Another great use for the slow cooker

Written by karen on August 4th, 2016

Onions (grown here). A little olive oil, red wine, salt, and fresh thyme. Eighteen hours on low.

Caramelized onion confit. Melty sweetness.

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This week at the farmers market

Written by karen on July 28th, 2016

This week’s gourmet treat:

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And in a couple weeks, it’s National Farmers Market Week. Go visit yours, and thank a farmer. Trust me that no one is making much profit doing this.

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Protección de los conejos

Written by karen on July 17th, 2016

So the rabbit problems have continued. We have gotten very little rain, and they’re just so starving for water. After more frustration over this than is healthy, this week we harvested and abandoned a few beds and then brainstormed what to do for the rest of the year. We decided to fence in one bed and try to grow intensively there (in addition to the greenhouses). Here are the results.

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I was worried about how this would look (which is why we haven’t relented and just fenced the whole thing — in addition to the time and expense and being unsure if it would work anyway), especially in front of out beautiful mountain view, but I think it looks cute.

Despite more challenges this year than we’ve ever had, we’re also having some successes. Garlic, shallots, and onions were all fabulous this year. We’ve harvested and sold over 70 bags of greens at the market so far (plus more we’ve eat here). Our new greenhouse is great. This week, we ate the first edamame and shishido peppers, and the eggplants are coming along. And the first figs have appeared!

 

Heat wave

Written by karen on June 19th, 2016

I suppose you’ve heard that there is a heat wave, and if you are in the southwest, you may be experiencing it too.

I just looked at our temperature gauge, and it’s 111 degrees in the shade outside, and 86 degrees inside (with no air conditioning). I guess we built our house ok.

The greenhouse is up to 138 degrees, but things inside are looking good. Edamame, eggplant, radishes, and chiles all seem to like the heat. And of course, I water every day.

I did laundry today, and the clothes on the line were dry faster than they’d be in the dryer I think. Simple solar power.

What is saving us right now is the fact that the nights are still cool. We open the windows as soon as the sun is down, and by morning, the house is quite cool.

We’re supposed to be in the low 100s for the foreseeable future. (We’re glad we’re not in Phoenix where temps are over 120.) Keep cool.

 

Onions

Written by karen on June 12th, 2016

Having eaten all the tomatoes, the voles and rabbits moved on to the onions. Here’s an example of what they did a couple nights ago (I hope whatever ate this got very sick):

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So despite the fact that the onions were not really ready to be harvested, I decided to pull them to save what I could. There were a fair number that did well and will be good eats:

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There were some others that weren’t really mature enough so I replanted them in other places to see if they might grow further. We will also eat some of the smaller ones as “spring onions.” I will also be making a red wine onion confit this week. Yum!

The variety that did the best by far was the Texas Early White.

On the weather front, we’ve started getting some sporadic storms, which seem to me like early monsoons. (We don’t normally get monsoons until early July.) As the rain picks up, this should help the garden considerably and also the pest problems.

And this week for the first time, I sold everything I took to the farmers market, which included 8 bags of greens.

 

Farmers market today

Written by karen on June 3rd, 2016

Well, today we were the farmers market with no other vendors showing up for various reasons. Fortunately, we took our biggest selection of food yet:

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There were somewhat fewer customers than usual but we still sold a lot. The ebb and flow of customers, as well as the variation of what they buy (sometimes I sell only wheat bread, sometimes only white; sometimes the sweet breakfast breads sell out quickly; other times I take some home), is still a mystery to me. We do have some seasonal residents here who leave for summer, and so it will be interesting to see if the numbers continue to be down. The number of vendors is also a factor.

Highlights for this week are that we took 8 big bags of greens to market this week (and even had a couple bags more to keep for ourselves) and that all the toum sold out. We offered samples of it, which were very popular. I’m thinking of more things like this that might fit into the little 5.5 oz. souffle cup containers we have. So far we’ve done pesto and toum, and pico de gallo is soon to come.

Things about the farmers market that make me happy: increasing access to good, healthy food here; spending a couple hours each week sitting under the shade of a big tree talking with nice people about food; having people ask me “who grew this?” or “who baked this?;” having people tell me their plans for what they’ve bought (a woman today bought some lemon cake and told me she was going to share it this evening with her husband for their anniversary); and giving away and/or taking home and eating whatever we don’t sell.

 

 

Toum

Written by karen on May 30th, 2016

We love the show “Splendid Table” (“the show for people who love to eat”…yeah, that’s us). Awhile back,they had a show on something called toum, a Lebanese garlic paste that was described as being light and fluffy like whipped egg whites. We knew we’d have to make it some time.

This week, we just harvested our garlic. And when we do that, there are always a few bulbs that get scuffed or something and need to be used sooner rather than later. Perfect opportunity!

While this toum sounded a little fussy to make, it wasn’t that hard. Only a few  ingredients: lots of garlic, canola oil, salt, lemon juice, and water. And the results — oh my, this stuff is amazing!

Toum can be used as a dip, for garlic bread, as a sandwich spread, in marinades or sauces, in eggs, or in soups, just to mention a few possibilities.

This will be for sale at this week’s farmers market. Very gourmet.

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Working on a new project

Written by karen on May 29th, 2016

Stay tuned for more details as this takes shape.

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Spring greens

Written by karen on May 27th, 2016

This week I remembered to take a picture when the beds were uncovered.

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The greenhouse is looking good as well.

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eggplants and peppers

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chard and edamame

green beans

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Finally

Written by karen on May 19th, 2016

We’ve had more than our share of struggles with the garden this year — beds of greens munched to the ground multiple times despite being covered, artichoke plants eaten beyond recovery, even the lemon grass got mowed down by something (most likely deer), a whole bed of tomato starts eaten down by the vole.

We keep trying though and are finally having some success. The new greenhouse is doing great, and we could be harvesting from it within a couple weeks. I also tried a new setup for greens in our regular beds where I put down a sheet of agribon (row cover) and then covered that with two layers of insect netting (the same stuff that we cover the hoops with — which has been getting chewed through and dug under — but this time I put it right on the ground with lots of rocks on the edges). This has worked well. I suspect that the animals either haven’t figured out what’s under there or they can’t easily get in. Probably both. At least for now.

Today we had our first harvest big enough to sell some of — arugula, tat soi, and lettuce all coming in strong. It will be nice to have our produce at the market this week in addition to bread, other baked goods, and pesto.

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