Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Monday for November 28th, 2011.

The harvests continue to dwindle down as the weather gets cooler, but we still have a few things going on in the garden.

On Thanksgiving morning, I went out and picked three and a half pounds of collards to cook up to go with our family dinner. I was working quickly and I completely forgot to take a picture of them. They were delicious!

We were fortunate to have some other things to harvest as well.

This represents the last harvest of our heritage raspberries for this year. Six of them weighed 1/2 ounce. As you can tell, if I pick it, I weigh it.

Our three jalapeno pepper plants only produced four peppers this year. These two weighed one ounce. If the plants winter over in the container I think I'll plant them in the ground next spring. Although they're still healthy, maybe they don't like being in a container.

I picked three-quarters of a pound of sorrel this week for some nice soup. It did well this year.

We picked twenty-nine more marconi peppers this week. They weighed in at two and a half pounds.

The Park's Whopper tomatoes are now finished for the year. I picked all the remaining tomatoes and got 53 of them that weighed a total of eleven and one half pounds. The pinkish ones will go in a window to ripen up, and the green ones will be made into green tomato relish.

That completes the harvest report for this week. It's been a relatively good gardening year even though mine got a late start due to some unexpected surgery I had. Next year will be a better one, but I'm still thankful for all we've been able to harvest this year. I'm especially thankful for being able to teach the grandkids where their food comes from. You know you're doing something right when a two year old asks Poppa to see the compost without being prompted to ask.

Happy gardening to all the gardeners out there, and I hope it is a mild winter for all of us!

Visit DaphnesDandelions for beautiful pictures of delicious food from her garden and a great source of gardening information.

Have a great vegetable gardening day.
Veggie PAK

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Acorn Bread for Thanksgiving!

Besides being known as "Veggie PAK", I am also known to a few people as "The Suburban Forager" because I like to see what is available around me naturally that could be used as a food source. I had watched the TV show called "Man Woman Wild" and I saw that the woman made acorn bread from acorns gathered off the forest floor. I knew at that moment that I had to try using acorns for flour and see how the bread tasted.

I had it easier than she did though, because I have a large oak tree in my front yard that is loaded with acorns. I normally park my pickup truck under the branches of the tree, and the squirrels that are trying to get the acorns knock them off and they fall into the bed of my truck. Fortunately, the squirrels will not venture onto my truck so I have a nice accumulation of acorns there in the bed.

I picked up a nice pile of acorns in a grocery bag and took them into the house to shell. After shelling they amounted to a little over a cup of acorns. Then I looked up directions for preparing the acorns for use as a food source and found the recipe for acorn bread. Here they are in a pot on the stove getting ready to boil for the first time. It is recommended that they be boiled many times to remove the tannin so they are not bitter. I tasted one raw and I now know why they recommend doing that procedure.


Now they were boiling vigorously for the first time. I kept stirring them to possibly help some of the tannin leach out more quickly. I boiled them seven times alternating between two pots of boiling water. I would pour one pot into the large sieve I had over the kitchen sink and then take the acorns and dump them into the second pot of boiling water. Using two boiling pots of water kept me from having to wait for the water in each pot to come to a boil.

After all the boiling was completed, I spread out the acorns to cool off and dry for awhile. After the acorns had cooled off, it was time for a decision on how to use them. They could be used for snacks, or for making bread. I chose using them for the acorn bread.

I didn't want to use a blender or food processor for grinding the acorns into flour because it appeared that there was a strong possibility that they would just gum up on the blades. I decided to use my Pampered Chef food chopper with the rubber bottom. That was an excellent choice because it worked just great! You can see the consistency of the chopped acorns and they have been chopped pretty fine.

I poured the chopped acorns, whole wheat flour, and other dry ingredients into a bowl and mixed them together to blend them thoroughly before I put any liquid in with them. After I put all the ingredients in there and began mixing them together, the picture shows that it didn't quite have the consistency I was looking for. To remedy that, I added a few (maybe 4 or 5) tablespoons of milk and that did the trick. It was a nice, smooth and stiff mixture.

Next I sprayed Pam into a Pyrex bowl and poured/scooped out the acorn and flour mixture into it. I took the spoon and patted it down so it was pretty level across the entire top. I was surprised that it worked so well because it didn't stick to the spoon in clumps like I thought it might.

I baked it for 25 minutes and checked the center with a toothpick and it came out completely clean. It was done!

I took it out and flipped it onto a cooling rack. As you can see, the bottom came out as a perfect light brown bread.

And here is the final product! A beautiful round loaf of acorn bread!

After it cooled for awhile, I cut it and tried a piece with some soft margarine spread on it. Oh my gosh! It was so good! It was remarkably close in flavor to regular nut bread.

Would I go through the trouble of making this again?  Absolutely!

If you're interested, here is the recipe:

1 cup acorn flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup maple syrup or sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Bake in pan for 30 minutes or until done at 400 degrees

That's it!

