Friday, September 21, 2012

Newtown CT Victory Garden

This is a project many people in my town contributed to, and since I have found the idea to be so valuable, I wanted to share it.  This is the second year for The Victory Garden, supported by   the town of Newtown in terms of providing the space, placing the needed fence and watering equipment.  Some of the plant stock is donated by local nurseries.   Groups such as the Master Gardeners, Lion's Club, Library, Parks and Recreation, Trinity Episcopal Church donated the time and labor to plant and keep the garden going through the summer.
I worked with Trinity, thanks to my friend Paula; we call ourselves the Trinity Trowlers.  We planted potatoes, garlic, green and yellow beans, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, peppers, butternut squash, and a few flowers.  The garden at large also had corn, beets, herbs, more flowers, greens such as swiss chard, cabbage.  We do have a resident customer who is not always welcome: the woodchuck.  He particularly enjoys leafy greens!
The bounty was shared with three sites in town who help those in need gain access to the food they need: Faith Food Pantry, Newtown Social Services, and Nonnewaug Meadows.  We hope that all this produce was enjoyed as much as we have enjoyed growing it.

Pumpkin Harvest

The pride and joy of my garden this year were several beautiful pumpkins that arrived as "volunteers" from the compost.  Other stars include garlic, fingerling potatoes, and the biggest crop of basil I've ever had.
I had recently seen a recipe online from King Arthur Flour for Pumpkin Doughnuts and have been thinking about them ever since.  Now I am not a doughnut fan, but these are baked and really are just like a muffin or quick bread in a doughnut shape.
But first, the pumpkin had to be carved and roasted to make the puree.  I refuse to use canned pumpkin! While it is a bit time consuming, it's really just like baking a winter squash.  I cleaned out the seeds, put them in a bowl of water to make removing the bits of pulp easier. The the pumpkin is cut in eights and roasted at 375 degrees for about an hour.  Once it cools, the skin is easy to peel off.  The pulp is pureed in the food processor.  I did also strain it to be sure it didn't have too much liquid. One pumpkin made enough pulp for 15 doughnuts and several pumpkin pies.
The recipe can be found here:  I had purchased one of their doughnut pans, and while it's not a necessity it is fun to bake that shape.  I added freshly grated ginger to the batter which really made them tasty, along with the cinnamon sugar they are dusted with after they are baked.
If you don't have the pan, the recipe tells you how to bake them as muffins.  Another great addition would be sunflower seeds!
And don't forget to roast those pumpkin seeds.  I let them dry a while then laid them out on a sheet pan, sprayed them lightly with olive oil and dusted them with a mix of smoking paprika, cayenne, kosher salt  and pepper.  I did them in the toaster oven at about 275 for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Roasted Root Veggies in Mustard Sauce

This is a very colorful and tasty recipe that I adapted from the web site  I made it with a wild and brown basmati rice and it was very satisfying.  I had just found kohlrabi at the farmers' market on Sunday and it went well with the others.
I used just water rather than stock, added a few potatoes, put the garlic into the sauce rather than roasting it. As well I doubled the sauce amount, so there would be plenty.
This recipe would be equally nice as a side dish.

Roasted Vegetables (Beets, Kohlrabi, Sweet Potato) with Mustard Sauce
2beets (scrubbed, trimmed)
1 1/2cup kohlrabi (peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes)
2sweet potatoes and 2 yellow potatoes
4small tomatoes
1medium onion
4cloves garlic
2teaspoons olive oil 
1tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4cup chopped shallot or red onion
2tablespoon all-purpose flour
1cup water (or vegetable or chicken stock)
1/2cup milk
3tablespoons (prepared Dijon) mustard
1/5teaspoon salt
  1. Chop up vegetables and arrange in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and a half teaspoon salt. Roast at 425 for 45 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown.
  2. Melt butter and when aromatic mix add shallot  and garlic, saute until clear. Add milk and stock/water followed by flour and then finally mustard and salt.
  3. For vegan omit milk and butter, replace with stock and canola oil.

Read more:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Artichokes: Rite of Spring

Haven't had these in ages but they are delicious and look great too. Recipe from Vegetarian Times magazine.
The ultimate way to enjoy fresh artichokes.
  • 4 globe artichokes
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Chopped parsley for garnish, optional

1. Break off artichoke stems to remove tough fibers. Cut stem ends. Trim off pointed leaf tops of artichokes with scissors. Rub cut parts with lemon half.
2. Fill large pot with 2 inches water, and add bay leaf and garlic clove. Squeeze juice from lemon halves into water, and place steamer basket in pot. Set artichokes top down in steamer basket, cover, and bring water to a boil. 
3. Reduce heat to medium, and steam artichokes, covered, 45 to 50 minutes, or until a bottom leaf from each base pulls away easily. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with a dipping sauce, if desired.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Beets are Golden

Enjoy the golden beets that are in the market now. A simple salad of the roasted beets, orange sections, goat cheese if you like it, with a vinagrette dressing. For more color, use a few red beets too.

(To roast beets, spray or rub them, skins on, with a bit of olive oil, wrap them in foil, pop in the oven for about 45-60 minutes at 375 degrees. If they are very large cut into quarters)

Friday, March 9, 2012

It’s that time of the year to celebrate the Irish. This bread is so easy to make, you can do it just before your meal.

Yield: 1 loaf (about 1 3/4 lb.)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine (I use canola oil, 1 ½ T)
2 cups whole-wheat flour (soft wheat or pastry flour)
1/4 cup steel cut oats (or oatmeal)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (You can also use plain yogurt)

1. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, sweetener (honey, agave or sugar), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture forms fine crumbs. (Using the oil you can avoid this step, and it’s a healthier option) Stir in remaining flour and oats.
2. Add buttermilk ; stir gently. If mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, just until dough holds together; it should not be sticky.
3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead gently 5 times to make a ball. Set on a lightly greased baking sheet (I used parchment paper). Pat into a 7-inch circle. With a floured knife, cut a large X on top of loaf.
4. Bake in a 375° oven until well browned, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cool.

I adapted this recipe from Cristina Faulkner, La Mirada, California, Sunset, MARCH 1997 which I found at the following link:

This week we had a glimpse of spring. I took advantage of the mild temperatures to bring some beautiful brown compost to my garden and get it ready for planting. Having been at the NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers'Association) Winter Conference last weekend, I got the notion,"It's time to plant." My goal this year is to see how I can improve my yields.
The photo on the left: the greens I had in my salad tonight, picked from my cold frame. These lovely little babies have been slowly growing over the winter. I enjoyed Russian kale, red and golden beet greens, lettuce, arugula and spinach. They were a wonderful addition to the romaine, cherry tomatoes, avocado and gorganzola.
The photo on the right: my garlic is up about 4 inches. I simply love seeing those green shoots pop up from under the leaves. Just finished last years's crop, my goal this year is to make it at least to early summer. Of course if I had more space I could grow enough to last till the next crop came in.
A memory from growing up, my father always said that potatoes should be planted on St Patrick's Day. This year I am going to see if he was right.