Monday, October 28, 2013

Damn that chill

Where was the transition? But a week ago I was in a T-shirt with a hoodie at the ready as the sun started to fade. Then overnight, well it was really mid-day, the temperature nosedived making me wrap a scarf around my neck, and figure out where I put the dogs’ jackets.

Fortunately, I knew exactly where I stored the thermal covering for the garden – show’s my priorities. I still have a selection of developing watermelon radishes and various lettuces that I am not willing to lose. The potted lemon verbena, ginger and curry leaf plant had already found a spot in the house in front of the big picture window that affords them a terrific view of the mountains just to the west, hopefully protected until next spring.

I cannot save everything try as I might. Still in the ground, and even putting out flowers, are peppers and green beans. All I can do at this point is take a big bag out to them and harvest. Once I was done I could not believe how many peppers were still on the branch. The preponderance still green, though fortunately most of them were poblanos, which don’t offend me when not ripened. Still, I have way more then I could get through in a week. So, halved and seeded then nestled into freezer bags to be called upon for a winter stew.  And, of course all those habernos needed to get pureed and add to the jars curing in the refrigerator.    

Jicama Salad - serves 6

1 pound jicama - peeled and sliced very fine julienne
2 pablano chilis - seeded and sliced thin
1 jalapeno – seeds removed and sliced very thin
1 small red onion - sliced very thin
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 lime - juice only
1/4 cup oregano - leaves only, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and let sit for half hour or overnight, refrigerated.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Some Lost Some Gain

I think it took the latter part of August and all of September to finally feel dried out. Through expected springtime rains; then a summer that saw daily deluges, and a sun that played peek-a-boo behind clouds that threatened more rain left everything a bit more than damp.

Mold grew on the south side of trees, many of which up-ended due to the softened ground that no longer allowed their impressive roots to anchor securely. Sinks holes were reported with such frequency I though I was living in Florida. And, then there was the garden. Seedlings went in but little came out. Eggplant, borage, cumin and black-eyed peas drowned within days. Cucumbers managed to vine and meander but the constant down pours thwarted the pollinators I rely upon forcing them keep hidden and safe from watery bombardments. Of the tomatoes that developed, I would venture to guess that half rotted on the branch. However, my greatest disappointment was with the pomegranate tree. By late April into May its branches were rife with flowers and by the June I spotted a nascent fruit take hold. Then more rains, and not a gentle drizzle but sideward sheets that seared flowers from the branch and made that one promise disappear between the crackle of lighting and subsequent clap of thunder.

The radishes, kale, chard, beets and lettuces of the autumn garden germinated well in the constant moistness. My farmer’s markets satisfied my craving for zucchini, okra and eggplant. We did not go without, and will not starve this coming winter, even if my pantry and a chest freezer are at half capacity – just disappointed my melon tasted like water.

There seems a bright spot in this otherwise bleak, overcast report and that is apples are fabulous this fall. Big, juicy and plentiful. And, I cannot believe I am saying this, but I am actually looking forward to a cold snap because then my favorites: Black Twig,Golden Russet and Arkansas Black will be coming to market.

Moist Apple Bundt Cake – yields 9-inch bundt cake

Apprx. 1-1/2-pounds apples – peeled, cored and diced1-tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-cup chopped pecans
2-cups sugar
8 ounces (2-sticks) unsalted butter
2-teaspoons vanilla extract
2-cups all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
½-teaspoon baking soda
1/8-teaspoon salt
3/4-cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt cake pan.

In a small bowl mix the apples, pecans, cinnamon and 2-tablspoons of sugar to thoroughly combine. Hold to the side.

Beat the butter and the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next one. Mix the vanilla extract into the butter mixture.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour and sour to the butter mixture, and mix to combined.

Pour about  two-thirds of the batter into the cake pan, and then sprinkle about ¾’s of the pecan mixture over the batter. Pour in the remaining batter. Scatter the remaining apple/pecan mixture on top of the cake.

Place in the oven, and bake for about 60 to 90 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove to a cooling rack, and let the cake sit for about a half hour before removing from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely on the rack.