Friday, November 25, 2011

Homemade Butter

I guess it's kind of funny that after attending a Thanksgiving dinner with 11 new friends, the thing that I left most excited about was trying to make homemade butter.  My wife and I had the pleasure of going to Thanksgiving in Providence, where we met a lot of great new people.  There was a ton of food - too much to fit on the dinner table alone - so it spilled over to side tables.  Dotted among the dinner plates and platters on the table were small ramekins filled with butter, which I found out was homemade butter from our new friend Cobi - a pastry chef who works in Cambridge.  I was immediately intrigued and had to know more about homemade butter.  I've heard of people making butter before but I was never quite sure how difficult it was or anything.  Cobi's succinct answer convinced me that I needed to try it asap:  "you take a bunch of cream and you shake it."  It couldn't actually be that easy could it?  She gave me a few more instructional points, mostly related to when to salt and how to rinse it, but aside from that, it really is that easy.  I hurried to the store today to pick up some heavy cream and see what I could come up with.  I didn't even bother to look up a recipe - let's do it live.  The resulting butter was really smooth and tasted incredibly rich with a texture better than store bought butter.  It was also a relatively quick process, 30 minutes start to finish, including breaks for photos.  

Butter is a natural product of milk and has been a core component of cooking in cultures centered around herding for centuries.  Milk is comprised mostly of water, as well as proteins, fat globules, sugar in the form of lactose, and vitamins.  The fat globules are contained by a membrane that keeps them separate from the proteins, and when we make butter, we are basically just agitating the fat globules so much that the membranes rupture and the fats can stick to each other, resulting in 2 end products:  butter and buttermilk.  We use a high fat concentration of milk (cream) to make butter, which has its own interesting production process.  Fresh milk  (unpasteurized / non-homogenized) separates naturally when sitting at room temperature.  Fat rises to the top and can be skimmed off to create higher fat concentrations of milk, like half & half and cream.  

Homemade butter:
Yields ~6.5 oz butter

16 oz cold heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Pour your cream into a large container with a tight fitting lid (I used a quart mason jar).  Shake the shit out of it.

That's really it.  I'll spend the rest of this post talking about the breakdown of the "shaking the shit out of" process.

Before you really get going, chill a large amount of water - maybe a couple quarts worth.  You will use it to rinse your butter, and it has to be cold to keep the butter from melting.  Put it in the freezer to get it nice and cold while you shake and get your cardio in.

Total time to end up with butter:  30 minutes

At 17 minutes of shaking, I took a quick peek.  I found a very thick cream, it looked like overwhipped whipped cream.  You can start to see the  cream looking kind of granular - I think that is the separation of the fat from the proteins and water.

It got to the point where I was shaking but felt like nothing was happening - I could no longer hear sloshing or anything inside of the jar but I just kept going.  At 22 minutes, the globules broke and the separation began in full force.

Four minutes later at minute mark 26, I could clearly see butter formed surrounded by the buttermilk.  I continued shaking this for a few minutes.

I poured off the buttermilk through a fine mesh sieve into a separate jar.  I did this a few times to make sure that the cream had fully separated and I was no longer getting buttermilk.

At this point, I added some table salt and continued shaking for a minute or two to make sure that the salt was evenly distributed.  If you don't want salted butter you can just leave it out.  Pour in enough cold water to cover the butter and shake more.  Pour off the water and continue rinsing until the water runs clear.  We are removing all of the buttermilk still clinging to the butter.  After the water runs clear, go ahead and package your butter.  It will keep for a week in the fridge but you are better off freezing unused portions.

My final yields were 8½ oz buttermilk and 6.4 oz butter.

Coincidentally (or not), 6.4 (oz butter) /16 (starting oz of cream) = .4 and the concentration of heavy cream is defined as 36-44% fat.  So the logical side of me says that if you are targeting a specific yield of butter, multiplying the number of ounces that you are buying by .4 will give you a nice average estimate of how much butter you will end up with.  Part of me was hoping that I would find that homemade butter was somehow way cheaper than store-bought mass produced butter.  Trying to recall from my last visit to the store, I think that the average organic butter goes for about $4.50 lb.  6.4 oz of organic butter cost me about $3.50, so it is more expensive to make homemade butter, but you do get a better product and a bunch of buttermilk.  I'm not one to argue with more reasons to make homemade pancakes or waffles or even buttermilk fried chicken... so I'll take it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homemade Dashi

One of the things that I love about Japanese cooking is the simplicity that pervades every facet of it.  Most dishes, at their essence, start with a mix and match of just a handful of ingredients and are built from there.  Soy sauce, mirin, sake, dashi.  You will find a variation on this theme in most Japanese recipes.  I find it fascinating that an entire culture's food history is built on the shoulders of such simple ingredients.  The difference between peasant food and fine dining isn't so much in the ingredients but in the pursuit of perfection - honoring the ingredients in a flawless fashion.

