Monday, October 15, 2007

radishes and squashes

One fun thing that came out of the Eat Local Challenge is that it gave me the gift of a regular habit: visiting the Regional Market every Saturday and discovering the farmers that quickly became my favorites. As I visit from week to week, I'm able to make observations that would otherwise escape me.

The folks from Central Square - can't remember their farm's name, but I can picture their stall - produced, hands-down, THE biggest and mildest radishes I've ever tasted. I'm talking about radishes the size of ... well, I dunno - but they were huge. Same with their carrots. They said the secret was their good soil. Well, vive la soil! I stop by every Saturday to see what they have. Unfortunately, they were all out of radishes by the time I arrived yesterday. Hopefully they'll have some next week, although I don't know - is it the end of radish season?

I'm seeing more and more squashes of various types. (I'm talking about winter squashes like Hubbard, not the ubiquitous yellow summer squash or even zucchini.)
I confess I don't really know what to do with squashes. All I can think is to take my biggest knife and carve the things up into manageable pieces, then steam until tender and scoop off the tasty bits for mashing into paste. (One exception: spaghetti squash. What a neat vegetable that is!)

Farmers at the market are bringing more and more squashes as the weeks go by, leading me to believe that now would be a good time to learn more about squash, collect some recipes and start experimenting!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tiny green crowns

This year I planted broccoli in my garden - the first time I've ever tried. I was amazed by how well it grew!

I mean that literally. You see, I knew nothing about broccoli when I put the plant in the ground.

First thing that happened was nice, big, healthy-looking crowns came up from among the broad, rubbery leaves. Wonderful, I said, and picked them. My mac and cheese was never so tasty as when I knew I'd grown at least some part of it myself.

I thought that would be the end of my broccoli plants. Boy, was I wrong.

Next thing I knew, all sorts of little tiny broccoli heads popped up in the crooks between the main stalks and the leaves! I had more than a dozen new heads come up in the space of a week or so. None of them was even close to the size of the broccoli crowns you see in supermarkets, so I left them alone. I assumed they'd keep on growing and would become something superhumanly huge on their own.

All that waiting resulted in a transmogrification of my plants from good-natured little florets to wild masses of exuberant yellow flowers and ecstatic bumblebees. Yikes, I said, and hastily picked the few non-flowery shoots.

More little broccoli heads popped up. I tried keeping pace but after I while I admitted defeat - seemingly overnight, those cute little florets became foot-tall yellow stalks of sunshine that proceeded to create what looked like tiny bean pods.

My garden never did achieve full cruciferous glory after producing those first few good-sized crowns. But the veggies were tasty ... and the plants became so pretty. I'll tell myself I learned something - namely, find more friends and relatives who like broccoli - and try again next year.