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Buttery Roasted Winter Radishes and Watermelon Turnips

1 Nov

I don’t always reap what I sow, being that my garden is often a disaster and if my family depended on it for primary sustenance, the de Cubas would be no more.

Surprise! An unexpected bounty of radishes

Surprise! An unexpected bounty of radishes

But in a delightful surprise, a late summer planting of leftover radish seeds, sown in some fit of hopefulness as I cleared the beds of the unproductive detritus of a summer spent elsewhere, yielded a pound or so of very fat cherry bell and French Breakfast radishes.

Should've harvested these a week ago....

Should’ve harvested these a week ago….

So fat, in fact, that they needed a roasting with butter to mellow the bite and soften the woodiness that comes when you don’t notice what is happening and you wait too long to harvest. It is the #gardenofneglect after all!

Another view of the surprise radish harvest

Another view of the surprise radish harvest

I added in there some watermelon turnips from our CSA (Restoration Farm), which were absolutely gorgeous, but I didn’t know what else to do with. This is the simplest recipe ever for a beautiful autumnal side dish!

A pretty plate of turnips and radishes with very little effort

A pretty plate of turnips and radishes with very little effort

Roasted Winter Radishes and Watermelon Turnips

Radishes, sliced into ¼-1/2” half moons and/or Watermelon turnips, peeled/pared and sliced into ¼”half moons

A knob of butter

2 Tbs (or more) extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly cracked pepper to finish

Preheat oven to 425°F

In a baking dish big enough to hold your quantity of root vegetables you have, place all the vegetables. Add a generous knob of butter (figure 1.5 Tbs for a 8×8 oven dish worth and go up a half Tbs for each inch larger). Pour 2 Tbs of olive oil over that. Stir everything around to coat and add more oil as you see fit.

Roast in the oven a half hour. Check how things are doing. The turnip will take longer, so lower heat to 375°F and roast for another half hour (you won’t burn the radishes, but the turnip will soften. I will be experimenting with a slower roast at lower temp all the way in the next few days). Sprinkle generously with finishing salt and pepper and serve.

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New Favorite Nosh: Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich!

19 Aug

This is barely a recipe, but it’s what I have been eating for breakfast and lunch (and sometimes in between with a cup of tea).

 

I like it with rye toast (shown here), but it reaches its apex with white bread....

I like it with rye toast (shown here), but it reaches its apex with white bread….

Toast and butter two slices of bread. Layer thinly-sliced cucumber (peeling is optional) and tomato – preferably fresh from the garden – on the bottom slice. Sprinkle with salt and top with the second slice. Cut in half and eat!

 

 

Georgia Kalamidas’ Purslane Salad (Another weed made useful!)

12 Aug

We were a bit bemused to find this thick-leaved rubbery-stemmed plant called purslane (Portulaca oleracea) in our pick-up and completely unsure of how to use it. It seemed to be the exception to the CSA rule of thumb: “When in doubt, saute in garlic and oil.” What to do?

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Fortunately, our Restoration Farm grower Caroline Fanning provided a recipe from someone I think is another another member, Georgia Kalamidas (duly credited here) and the Internet provided more info on what this thing is. Apparently, some folks think it is a beautiful edible ornamental. Others think it is a weedy, resilient pain the gardener’s ass.

University of Illinois Extenson educator, Sandra Mason in a very funny and informative piece called “Purslane: Weed it or Eat it?”  discusses the relative merits of purslane in the garden. For example: “Purslane is an annual reproducing from seeds and from stem pieces. Seeds of purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil. You may find that fact either depressing or exciting.”

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

The edible nature of this useful weed is another story. In young plants you can use the stem. My pick-up partners, Lori and John, and I tasted the stems and were not impressed. So we removed the leaves (it takes a while, so factor in time for that), rinsed thoroughly (purslane generally grows close to the ground) and followed Georgia’s recipe. The purslane is a bit like watercress without the nuttiness, and a bit like parsley but milder. In fact, you could substitute either in this salad, which was absolutely refreshing and delicious, with a lot of brightness and crunch. And by the way, you can apparently saute it in garlic (the rule stands!), and also in soups, but don’t cook it too long or it will become mucilaginous (slimy, like okra). Also, next time I might substitute oregano for the mint and add feta. Click for basic recipe! Continue reading

20 Summer Tomato Recipes and Techniques (including rescuing and freezing!)

31 Jul

Here it is finally, a round-up of recipes for using summer tomatoes, including rescuing tomatoes past their prime and processing for freezing (without the trouble of canning!). Bookmark this one….

