Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vegetable Curry and Life on the Farm

The nights have been pretty cool lately and this morning, a first for the season, the duck's water had a bit of ice on it.
Tomorrow we'll take the pump off the pond before it freezes up and any watering that needs to be done in the hoophouses will be done with a watering can.
There's still so much in the garden, which I'm thankful for. The hoophouse crops are growing so slowly and I had to replant the arugula after some apparently poor seed wouldn't germinate. So it is the outdoor garden that keeps us going.
Up until yesterday, some plants were continuing to produce. Hot peppers, tomatillos, cape goose berries still figured it was summer, but today it was all over.
Alas, it's true. The cold weather has arrived and I've had to start the woodstove in earnest now, not briefly to take the chill off, but early in the afternoon before the sun goes down and the cool weather arrives. The hoophouse peppers, eggplants and tomatoes are still surviving with a layer of agricultural fabric. But they won't last too long now.

Joey prefers his meals in his home and has given up sun bathing, and my 3 dogs step lively when we walk in the morning. The chickens and ducks are still happy to scratch and slurp mud respectively but the cats stay indoors and catch a sun ray beaming through the windows.



The baskets were pretty heavy today, with the root crops dominating-peppers too!
It is kind of nice when I deliver the baskets now as the greens stand up, perky with the coolness...instead of the sad and wilted from the heat.
Here is the basket laid out:

Sorrel, kale, rosemary, celeriac, peppers, carrots, hot peppers, rosemary, jerusalem artichokes, onions, tomatillos, cape gooseberries 

I wanted to include the tomatillos so everyone could try Suzanne's recipe on the last blog post...check it out here

As for me, I'm in a curry mood. Warms the tummy and soul.

Vegetable Curry

2 Tbsp olive oil
medium onion, (or the onions in your basket)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger
3 cups chopped assorted veggies
3 tsp curry paste
1 14 oz can coconut milk
handful kale
salt to taste

Saute onion in olive oil for several minutes over medium heat, then add chopped garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
Add ginger,veggies, kale, then curry paste and coconut milk and cook until the veggies are tender and the liquid has reduced.
Easy...I add tofu at the beginning as well and it's a complete meal.

Scary Mollie-have a fun Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest Post: I got the Salsa Verde Blues

by Suzanne Taylor

It's late October, and my tomatillo plants are still flowering and fruiting very well. I also got a gorgeous pile of the purple ones from Linda Crago last week in my basket. 

My tomatillo bucket runneth over as we head towards winter, and the gardening blogs assure me I can cut down the plants before frost and hang them upside down someplace and they will keep on ripening. 

It's a nice idea, but considering each plant is the size of a small child, it isn't very feasible to find house room for such an endeavour. Those things are beasts. And I must confess, I am getting salsa verde fatigue. 

Now, tomatillos are something I love, don't get me wrong. Before the dawn of foodieism in southern Ontario, where the most exotic thing you'd see at a grocery store was a jalapeno pepper or a coconut, you couldn't find these little paper-husked delights anywhere around these parts. 

Being a foodie explorer type, I constantly looked at Mexican food recipes that called for tomatillos and sighed. "Find them at your local ethnic grocery store!" the recipe advised. Yes, but in St. Catharines in 2004, that was nowhere to be found. I had similar problems with Thai food recipes; you should see the blank stares you get when you go into the A&P and ask for Kafir lime leaves or bird's eye chilis. 

Once I had a friend who visited Mexico bring me back some canned tomatillos. I was so excited and whipped up a green enchilada sauce right away. It wasn't bad, but it was soon over and I spent more time poring over Rick Bayless and wondering if I could find a Mexican grocery store someplace over the border and smuggle some back. 

Well, then I met Linda Crago in 2006 at the Fielding Winery tomato festival, and her vegetable baskets brimming with purple tomatillos, and positively annoyed her with all kinds of questions about them. Did she always grow them? How many did she grow? Could I buy some? Could I buy a lot? Where was Wellandport, anyway? (I still don't think I know the answer to that). 

