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November 2011

End of Summer - Roselle and Malabar Spinach

Roselle zen sm

It's supposed to dip down into the 30s tomorrow night, with a possibility of frost that will put an end to a couple of summer survivors: roselle and Malabar spinach.

We harvested a basketful of roselle last weekend and dried it in a borrowed dehydrator. Roselle - also called Jamaica sorrel is a relative of hibiscus, okra, cotton, and responsible for the red zing in "Red Zinger" tea. A basketful created a jar of dried calyxes for making a beautiful vitamin-C-ful tea during winter with some hopefully left over for authentic Jamaica for the Christmas season (the one with rum). 

Roselle sepals sm
A friend brought by bags full of Malabar Spinach - a heat-hardy climbing vine that is not related to spinach at all. It has many of the same nutrients though and is a good source of calcium and iron as well as Vitamins A and C. And IT GROWS IN THE SUMMER in north Florida, which makes me want to love it in spite of its slightly mucilaginous quality. In fact, I really do like it more each time I try it.

And, let me repeat: IT GROWS IN THE SUMMER. 

Malabar spinach
We served it at the cafe this week in quiche, and folks really liked it. We also added it to some newly-harvested lettuce in salad.  I blanched and froze three gallons of it, which will be greening up soups and casseroles for months to come. 

Goodbye summer! 

{malibar spinach photo found here - with more info about this glorious summer vegetable}

Hope is one of our duties

Floating paper crane sm
It is not possible to look at the present condition of our land and people and find support for optimism. We must not fool ourselves.

It is altogether conceivable that we may go right along with this business of "business," with our curious religious faith in technological progress, with our glorification of our own greed and violence always rationalized by our indignation at the greed and violence of others, until our land, our world, and ourselves are utterly destroyed. We know from history that massive human failure is possible....

On the other hand, we want to be hopeful, and hope is one of our duties. A part of our obligation to our own being and to our descendants is to study our life and our condition, searching always for the authentic underpinnings of hope. And if we look, these underpinnings can still be found.

- Wendell Berry in Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community


Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup sm
I love this fall soup. This is actually the third pumpkin soup recipe we've published (see Spunky Punkin and Summer Pumpkin for more ideas). Seminole pumpkins are one of the powerhouse vegetables we grow here - extremely prolific, they grow in the heat when little else does, are packed with vitamins, and are somewhat dense calorie-wise. One of those things we would grow (and eat) a lot of if we were relying on our garden for sustenance. This version is quite spicy.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • one large onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper
  • one tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • six cups of chopped, roasted pumpkin (roasting instructions here)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • salt to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is transculent. Add spices and stir around for a moment more. Add pumpkin and broth, bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Transfer soup in batches to a blender and blend till smooth. Add sugar and milk, adjust seasonings. Do not boil again after milk has been added. Serve with a sprinkle of chives.