Tag Archives: Virginia

What would you do with a kumquat? Top a goat chop!

While on a recent vacation to Tybee Island, GA., we trekked up the outside stairs to our landlord’s deck at the top of the house. From there, you can see all over the island and out to various points in the Atlantic. While I was busy looking at my favorite beach spot, my husband was excitedly motioning at what he thought was a kumquat tree in the side yard. It was.

Their first response was a very eager, “Would you like some?” Apparently, the tree bears year round and after awhile they grow tired of them. She made kumquat wine once but the labor intensive project convinced her not to try again.

I knew someone who would come up with a use for them and happily picked a bag of them. This solved my quandary about what to take to my brother and sister-in-law when we stopped at their farm on the way home.

On the way to Virginia, the hubs ate a few, proclaimed them delicious and then admitted he could only eat a few at a time.IMG_0088[1]

Kumquats are often eaten whole — the rind is sweet and the center is sour. Culinary uses include candying and kumquat preserves, marmalade, and jelly. They can also be sliced and added to salads.

When we got to Va., I handed them off to my sis-in-law, Karen, knowing that she would come up with a creative use for them. Which she did. Several nights later, we had goat chops (they raise goats) with a kumquat-pineapple salsa. Of course, there is no recipe. She remembers throwing kumquats, pineapple and “some other stuff” into the blender. We then topped our goat chops with it.

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You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe

Really GOOD tomatoes in the middle of winter in the middle of Ohio is a rarity. I know this because I live in the middle of Ohio, but I also assume this is probably true in many parts of the country…unless one has access to a greenhouse like my brother in Virginia.

But right now I have a much-prized stash of REAL homegrown tomatoes — straight from the garden of another brother in Arizona. He was here for a visit this week and along with his running shoes and long underwear, he packed a bag filled with tomatoes. Ripe, red tomatoes.

Even he is a bit surprised by this crop. Usually, his tomatoes die out when the Arizona sun has all but fried them. This year, though, he left them there and a few months later began to notice flowers on the plants. Then there were green tomatoes — a slew of them. Just before their most recent frost, he and his grandson picked 1 1/2 buckets of the tomatoes. He set them — about 64 — on top of a file cabinet where they’d catch the sun through a nearby window. They quickly turned red.

And so…the tomatoes flew along with him to Ohio, where we are now happily eating them.

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My brother, Phil, AKA tomato producer, and me

My brother, Phil, AKA tomato producer, and me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The early bird gets the….blackberries!

One of my brothers lives in the mountains of Virginia where he regularly picks a variety of wild berries on his runs up the mountainside and into the woods.¬† This never really impressed me because I don’t like blackberries and raspberries so why bother picking them?

Or at least that was my perspective until I heard Hank Shaw talk about hunting, fishing, and foraging your own food. Shaw, the author of “Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast”, offers advice to anyone interested in taking a more active role in determining what they feed themselves and their families.

Ironically, during a recent run I was listening to Shaw’s conversation on a Splendid Table podcast. A few minutes later, I stopped near a favorite rock to take a break. There, within an arm’s reach, grew a rambling bush of wild blackberries.

I grabbed a few, shoved them in my shorts pocket for my husband and decided to return later in the week to pick more. The next day, the destructive derecho windstorm swept through our part of Ohio, replacing those visions of blackberries with downed ancient trees, power lines, and a week of struggling back to normality.

But this morning — the Fourth of July — I loaded up my bike basket with containers and pedaled down to my rock and the blackberry bush — all the time wondering whether the winds had swept the berries into the nearby water. But no…there they were, looking as if they were just bursting with flavor.

This was not an easy task — one can’t just lift a branch to grab a bunch of berries unless one enjoys the pain of the thorny brambles. So it was careful picking. Worse, some of the best ones hung over the water, where I could just barely reach them by standing on the ancient flagstone overhang.

But hey, I felt a little like Euell Gibbons in “Stalking the Wild Asparagus”, returning home with a bowlful of berries. It was worth battling the thorny branches. And strangely, freshly picked blackberries actually taste pretty good. Might have to rethink my dislike of berries.

Did you know that long ago, people used blackberry bushes to magically cure¬† whooping cough? They’d pass the victim under the arching bramble seven times, reciting:

In bramble, out cough
Here I leave the whooping cough.