Thursday, December 1, 2011

November Harvest & Projects

Some random garden activities of the month include stratifying seeds. My coworker gave me some Hawthorn fruit (look like tiny crabapples) she collected while hunting in a southern county. She said this tree was particularly attractive and very thorny and asked if I would start some seedlings for her. So, I whittled away the fruit and found 2 seeds within each. I dropped them in some water and they all sunk- good sign!  Next, I planted them in a used salad bar container (clear plastic with holes) and put it outside to overwinter. It is important that they are exposed to both cold and moisture in order to germinate. Here is what the soaking seed looked like:

Some recent harvests include: gnarly white carrots, kale and perpetual spinach (which is a variety of chard). I plan on eating Kale throughout the winter. Here are some pics:

I used kale in almost everything I made for Thanksgiving: 2 kinds of veggie meatballs and a Curried Jamaican dumpling. Other things harvestable now include: rosemary, spearmint, marjoram, chives, parsley, green onions, leeks, corn salad.  Things to come next include: spinach, lettuce, miner's lettuce, leafing cabbage.

What to do with that pumpkin on the porch? Slice it, remove the seeds (and roast w/ olive oil and salt), roast the slices and enjoy. I just made some pureed pumpkin soup and added a couple of potatoes to make it creamy, roasted onion and some leftover blue cheese. Roasting the veggies first adds some yummy smokiness to the soup. 
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I was lucky enough to be a judge for the second year at the 2nd Annual Homemade Wine Tasting contest sponsored by the Millstadt Historical Society.  Lots of good entries, including: Blackberry, Black and Blueberry, White Grape, Peach, Elderberry got me interested in making my own so I decided to start some batches. 
Some of the homemade wines to be sampled.

Two small batches and a Chuy cat.

I read that Wild Plum Wine can take 3 years to reach its potential so I decided to start small in the event it totally stinks. I collected, pitted and froze wild plums late summer as they fell. On the left are the plums with sugar and water and no added yeast. On the right in the wine bottle I decided to juice some fruits around the kitchen- pomegranate, oranges and apples, add a little sugar and some baking yeast- why not? Because my house is so cold after a few days of little obvious activity I decided to put them on a heating pad to warm up the little buggers. Not surprisingly Chuy found the pad a suitable tush-warmer. 

Another winter project begun again is the experimental window garden in a tower of juice bottles. This was my take on the hydroponic window farm design, except with soil (which could mean huge mess). In the bottom bottle I have 3 spinach plants I had started from seed outside this fall. The middle bottle has parsley seeds and the top one I put nasturtiums. Maybe the nasturtiums will bloom and add some much needed winter color, but if not, the leaves are still edible.
Please don't fall. Please don't fall. 

And a close up of the spinach in the bottom tier:

And lastly, I finally ate a Bhut Jolokia. I can say I did it and I will never eat it again (whole anyway). I ended up with a nice crop. Pulease! Anything more than 3 is more than you would need anyway, right? I took them along with me to Thanksgiving dinner because I knew I could get my brother to eat one first and he did. He seemed so calm about it I ate one too (albeit a small one). The surprising thing about these peppers (at least eaten whole) is that they don't fry your mouth, but they are like a flesh-eating tumor in your throat and ulcerate your gut. I woke at 11pm that night racing for the bathroom. Notice the time on the clock gave them 2 hrs to kick through my insides. They also don't burn coming out- another pleasant surprise! Later in the week my bro ate more and was doubled over in pain. He says if you cook with them whole and remove them whole they add flavor and heat without the pain. I'm thinking of brewing some Chili Vodka for the Holidays....
Bro and Bhut

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