Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vampires Beware!

There is a shortage of seed garlic in the land! And although this might seem like a good thing for vampires, it actually suggests that more folks are planting garlic and soon little plots of homegrown garlic will make it impossible for hungry vampires to find a place to land - sorry, fans of the Twilight series!

The Frog Holler garlic crop was a little pathetic this year. Although I would like to blame it on vampire intervention, I have to admit that the weeds got the better of the patch, despite the heavy mulch we applied last fall. Luckily for us, a dear friend and ace garlic grower had more garlic than she knew what to do with, so sold us a nice selection of healthy garlic bulbs for our planting pleasure.

Did you know garlic comes in many flavors? We have always planted "Music", a homegrown standard known for its flavor and reliable yield - we love its robust richness and also like the name! Bur now, thanks to our friend, we have planted "Killarney Red", "German Porcelain", "Asian Tempest", and "Spanish Roja"! Could there really be such a difference in the bulbs to merit those exotic and place-particular names?

Uh oh - garlic aficionados are starting to bristle and splutter at that innocently ignorant question. Of course there is a difference! Why else would a brand-new local garlic farm have to double their planting for next year from 6500 to 13,000 bulbs? And with 15 varieties? Why? Because they sold out instantly at every market they went to this past season - Ann Arbor knows and loves their garlic!

So back to our little garlic patch. Thinking we had better educate ourselves as we enter this new exotic world of garlic flavors, we had a garlic taste-off one afternoon. The candidates were Killarney Red, Spanish Rojas and German Porcelain. We roasted them up and then sat down to compare. We were surprised how different they were!

Hands down winner was Killarney Red, with a taste that was "smoky," "sweet," and just plain "yum"! Spanish Rojas went thumbs down with a flavor described as "blunt", "earthy", "musty", and, the clincher, "like wet grass pudding". Oh dear. We'll have to give that one another chance. German Porcelain did not fare much better; descriptions ranged from "bitter" to "sharf" (German for something unpleasant!?).

clockwise from left: Spanish Rojas, German Porcelain, Killarney Red

Well, we didn't plant very much of those unpopular brands. Actually, we didn't plant very much garlic at all. So, while casting around Craig's List of all places looking for more organic garlic to plant (all garlic suppliers in the business had long sold out), we found a lovely ad for organic garlic at a good price and not so very far away.

I won't even tell you how this week we just happened to visit the farm of the good folks who supply us with organic dairy products and we found out that the Craig's List garlic producer lived just around the country corner from them, but she wasn't home that day, so they said they would call her because she was a friend, and then bring some garlic if she had any left when they delivered the milk, yes I said, delivered the milk, and today is the delivery day and we now have 21 more pounds of beautiful seed garlic and guess what varieties - Music and Killarney Red - our favorites!

Killarney Red(left) and Music

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm back!

Not that any one has been looking for me. Loyal blog readers must have long given up, unless they got the memo to click over to the Frog Holler Farm CSA Newsletter. My summer blogging has been dedicated to that weekly endeavor, and you can view lots of photos and vignettes reflecting the season in the garden, if you're so inclined.

Now, as the calendar marches through October, and the temperatures dip, and the leaves start to fall, and the crops start to dwindle, we feel the imminent end to the unlimited fresh produce that we have enjoyed all season. And that's scary!

This week we took action in the kitchen! First we cooked and canned 16 more jars of spaghetti sauce - bringing our total to 50. That might get us through the winter.

We saved some of the tomatoes for our last fresh salsa of the season. No photo -it was gone too fast!

While the sauce was simmering, Kirsten sliced apples for the dehydrator for dried apple snacks throughout the winter (except everyone munched on the first batch so much that she had to make another - and hide it!

apple mandala

Dorothy got busy with making an "apple pie with hazelnuts and dried sour cherries." Luckily she made a few mini pies for early snacking. The aroma coming from the oven and the beauty of the finished product made it almost too good to eat! (But everyone managed just fine when the evening dessert was served.)

portrait of a pie

Practically behind her back, Dorothy added a batch of cookies to the day's kitchen bounty. Bright and zesty nasturtiums topped these sweet treats.

a bouquet of cookies

Angie then employed all kitchen choppers in assembling five gallons of kim chee - a Korean spicy fermented dish full of chinese cabbage, daikon radish, red radishes, carrots, hot peppers, and more! In two weeks, we'll open the crock and start enhancing our winter dishes with this nutritious and flavorful reminder of the season's harvest.

in your face kim chee!

And finally, we borrowed neighbor Sandy's power cuisinart (thanks Sandy!) to blast off several batches of pesto. The basil is always the first garden crop to succumb, so none too soon to preserve some of that potently delicious flavor!

pesto with tortilla chip - a multicultural treat!

At the end of the day we were tired, kind of full, and very satisfied to preserve some of the flavor, nutrition and energy from this year's garden season. The work went smoothly with many chopping hands, lots of stories and laughs, and a big pasta meal with apple pie for dessert to savor the day's work!

Holler Fest 2016
August 26-28