Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New growth in the garden, holdovers in the kitchen

On Sunday, once the temperature reached the low 30s F, instead of the 11 degrees of a few days before, we got busy with the new potato barrels. Andrew cut 55-gallon food grade barrels from the fish processing plant in half and drilled holes in the bottom. Now I have four planters ready  for the fingerlings I'll be planting soon and the sweet potato slips that I intend to try one more time, come June. 

 Another happy sight, maybe not beautiful but a pleasure to see, is the garlic sprouting. Both the fall-planted cloves and the more recent plantings are charging forward. Thanks to my friend Bill Bowes, I have several new varieties to try although as usual I have faltered in my plans to keep close track of which type is which. Fortunately he also gave me a cheat sheet illustrating the subtle differences in leaf shape and growing habit, so all may not be lost.

Snowdrops and marsh marigolds are unfazed by the weather. So were the collards and kale, but they are not quite as photogenic.

 In the kitchen, I was looking at the final little kabocha squash from last year's garden. I also have some cabbage in the refrigerator and collards in the garden, plus a couple links of  frozen chicken sausage. So we'll have soup. The base recipe is in Winter Harvest, reprinted below. This version is going to get some potatoes too, since I have some that won't last much longer.

Basque Soup

Heat lard or olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or soup pot. Add onion and brown. Add pumpkin, cabbage, beans, and garlic and cook briefly, stirring to coat the vegetables with oil. Add stock or water, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook gently, covered, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Adjust seasoning before serving.

1/4 cup lard or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 medium cabbage, sliced
1/2 pound dried haricot beans or navy
beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 quarts stock or water
salt and pepper

This is adapted from Elizabeth David’s book of Mediterranean food, a great sourcebook of traditional recipes (with traditionally vague measurements). You may substitute olive oil for the lard; it won’t taste the same, but it will be good. This soup has a robust flavor, as you’d expect, and with good bread and a salad, it makes a complete meal. Serves 6.

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