Friday, 27 November 2015

"Sauer" Curtido

I did say I was going to try this. Attempt now underway!

I don't know why last time I made Sauerkraut I got 12 cups of vegetables into a litre jar, and this time I only got 8 to 9 cups. And yes, a litre jar is approximately 4 cups, so that is still some serious packing.) I made Sauerkraut in red and green as well as the curtido, and it was all pretty consistant.

You'll note that unlike when I made traditional short-fermentation Curtido, I did not add any fresh hot peppers. Firstly, they are no longer in season, and secondly, they got hot enough after a week in the fresh Curtido that I was a bit nervous about what would happen after 6 weeks. I'll add an update to this post once I know how this turned out...

1 packed litre - 16 servings?
1 hour prep time - plus 6 weeks fermenting time

Fermented Curtido with Sauerkraut in the background

Make the Curtido:
6 cups finely shredded white (green) cabbage
2 cups carrot, peeled and grated
1 cup sliced onion
1 teaspoon pickling salt
1 tablespoon rubbed oregano
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne flakes

Put the number of litre canning jars you intend to fill into a canner and cover them with an inch of water. Bring them to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, wash and trim the cabbage, and finely shred it. Measure it and put it in a large mixing bowl. Peel, grate, measure, and add the carrot. Peel the onion, and slice it in half from pole to pole. Cut each half 2 or 3 times again from top to bottom, as each half lies flat side down on the cutting board. Then, cut into thin slices the other way. Add these onion shreds to the bowl of veggies.

Add the salt, oregano, and paprika or cayenne to the vegetables. Using your very clean hands, massage the vegetables together until the seasonings are very evenly distributed throughout, and the vegetables feel limp and are giving up a little juice. When the jar is sterilized, drain it well and pack the vegetables into it, using a wooden or stone tamper to pack it all in. A funnel (dropped into the boiling water for a few minutes before use) may be useful. There should be about an inch and a half headroom at the top of the jar once it is all in.

Add the Brine & Seal:
1 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon salt

Put a lid and rim on to boil. They can be used, if they are in good condition.

Put the water and salt into a pot and heat until the salt dissolves. The water can be warm, but should not be very hot. Ladle this brine over the vegetables now packed in the jar. Once it is all in wipe the rim carefully and put the lid on, making good contact with the jar but not tightening it too much. Put it in a cool spot on a pile of newspaper to ferment for up to 6 weeks.

Check every few days. If the jars overflow and the vegetables become exposed to the air, top up with a little more brine made as above. Change the newspaper as well!

Once the curtido is fermented, keep it in a cool spot, and once you open a jar keep it in the fridge.

Last year at this time I made Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Mashed Parsnips.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Beets à la Marmalade

I've done beets with orange and ginger flavours before, but you can't beat (sorry) this version for simplicity and speed. Well, apart from the fact that beets still take 45 minutes to cook first. However, you can do that right before the meal, or up to a day ahead. It will just take a little longer to reheat them and get the sauce going.

4 servings
15 to 20 minutes prep time, plus 1 hour cooking time in advance

Beets à la Marmalade

4 medium (500 grams, 1 pound) beets
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons orange or ginger marmalade
the finely grated zest of 1/4 orange
the juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash the beets and put them in a pot with water to cover them. Bring them to a boil and boil for about 45 minutes, until tender. Drain them and let them cool enough to handle, then peel them and slice or cube them.

Put them in a pot with the butter, marmalade, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper, and bring up to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens enough to coat them lightly, and they are hot through.

Last year at this time I made, uh, Sweet Roasted Beets. How about that. Yes, I like my beets a bit sweet. Bite me.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Cream of Leek Soup

Yes, I know it's a plain, unrelieved beige. It looks like wallpaper paste, as a matter of fact. But don't let that fool you, nor the fact that the ingredient list is fairly short and the technique simple. This stuff is delicious; so, so delicious. It's absolutely fine enough to serve at a very fancy occasion, perhaps even Christmas. Do try and find a sprig of parsley for it though, if you can, to gussy it up a bit. Unfortunately, mine is snowed under. Gack.

I put cream in mine because I had it in my head to put cream in it, but I have to say the taste I had of it before the cream went in was awfully good. If you are eschewing cream, it could be omitted with very little pain. 

