Fennel nights

17 Dec

When it gets dark at 5 it’s easy to get bored. You read books, you read blogs, you make a pie. Then what? Sometimes we’ll go to a movie because it’s so cold in our apartment, or we’ll go dumpster diving for the animals (exercise=warmth). The other night I baked a squash and processed my dried fennel pollen.
In July I picked bunches of fennel in the yellow pollen stage. There were so many bees in the fennel field across the street from our house, I felt a little bad taking my share. We filled two giant shopping bags of the stuff, and hung it in our laundry room. Five months later I finally have time to process it! For about two hours I plucked the dried yellow pollen off the fennel umbels. The dust made me sneeze, but it’s well worth it. Fennel pollen makes meat taste really really good. I put it in rabbit dishes–and when we made salami, that was an important ingredient in the finnochio salami. I think it would make a good dry rub for beef and a secret ingredient in roast vegetables.
I was left with a bucket of spent dried fennel branches and a small pint jar of pollen. The spent fennel went to the rabbits, who are always eager for an herby snack–they loved it!

5 Responses to “Fennel nights”

  1. duane marcus <a href="http://www.facebook.com/people/Duane_Marcus/541048543">Facebook me!</a> December 18, 2007 at 1:47 am #

    What kind of animals do you find in those dumpsters?

  2. Novella Carpenter December 18, 2007 at 3:40 am #

    duane; you wouldn’t believe the gold mine–how do you think i got my current flock, herd, and colony?

  3. Kevin December 19, 2007 at 2:56 pm #

    Could you let me in on your secret to salami? I found some info on how to change a freezer into a salami incubator/dryer. But, I was wanting to get some more info.

    I absolutely love salami with finocchio. I would always get the sticks of it at the Napa Valley Oil Olive Company in St. Helena.

  4. Novella Carpenter December 21, 2007 at 2:36 am #

    hey kevin;
    well, my secret i confess was i found a chef who knows how to make salami, has a curing room, and a cold walk in. do you know anyone? ask and you might be surprised.
    barring that, i tried the old freezer method to cure some duck proscuitto. it tasted okay, but i wondered if it had a faint taste of old fridge.
    i used nitrates/pink salt. painted the salamis with penicillin, too. and you need something like 3% salt and a third pure back fat. big cow middle bungs. a stuffer. it’s very elaborate. i think if you try something more simple like saucisson sec, that would work better in the modified ice closet.

  5. Kevin December 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm #

    Thanks for the info Novella. And, you just made me hungry mentioning saucisson sec. My wife is French and I “discovered” those delicacies when visiting her family a couple of years ago.

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