"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

THE GARDEN GOURMET-- November 2008

Well, here it is . . . November . . . and most of our gardens have gone through frost-killing nights. That spells “FINISH” for our summer efforts . . . but not the end of work. 

Some of the plants that gave up your favorite foods during the summer months will be taken care of by the cold -- just disc or turn them into the soil in any manner. But, if you have a drop of tidy blood in your veins, others (like cornstalks, tomato plants, and eggplant plants) should be removed. 

Tomato plants and eggplant are “berries” from the same family (nightshade) and both have very strong and sturdy stem and root systems. Thus, it is good to remove the stem and as much root system as possible, rather than depending on tillage to turn them into the biomass. I do this with a garden shovel to loosen up the roots, and cast both plants and roots aside or burn them later. 

The dried up cornstalks are equally as strong, and must be removed in much the same manner. 

Various pepper plants are from the same family of deep rooters, so it might be just as well to include them in this program. Most weeds are shallow rooted, but very consistent from seed. 

Turn dead plants back into the soil to biodegrade through the winter, but it is best to burn dead weeds (with seed) away from garden plots. A destroyed seed won’t germinate in your next garden. 

SPICY TIP -- If you are not sure how much of a spice you should shake into a dish, don’t shake it in. Instead, shake what you think the dish needs into the palm of your hand; then in small pinches zap it into your dish. Between zaps give your dish the taste test . . . remembering that more cooking (or even simmering) may increase the tastibility of the spice. Guard against over spicing . . . especially salt and pepper. 

ONE MORE PAW-PAW -- I have written and been exposed to so much on paw-paws recently, that I hesitate (but only hesitate briefly) to burden readers of this page with my recipe for Paw-paw Cream Pie. 

Based on Katherine Keith’s recipe for “Pumpkin Cream Pie,” I must admit that my paw-paw number is much the same. Suffice it to say they are closely related. 

In any event, my recipe for paw-paw cream uses about the same ingredients, except for the cinnamon. They are: 
one cup of cold milk and a smidgen more (if you feel more milk is necessary, just add it slowly), 
one cup paw-paw pulp, 
one tub of Cool Whip, 
half a teaspoon of cinnamon (this, too, can be increased slightly, but be cautious with it), and one large box of Jello instant vanilla pudding. 

Before you start mixing the ingredients, you should have one baked nine-inch pie shell. It is best to have it cold. 

Mix all but the instant pudding at your leisure. Then, when you are ready to finish, stir in the instant pudding for a minute or two (I do this with a wisk, but a fork will work), and immediately pour into pie shell. The pie sets up fast when refrigerated. Be sure the ingredients are well mixed. 

Note: I have found that a graham cracker crust gives the pie a bit of added zing. 

Note to My Readers: I have been trying to get persimmon pulp merchants to add paw-paw pulp to their line of products, but have met with no success. Any news on such projected activities would be welcome in this space. 

PUMPKIN QUESTION -- Will pumpkins that have started to turn ripe continue to ripen (change color) if they are harvested and allowed to sit at room temperature? 

ANSWER -- This requires a bit of patience, but if the pumpkin is starting to change color, the process will continue to turn ripe. After the pumpkin has turned color ripe outside, allow it to ripen a few more days to make sure the inside has caught up with the outside. 

I cannot vouch for pumpkins that are totally green, but the odds are that they will ripen if the vines have died. They may even ripen in outside situations. My experiments tend to support the thinking that vines are key elements in ripening.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

pie2.JPG (37012 bytes) The paw-paw cream pie is enough to make one a fan of this wild fruit. 

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All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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