Monday, July 19, 2010

Going a fruiting...

My roommates and I have been on the hunt for fruit hanging in public (or "semi-public") spaces lately...  This began with blackberry season down here, and since then, we've also found mulberries, wild apricots and plums.  Figs are next.  The pictures below are just the beginning.  We've dried plums on the roof...  I've made apricot butter and blackberry jam...  as well as a few other recipes that will be following in future posts!  

Fennel and Scavenged Blackberry Tart

I made this tart one night for dessert with some friends.  The fennel from the garden is a nice backdrop to the scavenged blackberries.  The local goat cheese may seem unexpected for dessert, but works well here.  All of this is on top of an almond tart crust.  Try it out with any or all of its pieces and parts.  

-1/2 c whole wheat flour
-1/2 c almond flour
-1/3 c butter
-2 Tbsp powdered sugar.  

->Blend flours, butter, and sugar until it is crumbly, the size of small peas.  This is quick and easy to do in a food processor.  

Press the crust into a 9-inch tart or spring-form pan, forming short edges about an inch and a half high.  

Bake bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool while making filling.  

-2 medium fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise and sliced
-2 Tbsp butter
-1/2 c sugar
-2 c blackberries
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
-fennel fronds

->Cook sliced fennel in boiling salted water until fork tender.  Drain.  Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and 1/4 c sugar.  Saute until fennel and sugar caramelize together.  Add blackberries and the rest of the sugar.  Cook until sugar is dissolved and liquid is evaporated.  Finish with lemon juice.  Mix.  

-->Add filling to tart shell.  Crumble goat cheese over it and garnish with fennel fronds.  

~*TIP:  You can also make the almond flour by blending almonds in a food processor until powdery, but don't let it go too long, or you will have almond butter.  *~

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seed Saving Efforts!

We've made a big effort this year to make seed saving a regular part of our gardening efforts.  I've tried to minimize inputs (and thus also cost) to have the garden be as self-sustaining as possible.  Seed saving is one strategy we've implemented to "close the loop."  It's pretty simple and easy and altogether pretty fun.  

For starters...  we've started letting at least a couple of each type of plant go to seed.  So... we have blooming lettuce, cabbage, radish, beets, etc. that form seed puffs or pods that we later collect and crack open to get the seeds out.  We are also sure to save a few pea pods or bean pods to be able to replant the peas/beans the next year.  

For any of these seeds, we let them dry out completely before collecting them and putting them in envelopes.  

For envelopes...  we've started saving some of our "junk mail" envelopes by tearing off one of the short ends, taking out the contents, and reusing them as seed envelopes.  (This is also good because a lot of curb-side recycling programs won't take your junk mail envelopes unless they are opened up).  Then just label them with the name of the plant and the year.  
Now, all you need are the seeds.  So far...  I've saved easy things like the little onions off of the tops of Grandma's Egyptian Walking Onions...  
Or teeny tiny seeds from the pods of this cabbage plant...

Next year, when it comes time to plant them, we can put them in water to see which seeds are viable. Those that sink are generally viable, and those that float generally are not.

Now, to us, it's like a whole new part of the harvest!