A Southern Tradition — Collards

Carolina Collards

Originally a wild and rather unpalatable green, the collards we know and love today have been developed over centuries to sweeten their flavor, breeding out the bitterness and rough qualities of the original “weed.”

Today, we enjoy the largess of such breeding and also the development of cuisine devoted to this green, Brassica oleracea. Traditionally, they are slow cooked with some type of pork, but vegetarian recipes abound as well.

There is a another reason for Collard Greens’ popularity. It is ranked as one of the most nutritious greens, second only to mache. High in protein, calcium, Vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium, nothing beats collards fresh from your own organic garden. And a recent study  at the University of East Anglia found that a compound in collards called sulforaphane can help prevent and slow cartilage damage and osteoarthritis.

Perhaps no other vegetable so represents the South as this one. It was relied on during the American Revolution and grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. It has historically been enjoyed cross-culturally, though we certainly owe a debt to the African Americans enslaved here for learning the best and most economical ways to prepare and store.

Easy to grow, and often seen in large family patches, you can grow just four collard plants in a 4 x 4 raised bed and harvest a leaf or two at a time from the bottom of the head over a very long growing period, or you can harvest the whole head leaving the stalk in the ground to sprout again.

Collards do require at least 4-5 hours of sun and a loose sandy soil for Spring crop or heavier loamy soil for Fall/Winter crop. They are extremely cold hardy and can survive frosts and light to medium freezes (which converts some of the carbs to sugar, making them sweeter) but will bolt in the heat of summer, so grow either very Early Spring or in the Fall/Winter. Starting seeds indoors or in the greenhouse will give you a jump on either season. They are heavy feeders and need nitrogen for consistent growth. They also need consistent water, 1.5 ” each week, either by rainfall or irrigation. Do not cultivate deeply. You can mulch for weed prevention.

Depending on the variety, collards may suffer munchers, though not as much as other brassicas. But in an organic home garden, especially in a raised bed situation, you can address by several organic methods including a strong spray of water, companion planting by nasturtiums and tomatoes as well as aromatic herbs, which will also improve flavor, and finally a homemade hot pepper spray really works (just be sure to wear gloves when applying and reapply after a rain).

Georgia Collard

I am pleased to be selling three different organic heirloom varieties this year each with its own regional interest.

  1. First introduced in 1879, and popularized by Burpee in 1944, the popular variety Georgia is a non-heading type that forms large rosettes 3′ high. It takes 80 days from early transplanting to harvest.
  2. Carolina Cabbage Collard, also known as Yellow Cabbage Collard, is a North Carolina heirloom variety for which it is very hard to acquire seeds as they are closely guarded by the Eastern NC families that grow for market stands. Many prefer the tender, silky texture and mild, non-bitter flavor of this variety. Not really yellow, but a lighter green than other varieties. A choice of the ‘Ark Of Taste’ which writes: “Making its appearance in the late 1880’s, Yellow Cabbage Collard continued to be prominent with readily available seeds for purchase in North Carolina until approximately 1975. Colonel Joe Branner, proprietor of the Asheville Greenhouses, began the production of the seed in eastern Carolina in 1887 by sowing full collard seed in his greenhouse, which responded to the local soil by growing a bit shorter and more cabbage-like, naturalizing over time to its new environment.” Non-heading it grows year round in full sun or partial shade with a 45+ day growing cycle. Plants grow to 2′ x 2′.
  3. Green Glazed Collard is a rare resurrected variety whose lineage dates back 200 years.It not only has a beautiful waxy appearance, it is more resistant to cabbage worm and cabbage looper, thus easier to grow organically. It is also heat and frost resistant and slow to bolt, making it a good choice for Southern gardens. The Cascade variety I offer was developed in the NW, and retains the recessive gene for the glossy appearance but occasionally kicks out a regular collard which should not be allowed to go to seed (to protect the strain). Non-heading and early. 60 days.

Green Glazed Collards

I hope you will give collards a try in your home garden this year … even if you are a “Nawthener” Happy gardening y’all!

Around The World in my Backyard Heirloom Organic Garden!

I love to cook. AND I use my garden and kitchen for many of my medicinal needs. In researching the plants that I grow in my organic garden, I am always struck at the passage of rare varieties from all corners of the world, to my little garden in the Piedmont of North Carolina!

In early Spring, I enjoy  Nozaki Early Cabbage, a quick growing and delicious open faced cabbage originally from China useful fresh or in stir fries.

Later in Spring, I always look forward to my Fraises des Bois, a wonderful French alpine strawberry that explodes in your mouth with exquisite flavor and is so easily grown in containers. This year I am offering both fresh plants later in the season or seeds, if you want to get started now.

