Tag Archives: hoop house

The chard before the storm

Swiss chardEarly June is a relatively quiet time in my vegetable garden. The spring greens, spinach and lettuce are all done, and the summer crops aren’t ready. There are a few plums each day, and we will have a deluge of peaches to deal with soon. But pretty much the only big producer right now is Swiss chard. Here in Oklahoma Swiss chard is a much better bet than spinach. It will produce  year round if you give it enough room, pick it frequently, and cover it in the winter (in a cold frame or hoop house). This week I’m cooking the following:

Curried Chard and Lentils: Cook 1/2 cup of green lentils in 1 cup of water. Sauté 4 cups of chopped chard in a little olive oil until limp. Combine the (hot) lentils and chard with 1 large minced clove of garlic, 2 tsp of Madras curry powder, and 2 oz of cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese is melted throughout. Serve with brown rice.

Chard and green chili breakfast strata: Butter, oil, or spray a casserole dish. Cover bottom with crushed/broken/stale tortilla chips. Sprinkle with chopped green chilis or other hot peppers. Cover with shredded cheese (Monterrey Jack is good), then cover with chopped and sautéed chard. Top with cubed white bread. Beat up eggs with milk, as you would for French toast, and pour over the top (it doesn’t need to cover the bread). Let it sit for a while – overnight also works – then cook at 350 until the eggs are just set and the bread is golden toasty. You don’t need to add salt because the bread, cheese, and tortilla chips all have salt.

Massaged chard salad: Use the smaller and more tender leaves for this. Chop or tear the chard leaves into large pieces. (I also like to add chopped Italian parsley or mint.) Massage with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and a bit of sea salt. Top with chopped walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and grated hard cheese. NOTE: The raw garlic can sometimes be hot/aggressive, so you might want to sauté it a wee bit in olive oil first. Also, this massaged chard is also really good as a pizza topping. Put it on last, and watch to see that it doesn’t burn too much.

 

 

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Keeping up with putting up

We’re just about at then end of our “What do we do with all these green tomatoes?” phase. The answer, this year, is green sauce. I’m not going to waste my time trying to coax them into ripening, which never works anyway.  Here is my basic recipe, which is great as a dip, salsa, or an enchilada sauce.

  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 large clove minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 – 8 cups chopped green tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 cups diced green chili, poblano, jalapeno, serrano etc…
    • leave the seeds in if you want to experience numb lips for several hours after eating
    • be careful not to touch your face while working with the peppers!
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped cilantro (stems also)

Saute the garlic and onions briefly in the olive oil. Add tomatoes, peppers, cumin, salt, and water, and then simmer, covered, till tomatoes are soft. Puree in a blender or food processor, adding the lime juice and cilantro. Let cool and pour into labelled ziplock freezer bags (I recommend the pint size), and freeze flat. I made some stacked beef enchiladas with this green sauce yesterday. I like making stacked enchiladas because you don’t have to fry the tortillas in oil to soften them up for rolling. I know lots of recipes have you fry the tortillas even for stacked enchiladas, but I just oil my baking dish lightly, and then put a spoonful of sauce on the bottom – sort of like making lasagna.

We’re got our first really hard freeze last week (weather.com said 19 F, but I’m pretty sure we were about 10 warmer) so

windowsill basil

I’m going to see if I can keep this basil alive this winter.

the plastic is on the hoop houses and all our houseplants are inside.There is a good stand of arugula going, and I found broccoli and cabbage starts last month and planted those. Leeks are flourishing, pak choi is unstoppable, and there are a few turnips, radishes, and chard. We need to be vigilant for about two week on our nightly “slug patrol” to make sure we get some lettuce to come up and survive.

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Late fall update

In the (hoop) house: Still producing – one cherry tomato, one cucumber, several peppers, and green beans. Ready to eat – bok choi, onions, leeks, and KALE. Up and growing nicely – lettuce, cabbage, brussels sprouts, more leeks, broccoli, cilantro, Swiss chard, turnips, rutabagas and garlic.

