Monday, December 21, 2009

A Snow Covered Garden

We had over 15 inches of snow in the garden after a recent storm.
The entire 2009 apple crop is eaten.
The Chicago Fig gave us a one last delicious fruit
Blanched cardoon ready for baking
The 'au gratin' is oven ready
Bring on the forks!!!

Our recent huge snowstorm dropped at least 15 inches, by my measurements, and really covered the garden. I had to remove the snow from the hoop house as I was afraid the structure would collapse. This deep snow cover will make the harvest of the parsnips on January 1st easier as the ground should not have frozen too hard. However, digging on that day will tell. The storm caught me off guard with my cardoon harvest. Unfortunately like most big storms very cold weather followed so by the time I got to the cardoons they were a "bit" frozen. But I dug them out, cut them, and cooked them. They seemed to clean easier as you need to remove the strings in the stems and cut off the leafy parts. I had tied them up in September or October to help blanch the inside stems and for the most part that did work. I cleaned the stems, peeled them, and blanched them in lemon water for maybe a total of 15 to 20 minutes or so. The chopped cardoon stems were used to make "au gratin" with bread crumbs, garlic, cheese (Romano) onions, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I layered the cardoons between the bread crumbs and cheese and finished off the top with cheese. Baked the dish covered in a 350 degree oven for maybe 45 to 60 minutes or until I could see that the dish was bubbling and then uncovered the pan to allow for browning. We really like cardoon cooked this way. You can Net search similar recipes for this attractive, delicious and somewhat old time American vegetable that more of you should grow.
The entire apple crop has been consumed. The last batch of apple sauce is in the refrigerator and I will miss this good stuff for cereal and snacking. I will just have to grow more apples next season. The fig tree gave us one last fruit this week and we savored each morsel. Now I have to decide to if I want to keep the tree in the house or make the tree go dormant into the garage. I hate to fight spider mites all winter but would really hate to lose the tree if it should not survive in the garage.
I am experimenting with sunflower seed sprouts for salads this week and have found a few good sites on the web. Just Google "sprouting" or "sprouting sunflowers" and some nice sites come up. Hope to find enough time to make the last entry for the year a colorful one.
Happy Gardening

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