Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kale Chips Move Over!

I think butternut squash chips have won over the hearts of everyone in our family.  We love kale chips but these golden chips have taken first place at home for this week at least.  I've looked at the veggie chips at Trader Joe's and Metropolitan Market; we have tried them all, but being the "do-it-yourselfer" that I am, I could not resist making my own.

I began with a butternut squash.  Chose the ones with really long neck and a small bulb, that way you can get a lot of flesh before you get to the seedy part.

I then use my ceramic mandolin, they are inexpensive and very sharp, to slice them very thin.  Try to get a mandolin with an adjustable dial, then you can adjust the slices to your preference.

Once you have your squash thinly and evenly sliced, then sprinkle with olive oil and salt.  Spread them evenly onto the baking sheet or sheet pan.  2 squash will make 2 pans of sliced squash.  Now you have to bake then, which is the tricky part.  The oven should be a low one.  300 F has been working for us. They need a bit of careful watching while in the oven.  Slices on the edges of the pan will brown more quickly and burn if not removed when golden.  Smaller pieces will also cook more quickly so they will have to be removed as they cook or they will burn.

After about 15-20 minutes of careful watching you should have golden chips that really taste like a concentrated butternut squash soup!  Sometimes the little burnt pieces are the best part of all.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Time to Close Up Shop for the Fall

Autumn does not feel like it is here but the calendar says otherwise.  It's October and the temperature today was almost 70 degrees.  I read somewhere that we have had 77 days in a row without any measurable rainfall.  Part of me is afraid to even repeat that fact less I jinx the whole greater Puget Sound area.

A visit to the garden this morning at 8:30 a.m. proves Fall is here in force.  When I pulled up my summer squash, zinnias and snapdragons this morning they were pretty much frozen.  I began cleaning up my garden plots and filling low spots with 3 way topsoil.  This is a great time to amend soil as well with compost but time does not permit me to take advantage of the compost buy in this time but I will definitely build up my soil other ways and add compost in the spring.

With my plots mostly cleared of weeds, I began covering the bare ground with leaves and straw.  I try to alternate between leaves (free from the park) and straw (costs money but is convenient to use) or use a mix of both.  Putting a thick mulch on your plots really helps with weed suppression over the winter and spring.  I advise it wholeheartedly.  See photos of adjacent plots, one used leaves to put their plot to bed and one did not.

Here is a plot that was covered with leaves in the winter and when planting time came around, all they had to do was remove the leaves, amend the soil and plant!

This plot did not use any sort of overwinter mulch on their plot.  By late Spring, the weeds that had grown over the winter and early spring were a force to be reckoned with.

Moral of the story:  Save yourself a lot of work in the spring and put your plot to bed with a mulch over the winter!