While we continue to get lettuce and other greens from our fall garden, our last real crop harvest was parsnips.  Planted in April, I basically left them alone, with their above-ground leafy greens shading and keeping down weeds.  I grew two varieties: Harris Model and Hollow Crown, with the former producing on average a better yield; both have a nice nutty flavor.

Wanting to make a dinner that showcased our late fall garden and other local sources, I settled on the following menu, which worked quite nicely: Kibbeh, using ground beef from a one-quarter (cut-up and packaged) cow we purchased from nearby Davis Creek Farm along with mint still thriving in our garden; Mashed Carrots and Turnips, a recipe we’d picked up at the mountain farm exhibit by the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including a golden-top turnip from our garden; and Parsnips Glazed with Sherry, Ginger, Thyme, and Lemon, using some of our just-harvested parsnips along with fresh thyme still growing in our garden.  If you’re interested in the recipes, click on: (more…)

While Monika and I were in Maryland last weekend, mice apparently found my peanuts curing on screens in the kennel and devoured a substantial proportion of them.  But about three-quarters remained with no or limited damage, and so today I roasted them in the oven.  I shelled the damaged ones and left the rest in their shells.  You spread them on baking sheets and put them in a 350 degree oven: 20 minutes for peanuts in their shells and 25 minutes for shelled peanuts.  (This may seem counter-intuitive, but the air in the shells heats up and cooks them faster.)  It’s important to let the peanuts cool completely before eating–only then do they become crisp and exhibit their full roasted flavor.  They were yummy!

To make peanut butter, I put one cup of shelled peanuts and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a food processor.  While processing, I added about two tablespoons of  vegetable oil and about a tablespoon of honey.  The result was  the most tasty peanut butter we’ve ever had!


I’m generally not a huge fan of either radishes or pickles, but an article in the February/March Organic Gardening induced me to order seeds for  the “watermelon radish” (less picturesquely also known as the “Chinese red meat” radish) from Baker Creek.  As the pictures above show, the radish when sliced really does look like a miniature watermelon, and the taste is sweet and mild as radishes go.  Dipped in lime juice, it’s especially nice.  For a cup of watermelon radish slices, a recipe in the article also recommended pickling in 1/2 cup Champagne vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and a pinch of sea salt.  They’re ready to eat in two days and have gotten good reviews from friends who are more pickle aficionados than I, who likes them too!

Despite the radish’s classification as a fall radish, I successfully grew it in the spring, although it does take about twice as long as a regular radish to bulb out.

If I suddenly seem food and recipe obsessed, it’s because once all those garden vegetables start pouring into the kitchen, one has to do something with them!  Some are being frozen or canned, but the best eating is fresh and here and now.  Right now, we’re getting lots of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash, which along with onions and garlic harvested a month ago, constitute the key ingredients for gazpacho!

Until two years ago, I never could understand why gazpacho recipes always seems to call for commercial tomato juice, and so it was a liberation to come across a discussion and recipe at the Farmgirl Fare blog that pointed out that tomato juice–apart from that in the tomatoes–was actually completely unncessary.  Ever since, I’ve followed the following gazpacho recipe, altering it occasionally to include tender squash and fresh basil and other herbs.  It’s great!

click here for Susan’s Quick and Easy Gazpach0 at Farmgirl Fare

It’s that time of year when, as country folklore goes, you’re likely to find your front seat filled with zucchini if you leave your car unlocked.  If you grow your own, you’re likely to be somewhat desperate about what to do with all the stuff.

This year I grew two types of standard green zucchini (Ambassador and Dark Green), two kinds of yellow squash (golden zucchini and lemon squash), and a quite amazing zucchini that was new for me: Zucchini Rampicante (also known as Tromboncino).  Zucchni Rampicante is the best-tasting, fastest growing and most prolific squash I’ve ever seen.  It curls around in all sorts of ways, but often looks like a swan to us.  It’s hard to find in markets, but it’s amazingly easy to grow–just be prepared for it to spread………..

Sautéing squash with garlic, onion, and other vegetables is always a good option, as is of course zucchini bread, which freezes well.    Below, however, I’m providing two  less-familiar ways to use up excess squash and at the same time eat very well:

Yellow Squash Pancakes are quick and easy to make and are nutritious and tasty.  They also freeze very well.

Zucchini Timbale can be a main dish or a vegetable side dish and always gets rave reviews.  It is excellent leftover cold as well.

click below for the recipes


Well, “by popular demand” I’m venturing into recipe sharing, although like many cooks, most of my recipes have evolved from tinkering with the ideas of others.  Anyway, here’s a recipe for a holiday quick bread that I’ve made for quite some years now and distributed to various friends, co-workers, and family members.  This year it was included in the baskets that I prepared for family members that included only food and other items produced locally in our area.  (For the record, these included, in addition to Bourbon Pecan Bread, jams from “Grandma Wood’s Kitchen,” Merlot and Chardonnay Vinegars from Virginia Vinegar Works, locally grown and milled cornmeal and whole wheat flour from Amherst Milling Company, artisanal natural soaps and cremes,  local honey from Hungry Hill Farm, and tins of homemade lemon squares.

Bourbon Pecan Xmas Bread Recipe