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Archive for the ‘cold frames’ Category

My “track”:

Look closely; it’s there!  Yes, I ran yesterday.  Actually, I ran until the snow got too deep and I had to walk.  I got in 30 laps, until I looked like the Abominable Snowman.

My running buddy:

In fact, she shows up from the neighbors’ house, runs circles around me, begs to be petted, and then races off to chase deer, cats, birds . . . and then she catches back up with me and does it all over again.

The creek in snow:

Cold frames seems a particularly appropriate name today:

I’m not sure there’s still something growing under all that snow!

Is it delivery?

No, of course it isn’t delivery.  We can’t get delivery here in normal weather, much less when there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground.  If you missed the recipe earlier, it’s here.

So, the NWS claims we got 9-12 inches of snow.  Our thermometer read 1 degree F above zero this morning.  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

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Sunday night we had a big salad with dinner, but we also had an appetizer of grits crackers followed by buffalo shrimp and turnips with greens and red pepper relish.  Dessert was blueberry cheesecake.  Only one of these recipes will be showing up here soon:  the grits crackers.  You see, we ate everything tonight, and we thought it was pretty tasty, but it was not company worthy.  I’m not sure the grits crackers are either, but they’re getting there.  I thought you might appreciate knowing how recipes are born on the homestead.  Today I’ll address the less-than-company-worth dishes.  I’ll talk about the grits crackers later this week.

I like buffalo chicken wings but not the fat, so I set out to make buffalo shrimp.  I marinaded the shrimp in tabasco and lime juice and dredged it in a mix of corn starch and whole wheat flour before I fried them in a wok.  The texture was great, if I do say so myself, but we didn’t think the shrimp had enough heat–that is, enough spice to call them “buffalo.”  So, knowing what I did this time, I’ll add to the heat next time.

The turnips were a white Japanese turnip out of our cold frames, and the only thing really wrong was that I got them too soft.  The greens were tasty, but we really did not have enough.  They cook down so much that you really need “a mess” of them to start.  By the way, I would recommend the pepper relish with the turnips again.  But, alas, these were not blog worthy.

The cheesecake was also tasty, but I was planning a small version (like my mini-pound cakes), and my proportions were wrong.  I’ll happily go back to the drawing board.  We’ll keep eating the results until I get it right–I promise!

Anyway, eventually I’ll rework the recipes until I’ve got the best flavor and texture, and then I’ll share my recipes with you while we sit on the porch and sip tea.

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After more than an inch of ice and at least half a foot of snow precipitated on us and then lingered for four days in late January and early February, I had my doubts about whether my veggie tunnels would still have viable veggies in them.  Temperatures, after all, have been running about ten degrees below normal for several weeks, and adding ice and snow on top of that did not bode well for plants that like sunshine.  It took some time to brush off the snow and break off the ice, but I’m delighted to report that almost everything survived.  Given that it was still quite cold when I took photographs, I didn’t want to take the tunnels all the way off, so “after” photographs are through the tunnels.

On November 29:

January 31:

Are those really veggie tunnels under all of that snow and ice?

Yes, and those are cold frames in the distance.

February 1:  time to take off the snow

They’re looking pretty sad.  Did anything survive?

Yes!  the veggies live!

I also dug several radishes and some carrots from the cold frames yesterday, so those too continue to thrive.

We’ve already got at least four inches more snow today (February 8), and radar shows a heavy band of snow moving in within a few hours and then more overnight, for a total of 8-12 inches.  I’ll sleep easy through this storm, though, knowing that my winter garden is surviving, snug under its tunnels of veggie love.

If you’re in the path of this latest storm (or any other) make sure you tuck in your veggies before you tuck in yourself.

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Earlier I wrote about various ways to sustain winter gardening, including grow tunnels.   The recent weather, with temperatures down close to zero overnight and never getting out of the 20s (F) during the day really challenged all of my winter protection measures.  I’m pleased to report few casualties, though, and most of those things were warm-season herbs I had never expected to survive.  Best of all, everything under the grow tunnels did just fine.  I anticipate having cabbage, broccoli, and so forth long before I could have without the tunnels!

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This week I ordered lamb from Conway Locally Grown, a regional variation on CSAs that I’ve blogged about here in the past.  We do not ordinarily eat red meat. As a matter of fact, I had been years and years without eating it until December 2009.  What happened then?  A friend who has an annual winter solstice party with homemade whole-grain pizza included lamb on the pizza.  He’d raised the lamb himself, so it had, as he put it, “zero carbon miles.”  I had to try it.  I admit it; it was way better than any red meat I’d ever had.  So when my father, who is visiting us for a week, wanted to try the lamb from Conway Locally Grown, I said “okay” and ordered it.  Thus we had a very Greek-inspired shepherd’s pie tonight, made almost entirely of local ingredients.

