Archive for March, 2010

Sweet Potato Latkes

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

It’s recipe time for the CobraHead Newsletter. For the last two months I had instructions not to use sweet potatoes or any potato in my recipe. But this time I snuck my proposal in before anyone could say anything. I don’t think they really minded though – these latkes are delicious. I’ll try to pace myself on the use of sweet potato recipes but we still have over 30 pounds left and they don’t sprout nearly as fast as the white spuds.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 cup minced onions
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
½ rounded cup of flour
freshly ground pepper to taste

Toppings: Yogurt, lime wedges, cilantro & minced Serrano peppers, if desired.

Mix the latkes in a very large bowl. Stir together the sweet potato shreds, onions, salt, pepper and eggs. Mix in the flour.

Frying Latkes

Heat oil in medium hot frying pan – cast iron works well. Spoon about 1/3 cup mixture for each latke into hot pan and roundly shape and flatten. Fry 3-4 minutes on first side and 3 minutes on reverse until they are golden brown. Watch your subsequent latke fryings that they don’t get too brown. The sweet potatoes leave carmelized bits in the pan and blacken easier in later fryings using the same oil.

Latkes Cooling

Serve with yogurt, lime wedges and minced serranos. Garnish with cilantro.

Serving Suggestion

The original recipe came from ‘Vegetarian Planet’ by Didi Emmons. I’ve changed it slightly to suit our tastes but her book is jam-packed full of innovative and tasty vegetarian recipes.

Martin Perna's Gravatar Uh-oh! the secret is out! I have enjoyed these once or twice from Geoff’s kitchen, as well as sweet potato quesadillas!

Keep the recipes coming!!

# Posted By Martin Perna | 3/25/10 11:31 AM
Patsy Bell Hobson's Gravatar I love sweet potatoes, but do no more than bake them. So, your ideas and recipes are much appreciated.
# Posted By Patsy Bell Hobson | 3/26/10 4:43 AM
Jean's Gravatar I love your newsletter….I have been saving your receipes…thanks…I also love the cobra head tool..
I thought I lost one but after I ordered another I found it but it worked out great…now I have
one at home and one up the lake….I am totally lost without my cobra head…don’t even use any
other tool in my gardens….except for the tiller in the spring…
# Posted By Jean | 3/29/10 8:21 AM

Spring Parsnips

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

After enjoying a wonderful dinner of roasted parsnips, mixed with other root vegetables, we’ve decided that it is now our mission, at least for this month’s newsletter, to promote this wonderful vegetable.

Roasted Parsnips with Other Root Crops

Michael Schael, potter, gardener and friend, stopped by and gave us about a dozen of these roots that he had recently dug from his garden. Since Noel never got around to getting parsnips started last year, we were very happy to have a friend who likes to share.

Harvested Parsnips

Parsnips can be grown like carrots and prefer similarly loose soil. However, parsnips have a lot longer growing season than carrots and taste much better after the first or second frost. The frost really sweetens them up.

They may also be left in the ground over the winter and harvested as soon as the snow melts in the spring. This year, Michael didn’t cover the overwintered parsnips, but the snow itself provided them with an insulating blanket. Noel uses straw to cover his. For spring harvest, it is important to dig them up early, before they start to grow again or the roots will become woody.

Parsnips in Ground

It’s too late for me to plant them this year in my Austin garden, but Noel will be putting in a large crop in Wisconsin in late April or May.

Peach Trees and Permaculture Ideas

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Two years ago I picked up a copy of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway. The author packs the book with intriguing ideas. I am trying to adapt many of them to my yard in Austin, Texas.

One idea is that of fruit tree centered “guilds”. Hemenway defines guilds as interdependent communities of plants with synergistic properties. He goes on to lay out some ideas for an apple-tree centered guild. I took a few of these ideas and tried them out in a much more simplified manner with the peach tree in my front yard.

Last fall I planted daffodil bulbs in a ring around the peach tree and inside the ring I broadcast Austrian winter peas as a cover crop. Daffodils, and other bulbs like alliums and camas, help suppress grasses and keep them from encroaching on the fruit tree. In addition, by the time that the fruit tree needs extra nutrients for fruit production, the bulbs will have begun to go dormant and therefore not compete directly with the tree. More importantly for me, they look good. Since I don’t like to water my lawn during Austin’s scorching summers, I need something else to appease the neighbors.

The Austrian peas are a legume that fixes nitrogen, but they also do a good job of suppressing weeds. I only counted four or five weeds that I had to pluck out of the inner ring. When the peas start to flower I will crimp them down so that they die in place and continue to form a mulch.

Admittedly, I have so far only installed a very bare bones version of the types of guilds that Hemenway promotes. Other aspects that he mentions include insect and bird attracting plants, deep tap-rooted nutrient accumulating plants such as chicory and even dandelions, pest repelling plants and habitat nooks. As I experiment with these ideas around my other fruit trees, I will add additional elements.

I started working with a garden designer a few weeks ago and she left me this book to read last week. It is fascinating!

# Posted By Carol | 3/22/10 7:24 PM
sandee s.'s Gravatar I love this book! I bought it a couple years ago and am still learning from it!
# Posted By sandee s. | 3/25/10 7:02 PM