All posts filed under: Baleful Bounty

Garden Project 2015 – Celer-y… Celer-Ra!

We go through a lot of celery. That’s nearly 2 bunches a week. It goes in salads, soups, stews… the occasional ants on a log…and sometimes, just to munch. I mean, it’s like negative calories. The amount of jaw muscle work and digestive hoo haas going on far over-reach the measly 7 calories per stalk. But that leaves me with a bounty of these little celery stalk butts. Yes, I know it’s still celery… but the color is all wrong and to be completely honest, it doesn’t really taste like much of anything. You remember back in grade school when you stuck toothpicks in potatoes and suspended them over water to watch them grow leggy, useless plants? Or the carrot tops left rotting in jelly jar lids? I found out you can do pretty much the same thing with celery butts…. only instead of a pile of non-producing potato stems – you can get actual – edible – celery! And it only takes about 4 weeks. To do this, you have to understand a couple …

OPA! ~ The Moussaka Experiment

It’s a funny thing when you start researching a recipe. It begins with one simple recipe… then two; both asserting THEY are the traditional recipe. Then there’s recipes three through 15 with only 1/2 of the ingredients – also staking their claim to the birthright. Then there are the ones with potatoes for the base, and an equal number disallowing any knowledge of potatoes. Ones with eggplant stack up against the horde of Greek Mothers that adamantly state there are no eggplants in moussaka. Beef vs Lamb Phyllo Crust vs Bread Crumbs Traditional Greek Cheese vs Cheddar & Parmesan Crushed Tomatoes vs Puree Bechamel vs White Sauce and so it went for 62 separate and distinct recipes… each and every one claiming to be the one and only. In the end, I chose none of them as my recipe. Instead, I became a little like Dr. Frankenstein and created my Greek monster out of 12 different moussakas. So, why all the fuss? Here’s the thing.   Like a lot of people, I have my own ideas what good …

Baleful Bounty – Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes – that mainstay of Church Homecoming potlucks – the master of family Sunday dinners – the keystone of just about every holiday get together… And, face it… most of them are pretty dreadful. Flaccid potato slices floating in noxious, overly garlicky gravy. But, it doesn’t need to be that way. Let’s break away from the norm and make something a little lighter, a little more flavorful, and a hell of a lot prettier to look at.   Since I was blessed with a handful  (really, out of 5 plants, I got 2 pounds of potatoes) of beauties from the garden this year, I thought I’d do something to go with the Sage Battered Pork Chops I was making. And, smashing them up just seemed a crime… you know, since I only got 8 taters from all my hard work and all. I decided to do Jane’s scalloped potatoes… except, I really didn’t know her exact recipe… just basically how it was done… So, I did what I always do… I punted. ________________________________________________ Plate Fodder’s …

Baleful Bounty – Curry Glazed Carrots

Baby . Chantenay . Carrots You remember earlier in the season when I told you about my fantastic brainstorm to create these stunningly amazing growing baskets out of chicken wire, burlap, weed block and my 4-in-1 dirt (1 part hay mulch, 1 part sand, 1 part hummus, 1 part composted cow manure) high above the chomping incisors of marauding rabbits? Well, they were – and are – still stunning…. but I forgot a basic fact when I chose the vegetable to inhabit said stunning suspended medium. Carrots, like a great many other rooty-type vegetables, like a hot head. However – carrots (once again, like any other rooty thing) need cool bottoms in order to achieve maximum rootiness. Hot tops and hot bottoms gives you supreme stunted rootiness…. much like … say… a hot summer day and a 40 year old guy in a very cold swimming pool…. … I’ve got a bumper crop of short, stubby, diminutive chantenay carrots to deal with this year. Which if you’re someone like me that gets all gooey over baby vegetables …

Steakhouse ~ Red Spring Onions

  Looking at this year’s garden plan, I realized I had gotten a tad over-zealous with my onion planting. No one really needs 5 dozen red onion plants… especially when I’ve got 3 dozen Texas Sweet and another 4 dozen Late Season Yellows bedded in. I mean, I do like me some onions, but I’d never be able to utilize all the reds before they rotted… or stunk up the pantry… or both. So I’ve harvested them all as tender spring onions. Why, you ask? Because: 1). As a spring onion, they hold less water than the common white variety, which makes them a bit more meaty. 2). Less Water means they’ll hold up better on the grill and not disintegrate into a slimy pile. 3). They are less aggressive than white onions, and can be added to salads without the fear of onions taking the salad bowl hostage. 4). Red onions (even the immature ones) have up to 8 times the anti-oxidants as their paler cousins, making them an excellent choice for healthier eating. …

