Garden finale results in a kitchen bonanza

We are supposed to get slammed with an arctic blast of cold air and snow this week, so I spent a good part of today, one of our last nice days I’ll see for a long time I’m sure, putting the garden to sleep for the winter.  This morning I harvested the rest of my beets, radishes, Swiss chard, arugula, collard greens kale, and dill that sprouted voluntarily this fall.  What really bums me out is that I was this close to harvesting some snow peas.  There are 2 very small pods on the plants, and I guess I will pluck them tomorrow and savor their sweetness in my front yard for all the world to see.  Then I think I will remove the bird netting and let the deer eat the plants, since they seem to like them so much and soon everything will be covered in a layer of snow.  I feel a little bad for the deer this time of year, especially the yearlings who are about to learn about winter.  Maybe this little offering of tasty greens will make some deer’s day.

Tonight I was standing in my kitchen, overwhelmed by the heap of produce on my counter and in my sink.  I was trying to decide what to eat for dinner besides chocolate chips (Hubby is out of town, so things kind of slide when he’s away…)  when I decided to make a salad.  I chopped beet greens, kale, and Swiss chard, dill weed, radishes, a golden beet, and a few carrots that I harvested last week (6 gallons worth!) and I have to say, it was pretty damn tasty.  And I never would have guessed that I would be eating a garden fresh salad on November 8th in the Rocky Mountains.  It was delicious.  And beautiful to boot.

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While prepping the salad and trying to figure out what to do with the mounds of Swiss chard on my counter, I got the brilliant idea to make a spinach artichoke dip by substituting the spinach with Swiss chard.  Now I have snack food for this week when it turns cold and snowy!

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And last, I had a bottle of hard apple cider that needed to be used…to make beer bread.  The recipe is so easy:  1 12 ounce bottle of beer, 3 tablespoons oil, 4 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast.  Throw into bread maker and let it churn the dough for you!  I prefer to make smaller loaves, so I make it on the dough setting, then divide the dough in two and put it in 2 bread pans.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees F, brush a little melted butter on top, and bake for 5 more minutes.  It’s soft, dense, and delightful.

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