Thanks to an “El Nino” weather pattern that we hadn’t experienced in over twenty years, I was out in the vegetable garden on the Sunday before Christmas wearing a short sleeve shirt and harvesting vegetables.  We needed beets for the Christmas Borscht, carrots for Christmas evening dinner, Brussels Sprouts for slaw and other side dishes and beet greens for salad.  I also harvested more leeks for side dishes and as a topping for foccacia.

THE WINTER CARROT PATCH GROWING UNDER A LOW PLASTIC TUNNEL

THE WINTER CARROT PATCH GROWING UNDER A LOW PLASTIC TUNNEL

THE BEET PATCH THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

THE BEET PATCH THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Taking advantage of the mild weather, I opened up the tunnel containing the beet and carrot patches.  I spent some time watering and fertilizing as well as harvesting.  I was disappointed that the beets had not fully formed.  Luckily, we had frozen some roasted beets earlier in the season.  I did harvest a good supply of greens which we have been using in salads.  Harvesting carrots was basically a thinning operation to give the rest of the crop room to grow.  We got a nice harvest that we enjoyed Christmas Night with short ribs of beef and mashed potatoes.

BEET GREENS AND BABY CARROTS HARVESTED THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

BEET GREENS AND BABY CARROTS HARVESTED THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

A BRUSSELS SPROUTS SLAW MADE IN DECEMBER WITH INGREDIENTS FROM THE GARDEN

BRUSSELS SPROUT SLAW

We tried something a bit different with the harvested Brussels Sprouts.  I made a slaw composed of thinly sliced Brussels Sprouts, recently harvested carrot slices and red onion harvested last Summer.  I liked it!  It went well with a batch of chili we had made for our Patriot’s couch tailgate party.

I also tried a side dish using Brussels Sprouts and leeks flavored with lime juice and zest from Suzie Middleton, one of our favorite cookbook authors and recipe creators.  As far as I’m concerned, she is a rock star when it comes to cooking vegetables.  We have her book, Fast, Fresh and Green  which has been a tremendous resource for us over the last several years.  Her influence is beginning to rub off on me.  It finally dawned on me to consider pairing Brussels Sprouts and leeks in a recipe.  After all, they are both available at the end of the year.  After a Google search, I found a recipe with her name on it.  We had it with sauteed center cut pork chops with carmelized onions.  Here is a link to the recipe:http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/brussels-sprouts-leeks-lime-ginger-butter.aspx

It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over.  Reflecting on the gardening year I am grateful for another fun and rewarding year of gardening and feasting with family and friends.  It’s time to kick back, look at all the seed catalogs that have arrived over the last couple of weeks and start thinking about the new gardening year.  I wish you all the best.

Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com