Posts Tagged ‘beets’

Gimme My Burrata!

Beets, Burrata, Etc

When the Everyman and I were in Chicago recently, we went to a restaurant called The Publican for dinner that we’d heard amazing things about.

One of the items they had on their menu that I absolutely had to order was a chilled beet and burrata salad, because a girl can never have too much burrata.

Imagine my dismay when the plate set before me was covered with daubs of ricotta cheese instead (and I like ricotta!)

Receiving no explanation as to why there was no burrata, I half-heartedly ate my salad, all the while inwardly sulking over the missing cheese.  Had the place been less packed and frantic, I would have said something about it, but it hardly seemed worth the fuss at the time.

Since then, I’ve been unable to get that combination off my mind.  So, after a trip to Cheese Boutique this week, I decided to recreate it myself.

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The Garbagepail Garden Shall Rise Again

Tatties

A few weeks ago (some time around Mother’s day I think) I took my 1 pound box of mixed potato species and Carman sunchokes and planted them in last year’s winningest idea for a planter; the garbage can!

Only this time, I remembered to drill holes in the bottom because the gross bog of rainwater that was left in the bin after all this spring weather really did not need to be repeated next year.  As you can see, the warm, almost summery weather we’ve been having lately has had quite the effect on my potatoes.  In only 2 short weeks I’ve gotten sproutlings that are already several inches tall.  I’d say this bodes well for an even better harvest than last year, which I didn’t start until much later in June.

The Beginnings Of A Salad Bowl

Also growing on the roof are some shoots that will soon make it into my salad bowl.

Beet Sprouts

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The Most Ambitious Project Yet

Garden 2010

After much deliberation (and a healthy dose of procrastination), I’ve finally selected and plotted my intentions for the 2010 garden.

It might seem awfully early to some, but seeds must be ordered, delivered and started before a springtime sowing in late May can be accomplished.

This year will be interesting for a number of reasons.

Primarily because I’m going to be trying to grow a couple crowns of asparagus for the first time, but I’m also attempting rare French strawberries from seed, as well as leeks, garlic and chard.

As you can see from my crude 10,000 foot drawing, there are lots of different veggies being installed, as well as a small bee garden that I hope will attract a healthy amount of polinators to our rooftop sanctuary.  We had a bit of a problem with the lack of bees last year, though I’m not sure if it was due to colony collapse or the overall shitty weather, but it can’t hurt to encourage them with a pretty flower garden.

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Winding Down

Garden In Transition

The slightest chill has been in the air when I leave the house in the morning lately, which is an indicator of one thing in particular;

The Most Beautiful Tomatoes

Summer is coming to a close.

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Anticipating Harvest

Third Jane Doe

At this time last year, I was up to my eyeballs in lusciously imperfect tomatoes.

But, like almost everyone else this year, my garden’s been slow to blossom.  About 2 or 3 weeks ago I was finally able to start harvesting close to a handful of mixed cherry tomatoes per day.  Even though we’re now a couple of days into September, I still haven’t tasted the first full size fruit yet.

Unknown

As with the red ones above, I’m not sure what varietals these (and the one below) are.  I don’t recall planting any white varieties, but these tomatoes seem awfully pale to me.  Perhaps they might be garden peaches…
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Salad Days

When I was younger, I was what you might call a hardcore carnivore.  But, as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized the importance of living a more flexitarian lifestyle, not only for my health, but also for my wellbeing.  For the most part, the Everyman begrudges me on this.  Since I do all of the cooking, he really has no choice anyway…

That desire became part and parcel of my decision to grow much of our food on the roof.  Having a constant supply of freshly grown produce just outside the back door tends to make it that much easier to eat all those servings of fruit and veg, don’t you think?  Plus, I can feel comfortable knowing that the only things that assisted my plants’ growth were sun, rain and the occasional sprinkling of composted cow poop, rather than scary industrialized fertilizers that could grow me a third arm.  Although, I could use a third arm.  It would make it so much easier to smack the stupid people… hmm…

In warmer years, my various salad leaves would have long gone to bolt by now.  If you’re not familiar with that term, bolting is when the lettuce plants shoot up their flowers and start going to seed.  It typically happens when the weather gets too warm (high 20′s to 30′s), and for some reason causes the greens to get bitter and inedible (unless you like that sort of thing).

