Sunday, January 27, 2008

Eating winter's bounty

This time of year we tend to go back and forth between having winter squash and Brussels sprouts for dinner. I love Brussels sprouts. They are among my all time favorite vegetables. When my two older daughters, Jennie and Marilla were young Jennie got Rilla to eat them by telling her they were fairy cabbages. Worked a charm and we still call them that. Usually we just steam them but when Siri was here she showed us how to roast them, They were fantastic. Just put some olive oil in a baking pan, toss in the sprouts, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them, and roast until they are soft and just a wee bit brown.

Winter squash I just cut in half, place cut side down in a baking pan and bake until soft. I like to sprinkle an little brown sugar on mine, Joel likes butter and salt and pepper.

It is amazing what you can grow outside in the winter in this neck of the woods. The Pacific Northwest does get cold now and then, it's been down to 24 degrees F this last week, but members of the brassica family, that is cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts can take an amazing amount of cold weather and bounce right back. Chard and hardy mustard greens are other vegetables that are growing outside in the garden as I write. We also have carrots, leeks, and parsnips still in the ground and baskets of winter squash upstairs in Siri's room. (We did have to move them aside when she came home for a few days so she could get to her bed.) We also have onions and garlic and potatoes in the house.

We store boxes of King apples from our 100 year old tree next to the house and Enterprise apples from a new planting out by the pond. Joel makes marvelous apple pies for us now and then and applesauce is a regular treat. One of my favorite winter side dishes is apples and onions fried together. Slice up three or four onions and several apples. Put a little oil in a frying pan and add them. Cover and cook until the apples are soft and then take the lid off and cook until they start to brown a little bit. This is great with any sort of pork, but is also wonderful all by itself.

We buy very few vegetables in the winter. An occasional red pepper and may be a head or two of lettuce between our last lettuce in December and the first in March. This year we have lettuces growing in one of the hoophouses so hopefully we will be able to get through without buying one head of lettuce.

People at the winter's farmers market are always asking if we grown the bounty we have for sale in greenhouses and are amazed when we say, no. It does differ greatly from area to area, but with a little care in planting and some simple protection a lot of people can grow most if not all their winter vegetables. Or buy them from a local farmer if someone in your area is growing a winter garden. Check it out.

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