Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What's Growin' On: 9/12/06

Realization Of The Day:
After pretty much ignoring them for a couple of months (except to toss new stuff in of course), it always feels good to get the compost bins in order--especially when you discover a lot more finished compost than you thought there was. (Click here for a lighthearted look at my first venture into the compost bin, as well as several sources for helpful information about composting.)

Realization #2:
I am so totally out of shoveling shape.

Out Of My Inbox:
--Even though parts of my garden are still in full swing, it's time to start thinking about fall clean-up and getting things ready for winter. The folks at High Mowing Organic Seeds in Vermont have already had their first frost, and their latest online newsletter includes two timely articles--End of Season Management: An Ounce of Prevention by Vern Grubinger, Vegetable and Berry Specialist, University of Vermont Extension and Planning a Winter Vegetable Garden by David Kopsell, UNH Cooperative Extension Vegetable Specialist. Click here to visit their Web Only Specials page.

--My favorite Pinetree Garden Seeds in Maine is having a Fall Clean-Up Sale.

--And on a completely non garden- but food-related subject (that I couldn't resist mentioning)--Teo at Belly Dujour sent me the following note:

"As a lover/blogger of food, I thought you'd get a kick out of a video we just posted that catalogues the Minnesota State Fair’s famed food-on-a-stick tradition. We’ve captured all the fair’s foods on a stick—from corn dogs and deep-fried Twinkies to chocolate-covered cheesecake and spaghetti and meatballs. Check it out if you've got the time, it's hysterical."

I have a lot of trouble watching videos with my dial-up connection, but I'm going to have to figure out a way to see this one. And now I think I have a sneaking suspicion why my shepherdgirl friend Katherine at Apifera Farm says the Minnesota State Fair beats the Oregon State Fair ten to one. And speaking of Katherine, I've just found out that Little Buttercup needs a home. So, if you are a city dweller with a yearning for a cow, here's your chance. No manure, no annual vaccinations, no flies.

Green Tomato Glut? I'd Relish The Situation!
I know that some of you are already picking the last green tomatoes in your garden before cooler weather hits. While they will gradually turn that summer red (possibly allowing you to indulge in homegrown tomatoes on Thanksgiving--or even Christmas), they won't have nearly as much flavor than if they'd ripened on the vine in the sun. So if you're looking for something interesting to do with your green tomatoes, you might try whipping up a batch of my Green Tomato Relish. This easy recipe (that I created several years ago for Kitchen Gardener magazine) is unlike any green tomato relish you've ever tasted--it contains no sugar (or raisins or spices) and is really more like a salsa. Click here to check it out. And you don't have to go to the trouble of canning it, as it will keep just fine in the fridge for several weeks.

From Garden To Table:
Last night we had an amazing fresh from the farm Less Fuss, More Flavor dinner:
--Roasted leg of lamb smothered with a thick layer of homegrown garlic and herbs
--The first Straight 'N' Narrow beans from my late planting, steamed until crisp-tender and dressed with only a sprinkling of salt and a touch of butter
--The first red potatoes from my experimental planting (which appears to have been a huge success--and which I will write more about another time), boiled, dashed with salt and pepper and smothered in butter
--Warm homemade rolls and a glass of red wine.

For me, this is what it's all about. The hard work, the struggling, the aching body parts, the questioning of your sanity, the ongoing battles over garden bounty, the general craziness of life on the farm . . . All is forgotten when you sit down to a dinner like the one we so gratefully enjoyed last night.


  1. Congratulations on your well deserved meal. I think life should revolve around the dinner table.

  2. Thanks for the green tomato recipe! I'll probably be needing it. Aren't those meals the best!

  3. The winter garden article is good - and even relevant here in the UK where, in the south at least, Vermont type weather is unkown!

  4. I know you said you aren't a vegetarian, and we butcher (hate that word) our own beef around here, so I don't have a hard time with raising what I eat, but I have a hard time with the thought of veal or lamb. I even have a problem with the chickens in the store that say "fresh YOUNG chicken." Did the lamb you had for dinner come from your flock? Do you have opinions about lamb (or veal) you'd like to share with us?

  5. Hi
    I have a question about green tomatoes. Can I save seeds from them? Or do they need to be ripe in order for the seeds to be good? In which case I suppose I can slowly ripen them indoors, then collect the seeds. I meant to start saving seeds earlier in the season and never got around to it. Thanks, I'm really new at this!