And from the heart of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, we offer the all American North Carolina heirloom Sieva Carolina Pole Baby Lima bean, so sweet and delicious and so hard to find.

From our friends South of the border, the Chilhuacle Negro Pepper from Mexico is uniquely flavorful … a combination of smoke, chocolate and heat … just one will flavor a pot of chile to exquisite levels!

Also from our Southern neighbors, the Morado Purple Corn from Peru is grown for the fabulous drink, Chi Chi Morado made from its deep purple kernels. With increasing South American immigrants to our country, this is one which you may enjoy growing.

Back to Europe, the exquisite Styrian Pumpkin from Austria produces a hull-less pumpkin seed well-known and researched to provide protection from prostate problems including cancer. It also sooooo incredibly delicious, full of vitamins and minerals, and my choice to feed to my chickens to protect them from intestinal invaders.

From South Africa, we are so pleased to be able to offer this year seeds of the rare Ice Plant, much prized for its unique presentation and its culinary and medicinal use.

And so ancient it is hard to pinpoint its origins — it was found in Tutenkhamen’s tomb —Nigella Sativa or Black Cumin — is now highly valued for medicinal purposes it is often overlooked for its sheer beauty!

Finally, not to be ignored, the Italian origins of the wonderful Marvel of Venice pole bean should be noted, as Italians prize flavor above all else. The beautiful yellow flat romano style beans are incredibly delicious picked young and sauteed with garlic and olive oil, or pickled for antipasto.

These are just a “taste” of the wonderful heirloom organic seeds I am offering this year at CherryGal.com. If you have read this far, you deserve a reward — use the code INTLSeeds to get 20% off your CherryGal.com seed or live plant order until January 30!

The Importance of Organic Wines

Organic Wines For Your Health!

CherryGal.com is excited to be an Affiliate of The Organic Wine Company, which offers a range of excellent sulfite-free wines and champagnes. All of their wines are vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO and are made with organic grapes.

Science and Medicine increasingly agree about the benefits of a glass or two of wine a day to promote heart, brain and immune function as well as enhancing “joie de vivre.” The wines offered by The Organic Wine Company are made with certified organic grapes. Delightful to drink, the highest quality yet reasonably priced and can be enjoyed without an adverse reaction by most chemically sensitive people.

The Organic Wine Company is a family company started by Veronique Raskin in San Francisco thirty years ago.  Véronique is a French native, born and raised by generations of physicians and land-owners in the Languedoc region in southern France. Veronique was always passionate about the study and practice of health and well- being. When her 75-year-old grandfather, Professor of Medicine Pierre Fabre, started pioneering organic viticulture in the South of France, she decided to do the same here in the United States.

Why choose organic wines? To quote Dr. Andrew Weil, “Many people who buy and eat only organically grown fruits and vegetables often don’t consider that the grapes grown to make wine might be sprayed with the same pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides used on other conventionally grown crops. In fact, on February 13, 2013, the wine trade journal Decanter reported on a study showing that 90 percent of samples from 300 French wines contained traces of at least one pesticide. The wines were analyzed for 50 different compounds from a range of pesticides and fungicides. Those most commonly found were ‘anti-rot’ fungicides, which are often applied late in the growing season. At least some of these chemicals may pose health risks. In May 2012, the French government officially recognized a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease in agricultural workers.”

So, in addition to growing your own organic garden with CherryGal Heirloom Organic Seeds and Plants, after a day in the garden you can now sit back and relax with a glass of exquisite organic wine! No membership required. You can buy what you want, when you want. And they offer Gift Certificates. So visit The Organic Wine Company today to get started!

— Deborah Phillips / CherryGal.com

Bone Broth for Health

Want to reset your GI system or grow hair or treat joint degeneration or arthritis or fight wrinkles? Make natural bone broth! It is really so simple, especially with a crock pot. I have always been concerned about commercially produced beef broth, since the marrow, like the liver, accumulates toxins in the cow’s body. If a cow has been raised in unhealthy conditions, their marrow will not be healthy. That is why I was excited about our local https://www.fiveoaksbeef.com/ which raises healthy grass-fed cows and sells all natural marrow bones.

Bone broth is so easy, especially with a crock pot, and is a wonderfully aromatic choice to have cooking on a cold winter day. Start with healthy marrow bones, which you bake for a half hour at 350. Then put in your crock pot with onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and parsley, and fresh filtered water and you are in business! (Doug & Linda Knudson of Five Oaks say that some add a little apple cider vinegar to the water to help draw out the minerals in the bone.)