This recipe is part one of two of a Japanese soup called Tonjiru - a hearty cold weather soup with pork and vegetables.  It's easy to make and it's perfect for cold nights in the fall.  I made the stock but didn't plan on using it immediately, so I froze it until I was ready to use it.

Dashi is a core ingredient in so many Japanese recipes, and it's a simple stock created from just three ingredients:  water, bonito flakes, and konbu seaweed.  The stock never boiled, it is treated more like a tea - you steep the ingredients in hot water for a period of time and then strain the stock when most of the flavor has been extracted from the ingredients (prolonged steeping will result in off-flavors).

To me, the most fascinating thing about this stock is the bonito.  Shredded bonito (katsuobushi) goes through a really interesting preservation process.  It starts with skipjack tuna, which is boiled in salt water and then smoked every day for a 2 week or longer period.  It is then inoculated with a strain of mold and left to ferment for another 2 week period, then sun-dried before mold removal.  This fermentation step is performed three or four times, over a several month long period, resulting in meat that is hard and dense and supposedly sounds like wood when struck.  When complete, the fish is shredded and bagged and ready for whatever application - be it soup stock or as a topping for okonomiyaki or anything else.  Maybe if I can find myself a whole skipjack tuna I'll try the preservation process, but until then I'll probably continue buying nicely packaged bonito flakes.  The package that I have pictured here actually is a mix of bonito and mackerel - it was a suggestion of the nice girl helping me at the Japanese market, who said that she preferred the mix to just straight bonito.  I'll be honest, I don't know if I would be able to tell the difference in the final stock either way, but I decided to take her advice.

Homemade Dashi

1 3x6" piece of konbu
2 handfuls katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
8 c water

Start with cold water, and do yourself a favor and start with purified water.  With such a simple stock, the quality of the water has significant effect on the final results.  I have read that you can score the konbu with a knife prior to placing in the water in order to more quickly penetrate the flavors of the seaweed but I'm not sure how I feel about that - you're basically trying to score something that is as tough as a piece of hardwood and the threshold between pressing hard enough to score and breaking the seaweed is small.

Place the konbu in the cold water and heat the water over medium heat until it just begins to simmer.

Turn off the heat and allow the konbu to steep for 12 minutes.  Bring the water back to a simmer and turn the heat off again, adding 2 handfuls of the katsuobushi this time.  Cover the pot and let the ingredients steep for another 7 minutes.

Strain your stock and you are done!  I portioned mine into plastic containers to be frozen for when I make tonjiru.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Corned Beef Tongue

Finally we are back into what feels like a normal routine.  We are mostly unpacked and things feel like they are settling down after what felt like forever in limbo as we transitioned from Raleigh to Boston.  In reality, it has only been a month and 2 weeks since we decided to accept the job offer that would move us from the southeast to New England.  First post in a new place and I have to say I am excited about it.  First, I'd like to tell you a little story about this beef tongue.

Sometime maybe a couple of months ago, I was at the Raleigh State Farmer's Market, and I saw that one of the farmers who sell meat had whole beef tongues for sale.  I love beef tongue.  If I see it on a menu, I have a hard time not ordering it.  It was first introduced to me by a Guadalajara-born friend in Los Angeles.  "You gotta try the lengua man, it melts in your mouth" he would say when we brought up mexican food, but I was timid and didn't work up the guts to try it until I lived in Chicago.  For as much as I have come to love it, I had yet to cook it at home, so when I saw it at the farmer's market, my heartrate went up and I felt like I couldn't pass it by.  I brought it home and immediately stashed it in the freezer until I could find something to do with it.  For one reason or another, I just never got around to cooking it in Raleigh.  I was able to get rid of all of my other freezer meat before we moved - either by grinding it or just finding a way to make use of it.  Everything except this tongue.  So when we started planning our move and what would go with us in the car, I thought I'd make a brilliant suggestion to throw the tongue in the cooler that was going in the car with us.  Since it was like 3 pounds and frozen, it almost single handedly kept everything in the cooler cold for the 14+ hour drive from Raleigh to Boston.  When we got to Boston, it went straight back into the freezer until I could come up with something to do with it.  My first obvious inclination was to make tacos de lengua - my favorite style of taco.  But after looking at recipes, I just wasn't all that inspired.  I continued to peruse my blogs until I found a posting by 4505 Meats founder Ryan Farr.  I first became interested in 4505 as a blog because of the in-depth postings that Ryan would make related to butchery.  He offers classes in whole animal butchery, which I would love to take some day.  Some of the processes are documented in photo blog format, and Ryan also recently released a book about butchery.  I haven't picked the book up, but it looks to be a must have.  Largely illustrative, it looks to demystify some of my questions about butchery and how the process works.  Ryan's corned beef tongue didn't come with a recipe, so I manufactured my own, but I think that it is largely in the spirit of his corned beef tongue, and it was absolutely amazing.