So, tomatillo bliss ensued. Every season since, we have made vats of what my husband calls his 'bastard sauce', using all of Linda's hot peppers too, and it is delightful, even if it makes police officers cry. 

Even when we lived up north, in the land where tomatoes don't really grow, I found a guy growing tomatillos and bought out his stash, since nobody else knew what they were. I am quite sure he thought I was clinically insane, but I am used to that. 

But, I gotta be honest too; tomatillos are kind of a one-trick pony, recipe-wise. Everything is a variation of green sauce or salsa. Linda has mentioned people eating them raw recently, but I just don't think that's my thing. 

Still, I was determined to find something that wasn't sauce to use them in. But, stick 'tomatillo recipes' into ye olde Googles, and you just get endless variations on sauce. It's good with pork or chicken, on tacos, etc. But that's all Google was telling me. I realize it is a seedy little husk cherry type veg, and that when it gets cooked it reduces down to sauce naturally, but surely there has to be something else to do with them. 

So, I asked my favourite cooking blog, The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com) in their Good Questions section, and didn't really get the answer I was looking for. Lots of variations on the same; add them to chilis and stews, etc. There were more exotic things like tomatillo dal and curry offered too, which are intriguing but weren't grabbing me the way I wanted.  

I wanted a star recipe for the tomatillo that didn't involve cooking it down into some sort of mushy sauce thing. I wanted it to have another dimension. I wanted it to stand out as the main ingredient. 

And this morning, after reading the just-okay suggestions to my question, I had a brainwave; if you can fry green tomatoes with batter, why not tomatillos? I mean, we all saw the movie Fried Green Tomatoes back in the early 1990s, right? How could I have forgotten? After that came out, it seemed like every specialty shop with 'gourmet' food sections offered fried green tomato batter as a novelty gift item to rot in the back of your pantry, which was silly as it's just breadcrumbs and seasoning at heart. 

But, could the tomatillo stand in place of the green tomato?

Tomatillo-loving friends everywhere, I was right. This IS a thing, and I found the recipe to prove it, thanks to Country Living magazine. Bring it onnnnn!

Fried Tomatillos with Creamy Cumin Dip

  • 1/2 cup(s) sour cream
  • 1/3 cup(s) mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon(s) hot sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon(s) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground coriander
  • 8 large tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cup(s) breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup(s) flour
  • 2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 cup(s) canola oil

  1. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, hot sauce, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, lime juice, and coriander. Refrigerate dip until ready to serve.
  2. Cut tomatillos into 1/4-inch-thick slices and set aside. In a shallow small bowl, beat eggs. In a shallow medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, flour, salt, and remaining cumin.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat canola oil. Working in batches, dip tomatillo slices in egg, then in breading; shake off excess. Repeat. Fry the slices until deep golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Serve immediately with reserved creamy cumin dip.

Now, this is the kind of thing I was looking for. I needed to get inspired by these little bundles that drew bees to my garden in droves all summer. I mean, these plants are huge tree-like things that spring from a tiny little plant in a very short period of time, and produce an astonishing amount of fruit. Even for a crazy Mexican food lover like me, that's a lot of green salsa. 

But it's one thing to find a recipe, it's another to make it fly. So I decided to whip up a batch of these. I had everything to make it, and there is no time like the tomatillo-laden present to try it. 

Well, I am here to tell you that fried tomatillos and dip are quite a remarkable treat. They keep their crispness nicely with a quick batter and fry, and dipped in the sauce, made with my husband's month-long fermented Louisiana style hot pepper sauce, was a delightful lemony-spicy treat. I ate the entire plate and texted my husband a photo with a caption of "WHO IS YOUR MOMMA?"

I am his momma. His tomatillo-frying momma. This recipe will become a household staple, because I am pretty sure we're going to bring one of those giant plants inside and have them ripening until January, simply because we're kind of food-crazy like that. 

