Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Eggplant stuffed peppers

This year wasn’t a particularly “great” year for eggplants but there were a few harvested just before the first predicted frost. So, I have a bag of eggplants in the fridge–what do I do with them?

Last year, or maybe the year before (time gets away, doesn’t it?) I made eggplant “meat” balls with marinara sauce and spaghetti. They were totally edible and actually pretty good. So, I took the eggplant–the skinny Asian eggplants–peeled them and sliced them into about 1/4 inch slices or so, sprinkled them with salt and put them on a paper towel for about 20 minutes or so. This draws the moisture out of the eggplant. Then I pat them dry and roasted them for 20 minutes or so until they seemed kind of done.

At this point I put them in the food processor and processed them until they were ground up like, well, hamburger. I added garlic and some onion (I need to go to the grocery store so its flakes, okay?) Mixed this up with about 1/3 package of an 8 oz pack of cream cheese, about 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 3 pieces of sun dried tomato that were chopped up. Oh, I also chopped up a jalapeno pepper that was laying on the counter, just for a little heat. Mix all that together and stuff it into the pepper. Oh yes, the pepper. As I was harvesting all the eggplants before the predicted frost, I harvested all the peppers as well. I had a couple of “Sweet Diablo” peppers which are just a sweet pepper that is about 5-6 inches long by 2 inches wide at the top and sweet, but not hot. I slit the pepper, removed the pith and seeds, and stuffed with this mixture. Then sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until they start to brown a little. Yum, yum!

 
 

Rutabagas and Turnips

Last year, while in the produce section of the local supermarket, I purchased a rutabaga.  I did a blog about how wonderful it tasted and made a note to grow them this year. 

In mid-July I planted three rows, each about 180 feet long.  The seeds germinated, I dutifully thinned them to 5" apart, the cabbage worms came, I sprayed Bt, and I kept watching and waiting---man do they grow slow!

Botanically speaking, a rutabaga is a cross between a turnip and cabbage.  I'd say culinarily speaking it tastes like a cross between white potato, sweet potato, maybe a tad of cabbage, and a faint hint of turnip.  It's a great taste, anyway.  They kind of look like turnips but they aren't colored as brightly, have more roots on them, and they are harvested at a much larger size than turnips. 

 

The last CSA delivery of the season was last Friday.  I ventured into the rutabaga patch to see if there were any "early birds" fit to put in the day's delivery.  I was pleasantly surprised!  There were just enough large ones to fill the shares on Friday AND I got 2 monsters to try meselfeee.  One of them is about the size of a cantaloupe and the other was about 5" in diameter. (The big one just to the left of the middle is the cantaloupe size one and it may be like cutting a pine knot.)   I cut the second-to-the-largest one up and roasted it with some sweet potatoes and again, YUMMEEEE!  I peeled and chunked the veggies up into 1" squares and tossed them in a baking pan.  Then I mixed up 2T olive oil, 2T honey, 1t lemon juice and drizzled that over the veggies and roast at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until tender, stirring every 10 minutes or so.  Very tasty and simple. 

This has also been a very good turnip year.  They are firm and sweet and great either raw, mashed, or roasted.  Some people boil them but I don't particularly care for them that way.  Anyway, I love pulling turnips--it's kind of like hunting purple Easter eggs.  When they are ready to pull they pooch up out of the ground so you can see the pretty purple tops on them.

 

Several of the farm members had never tried them before and said that they actually liked them once they tried them.  It's a good substitute for a radish in a salad too!

Eating in season this time of year is very satisfying because a lot of the veggies are "comfort" food.  Personally, I think any food is "comforting" if I'm hungry!

p.s.  We're having a gorgeous fall here in Tennessee--hope everyone else is too :)

 

 
 

More Yummy Sweet Potatoes

The farm CSA members received sweet potatoes in their shares for several weeks and several of them returned a few really good recipes for different ways to cook them.  I tried this one the other night and ooh, baby!  It's a culinary delight :)

Yummy Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 350

2 lbs. sweet potatoes - peeled, cubed

throw in a baking dish

Whisk together:

2T evoo

2T honey

1 t. lemon juice

1/2 t. salt

pour over and mix with sweet potatoes

Cook approx. 1 hr. stir several times

The potatoes get sticky and gooey and the lemon juice perks right out of the sweetness and says "here I am". 

 
 

Bad bugs gone good?

 

We've always heard the expression good guys gone bad, but bad guys gone good?

In the hoophouse, tomatoes were planted in late winter. During the summer they produced and produced bunches of tasty tomatoes. In the process, the tomato hornworms found them, even inside the plastic surround of the hoophouse.

There are parasitic wasps that like to feed upon these giant green monsters that devour tomato plants, and I haven't really experienced them in the hoophouse yet, so I sort of panicked when I saw so many hornworms on the tomato plants, but then I noticed that most of them were decked out with little white globules on them. "Parasitic wasps"! They did venture into the tunnel! I don't think I've ever seen so many hornworms on tomato plants, BUT I've never seen so many parasitic wasp eggs either. The hornworms that had eggs on them got to stay on the plants (it was hard to do, but I left them). These are the "Bad guys gone good". I'm hoping the parasitic wasps will find a place to winter over in the warmth of the high tunnel. The hornworms that didn't have any eggs on them? Well, even the chickens won't eat them, so they must be bad.

By the way, birds fly freely in and out of the high tunnel too. I sure hope they are working on the grasshopper population in there! It's a lively place :)

 

 
 
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