Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvest Monday - Oct 14th

It's that time again, Harvest Monday.  This series is hosted by Daphne and is a great place to see what people are harvesting all over the world.  So head on over to Daphne's Dandelions and take a peak.

Here is what I harvested this week.  I made a gift basket of veg and herbs for a friend that often gives me rides to our Ultimate games.  I play Ultimate (frisbee) regularly, if you've never heard of this sport you should check it out is a great combination of football, basketball and soccer strategies.  It is excellent exercise and fun for all skill levels. Back to the harvest:  I harvested some lettuce regularly for salads, herbs such as basil, parsley and oregano was given away to friends.  I'm still picking cucumbers which is awesome!!  There are still several egg plants also (I gave this one away to another Ultimate friend and he made eggplant parmesan with it and said his kids loved it!).  There are still lots of leeks in the garden as well varying in size, this one was a big one.  And hot peppers, oh my I feel like I'm over run with hot peppers.  I have been giving these away to work and ultimate friends.

This was probably the most exciting harvest of the week, my first parsnip ever!  I was making Chicken pot pie and needed a parsnip - check my post about that recipe.  So out we went to harvest one.  We were going to leave them all till after the frost but when a recipe calls for parsnip you pick parsnips!
I went to pull on the green tops like I do to pull up carrots, but the tops just popped off the root.  So I dug to the root and was shocked to see how big it was.  It was over 2.5 inches in diameter.  I tried to pull from the top of the root but it wouldn't come up that way either.  We needed to dig all around to get this massive parsnip out of the ground.  We did damage it a little trying to remove it but there was more than enough goodness left for what I needed.

Here are two of the smaller leaks that also when into the chicken pot pie.

The grape tomato plant is the only one left as I removed my other two (health kick and ultra sweet) last week.  This one still has several tomatoes but they need to be picked a little early or they are splitting on the vines.

And more hot peppers!!  Cherry bomb, habanero, and cayenne.  I am not surprised by the number of cayennes or even the habaneros as they have been on the plant green for a while and just needed to turn colour.  But the cherry bombs came out of the no where, we thought this plant was almost done about  a month ago, but then all of a sudden it started producing many new fruit very quickly, more than it was making mid summer.

I've got to get on clearing some space in my garden for my garlic to over winter.
What are you still harvesting?  Are you planting anything to overwinter?  Let me know in the comments.

Chicken Pot Pie with a Twist

I love dishes like chicken pot pie, because they are so comforting.  They use up whatever veg you have in the garden, or fridge.  The recipes are easily changed and manipulated to suit your own tastes and it is easily froze for future consumption on a cold fall evening.  As you can see in the picture  my twist on this classic recipe is in the crust, instead of one of the two usual suspects (dough crust or dumplings)  I use stove top stuffing.  Trust me this is delicious and sooo easy.  I don't need to mix batter to make this crust, I can just use left over stuffing from a chicken or turkey I have made or just whip up a box from the store.  If you make it from homemade stuffing it is that much better, plus you probably have left over chicken or turkey to use as well.  But I digress, and I had no left overs to use so on with the recipe.  First I gathered together all the veg that I wanted to use.  This included: Sweet potato, potatoes, turnip, carrots, parsnip, bell peppers, onion, and celery.

I chopped up all the root veg first as it takes longer to cook.  I put all this veg is a pot with some water and par-boiled it to give it a head start.  While that was cooking I sliced up the celery, bell peppers and onions and sautéed them.  Then GMF came in a said what about leeks, great idea, so he ran out to the garden and picked a couple small leeks to add.  I also added about 3 cloves of crushed garlic to the sautéing veg.  Note in the future I would do more leeks, celery and onions.  The ratio of root veg to others was a little to high this time.  Then I put everything together in a large pot and sprinkled with a couple tablespoons of flour and mixed in.  For the stock I used chicken stalk - about 2 cups by eye (just enough to almost cover the veg) and a couple shots of vermouth (this gives it a great flavour) it will reduce and thicken with the flour.  The main seasonings I used were salt, pepper and lots of sage.  Oh and just as I did when I was cooking I almost forgot the chicken.  I sliced up a couple chicken breasts and sautéed them with some oil and sage and added this to the mixture of vegetables.

When the mixture was all combined and the sauce thickened I added it to individual sized ramekins, but you can make this in one large casserole pot and serve family style as well.  Then I added the stove stop stuffing to the top and cooked in the oven on broil to crispen the stuffing.  
As you can see when it is cooked some of the juices will boil over the top.  Be careful when cracking into this it will be very warm on the inside, but soooo delicious.  Here's a not so great photo of what it looks like when someone has started munching.