6 servings
1 1/2 hours prep time

Cream of Leek Soup

3 medium leeks
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium shallots
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons soft unbleached flour
2 tablespoons good sherry
a couple scrapes of nutmeg
1/3 to 2/3 cup 10% cream, OPTIONAL

Trim the leeks, and slice them. Wash the slices carefully and drain them well. Put them in a large soup pot with the chicken stock, the bay leaves, and the salt. Simmer for about an hour until the leeks are very tender. Let cool a bit, then put the leeks and stock into a food processor or blender. Don't blend yet, though.

Peel and slice the shallots and garlic. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, and cook the shallots and garlic gently until they are both ever so slightly browned; about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Sprinkle the flour over them and continue cooking and stirring for another few minutes.

Slosh in a little of the stock from the stock and leeks, and mix it up quickly. Before it thickens, pour and scrape the shallots into the food processor or blender with the stock and leeks. Add the sherry and nutmeg, and purée until the soup is extremely smooth.

Pour and scrape it back into the soup pot. To serve, reheat to a simmer - let it thicken slightly - then stir in the cream, if you want it. Continue heating until it returns to steaming hot, but do not let it simmer again once the cream goes in.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Cornmeal Waffles

Goodness, all these waffles. This is what happens, apparently, when I have a working waffle iron. And very nice, too! 

You can cook the cornmeal just before you make the waffles, but it makes sense to use leftover cooked cornmeal from another meal if you can. You want to have about 2 to 2 1/4 cups of cooked cornmeal. If you can get the butter into the hot cornmeal to melt it, so much the better, but it works perfectly well to melt it later and add it.

about 18 waffles
1 hour 15 minutes prep time

Precook the Cornmeal:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups water

Mix the cornmeal, salt, and water in a sufficiently large pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the cornmeal thickens; about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, with the butter added so it will melt.

Make the Waffles:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups soft unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups soft whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup sugar, OPTIONAL
mild vegetable oil to brush the waffle iron

If your cornmeal was cooked in advance (leftovers), melt the butter and mix it into the cornmeal. Otherwise, once it has cooled enough not to set the eggs, beat them in one at a time. Slowly mix in the milk. Put your waffle iron on to heat.

Mix the dry ingredients, and put them in a large mixing bowl. I like to add 2 tablespoons sugar, but you can add more or none, as you like.

When the waffle iron is hot, stir the cornmeal mixture into the flours. Blend thoroughly, but do not overmix. Ladle the batter into the prepared (hot, and brushed with oil) waffle iron. Cook each set of waffles for 7 to 8 minutes. Keep warm in the oven at 200°F, or let the leftovers cool and freeze them for reheating in a toaster.

Last year at this time I made Pear & Celeriac Salad.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Beef with Brussels Sprouts

I've mentioned before that Chinese cooking really ought to call for more Brussels sprouts. They fit in so nicely! Nothing much to serve this with but steamed rice. 

4 servings
1 hour prep time

450 grams (1 pound) Brussels sprouts
100 grams (1/4 pound) shiitake mushrooms
2 large shallots
2 or 3 stalks of celery
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
450 grams (1 pound) lean beef steak
1 cup unsalted beef broth or water
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them into halves or quarters, depending on the size of them. Remove and discard the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Peel and cut the shallots into slivers. Trim the celery, and cut it into bite sized pieces. Peel and mince the garlic. Trim the beef and cut it into thin, bite sized pieces.

Put the Brussels sprouts and broth or water into a large skillete and cook over high heat until the water is mostly absorbed. Remove them from the pan and set them aside. Heat the oil, and cook the shallots and celery until slightly softened, then add the beef and the mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the beef and vegetables are cooked. Add the Brussels sprouts back into the pan, along with the garlic. Stir and cook for a minute more, then add the oyster sauce and sesame oil. Mix them in well, and turn out onto a serving dish once the sauces are absorbed into it.

Last year at this time I made Quick Braised Chicken with Leeks & Garlic.

Monday, 16 November 2015


Today we have another installment in the series, Obscure Italian Peasant Chow. I ought to make it a searchable feature; I've cooked enough of them.