So, stop by my house some night. I'll fry you a few. It'll taste like summer in Baja, where my friend lives, even if the snow is piled high by then and the garden long frozen over. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fall Garden and Mustard Greens with Dill, Lemon and Soy Sauce

I'm not sure how many people actually look for a weekly post here from me, but I consider my blurbs here a regular part of my CSA work duties.
Yesterday I fell short however. Maybe it's the colder weather, darker skies or the cuddliness qualities of  my dogs and cats. All these factors made me lazy last night after a very busy and long harvest day.
So cuddling on the couch with my best friends and a good book was just a wee bit too enticing.
So here I am now this morning. It's early...Mollie is still sleeping before her day begins, and I am sitting beside my woodstove with a few of my kitty cats stretched out in front of me, try to warm ourselves from the remnants of coals from last nights fire.

Yesterday was the coolest day we have had so far this fall, and I've had to move my veg washing station into my garage, which I know was built for that purpose and other vegetable duties because it has never housed a car.
Yes, it's cool. But here in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, we haven't had a frost yet. I suspect that will all change tonight though.
Tonight before the sun goes down I'll take my agricultural fabric and cover up the remaining tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in my hoophouses and hope for a few more weeks from them.

Tomatoes in November. That would make me happy.
There are still lots and lots of crops outside that will survive regardless of the chance of frost tonight and hereafter. The chance of continued rain really is the biggest threat, with the bottoms ends of some of my carrots starting to rot, and my beautiful little french breakfast radishes sitting in pools of water.
Sun please!
There's still so much to get done in the garden, but the rain is problematic for these chores. There's still more garlic to get planted and mulch, compost and hay to spread over the garden, trenching, tilling and harvesting. I've still got lots of dry beans to pick for seed and food too, but the dry beans are a little damp from all the wet weather.
Still in the garden and for the foreseeable future regardless of a frost are carrots, beets, celeriac, turnips, winter radishes, many varieties of kale, jerusalem artichokes, chard. collards, walking onions, sorrel and herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage and parley.

It always surprises me when I visit people I know and see their garden cleaned out and cleaned up for the next year's growing season. Poof-just like that things are gone. My garden is kind of like my house and that is never completely cleaned up. I try, I really do. That is, to keep the garden going. The house? Well that day will come, likely when my hair has a little more gray.
The baskets today contained squash, onions, garlic, beets, chard/mustard mix, salad greens, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, rosemary, thyme, parsley and basil. A good haul of good things from the fall garden.

If you want a great idea for your squash, stop in to visit my friend Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff. Her post today is for a delicious sounding Roasted Pumpkin Soup which you can find here. The acorn squash in your basket would be super duper for this.
When I make this soup tonight for supper, I'll substitute in vegetable stock and leave the bacon out of the topping for a nice veg soup. Sorry Karen, that's how I roll.

The following recipe is a good one for the mustard greens in your baskets. Add the chard as well, to good effect.
This recipe is from "Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook"

Mustard Greens with Dill, Lemon and Soy Sauce

3 cups vegetable stock
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup barley
1 med size onion
2 Tbsp safflower oil
1 lb mustard greens
1/2 tsp dill
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine stock and 2 tbsp of soy sauce in medium size saucepan.Add barley and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender.
In a large skillet, saute onions in oil until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add mustard greens, stir to mix, cover and gently seam for 15 minutes. Add dill, lemon juice, remaining soy sauce and season to taste. Cover and steam for 5-10 more minutes
Serve greens over barley. Serves 4-6 people.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Small Farmers Rant and CSA Week 4

The CSA shares I delivered today were in bags instead of the regular baskets because of a conversation I had with a neighbour of my St Catharines drop location last week.

I was so rattled and quite honestly annoyed, that I just high-tailed it out of there without even bothering to pick up the empty baskets that I needed to refill again today.

I hate justifying what I do, how much I charge and why it is worth it. To people who buy their food in the grocery store, discount store or wherever else and don't understand or care about fresh specialty produce or local farmers any conversation seems to be a lost cause. It is true, most people buy based on price and of course there is a reason for that.  Some people can barely afford any food.

