Archive for July 27th, 2015

Breeding a Landrace II: the unexpected bonus

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I have written recently about breeding my own brassica landrace, and I was happy enough that some of the plants survived the winter, made a nice crop of spring greens, and set seed. Since then, to my surprise, after the seed dried down a few of the plants produced a whole new crop of tender greens. So far I have been eating greens from these three plants since last summer, and they still seem to be going strong. It goes without saying that I will choose the seeds that these plants set for next year’s planting, and also will be watchful about whether they set another crop of seed and live through another winter. I am also trialing a few plants of the new perennial kale introduction, Kosmic Kale, shown below.
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I wonder if the delicious third-growth leaves produced by my brassica landrace might not be preferable to Kosmic, which (so far) is not distinguished for deliciousness.
My main point is, give your plants the room and time to surprise you. If I had pulled the brassica crosses out after harvesting seed, I wouldn’t know about their delightful late-summer greens. When we let nature teach us it’s amazing what we can learn.

The Easiest Vegetable Dish Ever

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Shishito peppers are my favorite side dish for a summer steak. I put in four plants this spring, and they have provided a good mess of Shishitos for two people about every four days. Cooking them well involves three steps:
1. Pick
2. Rinse
3. Throw in a hot frying pan with a glug of good olive oil and shove around the pan with a spatula, turning them about once a minute. Keep the heat high. They will hiss and spit. When they look cooked all over, and a bit blistered in places, sprinkle generously with fleur de sel or other coarse mild salt. Pile on the plate and eat with your fingers, leaving the cap behind.

That’s it. If you are determined to elaborate, you can throw in a little finely chopped garlic for the last minute of cooking (no sooner or the garlic will burn.)

If you only have a few of them, use your smallest skillet and call them a cook’s treat, eaten privately in the kitchen. I say a serving of them is about 18. Other people may be more moderate in their tastes.
If you are a thrill-seeker you can seek out pimientos de Padron instead, but the last time I grew those, not just some but all of them were hot as blazes. So I’m giving my GI system a rest with Shishitos.