And finally, though I never give other types of bones to my dogs, once your broth is done, the remainder marrow bones are excellent, non-splintering treats for your pooches.

The health benefits of bone broth are truly remarkable. Here is an excellent well-researched article by Mercola on the subject of bone broth with interesting history! Enjoy! https://articles.mercola.com/…/23/nourishing-bone-broth.aspx

New CherryGal.com is here!

My web guy has been telling me for months I had to do this, and being the frugal (i.e., poor) businesswoman that I am, I resisted. And resisted. AND resisted. But finally Google pushed the urgency because they changed their security viewpoint and I was forced to do this “update.” It’s more than an update. Its a totally NEW website, with all sorts of bells and whistles which I am just beginning to learn. But for the moment, it works quite well at processing orders and I am even able to offer a discount if you hurry and purchase $50 or more in CherryGal.com items, you will get $10 off. Just use coupon code at checkout NEWWEB. What could be simpler. Hope you do … this update cost me a LOT! 🙂

The “new” CherryGal.com is here!

ChompDeLeezay

I have written before about the Autolyse method for Sourdough Bread baking. Yesterday I realized I had been neglecting my starter “Audrey” quite badly. She had developed a really impressive top layer of brown “hootch.” I poured that off and spent the day refreshing her every few hours until she was once again bubbly and beautiful! Then I scooped a couple cups and got to work making my dough.

I haven’t made olive bread in some time and since I had a half jar in the fridge decided that would do just fine. The thing I love about autolyse baking is that it is not regimented, but rather a relaxed method, relying on your touch, sight and nostrils to achieve your final product. You take a wet shaggy dough and instead of kneading it to death with a lot of flour, you use your bench knife to give it several turns on a floured board and return it to its rising bowl and box every half hour or so.

So I can go about my business, which lately is creating as many Pique Assiette frames as I can in preparation for the upcoming Harvest Festival in town. And just check on the dough, folding it with a little fresh flour on the board, doing this over and over until it is at kneading stage. Then I give it a couple of kneads and risings overnight, shape it (give it a half hour or so to do a final rise) slice the top and bake it.

The Autolyse baking method suits me too … you start with a 500F oven, put the shaped loaf in pouring a half cup of filtered water in the bottom of the oven and turning the heat down to 450. With Olive Bread, it takes 3 “steam shots” and about 45 minutes to achieve a nice “ear” and brown crust and “thumpable” finish. Cooling now, and soon to be “Chompable.”

Autolyse Sourdough Olive Loaf

 

And the rain still comes …

Slow Cooked Apple Butter

I have been watching the coverage of the Texas storm almost non-stop (I don’t sleep much) and then our own rains started. They were all day, though gentle without wind, it helped sustain the sympatico with those affected by Harvey. So, I thought of things that are great to cook during cool, wet weather, and I put a chicken in to slow roast and started a small batch of apple butter, made from really tart local apples, apple cider vinegar, a cinnamon stick, black strap molasses and stevia (I don’t like to use a lot of sugar).

The aromas emanating from my kitchen all day have been HEAVENLY! And I wish I could share them with all the Harvey refugees. But I will do what I can to help online. Hope you will too!

For my Gourmet Artisan Gin Drinking Customers …

For anyone who does not imbibe, or for those who are struggling, please know that I do not want to encourage anyone to drink alcohol. But for those of my customers or followers who occasionally like a nice gin & tonic in the summertime (and you can put me in that column), this is for you.
Did you know that gin is just infused vodka? High end gins (and there are many) infuse their own special botanicals, spices and fruits before performing a final distillation. But the final distillation is only to remove the color and particulates. Before that is done it is “compound gin” as long as the primary infused ingredient is juniper berry. So you pay an exceptional price for this artistry or artisan flair.
But you can actually create your own compound gin by infusing these same selected botanicals at home. You will save money and create an incredibly delicious and fresh gin for mixing your cocktails.
Now, you can go and purchase or gather these infusion ingredients yourself — and it is fun to do — but CherryGal Heirloom Organics has done the research and put together a great little kit for infusing a 750ml bottle of neutral Vodka which you will purchase. It is a fallacy that inexpensive vodka is inferior vodka. There are very good and inexpensive neutral Vodkas available, including UV, Deep Eddy, Svedka, Luksusowa, Finlandia and Sobieski. Just be sure you choose a clear, neutral vodka, since flavored vodka is also on the shelves.
Another advantage to choosing a CherryGal Heirloom Organics Do It Yourself Artisan Gin Kit  — and an important one — is that the botanicals are all organic. When botanicals are infused in alcohol, the alcohol extracts everything from the botanicals — the flavor, the fragrance, the color and, unless it is organic, any pesticides or chemicals used in production. Yeck! Using my kit you will achieve a beautiful, clear gin with a golden botanical coloration.
So I hope you will give my new product a try. It is legal. It is fun. It is inexpensive (especially compared to Williams and Sonoma and others). And it takes about 5-10 minutes of your hands-on time and 36-48 hours waiting time. Available online at www.cherrygal.com or at the Warrenton Farmer’s Market each Saturday! Enjoy!

