Gardening, Pie, Vegetables

Baleful Bounty II –

The end of the Straw Bale Garden Experiment.
It’s been an interesting summer. We started the straw bale garden with very guarded optimism as traditional gardening efforts here at Turtle Creek have been a complete disaster. Between the impermeable red clay and DR, it became clear that we would have been better off to just Scotch Tape the seeds directly to the patio for all the good it did.
Happily, the straw bales were a rounding success. And on top of the bounty, we’ve gotten some terrific soil conditioner for next year.

The score card for the year:

1). Yellow Pear Tomatoes – DING DING DING!! They produced super well. So good – that I finally tore the vines down to keep from pushing bags of them off on unsuspecting passer-bys.
A “Thumb’s Up” for next year.

2). Okra – DING DING DING!! – its currently the last bale standing because they’re still producing and probably will until frost. We’ve gotten about a mess of okra every 8 days from the 6 plants.
Again –  a Go for next spring (we’ll probably add a second bale of okra, though – to keep up with the demand)

3.) Brandy-wine and Better Boy tomatoes – Both produced well. With single plants of a variety of heirlooms, it can keep you in enough tomatoes to satisfy your needs.
We’ll probably add 2 additional varieties next year.

4.) Yellow Bell Pepper – Ding – We got 2. I’ll either have to rethink the peppers, or – move them to a different spot in the garden to take advantage of the ample sun.

5.) Grey Zucchini – Ding Ding Ding!!. 2 Plants gave us more than we wanted to eat..and plenty to give away. 2 will be sufficient for next year.

6.) Patty Pan Squash – Thump! – We got 1. I’m not sure if it was the location – or the year. There didn’t seem to be any PP’s at any of the local curb markets or fruit stands. It may have just been an off year. As it IS my fav squash, I’ll try again next year.

7.) and Finally – Sweet Potatoes – DING DING DING!!

I really didn’t expect them to produce at all. So any  is a win for me. We got about 8 taters per plant so far. (The last 3 plants are in the okra bale, so it will be a couple of more weeks until I see the final count.)

I love sweet potatoes. Aside from being just a hunk of home-lovin memories – (After school snacks of cold baked sweet potatoes and butter.) Sweet potatoes are hugely rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber. This means that they slow the body’s absorption of sugar and help regulate blood-sugar levels. And, all those complex carbos will make you feel fuller longer( That’s a ton more than white potatoes can do for you). They are a good source of copper, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Which – if you’re dieting – is a huge bonus. Honestly – sweet potatoes are better than any energy bar out there.

And you know what else?…

CANDIED SWEET POTATOES   
Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients
6-8 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (or to taste)
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
3/4 Cup Melted Butter or Margarine
1 Tablespoon Orange or Lemon Zest
1 Tablespoon Flour
1/4 Cup Water
1 13″ x 9″Pyrex Baking Dish

  • Preheat Oven to 375
  • Mix brown sugar, zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
  • Wash, Peel and Slice sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch round slices.
  • Arrange 1 layer of potatoes in a lightly greased baking dish (2 Layers).
  • Sprinkle each layer of potatoes with the mixture.
  • Pour 3/4 cup melted butter and the water over potatoes
  • Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
  • Remove and baste with the liquid in the dish.
  • Return to oven and continue baking UNCOVERED for 30 minutes.

Herb-Roasted Sweet Potatoes   
Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into  1/2-inch-thick sticks (think of it as cutting Steak Fries)
3 tablespoons basil infused olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, coarse chopped
1/4 Cup Fresh Thyme Leaves (if you’re buying them, about 1 bunch from the market.)
4 Sage Leaves – Julienne
3 Tablespoons Parsley – Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon coarse Ground Black Pepper

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Strip all the leaves from the thyme sprigs and discard the stems. (The best way to do this is to hold the sprig between your fingers at the new growth end. With your other hand, pinch the sprig between your thumb and finger and pull your fingers towards the woody end. The leaves will strip off cleanly.)
  • In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except the parsley) and toss.
  • Arrange potato sticks in single layer in a 13×9-inch Pyrex baking dish.
  • Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with the minced parsley and lightly toss
  • Serve warm or at room temperature

Mom’s Sweet Potato Pie
(also works very well with Butternut Squash!)
Makes 1 10″ pie
Ingredients
1 Pie Crust Recipe
1 1/2 Cups Cooked Sweet Potato or Butternut Squash
3/4 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Flour
3 Eggs
1 Stick Butter or Margarine
1/4 Cup Whipping Cream (if you are lactose intolerant – I’ll give you a work around after the preparation)
1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 10″ Pie Plate
1 Large Mixing Bowl
1 Medium Saucepan
1 Electric Mixer

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Prepare 1 Pie Crust Recipe (See Here)
  • Drain and mash cooked potatoes
  • While the potatoes are hot – Add the butter and stir to incorporate.
  • Cool for 15 minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients and beat well with the mixer.
  • Pour into the prepared crust
  • Cool before serving.

Lactose Intolerant Sweet Potato Pie
Makes 1 10″ Pie
Ingredients
1 Pie Crust Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Cooked Sweet Potato or Butternut Squash
3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Flour
3 Eggs
1 Stick Margarine
1/8 Cup Orange Juice
1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 10″ Pie Plate
1 Large Mixing Bowl
1 Medium Saucepan
1 Electric Mixer

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Prepare 1 Pie Crust Recipe (See Here)
  • Drain and mash cooked potatoes
  • While the potatoes are hot – Add the margarine and stir to incorporate.
  • Cool for 15 minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients and beat well with the mixer.
  • Pour into the prepared crust
  • Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
  • Cool before serving.