Showing posts from November, 2013

Chipotle Corn Chowder

The day before Thanksgiving is Pie Day, but in addition to the traditional baking (pumpkin and apple, which I can share later), I also made a soup for Thanksgiving lunch. I have been ruminating about using our frozen corn for a corn chowder for a few months now, and this seemed the perfect day to give it a go. Corn, after all, is a pretty traditional New England Thanksgiving food. For us, though, it has always been a challenge to grow, so using the last of our hard-won kernels warranted a special occasion. 
My recipe is modified from Pioneer Woman'sCorn Chowder with Chilies [sic]. I liked the idea of spicing this up, but I went with our own dried chipotles instead of the canned ones called for in the recipe. Vinegary, canned peppers seemed weird to me in a creamy soup, but her addition of masa harina is genius. Here's my version:
Chipotle Corn Chowder
4 slices of bacon (ours was from Tendercrop and was corn-cob smoked, which is extra smoky and rich-tasting, and perfect for thi…

Horseradish Preparation

Ah, horseradish. Delicious and so easy to grow you might want to plant it somewhere where it won't bother you if it takes over. It's kind of a bully in a garden bed, but that just means there's more to harvest in the fall.
It's at its best after a frost when the leaves die back, but once it's established you can dig it up whenever you want, really. I went out on Tuesday to quick dig up bunches of roots while the temperatures were (temporarily) mild and the ground unfrozen. Although I was careful to leave behind at least a couple good roots for next year, I still brought in a big bucket of horseradish:

In the midst of Pie Day (the day before Thanksgiving, when all the baking happens), I took some time to prep the horseradish for both eating and long-term storage. First, wash it and pat it dry:

For storage, think about what you would do with any other root vegetable, maybe a carrot or turnip. Crisper drawer on high humidity will do, but only store intact roots that …

Thankful for Our Plymouth Rock

With the short days and increasing cold, there aren't many eggs to be had this time of year. We haven't used the light yet because the girls are molting, and that also makes them stop laying while they reserve all their protein for feather-building. 
But not Sally! That chicken is a laying machine. She is single-handedly providing us fresh eggs, even though it's almost December:

And they are nice and big, too. Just the thing I needed yesterday when I made our pumpkin pie.
Sally, appropriately, is a Plymouth Rock hen:

She's a Barred Rock, which describes the black and white "bars" on her feathers. Plymouth Rocks were first bred in New England and date back to the 1850s in our area. As you might expect, they are practically immune to the cold, and our Sally doesn't seem at all fazed by the dark days, either.
The photo (portrait?) above is from over a year ago, just before she began laying. She's still an adolescent here — you can tell because the comb …

Live and Learn, Part 2: Too-Tall Tunnels

Although for the most part this fall had been mild and calm, that all changed last weekend with (surprise!) a gusty wind storm that tore up one of our greenhouse tunnels:

This one houses our leeks (to the left), plus some root veg, bok choy, arugula, and cabbages. Well, it used to. Now it's the home of bok choy popscicles:

The picture doesn't quite get across that during the rapid temperature drop into the teens, the bok choy was frozen absolutely solid. I could have broken pieces off with a snap, like that experiment where a scientist dips a rubber ball in liquid nitrogen and then smashes it on the ground. So much for the stir fry we were planning on.

The leek leaves are similarly frozen, but since that's not the part we eat, it's not a problem. Underground, the fat white bulbs are still happy. Kirk was able to fix this just to cover the leek half up before the big rain storms hit last night. The leeks would likely survive the winter uncovered, but under ice and snow…

Success: Leek Galette and Peaches

Amid the failures of this weekend (I haven't been able to bring myself to document all of them yet, but will soon) was one shining success: 

Usually for Sundaydinner we have some really classic combination of a roast meat and several veggie side dishes. That sounds a lot like what we'll be preparing on Thursday, though, so this Sunday we went with a vegetarian option instead. Kirk made this Mushroom and Leek Galette with Gorgonzola from America's Test Kitchen, and it was fantastic (as are all recipes from America's Test Kitchen).
But I bet even they don't know that the absolutely most perfect side dish for this is a serving of peaches. 
Canned peaches. 
I was skeptical (or maybe just really tired) back in the summer when I was blanching and peeling and canning all of those peaches that they would actually be all the great to eat in the winter. I mean, how could they ever compare with the delicious fresh ones from the summer? At the time it seemed a moral imperative…

Live and Learn, Part 1: Sweet Potatoes in New England

It's not all that fun to write about failure. It's not all that fun to fail. But this weekend has been full of failures, mild annoyances, and terrible weather. Sigh.

Still, when you're done shaking your fist at the sky, you can learn from it. And if I share it, maybe you can learn from it too. Here's what we (reluctantly) learned about sweet potatoes this weekend.

Last year we had great success with growing sweet potatoes, and this season, despite the groundhog damage, we had a great big pile of them as well. They are so low-maintenance and so high-yield for us, we were starting to wonder why they are considered a Southern crop. I mean, we have no trouble growing them here in Massachusetts, so why aren't they considered a New England crop as well?

It's the curing, stupid.

