14 October 2010

piment d'Esplette var. Northfield

Piment d'Esplette has the same AOC protection that's given to wine, cheese, chickens (Bresse) and other regional or terroir-specific foods, so I don't know what to call this pepper grown in Northfield, MN via seed from a seed saver in British Columbia. The seed originated in Esplette, a small village in the Basque area of southwestern France, but I don't know how long it's been in North America, adapting to new weather and soil.  My three or four plants grew well in the garden, but produced few fruits.  I've saved the seed and will plant more next year, hoping to eke out a plant that likes our short summer and unpredictable fall.  It's a delicious pepper with a little heat and rich, deep taste.

Harvesting leeks

I'd keep my leeks in the ground longer, but I planted them at the community garden and our fall clean up day is Saturday; all gardens have to be empty by then.  I started them by seed back in the late winter, and when I transplanted them into the garden they were small, thin, spindly, barely a plant you'd think to see when all else was gone.  Someone else hasn't harvested their kale, still a shock of green-deep life on earth.  At home my brussels sprouts grow still; I'll let frost and snow sweeten the nubs, kill the bugs.  But now I've got these leeks, a huge pile of leeks.  You can be sure I'll make a leek tart this weekend.  And the rest we'll clean, cut, and cook, just briefly in a buttery pan, enough to break down some of that stubborn cell wall.  After that we'll let them cool and fill small bags or bowls with Allium ampeloprasum, a freezerful of possibilities, and a long winter ahead.