Corned Beef Tongue
(inspired by Ryan Farr, 4505 Meats)

1 beef tongue
1 head of garlic
1 large chunk of ginger (3-4 oz), peeled
10 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
1 whole onion, peeled and halved
1 c soy sauce
1 32 oz box chicken stock (optional)
1 box kosher salt
Pink salt (aka Instacure #1 , DQ curing salt) (optional)

Tongue ready to cure

I just wanted to show the fatty end.  Look at that lovely marbling.

Start by rinsing your tongue and patting it dry.  Place it in a container and cover it with salt.  If you would like to use pink salt, feel free.  I used it because I wanted the reddish color that pink salt imparts as it cures, but it is certainly not necessary.  If you do use it, mix the kosher salt and the pink salt in a separate container before covering the tongue.  Cover the tongue in salt and cover the container.  Refrigerate for a week.  I flipped the tongue every other day to ensure that it cured evenly, and I added more salt halfway through to keep the tongue well salted.  

Remove the tongue from the salt and rinse well.  Prep the rest of the ingredients by cutting the garlic head in half, having the onion and removing the outer layer, and peeling and cutting the ginger into large 2" chunks.  Place the tongue in a stockpot and add the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, thyme, and Sriracha.  

Cover the tongue with either water or chicken stock.  I had some chicken stock in the fridge, so I used about 16 oz of chicken stock and water for the rest of it.  Fill the pot until the tongue is covered and then bring to a simmer on the stove.  Cover the pot and simmer the tongue for 3-4 hours.

When the tongue is cooked through, take the lid off and cool the stock.  I wanted to speed up this process because I was hungry, so I set the tongue aside, strained the broth, and set up an ice bath.  I cooled the stock rapidly by putting it in a mixing bowl in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.  I then put the stock back into the stock pot and put the tongue back into the strained broth.  Otherwise you could just let the stock sit on the stove until it cools.   
Braised and ready to clean

After the tongue has cooled, you have to remove the outer layer.  This is maybe a little gross.  Make a clean very shallow cut down the center of the tongue.  Use your fingers to pull the outer layer of the tongue away from the meat.  Do this for the entire outer layer.

Better idea of how thick the outer layer is
 Slice the tongue into ¼-½" slices.  If you do not plan on using the tongue immediately, place it back in the stock in a storage container and refrigerate it until you are ready.

When you are ready to eat the tongue, simply heat up a frying pan, add a little oil, and sear the tongue until brown on both sides.

To serve, I made a quick sauce of mayo, sriracha, salt, pepper, worchestershire sauce, and horseradish and made a sandwich of the mayo, corned beef, and greens on italian bread.   To be honest, I feel like I maybe wimped out on the sandwich because I had swiss chard in the fridge that I wanted to blanch and dress in a lemon vinaigrette, but when it came down to it, I was hungry and it was time for football so I settled for the mixed greens.  It doesn't take anything away from the awesomeness of the tongue though.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Boston

Another month, another lack of posts from me.  Again I have to apologize but once again real life got in the way of blogging.  This time it's a big change - I recently accepted a new job and will be moving to Boston!  My wife and I have been frantically throwing our lives into boxes, saying goodbye to friends made in North Carolina, and preparing to move to a city that we know next to nothing about.  It's exciting and scary all at once, and as with any big life change, it doesn't come without sacrifices.  Of course, the good will hopefully outweigh the bad in time, and the prospect of exploring a new city (and its food) is very exciting.

