Monday, 22 September 2014

Squash Harvest

"So, Ferdzy, what's for dinner tonight?"


"What's for dinner tomorrow?"


"What's for dinner on Wednesday?"




"...Uh... Friday?"


Well, since we planted our squash about a month later than earlier this year, and since we planted them in the dry upper garden instead of the lower wet one, and since we had enormous swarms of squash bugs and cucumber beetles, I wasn't expecting much from the squash. However, we had generous (!) amounts of rain this year, and somehow they all came through. Quality is not high; some of them, especially the Thelma Sanders, are deformed from the sheer quantity of bugs sucking at them, plus we harvested them after we were caught unaware by a light but early frost so some have a little damage on the rinds. Pity there is no room in the freezer.

Let them eat squash.

*And wait until they hear what's for breakfast, lunch, and snacks!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Peppers Stuffed with Lamb & Feta

If this is September, it must be time for stuffed peppers! And it is September, so here they are. I was a bit surprised at how mild a dish this was, what with the garlic and the feta and the mint and all, but it was delicious and well received so no complaints. I didn't actually put in any basil or oregano, but I think next time I will.

These were very easy to make. I made the filling and stuffed them in advance, because the afternoon was dedicated to the never-ending production of tomato sauce. They just had to be stuck into the oven at the appropriate time, and lo! There was dinner, and it was good.

4 servings
1 1/2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Peppers Stuffed with Lamb & Feta

1 medium onion, with the greens if possible
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
2 cups finely chopped cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 large Red Shepherd peppers
500 grams (1 pound) lean ground lamb
1/4 cup finely minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon rubbed basil and/or oregano, optional
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large egg
1 cup tomato sauce

Peel and mince the onion, including the greens, providing they are fresh and in good condition. You could also use one regular onion and a green onion or two. Peel and mince the garlic. Chop the cauliflower.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the onions and cauliflower, along with a couple tablespoons of water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the water has evaporated - the cauliflower should have softened noticably - and the onions and cauliflower begin to brown slightly. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for a minute or two more. Turn the vegetables out into a mixing bowl and let them cool.

Cut the peppers lengthwise in half, and remove the cores and stems. Place them in a shallow, flat-bottomed  baking pan, into which they fit fairly snuggly. Yes, it's my 8" x 11" lasagne pan again. So handy. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Add the ground lamb, the mint, basil or oregano if using, black pepper, crumbled feta cheese, and the large egg to the vegetables in the mixing bowl, and mix well. Divide the mixture evenly into quarters, and fill each half pepper with one quarter of the mixture, pressing it firmly into the peppers, and mounding it slightly as needed.

Add a little water to the baking pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Bake the stuffed peppers for 40 minutes. Take them out of the oven, and pour the sauce evenly over the tops of them. Return to the oven and bake them for another 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Fresh Corn Pancakes.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Late Summer Garden Update

Well, there is no getting around it: things are winding down. The powdery mildew hit early and hard this year, when August took a turn towards the cooler. Cooler? It's been downright chilly! Sweet potatoes and peanuts are still looking good, but that's because they basically spent the summer under cover. The squash are definitely heading for the finish line.

These are beans, supposedly dried beans. They should have been planted June 1st and got planted July 1st instead. Mathematically, they should be able to make it - in practice we shall see. I am a little nervous about how far along they aren't. Especially since this is pretty much all my seed from the cross between Cherokee Trail of Tears and Dolloff that I found last year. On the other hand, even though the regular green beans went in just as late, we are going to have a freezer full of them, no problem.

Our carrot crop looks to be amazing, which is, well, amazing. They had to be seeded 3 times before they managed to achieve any sort of critical mass, and then they looked so frail and pathetic for months, not to mention how massively they were infested with purslane this year... I'm glad we didn't give up on them. We thought about it, I have to say!

The vines look terrible now, no thanks to our perpetual problem with septoria leaf spot, but I am very pleased with these tomatoes. They are now an F4 grow-out of a cross that showed up in our Jaune Flammé tomatoes, uh, 4 years ago. I liked it so much I've been growing it ever since, and it seems pretty stable. The cross seemed to be between Jaune Flammé and an unknown red beefsteak type tomato, and it has the flavour of a large, late beefsteak tomato in an early, small salad sized tomato that, like Jaune Flammé, produces prolifically all season.