Apparently this is a dish from the Versilia-Garfagnana area of Tuscany, and I'm not quite sure what it is. Soup? Polenta? Soupy polenta, I guess; thickened by the beans as much as the cornmeal. One recipe I found suggested  putting sausage in it, but I'd be more inclined to cheese myself.

Some recipes call for a potato to be added as well. If you would like that, I would cut it in small cubes and boil it with the beans for the last 10 minutes of their cooking time. 

2 to 4 servings
1 hour

Cook the Beans:
1 cup dried kidney or borlotti beans
water to cover x 2
pinch of salt

Cover the beans with boiling water and soak overnight. Drain, rinse and cook in 4 cups of water until tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a pinch of salt during the last half hour or so of cooking. This can, and probably should, be done a day in advance.

Make the Intruglia:
1 large onion
1 or 2 stalks of celery
1 medium carrot
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups bean cooking water or broth
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 cups finely shredded kale or Swiss chard

Peel and finely chop the onion, celery, and carrot. Finely mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Saute the onion, celery, and carrot in the oil until soft. Add the sage, rosemary, pepper, and garlic. Mash well 1 cup of the beans and blend into the sauteed vegetables, along with 2 cups of the bean cooking water. If you don't have 2 cups of bean cooking water, top it up with broth or plain water. Add the remaining whole beans, and the tomato sauce.

Bring the intruglia to a simmer and pour in the cornmeal in a slow stream, stirring constantly. Slow! Or it will be lumpy. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the finely shredded kale or Swiss chard. Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for another 5 minutes. And so serve it forth.

Last year at this time I made Quick & Easy Braised Tofu

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Squash Glazed with Apple Cider

Still working my way through that bottle of apple cider... and also our laundry room full of squash. We planted a lot less this year than last year, but it did very well and we are again swamped with squash. Fortunately, since it was a lot warmer and dryer this year the quality of the squash is much better.

4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes, 15 minutes prep time

1/2 of  a large (900 grams; 2 pounds) butternut squash;
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 of a small nutmeg, finely grated
1 cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the squash and cut it into centimetre thick slices.

Put the sqash in a shallow roasting pan dotted with the butter, and sprinkle the salt, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg over it. Toss gently. Pour over the apple cider.

Roast the squash for about 1 hour, stirring once or twice. Towards the end of the cooking time the butter and cider with thicken into a sauce; watch carefully and remove the squash just as it is thick enough to coat it .

Last year at this time I made Freeze & Bake Pumpkin Pie. We enjoyed eating pumpkin pies all winter last year!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts & Leeks

Here is a nice, easy, flexible dish of Brussels sprouts. Add mushrooms if you like, or have your bacon fat attached to chunks of bacon. Or both; why not. But we didn't do either of those and it was still just fine.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time

300 grams (10 ounces) Brussels sprouts
2 medium leeks
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts, and put them in a pot with water to cover. Bring them to a boil and boil for 2 or 3 minutes, until bright green. Drain well.

Meanwhile, trim, chop, and wash the leeks. Drain well. Heat the fat or butter in a medium skillet, and cook the leeks gently over medium heat until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts, and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks and the Brussels sprouts begin to brown. Add the balsamic vinegar, and then the garlic and salt. Cook and stir until the garlic smell overcomes the vinegar smell. Total cooking time should be about 10 minutes, not including boiling the sprouts.

Last year at this time I made Broccoli & Cauliflower Cheese Casserole.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ginger-Garlic Pulled Pork

Well this is just a great big hunk o' meat, I admit it. Still, this is a cut that is very inexpensive when it goes on sale, it's stupidly easy to make, and it tastes great. Leftovers refrigerate and freeze well. Also, it's very versatile: put it on sandwiches, stew it in its own sauce and serve over mashed potatoes or rice, or use it to fill tacos or burritos, maybe with some Vaguely Asian Cabbage Salad, since this is vaguely asian itself.

12 to 16 servings
15 minutes prep time plus 9 to 11 hours

2 1/2 to 3 kg (5 to 6 pounds) pork shoulder roast
2 cups water
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1" x 1" X 3" piece of ginger
1 head garlic
1 or 2 dried hot peppers (OPTIONAL)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the roast in a snug fitting, coverable roasting pan. Add the water, the tamari, and the vinegar. Peel and slice the ginger, and peel and trim the garlic, and arrange them around the roast, with the hot peppers if you want them. Dust with pepper.

