Credit to Ridge Vineyards for this lovely photo of
Zinfandel grapes growing in their Lytton Springs Vineyard.
In addition to blogging, I write articles for a couple of local papers. I thought you all might enjoy reading a few suggestions for fall wines that will appear in my column, "WINEderlust." Oenophiles & foodies always appreciate good wine suggestions:
There’s finally a little chill in the air which means we can think about leaving summer wines behind. Now’s the perfect time to try some robust reds, you know, the kind that will put a little pink in your cheeks. Some of my fall favorites are jammy, brambly and even prunish sorts like Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Franc (holla!) Most folks have tried the first two, but the latter? If you haven’t taken the plunge with Cab Franc, you should.
An all-time favorite is a Sonoma producer with a cult-following and an artistic touch with [Red] Zinfandel. You can’t make a poor choice with RIDGE Wines, but the 2015 Lytton Springs is an excellent option. Technically, the 2015 isn’t Zinfandel because it is blended with 16% Petite Sirah and small amounts of lesser-known varietals: Carignane & Mourvedre. This wine is full of the aforementioned bramble flavors (raspberry & blackberry), smoky oak and the expected peppery finish. Great with barbecue or brownies. $38ish
France’s Rhône is on point when you are looking for affordable & affable Syrah (AKA Shiraz in other parts of the world). Right now, I’m digging Chateau de Nages Joseph Torres Rouge. A bit more budget-driven than the RIDGE, this one’s about $25 and is intense. You remember the little candies you tried in French Class as a child? The ones that came in a pretty tin? They tasted like violets & smelled amazing? That’s what’s going on here. Elegant & feminine but in a big way.
Grand Finale. Robert Sinskey Vandal Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2013. This has all of my favorite flavors in one very balanced bottle. Berries, chocolate, green olive, lavender and a big bunch of leather up the back. A tiny bit spendy at $50 and worth every penny. [Shout-out to my good friend, Jon Keep. This Sinskey wine reminds me so much of a wine that's no longer made: Gravity Hills, Killer Climb Syrah. It was one that I loved and my buddy and I spent a memorable evening polishing off, ahem, SEVERAL bottles. Cheers to us, Jon!]
@RidgeWines @ChateaudeNages @RobertSinskeyVineyards
Total transparency here: by this time in the season, I have stopped weeding and my garden is a hot mess. For real. I've canned all the sauces, veggies, condiments, relish and jam that I plan to. There are still some greens, celery and sweet potatoes hanging around, but that's really all that's worthwhile. I have been thinking about pulling the tomato and pepper beds, amending the soil a little and planting some lettuce and cabbage for a small, early winter harvest. That will only take care of about 1/3 of my beds and the rest need to be cleaned up and put to bed until springtime. For the first time ever, I've decided to utilize cover crops.
Where I live, I was made aware of a program through my county's Soil & Water Conservation Office (yes, that's a thing) which offers free seeds to residents. I reached out to Andrew Fritz, a local Urban Agriculture Conservationist for more information.
Here's what he had to say:
We [are offering] four cover crops - Crimson Clover, Hairy Vetch, Cereal Rye, and Oats...They come in small packs that are good to cover 100 square feet. I have also included notes below that may address some questions:
Crimson Clover's biggest benefit is that it adds nitrogen to the soil and is considered a soil builder. If you interseed, or overseed, by broadcasting the seeds between 9/15 and 9/30, the crimson clover will flower earlier in the spring when is the time you would cut it down and leave it as mulch. The Crimson Clover mulch is excellent because it adds to the soil, releases nitrogen slowly, helps to suppress weeds, and keeps moisture in the soil. Although, like all plants, it will decompose - which is actually a good thing.
The biggest benefit to oats is that it grows quickly and is a weed fighter. Additionally, it adds some organic matter and loosen topsoil. Gardeners find this oats convenient because it winter-kills. This means that the gardener does not have to kill, or terminate, the plant in the spring.
The biggest benefits that Hairy Vetch offers is that it can choke out weeds, supplies nitrogen to the soil, and attract beneficial insects as it is flowering in the spring. It is just like Crimson Clover in that it will survive the winter. Getting this plant started earlier is better.