In general, all the tomatoes look pretty bad. As I've said before, it seems the only way to have tomatoes survive septoria leaf spot is for them to grow faster than it can kill them. We've been picking tomatoes by the bushel every week and making litres of sauce, but I'd say that's winding down. One or two more batches, then it'll be time for chow-chow and garden clean up. Once the tomatoes come out, we can plant garlic in their place, at least in one of the beds.

I'm still hoping for a few ripe watermelons. Not so much to eat, as to have seed to continue my mass watermelon crossing project next year. They went in so very late, and the weather has been so unfriendly to watermelons, that if I achieve any ripe seed I will count it as a win. Some watermelons would have been nice too, but ho hum.

The sunflowers are funny. Normally they all line up and face the sun, but this year they were facing all over in random directions. I was perplexed, until I remembered that I did not plant them directly but put in a row of transplanted sunflowers that came up were we had added compost. Apparently they are oriented as to which direction they will face to bloom before they are 6" high!

Another couple of seed projects. We did not attempt to grow any veggies in the wet bed this year, but we did leave the Turkish celeriac from last year to go to seed. Behind them, we planted a trellis full of 4 kinds of peas and 2 kinds of beans which are being grown out strictly for seed. They too went in a month late, so we will see how much we actually get. I expect a lifetime supply of celeriac seed, though.

Also down in the wet beds, we left the Turkish leeks from last year to go to seed. They are not entirely happy here, but they survived the winter surprisingly well, even though they looked pretty limp and mushy in the spring. They have their flaws: besides not being in an edible condition in the spring, they are amazingly attractive to slugs and snails, nor did any of mine achieve the impressive heft of the ones we saw in the Turkish markets. Still, they have such wonderfully long shanks that I intend to save seed and let them cross with my more hardy varieties, specifically Giant Musselburgh and Bandit, just to see what happens. The flowers were really lovely too, in surprisingly varied shades of cream and lilac.

As you can probably tell, I get more and more interested in saving seeds and crossing different varieties. It's a good thing we are getting more efficient with the amount of vegetables we get out of each bed - quite a few of them are now being set aside for seed saving. It's been a rather cool summer, and it doesn't look like it's going to warm up for autumn, so it will be a bit of a race to see if I can get everything ripe on time. Most things are going to make it though!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Fish & Eggplant Casserole

Well, that was a busy week. Far too much interfacing with the medical system to get much cooking done, but I did make this. It was also peak tomato harvest last week, so in between times we have been making vats of tomato sauce.

Dad has now had his second cataract operation done, which seemed to go well, and everyone else seems to be doing okay too. I'm hoping the next few weeks may be calm enough for us to start cleaning up the garden.

We've had a bumper harvest of eggplants this year for some reason, so here are some more of them. This is based on a popular Chinese dish but simplified quite a bit, particularly by not deep-frying the eggplants then stir-frying them with the other ingredients. Stir-fry first, then bake - much less greasy but just as tasty, and no last minute hanging around the stove.

4 servings
1 hour - 40 minutes prep time

Fish & Eggplant Casserole

Make the Sauce:
2 tablespoons Sucanat or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
4 tablespoons apple cider or rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup water

Mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, and water in a small bowl, and set aside.

Finish the Casserole:
500 grams (1 pound) long, narrow Japanese eggplants
1 large mild red or green pepper
1 or 2 Jalapeno peppers or other fresh mildly hot peppers (optional)
4 stalks of celery
2 medium onions
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
400 grams (scant pound) boneless whitefish fillets
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplants into 1/2" slices and the remaining vegetables into slightly smaller pieces.

In a large skillet, sauté the eggplant slices in 2 tablespoons of the oil until soft and slightly browned on both sides. Place them in a shallow baking (lasagne) pan with the fish, cut into large bite-sized chunks, and the finely minced ginger. Sauté the remaining vegetables in the remaining oil until soft, and add them to the casserole.

Mix the sauce up well and pour it evenly over the casserole. Drizzle with the sesame oil and stir gently to mix everything up. (I don't so much stir, as lift and turn gently with the spatula used to sauté the vegetables.)

 Bake at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes, until the fish is done to your liking. Serve with rice.

