Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Look Back at the 2011 Garden and some Braised Celery

Despite lashings of rain and wind from Hurricane Irene and a sodden Spring and Fall, the garden season here at Chez Crispy was productive indeed. Our garlic crop was tremendous and I have given away lots of fat-cloved batches to friends and family and will be sticking some in the ground this week for next year's crop.

We also had a bodacious broccoli and hot pepper crop. I thought I had bought one variety of hot pepper seedlings and one of mild peppers, but both turned out on the fiery side, so our freezer is stuffed with sliced capascins, we dehydrated some and I made a batch of hot pepper sauce. We ate tons of broccoli over the summer and I put lots in the freezer as well, though we also enjoyed trying it grilled over a piece of foil on the barbecue. We drizzled it with olive oil and seasoned it with salt, pepper and fresh basil, and it was very tasty.

Broccoli in situ and roasted on the barbie

The lettuces, escarole, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs were also abundant. I pickled. I sauced. I froze. I dried lots of comestibles during the harvest season. My canning sessions were limited to tried and true favorites like tomato sauce, spicy salsa, dilly beans and zucchini relish.

A typical August daily harvest
Lots of garden garlic mid-season

I was given some interesting new plants by my buddy Andrea, who works at an organic farm. She gave me some lemongrass, epazote, chervil, some smudging herbs which I can't remember the name of, and some dragonhead, which was a very cool, spiky purple flowering herb which makes a lovely tea.  The epazote was an interesting looking plant, and though I love to smell the odor of turpentine, I am less inclined to ingest it. This Mexican native herb spells very pungently like the turps, so I just let it grow on. It made lots of seeds and some have already sprouted up next to the mother plants so I will no doubt get a second chance to inspect it next Spring. Let me know if you have played around with epazote in the kitchen and have some ideas for me.


The chervil was a gorgeous plant that I would consider growing among my flowerbeds, with lacy dark green leaves and a licorice flavor. A few chervil leaves in the salad bowl make a nice accent.


The lemongrass was also a great surprise. I had never considered growing this tropical plant because I thought it would be too tender, but it grew quickly and thickly in my garden and I still have a luxuriant stand of lemongrass even at this late date and after two frosts. The leaves are fragrant additions to curries and soups and I have a few bundles drying in the garden shed for winter teas. I've yet to scoop out the remainder of my lemongrass stalks and chop them up for the freezer but will need to do that and pronto, since snow is forecast for tomorrow.

Lemongrass in my October garden!?!

I swapped a bunch of garden items with Andrea throughout the season and when given a dark green and very fragrant bunch of celery from her raised beds, I thought I would try out a recipe that would highlight this vegetable. I had recently gotten in a Depression-era cookbook at our bookshop, Alice Foote MacDougall's Cook Book (1935), and enjoyed browsing through her recipes and prose. A recipe for a simple Braised Celery  caught my eye, so I made it up and it was a herbal, delicately-flavored side dish that we dined on for one meal and then reused into a tasty celery soup the next day by adding some leftover mashed potatoes and milk.

Braised Celery

Here's Alice Foote MacDougall's recipe for:

Braised Celery

"Remove the outside coarse stalks from a bunch of celery and save for seasoning. Wash the remainder and cut into pieces one inch long. The large stalks should be cut down the middle.

Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and, when melted, put in the celery. Saute slowly until tender. Season with salt and pepper. This is a pleasant addition to one's dinner."

Just so! A simple but luscious and certainly more-than-pleasant recipe, which I will be sharing this week at Weekend Herb Blogging, an event hosted by Haalo at Cook Almost Anything and guest hosted this time round by Cafe Lynnylu.


Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free said...

Thanks for the lovely stroll through your garden!

Lynne said...

I'm so impressed with your gardening skills-a beautiful bounty of vegetables. The braised celery looks wonderful. Thanks for participating in WHB.