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Posts Tagged ‘leeks’

Seasons change, as they say.  But in this past few months when the leaves were turning colors and frost was putting an end to the gardening season, I was going through a lot of changes of my own.  The political consulting firm I worked for shut its doors and I found myself not just looking for work, but also looking for answers to some questions brewing in my mind.  Do I want to keep working in politics?  Or maybe do something a little different?  Do I want to stay in DC?  Try out some new city?  Or maybe go back to my native Pacific Northwest?

True to my want-it-all generation, I found myself answering “yes” to all of those seemingly mutually exclusive questions.  And then I received a terrific opportunity that let me have it all.  I’m moving to Portland, Oregon, for eight months to work on post-Census redistricting, which will keep me connected to politics but let me develop a lot of new skills in statistics and demography (and form my own consulting LLC in the process).  But I’ll be back in DC on a regular basis, and will return to my lovely (now subletted) Dupont Circle apartment after this is all over.  Relevant to this blog, I’m going to keep my garden plot (but make it really minimalist this year), and will remain actively involved in planning the next DC State Fair.

So as with the past few months, 2011 will be a bit of a hibernation for this blog.  I’ll post a few garden updates in the spring and summer, do a a tiny bit of posting about Portland, and help advertise DC State Fair events and deadlines.  And if I take this round-the-world tour of the world’s street food capitals next Oct/Nov that I’ve been dreaming about, I’ll post my culinary adventures here as well.  Expect a return to full DC gardening glory in 2012.

But for now, let me show you the last thing I made with my garden’s 2010 bounty.  Just before I left DC on December 21, I went out one last time to my garden plot, which was blanketed by an inch of snow.  But under the icy crust there were carrots, leeks, and the sweetest kale you can imagine.  I combined these ingredients with rich stock, cannellini beans,  sweet Italian sausage, and bacon to make a Tuscan soup that fed me for three solid meals.  It was the perfect way to close out my garden, and a satisfying way to leave DC for my 2011 adventure.  Happy New Year!

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I had three last leeks from my garden to use up, so I thought I’d try out this fast, cheap, and easy potato leek soup recipe that the Yale Sustainable Food Project posted the other day.  I was intrigued by the fact that this recipe just uses water instead of chicken stock.  Mark Bittman did a whole feature last year on stockless soups, so it seemed like the concept was worth a try.

The leeks were absolutely lovely.  After two and a half seasons of growing, they were nice and fat, with succulent white stalks and lovely bright green leaves.  But the soup was just a little hollow.  I think it would have been a lot better with chicken stock, or even a vegetable or mushroom stock.  There wasn’t enough umami, that savory meaty flavor that a rich soup really requires.

The soup was alright, don’t get me wrong.  But so far I’m not sold on the water-soup concept.

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Leek and Swiss Chard Quiche1 (Large)

It was a Smitten Kitchen-inspired bonanza on Sunday when I baked a Leek and Swiss Chard Tart in a slightly modified Foolproof Pie Dough crust.  The recipes, which came from Bon Apetitit and Cooks Illustrated respectively, were both featured on Smitten Kitchen and make a delicious pairing.  I omitted the sugar and added some whole wheat flour to the crust (and next time I’d use way less fat – it’s SO rich).  And I just used 5 whole eggs instead of separating out a couple yolks in the quiche.  But I highly recommend the general concept.  This was a great way to use up a lot of my extra chard and taste the first leeks from my garden.

Leek and Swiss Chard Quiche2 (Large)

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To Do This Weekend: Leek Harvest

Leeks in the ground (Large)

I have a row of lovely leeks that have been ever-so-slowly fattening up all summer.  Now I think it’s finally time to harvest them.  I might make some vichyssoise (aka potato leek soup).  I’m also intrigued by Smitten Kitchen’s post about a leek and swiss chard quiche, which would help me use up the mountainous piles of chard still coming out of my garden in addition to using the leeks.

But I’ve got enough leeks to harvest that I’m definitely in the market for a good leek recipe.  Suggestions, anyone?

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