Put the cover on the pan, and put it in the oven. Turn the oven to 200°F. Roast for 8 to 10 hours. Let rest for 1/2 hour before you remove the skin and fat from the top (if present), and remove the bones. The meat should pretty much fall apart in chunks. Cut them as desired, or pull them into strands with with a pair of forks.

I find it best to cook this a day ahead, then refrigerate. This allows for easier removal of more of the fat, and the pork reheats very nicely in a skillet, with a portion of the cooking liquid. If you don't use all the cooking liquid with the pork, it makes the most fabulous soup base ever, once you strain out the seasonings.

Last year at this time I made Squash & Carrots with Cinnamon & Ginger

Monday, 2 November 2015

Apple Cider Spice Cake

Lots of cider left after the Chai Cider Tea,  so naturally I used most of the rest to make cake. This is a nice, moist cake and since we are making an effort not to bolt it all down at once, I can say that it seems to be keeping (in a tin) quite well.

The one problem was that the cranberries all sank to the bottom. If  you want to try to avoid that, don't soak them; toss them in a tablespoon of flour and mix half of them in just before putting the batter in the pan. Sprinkle the rest evenly over the top and let them sink in as they bake. However, the cranberries were so nice and moist after their soak that I would be sorry to not give them the opportunity.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 40 minutes prep time

3 cups apple cider
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
a good scrape of nutmeg (1/8 of a small one)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup rum

2 cups soft unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Put the apple cider, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg into a fairly large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil and boil steadily until the cider is reduced in volume by half.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper (or butter and flour it if you prefer).

Turn off the heat and add the cranberries or raisins, the butter, and the honey. Cover and let sit until the butter is melted - stir occasionally. When the mixture has cooled enough not to set the eggs, beat them in. Add the apple cider vinegar and the rum.

Measure the flour and mix the salt and baking powder into it. Shake the flour into the pot of boiled cider, mixing it in well. Turn the batter - it will be fairly thin - into the prepared pan and bake it for about 50 minutes, until firm and set.

Last year at this time I made Spaghetti Squash Singapore Style

Friday, 30 October 2015

Chai Cider Tea

Here is a very simple little thing; more of a trick than a recipe, definitely a treat.  Since there are a number of chai flavoured teas around, both black and herbal, use your favourite, and be prepared to adjust proportions and brewing times according to their differences and  your taste.

A commenter on one of my favourite sites, The Toast, mentioned this as an idea, and I went off and bought the cider at once. Another reason to regard it as one of my favourite internet places to visit.

per 1 or 2 servings
10 minutes prep time

2 cups apple cider,
OR 2 cups apple cider and water mixed
1 chai flavoured tea bag, black or herbal

For a stronger flavoured, sweeter drink, use straight apple cider, but if you prefer the tea flavour to predominate, use up to half water - a little experimentation will determine the correct proportions for you. Bring the cider, or cider and water, to a boil. Turn off the heat, throw in the teabag at once, cover and let steep for 4 to 7 minutes, until brewed to your liking. Remove the teabag and serve.

Last year at this time I made Wheat Crepes.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Crazy About Watermelons

If you are not Crazy About Watermelon, prepare to have your pants bored off.

This was a very good year for growing watermelon in the open, without much use of row covers or irrigation. It could have been hotter, and therefore better, but it was still better than average. This is also, I think, the 3rd year from our deciding to let all (or rather most) of our watermelons cross, and growing out the seed to see what we get. We are now at the point where a few preliminary conclusions can be drawn; so this will be a post about watermelon seed-saving, selection, and breeding as well as a look at my best results of the year.

Watermelon seed saving is easy: eat your melon, putting your seeds aside in a small bowl and discarding any you have bitten. Fill the bowl with water, swish them around, then let them sit a minute. Decant off anything that's floating, then wash the remaining seeds with a little dish detergent. Rinse and drain well. Spread them out on a (labelled) piece of paper towel and dry well for about a week. If you want pure seed, you must plant just one variety, or keep varieties apart by 1/4 to 1/2 mile. Ha ha! Good luck with that. (About 100 feet actually worked passably well for me - but there was a little crossing.)

