Thursday, November 22, 2012

Leafy greens, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, and thankfulness



Grow It Eat It wishes you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for much this November, including my Master Gardener friends and particularly my new Derwood Demo Garden vegetable co-leader, Robin Ritterhoff, who has taken it on herself this year to turn our vague and occasional association with Manna Food Center into a regular donation program.  We have donated 480 pounds of produce this year!  And we hope to do even better next year.

Tuesday's donation was 20 pounds of leafy greens, including mustard, kale, lettuce, Swiss chard, and lovely purple pak choi.  Here we are posed with the bounty:

photo by Nancy Woods

And a close-up:


And here's me with the purple pak choi, which is definitely my favorite leafy green of the year:

photo by Robin Ritterhoff
I'm also thankful to Robin for pointing me to the recipe for Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Rosemary Sunchokes and Sausage, which I'm going to make today using vegetarian sausage and sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) I had forgotten I planted until they bloomed this fall.  I think I brought some home to plant and stuck them in a corner since I didn't, as usual, have a plan, and now I am hoping I managed to dig them all up though one never does.  They really are a great edible native plant to have around, but you have to ride herd on them or they start having sneaky notions of conquest.  Well, pretty overt notions of conquest, actually.  Last week at the demo garden we dug out about 100 square feet of Jerusalem artichokes which I'm sure were never meant to be, but just happened.  This produced FORTY POUNDS of tubers which Robin delivered to Manna; they were, luckily, very pleased to have them.

I'm also serving the remainder of my modest sweet potato harvest in all its multi-colored glory.  Let me regale you with a photo of my All Purple sweet potato (the only large one of the bunch) which we ate a couple of weeks ago.


I tried, I really tried, to get a picture of the interior once I'd baked it, but it ended up looking kind of gray and threatening when it's really a beautiful dark, dark violet, and the only way I can describe the taste is by analogy: Georgia Jet is to orange juice as All Purple is to burgundy.  And I do love orange juice, really, but the purple sweet potato is just so complex and earthy and much less sweet and quite fascinating, though it's not what I'd want every time and it would be terrible with marshmallows.

Speaking of sweet potatoes, here is this Tuesday's sequel to the story of Voles in Paradise: so nearly all the tubers inside the fence were chewed up and unusable, alas, and this week it was time to roll up the hardware cloth fence that didn't keep the voles out this year and put it away, and so Barbara started digging a trench around the outside to free it.  And she kept finding sweet potatoes (for "find" read "put her shovel through," but never mind that, it happens to the best of us, and Barbara is the best of us).  And every one of those sweet potatoes was in perfect shape, aside from being recently cleaved by a shovel.  Because all the voles were inside the fence.  Ha!

I hope all of you have some sweet surprises in your lives this holiday, potato or not.  Enjoy your vegetables!

P.S. Barbara relates "the sad sequel to the sweet potato story":

"After bringing home the chopped off pieces of the “outside” sweet potatoes, I cleaned them up as best I could for dinner; mostly they had enough bad spots that I peeled them completely; then I boiled them, but even after plenty of time boiling some were too hard to stick a fork in. However, I persisted, and the grandchildren gamely gave them a try; we all agreed that they were inedible. No flavor at all, hard to chew, and they definitely proved what I had always heard. Once there is a frost, and the vines have died, you have to dig the potatoes right away, or they will be no good. So next year I will know to look for potatoes all around the outside too."

3 comments:

  1. So...what does a sunchoke taste like? Maybe if there was enough other flavors in a recipe, I might be able to 'choke' down Brussels sprouts. The flavors in the recipe you linked to looks promising...especially if you add enough sriracha. :-)

    I've had similar poor harvest results with my sweet potatoes. Luckily the voles haven't found the garden yet. Good thing the foliage is edible or it would hardly be worth planting them in my garden at all.

    The purple pak choi looks lovely!

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    1. Sunchokes have a pleasant earthy flavor that is sort of like potatoes only not really. I did make the recipe and liked it, except that I did it too far ahead and had to reheat it, which dried everything out too much and was especially bad for the vegetarian sausage. There was not enough maple syrup and, for me, too much cayenne ( ymmv).

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  2. That purple pac choi is gorgeous!

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