Cereal Rye, though one of the more difficult plants, offers the most benefits to soil improvement - especially for tough clay soils. Rye has deep roots that break up compaction and is the best at suppressing weeds, and creates a lot of organic matter. It also has long lasting residue that can act as straw to suppress weeds. With rye, the stalks will be difficult to work around but this won't stop you from seeding or putting in vegetable starts. In addition, after terminating the rye (anytime from 12" to flower), you must wait 10 days before planting as the chemical it releases to suppress weeds needs to lose its strength.
GENERAL RULES AND GUIDELINES
- It is ideal to plant cover crops between 9/15 and 9/30. Though, they can be planted later. If this is the case, increase the seeding rate.
- If your garden is still active, remove all weeds, and seed the cover crop between your plants to give them a good start. Once root growth is established, you can walk on them gently to continue working in the garden.
- One packet of seeds is good for 100 square feet. If you have a 50' sq. garden, cut the seed amount in half.
- Terminate cover crops that do not winter-kill as they are flowering just prior to seeding. This is the most effective way of terminating the plant successfully.
- After broadcasting the seed, rake or water in gently to ensure good soil to seed contact for improved germination.
- Cover crops can be mixed together to achieve several benefits. Consult with the Urban Agriculture Conservationist to learn more.
I am planning to try the Cereal Rye as that seems to be the best fit for my garden. I'm so excited to see if cover crops are all they're cracked up to be. Wish me luck!
I'm pretty pleased with a new bread recipe I’ve been working on. One recipe, two great loaves of artisanal bread, no overnight rise, crusty on the outside and tender inside. Fresh bread is so nourishing and I dig knowing exactly what I’m feeding my fam. Flour, water, yeast and sea salt meld to become something much more complex. Do you bake bread and have a favorite? Curious if anyone is down with knowing how to add yeast dough to their culinary repertoire.
More on “rising” coming soon.
I have 250 feet of fence line at the back of my yard. Along that fence there are about 15 Persimmon trees. They are what lots of folks would describe as “junk trees.” That is, not stunners and fairly messy. They also attract loads of nightlife: racoons, possums and the like hang out to gobble the ripe fruit every fall.
If you haven’t ever worked with persimmons, they are small orange (when ripe) fruits that are similar in flavor to an apricot, but subtle. The skins of are VERY tannic. It isn’t ever a good idea to pop one in your mouth unless you are into an incredibly bitter bite. They also contain several “pits.” You might wonder why one would even bother with such a fruit?
Here’s the deal. The trees are prolific and it is easy to collect the fallen fruit from the ground. Once you run them through a food mill, you are left with a sticky sweet pulp. I’m not gonna lie, preparing the fruit takes some effort but in my case, with so many trees, I can’t justify buying the pulp already processed. If you don’t have trees pick up a container or two at Lily Orchard (Indy). Lots of places sell it, but Lily has always been my go-to and they usually have it. With the pulp and a few other ingredients, you’ll have yourself a lovely, traditional Hoosier dessert. It is rich and sweet, with a texture falling somewhere between cake and brownies. Perfect for a chilly fall evening and certainly Thanksgiving dinner.
1 cup of persimmon pulp
¾ cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 cup milk
¼ pound melted butter (unsalted)
-Combine persimmon pulp, sugar and molasses.
-Beat in eggs, milk and butter.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.
-Mix the dry ingredients into the persimmon mixture.
-Grease a 9-inch square pan very well (or line with parchment paper) and pour batter into prepared pan.
-Bake at 325 for about an hour. (A knife or toothpick will come out clean when ready).
-Cool, cut into squares and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pro Tip: My sweet friend Jill Cline makes Persimmon Pudding every year during the holidays. She ALWAYS forgets to buy persimmon pulp in advance and it often sells out. Then she scrambles to find it. Don’t be like Jill, buy it now and freeze it!
Give Persimmon Pudding a try and see if it can become a tradition for your family.
#persimmonpudding #HoosierHospitality @1Malibu
Don't know about y'all but I'm sort of over coming up with creative ways to use my tomatoes. The summer's winding down, but the tomatoes just keep coming. I've made spaghetti sauce, two kinds of salsa, ketchup and loads of tomato bisque.
This fun and very simple recipe turns those last sweet fruits into an enviable dish. It's worthy of dinner with some crusty baguette or by itself as a side dish. See what you think.
Pro Tip: Omit the bacon and add crumbled feta and its vegetarian-friendly.
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped basil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (stem removed)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cooked bacon, finely chopped
12 tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Whisk together everything except the tomatoes in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and gently toss to coat. Allow the mixture to sit, covered at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Serve.
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.