Monthly Archives: June 2013

Cooking with Garlic & Shallot Scapes

A couple weeks ago when I had some garlic and shallot scapes from the garden, I used them in a very simple and very tasty shrimp dish that my family likes, Coconut Shrimp Stew.

I chopped up 4 or 5 of the shallot scapes, just like I would have the green onions/scallions. Yum!

Then I minced up 3 Garlic scapes and one clove of the fresh Maiskij from one of the damaged bulbs. (Isn’t that a gorgeous purple color on the clove wrapper?)

The shallot and garlic went into the saute pan, and I chopped up some cilantro. To that, I added about a tablespoonful of the minced lemongrass that I froze last fall and about 1/3 of a teaspoon of homemade Sambal Olek (a red chili pepper paste made with vinegar and salt) that I made two summers ago from bountiful red serrano peppers.

All of the flavoring ingredients also went into the pan for a quick stir. The recipes always say “saute one minute or until fragrant.” I think that’s an interesting way to gauge it. Then I put two cans of diced tomatoes in. I know. No fresh tomatoes yet, so we make do with canned. There is a time and place for good canned tomatoes.

After letting the veggies cook for a few minutes, you add the coconut milk. I had some 1 cup boxes, so I think I ended up using 3 boxes. If you have cans, you want about 1 can of coconut milk per can of tomatoes. It makes lots of yummy sauce! You don’t want to cook this too long after you add the coconut milk or it might start to separate. As soon as you add the milk, you want to add in the peeled shrimp. The recipe calls for 3 pounds of shrimp, which makes 6-8 servings. We typically don’t need that much, so I make a full batch of the sauce and only add in the right number of servings of shrimp. Then we have extra sauce for something else. Anyway, add the shrimp and gently simmer until the shrimp is cooked through. Then you can eat it as a soup or serve it over rice.

You can garnish the dish with some extra cilantro if you want to. This is a pretty quick, easy dish to make. It usually takes about 30 minutes, not counting the time to cook the rice. It’s a great, warm dish in the winter but also a quick, fresh dish in the spring or summer!


Getting Close to Eggplant!

Hey, look what I found in the garden yesterday morning?

That’s right, it’s a baby eggplant! A baby ‘Millionaire’ eggplant, to be precise. Some of the other eggplants are growing well and starting to flower also.

Here’s another plant that is starting to flower. In the background you can see another variety that is still quite small.

If you read this blog with any regularity at all, you know that I make a semi-regular joke out of my disdain for eating eggplant. I like growing it, I think it is a pretty plant, but I am just not excited to eat it. So, for all of you eggplant lovers out there, here’s your challenge: Give me a recipe to try that you think will change my mind about eggplant. I’ve already got an eggplant parmesan recipe, so don’t give me that recipe unless you have a significant change/improvement on it. My family will eat almost any cuisine and any spice/flavor profile, so there are no restrictions there. We can also pretty much cook with any technique, so no restrictions there.

I’ll make an effort to try several different recipes and share the results with you throughout the summer. I’ll even come up with some sort of spiffy rating system. (Maybe 5 yuck faces, 3 yuck faces, 1 yuck face, a meh-take-it-or-leave-it face, and a I’ll tolerate it half-smiley face? Okay, just kidding.) So leave a comment with your recipe or send me an email. (rmcmahonATksuDOTedu) I’ve already got a list of several interesting recipes started, so I want to see what your favorites are!

Tuesday Garlic Harvest

I guess Tuesdays are turning into the Garlic Harvest report as our regularly scheduled feature. (I suspect we will only have a couple more weeks of it though!)

This week we harvested the 3rd variety from the Pizza Garden bed, which was the Inchelium Red. Inchelium Red is an Artichoke type, which is a softneck. In other words, this one didn’t have any scapes and we could theoretically braid it if we wanted to. Isn’t that a nice sized bulb? Inchelium Red is also supposed to be a very “medium” garlic – medium pungency and medium garlic flavor.

