Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What to plant in December

So I have all this space in the garden and now it's too late in the year to plant anything. I don't know what to do.

I did just plant some shallots, but only 5 of them. That's all they had at the nursery. I planted them just under the surface of the soil at the edge of my garlic area. The nursery also didn't have cauliflower, and their spinach was pretty pathetic. I might as well grow them from seeds myself.

The plan now is to plant some more spinach (Loris really prefers it to chard), hopefully some more cauliflower, and maybe some peas. And radishes! Sorry Loris, but I really need something for my salads besides onion. And we're certainly overdosing on lettuce these days. Yum! But some of these things will have to wait until February.

And in the meantime, I have to get through Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some cauliflower recipes

Cauliflower soup

1/2-1 onion
Butter and/or olive oil
1/2-1 onion
2-3 boiling potatoes
1/2-1 cauliflower, broken into florets
3-6 cloves of garlic
a handful of drained canned or cooked garbanzo beans
Mushroom broth (optional)

Chop the onion and the potato, peel the garlic (and cut any large cloves in half), and break the cauliflower into florets.

In a medium-large pot, heat the olive oil and/or melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until it is soft and translucent (but not browned). Add the potatoes and garlic, stir for a minute, then add broth to cover. If you have some mushroom broth, add it too. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Add the cauliflower and garbanzo beans, and more broth to cover. Leave as is if you prefer a thicker soup, or add a bit more broth if you prefer a thinner soup. Simmer until all the vegetables are soft, then blend with a food processor or blender. Boil soup to make it thicker, or add broth to make it thinner (optional). Serve warm.

Cauliflower and turnip risotto

1/2 to 1 head cauliflower
5 turnips
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 to 1 onion
olive oil
wine (white would be best)
parmesan cheese
Peel the turnips and dice them. Boil them in the broth until they start to get tender, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the broth and set aside.
Chop up the cauliflower and add to the broth. Cook until tender, then lower heat to low, but keep warm.
Chop onion finely. In a medium-large pot, add olive oil and onion, turn heat to medium, and cook onion gently until it becomes translucent, but not browned.
Add the rice. Add more oil if necessary so the rice is coated in oil. Stir constantly so the rice does not stick and burn. After a few minutes, the rice will start to make a sound like beads knocking together. At this point, add the wine (about /2 cup to 1 cup). Stir constantly but gently until the wine is absorbed.
Now start adding broth, about a ladle-full at a time. Stir the rice gently as the broth is dissolved. After a few ladles of broth, add some of the soft cauliflower as well. Try to mash the cauliflower as you add it.
Meanwhile, if desired, saute the turnips until slightly browned. After adding broth to the risotto for 15-20 minutes, begin to taste to see if the rice is done. When it is done, remove from heat, strain the remaining cauliflower from the broth, and add the cauliflower and turnips to the risotto. Serve with parmesan cheese.

December garden update

I haven't had much time for the garden recently. The weather and the rest of my life have been conspiring against me. It hasn't rained much, or actually it hasn't rained almost at all, but it has been windy and the wind can be bitterly cold. Especially during the few hours I ever have free, which are typically early in the morning or in the evening.

We have been eating broccoli and cauliflower lately. We still have peppers in the fridge, although some of them aren't in the best shape. The pepper plants are still in the garden, but they're very sad-looking. I really need to get them out along with the weeds that grew up around them. I'll have a huge space freed up as soon as I take care of that.

Recent meals we've had include a broccoli and cauliflower frittata, cauliflower and turnip risotto, pasta with broccoli and ricotta, and lots of roasted peppers. I'd like to try making some cauliflower soup pretty soon. Really, I need more ideas for cooking with broccoli and cauliflower. Which is funny, because I used to put broccoli in EVERYthing! Pizza, pasta, stir-frys, everything. And now I'm stumped for ideas. I did make a delicious creamy broccoli soup last year, I'll have to see if I can remember how I did that.

I just planted garlic, and I've been considering planting shallots as well. Especially since I have a decent amount of space available, and apparently they grow like the garlic does. I'll have to follow up on that if I end up planting them.

We have a lot of green lettuce, but the red lettuce isn't really big enough yet, nor is the chard or spinach. I'm looking forward to some chard and spinach, I've been craving greens in general lately. I don't know if that's because my stomach has been leading a minor revolt against fried and heavy foods. I can't tolerate that stuff at the moment, which is unfortunate, but it does encourage me to eat more healthfully. But I even had a reaction to the frittata.

Loris has been pointing out that we're not eating much of the food that I froze - mostly zucchini and peppers. I hate to point out that we still have fresh peppers to eat. I don't know if the frozen zucchini would do well in soup, but I don't see why not. I'll have to try experimenting with that sometime soon. We haven't eaten any of my canned dill pickles, either, I'll have to drag them out of storage. Ditto for the strawberry syrup, strawberry jam, and butternut squash jam.

Veggies still to come include leeks, carrots, and beets. I'm excited about all of these, because I've never tried growing beets or leeks before, and I haven't been terribly successful with carrots. It's certainly difficult to keep these veggies weeded. And I can't forget the cabbage. I think we only ended up with one cabbage last year, but it was delicious. This year, we should get 6 greens and 6 reds. I'm very excited about that!