1. The Easiest of All: Chopped Tomato Sauce

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

2. Speedy Bruschetta (great for using up tomatoes past their prime salad days)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

3. Pan-Roasted Cherry, Grape or Sungold Tomatoes (Oil-Free options and another way to use up those minis gone soft)

4. Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad or Burger Topper

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor.

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor. Try it!

5. Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

6. Spanish-style Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes!

Stuffed Tomatoes!

7. Provencal Vegetable Tian (baked layered summer veggies with olives)

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone...but you get the idea.

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone…but you get the idea.

 

8. Marinated Mini-Mozzarella Balls

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

 9. Classic Criollo Tomato and Avocado Salad

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

 10. Cannellini and Tomato Salad (no cook)

Add crusty bread and you've got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

Add crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

11. Pan-Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa (fat-free)

Pretty all the way from start to finish

Pretty all the way from start to finish

2012-08-26 04.56.47 tomato tomatillo

12. Oven Charred Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

Oven Charred...Yum

Oven Charred…Yum

Next page: Bisque; Watermelon Feta and Tomato Salad, AND several ways to preserve tomatoes by freezing!

Continue reading

Beets: A Variety Pack of Easy and Delicious Techniques

21 Jul

Beets are popping up in CSA boxes, farmer’s markets and gardens (except mine, because I haven’t planted any this year since I wasn’t going to be consistently available to thin and tend them).  I never liked them as a kid, because when I was a kid they only came out of a can and were floppy and disgusting! Today I know better and I love them.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

They are available year-round and store well, but are really a cool season crop. Grilled, roasted, boiled, or steamed…there are many ways  to skin this veg. We usually keep one around to grate raw onto salads for extra crunch, flavor, and color, paring just enough to grate some off the bulb and then sticking it back in the fridge.

Rinsing the beets

Rinsing the beets

Any vegetable that colorful has to be good for you and beets prove the rule. They contain phytonutrients called betalains which are supposed to be rich in anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties (for more on the healthful properties of beets, click here) , so eating them is a good thing. And they are very sweet, which is also a good thing, because they stand up to a lot of interesting flavors. THE GREEN ARE EDIBLE AND DELICIOUS so make the most out of your purchase following the instructions below, or try out one of the easy-peasy recipes here.

Beets are available year-round, but are best from June to October and that's when the beet greens are best too!

Beets are available year-round, but are best from June to October and that’s when the beet greens are best too!

For advice from Cornell on growing your own, go here.

BASIC PREP

Trim off the greens about an inch from the actual beet. You can eat them and they should be used within a day or two, taking out larger ribs before cooking. They can be used like most other leafy greens.

The unwashed beet roots will last about three weeks in the fridge. To use, scrub gently and do not remove the root. Do not peel before cooking. You can wrap in foil and roast at 400°F for 1-1.5 hours or simmer in salted boiling water for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Another option is to steam in a vegetable steamer for 30-45 minutes. the beets are done when a fork goes easily through the center. The skins will come off easily and should be removed while the beets are still warm. Use kitchen gloves or put your hands in plastic bags to handle them, as they will stain*. Flavor affinities include goat cheese, tarragon, herring and ham.

Zesty Orange Beet Salad with Beet Greens

El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

El amor entra por los ojos — This dish is love at first sight!

 USE THOSE BEETS GREENS! 

How to select, store and saute these excellent greens that come attached to your beets!

I like to mash mine into bolied yuca or boiled potato with olive oil...and that's just what I did after taking this photo.

I like to mash mine into bolied yuca or boiled potato with olive oil…and that’s just what I did after taking this photo.

Grilled Beets (No Oven Required)

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts (or feta)

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Golden Beets (sauteed with garlic and parsley)

Golden Beets, sauteed

Golden Beets, sauteed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini: 7 Superstar Supereasy Recipes

12 Jul

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all love summer veggies fresh from the garden. Except — admit it! — when there are piles and piles and piles of zucchini sitting around your kitchen counters waiting for a purpose. For that time there is this post.

I have collected some of my favorite zucchini recipes here to inspire you and yours to enjoy zucchini in different ways (and overwhelmed gardeners can send this to their friends as they pass off some of the overabundance of zucchini from the backyard).

Enjoy! You will remember these days fondly in the dark of winter.