Although there were a few smaller bulbs here and there, this variety looks pretty good overall. The largest bulbs are similar in size to the Maiskij from a couple weeks ago, and the size seems to be more consistent than the Sonoran and Ajo Rojo from last week.

In examining all the other garlic varieties, it looks as though most of them have reached the “3 brown/yellow leaves stage,” meaning we will not be watering them any more to encourage good dry down. Depending on how they progress, we may harvest some or all of the remaining varieties next week or the following week.

Planting Sweet Potatoes

We received our Sweet Potato slips last Thursday, and I stuck them in right away. We were planning to plant 2 varieties in the raised bed: ‘O’Henry’ and ‘Beauregard.’ We also received some NC Japanese that I wasn’t planning on. I stuck a couple of those slips in the area where we tried to plant rhubarb, just to have something to take that space this year.

As I showed you last Friday, this is how we got the slips. They are good and healthy! These “slips” are shoots that were cut off of sprouted sweet potatoes from last year. Each slip will quickly root and grow into a large plant.

This is the hole I dug in Bed 9, where there was straw mulch on top of the Raised Bed Mix. It was nice and moist!

This is the hole in Bed 10 which is much sandier soil mix. You can see the darker soil right by the emitter that I had turned on, but you can also see that the soil is very dry otherwise. It is clear to see the benefits of mulch and more organic matter in a sandy soil.

Okay, enough of the digression about the different soils and how dry they were.

Here’s one of the planted slips. I gave it an extra drink of water after planting. It is still looking pretty good, despite the heat. A couple hours later it was all flopped over and wilted.

I planted two slips of both varieties in this bed, roughly in each corner near an emitter. I planted the two NC Japanese slips in the bed with the horseradish. We probably could have gotten away with only planting 2 or 3 slips in this space. It will be fun to see how filled up with sweet potatoes this bed is by the end of the summer!

Now it’s Monday, and the plants were no longer wilted. They were nice and straight, but still not looking great. On closer inspection, one plant is basically a twig. This one had a whole cadre of roly polys on the leaf. UGH! I know it rained last night, but this is ridiculous. Once the vines take off and start growing it won’t be a concern. For now, I hit them directly with a little neem oil/pyrethrin spray.

We’ll keep an eye on them, but I think they will take off by next week.

Friday PhotoEssay

Have you survived the first bout of heat this week? It is definitely a change for this year!

Here’s the view of the whole garden for the week. I took the picture Thursday afternoon, hence the full sun! Plants are getting bigger, especially the tomatoes, which seem to have doubled in size over the week. You can also see that the garlic and shallots are getting progressively more grey in color as they get closer to harvest. I am still taking the “whole garden” pictures from the other angles too, I just don’t want to spend the space looking at them here. I created a set on Flickr for them, and I’ll get them all added to the set eventually. That set is here.

Our sweet potato slips are here! I’ll have more about those next week, so stay tuned!

This Red Large Lettuce Leaf Basil is living up to its name in that it is purple/red and the leaves are getting huge. Whether it looks like lettuce leaves I will leave up to you. It does have a very funky appearance though, especially compared to your typical basils.

I cooked up something tasty this week using garlic scapes, fresh Maiskij garlic, shallot scapes, and some of the lemongrass I froze last fall. You’ll have to check back next week to see what I made! (Sorry, I know…so many future blog posts, so little time this week.)

As per usual, a couple weeks after putting out the wheat straw mulch, we have wheat seedlings growing! This really isn’t a big concern. It is easy to pull out and either let it dry on top of the mulch or add it to your compost bins. If you are more on top of things than we are, you would have watered your straw bale a couple weeks before mulching, let it sprout, then spread the mulch afterwards.

These are the tomatoes from the ‘Taxi’ plant. They sized up quickly over the weekend, although they still aren’t at full size. Unless one of the grape or cherry tomatoes comes on strong (a real possibility), my money is on this plant for having the first ripe tomato of the year.

Have a great weekend!