Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 2012 Garden Still Lives!

The 2012 garden year is in the books and it certainly was a mixed bag.  There was serious flooding in June that proved detrimental to some crops followed by a hot and dry summer that was beneficial to others.  That is as it usually is.  Every year certain crops in the vegetable garden do better than others simply due to the weather.  The weather here is crazy sometimes (and seemingly more extreme every year) so risk management is essential.  It is imperative to have all your bases covered by growing cool season as well as warm season crops.

Everyone loves the fresh produce you get during the summer from the garden.  It is what most casual gardeners equate with having a vegetable garden.  For me, it's different.  I devote a large portion of the garden to "commodity" crops.  Things I use in the kitchen regularly.  Onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots are all kitchen staples used almost daily and it is great to be able to use ones you've grown yourself throughout the winter.  Nothing gives me more satisfaction than preparing a meal almost entirely from things I've grown.  Here are a few examples from recent meals.

'German Butterball' potatoes, 'Gladiator' parsnips (not pictured), and thyme that was harvested on New Years Day.

The thyme is used in the herb crust along with
store bought parsley for the rack of lamb.
The New Years Day meal.       The process and the finished dish.

Herb-crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Garlic, Parsnip, and Potato mash

A cold winters day in mid January inspired me to prepare the hearty and classic French dish, Boeuf Bourguignon, with, of course, vegetable staples from the garden.

The veggies

Shallots, 'Atomic Red' carrots, 'Copra' & 'Red Zeppelin' onions, 'Premium Northern White' hardneck garlic and a mixture of smaller sized potatoes  are all used in the dish. The bread below has absolutely nothing to do with the garden but it was an integral part of the meal so I included some photos.

The loaves just before going into the oven

The finished loaves

The finished dish: Boeuf Bourguignon with all the accoutrements served over Mixed Potato Mash made with warm cream infused with garlic, bay and thyme

Preparing meals from vegetables I've grown is one of the great joys of my life.  There is something about nurturing a crop from start to finish and investing your own sweat and yes, sometimes even blood, into it that makes these meals taste even better.  Last year's garden is still alive indeed.  It is very satisfying. 


  1. Amazing, Karen! I had no idea you were so inclined plus a talented chef! The photos are great. When can I come for dinner?

    1. It's all Brian -- I just take a few photos and eat.

  2. Simply amazing! Probably no need for vitamin supplementation. Was Uncle Andy in Wisconsin an influencing factor? I remember the good food they grew and had available all winter long!

  3. What's next...Cassoulet? Another great winter dish.