Baleful Bounty ~ Melanzane al Funghetto

With the garden production winding down, there’s been very little in my little hay-bale heaven to harvest. Except for eggplants. Typically, I get 2 to 3 decent sized aubergines out of my one plant… and that makes me happy. This year, I decided to plant 4 plants: 2 Gretel White Pencil Eggplants – similar to Asian style aubergines, only less sweet and a firmer bite 1 Black Beauty – the green grocer standard you find in the market 1 Juliette – a striped, amethyst  jewel-toned, egg shaped aubergine The Juliette fell early victim to the overly wet spring and cut worms devastated the remaining 3 plants off and on throughout the summer, so I really wasn’t expecting much of a harvest at all. However come August, I was awash in eggplant. I ate Eggplant Parmesan until my ears bled. I  made casseroles and terrines. I named them and drew Sharpie faces on them… I gave them away by the dozen… and still my plants produced. Even now (in late October) there are another 2 Black …

Baleful Bounty – Chopping Broccoli

Typically, the garden year for me ends with the chili – picking festival as I strip even the most minuscule nub of a pepper off the plants just before fall. Don’t get excited… there are no invites – and the peppers just barely fill a mason jar. It’s a little ritual. The plants are uprooted and dug under, the garden is tidied up, the bales are raked apart so the harsh winter can continue to break down the straw mulch to build the growing humus under-layer in the beds. Except this year. this fall I decided to try a late season experiment with broccoli. The cooler weather is ideal for growing brassicas (cabbage family vegetables), and should keep down the bugs that usually torment my leafy things. I didn’t get very stellar heads. While the plants did produce copious amounts of greenery, I only harvested 8 golf ball sized florets. I’ll get around to doing something with them over the holiday, but that still left me with all those greens. Some time ago I caught an episode of French Food at …

Hello, My Loverlies…

Okay, I know you’re supposed to let fresh sweet potatoes cure for a couple of months before you eat them. It allows the flavors to concentrate, the water evaporate and the sugars develop… But, this year’s Baleful Bounty produced some gargantuan sweet potatoes and  I just couldn’t wait any longer to get into them.. I mean… it  was   huge!  the size of a football    –   no lie! I initially  cooked up a soup-kitchen sized vat of whipped sweet potatoes… and we ate on it for several days. But, as I found out, sweet potatoes on the ready – really isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. They don’t exactly go with everything. I eventually portioned out a bit for now-time and packed the bulk of it away in the freezer for later Holiday uses. My eye caught on a package of pre-cooked, pre-sauced, pre-sliced Jack Daniels BBQ brisket. I’ll be honest, I’m 99.999% of the time completely uninterested in prepackaged foods. It just doesn’t do it for me. I like food that gets me… and …

Baleful Bounty – Dairy-Free Cheesy Enchiladas Verdes

You know, it’s funny how something so seemingly insignificant can set things in motion… The other day I was just window shopping the canned food aisle at the market….  really..  okay,  I was after a can of Pork and Beans,  but it was for research, you know… o–kay,  I wanted beans on toast… but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, there was a girl rifling around in the ethnic section, shoving cans around and digging to the back of the stack, when she knocked a can on the floor. I casually picked it up and looked at the label as I replaced it on the shelf. It was a can of Green Enchilada Sauce… “huh”, I thought. “Enchilada Sauce.” Then, in a split of a split second. as I passed the end cap, I remembered I had bought a package of this : the other day, thinking I could use it as a substitute for Pepper Jack on a sandwich.  (FYI) You can’t. It’s too sticky, and too much like garlicky , peppery paste – and …

Baleful Bounty – Frittering My Life Away

For those of you keeping vigil… Yes, I did an okra fritter back early last February. But –  With the bounty of okra I snagged from the Okra Man, and my own voluminous production… we need to repeat some things.. and the okra fritters were / are something that warrant a second look. The first time around, being winter and all, I used frozen okra. Which in the grand scope of things has a few benefits over fresh. (a) The freezing breaks down the cell structure a bit and allows for quicker cooking, and (b), freezing seems to cut back on all that slime production and general liquid some.  And while still the best fritter thingy I’ve made to date, I wanted to see how fresh out of the garden okra would fare. First off, I’ve sliced the okra THIN – 1/8″, which offsets the concern of cooking time. I’ve also cut back the original liquids by 1/4 cup to account for the ever present slime, and added extra flavors – (Not everyone loves the taste of okra …