  6. As an avid fan of the Minnesota State Fair, and a person who reads your blog- This years hotdish on a stick was not as expected (although, still rather tasty) and the deep fried twinkies and candybars on a stick just scare me- I cannot bring myself to try one- but the pronto pop was quite delicious!

  7. your green tomato recipe was the first recipe of yours i ever tried, and i love it. i plan to make more this year if i dont have the baby before i get around to it. apples from the tree and our own tomatoes! yum.

    i love lamb, and would do just about anything to find a god source for it here. there is one family who raises lamb about an hour away, but i am not sure how they raise them.

    tabitha, not karl

  8. Best food on a stick I have ever tasted-battered and deep fried corn on the cob.
    So, are you or are you not-a composting fan?!?

  9. You forgot the best-ever thing to do with leftover green tomatoes: slice them in 1/4" slices, batter them, and fry them. AllRecipes.com has a few excellent suggestions.

  10. Hi Yellow Dog,
    You mean some peoples' lives don't revolve around the dinner table? : )

    Hi P's Gardener,
    You're welcome, and yes, they are!

    Hi John,
    Over the years I've found that I am "preserving" less and less of my harvest in favor of extending my growing season instead. There's nothing like a freshly picked salad in the middle of a snowstorm. And even in Zone 5 (where our temps go well below 0 degrees F sometimes), it can be done with very little effort and expense.

    Hi Happylaney,
    I, too, don't care for the word "butcher." It has such a negative connotation that I feel semi-evil even saying it.

    I have had several people ask me various questions regarding me and eating meat, and I am hoping to write a post on Farmgirl Fare devoted to that topic soon. That way the answers will be available to anyone who wants to read them--now or in the future.

    In the meantime:

    1. Yes, the lamb we eat comes from our own flock. We also currently have beef in our freezer from two grass-fed steers we raised on the farm. We did not process them ourselves--we leave that to professionals who have the equipment to do it right (imagine an 1100 pound cow on your kitchen counter and you standing in front of it with a little knife).

    2. Our "lambs" are actually brought to the processor when they are anywhere from 12 to 16 months of age. Technically this would make them "mutton,"--another word that makes people cringe. Lambs are eaten from 30 pounds on up, depending on the culture, etc. Ours are so "old" because we do not fatten them up to gain weight quickly. Instead they grow slowly, and end up incredibly lean and tender because of this, and because they lead happy lives and get lots of exercise.

    3. I stopped eating veal over 20 years ago after hearing (along with so many other people) about the appalling conditions that the calves were living in during their brief lives. I have, however, eaten veal a couple of times over the past few years at Riddles's restaurant in St. Louis because I know that they buy only humanely raised veal.

    I don't have a problem with an animal being "young" if it was treated well. I'm not sure how old the "young" chickens are that you mention seeing in the store. I do know that many "cornish game hens" are actually just very young chickens. We buy chickens that are naturally pasture-raised locally. I think they are about 8 weeks old when they are processed. They weight around 4 to 5 pounds.

    I have no idea what kind of conditions the tiny (35 pound) lambs are raised in. I would assume they are "milk fed" like veal is always purported to be. I know there are feedlots for bigger lambs just like for cattle where animals are quickly fattened up on grain in crowded, often unsanitary (and definitely not stress-free) conditions. Many small producers sell their young lambs (anywhere from 35 to 70 pounds) either at a livestock auction barn or directly to a "buyer." Those lambs then go to a feedlot until they are processing weight. We avoid this by selling our older lambs directly to individuals at processing weight.

    Hope this answers some of your questions!

    Hi Seedling,
    Hmmmm. I actually don't know if you can save seeds from green tomatoes or not. They might be okay if the tomato is full size, just not ripe. I will pose this question to readers in an upcoming post and see if anyone can help. In the meantime, you might do a google search for "green tomatoes" "saving seeds" etc. and see what you get.

    Hi Carrie,
    LOL, you sound like a great person to go to the fair with! : )

    Hi Tabitha,
    I'm so glad you liked my green tomato relish. Thanks for letting me know. I'm envious of your apple tree.

    Hi Sissy,
    Oh my. Battered and deep-fried corn on the cob does sound good.

    Am I a composting fan? Despite my crazy first experience, most definitely YES! I now keep five compost bins going all the time.

    Hi Miss Kitty,
    I often joke that people fry EVERYTHING around here (including lettuce!), but really I'm a sucker for pretty much anything fried. (Just don't tell anybody, okay?) : )


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to InMyKitchenGarden.com! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!