Fabulous Offerings next Saturday!

I want to thank everyone who turned out on Saturday May 13 at the Warren County Farmers Market. Despite inhospitable weather all day, we had our SECOND BEST DAY EVER in terms of sales, so thank you so much!

This coming Saturday I think I can confidently predict more new offerings that may interest you. Keep in mind, these are heirloom ORGANICALLY GROWN so I’m sorry if the prices are somewhat higher than others but they do require more attention then hybrids. But they are without a doubt HEALTHIER for you and your family and if gardened properly will be just as productive and satisfying (more so).

TOMATOES: In addition to a few Costoluto Genovese and Hillybilly tomatoes, I will have some Black Krim, Brandywine and Coeur Di Boeuf (oxheart). My favorite “spicy” pepper is Ancho Poblano, and I will have a few ready by Saturday. I will continue to offer Diva Cucumber, and they are getting bigger and stronger by the day. This is a stellar performer in the garden, with disease resistance. I will also have some Rosemary, regular Chives and Parsley Gigante (Italian flat leaf) for your pleasure. I will also have some beautiful Nasturtiums, which are so lovely in the garden, but can also be put to culinary use in salads and as toppers for soups.

I will send out another email before Saturday’s market, so you know exactly what to expect. As with all my offerings, early bird gets the worm!

Special Italian Heirlooms on Saturday at Warrenton Farmer’s Market

It’s been a quiet morning  listening to the gentle rain and the birds while I potted up various herbs that have outgrown their tiny hydroponic start pods. I have some special offerings this Saturday, and I thought I would give you a heads up since, as is my habit, I only have a few of each.
I am pleased to offer three of my favorite Italian heirlooms — organically grown of course. The first is a delicious slicing tomato called Costoluto Genovese. An indeterminate, it can require more attention from you to get to full fruiting (I recommend caging and pruning), but when it does produce it does so abundantly! This old Italian heirloom from Genoa features deep red pleated fruits that have the most extraordinary “slickery” texture and delicious flavor. It was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, who had very discerning tastes. You can use for cooking, but I particularly like it chopped fresh and combined with homemade mozzarella and basil.
Another Italian heirloom that is the quintessential paste & sauce tomato San Marzano — an Italian heirloom gifted to the Kingdom of Naples in 1770 from the Kingdom of Peru! Since that time, it has become renowned as the best paste/sauce tomato bar none. Recent research by cancer specialist Dr William Li indicates that the cooked San Marzano tomato is the best cancer fighter (prostate and breast) of all tomato varieties! Grows just 4′ high, so very manageable.
I will also be bringing a my special Sweet Italian Pimento Pepper that is a single-lobed, thick walled heart-shaped sweet pepper with excellent flavor and perfect for roasting and adding to any dish or pickling.
Finally, a gourmet summer squash grown for use in traditional Italian cuisine. Costato Romanesco has a rich, nutty flavor and firmer texture than others so it stands up well to various recipes. The green flecked fine ribbed fruits are best picked when no larger than 4″-6″ and for a special treat, pick them even smaller when the large flowers are still attached, which you will gently batter and saute. This bush plant produces an abundance of male flowers if you want to cook just the flowers without sacrificing potential fruit, stuffing with soft cheese and gently baking till runny, then sprinkling with chopped basil. Or add the sliced fruit to soups or shred raw into salads. This variety is just too fine to use for zucchini bread.
If you buy one of these great Italian heirlooms, you will get a special recipe from “Vegetables from an Italian Garden” by Phaidon. Be sure to ask, as I will have them printed out and ready, but if I am distracted I might forget to give you.
I will also have a few heirloom gorgeous bi-color Hillbilly slicing tomatoes and the newer California Wonder Bell Pepper plants and more herbs, including basils — all organically grown of course.
And some Lucky Like treats — reduced because they are from last week that did not sell. I won’t have time this week to do a fresh batch. Since they last a month or longer in the fridge, this is your chance to pick up a bargain. The Lucky Bucks you have collected will be honored.
See you on Saturday!