Last year at this time I made Pot-Roasted Chicken with Tomato-Sage Gravy, and Apple & Blackberry Pie.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Blueberry & Apple Salad with Nuts & Blue Cheese

We went out to celebrate my birthday at a local restaurant about a week ago, and my mom ordered this salad. Well, not this salad, but one that had lettuce, blueberries, apples, nuts, and blue cheese. So mighty like this salad, in fact. I know I've mentioned that all my favourite salads have fruit, nuts, and cheese so this was one I definitely had to do at home. The only reason I didn't order it at the restaurant myself was that they had Kolapore trout!.

With the cheese, this is pretty much a meal in itself; if you want to serve it with other things you may wish to omit the blue cheese. Or not; it's awfully good.

4 to 6 servings
30 minutes prep time

Blueberry & Apple Salad with Nuts & Blue Cheese

Make the Dressing:
3 tablespoons apple butter
3 tablespoons apple cider or raspberry vinegar
3 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
a little very finely grated lemon zest

Stir or shake the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or jar. 

Make the Salad:
8 to 12 cups mixed salad greens
OR 1 large head of lettuce
2 cups (1 pint) blueberries
2 medium apples
the juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 cup chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, or other nuts
125 grams (1/4 pound) blue cheese (optional)

Wash the greens (lettuce) and cut or tear up into bite sized pieces. Rinse it well again and dry it thoroughly. Rinse and pick over the blueberries, and wash the apples. Cut them in quarters and remove the cores, then cut them into dice about the size of the blueberries. Toss them in the salad bowl with the lemon juice while you work, to prevent them turning brown.

Toss the salad greens, blueberries, nuts and crumbled bluecheese into the apples, and then toss again with the dressing. Serve promptly!

Last year at this time I made Minty Watermelon Agua Fresca and Peach Upside-Down Cake.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Swiss Chard Strata

An awful lot of strata recipes get a bit too precise. It's true that this is a rather rich and impressive dish, but really, it's the perfect vehicle for using up odds and ends.

Don't have leeks? Use shallots or onions. Don't have Swiss chard? Use spinach or kale. Cheese? Use whatever seems appropriate and/or you have on hand. I used the dog end of a roll of soft chevre that was alarming me with how long it had been living in my fridge (and which I thought was particularly good here), and bulked it out with my good old stand-by old Cheddar. Finish up that last half-litre of milk that really has to be used today, some bread that got a bit stale, and there you go. (Eggs, I hope, are always on hand! It's urgent panic shopping time for me if they are not.)

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Swiss Chard Strata

3 to 4 cloves of garlic
3 large leeks
1 bunch Swiss chard (6 cups chopped)
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed basil, oregano, or savory
1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
300 grams (10 ounces) cheese
5 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
2/3 to 3/4 of a 450 gram (1 pound) loaf of bread, preferably rather stale
1/4 cup finely grated bread crumbs (optional)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Peel and mince the garlic. Trim, wash, and chop the leeks. Give them another rinse and drain them well. Wash the Swiss chard. Separate the leaves from the stems of the Swiss chard, and chop them finely. If you wish to use the stems, chop them finely as well - I find them a bit too prominent and use about half of them.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the leeks and chard stems gently until softened and considerably reduced in volume; about 5 minutes. Add the seasonings during this process. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, then add the Swiss chard leaves. Stir constantly until they are well wilted down, then turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

Grate, crumble, or cut in small cubes the cheese, depending on the type. Beat the eggs and whisk in the milk. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 2 1/2 to 3 quart shallow baking pan (3 litre), and line the bottom with slices of the bread, cut into quarters or torn into large pieces. Spread about 1/3 of the vegetable mixture evenly over the pieces of bread, then top with about 1/3 of the cheese also evenly distributed. Add another layer of bread, and continue in the same way, finishing with a final layer of bread. Pour the eggs and milk evenly over the mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes or so to be sure the bread has soaked up all the liquid. Press the top down gently for a minute or two if it seems to need assistance.

Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan and bread crumbs mixed together - this is not strictly necessary, but gives the top a nice texture. Bake at 350°F. for about 1 hour, until puffed and nicely browned around the edges. Let the strata rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Broccoli & Tortellini Salad.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Golden Yellow Cake

As ever, late August brings a flurry of family birthdays, and as ever, that means it's time for some cake. 