However, I mostly have not, up until now, wanted to keep my watermelons isolated. In fact, I wanted them to cross. I have had 3 main goals: to just let everything cross with everything else ad lib, and select the results for size, flavour, earliness, and keeping qualities, amongst others; to create an early melon with the golden ripening gene but larger and tastier than Golden Midget; and to cross Sweet Siberian with Orangeglo to produce a larger, tastier melon than Sweet Siberian but one that is adapted to northern growing unlike Orangeglo. This last project required a separate bed, as noted about 100 feet from the mass-cross bed. The mass cross bed contains lots of Golden Midget and Golden Midget crosses, and therefore it has been where I have been looking for my improved Golden Midget offspring to show up. Now that it has, I need to find a way to keep it isolated from here on too.

One of the things that happened this year is we got lots of really fairly small watermelons. Not surprising. I'm looking for the Golden part of Golden Midget, but the Midget part is also well represented. In the next few years I hope to shift melon size up a bit while still pursuing the golden ripening gene. Still, I am not against small watermelons. In a 2-person household, cutting a watermelon in half and eating it all at once has much to be said for it. 

The melon above is MC01-0920. MC refers to our mass cross project, 01 means that it was the first mass cross watermelon we cut open and ate, and 0920 is the date upon which this happened. Unfortunately this is only a general indication of how ripe and how early the melon was. Others may have been just as ripe and ready at the same time but we can only eat so much watermelon at once, and so they may sit and end up much further down the list through no fault of their own. I try to select early watermelon seeds for replanting, but this is a point I must keep in mind.

September 20th is a rather late date for watermelon, at least from the point of view of wanting to eat them. Ideally, ripe watermelon would appear from mid-August until the end of September, and here is our first watermelon perilously close to that end date. This is certainly one of the problems with growing watermelon in this climate. We get a lot of ripe watermelons right through October, but it is not necessarily when one would like to have them.

I think I could likely have picked it up to a week earlier. After a number of sad experiences cutting under ripe watermelon, I do now tend to err on the side of caution. I think I only picked one under ripe watermelon this year, other than a couple that got picked because the season was over and there was no point leaving them longer.

Not only was this watermelon early (for us), it was quite large (for us). In general, larger watermelons are likely to be later ripening watermelons at least comparing them variety to variety. In our patch of mixed-up seeds, large watermelons were just as likely to ripen early as smaller ones, because they were often the first melons produced by a vine and therefore they were large because they got a lot of the plants resources, not because they were a variety that naturally produces large watermelons. None of our watermelons were really massive, because all the varieties that have gone into the mix varied from mid-sized to small (midget, in fact).

This watermelon, being our first, is likely to contribute seed to next years planting. However, flavour was fine but not outstanding, and the texture was a little... tough, almost. It won't be as heavily represented as it might have been otherwise. 

Here is MC03-0921, and one of my champions of the year. Yeah, I know it looks like a runt. It IS a runt, but a very special one. This watermelon turned yellow (apart from the green stripes) when ripe, like its parent Golden Midget. To get this required saving seeds for 2 years, in order to get Golden Midget - Something Else crosses on both the maternal and paternal side in the first year, then a cross between those that passed the golden ripening gene on from both sides. Odds of that happening were approximately 64 to 1, although I brought those odds down to approximately 4 to 1 by planting multiple plants.

Because this melon will almost certainly have been fertilized by something else yet again, I don't expect it to produce nothing but golden ripening offspring. However, I planted plenty of pure Golden Midget plants in the mass cross melon bed this year, and in general my genetic material may be up to 65% Golden Midget in there, given the rate at which I have been planting Golden Midget, so it is not ridiculous to hope for the golden ripening gene to come in from both sides in many of the seeds next year. What I would like to do is to find a spot where I can grow the offspring of this melon in isolation next year, so that they cross only with each other.

It is interesting to me that this melon has such distinct stripes. I have not grown a lot of striped melons; Crimson Sweet, Orangeglo, and Cream of Saskatchewan being the ones I can think of. Those stripes look like Crimson Sweet to me. I hope so. Crimson Sweet is a very popular watermelon in many places including around here, because it produces decently large, early, tasty, trouble resistant, attractive and adaptive melons - all qualities I would like to have in upcoming generations. But are stripes dominant, or could they too have come from hidden genes in some other variety of watermelon? I just don't know.

