In the Big Garden

In the Big Garden
The Farmer at work...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fox in the House, Prolific Broccoli and a Super Desert

Yesterday morning as I harvest late season Broccoli from the field garden, I make a gruesome discovery.  On the southern side I find a large rabbit caught in between the links of the fencing, apparently while fleeing a fox.  The fox made an easy meal of the rear legs but was unable to pull the bunny through to finish and so the front end of the carcass juts through into the shade of my towering plants, incongruously plush and furry, eyes open and glistening. It takes me a while to extricate the carcass and while I carry him to deposit into the woods, the sun on my eastern slope reveals the sturdy frame of a young six point buck crossing the power line.  He pauses to watch me, his small horns in velvet.
The gardens are winding down for the most part.  Tomatoes are still filling basket after basket but that is as it should be now.  The big surprise is our Broccoli, which has been incredibly prolific through this hottest of hot summers.  I have never kept it in this long. I threw in a different varietal this spring called Heirloom Waltham.  The plants, 14 of them, grew huge, happy and leafy but delayed the formation of their heads to a point where it looked as though they were suffering from an over feeding of Nitrogen, not the case because we garden 100% organically and with fresh compost this doesn’t happen. The first compact heads arrived looking much smaller than usual and we harvested with not a little disappointment.  At that point usually I will let a few weeks more of tender secondary stalks develop before taking out the plants altogether.  But for some reason I left them longer and these massive plants have been pushing up quarts of shoots for the entire summer now.  And with the cooler weather returning again they have had a robust second wind, and we are piling up the harvests.
Fall Raspberries on our Everbearering shrubs are coming ripe now- sweeter and plumper than the midseason harvest.  We have six big bushes and they are prolific- they produce far more than we can eat or give away.  What we can’t use fresh Erin will freeze but believe me there are a lot of ways to eat them fresh, on cereal of course (in fact I will walk out with my bowl in a few minutes), pancakes, muffins, fresh in cream, on ice cream, on salads…the list is as long as your imagination.  Frozen, they can be brought out as a lovely sauce for pork or venison or my favorite dessert, Erin’s “Sophila”. The recipe was adapted by her from one given by a friend of Puerto Rican decent though am not sure from where this comes at all.  A “Sophila” is basically a fried fruit turnover.  They are addictive, especially when served hot over ice cream. Here is her basic recipe- try this with the best fresh summer fruit fillings like cherry, peach or raspberry below:
Erin’s Sophila:
Make the filling.  Use a couple of cups fresh or frozen raspberries. Add a lot of sugar, maybe as much as a cup, and then taste.  Frozen raspberries and some fruits can still be a little tart.  You want it sweet and for a little complexity, use some honey to round it out. Just don’t use all honey because you need thickener.  Let that mixture sit.
Take a medium store bought flour tortilla and lay on a work surface.  Scoop two or three tablespoons of the fruit, (letting extra juice drain) out onto the center of the tortilla and then fold into a neat package, essentially up from each side. Tie each package with thread.
Heat up canola oil in good Dutch oven and when ready to fry, gently place each bundle, one at a time to fry until golden brown, flipping once.  They should be crispy on the outside and hot in the middle.  Serve them on a plate in a drizzle of good melted chocolate or of course, over ice cream.  They are TO DIE FOR!!
And speaking of fruit, we have just harvested the last of our spectacular cantaloupes. To sit here and extol their virtues and superiority over anything bought from the store is an understatement.  They are simply exquisite, ambrosial.  Cutting them crosswise reveals a firm marigold flesh and almost floral bouquet…an assault of the senses- and that’s all before you put them in your mouth.  Which I have not had much opportunity to do lately because they vanish as soon as I bring them in and set them on our counter.  You see, my lovely Erin has developed a pregnancy fueled fetish for these delightful orbs and arises like some fruit loving vampire throughout the night to lap their nectar with Baby Peach, who undoubtedly shares her fervor from within.
Ah well, I will just have to grow more next year.
And speaking of Baby Peach, it looks like we will be inducing labor this Friday.  More to come!

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