Florida Winter

November 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

Florida doesn’t have four seasons.  We have a “cool”  season (70’s to 80’s) from late October to February with a few unpredictable cold snaps, and then, we have blazing, swimming-through-the-air-it’s-so-humid weather the rest of the year. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

There is an upside, though: for most of the country, the winter’s too cold to grow anything, but here, the cold(ish) months are, in my opinion, the best time to grow vegetables.  There are less bugs, less fungus (from so much moisture), less sweatiness, and therefore more of a desire to be outside to actually TEND the garden!

Having said ALL of that (deep breath), here it is, November 19th, and our garden, after a summer of fungus, aphids, and, weeds on performance enhancing drugs, looks like this:

Yes, we’ve let it go for a few months. I keep trying to convince myself we are doing something good for the soil. You know, letting it lie fallow or something?  But, no. We’ve just been busy and unmotivated and sulking from all the meanness of a summer garden without pesticides in Florida.

But, last week, my girls, being so much more optimistic and hopeful than I will ever be, began the cool weather garden for us.  I vaguely remember them asking me if they could plant some seeds and me giving permission, advising them to use the compost as potting soil, and then telling them to plant what they wanted, but to, please, plant some lettuce seeds.  I also remember thinking they would do it wrong, that the plants wouldn’t grow, that it was mostly a fun, but, ultimately, fruitless way for them to spend 30 minutes.  Well, guess, what?  We have seedlings. And, yes, I’m a jerk.

We don’t know all of what was planted in that  short session due to a very vague (but SO cute) labeling system, but I know from looking at them that there are some peas, red leaf lettuce, and marigolds shooting up already.  So precious.  The shoots and the girls.

I was inspired by my girls’ venture and by those little seeds just shooting up, like they’d never heard of  my pessimism.  Or the fall of man.  Or the bugs that long to destroy them.  So, I decided to start seeds today.  And I’m feeling optimistic about their potential and about this Florida winter, with all it’s benefits.  May I keep the eyes to see.

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A Few Good Links

November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

Inspiring links for the weekend:

~I made the carrot and parsnip fettuccine (seen above) found at Food 52 (Check out this site…so many good ideas happening, here).  I love a comforting bowl of pasta, but this is a really tasty, nutmeg flecked stand in.

~Five ingredient desserts from, yep, Food 52  (the chocolate mousse and the lime ice cream are calling).

~I love reading the articles and recipes over at Gilt Taste and have been especially intrigued by the ones labeled “Eat Shoots and Leaves”.  They focus on parts of produce you might be tempted to throw away and how to give them a delicious second chance.  Ideas for apple peels and cores found here.

~On the saving bits and pieces note, this post over on Dinner: A Love Story had me cracking up!

ENJOY!

The Great Pumpkin

November 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

What, you ask, is THAT?  It’s the coolest cooking experience you will have this Thanksgiving, that’s what. Whoa. That was kind of forceful wasn’t it?  Ok, You can do what you want with your cooking this Thanksgiving, but  how can you beat a whole, cooked pumpkin, stuffed with savory goodness, making a dramatic entrance to your table? Is the green bean casserole going to beat it? The stove top stuffing? Um, no.

This recipe is from the ever amazing Around My French Table, so as usual, I was pleased from the first read-through.  First, it’s flexible with the ingredients you can use, so I immediately was drawn in: I love a recipe where I can fudge and swap ingredients.  But, when it comes down to it, the reason this recipe became a reality is simple: you turn a pumpkin into an edible pot. I’ve tried really hard to put into words why this appeals to me so much.  Maybe it’s the mixture of pumpkin carving and fine dining. Maybe it’s the rustic, cozy, farm-to-table appeal.  Maybe I just like that an edible pot means less dishes.

Cinderella squash? I never figured it out.

Using Dorie Greenspan’s recipe as a general guide, I put together a somewhat haphazard combination of herbs,garlic, bread, sausage, green apples, cheeses,and cream, filled the pumpkin, and baked it for a few hours (the smaller the pumpkin or squash, the shorter the time, but this one was family sized).

It came out with a great balance of flavors that pleased almost everyone at my table (If ever everyone was pleased with a meal at my house, I would think the sky was falling), but there ARE a few things I will do differently next time:

**Swap bread cubes for some cooked rice (this would make it gluten-free, too)

**Add some nuts into the  mixture for some crunch

**Use all the cream the recipe calls for (I was running low, so I fudged with broth)

**Remember to salt the inside of the scraped out pumpkin before filling with all the good stuff  (I could tell the filling was well seasoned, but not the pumpkin itself)

**Use a small lipped tray for cooking (I used my pizza stone and there was some spilling when I went to cut it…a lip, would have saved me)

 

Other notes on this:

*You could use an acorn or calabaza squash, mini pumpkins….whatever…for smaller, more manageable portions.

*Fill this thing with whatever sounds good to you…the possibilities are wide open (see the comments on the recipe as it appears on Epicurious for ideas).

 

 

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