Serves 3-5

For the mashed-potato topping:

  • 4 medium potatoes (I used three big Yukon gold potatoes and one red potato)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of kefir or buttermilk (or yogurt mixed with a little milk)
  • 1-2 ounces Greek cheese, crumbled (I used a sheep and goat feta-type with Greek herbs)

For the meat and vegetable mixture:

  • several cloves of garlic (7 or 8 if you like a lot of garlic or if the cloves are small)
  • 8/10 pound ground lamb
  • 3 good-sized red peppers, sweet or hot (I used marconi and Hatch)
  • 1 pint home-canned tomatoes (yes, you can use a 14-ounce can of good store-bought tomatoes if you don’t have home canned ones)
  • 2 or 3 small carrots or half of one large
  • two sprigs fresh rosemary (about 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • three of four sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only (about 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 cup zucchini, preferably blanched or sauteed, drained thoroughly, and chopped roughly (I used some I had frozen)

Optional:  eggplant, sliced and sauteed. *See seasonal note.

Begin by dicing the potatoes and slicing three of the garlic cloves. Put the potatoes and garlic in a suitable pot and boil until the potatoes are tender.  I also salted the water with a “Greek” seasoning made here in the Ozarks called Cavender’s. When the potatoes and garlic are done cooking, pour off the water and then put the pot back on the stove briefly to cook off excess water.  You can turn off the potatoes at this point until the meat mixture is ready.

While the potatoes are boiling, crush or finely chop the rest of the garlic. Add it and the ground lamb to a heavy-bottomed pot (I used a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven) and cook on medium until the meat is no longer pink. Meanwhile, remove the seeds from the peppers and cut the red peppers into half inch pieces.  If your peppers are fresh, add them to the meat mixture immediately.  I waited to put mine into the meat mixture until it was mostly cooked because my peppers were from our freezer, from 2009’s garden, and thus already soft.

When the meat is no longer pink, add the pint of tomatoes.  You can add the peppers soon thereafter if you have not done so already.  Add the rosemary and oregano. (Ours remarkably survived the frigid temperatures we’ve been having, probably because they are planted next to the porch on the south side of the house, with no chance of getting hit directly by the north winds.) Next cut the carrots in halves or quarters lengthwise and cut thin half-moon slices.  Add the carrots to the mix.  (The carrots came from our garden, protected in a cold frame.) If you have not pre-cooked the zucchini, add it now, sliced and then chopped casually.  My zucchini came from the garden via the freezer and thus had already been blanched, so I added it last. Simmer, uncovered, until the mixture has completely thickened.  If you have not added the zucchini, add it now, well drained first.  Fish out the whole rosemary sprigs.

As the meat mixture starts to get thick enough, you can finish the potatoes.  Add the 1-2 tablespoons of kefir or buttermilk (or yogurt/milk mixture) and mash the potatoes well.  Now stir in the 1-2 ounces of Greek cheese, like the sheep-goat feta blend I used.  You want to leave the cheese in chunks, so that diners get a burst of flavor every few bites.

Divide the meat mixture into individual greased casserole dishes or a single larger casserole dish. You could also leave the mixture in the Dutch oven, if you prepped the meat mixture in it.  Now spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture.

Broil until the tops are browned, about 5-15 minutes, depending on your oven.  Serve with a big salad with Mediterranean ingredients and enjoy!

*I did not use eggplant because we did not have any in the freezer, and it is not in season here.  Of course, it would be ideal for this recipe.

You may also be interested in a shepherd’s pot pie: https://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/shepherds-pot-pie-using-holiday-leftovers/

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Our winter garden has had a really challenging week, and it’s only getting worse.  I’ve taken all of the basic precautions, but when temperatures drop well below freezing and stay there for days, I know I’m going to lose some things.  The first thing I did was cut a whole bunch of kale and pull the most vulnerable leeks and made a Tuscan sausage, leek, and kale soup.  I also dug some baby turnips that were on the outer edge of the cold frame.  I’ll roast those later this week.  Where ice and snow have accumulated, I’ve left it on my cold frames and plastic coverings; the snow will be a better insulator than the glass and plastic alone.  Tomorrow I’ll pile pine straw and leaves around everything that I can, including my vegetable tunnels.  The good news is that, although some of what I’m growing will freeze, most of it will grow back, given a few weeks.  I’ll just have to be patient!

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