Friday, August 7, 2015

Mid Summer's Harvest and Recipe

It's hard to believe we are already into August! Although with the heat, mulching and amount of time spent hand watering, it already feels like summer has been a long haul. The cooler evening temperatures and light rain this week is a welcome change!
Beyond all that, it certainly has been an interesting year so far with my experimental container garden. I am already making notes and lists of what works and which vegetables are just not worth the time, space and water! Here is my latest short list of the good, the bad and the ugly...
Corentine Pickling Cucumber

The Corentine Pickling Cucumbers from William Dam have been beyond delightful! Yields are high, fruits crisp and uniform in size with small spines. I have already fermented 6 quarts of Garlic Dill Pickles with the 'Perfect Pickler'....although a few jars were topped up with cauliflower or daikon radish slices. Next year I will start more of these, my new favorite for pickles and salads!
Burgundy, Yellow and Green Bush Beans

I grew my usual three colors of bush beans; Royal Burgundy, Rocdor Yellow and Delinel Green from William Dam. Planted them heavily in three long, narrow planters (that fit over a 2x6" railing like a saddle), but left them on the ground, partially shaded beside the greenhouse. I did not hold much hope because of how shallow the soil was in the center of the planter. To my surprise, these have been one of the most worthwhile vegetables, especially the Rocdor and Delinel. Producing about 1lb. 6oz. of tender, straight beans per picking. More than we could eat for a meal, so I have enjoyed a few good feeds of my favorite bean salad.
Sunshine and Small Sugar Winter Squash

I have been spoiled with incredible winter squash harvests the past few years. Sunshine from William Dam, is a winter squash I cannot imagine living without. I just took the last one from my storage room from the 2014 harvest. Worried it would not be edible, it had a small mold spot starting at the blossom end. The monster sized squash was delicious roasted and I even had enough to experiment with 'dehydrated squash strips' for doggie snacks!

Winter squash with pruned foliage
Sad to say, one of my most disappointing trials has been the winter squash. I had hoped they would trail up the stairs which they did at first. However, with pollination problems and the dropping fruit I mentioned last week, I have already pruned the plants back. Again, I was too ambitious with 2 plants per pot, and with the weather, even though I fertilized heavily, the squash are very small and yielded only one per plant. This week I pruned off all excess foliage leaving just the fruit attached and a few feet of vine beyond.
Ripe Desert King Figs

I have heard comments that it is a strange year for figs. Mine ripened about 3 weeks early and needed lots of water to the surrounding roots, not just at the trunk of the tree. I discovered this after finding dry, unripe figs falling to the ground. Deep watering a larger area surrounding the trunk did the trick. As mentioned, they ripened early; delicious, delicate and dripping with honey (notice in the photo). Unfortunately wasps and ants caused a lot of damage which I have not usually found to be a problem in the past. So I would agree, a strange fig year with an early, lower yield due to the drought and pests. 
The recipe below uses fresh, ripe figs and I must indulge at least once through fig season!

This is an all time favorite recipe of mine... from 'For the Love of Food'!

12 fresh figs
Prosciutto Roasted Desert King Figs
1/4 lb. Gorgonzola cheese
1 Tbsp. Cognac
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
12 thin slices prosciutto
1/3 cup honey
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut into the figs half way, creating a 'pocket', being careful not to go all the way through. In a small bowl combine Gorgonzola, cognac and pepper. Mix together using a fork until well blended.  Stuff the figs with cheese mixture. Wrap prosciutto evenly around each fig to enclose it. If necessary, secure with a toothpick. Stand figs on a parchment lined bake sheet. Bake until prosciutto melts slightly and forms a skin around the figs, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with honey and season with fresh ground black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Till next week ... Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae

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