Here is a classic cake recipe; it comes from the The Canadian Woman's Cookbook, which dates from the 1930's. My edition does at least; it may be rather older as a book.  I have improved the instructions and corrected the baking time, which was frankly fantasy (18 minutes!) in the original. I may have meddled with the amount of sugar; in fact that's a fairly safe bet.

The result is a very fine cake; a little on the plain side in these days of death-by-chocolate cake extravaganzas, but in my opinion none the worse for that. Use the icing to dress it up, pass it with ice-cream and/or fruit, and enjoy. 

The only drawback to this cake is that it will leave you with 5 orphaned egg whites. You could make a double recipe of Seven Minute Frosting, or Maple Syrup Boiled Frosting, and apply it to the cake. You would then have 3 egg whites left, with which you could make a batch of Meringues. Or perhaps you will just have to come up with your own nefarious plan.

I do wonder how this cake would do with the the grated zest of an orange added, and the milk replaced with orange juice. I will have to try it some time. 

8 servings
1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Plain But Good Yellow Cake with Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups soft unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Line the bottoms of 2 9" round cake pans with parchment paper, and butter the parchment paper and the sides of the pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the softened butter into a mixing bowl with the sugar, and beat them together with an electric mixer, for 3 or 4 minutes,  until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Once they are all in, beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape off the beaters and put the electric mixer aside; it is time to switch to a spoon.

Measure the flour and mix the baking powder and salt into it well. Mix the flour and the milk alternately into the butter and egg yolk mixture, using a broad spoon or spatula. Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared pans, spreading out the batter to be as evenly flat as possible. Looking at my photo, it occurs to me that the old advice to run a knife through your cake batter once it was in the pans to remove large air bubbles might well be applied here.

Bake the cakes for 25 to 28 minutes, until they spring back from light pressure on top, or pass the old toothpick test. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn them out to finish cooling.

Put them together with the frosting of your choice. In spite of my suggestion of a boiled frosting, I am not convinced that something chocolate, or at least creamy, isn't a better option; perhaps one of these: Chocolate Custard Frosting, Chocolate Ganache Frosting, or even a simple Cocoa Buttercream Frosting.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Cauliflower Fried with Garlic

Oo, it's my favourite kind of recipe - a quick and simple vegetable that's just delicious. We are working hard to finish up last years garlic, as this years is presently curing in the garage. I did not think one head was at all too much though...

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Cauliflower Fried with Garlic

4 cups cauliflower florets (1/2 medium cauliflower)
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
a sprig of parsley or cilantro to garnish

Put a pot of water on to boil, sufficient to hold the cauliflower, perhaps with a steamer above it. Wash and trim the cauliflower, and break or cut it into florets. Peel and mince the garlic.

When the water boils, steam or boil the cauliflower florets for 3 to 6 minutes, until just shy of done to your liking. Just before it is done, heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Drain the cauliflower well, and transfer it to the skillet. Cook, stirring regularly, until any lingering water is evaporated, and the cauliflower is nicely browned in spots. Season with the salt and pepper.

Add the garlic and continue cooking and stirring for another minute or so, until it is very fragrant and shows slight signs of browning. Remove the cauliflower to its serving dish at once, and garnish it with a sprinkling of parsley or cilantro, if you like.

Last year at this time I made Zucchini & Cucumber Salad with Sweet Onion & Parsley.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Quesadillas de Flor de Calabacita

My Mexican zucchini (Tatume) is pumping out the male blossoms, as well as the little calabacitas, so I thought I would put some of them to use.  Normally the herb used in these is epazote, but good luck finding that here. Cilantro fits in very nicely.

These are greasy and delicious little treat, serve them with a simple vinaigrette coleslaw to restore the balance, as well as some salsa to dip them in.

6 quesadillas
20 minutes prep time

Zucchini Blossom Quesadillas

12 fresh (frozen) corn tortillas
12 male zucchini blossoms
1 Jalapeño pepper
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
a few sprigs of cilantro
1 teaspoon mild vegetable oil
200 grams (6 to 7 ounces) mild, melty cheese
         - such as mozzerella, Colby, or halloumi
4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
tomatillo salsa to serve

If you are using frozen tortillas (the best way to buy them, in my opinion - look for ones with no preservatives) make sure they are thawed. If you are making your own, follow the instructions on the package of masa harina. I tend to make them in a big batch and freeze most of them, because they are a fair bit of work, so I usually start with frozen tortillas anyway.