In Boston, we will be living in the Medford area - our immediate neighborhood seems very Italian, something that I am excited about after living in the Bloomfield area of Pittsburgh for a couple of years.  I'm looking forward to the little markets and all the possibilities that lie within.  I'm also looking forward to the fall and trips to Maine involving lobster rolls and beer at Allagash brewery.

I need to keep this short because the computer is the last thing to be packed... so, another city, another exploration, another opportunity for me to learn more about cooking... let's see where this takes us...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vacation to Southwest VA: Town House / Riverstead

As a personal rule, I have avoided being a restaurant blogger here.  I love seeing what restaurants do but I find some more satisfaction in writing about things that I have some control over rather than just consumption. It's a nice rule and all, and I plan to adhere mostly to it for the rest of the life of this blog, but rules are meant to be broken and today is the day that I break that rule.  My wife and I celebrated our first anniversary this past weekend and decided to take the opportunity to go to one of the best restaurants in the southeast:  Town House, in Chilhowie, Virginia.  Started by ex-Alinea and Charlie Trotter's chef John B. Shields and his wife, Karen Urie Shields, Town House took fine dining from Chicago to rural southwest Virginia and turned Chilhowie into a dining destination.  In addition to having the restaurant, they have also renovated a two-bedroom house, given the namesake "Riverstead," within 5 miles of the restaurant where diners can stay for the night and enjoy some peace and quiet in the mountains after dinner.  My wife and I decided to go for the whole package - we did a 10 course tasting, wine pairings from sommelier Charlie Berg, and stayed at Riverstead for the night, followed up by hiking in the nearby Appalachian Trail thoroughfare park Grayson Highlands State Park.  All in all it was an amazing weekend:  the food was fantastic, the wine paired perfectly, the staff was friendly, the house was amazing, and the scenery was incredible.

One quick note:  I'm going to mention the pairings but the truth is that I am not too knowledgable about wine so forgive me for my ignorance there.

The exterior of Riverstead - a 2 bedroom guest house owned by Town House
Upon arrival at Riverstead, we were greeted by homemade snacks:  local cheeses (front cheese was a soft cow's milk cheese and the back was a harder veined kinda blue cheese), homemade crackers, and a slightly spicy candied nut mix

Exterior of the restaurant.  When staying at Riverstead, they provide car service in the BMW.  High Rollerzzzz!

Menu for the evening:  we opted for the 10 course.  Go big or go home.

Amuse bouche:  Oyster leaves dipped in clam juice

Paired with a prosecco to wake things up.

Flowers:  I took less than desirable notes but I believe that the sauce was an artichoke puree

This course and the next course were paired with a flower infused sake that was truly amazing and a Chardonnay from Lebanon.

"Gazpacho" of summers foliage:  green tomato on the bottom with pickled coriander seeds, shiso leaves, green bean leaves, zucchini

Barbequed Eggplant:  smoked mussel "ash", black garlic, mussels, lemon, and basil.  The ash was frozen and then shaved to make almost like mussel 'snow' or something.  The sweetness of the black garlic with the smokyness of the mussel ash and the eggplant balanced perfectly.

Sweet Corn, Chicken, Lovage:  corn silk on top, chicken liver on the bottom, crispy chicken skin, sweet corn, lovage puree, and chicken reduction around the edges.

Paired with a sweet Sauterne

I mentioned that I don't do this restaurant blog thing often right?  Well this is my first major fuckup and I'm really upset about it.  This WAS Dungeness Crab in Brown Butter and Butter Whey.  The picture is awful and I almost didn't want to post it but I want to acknowledge the existence of this awesome dish.  Charred onions, shellfish cream, lime, seared bay scallops, and reduced pork stock.

Paired with a really dry Sherry.  I'm going to fuck this up but it was marked with a crosshatch, denoting (I think) a naturally occuring process in the fermentation which results in an incredibly dry Sherry.

Turbot cooked in its own juice and cream:  I loved this dish.  Potentially my favorite.  Crispy turbot skin on top, crispy pork, shaved bonito, turbot broth infused with geranium.

Beef Cheek and Tongue... Pastoral:  "essence" of hay and grass broth, beef tongue, milk "skin", horseradish, grasses.  This was probably the most interesting dish - the grass broth was notably grassy but not overpowering and it went well with the beef.  Interestingly, there was no acid in the dish - the balance came from the milk skin, which had a tangy kind of buttermilk taste to it.  This one made me wonder how the hell they came up with it - really amazing.

