This year, I am spending the holiday with my family up at Skylands, my home in Seal Harbor, Maine. Before I left, I asked my head gardener, Ryan McCallister, to harvest a selection of vegetables from the garden. The vegetable garden continues to thrive with an abundance of root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips and one of my favorites, celeriac. We will enjoy a traditional feast with all the trimmings and a host of delicious fresh vegetables from the farm - I can't wait.
I wish you all a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.
It is a windy 38-degrees Fahrenheit, but the root crops are doing wonderfully in my vegetable garden. Here’s Ryan at the fennel bed.
Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible.
Good quality fennel will have bulbs that are clean, firm and solid, without signs of splitting, bruising or spotting. The bulbs should be whitish or pale green in color.
Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct flavor. When cooked, they taste very delicate, like a mild onion but with a hint of sweetness.
Two thirds of their length is white and firm, and this is the part that is mainly eaten. The rest of the third is made up of the leaves or flags, most of which are discarded.
Since the ground was slightly frozen, Ryan loosened the soil with a garden fork.
It was then very easy to pull out the beautiful parsnips growing underneath.
Look at all these amazing parsnips. The long, tuberous root has cream-colored skin and flesh. And, when left in the ground to mature, parsnips become sweeter in flavor after winter frosts.
Ryan moves to a bed of celeriac, a variety of celery cultivated for its edible roots.
Celeriac is knobby and gnarly and may not look too attractive, but its flavor is superb. I love pureed celeriac soup this time of year.
Fresh carrots, like these, are vivid in color and taste – a real joy to eat, or drink as juice.
Ryan picked both orange and purple carrots – carrots also come in red, yellow, and white varieties.
These are turnips – round, tuborous roots grown as one of the cool-season vegetables.
Ryan also harvested a trug bucket full of parsley.
And one of my favorites – kale.
Ryan picked the kale last because leafy vegetables tend to wilt quickly.
I have a couple different varieties of kale growing in this garden – kale is so delicious.
All the newly picked vegetables were brought to the flower room where Laura and Sanu could wash and bag them for my trip to Maine.
Everything is rinsed thoroughly in cool water.
These turnips are so beautiful.
Here are the crisp leafy kale leaves.
The parsnips are beautiful and especially sweet this season!
All the carrots are placed in a tub of water to loosen the dirt.
Here are the carrots, all nicely washed.
Laura holds one of the large leeks, ready to be washed. Thorough washing is very important for leeks, as soil is often trapped between the many layers of leaves.
Laura trims off the base, and cuts away the uppermost part of the leaves.
The edible part of the plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes called a stem or stalk.
Once everything is washed and dried, the vegetables are then stored in the refrigerator until they’re packed up for Maine. I can’t wait. I wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.