Trim off the bulb at the base of each blossom, and discard the anthers as well. Rinse and drain the petals well, and chop them coarsely. Trim and chop the Jalapeño pepper. Peel and chop the onion and mince the garlic. Chop the cilantro. Thinly slice or coarsely grate the cheese.

Heat the teaspoon of oil in a large skillet, and cook the onion and Jalapeño until just soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute more. Add the squash blossoms and cook until just wilted, turning to mix them in. Remove the vegetable mixture to a plate at once.

Lay out 6 of the tortillas, and divide the cheese evenly between them. Spoon the vegetable mixture evenly over the cheese. Top each tortilla with one of the remaining tortillas.

Wipe out the large skillet gently with a paper towel if there is any remaining vegetable residue in. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet, over medium-high heat. Place 3 of the prepared quesadillas, (or 2, or 4; whatever fits) into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and crisped. You will likely need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan when you turn them.

Keep the first batch warm in the oven while you cook the remaining quesadillas in the remaining oil. Serve them with tomatillo salsa.

Last year at this time I made Smörgåstartå to celebrate the posting of my 1,000th recipe on this blog.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Lamb Stew with Eggplant & Peppers

One of the things that set off the post on how to store produce was a rookie error I made this week - I sliced up tomatoes for a meal, and did far more than had any chance of being eaten! Since eggplants and peppers are starting to arrive in the kitchen as well, it seemed like a good time to make a stew. Especially since the weather has been feeling more like October than August! I hope the rest of our tomatoes are going to ripen!

This was simple, filling, and tasty. Nothing fancy, but just the thing for a chilly summer day.

4 servings
1 hour 45 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Lamb Stew with Eggplant & Peppers

2 medium onions
2 medium green or red sweet peppers
1 head garlic
2 medium (450 grams; 1 pound) eggplants
2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 to 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 cup lamb broth, beef broth, or water
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground lamb
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon hot smoked Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley

Peel and chop the onions. Core and chop the peppers, into bite-sized pieces. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash and trim the eggplants, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Wash and chop the tomatoes if using fresh tomatoes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and toss to coat, then cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes until fairly evenly browned and soft. Transfer it to a large stewing pan, and add the chopped tomatoes and the broth or water. Bring to a simmer. 

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet, and add the onions and peppers. Crumble in the lamb, and sprinkle the seasonings over it. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and peppers are softened and the lamb has lost all signs of pinkness. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Transfer the lamb and vegetables to the pot of eggplant and tomatoes, and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring regularly. Taste, and adjust the seasonings.

Serve the stew with crusty bread or rice, garnished with the cilantro or parsley. This can be made a day ahead and reheated to serve.

Last year at this time I made Cream of Corn Soup and Cheesy Zucchini Bake.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How to Store Vegetables & Fruits


Things are busy around here, but I would like to draw your attention to this very useful poster from UC Davis, on the home (short-term) storage of fruits and vegetables. I'll re-iterate the main points here, including a few indispensable non-Ontario ingredients, and some of my own observations.

Poor storage practises will not only make your produce last for a shorter period of time, but also impair the flavour to a large degree. (Some things, lemons for example, will keep better in the fridge, but lose a lot of flavour).

Mostly, people have a tendency to put things in the refrigerator that really shouldn't be there! Including far too many produce managers, grrr. Most people know not to put onions and potatoes in the fridge, but I would like to draw your attention to the garlic, sweet potatoes and tomatoes! NO NO NO! Unless you like bitter sprouty garlic, hard shrivelled flavourless sweet potatoes, and tasteless sacks of red mush.

Onions and potatoes should be stored between 6°C and 10°C (42°F to 50°F);  winter squash between 10°C to 13°C (50°F to 55°F). Garlic and sweet potatoes should be kept at temperatures ABOVE 13°C (55°F), but still a cool room temperature. Potatoes in particular should be kept in a dark spot to avoid them turning green in spots, but they should all be kept in the dark, in a slightly humid spot but with good air circulation.

Once cut, many of the counter-stored items do have to go into the fridge, so try to avoid having too much of them on hand in the first place. Once refrigerated, those leftovers are almost always going to be better cooked than raw.