But small farmers are not getting rich and laughing all the way to the bank, even when people can afford to pay reasonably well for food. Very little of our disposable income is allotted for food in this country. The expectation is that our food will be cheap. And it is-pricewise and often quality-wise too.

The conversation went like this:
"I'm just going to peek in the baskets to see what's  there....my friend is in a CSA and she got 2 dozen peaches for 3 weeks in a row....she can't eat all those peaches."
She sneaks her peek.
"There's not much in here and I don't even know what some of it is. What's this worth...$10 a week?"
I shake my head and tell her that no, it is not and that the food is a very good value in terms of price and quality.
"Where do you get it from?" she asks.
I tell her I grow it and she asks me again where I get it from. "I grow it" I repeat.  She still doesn't believe me because some things don't grow here and some things are out of season.

I'm starting to feel truly agitated, so I remove the baskets from my car and put them on the porch of my friend where they belong. Then I get the hell out of there, leaving the empty baskets I am supposed to pick up behind.

On the drive back home I'm thinking about what was in the baskets and trying to feel good about it all. But I don't. I feel crappy and tired from working so hard and I just wish people understood what it takes to grow food and try to survive as a small farmer.

I wish they understood the seed I buy and save. The organizations I am involved in to ensure I have access to some amazing varieties of seed. The costs I incur...tractor and equipment maintenance, water and greenhouse maintenance and repair, costs for soil supplements and mulching materials, deliveries, pots and trays for my plants, costs for help I have to hire, the hours I put into researching varieties and most of all...the hours of work I put into the gardens. Seldom a full day off, because I need to be here.

I say this not as a complaint but as my reality and the reality of many small farmers. I love, love, love what I do-but I definitely wish it was more lucrative. I believe that if people want good quality food and my job is to produce it, I should be paid a reasonable amount for my work.  But of course farming is different and the reality is that I can simply not live on the money I make doing this work. Money has to come from elsewhere as well. What I earn goes back into supporting the work I do so I can continue doing it. New tractor tires-check. New greenhouse plastic-check. That's how it is.
It is a year round job for me, even though I am not producing every single month of the year. I am always working towards when I will be producing. But I do not earn income every month of the year from farming. It's a crazy business model, isn't it?

I  believe there was superb value in your basket today- jerusalem artichokes, tomatoes, collards, carrots, sorrel, garlic, hot and sweet peppers, cape goose berries and a sprig of morelle de balbis, tomatillos, cut lettuce, broccoli florets. Hope you think so too.

And thank you for listening-reading.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harvest Pictures October 8th

The frost has stayed away and I'm grateful.
Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, apples, rosemary, sage, beets, lettuces, onions, mouse melons.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends and enjoy who and what you are grateful for.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Guest Post-Suzanne's Hot Pepper Adventures

By Suzanne Taylor, loyal CSA member, Grim City resident, and sassy foodie.

I can’t call Grimsby by its proper name anymore.

The local fry truck, tucked in behind the Dutch Shop, has the words ‘Grim City’ written in marker on it, and I cannot call Grimsby anything else. I like the sound of Grim City too much.  

I have even suggested to Tiffany Mayer of Eating Niagara that we should start a foraged fruit brewery, due to all the neglected neighbourhood fruit trees in the region, out here, and call it Grim City Hootch.

I think it has a certain ring to it, but Tiffany ain’t sold yet.

Anyway. Despite being in the bosom of the Niagara region and all its food riches, Grimsby’s culinary scene is a little...conservative just yet. It is mostly Dutch people here; a year after you’ve lived here, you will realize you can spell last names like Vanwoudenberg and Koorrneef without stumbling once.

You can get a mean smoked horsemeat sandwich at the Dutch Shop, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m glad I don’t tend to stop in IKEA’s food shops when I go there.

You can get a less….horsey...sandwich up the road at De La Terre Kitchen, which is an outstanding place. Or a Locke Street bakery bagel and a latte at the newly opened Station One coffee house, both of which delight me so much I want to clasp them to my bosom.