I also had plenty to make three freezable individual dishes.  I used the tin pie plates for this because we had them on hand.  I put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer as well.  I need to get some pyrex individual pie plates for this in the future.


    An InLinkz Link-up


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How I Peel a Tomato

Ok so if you know me, you know I'm kinda a picky eater.  I've gotten much better over the years but there's still a lot I don't eat.  Most of my pickiness is due to textures.  I'm not a big fan of any skin on a fruit or veg, I almost always prefer the skin off (except for potatoes -  I love the skins on potatoes, but even that I didn't like growing up).  Tomatoes I can eat with the skins but I prefer not.  So I was making salsa the other day and I decided I would peel my tomatoes to give a more uniform texture.  I don't boil my tomatoes, thats too much work for me (because I'm impatient and a little lazy).  I peel them much like some peel oranges or nectarines.  I score the edges in slices.  Then peel off the skin from each slice, they come off in sections very easily.
Score in sections

Peel from top down one section at a time
Fully peeled
Squish out the juice and the seeds into a bowl
 What else is great about this way to peel a tomato is that is also makes it easy to deseed and separate all the flesh.  If you've scored it deep enough it has created slices into the juicy part.  Simply hold the tomato over a bowl and slowly squeeze.  (unfortunately I didn't take pics of this but I will next time and I'll amend this post).  The juice and the seeds will squeak through the cuts in the tomato.  Then you can slice the tomato as you usually would and it will just be the flesh.

Yummy Pico de Gallo style salsa that I made with some of the new thiner Tostitos.

I am linking up this post with Tuesday Garden Party over at An Oregon Cottage, go and check out what other people are doing with their garden goodies!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Harvest Monday - Oct 7th

I can't believe it's October already, probably because the weather here has been summer hot for the last week or so, 25-35 degrees most days.  It's that time again where we get to show off our harvests from the previous week and look at what others are harvesting around the world over at Daphne's Dandelions.
The harvests are definitely slowing, but I still got a good haul this week.  I picked the last of the tomatoes as they were starting to split like crazy on the vines, so they will ripen inside.  I've been making lots of fresh salsa (I love homemade salsa!).  I've continued to pick hot peppers, and theres no end in site for these.  I've got tons in the freezer and I'll dry some more.   I also picked the last of the rainbow carrots.  One of them was a big fatty and delicious as a snack.  Also the fall radishes, only three out of the 6 created good fruit.  They were tasty I think I'll try this variety again in the fall, now to find right packet of seeds to identify which variety they were.  I'm also still harvesting leeks.  This week for my Grow it! Cook it! Eat it! Live it! series I posted a leek and potato soup recipe with crispy potato skin and bacon bit topping.

I've pulled out two of the three tomato plants, the grape one is still going and ripen fruit on its own.  so I'll leave that till the first frost warning.  I am wanting to make room for my fall planting of garlic.  How close to frost do I plant the garlic, this will be my first time and any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Leek & Potato Soup with Crispy Bacon and Potato Skin Bits

Most of this week we saw summer temperatures, even at night.  I was hot outside in shorts and a tee.  But the weekend saw cooler fall temperatures and I decided it was time for some fall soup :).  With my plethora of leeks and the large amount of potatoes we bought from the farmers market at couple weekends ago, I thought I would try to make leek and potato soup, inspired by a fellow blogger over at Stoney Acres who also posted a recipe for this earlier this week.
The main ingredients of the soup where obviously the potato and the leek.  But what made it different then others is the crunchy bacon and potato skin topping.  As I was peeling the potatoes I decided I didn't just want to compost and waste these delicious bits of skin, so I thought I would try frying them to make crispy potato skin bits.  (the chunks of potato I didn't use in this recipe).  The potatoes for the soup were sliced about 1.5cm thick so they would cook fast.  I boiled them in about 2 cups of chicken stock and used the emersion blender to create a creamy soup base.

I sliced 4 strips of bacon into thin pieces and fried them in a fry pan.  Trick to getting great crispy bacon bits that wont burn, start with a little water in the fry pan, just enough to almost cover the bacon.  Cook the bacon on medium-high heat, as the bacon cooks the water boils away and then they fry in their own fat to crispen up at the very end (I saw this on an episode of Chef at Home with Michael Smith, he is one of my favourite TV chefs).  After the bacon is done don't waste that great bacon grease, throw the potato skins in there and crispen them up (watch them carefully as it will happen fast).  Then chop up a the leeks into about 1-2 cm slices and a couple cloves of garlic and fry that together in the left over bacon grease.  

Combine the leek and garlic with the potato soup and top with crispy bacon and potato bits.  Serve with thin garlic bread.  (Note you could also puree the leeks with the potatoes for a smoother soup)