Rosemary-Manchego Zucchini Fritters

 

Zucchini Rosemary Manchego Fritters Yum

Zucchini Rosemary Manchego Fritters Yum

 

 Remoulade (Easy Summer Squash Slaw…cooooool)

 

Zucchini Slaw

Zucchini Slaw

 Crunchy Creamy Zucchini Corn Fritters

Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

 Easy Stovetop Lemon-Oregano Zucchini and Yellow Squash

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

Healthy and Happy Grilled Veggie Kebabs Continue reading

Sugar Snap Peas: Five Italian and Spanish Style Recipes You’ll Love

30 Jun

It is the season for sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), and we have had a wonderful harvest of sugar snaps in our yard, and we expect more from Restoration Farm, our CSA.

Almost too ready for picking

Almost too ready for picking

So today I made a special sweet pea dish — Pasta with Chorizo and Peas – for my seven-year-old swee’pea who is in charge of peas at home, from planting to watering to harvesting (he gets assistance in stringing the poles as our peas need strings to climb on with their delicate tendrils. We buy sugar snap seeds from Botanical Interests).

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone's mother doesn't mind at all.

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone’s mother doesn’t mind at all.

He collected peas between World Cup matches today and then we spent a companionable half hour shelling the peas and eating many of them as we watched Costa Rica play Greece in the World Cup and I put the water to boil. At halftime I made dinner to eat during the second half.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don't use. But we'll use it all before that happens.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don’t use. But we’ll use it all before that happens.

So the following Pasta with Chorizo and Peas  is a new recipe and below that you’ll find links to some of our perennial favorites: Spanish tortillas and Italian pastas. This recipe uses only the peas, but the pods are edible. I sliced the pea pods into my salad, as he doesn’t like those and I find them wonderfully crunchy and sweet.

Rich flavor that doesn't overwhelm the peas.

Rich flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the peas.

Continue reading

Garden Update (Whew! Maybe I wasn’t too late after all)

25 May

In the past few years I have assiduously reported on our developing vegetable garden. This year, shame and nothing doing and too busy with other stuff has kept me from sharing.

These we planted back in October...of 30 garlic cloves planted, 29 are looking fab and the other, well who cares?

These we planted back in October…of 30 garlic cloves planted, 29 are looking fab and the other, well who cares?

BUT, it turns out my lackadaisical approach, followed by periods of intense industry that last about an afternoon, have worked out so far!

Will they be ready in time to plant outdoors?

tomatoes from saved seeds: Will they be ready in time to plant outdoors?

Maybe it’s that the raised beds make life easier. Maybe we know what we are doing somewhat more. Maybe the crazy cold winter and early spring meant that a late start was all one could do.

baby kale and chard: forgiving and vigourous (and delicious when you put the ones you thin into raw salads

baby kale and chard: forgiving and vigourous (and delicious when you put the ones you thin into raw salads

Whatever the reason, the vegetable garden is going WELL and we’ve started harvesting and I might even have Puerto Rican calabaza going this year.

This may or may not be arugula babies: I need reading glasses these days so I can't tell! but in the garden I just taste

Peas are also very forgiving: plant early whenever and they just go for it!

So…garden pictures. And especially for parents who are trying to garden with their kids, a cool idea for radishes that engages their interest (even if your handwriting sucks). Write their name in radish seeds and watch the early sprouts delight them!

The first few letters looked great. The last few...well it's N-D-R-O

The first few letters looked great. The last few…well it’s N-D-R-O

Looking good! Who woulda thunk it?

Looking good! Who woulda thunk it?

Keep your dedos cruzados that this Puerto Rican pumpkin works out...didn't think it would work, so I don't have a transplanting location or plan!

Keep your dedos cruzados that this Puerto Rican pumpkin works out…didn’t think it would work, so I don’t have a transplanting location or plan!

Backyard Foraging: Onion Grass (just like chives!) and cream cheese recipe

14 May

Google “onion grass” and you’ll likely find a lot of advice on how to eliminate it from your lawn. It is called a weed, pesky, unsightly, annoying. But around here the unruly tufts of onion grass that start dotting the emerging lawn in spring are the among the first herbs of the season.  So the way we eliminate it is by harvesting it and eating it!

This is a nice bit just by the raise beds. Note that it is not flat but hollow, and grows to different lengths

This is a nice bit just by the raised beds. Note that it is not flat but hollow, and grows to different lengths

We don’t put down chemical fertilizers or pesticides anywhere in the yard (although the last few seasons of mosquito infestations have us wondering what other choice there is) so there is none of that in our onion grass that we know of. And while we do have plenty of birds and squirrels about, they have those on commercial farms too and we have no dogs, so a thorough washing of the onion grass is sufficient to make it ready for human consumption (This came up in an after-school playground conversation recently, so thanks to Marta for bringing it up!).