I would like to also wish everyone a wonderful and safe Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to read about the results of my foraging.
Veggie PAK

Monday, November 21, 2011

Harvest Monday for November 21st, 2011.

We've had three hard frosts this past week and they really burned the tops of the tomato vines. There's no hope for them to survive much longer. There are still tomatoes on them that are that light green color they get just before they begin to turn pink. The weather this week is supposed to be in the low to mid sixties, so I'm taking a chance and leaving them on the vines to see it they will ripen more. I even used the organic tomato fertilizer on them yesterday and watered it in thoroughly.

Here are nine tomatoes that weighed three and one-quarter pounds for this week's harvest. Four of them are a great size for tomato sandwiches.

The giant marconi peppers came through with a beautiful harvest of 60 peppers that weighed in at five pounds fourteen ounces! With the pending warm weather for this week, I left the little ones on the plants to hopefully get some additional growth for next week's harvest.

I had about two ounces of raspberries on the canes, but they didn't make it to the kitchen. I was outside with my two year old granddaughter Celie and her mom Liz, and I held up a cane and showed Celie the raspberries and asked her if she wanted to pick one. She did. She picked them one by one by one and ate them all right there! Watching her pick them with her little fingers and put them in her mouth was a sweet thing to watch. There's something special about seeing your grandchildren picking and eating food from your garden. They'll never forget where their food comes from and they'll never forget their experience in your garden.

This completes another harvest monday for Back Yard Organic Vegetables.

Visit DaphnesDandelions for beautiful pictures of delicious food from her garden and a great source of gardening information.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit and have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, November 14, 2011

Harvest Monday for November 14th, 2011.

Perhaps I should say Garden Status Monday instead of Harvest Monday since the only thing I harvested this week was four brown turkey figs! There isn't much gardening news here this week because my wife and I just returned from enjoying a wonderful visit with my mom and my sisters in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York.

These four fig beauties tipped the scales at two ounces.

The Park's Whopper tomatoes are still trying to ripen on the vines. Since the next three days will be in the mid-seventies, maybe they will make it!

In the next few days I will be picking the last of the heritage red raspberries. Since they are right next to the house, that mini-frost we had on October 31st didn't bother them.

The buttercrunch lettuce is doing nicely. I'm actually thinking about harvesting some of it next week.

The broccoli and collards in my east plot are doing well. I thoroughly watered the entire garden today since it hasn't rained in a while.

There are also two rows of broccoli and two rows of collards on the other side of the giant marconi pepper plants. All are doing well and showing good signs of growth.

On the main side of the pepper plants in the west plot are four additional rows of collards. I guess it's pretty obvious that collards are one of our cool weather favorites.

That's all the news this week from my back yard organic vegetable garden.

Visit daphnesdandelions for wonderful pictures of delicious food from her garden and a great source of gardening information.

Thanks for visiting and for sharing your comments with me.

Have a wonderful vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, November 7, 2011

Harvest Monday for November 7th, 2011.

When the harvest gets small, we find other things to fill our gardening appetites. Like canning applesauce!

Here are 15 quarts of applesauce I made from 52 pounds of Stayman apples! A lot of work, but it's sure worth it. Pure applesauce with nothing else added, not even sugar. It tastes wonderful!

Slim pickin's on the okra this week. We only got four pieces that weighed a total of two and a half ounces. I don't think any more will develop this year as the weather has turned too chilly in the evenings. I notice the stalks are starting to turn a rusty brown color. They must be getting ready to go dormant.

My wife and I picked 4 ounces of raspberries by flashlight as we ran out of daylight while taking care of garden chores this late into the year.

A couple teaspoons of sugar helped turn those raspberries into a great topping for some vanilla ice cream!

Early in the week, these two Park's Whopper tomatoes weighed in at eleven ounces. That's small, but I'll take them and be very happy about it!

From the previous picture, this was the one on the right transformed into how we like them best.  Look at how meaty they are!

We finished up the week picking these additional six tomatoes that weighed a total of one and three-quarter pounds. These are some of the ones that were hiding under the vines shown in a previous post. There aren't many of those left now.

Notice that I don't have any marconi peppers in my harvest this week? They're still a little small for picking.

Here's a video showing what they look like this week. I'm surprised at how many there are on the bushes. Next week's harvest should be a nice one!

The buttercrunch lettuce is growing slowly but nicely. It all looks very healthy.

This is the East Plot with collards and broccoli as the main fall/winter crops.

This is the West Plot with additional rows of collards and there are two rows of broccoli on the other side of the marconi green pepper bushes.

That's all for this week.  I hope everyone has good luck with the weather and growing their cool weather crops. If it's too cool in your area for growing them, I wish you good luck with your planning for next year's garden. I know you're thinking about it. We just can't help doing it!

Thanks to each one of you for stopping by and visiting my blog. When you do, I feel like you're visiting with me in my garden.

Have a warm gardening day!
Veggie PAK