We Plant Garlic in October

2016-garlic

I asked a friend of mine, “What is the very first think that comes to mind when you think of the month of October?” She answered exactly as I had thought she would: “Halloween!” Now, I didn’t tell her that it was a leading question to influence her answer to my next question: “What do you think of when I say the word garlic?” Of course, her thoughts went straight from Halloween to garlic repelling vampires. It appears that anyone, not just politicians, can use the power of psychological influence to make people think and act the way they want them to.

When I think of October, I think of garlic, because in Indiana we plant garlic in October. Accordingly, today was garlic planting day. In 2016, I harvested enough garlic for two or three families to use for a year. It was a nice, mild, white California garlic. I preserved some of it in jars, but the bulk of it is braided together in two braids hanging from my fireplace mantle. This year, I am planting seven different varieties, most of which are soft neck varieties.

Hardneck and softneck garlic varieties are different in a couple of basic ways. Hardneck garlic is aptly named for the long, hard stem (called a ‘scape’) which grows from the center of the garlic bulb and can be eaten on its own. It has a spicier, bolder taste than softneck varieties, as well as fewer, yet larger cloves in each bulb. The hardneck scapes are cut off about an inch above the garlic bulb before storing the garlic. Softneck varieties have a series of long leaf-like stems which can be braided together to hang many garlic bulbs for storage. They have a milder taste and a longer storage life (some varieties can be stored up to 10 months).

This year, I planted two hardneck and five softneck varieties. I chose varieties which are good for growing in areas of the country with cold winters. The hardnecks, Chesnok Red and German Red, are both streaked with red or purple colors, which should be beautiful to photograph, and will add a robust flavor to my canned soups and sauces. The softneck varieties I chose, Pioneer, California White, California Select, Extra Select, Inchelium Red, and Nootka Rose, will provide me with a wide range of heat and flavor for many of the freshly eaten dishes that I make, like tomato bruschetta, salsa and pesto, and will easily store until the garlic harvest of 2018.

So the countdown begins: 240-ish days to go until garlic harvest time! Don’t worry, though, because I saved a clove to ward off those darn vampires who come out on October 31st. Garlic is easy to grow and use, so happy garlic growing to any of you who indulge in garlic excellence.

Advertisements

Yummy Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin-muffins-2

My pumpkin muffin recipe is inspired by the muffins that you can buy at Starbucks during the Fall season. The Starbucks muffins are really good, but I can’t justify buying one when I can make a dozen and a half wonderfully decadent, protein fortified muffins for less than I can buy just one at the coffee shop. These muffins are made with pie pumpkin that I grow in my garden or buy at the pumpkin farm and preserve in 1 cup portions. They freeze well and are the perfect quick breakfast partner with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 8-ounce block cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup soy flour
  • 1 3/4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

The first thing we are going to do is make a cream cheese filling by combining the first 1/3 cup of sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until somewhat smooth. Fill a quart size Ziplock baggie with the cream cheese mixture and put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Either hand mix or use your Kitchenaid on the lower speed to combine the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, and milk until the mixture is thoroughly mixed. Continue to stir as you add the sugar, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Beat in the soy flour until well incorporated. Slowly fold in half the flour until just smooth. Add the remaining flour and mix only until the flour is wet and mixed in (Over stirring flour in muffins will cause the muffins to be very hard and dense). Do not over-stir the flour.

Line the muffin tins with cupcake papers. Fill each one half full. Make a shallow well in the center of each one. Cut the corner out of the baggie and squeeze the cream cheese mixture on the middle of the muffin in the well you just made. The cream cheese should sit on top of the muffin.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Let the muffins cool before eating.

A Trip to the Local Pumpkin Farm

cropped-display7.jpg

This week, we took our grandson to Tragesser Pumpkin Farm to pick out a pumpkin. We ended up coming home with 7 pumpkins, 2 gourds, and 2 squashes! The Tragesser family has a nice selection of different types of pumpkins, including the traditional pumpkin you may recognize as the kind we make jack-o-lanterns out of. They pick some, each day, but also have a field of pick-your-own pumpkins. We like that it is not an expensive,  commercialized tourist farm. Instead, it is small and intimate with caring family members working who are knowledgeable about pumpkins and gourds and are willing to share information about what to do with each type that they have available. They had a couple of photo spots set up, so families can make some photo memories, including the display in the above photo. A bonus is that the fruit prices are right, too! Tragesser Pumpkin farm is open during pumpkin season from 5 P.M. until dark, Monday through Friday, and from 11:00 A.M. until dark on Saturdays and Sundays. They are located just off U.S. 31 on County Line Road in Tipton County.

You can bet that sometime in the future, we will be sharing some pumpkin preservation tips and recipes! I absolutely love the flavors of Fall. Happy Autumn!