It’s early days and it is a growing community, and all I can do is my part to introduce my fellow Grimsberians to funky heirloom veggies, particularly hot peppers.

Now look, I love me some Linda Crago and Tree and Twig. I am a long-time veteran of everything she has grown for the past several years, and each week I gallop through the contents of my CSA like an expert. Leaf broccoli? Bring it on. Eggplants? Time for baked eggplant fries with za’tar and tahini dipping sauce. Ground cherries? By the handful.

And don’t even talk to me about tomatillos. We have thoroughly spanked this little vegetable into submission. We churn out vats of salsa verde from August through October, like a boss.

(By the way, if anyone has anything at all you can do with tomatillos that isn’t some version of salsa or sauce, please for the love of all things loveable tell us. I have scoured the internet, convinced that tomatillos cannot be a one trick pony, but the results are not very promising).

I work in the West Lincoln ER, and I’ve introduced all the staff to our salsa verde, done in our signature style. The other night we had the police in the department, and I offered one of the young male officers a taste of my husband’s self-named ‘bastard sauce’, and told him not to dip too much as it had a kick to it.

“What, do you think I’m a *****y?” he asked. (His words, not mine).

He dipped a big load of salsa onto his chip, bit onto it, and ran down the hall to the water station with tears in his eyes.

A little lesson from your friend the habanero pepper, Constable. Safety first.

So, I’ve conquered it all. But the hot pepper eludes me a bit. We have indeed used them for lots of salsa, but I needed to branch beyond sauces and salsas and so on. I needed to knock it out of the park with peppers in dishes.

Now, Linda Crago and her peppers have (literally) burned me before. I chopped up an Evil Little Purple Pepper that remains nameless that I carelessly bit into many years ago, and was rewarded with such a burning face, lips and tongue that I had to have a milk soak to make it stop. It took me some time to get back to being adventurous with hot peppers. I keep a stash of rubber gloves around for this purpose.

This summer I was determined to find things that weren’t sauce-type dishes to eat hot peppers in, and I think I’ve done it.  I have two excellent recipes for you, fair readers. We’ll start with the roasted poblano macaroni and cheese.

Firstly, this recipe is for the larger, thicker skinned hot peppers; the Anaheims, the poblanos, the hot cherry bombs. You need a thicker pepper skin to properly roast such a pepper, thinner skinned peppers just sort of turn into mush on your barbecue or under the broiler. If you don’t feel up to the hot pepper task for this recipe, you can substitute my very favourite pepper, the pimento pepper, which is the perfect roasting and eating pepper in my opinion.

Secondly, this recipe has at least a million variations. Use whatever peppers you prefer to roast, throw in some bacon, some chicken, some tofu, make a green chile crema instead of a cheese sauce, top with your favourite breadcrumbs, whatever you like. Anything goes with this dish. But, let’s all commit to being brave and using at least a few hotter peppers in the mix, shall we? You will be very pleased with this dish.

Roasted Poblano Mac and Cheese (from ohmyveggies.com)
  • 1-2 poblano peppers (use 1 if you want it a little bit milder)
  • 2 1/2 c. milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 5 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
  • 6 c. cooked whole-wheat elbow macaroni (about 3 c.dry)
  • oil mister or cooking spray
  • 1/2 c. panko
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (plus more, to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  1. Turn on broiler. Place poblano peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for about 10 minutes or until skin is blistered and starting to blacken, turning halfway through. Place peppers in zip-top bag for 5 minutes. Remove from bag and peel; discard stems, seeds and ribs. Chop peppers and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine milk and flour in a large saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 5-8 minutes, continuing to whisk frequently. Remove from heat. Add 4 ounces of cheddar cheese and 3 ounces of Monterrey jack cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in macaroni, poblano peppers, and salt to taste.
  3. Divide mac & cheese into 6 large ramekins or mini cocottes sprayed with oil or cooking spray (you can also use a casserole dish if you don't have ramekins). In a small bowl, stir together panko, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top ramekins with reserved cheese and then panko. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until panko is golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.


