Last year, okra was our big sleeper veggie. We planted them on a whim, not really knowing what to expect (or how to eat it), and by the end of the summer, we had six plants ranging in height from 6′ to a whopping 12′. And then the gumbo! Oh, the gumbo. Okra + andouille + chicken + hot peppers + a bunch of other deliciousness thrown in a crockpot = pure gumbo magic.
This year, I discovered the awesomeness of beets. For real, I love them. If you have some preconceived, long-seated notion about beets, I think you need to come over to my house and let me cook you up some roasted beets and sweet potatoes with a starter of pickled beets. Plus, they make everything a beautiful shade of fuchsia (EVERYTHING – your hands, the counter top, a nice little trail across the floor where you dropped one and it went rolling away, etc.).
The last big root veggie haul from the back and front yards.
The secret: boil them ’til they’re soft, wipe the skins off, then throw them in for another 10 minutes with your already roasting root vegetables. Yum.
Everything in this pan was produced in our yard (except for the olive oil)! Yellow carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, and herbs – all of it grew up roughly 50′ from where it was eaten.
So, garden friends, what was your favorite surprise in the garden this year? What can you not wait to plant next year?
It’s been a culinary bonanza up in this house today.
- First thing this morning, I whipped up a batch of pizza dough based on Mother Earth News’ “The Secret to Incredibly Easy Homemade Pizza.” I subbed in 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, though, for 1/2 cup water, so it’s going to be extra special. Over the next two weeks, we will definitely be gorging ourselves on homemade pizza. Sweet potato, gorgonzola, and fresh rosemary from the garden, anyone? Or maybe a nice roasted asparagus and cauliflower pizza to celebrate having one foot solidly into spring? Or… BOTH!
- I’m also about to start up a vat of spiced black beans, using Mother Earth News’ frijoles de olla recipe. Our love for huevos rancheros is as deep and vast as the sea, and buying a bag of dried beans for $1.50, cooking them up just like we like them, then freezing them until we’re ready to chow down seems like a good plan. At the end of the day, sometimes all you want to do is fry a couple of eggs, smear some delicious cumin-charged beans on a tortilla, and cover the whole lovely mess in honeyed green cayenne peppers from last fall’s canning extravaganza.
- Next up: grapefruit curd. No comment (other than to say ZOMG I CAN’T WAIT TO EAT IT).
- And finally: sprouted lentils, both for sprinkling on top of fresh salad (if that lettuce in the backyard ever gets big enough to pick) and for baby chick treats.
Speaking of lettuce, we have a pretty healthy, albeit small, early spring garden going. Today, I planted a few more lettuce plants, spinach, sugar snap peas, and green beans.
The beets and carrots are also starting to come up in the beds. Look at how beet-colored their baby stems are.
Ono approves. (You thought I was going to make it an entire post without a chicken picture, didn’t you? You crazy). Shout out to all our friends who dropped by to visit the girlies or otherwise made this weekend fantastic! It’s over far too soon.