cold cereals, plus they make a great one-ingredient snack.
I was anxious to get the apples dried because I had other things planned for the dehydrator. I had enough ripe peppers ready to smoke another batch on Saturday. I smoked a mix of sweet and hot peppers this time. That’s the mildly hot baccatum variety Aji Angelo in the below photo. I have other baccatums planted this year including Aji Golden and Kaleidoscope I want to try drying and smoking. Those peppers are just about ready too.
I smoked the peppers on my Weber grill, building a small charcoal fire off to one side and keeping the peppers on the other side. I smoked a mix including the paprika peppers Dulce Rojo and Leutschauer, the Aji Angelos and a few of the Stocky Red Roasters. After smoking, they went on to the dehydrator to dry. You can read more about how I smoked them last year in Smoked Peppers. I’ll grind up most of the smoked peppers to make smoked paprika and smoked chile powder. I use them both as table spices, and keep them out with the salt and pepper.
The fall plantings are coming on now as well. I thinned the turnips once but left them a little close together on purpose. I like to thin them again when the turnips are at the baby stage. They were already crowding each other like turnips do and I got over three pounds of them in no time. There’s more to be thinned, and turnips will no doubt be on the menu this week when my wife takes her turn at cooking. These were all the Hakurei variety. I cooked up the greens and some of the turnips for a meal last week.
The rest of the turnips got fermented. After scrubbing them clean, I cut them in bite sized pieces, then put them in a jar (skin and all) and covered with a 5% brine solution. I made them exactly like I did the kohlrabi pickles earlier this year, and the mild salad turnips should make great ‘pickles’ for snacking on. I’ve been sampling them and after three days they are already tasty, but I will let them ferment for another few days before putting them in the refrigerator. I plan on making some turnip kraut when the turnips get a bit bigger.
My wife took over the cooking yesterday for a couple of weeks, and she requested some kale so she could make a batch of Kale and Potato Hash. The hash is an excuse to try the horseradish we got at the Estes Park farmer’s market. Doesn’t everyone bring back food from vacation? I know I do, and my suitcase was stuffed with bags of coffee and a jar of honey. The kale I cut was some of the Coalition Mix, which you can see in the below photo.
I haven’t baked much bread lately. But the last time I did bake I put a couple of loaves in the freezer for later use. That’s a loaf of 40 Percent Caraway Rye in the below photo, my current favorite rye bread. After baking, I wrapped the thoroughly cooled loaf of bread in foil before freezing. When I was ready to use it, I popped the foil covered loaf of bread (still frozen) in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, then removed the foil and put the loaf back in for another 10 minutes to crisp up the crust. I have to say the bread was almost as good as the day I baked it, with a crispy and chewy crust and a tangy, tender crumb. I need to share the recipe for my version of this bread the next time I make it.
The bread was the base for a couple of Meatless Reuben sandwiches I made with some of our homemade cabbage kraut. I put Muenster cheese on the bread, then piled on the drained kraut. I grilled the sandwiches until the cheese was melting and the bread was starting to get a bit charred around the edges. I am currently reading The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and I have no doubt I will be baking up one of her recipes soon.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the activities here at HA. To hear what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking and eating, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.