AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Native Cantabrigian Mesclun DATE: 11/14/2008 08:28:00 AM ----- BODY:
When I tell people my lettuce crop is in full swing in November, they are usually surprised. Most people think of lettuces as a summer crop (maybe spring?). In fact, lettuces prefer the cooler weather. In the summer, they get bitter and bolt – the stalks spring up woody and the plant starts to flower and go to seed. In the cool weather they are sweet and a little spicy. The plants can survive a frost and even a light dusting of snow.

These lettuces fall into the “cut and come again” category. If you harvest properly, about 2 – 3 inches above the root, they will keep growing all season. While I don’t typically pick the lettuce in advance, sometimes I will harvest over a few days so that I have enough for a larger gathering. Each day, I pick only the biggest leaves, and the others keep growing. Unlike store-bought lettuces, my backyard lettuce lasts an impressive 10 days in the refrigerator – no need to worry about picking lettuces a few days in advance. Even better, they can last over night after they've already been dressed. This comes in handy if you pre-make sandwiches for lunch or dress too much salad for a dinner and want to eat it the next day.

I’m growing three types of lettuce for my Mesclun mix:



Portobello and Mesclun Salad

3 portobellos
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 shallot, diced
2 sprigs of thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound mesclun
2 tablespoons truffle oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put portobellos on a baking sheet, fins up. Sprinkle garlic, shallots and thyme on top. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinergar on them and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until they are tender. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. When mushrooms are cooled, slice them. Toss lettuce first with truffle oil. Then season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top with mushrooms and parmesan cheese.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Ellie from Kitchen Caravan DATE:11/14/2008 12:39:00 PM We planted mixed greens Labor Day weekend and are still able to snip a few leaves from the same plants. They're getting a little tall at this point, so with a warm spell on the way, I may try plant a few more. No way will I tare out the old plants though - each leaf has been absolutely delicious! We're going to enjoy them till the very end. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous soulchocolate DATE:11/14/2008 07:18:00 PM I love the idea of growing your own lettuce. Something homemade from scratch is always the best, no question about that! I love your blog name too; it's everything that I will possibly ever need in my life LOL. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:11/14/2008 08:30:00 PM I think your garden has the perfect set-up for fall crops -- somewhat protected from the cold and wind, but still sunny. I'm so jealous of your beautiful harvest! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener DATE:11/14/2008 09:23:00 PM I am with you. Salad greens do so much better in our climes in the fall. I have been eating fresh mesclun in huge quantities for weeks now (it's on the menu once a day - sometimes twice)... and hopefully will continue to do until a really hard frost - maybe in early December? after that, I should still be able to get a couple of salads every weeks.

Tatsoi and Mizuna are good in stir-fries too.

Sylvie ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous helena DATE:11/15/2008 09:27:00 AM Except for the tongue thing (my grandmother used to make it very well, but frankly it makes me turn instantly pale at the thought, let alone the sight), I'm so inspired by your blog! Wisdom, food, yummy recipes, great talk about growing veges all rolled into one. I'm in heaven! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Joanna DATE:11/15/2008 09:48:00 AM this is a really nice mix of lettuce. i've never heard of the first, too, but fresh is always best!!! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:11/15/2008 02:44:00 PM Ellie, lucky you to be able to plant another wave of lettuces. I hope, for your sake, the weather holds.

soulchocolate, Homegrown is always best! You have a great name, too :)

Lydia, the garden isn't actually very sunny in the fall... the sun is too low in the sky. But somehow the lettuces manage.

Slyvie, It is wonderful!

helena, Thanks for visiting! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog!

Joanna, I bet if you picked through the commercial mizuna from the grocery store you would find all these and more. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger nibblescribbler DATE:11/15/2008 03:48:00 PM Mmm yum, what a scrummy salad all of that would make. Will have to think of some 'leaf-related' questions to ask you as you're obviously a maestro.

Your classes sound fabulous, I only wish I was in the states to sample them. One day!

But what I liked THE MOST was Random Apps of Kindness. I'm already a big fan of random ACTS, but what better way of making someone smile than through food. You've inspired me. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:11/16/2008 04:19:00 PM nibblescribbles, Thanks for visiting! You should trying random apping! It's surprisingly fun. Well worth the cost of admission. ----- --------