Lamb Shoulder and Wild Blueberries:  licorice glaze, barbecued beets, black malt powder.  Served on a black plate and with the patent leather shine on the glaze, this was one of the more visually arresting dishes.  Also delicious.

Paired with a nice Syrah

Canteloupe and Toasted Farro:  Shaved carrots, sassafras ice cream, turmeric root (I think in the broth), tonka beans.  This was definitely the most polarizing dish at our table.  My wife didn't care for it.  I didn't know what to think of it at first, then I hit the canteloupe - which was actually under the ice cream.  The farro was very al dente, it provided a lot of crunch.  The ice cream was not very sweet, and all the sweetness in the dish came from the ripe canteloupe underneath.  At first I didn't think I liked it but once I hit the canteloupe, I became a believer.

Broken Marshmallows, Whipped Cream, Green Strawberries, Flowers, Cucumber:  this dish was also interesting.  The green strawberries almost had a salty note to them in their unripeness.  The cucumbers were made into a sorbet which balanced pretty well with the marshmallows. 

Closing with some frozen macaroons with kefir lime zest on top.  These were pretty amazing.  I am pretty sure the macaroons involved sesame in some way, and they were crispy and frozen (presumably with liquid nitrogen).  It was fun to eat them and then blow smoke.

Breakfast the following morning:  coffee, fresh orange juice, granola, a soft boiled egg (holy fuck I need to get into soft boiled eggs), blueberry corn muffins, fresh fruit and yogurt.  It was simple but it really was delicious.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tomato, Mint, Pumpkin Seed and Pea Salad

One of the nice problems to have with my garden is that it is currently producing more tomatoes than I know what to do with.  This week alone, I collected probably 2 quarts of tomatoes!  Needless to say, I ate tomatoes almost every single day this week and still had so many left this weekend that I didn't know what to do with them.  Apparently my plants don't care that it is over 100º outside, they want to ripen and nothing is going to stop them.  Ripe on tomatoes.

Last night, my wife and I decided to go with one of our favorite dinners, called "snacks for dinner."  At its core, it's a fridge cleaning dinner.  We usually have some cheese in the fridge, so generally snacks for dinner consists of sliced baguette, cheese, some sort of cured meat, some sort of salad, and maybe a couple other wildcard side dishes, and always wine.  It's basically just small plates but we try to put as little effort into dinner as possible.  Seeing that we had enough tomatoes to feed a small country, I decided to put together a tomato salad.  I complimented it with leftover frozen peas, mint from the garden, leeks, pumpkin seeds for crunch, and a vinaigrette.  It turned out great so I wanted to post it here.  If you need something nice and bright to keep you going through this abysmal heat, this is it.

Juliet and Cherokee Purple tomatoes

Cherokee Purples

Tomato, Mint, and Pea Salad
1 large leek, washed, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼" thick
1 lb tomatoes (grape or cherry or even roma)
¼ c toasted pumpkin seeds
1 c frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
1/4 c canola oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c mint
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Start by heating up a frying or saute pan over med heat.  Clean and slice the leek.  Add the butter and the leeks and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring often.  Don't let the leeks brown, you want them to kind of melt.  If they begin to brown, turn the heat down some.

While the leeks are sauteeing,slice your tomatoes into ¼" coins, widthwise, and add to a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, and mint.  Toss well to mix the ingredients.

When the leeks are soft and melty looking, turn the heat off but leave the pan on the burner.  Add your frozen peas directly to the pan and stir well.  Basically we want to thaw the peas but not cook them so we will just use the residual heat in the pan to do the defrosting for us.  Adding the peas here also helps cool the leeks quicker - we don't want to add hot leeks straight to our salad, we want them to cool until warm or even room temperature before adding them.  When your leek/pea mixture has cooled, add it to the tomato mixture and toss well to combine.  Add the pumpkin seeds at the very end for a little toasty nutty crunchiness.  They really tie the room together.

That's all there is to it!  You now have a nice sweetly acidic salad that you can do almost anything with - serve it alone, on toast, garnish some nice halibut, it goes with almost anything.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Garden Update: Blowing Up

I'm alive!  Sometimes real life gets in the way of this crazy   My garden has persisted during my internet vanishing act though, and I have some tales to tell.

