Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fermented Fava Beans 師傅~~好像不對啊!

Right --- 師傅Web
Left --- 徒弟Mac

師傅師傅 --- 徒弟那錯了﹖
How come the texture and color are different?

Here's what I did:
1. Soaked beans and steamed 20 minutes.
2. Inoculate beans with soybean koji spores instead of soyu koji spores, (I know they are the same spores --- Aspergillus orzae).
3. Incubated about 2 days until the beans stopped fermenting.
4. Removed cover and air dry 1 day.

I know the beans have been fermented because they were moldy, and I have to uncover the beans to release heat + moisture every few hours. I can see the difference in bean texture steamed vs. cooked --- my steamed beans are less crumbly and contain less moisture, but what about color? Maybe I should use more spores to inoculate, maybe I should steam the beans longer, blah~ blah~ blah~~~~~I'll have to make a batch of bean sauce to test flavor and taste.

Name This Hot Pepper 是什麼辣椒?

Don't know the name of this pepper,
I bought the seeds came from
Thompson and Morgan.

Closeup --- does it look like a Habenero?

Pods pointing downward
after certain number of days from fruit setting.

Pods pointing upward
at the beginning of fruit setting.

I suppose this is Caribbean Habenero from the description at T & M's website, it appears the Scotch Bonnet is rounder and shorter (guessing from the word "bonnet"). It's unfortunate I lost the 2nd hot pepper plant to cutworms, it could have been a Scotch Bonnet. All the seeds in the packet look the same to me, next time I know better not to buy any kind of "mix" seeds (except lettuce and radish) without color codes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heat Tolerant Summer Lettuce

This "Summer Mix" lettuce (from Cook's Garden) can lived through summer heat without bolting and bitterness, there are several varieties in the mix, I have been growing them the last 5 years as micro greens in flower pots, occasionally I transplant a few to one of the raised beds to cover up some bare spots until I get the next planting in. They love the additional leg room and grows beautifully, few pests will bother them. I often pinch off some leaves here and there for sandwiches, salads, or just drop them into a bowl of soup for taste and color.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Turkish Squash & Italian Broccoli Raab

Turkish squash (土耳其南瓜) -- Adapazari (thank you Jim)
Italian broccoli raab (意大利芥蘭) -- Cima de Rapa

This photo was taken sometime in May 2009.

Italian broccoli (意大利芥蘭) -- Cima de Rapa

I got tired of fighting squash bugs this summer and decided to pull all the squash plants and make room for Fall planting instead. We have eaten enough patty pans and ronde de nice summer squashes, and the Turkish winter squash adapazari is suffering from squash bugs attack, it's time to cut the loss and move on. I don't have the patience and energy to deal with sick plants, my strategy is always --- DISPOSE and REPLANT.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fall Planting Seedlings 你準備好了嗎?

Commercial seedlings 4 each
cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli.

Korean F1 seeds --- white radish and Chinese cabbage.
Sowed 7/31/09, transplanted 8/14/09

Sowed 7/31/09 -- cauliflower, cabbage, gai lan, and choy sum,
the pink label pot is an unknown brassica.
These seedlings are ready to be transplanted to their
permanent homes soon, hopefully I can do it this weekend.

Why covering up the seedlings?
Because the darn white butterflies are hovering over them, I don't feel like serving salad bar with my plants, and I am definitely not in the mood to spray anything. The black bug light do a good job of capturing flying moths and insects, but those darn white butterflies are too smart, and they are not attracted to the stinger light.

Here's the scoop --- I am trying out for a Fall planting and Winter harvest for the first time this year, but I have to purchase some brassica seedlings because I did not started them early enough to get a winter crop. I did started some at the end of July, but it was a little bit late, local nursery people told me they started planting for Fall on June 15th. Holy moly~~~I didn't even get to pick my first tomato until July, whoever thought of planting for the Fall in sizzling hot June? I suppose that's why the pros are in business to keep us (rookies) gardening.

Although I don't like to buy commercial seedlings because of limited choice and sometimes leggy/sick plants (as seen in the first photo), but I do rely on them to help bridge my planting schedule. I have not gotten the timing right for Fall planting yet, I am getting a tiny bit better, but I still have a lot to learn.

Eliot Coleman's "Four-Season Harvest" and "The Winter Harvest Handbook" help me tremendously in understanding the relationship between plants and mother nature, he is THE GURU in year round organic gardening. Another book guides me through gardening with Asian vegetables is Joy Larkcom's "Oriental Vegetables", this is the most thorough book on growing Asian vegetables written by a Westerner. Many gardeners follow Crockett's "Victory Garden" book or Thomson's "The New Victory Garden" book month by month with great success, these are very good beginner's book in vegetable gardening.

(Note: The last three books are out of print, but you can find used copies at Amazon.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Italian Pole Beans 意大利種四季豆

Italian pole beans and sweet Italian peppers.

I can only picked a handful of beans this morning because
the bumble bees were buzzing around me, they wanted me
to get out of the way. I'll have to go back to pick some more
later this evening when the bees are off duty.
(Who is in charge here?)

Santa Ana --- short, round, meaty, and sweet, will grow again.

Kwintus --- flat, meaty, good flavor, can be sliced, will grow again.

These Italian pole beans are slow starters, Santa Ana was planted approximately the same time as the French pole beans. The French beans are pretty much done producing, Santa Ana is just beginning to pickup speed, their vines are much more aggressive and robust than the French pole beans. Kwintus was planted in mid-June, it moseys along and produces less beans than Santa Ana, but the size of one Kwintus bean is equal to 2 Santa Ana beans as seen in the photos.

