We have a history of neglecting the fruits of our garden, and here is another instance. We grew a bunch of little delicata squashes last year, which were a bit of a pain to use because they were kind of petite. So down into the basement they went. We’re trying to pinch pennies these days, so in scouring the food storage, Alicia found them and decided it was time to make some risotto. They had changed colors from white with green seams to a golden yellow, almost like little pumpkins. Those things were over a year old, and still going strong… talk about staying power.
Our friend Lark just invited us to the most impressive dinner party the other week, inspired by a festival she ran into somewhere in Europe I want to say. Maybe France? Or Spain. At any rate, it celebrated the late-season root vegetables and hearty greens that are still around, nearly forgotten in the garden. She and her sisters-in-law cooked probably 10 different dishes, served thali-style, and it was absolutely incredible.
I was doing some late-fall putting away of the garden this afternoon, and came upon three artichokes that were still OK. Inspired by the Feast of the Forgotten Vegetables, I tossed them on the porch to bring inside, though I will admit that in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Those will sit in the crisper for a few months before I throw them in the compost.”
We just let our artichokes bloom this year, partly because the purple thistle was so pretty, and partly because I was for some reason intimidated by the spiky things. This is our second year growing artichokes, and until tonight, we’d never cooked them. But after the kids went to bed I wanted a snack, and there they were.
Boiled for 20 minutes. Melted butter with lemon. Seriously, these were the best artichokes I’ve ever had. Surprisingly tender. But seriously, as a side point, who figured out you could eat those things? “Ok, now you’re going to scrape inside of the very bottom of the leaf off with your teeth — no seriously, it’s good.”
I’m on board. No more letting them blossom for the color, we’re eating them from now on.
I teach color theory every spring, and when we talk about color psychology I always say that blue is an appetite suppressant because there are no naturally occurring blue foods. I’ll have to add an asterisk to my lecture next semester. We grew these blue potatoes this year, and when they are mashed, they make the most impressive blue color. They get a little more purple when they’re heated up.
My brother Alex told me that the hops would be ready when the tips started turning brown, so I guess it’s go time. I planted them with a long rope to climb all the way up to my office window on the top floor, and they didn’t make it last year, but this year they did, and how. I pulled one off the vine and it smells delicious. Some people would say BO, I say IPA. It’s time to drop the rope and pull all the hop blossoms (flowers, blooms, what are they called anyway?) and get them dried. Or better yet call up Alex and set up a fresh hop ale brew day.
Get to know your Urban Farmer’s Almanac history and read about the history of these hops here.
A couple of years ago Dan’s parent gave us some cuttings from their grape vines. Let me start by saying these grapes are amazing. They are small champagne grapes and are so sweet and delicious with a flavor like none I’ve found at the store. They are perfect for kids to watch grow and eat – even our littlest one. The first year the cuttings were literally just sticks in the ground. The following year they had grown enough to call it a vine and had sprouted leaves. Last year I think we may have gotten a couple of grapes even, but this year is the year they really began to bear fruit.
I would love to experiment with grape juice and jelly and I know Dan would love to try his hand at wine, but they get eaten up so quickly there is never enough to preserve. Our littlest one (who is almost one) does not crawl yet, but scoots around on his bottom. Whenever he sees someone come in with grapes in their hand goes crazy and scoots over faster than I would think is possible. We dried one clump in the dehydrator just to see what these taste like as raisins and to be honest I think they lose too much flavor that way. They are definitely preferable fresh.
The bummer about these vines is that our long term plan for the garden includes a replacement retaining wall and new (non-chain link) fence. This winter we may try to remove the vines from the fence and create an arbor that they can live on permanently.