the song: "In the Meantime" Space Hog (ha- remember Space Hog?)
Guess what I did last week? Remember how I told you about my wild winter garden a few weeks back? Well, I neglected to tell you about my artichoke jungle. This artichoke plant is taking up a huge amount of space in my little raised beds, but I just love the look of it. Kind of prehistoric, don't you think?
I cleared out my garden for summer planting on Easter Sunday, mercilessly pulling bolted broccoli and non-producing brussels to make way for eggplant and jalapeno babies. The artichoke plant continued to stand tall, taking up more than its allotted square foot of space. I'm much less into the neat and tidy gardening style I started with. A plant's gotta do what a plant's gotta do. Still, this artichoke is a space hog. I knew about the one big artichoke right in the center, but when I looked I counted 4 more baby chokes surrounding it. The dinosaur plant was still producing, so she got to stay. And a few days later, I harvested our first artichoke.
I was totally mystified by this artichoke, especially as I began to research how to cook it. What an interesting and intimidating vegetable. I mean, it's technically a thistle. For a girl who considers herself an adventurous cook, this may sound like an amateur thing to say. But that choke part is scary! Just look at what it does if you let it flower. But we risk it, because it protects the most awesome heart of the vegetable. I can't help but wonder what brave human decided to eat an artichoke for the first time.
I cooked this artichoke in the easiest way I could find by cleaning it and steaming it. We ate it with Texas Olive Ranch roasted garlic olive oil and sipped a delicious pint of Collaboration Not Litigation. A glass of wine would have been nice, too. With the time and effort you've put into cooking it and the slow process of eating it, the artichoke begs for good conversation and a glass of something delicious. The husband and I sipped and talked and ate, and eventually we got to the to the silky heart. It was really a great (home) happy hour food. My pictures didn't turn out that great, because the light had changed by the time we were eating. But you can get an idea from this...
My big ol' artichoke plant has had a dramatic few days following the harvest. After harvesting the choke, I noticed several tiny aphids. (Short side note... I've always been especially freaked out by clusters of insects. I won't flinch at a spider or roach, but if I see a cluster of them I get nauseous. So I particularly dislike the aphid picture from the above link.) When I looked at the leaves, they were completely covered. Since then I've been battling to keep my space hog alive, trimming excess leaves, spraying with a safe homemade solution. Lucky me, I also have a lot of ladybugs on my side, so I think she'll be ok. Plus I caught it early and as I learned last summer in my squash bug battle, early detection is the key.
Wish me luck with the aphids and if you have any good artichoke recipes send them my way!