Here is the flesh from MC03-0921. I forgot to take a cut-in-half photo until too late. However, while the flesh is a little on the pale side, it was sweet and tasty, and the seeds are interestingly small and black. One of the flaws of Golden Midget is that it has large, coarse seeds and lots of them. So this too is good!

MC11-0930 was a melon I was watching from as soon as the plants went out. We had 6 volunteer watermelon plants come up from seeds left in the garden last year. This is the only large melon produced from one of those plants; I lost track of the rest. It was not the world's greatest melon, and if it had not been from a volunteer plant I would have been a lot less interested in it. That splitting is not unusual in large melons (and this was one of our largest melons) but it's not a quality I want to encourage. It also had ridiculous numbers of seeds. However, it tasted really good in spite of possibly being a tad overripe when picked. (Also not a good thing - I'm looking for melons that hold). Still, this has "survivor" qualities I'd like to keep in the gang.

Sweet Siberian was clearly one of the parents of MC12-1002. We had a lot of good orange fleshed melons this year, and this was one of them. Looks like there are hints of red or at least a different orange in the flesh.  Crossed watermelons of different colours can produce almost a marbled effect or so I am told; most of ours were pretty solidly coloured and any internal colour variations were pretty subtle.

Many of our watermelons looked a lot like this one, MC27-1016, and the one below. Pretty small - I didn't weigh these but they were probably just under 3 pounds each - with crisp pale pink or orange flesh, smallish seeds, and very decent keepers. I suspect that many of these had Grover Delaney as a parent. They tended to have that size and configuration, with a fine netted pattern over a more or less green background on the rind.

MC28-1018 wasn't picked on October 18th; that's when we ate it. It was probably picked about 2 weeks earlier. Keeping qualities really tend to show up in the last few watermelons eaten (or not) and so they are just as likely to be selected for seed as earlier melons. This one was great - very small, but nice thin rind, crisp texture not deteriorating in storage, small and few black seeds, and a nice sweet flavour. A winner for sure. Could have had a bit better colour, but life is tough. We'll see what happens with it next year, because it will get planted.

We got quite a lot of melons that looked like this one. From the outside, PJ02-0920 looked a lot like a large Sweet Siberian. That's PJ for project - in addition to the mass cross, I planted a more-or-less separate bed for a planned cross between Sweet Siberian and Orangeglo. I'm pretty sure that's what this is. It's two shades of orange rather than a weak red, and the seeds have the look of Orangeglo - cream with dots on each side of the "pinched" end of the seed, although these are more of a buff, and the dot now extends down around the side of the seed as a stripe. Watermelon seeds are surprisingly diverse, and can be a good clue as to who your parent melons were.

Orangeglo has a reputation as a fantastic watermelon. I obviously grew it out once, but it has problems growing here. Its season is too long, and if the melons are less than 20 pounds, they do not develop their famous good flavour. I got my first grow out of melons ripe enough to save seed, but they were neither large enough nor ripe enough to eat. However, I think it will do good things crossed to Sweet Siberian, a smaller and more northern adapted orange melon.

PJ09-0923 was the best of the Sweet Siberian - Orangeglo crosses. It resembles an Orangeglo more than a Sweet Siberian, but at just over 15 pounds it was not big enough to be a good Orangeglo. Since it wasn't pure Orangeglo, though, it was able to be superb! Five of us tried this watermelon and all of us rated it as fantastic for flavour and texture, including 2 people who don't actually really like watermelon much. I have no trouble describing it as the best watermelon I have ever eaten.

I was worried that my separate Sweet Siberian x Orangeglo bed would not be isolated enough. I did have one red watermelon show up in the patch, but all the rest seemed to be either pure Sweet Siberian, pure Orangeglo, or a cross between the two. So I am concluding it's not great, but good enough to go on with. Now I just have to decide for next year: do I grow a mix of seeds from various successful Sweet Siberian - Orangeglo crosses, or just from this one fab melon?

I'd love to have comments and suggestions from experienced watermelon growers/breeders, if there are any out there reading (and the peanut gallery too, of course).