看這些粗大的意大利豆豆vs嬌小的法國豆豆 -- 怎麼總是想到意大利人vs法國人的身材呢﹖
還有啊 -- 法國豆要新鮮吃﹐意大利豆可以冷凍或canning.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Red and Green Radishes 青肉紅心蘿蔔

Left to right --- green meat, beauty heart, watermelon.

Green radish grows on top of soil level, it pushes upward,
the root is exposed to sunlight -- that's why it is green color.

Remember these radishes? You've seen them individually every now and then, here's a group picture, can you tell which is which?

Taste wise --- all of them are juicy, sweet, and crunchy when eaten raw as in pickles, salads, or cold dishes. The green meat radish is also good for cooking such as in soups, stews, stir fry, etc. It is sweeter and more delicate than the commonly known white radish (白蘿蔔), both white and green radishes can be used interchangeably, there is a well know Cantonese soup 老火青紅蘿蔔湯 uses green meat radish, carrots, pork or beef (with or without bones), plus some other seasoning ingredients, the soup is supposed to balance whatever you're lacking in your body, blah, blah, blah...............whatever! We enjoy the soup, and I make it whenever I have green radish on hand (actually this is the REAL reason I grow the vegetable).

I've always used the red meat radishes for pickles, salads, appetizers, or cold dishes, but I have not used any of them for cooking simply because the color red bleeds into cooking liquid and into other ingredients as in beetroot, otherwise they taste like any other radish.

Juan In A Million

These two butterfly pea plants blooms profusely,
but they have yet to develop seed pods, why?

What are the chances both plants are sterile?
One in a million? Am I lucky!
Better buy some lotto tickets.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bird Patrol

Break time --- I've been working hard to catch bugs.

Don't forget this side of my face is good looking also.

Scratch my head --- cleaning up, getting ready to sleep.

Nap time --- go away, don't bother me.
Union rule, birds don't work overtime.

This little guy has been following me in the garden the last 2 days, he is not afraid of me or the camera. I took these photos fairly closeup and he acted like I don't exist.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fresno Chile Peppers 墨西哥指天椒

Calvin, this is the only 朝天椒 I grow this year.
I don't have the small Asian variety.

I collect the peppers as they ripen,
this batch is ready to be made into hot sauce.

So far I've made 4 big jars of hot chili sauce from homegrown peppers. There are 3 different heat levels to my hot pepper sauces --- mild, medium, and hot. The flavor and texture are different from one another depending on the kind of mood I am in while making the sauce, no two hot sauces taste the same, I like varieties (c'est la vie), and I often experiment in mixing different types of peppers together (don't ask) to see what kind of flavor they produce. Sometimes I come up with a new tasty sauce which I'll make again, sometimes not so good and it end up in the trash.

Do you like hot and spicy foods? Which kind of hot pepper sauce you prefer?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Soy Beans Harvest

Harvested on August 4, 2009

Roasted fresh soy beans (edamame).

July 24, 2009

First soy bean harvest despite mistakes made in planting too close to alliums (which inhibit the growth of legumes) I get about 1 1/2 cup of shelled beans from 3 surviving plants. Is it worth the trouble? No, it took me over an hour just to shell the beans. It is worth the trouble in turns of flavor and freshness, it is worth the trouble if you want to learn how soy beans grow and have fun with it, it is worth the trouble if you want a cover crop to enrich your soil and get some food in return. All in all it is an easy crop to grow.

I may grow it again as filler since the plants don't take up much precious real estate, it would be good to place one here and one there to cover up small vacant spots and to fix nitrogen in soil.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rubies and Gold 黃金紅寶石

Overripe White Bitter Melon

The fruit was hidden way down at the bottom of the trellis covered with leaves, and I didn't see it in time to harvest. I don't know the seeds I am growing now were OP or hybrid seeds because they were gifts from friends, I'm crossing my fingers they are OP so the next generation can be grown true.

I am not enthusiastic about saving seeds from homegrown vegetables, but I'll save these and grow them next Summer to see what will become of them out of curiosity. There won't be cross pollination issues because the other bitter melon variety is growing at a different location miles away, and I'm the only one in the neighborhood growing this vegetable, so it's safe to keep the seeds.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going Horizontal 懶惰的蘿蔔

Would not stand up straight.

Not a camera trick.

Sleeping on the job.

This is the way it should be growing --- straight and upward.

Anyone knows why
the radishes grow horizontally?

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Odd Ball --- Watermelon Radish

There's an odd ball here --- the red one is a radish.

See --- it's not a beet.

Where is the odd ball?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Solar Power 晒菜乾

Sun drying is the easiest and least labor intensive method of preserving vegetables when dealing with abundance harvest. So far I've sun dried eggplants, yardlong beans, bitter melons, and bok choy. Dried vegetables impart different taste and texture than their fresh cousins, sometimes it is desirable to use some dried vegetables to bring out the flavor of a particular dish, this is similar to Italians use sun dried tomatoes in their cooking.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Curley French Pole Beans

Too hot for comfort.
Newly form pods are stressed and curl up,
some pods develop irregular form.

July is the hottest month in our region, some beans don't like it when thermometer reach the 90F mark --- French beans production slows down, Chinese yardlong beans stop producing, Italian beans blooms profusely with few small short pods. The only beans seem not affected are the runners and IWK beans.

August is the wetting month here in high desert, temperature cools down quite a bit, the beans should resume its normal activity until frost hit. The French Rolande bush beans are blooming again for a second flush of beans after 3 weeks of siesta. I am so happy with the bush beans (even though I don't like bending down to pick them) I decided to sow a crop of Royal Burgundy for Fall harvest. I've heard so much about this "magic bean" I just have to grow it and see the "magic" for myself.