Thursday, November 25, 2010

November garden-brussel sprouts

 I've been pretty busy in the garden this week.  Repairs needed to be done, replacing many weathered and bygone boards and making new raised beds for next season.  All the existing raised beds have been composted and the perennial beds mulched. The farmers' almanac is predicting  an accumulative snowy winter this year for us here in the east, and though we seldom see the inch amounts  as the inlanders do, it's just better practice to be safe than sorry--so I mulch heavily.

So the garden is nearly empty now :( The deer snacked on my brussel sprout foliage, but most of the sprouts are still intact.  Sprouts in our neck of the woods seems to be prolific growers--with little or no care at all.  Last year I was still harvesting on January 4th, but that was the last of them that day.

This year I will be trying something new.  I am harvesting the entire stalks and hanging them in cool storeage to see how much longer I can extend them, until I'm ready to use them.  Though I have to admit, it's kind of neat (though very chilly) harvesting the sprouts from under a blanket of snow too!

The parsnips I planted a few weeks back are doing so well. I'll be curious to see how they fare the winters up here as well as give me something to look forward to come March in the garden besides the cleanup :). The kales--hardy as ever. I just love that they last so long in the garden. They will go into my soups throughout most of the winter and so healthy for you too!

With mixed emotions { because I really hate saying goodbye to the garden each year} I sadly pulled the last of my carrots and purple top turnips this week to grace my Thanksgiving dinner table today.  I don't know how the voles missed these last three rows--but thrilled they missed them!

The forecasters are calling for our first ice storm of the season later today and into tomorrow, so I'm really happy to have finished my tasks up this week in the garden.  My pies are all baked, Tom is roasting in the oven, most of my side dishes readied to be cooked.  Now, I am heading out for my daily walk, before the children arrive.  I'm glad we won't be doing any traveling this holiday.  It's been a long and fruitful season all in all.  I'm so very grateful for our many abundances this year. Enjoy the simple pleasures this holiday will bring–sweet surprises, safe travel and joyful journeys along with together times… Thanksgiving.. a time to be thankful for all the abundances in our lives.  Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with all the blessings of the season. Til next thyme..

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Roasted Butternut & Fennel Risotto

Last  week I harvested the remaining fennel, shallots and butternut squash from the gardens to hopefully winter over, so for dinner tonite it was roasted butternut risotto for us. I just love risotto and what fabulous flavor the roasted veggies add  to this dish.

Roasted Butternut & Fennel Risotto 

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into cubes
1/2 small fennel bulb,finely sliced
3 TBLS olive oil
2 TBLS unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt, white pepper
fresh savory, parsley & sage, minced
2 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup Pinot Grigio
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the squash and fennel on a baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt, white pepper & herbs of choice. Roast uncovered for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil and set aside.

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn off and cover to keep it warm.

Melt butter, and gently saute the garlic and shallots until softened 5 or 6 minutes. Add the rice, coating it well and stir until it turns opaque about 2 minutes. You don't want the rice to brown. Now add the wine and cook gently until it has been absorbed. Add the warming broth, simmering the pot, ladle by ladle,until you've used all the stock and the rice is thick, creamy and tender, about 20 minutes or so. Now add the roasted butternut squash and fennel pieces to the cooked risotto. Remove from heat and stir in grated parmesan cheese and serve. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thyme for winter

With the herbs nearly all  harvested now its time to make sure our winter medicine cabinet has all it needs. Thyme honey is one of the important parts of our medicine cabinet. It is used for colds, influenza and sore throats. Thyme has strong antiseptic properties including activity against viruses, insects, bacteria and fungus. Traditionally, thyme was used to treat bronchitis but I I find it to be useful in our house for treating winter illnesses such as colds such as the one I am fighting  now. 

One nice way to use thyme is as honey and its very easy to make. You can still pick thyme now, it should withstand a mild frost just fine. Cut stems short and put them in a glass mason jar. Cover the thyme with wildflower honey. Put the jar in a pan of water to slightly heat the honey while pushing the thyme down and adding more thyme. Once the honey is fluid, put the lid on the jar and store the honey with the thyme still in it until needed. You can use this honey to add to tea or use it straight for a sore throat.  Til next thyme!