Thursday, October 31, 2013

The news from When Pigs Fly Farm 3.0

A stiff wind scuffed Eastern Washington upside the head Sunday night, effectively ending autumn in these parts. Monday morning -- trees mostly bare -- our lawns were lost under a massive carpet of downed leaves and pine needles. Many still are.

The rowdy riot of red, yellow and orange that made up this almost perfect fall crunch under my feet as I walk Ben in the morning.

We're getting hard frosts now -- downed leaves aren't the only thing that crack under foot in the mornings. And the few poor souls who haven't blown out their sprinklers now wake to lawns and sidewalks encapsulated in shimmering ice.

We knew this was coming. It always does.

With the help of my date and The Miz, my daughter-in-law, we took down the last of The Farm a couple of weeks ago. I harvested a bumper crop of green tomatoes while The Miz gleaned the last of the ripe cherries for one more batch of roasted tomatoes. My date did the heavy lifting -- pulling two very recalcitrant tomato stalks out of the ground and gently depositing them in the "clean greens" trash can. (They were WAY too recalcitrant for the compost bin.)

I stopped by The Farm late last week before our hard frosts. Beets, carrots and kale still gamely rustled in the light October breeze. I snacked on a handful of tiny, precociously sweet strawberries and investigated Farma-natrix Kate's winter crop of radishes, spinach and lettuce now emerging under a protective sheath of plastic.

The Farm feels a little bit lonely in October.


So, instead, let's talk about a happier subject: Green tomatoes. If there was a Bermtopian championship for producing green tomatoes this summer, I'd be a front runner for the title.

The month of October was dedicated to cooking with green tomatoes: Here's what's been happening in the kitchen this month*: Green tomato chili verde (love!). . . Hot n' spicy green tomato soup with crispy pancetta (delicious!). . . Green tomato cake with browned butter frosting (Paula Deen: Need I say more?). . . Green tomato mincemeat cookies (major hit at my date's clinic!). . .Green tomato salsa (can you say gone in 60 seconds at soup night the last 2 weeks?). . . Spaghetti con pomodori verdi (a work in progress). . . and green tomato chipotle chili (sorry, folks, that one's in my head).

I have just enough green tomatoes for one more blast: What to do, what to do? Sweet or savory? More salsa or how about green tomato chutney to go with our Thanksgiving turkey?

It shall be the chutney.

*Note: You actually can make any of these recipes year round. Just substitute tomatillos for the green tomatoes. Boom.

And finally Percival. Percival the Pumpkin. He grew into a fine young pumpkin specimen this summer. Sadly, his younger brother Paco succumbed to bottom rot at the end of August. It is a terrible way to go; Paco was brave till the very end. Um, literally.

Well, Percival went under the knife last night. He was one tough nut pumpkin to crack. My date finally had to step in and take over the pumpkin-cracking phase of carving a Halloween pumpkin. I managed the seed removal nicely, however. Thank you for asking.

Percival is now ready for his evening of glory tonight: It is his moment to glow before mankind. . . while I make plans for next year (if you pardon my French). The 'hood won't know what hit it. I'm thinking sequenced lightings every 30 minutes. 

Thank you, Percival.  May you shine bright tonight.

Yes. I concur. Percival (middle) ended up looking like
a drunken crab wearing a French beret.
You try carving through 5 feet of pumpkin.

Thank YOU, WPFF. We'll see you in the spring. Rest well this winter, my friend.

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