Despite Thomas Jefferson’s efforts 200 years ago, olive trees don’t grow in Virginia. Erratic winter weather with nightly lows in the single digit temperatures followed by days at 70F — as well as hot muggy summers — don’t make happy olive trees. Anything below -10C (14F) will severely damage even a mature olive tree.
Don’t get me wrong, I love olive oil. And I used quite a bit of it along with avocado oil and nut oils. But in the last few years, I have been switching part of my cooking fats to … lard, specifically home-rendered lard from locally pastured pigs. Here, in the Northern Virginia Piedmont, what other cooking fat is locally available to me? in such abundance? and so easy to make at home? Read more
Fresh fava beans & garlic scape: that’s what’s for dinner
Greens, Herbs & Edible Flowers
A wonderful spring for salad!
Tom Thumb Lettuce, Red Sail Lettuce, Red and Green Oak Leaf lettuce, Lamb’s Quarter, Johnny-jump-ups and other violas, lemon balm, monarda leaves, anise hyssop leaves, arugula flowers, mustard flowers, chive blossoms, Bachelor’s Button petals, dill, purple basil, thyme blossoms, cilantro blossoms, dried cherry tomatoes (from last year’s harvest – marinated in olive oil)… and the ones that make the plate “pop”: Shirley poppy petals.
Nothing could be simpler than growing ginger in Virginia.
It’s almost true.
Just dug baby ginger in the fall
Ginger is reasonably ornamental – a reed-like plant with clear green leaves. While it can be grown in the vegetable or herb garden, it is not out of place with ornamental plants – provided you can dig them out easily enough — without damaging bulbs or perennials. Don’t plant them with daffodils!
A small clump of ginger growing with other tropicals and annuals
So yes, it is tropical – but that not necessarily a reason not to grow it. We grow many other plants from the tropics and treat them like annuals. You can do the same with ginger.
I have grown it for years in my garden – small yield but it was mine! Ginger requires a long frost-free growing season — about one year for mature ginger, 8 months for baby ginger. That’s more than our climate allows… except that you can start ginger indoors. farmers do it in high tunnels (aka hoophouses). I start it my greenhouse, but a very sunny window or sun room will work. With a warm early start in late winter, appropriate temperatures at all times, abundant water, and judicious shade, you can grow ginger to a harvestable size. Read more
November 6 – first hard freeze, down to 26 this morning. Good thing I harvested all the baby ginger that was growing outside. I still have some in a tub taken to the greenhouse. Let’s see how long it keeps growing.
October 31. Let’s call it over. Hurricane Sandy passed through: let’s consider it done with the summer garden – wasn’t that much left any way, between the summer heat and drought, and our early October frost (Oct 12).
The storm uprooted our old apple tree. The wind flattened the Michaelmas daisies, the titonias and the flamboyant dahlias. It also blew over the peppers: they were still going strong – and I have been growing lots of peppers this year.
Some of the pepper plants in August
I picked another peck of green, wax and Merveille de Piedmonte beans on Sunday before the storm. Will harvest all remaining peppers in the next couple of days as it is too muddy now. It’s should be a another decent harvest since the last few weeks were Indian summer after all – if dry.
And so this year – a brief run down on failures and successes: Read more
| Tags: Harvest
Just dug and cleaned baby ginger
When I have green tomatoes and baby ginger, I make Green Tomato Jam With Baby Ginger. Because, I have pickled green tomatoes and made green tomato relish in the past… but we don’t eat that much of it. So the pickles and the relish languish on the shelves. Jam, we eat. Read more
Students who take my canning class tell me that one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to canning is … surprise!… time. (the other is the commendable desire not to sicken one’s family)
I will not prattle about how time used now is time saved later … and other opinions/musings/ramblings etc. I have expressed myself about food preserving in general and canning specifically before here.
I will not give an on-line canning lesson either – that’s much better done in this nifty, detailed and clearly written USDA guide. And here, also are the answer to a bunch of commonly asked canning questions from the same source.
All laid out for water-bath canning tomato sauce
But I am here to tell you that canning tomato sauce does not have to be a day-long process. Tasks can be broken down is steps that be performed over several days, with the last day being a couple of hours. Total time is somewhat longer than if done at once. But, for for me, 4 times 2 hours is more manageable than 7 hours at once. Read more
A quick dash to the garden yields fava beans, eggs, asparagus, new onions, currants. Add a handful of mushrooms and bread – and that’s dinner. Got to love this time of the year (even if the planting and harvesting all come together so fast)
A local Thanksgiving with roasted duck. Photo by Molly Peterson, mJm Photography, Sperryville, VA
This is the introduction to the current Seasonal Table, a column – with recipes - that I write for Flavor Magazine. The recipes are appropriate for any autumnal meal, and certainly, together, would make a local Thanksgiving feast in many parts of the US.
Harvest Festivals have all but vanished, at least in our society. Thanksgiving Day is sometimes derisively nicknamed “Turkey Day”. For too many people the event means wolfing down a huge plate of indifferent food prepared hurriedly and harriedly. And then go do something else, away from the table, and away from others.
Thanksgiving Day is not about turkeys. Not… really. Read more