A healthy bunch of onion grass. You will have to pick through your harvest.

A healthy bunch of onion grass. You will have to pick through your harvest.

I do NOT recommend pulling it up from anywhere that you are not familiar with. You never know what people throw on their lawns in the crazed pursuit of the perfect carpet of green (heavy sigh). Or what your local government has sprayed.

 

The forager-in-training

The forager-in-training

Now let’s talk identification. As close as I can tell, the botanical name or onion grass is Allium canadense…a member of the onion and garlic (stinking rose) family and very, very similar to Allium schoenoprasum, which we know as chives. Allium canadense is noted for its clumpy appearance in early spring just as the stubble of new grass begins. The blades are actually hollow tubes and taper at the top and grow to wildly different lengths.  They may even curl. I have heard say that they sometimes have bulbs at the bottom, but ours really don’t have much.

 

The potato ricer was not really the right creaming tool. I soon switched to a fork

The potato ricer was not really the right creaming tool. I soon switched to a fork

Important note: there are several look-alike lily species that are toxic. They may or may not have the hollow stem. The general rule is: If it smells like onion, it is onion and safe to eat. If it doesn’t smell like onion, it’s not onion, so leave it be.

With crackers or veggies, or bagels, of course...the flavor of spring

With crackers or veggies, or bagels, of course…the flavor of spring

In the past, I have just snipped what I need (it is somewhat milder than chives, so you may need to double what you would normally use if you bought supermarket chives), but today when I asked my little man to get some, he just grabbed a fistful and tore and that worked out just fine!

A tub of cream cheese with onion grass! Just like chives...only free for the forager

A tub of cream cheese with onion grass! Just like chives…only free for the forager

The following recipe is just a basic cream cheese with chives. You can also try onion grass with Asian recipes or whatever else you fancy. It’s not like you had to pay for it. And as I say to my students “If it’s free, give me three!”

 

Pretty!

Pretty!

Cream cheese and chives or foraged onion grass

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2-4 Tbs chopped onion grass or chives

2 Tbs low or nonfat yogurt or sour cream or milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Garnish with additional chopped chives, if desired.

The Garlic is Planted!

16 Nov

Since garlic was one of the few things we managed to grow successfully in this summer of failures, I decided we should plant more than last year.

It can be tough for little hands to get the head started in separation, but if you get them started, they can separate them.

It can be tough for little hands to get the head started in separation, but if you get them started, they can separate them.

I followed the lead of our CSA, Restoration Farm. Since they planted last Saturday (and we went to help for a little while, which refreshed our memories on how to plant) and Caroline said she follows biodynamic practices for most auspicious sowing moments, we planted a day or two later, which was about as soon as I could manage.

note that the bottom end is free of the root residue, but not cut off. Leave it intact!

note that the bottom end is free of the root residue, but not cut off. Leave it intact!

We used the tomato bed, since it is a good idea to rotate vegetables every year. If any pests or blights have made a home in the bed, when spring comes they won’t find their usual victims waiting to be destroyed. Instead, they’ll find something else that they don’t like very much and can’t harm. We’ll put the tomatoes where the peas were and where there should be a whole lot of nitrogen that they left behind.

turning the earth and smashing apart clods is happy work

turning the earth and smashing apart clods is happy work

The bed is about 10′ by 3′. Farmer Dan suggested we plant the garlic every 9 inches in rows 1 foot apart, which meant we could stretch a measuring tape across and Leandro could learn a lot about the 9 times tables. So we turned the dirt, outlined three rows and made holes every nine inches (How many cloves do you think we planted?). We separated the heads into cloves, being careful to leave the cloves tightly wrapped in their papery husks so they don’t rot before they have a chance to overwinter and start sprouting in the spring.

An impromptu math lesson with a measuring tape and the nine times tables

An impromptu math lesson with a measuring tape and the nine times tables

You stick them in, root end down and pointy bit up, cover and, if necessary, water. Then you play football in the backyard until the sun gets too far down in the sky and it gets cold.

And the answer to how many is: 30 cloves, each of which we hope will result in a new delicious head of 4 to 10 cloves next summer. And in the meantime, we can just forget them!

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