Oh Yeah….Gardening

September 3rd, 2011

We’ve got some catching up to do. Things that have happened since the last time I wrote anything about gardening:

  1. An earthquake and 22 officially recorded aftershocks, close to Tangled Branches South in central Virginia. As I wrote before, we had no serious trouble even though we were less than 10 miles from the reported epicenter.
  2. A hurricane. No real problems with this either. Some downed tree branches, a few broken stems in the vegetable garden, but no power outages, no flooding, and no damage to buildings.

Things related to gardening since the last time I wrote anything about gardening:

  1. Eggplant! I picked several on the morning of the earthquake.
    harvest-2011-08-23

    Beans, eggplant, peppers, okra

    And another dozen since that. We love eggplant and this has been the best year for it so far. I switched varieties again, keeping ‘Pingtung Long’ from last year but adding ‘Listada de Gandia’ (the striped one above) and ‘Rosita’. I’m very happy with all three varieties this year. So far, I’ve made Baingain Bharta, Roasted Vegetable Panzanella and Baba Ganoush.

  2. It’s a good year for bell peppers too. I’ve made Pepper and Egg, Pepper and Egg, Pepper and Egg…. I’m much happier with my results since I started making it following Clara’s directions.
  3. The day before the big earthquake, we bought a freezer. The bush beans and the pole beans are all producing at once. And since we were so rattled by the earthquakes, we haven’t been there every day to pick them. So I blanched the best of them and packed them into freezer bags. The big, somewhat overgrown beans weren’t a total loss though. I turned them into Southern-style green beans, braised for about an hour and a half with bacon and a little chopped onion. I fry the bacon first, remove it and some of the fat from the pan, saute the onion in the remaining fat, then add the beans, part of the crumbled bacon and a small amount of water. Keep checking during cooking to see if more water is needed. When the beans are very thoroughly cooked, add the remaining crumbled bacon and salt and pepper to taste. I happen to really like beans cooked this way, but it’s not to everybody’s taste.
  4. Speaking of “not to everybody’s taste” – okra. I think people who say they don’t like it just haven’t had it cooked properly. Okra requires some finesse in cooking. But that doesn’t mean difficult, just observant. So here is the Easiest Okra Recipe Ever. Slice okra crosswise into ¼ to ½ inch thick rounds. Slice chile peppers. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Place okra in skillet. Stir to coat with oil. Let it cook for a bit, then add chile peppers. Stir periodically, so the okra browns on both sides. When it’s mostly brown and crispy, sprinkle with salt and serve. Keys to success are to keep the okra very dry, as moisture will make it slimy; slice it thick enough so that it doesn’t disappear in cooking (it shrinks a lot), but not so thick as to negate the brown crunchiness; do not cover the pan during cooking; do not add salt until the end. You may need to add more oil – okra absorbs a surprising amount.
  5. Yard-long beans. These are cool. Beautiful vines with dark glossy leaves, and very productive too. I want to make Wendy’s stir-fried long beans, but haven’t been able to find Chinese dried olives. Can anybody point me in the right direction in the Asian market? (I tried to find them at the various big Korean supermarkets and at Great Wall in Merrifield.) Are they shelved with the other dried stuff – mushrooms and the like? What sort of packaging am I looking for?
  6. Drying tomatoes. One plant of ‘Riesentraube’ is going to give me enough dried tomatoes to last the winter and beyond.
    Tomato 'Riesentraube'

    Tomato 'Riesentraube'

    I had read great things about the taste of Riesentraube, but mine are sort of sweet and bland. Fine for drying though.

That’s not everything that I could include for this very belated Garden to Table Challenge post, but I’m headed into the kitchen now to make Pepper and Egg again and after that back down to central Virginia to see what’s been going on in the garden while I’ve been away. Hoping for no more aftershocks…

Oh, and right now we have a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. The thunder made me jump.

6 Responses to “Oh Yeah….Gardening”

  1. Thank you for the okra instructions! I can’t wait to try that recipe–although I will probably wimp out a little bit and use banana peppers instead of hot chili peppers.

    Any chance you’ll share your recipe for baba ganoush? I’ve made a few different recipes this year, but I’m not in love with any of them–and I have a plethora of eggplant this year, too!

    • entangled says:

      I’ve made okra that way probably half a dozen times since I discovered it recently in some book (can’t remember which book). Way easier than any other okra recipe I know.

      I don’t really have a baba ganoush recipe – kind of a hybrid of all the recipes I’ve read – but I can try to write up the general principles. I found a variation in an old cookbok and tried it the last time I made it – chopped raw onion on top. We had never seen nor heard of it being served that way, but we liked it. Don’t know that I’d make it that way every time though.

  2. Marianne says:

    Will try the okra, sounds easy and tasty (love chili peppers). Have tried about 18 different recipes for egg plant – will try baingain bharta, that is a new one to me. Take care, Virginia has had some rough weather of late.

    • entangled says:

      Oops, I see that the more common spelling of baingain bharta is baingan bharta. There are lots of variations and most of them are good :-)

      We have weathered the weather so far – thanks for the good wishes.

  3. Wendy says:

    Everytime I hear thunder (or the trash truck, or a plane, or just about anything!) I think it’s another earthquake! wow – 22 aftershocks…

    That eggplant is pretty! I tried growing pintung – a couple times actually. Never seen the light of day with all the flea beetles.

    • entangled says:

      I think we’re up to 25 or 26 aftershocks now, including a couple that we didn’t notice. I’ll take the not noticing as a sign that things are settling down – hope so anyway.

      The stripey Listada de Gandia has been very productive too, so it’s earned a spot in the garden next year. I can’t grow eggplant at all unless I use row covers, but this year I removed it when the eggplant started flowering. So far, there’s been relatively little bug damage after I did that.

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