Curing certain crops before storage helps them dry out and toughen up so they last longer in your root cellar. It's important to do it right, or your shelf life is cut waaaay back, as mol…

Green Chile Sauce

I liked our homemade sriracha sauce so much that as soon as it was finished, I immediately filled up a new jar to make more. This time I thought I'd go for a fermented green chile sauce, since we still had lots of cayenne peppers left that still hadn't turned red on the counter:

So I grabbed a bunch of green cayenne peppers, plus a handful of green jalapeños and cilantro (which ended up being about 1 pound of material), gave them a very rough chop, and tossed them in the food processor:

After a thorough pureeing, I added 4 cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of kosher salt, and about 1/4 cup of honey:

After a final blitz, I put it in the jar with a tablespoon of starter brine from a jar of lacto-fermented chard in the fridge. You can skip this, or add a little whey from some yogurt if you want. Once the jar is capped, it sits on the counter for a week or so:

My jar wasn't full, so releasing the pent-up gases from the fermentation never was much of an issue. After a week, I pre…


Remember how we went to Mexico back in April? Half the fun was in the eating, and the other night we recreated our favorite dish:

This is a shrimp ceviche that Kirk made with some of our last tomatoes (all those green ones we brought in before frost are turning red little by little, which has extended our tomato season by a good month or so). This is pretty much exactly like the ceviche we had in Tulum, and it was really easy to do.
Like, really easy.
All you need is 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp (peeled but uncooked), a half dozen limes, and an afternoon.
Put the shrimp in a bowl and juice all the limes into the bowl. Give it a stir and let it sit for 3-4 hours. 
Just before serving, drain the shrimp (which will now look pink), and add to a bowl with diced tomatoes, onion, and cilantro (and avocado, if you like) and stir. 
The end.
The thing with ceviche is that it "cooks" the shrimp with a chemical reaction between the shellfish and the acid of the lime juice. No heat required, …

Herbal Apothecary: 4C Shampoo

I have recently experienced a mini-viral boom of hits on my post about homemade herbal shampoo, undoubtedly fueled by Pinterest. 12 ounces of shampoo lasts me a really, really long time since my hair is so short, so I only make new batches maybe twice a year. For the latest shampoo, I also worked up a new recipe, with herbs that are gentle on my fine hair. 4C Shampoo also lathers up a bit more than my old recipe, which makes it a little easier to use (and makes a little shampoo go an even longer way).
The first 3Cs of the shampoo are the herbs: dried calendula, comfrey, and chamomile:

The total here is an ounce of dried herbs, in a roughly 4:2:1 ratio of calendula:chamomile:comfrey. Calendula is often used in soaps and cosmetics, comfrey is great for regenerating cells and softening hair, and chamomile smells nice — and can help highlight lighter hair with a golden tone.
Simmer the herbs with about 12 ounces of water:

I bring it to barely a boil, then turn back the heat to low for ab…

Fall and Winter Garden Recipe Collection

Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, and that means it's time to start thinking about what to cook — and eat! This is my favorite holiday of the year, and while we have our traditional recipes (obviously turkey and stuffing, for example), the side dishes are somewhat flexible based on what's available from the garden.

It's nice to try something new or give a tired dish a different spin sometimes too, so I've compiled links to all of our favorite fall and winter garden recipes. Even if you don't go out on a limb for Thanksgiving dinner, these are great comfort foods to eat throughout the dark days that are coming our way.

Appetizers and Snacks

Appetizers: Horse Dip and Roasted Garlic Dip

Celery Soup

Chipotle Lime Pumpkin Seeds

French Leek Soup

Pickled Beets

Root Soup

World's Best Chicken (or Turkey) Soup (also great for leftovers!)

Side Dishes

Bacony Green Beans and Candied Yams

Green Bean and Goat Cheese Almondine

Herb-Roasted Root Vegetables and Salad of Winter Greens an…

How to Make Homemade Sriracha

When I wrote about ways to preserve the pepper harvest, I didn't mention the third option I had brewing away on the counter: homemade hot sauce!
October's brief but terrifying sriracha shortage scare has come and gone, but the hubbub reminded me that we, of course, could make our own. And probably make it better. And definitely spicier. (Our jalapeños are off-the-charts hot this year). 
So I checked the Ball Blue Book for hot sauce recipes and looked around onlineforideas about what makes up the magic stuff in the rooster bottle before hitting the kitchen to give it a go. I decided on fermented hot sauce instead of one with vinegar in it. Here's how you do it:
1. Gather up 4 pounds of (red) hot peppers:

Most of mine are jalapeños, but you can see that I also tossed in a few ripe cayenne peppers (for variety) as well as several red bell peppers (to keep the heat in check). In the photo are actually 3 pounds of peppers, but later I added another pound of bell peppers to ton…

Kids' Corner: Sunday Dinner

This is the first of an occasional series, in which the kids guest blog about kid stuff. Today's featured author is Tiegan Trach:

Tiegan is an 11-year-old middle schooler who normally wears modern clothing. Here's her account of making Sunday dinner last night with her brother.
America Runs On Butter
The cookbook that we used was Meals of Many Lands. The country/place we made was America and the food we made was Oven-Fried Chicken, Candied Yams (actually sweet potatoes), Green Beans, and Apple Crisp. We waited until it was fall so we could have sweet potatoes from the garden. 
To make the Oven-Fried Chicken, we cut the whole chicken into pieces, brushed melted butter on them, and shook a few pieces at a time in a bag that had crushed cornflakes in it. Then we baked them for an hour at 375 degrees.
To make the Candied Yams, we mixed brown sugar and salt in a pan with melted butter. Then we put the sliced, peeled sweet potatoes in the pan in one layer. Then we turned them over a…