Now, for the smaller hot chiles you get in your basket, all those little finger like Thai-style chiles, that I mostly wind up drying or turning into salsa, here comes a fall recipe. Hot peppers keep on growing nicely through the fall months, right when the fall pumpkins and squash are coming on, and they keep pretty well on your counter for some time. This chicken, pumpkin and basil stir fry is a good way to use up a few of those chiles come October, as well as your basil plants, which if they are anything like mine this year are thriving. I got a nice pie-sized pumpkin, and used some of my spice and Thai basil plants, as well as some of the little red Thai-type chiles Linda gives me. Eight ingredients, some rice or noodles, and you have a lovely fall supper.

chicken and pumpkin stir-fry
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 small red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 4 chicken breast fillets, sliced
  • 600g pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
Heat the oil in a preheated frying pan or wok over medium to high heat. Add the onion, chilli and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Add the pumpkin and fish sauce, cover and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is just soft. Stir through the basil and serve with steamed jasmine rice. Serves 4.
So the hot pepper doesn’t have to be an object of fear, my friends, and it doesn’t have to be in a salsa or sauce, it doesn’t have to be in a curry you avoid at your local Thai or Indian restaurant, it isn’t just for people in Texas or Mexico City to make frightening hot sauces with. It can be easily incorporated into fun dishes that I bet you’d like, and if you keep a nice beer on hand and a few tissues, you are sure to enjoy it too. Befriend the hot pepper, my fellow Grimsberians; it loves you.

(By the way, for those Grim City residents who have an apple or a pear tree dropping fruit onto your lawn for the ants to eat, the local meat farm on Elm Tree Lane, Our Gate to Your Plate, will happily accept donations of windfall fruit for their pigs to eat; bag it up and drop it off at the farm!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall CSA Week 2 and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

I felt a bit sluggish when I got up today, and after the fog cleared from my head I remembered about my dying chicken.

This would be the day I would bury her.

I lost another girl just a week ago, and then yesterday this pretty girl was definitely not well. I separated her from the rest of the flock, dosed her water with antibiotic powder and hoped for the best.

When I passed along Mollie's toast crusts from breakfast she seemed to perk up. But alas. That was short lived. Last night before I went to bed I checked and she was breathing...but just barely.

I love my chickens, I really do, so this makes me quite sad. I love their chicken-ness, the clucking and squawking, scratching and the way they run when they believe I have a treat for them. I think they are far more clever than people give them credit for, and much more social too.

So bless you my dear soul. You will be missed.

The fall baskets still have a whole lot of summer in them because we haven't had a frost yet. Most of the tomatoes in the basket, including the gorgeous fluted "Gezhante Buhrurkeel" are from one of the hoophouses. The plants producing these tomatoes haven't been watered for quite a while, so they are sweet and delicious.

In addition to tomatoes, the peppers and eggplants have continued to produce, so they were in the baskets today as well. Broccoli florets, cape gooseberries, kales, basils, rosemary, carrots and jerusalem artichokes made an appearance as well.

I know that most of you will recognize the wonderfully knobby 'chokes, but I also know they are new for some of you. It is a bumper crop of them this year, thanks to all the rain we have had. They aren't actually artichokes or from Jerusalem, but are in fact in the sunflower family. In some jurisdictions they are considered noxious weeds, such is their growing habit. If you have grown them once, you probably will grow them for life.

They can be eaten raw, but cooking them may be a good idea, especially if you have company. Cooking reduces how gas-ey they can make you. Just a warning. (Fartichokes-tee hee!)

They do have a pleasant nutty taste, and are pretty versatile in the kitchen. They can be stir fried, roasted or mashed  but also make a great soup.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

2 celery stalks chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Saute celery stalks and onion in the olive oil in a soup pot until they are tender, but not browned. Add garlic and cook for an addition minute.
Add veg stock, then sliced chokes, and cook until the chokes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Blend until smooth with an immersion blender, salt and pepper to taste.