My general treatment of the garden has been simple:  fertilize once a month using GardenTone fertilizer:  loosen up soil 2-3" from the base of plants and sprinkle fertilizer on top.  Work it into the soil and water really well for the first time.  Daily treatment involves just weeding, watering when the soil is dry (it's been so hot, I have had to water nearly every day).

My tomatoes have easily evolved into the most successful thing in my garden.  Despite weeks of 90º+ temperatures and very little rain until just recently, everything has survived, but some things seem happier than others.  Garden genius Mike next door told me that my tomato plants would slow down when the temperatures got above 90, but these tomato plants must have been determined.  They are now officially taller than me, that's 6' tall.  If you recall from my garden setup post, I have a mix of stakes and tomato cages in the garden.  Most of the stakes that I had were about 3' tall, as were the cages.  A couple of smaller stakes I had to replace with full-size 6' stakes, and I am so glad that I did.  The 6' stakes are easily the most effective guiding device in the garden.  Next time that I plant tomatoes I am only using them.  They are like $2 at the store, they last for years, and they are incredibly stable.  The plants have gotten top-heavy in their maturity, which caused multiple cages to start to pull out of the ground.  I currently have a crazy ass tying setup in the works:  plants which overgrew their small stakes tied to cages which are tied to big stakes.  Basically everything is only standing right now because I have 2 tall stakes that everything is tied to!

The Juliet and Cherry tomatoes are producing massive amounts of fruit, they also began to ripen this week.  I had my first very ripe Cherry tomato the other day:  I was out after a rainstorm cleaning up the garden, making sure everything was in order, and I decided to go ahead and eat it right off the vine.  Still wet from the rain, still warm from the sun, actually really ripe instead of ethylene-expedited... you can talk all you want about organic local farm fresh ingredients but it still doesn't compare to doing it yourself.

The tomato forest

Juliet tomatoes - they are like small Roma's in taste and structure

Backside of the forest and some ripe Juliets

Unripened Cherokee Purples

Garden genius Mike gave me one tip that I wanted to share about tomato plants:  The ability to grow new plants from the currently existing ones.  I was going to write up a quick instructional thing but another blog has done it well (with pictures!) so I'm just going to pull a lazy link here.  You can see on tomato plants that they eventually split these middle shoots from the main vine.  They will eventually blossom, but they can lead to the main steam weakening and also pull nutrients from fruit on the vine, so Mike suggested pruning them.  What's neat about the process is that you can plant these shoots into regular soil and they will grow roots and become new plants.  Luckily, in North Carolina, we can actually have 2 planting seasons, so when my current plants are done (if ever, just look at those monsters), I can plant these shoots and have a new batch of plants already up and coming.  Here are the instructions for pinching shoots:

In other garden news, the radishes are done already!  Neighbor Bruce said they were incredibly spicy - I have not had the privilege of trying them yet, but I suspect that we left them in the ground too long, increasing their spicyness.

The okra seems happy although it has not produced any blossoms yet.  It's an incredibly interesting plant:  at one point, I thought it was dying because leaves were falling off and the leaves and stem were covered in these small water globules.  I assumed they were insect eggs or something, but it turns out it's a natural defense mechanism for the plant that occurs on the stems and undersides of the leaves.  Fascinating!  Also, while the plant grows, it kind of 'molts' it's smaller leaves, so it's apparently not uncommon for it to continuously lose leaves as it grows.  I'm curious to see how it blossoms and how the blossoms differ from the regular growth pattern of the plant.  This is my most experimental plant, easily.

My Black Eyed Peas and Kentucky Blue Pole Beans are moving right along.  The pole beans are more aggressive than the Black Eyed Peas and have produced more pods to date.  The Black Eyed Peas are more lush though, and they seem overall happier.  Both plants seem to have struggled climbing the trellis - the ones on the outside near the support stakes happily climbed the stakes and are the tallest vines in the garden.  The ones in the middle seem to have stunted a bit because they couldn't climb the trellis that was there despite me trying daily to help guide them along (even tying them so they stay fixed in place and don't blow off the trellis).  I think that perhaps I will have to have more regular rungs in the trellis next time that I build it.. Right now they are spaced at about 6".

Lastly, a quick shot of the rest of the garden:  my arugula (middle) is doing great.  Beets are ok but seem to be having a more difficult time, perhaps they are getting too much direct sunlight.  In the front of this shot is a row of carrots.  Considering our raised bed is only about 4" deep, I'm very curious to see how these guys turn out.  I hope there's something there to eat!