For items that need to go into the fridge, they should be kept loosely wrapped in plastic - I like to save those crinkly bread bags that keep bread fresh longer; they work on veggies too! I know there is a trick to keep celery longer, by wrapping it in foil, but I always go through celery so fast I have never tried it. What other tricks and tips do you have for keeping produce in top condition longer?

DO NOT Store in the Fridge:

 * Apples, for less than 7 days
 * Muskmelons (Cantaloupes)
 * Watermelons
 * (Most Tropical Fruit, including Citrus)

 * Basil (keep in a glass of water, like a bouquet)
 * Cucumbers
 * Onions
 * Eggplant
 * Garlic
 * (Ginger)
 * Peppers
 * Potatoes
 * Winter Squash (aka Pumpkins)
 * Sweet Potatoes
 * Tomatoes

RIPEN on the Counter, Then Store in the Fridge When Ripe:

 * (Avocados)
 * Kiwifruit
 * Nectarines
 * Peaches
 * Pears
 * Plums
 * Plumcots
 * (Bananas - I will put very ripe bananas in the fridge for up to 24 hours if I think it will get eaten within that period; the skin will blacken but the fruit will be... okay. Also, they freeze well in their skins for baking.)

NOTE! These should all be stored in the fridge once ripe, but do not let them stay there for long! Use them quickly. 

Store in the FRIDGE:

 * Apples (if not using in 7 days)
 * Apricots
 * Blackberries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Blueberries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Cherries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Cut fruits
 * Grapes
 * Raspberries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Strawberries (but use within 24 hours!)

 * Asparagus (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Green Beans (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Beets
 * Belgian Endive
 * Broccoli
 * Brussels Sprouts
 * Cabbage
 * Carrots
 * Cauliflower
 * Celery
 * Cut vegetables
 * Green Onions
 * Herbs (other than Basil)
 * Leafy Greens (such as Arugula, Chard, Kale, & Spinach)
 * Lettuce
 * Mushrooms
 * Parsnips
 * Peas (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Radishes
 * Rutabaga
 * Sprouts (use within a couple of days)
 * Summer Squash (Zucchini)
 * Sweet Corn (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Turnips

Monday, 11 August 2014

Kamo Eggplant

So there it is; the first eggplant of the season, our just-about 1 pound Kamo eggplant. I feel a little badly, sometimes, that so many of the vegetable varieties that I grow in my garden and write about are pretty much completely unavailable, unless you grow them yourself. I'm afraid this is one of them.

Kamo is a kyo yasai, or traditional vegetable variety from Kyoto. It is named for an old village which is now part of the city, where these eggplants were grown for hundreds of years. As the old capital of Japan, Kyoto accumulated the best produce the country had to offer, and from them developed the varieties of vegetables that are now so highly regarded. The fact that it had a large Buddhist population, and less access to fresh seafood than most Japanese cities also contributed to the development of a large number of traditional Kyoto vegetable varieties.

This eggplant caught us by surprise. We did not even know it was coming along. We have been keeping our eggplants and peppers under hoop-houses quite a bit this summer, as it has been quite cool  here, rarely making it past 25°C and getting down well under 20°C at night - often ridiculously close to 10°C. When we decided to have a look and discovered this one, I was amazed. They are usually not even this big, never mind so early in the season. The actor depicted on that wrapping cloth, by the way, is pretty much life-sized, to give you an idea of the scale.

Kamo is a solid, rather smooth fleshed eggplant. The flavour is very fine, but mild. It is supposed to absorb less oil than other, coarser fleshed eggplants, but I'm not so sure about that. Maybe it's true. I will have to cook another, and another, to be sure. At any rate, this eggplant is very suitable for making tempura.

Kamo is usually described as round, but it isn't, quite. I think of it as purse-shaped; it has a flattish bottom it will sit on, usually, and sometimes the top of the fruit is almost pleated into the calyx. The calyx tends to be quite thorny, so be careful when handling one. The colour of the skin is lovely; a rich purple when ripe, and shows almost a wood-grain quality to it before it is ripe.

Like all eggplants, it should be started indoors 8 weeks before last frost date, and kept as warm as reasonably possible all through its useful life. A hoop-house is definitely a good idea. Given good conditions, you should have eggplant about 2 months (65 days) after planting them out. I think our first eggplant hit that date almost exactly. Kamo will grow to about 2' tall, and should bear 3 or 4 eggplants around here.