Saturday, November 24, 2012


I missed the boat last year on my sunchoke harvest. I wasn't going to let that happen a second year in a row. Since I was making a butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving dinner and used it as the perfect opportunity to serve them as a garnish.

I headed out with my favorite spading tool to hunt for sunchokes. I just cut them back since they were looking ratty. Imagine what a sunflower would look like at this time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Not pretty at all.

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). They are not from Jerusalem--native to Eastern North America--nor are they artichokes. They grow from corm-like tubers. I've had them in purees and fried like potato chips.

I spotted a small tuber most likely partially dug up by a squirrel next to Cerinthe seedlings. I started digging around cringing at the crunching sounds underneath my spade.
 Whoa! Who knew they got this big?! My next thought was, "Great. Now I have to wash this thing."

Here they are in my sink. Mostly clean. Pretty knarly looking! I hope they taste better than they look. I peeled them into a more round shape, smoothing out the knobs. I used a vegetable peeler as well to make the slices for frying. I sliced them to about 1/8". Thin enough to see through them.

My fry station. I think my culinary expert husband Eldon would be impressed. Yes, the baking soda made it out in time, too! I was waiting for the thermometer to reach 375 F.

Sunchoke frying up in canola oil. Bubbles!

The oil was too hot. This batch was tossed. Note baking soda for grease fire which was not needed.

 Ah...golden brown frying perfection!
I'm hoping my cousin took pictures of the served up soup. I was too busy eating and talking sunchokes to get my camera out! Oh, and taking pictures of their lovely cat Evie (short for Evelyn).

 Yum! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Figgy Pudding

I was surprised to have figs on my tree this summer despite the hard pruning I gave it last winter. Unfortunately, the fruits were a month late which led to an entire crop of unripened fruit.

Not a single fig came close to being ripe. I can stomach a few taste tests towards the end of summer, and I usually manage eating three figs before the starlings devour them. They too will test out the fruits to see how ripe they are. I had only one round of starlings visit this fall. We can both agree that this year's figs were disappointing.

So it looks like no figgy pudding. Not that I've ever tried making it. I really prefer to eat figs fresh from the tree. But, maybe one of these winters I'll find an excuse to make the traditional dessert. Any dessert that calls for flambé is worth trying at least once!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

One lonely eggplant

I felt pretty on top of it this spring with getting my starts going. But there was one day when I realized I had missed the date for sowing my eggplant seeds by a whole month. WHAT?! What happened? Where did the time go? I'm sure it will be fine, I told myself. Summer usually arrives late anyway, so it shouldn't matter.

Well, as my tomatoes were taking off and thriving (even though I do always freak out that I'm behind with them, too), the eggplant were not. Temperatures were in the 50s at night and our days were relatively warm so not to worry right? Wrong. That whole month when they could have taken advantage of indoor heat to increase in size and vigor was missed. Meaning I produced only one eggplant this season. And it formed in September so it won't be tasty.

Here's a picture of the loneliest eggplant in my garden...and maybe in all of Columbia City. A least the afternoon sunlight makes it look pretty.

Lesson learned. Start your eggplant in March...