However, the cool and rainy summer we’ve been experiencing in Ontario has allowed the majority of the greens to remain lush and verdant well past their expected harvest date.

This unexpected overage of leafy veg has meant that we’ve had to get creative with our usages.  The greens are so (surprisingly) flavourful on their own that I usually do little more than salt, pepper, oil and balsamic them before eating.  But, sometimes the body craves a little variety.  And just in time for that, Mark Bittman has put out a list of 101 ways to prepare the humble salad.

I haven’t managed to read through the entire list yet (that’s a lot of salad, after all) but I’m sure there must be at least a dozen or two possibilities included that will work perfectly for dispatching the rest of our lettuce.  I wonder if he has any suggestions for all of those beet greens that are overtaking my garden…

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Moe-lass-iss

Dinner

While I’ve been cognisant of pomegranate molasses since at least 2001 (thanks to Christine Cushing harping about it every chance she got) it was never an ingredient I rushed to experiment with.

Examining my habits, I’ve found that my cooking experimentation and infatuation with ingredients tends to be rather transient.  When I hone in on something that intrigues me, I work with it obsessively until I get bored and then move on.  In essence, I’m trying to “master” the ingredient in a way that I find palatable (not in every way, because that would take a lifetime) before I take my next step.  In some ways I suppose you could say that I have culinary ADD (attention deficit disorder) because I jump around so much to ensure I keep those synapses popping.

As I mentioned in a previous post, while I was visiting The Spice Trader on the weekend, I happened to grab a bottle of the aforementioned pomegranate molasses, along with some argan oil (more on that later), more coffee olive oil, and some white balsamic.

I first read about argan oil back in 2007, in a book called In Bad Taste?: The Adventures And Science Behind Food Delicacies by Dr. Massimo Marcone.  Argan oil comes from the argan tree.  In Morocco, goats climb these trees and eat the argan nuts, and then dispose of the rest.  What’s left when they’re done eating is collected and oil is extracted from the remnants.  When I saw it on the shelf at The Spice Trader, I knew I couldn’t resist picking up a flask of this highly unusual oil.

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Anything Goes…

Every day that passes brings the gardening season that much closer (fingers crossed that we’re done with snow).  To while away the time I’ve become hooked on something I read about over at You Grow Girl several months ago… Gardening Mama!  It’s a game from the people who making Cooking Mama, which I also obsessively love, but more than that, it keeps my hands busy while I’m waiting for the universe to hurry up and warm up outside already…

Though I may have let the past few months pass in relative silence on the garden front, you can be assured that I’ve not been dormant.  From taking my seed catalogs with me on Christmas vacation so I could pick out my new projects (yes, I am a garden dork and I was mocked mercilessly about it the entire vacation), to harassing the people at West Coast Seeds when an order didn’t arrive, to finally breaking out the potting soil and mucking about in my basement laundry room, the last 3 months contained their fair share of preparatory activities.

Project Sustainability 2009 is well underway, with approximately 60 seedlings chilling out on the grow tower.  Considering that last year was my first attempt at growing anything more involved than a cactus, I was pretty impressed with the end results.  There were definitely lessons learned, and notes made about plants I wouldn’t bother to grow again (read: corn and those weeds I thought were beans).  But this year, along with bringing back favorites and successes from 2008, I also picked a bunch of new plants to try.  As our diet becomes increasingly varied, the memories of how explosively flavorful my completely organic, fresh picked produce was last year inspired me to try my hand at even more.  I can never replace Bob (our organic delivery guy) or our CSA farmshare from Zephyr Organics, but being able to combine two of my all-consuming passions is just too good to pass up.  Plus, creating your own tiny microcosm means being able to experiment with more unique and just plain bizarre produce that larger growers might not bother with.

So far on the rooftop roster this year we have:

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