New fireplaceNew fireplace: After living for 15 years with a mantel but no fireplace*, we finally made a decision and purchased (online) a ventless gas fireplace with mantel. Mike stained it in September, we put it in position in October, and connected the gas in November. We still need to finish the wall opening and put in some slate or tile beneath the surround. *The Universalist Fellowship, which owned our house in the 1970’s, removed the original gas fireplace. The next owners got so far as to buy an old mantel, but never completed their project.

Pickles, salsa, chutney: Throughout the fall I’ve been pickling and canning stuff, mostly involving peppers. Green sauce/salsa, pepper relish, Mexican escabeche, and chutney.

grating lemongrassLemongrass harvest: We finally got a frost last week, so we had to bring in all the houseplants, and my three big pots of lemongrass. Every year I’d tell myself that I was going to do something with the lemongrass, and this year I finally did. I cut the stalk about 3″ from the soil, then removed the leaves so all I had was the stalk. I washed and cut it into 4″ pieces and froze them in a ziplock bag. To use them in cooking I simply take out a stalk and grate it with my microplane grater, or throw a stalk or two into a soup. Here are links to previous posts that pertain to lemongrass: Vietnamese Penicillin, Viet FeastThai Seafood Hotpot, and Grass of Lemon

Oklahoma road trips: Since September Mike and I have done three Oklahoma weekend rambles.

  • First to Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, OK, where we stayed at the very nice, newly remodeled lodge. Saturday we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the patio with two pots of French press coffee. The night before we’d stopped at Eischen’s Bar  in Okarche – the oldest bar in Oklahoma – for fried chicken and fried okra. Saturday afternoon we took back roads on the way home and I was amazed at the number of wind generators that had been put up.

Eischen's bar in Okarche, OK Roman Nose Lodge patio  Wind generator, south of Weatherford, OK

  • Second on our list was Lake Murray in southern Oklahoma. Beautiful setting, but an incredibly dumpy lodge. I felt like I’d fallen into a time warp and emerged in 1965. We did have a fabulous catfish dinner on the banks of the Washita River at McGehee’s near Marietta. Thank goodness they have big billboards directing you to the restaurant, else we’d never have found it.
  • Third on the list is the town of Woodward, where I went to attend a family wedding (at the old theater), and then Mike and I returned two weeks later to pick up some antique chairs I’d bought. Once again, lots more wind farms going up, and we met Mike’s cousins for a great lunch at Waggs Bar-B-Q. We weren’t there long enough to visit Alabaster Caverns, but that is definitely worth doing if you’re in the area.

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What’s shakin’?

Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted. I had this little thing called a dissertation to write…

USGS map

USGS map showing where the earthquake was felt

If you live in the USA you may have heard about (or felt) the earthquakes we’ve been having. All the the strongest ones (4.7, 5.6, 4.7) occurred at night while I was sitting in my big leather easy chair. I was actually on the phone with Aric when the 5.6 record-breaker shaker hit. Last night we had a 4.7 while most of the state was under a tornado watch! Oh, and yeah, OKC was dealing with flash flooding at the same time. Crazy. We’ve had a record-breaking year in many categories. We lived in California for 8 years and I never felt any as strong as the 5.6 and certainly not as many clustered so close together.

The map above is the product of a form on the USGS earthquake web site page Did You Feel It?After I feel a quake I immediately go this page and fill out the form (yeah, I know I’m a geek). Kate said she felt the 5.6 in St. Louis. I saw on the interweb that people in Wisconsin also felt it.

Chinese cabbageMike has put the plastic on the hoop houses and things are looking fine. We have lettuce, arugula, red mustard, and cilantro to eat, and I can start harvesting Asian greens at any time. And in the hoop houses we still have peppers (lordy, do we have peppers!). Speaking of which, I found a great way to roast and peel chilis. I just put them in my convection toaster oven on high for about 8 to 10 minutes, then wrap them in a dishtowel for a minute or two. They are easier to peel and less messy than roasting them on the grill or over a gas flame, and you don’t have to worry about the smoke alarm going off. You don’t get the fire-roasted flavor of course, but it sure is convenient.Pepper abundance Other veggies started under the hoops: spinach, chard, leeks, kale, lettuce, and carrots. All but the chard and spinach are from saved seed! Still left to harvest are peppers and sweet potatoes.

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