On Fri, 5 Feb 2010 04:00:40 -0800, "Bob Terwilliger"
>I'm told that this is the best season for adding plants to my landscape, so
>I'm thinking about adding these:
>Chestnuts: Chestnuts are mostly a relic of bygone days. They used to be very
>popular, but they've fallen out of fashion over the last eighty years or so.
>Culinarily, they're interesting because they can be used in both sweet and
>I bought some chestnuts from a farmstand a few weeks ago, roasted them,
>vacuum-packed them, and put them into the freezer. I plan to use them in
>several different ways. Some of them peeled nicely after roasting and some
>didn't; I call them the "pretty" group and "ugly" group respectively.
>The "ugly" group will be used to infuse heavy cream, which will then be made
>into a panna cotta. I don't want the panna cotta to be too sweet, because
>I'm going to be serving it as part of a dish which also includes duck confit
>and pan-roasted duck breast. At this point I'm undecided as to whether the
>panna cotta will be made using agar-agar instead of gelatin. The potential
>advantage of agar-agar is that the panna cotta could be served steaming hot,
>which might make it a better accompaniment for the rest of the dish.
>The "pretty" group will be used in two ways. Some of them will be made into
>marrons glacÚs, i.e., glazed chestnuts. They're made over a four-day
>interval by cooking chestnuts in a heavier and heavier sugar solution and
>drying after each cooking episode. What you get are silky-smooth sweet
>confections with a mild chestnut flavor. (I recently read that candied
>cauliflower was sometimes used as a cheap substitute for marrons glacÚs.
>CAULIFLOWER? Seriously?) The rest of the "pretty" chestnuts will be paired
>with Tuscan kale as a side dish; I think those two items should go well
>I want a chestnut tree for a couple reasons: First, they're excellent shade
>trees. They grow a kind of umbrella canopy with big leaves, and I want shade
>trees on the west side of my house to alleviate the fierce afternoon sun in
>the summer. Second, I like the idea of having so many chestnuts around that
>I can casually pair them with things like Tuscan kale without having to
>embark on a major quest to find them, and without paying something like $20
>for a pound of them. Poking around online, it seems that if I want
>chestnuts, I might have to plant both a male and female chestnut tree. I'm
>okay with that; I've got plenty of room for trees on the west side of the
>Loquats: Loquats are a fruit of my childhood in Florida. They're little
>fuzzy fruit which look a bit like apricots which have been stretched
>lengthwise and then diminished in size. But they're MUCH fuller-flavored
>than apricots. The reason you don't see loquats often in stores is that they
>require very delicate handling; they bruise very easily, and once they
>bruise they're pretty much ruined.
>I've seen loquat trees growing not far from here, so I know they can handle
>the climate. They're also pretty good shade trees. I'd like to try cooking
>with loquats, too, but the interest in planting a loquat tree is mainly
>being driven by nostalgia.
>Rhubarb: Rhubarb is another plant which used to be much more popular. I'm
>intrigued by its culinary possibilities, which (like chestnuts) are not
>limited to sweet applications. Sour foods are prized by Iranians; in Iran,
>rhubarb stalks are dipped in salt and eaten raw. I'm not that hard-core
>about it, but I'm thinking that I could use it in ways similar to sorrel,
>e.g., as a sour flavor accent with fish or chicken. I'd also like to try
>pickling rhubarb and incorporating it into a summer salad; I think it would
>be refreshing used like that.
>I'm not completely sure that rhubarb can handle the climate where I live; it
>might be too hot or too dry. I know that it grows in the mountains nearby,
>but the scant research that I've done implies that rhubarb can die during a
>hot summer -- and I'm guessing that the summers here are hot enough to kill
>it. But I'll try anyway; maybe I'll get lucky.
How hot is a hot summer? It grows in NC and we frequently have summer
temps of 95░ or more. I started some rhubarb from seed last year.
Today we are having our 3rd snow storm since just before Christmas.
Will have to see if it survives the cold. It certainly should since I
am sure that there are beds of it that are years old.
If you are interested in starting seeds you can get them at Victory
Seeds, P. O. Box 192, Molalla, Oregon 97038. www.victoryseeds.com.
"Moral indignation is in most cases two percent moral,
48 percent indignation, and 50 percent envy."
Vittorio De Sica, Italian movie director (1901-1974)