Filed under: Main Dish, Side Dishes | Tags: challenge, egg, garlic, kale, summer squash
As I mentioned in the last post, there’s an exciting week coming up in October. Friends of ours broached the subject, and Novella Carpenter did an entire month (chronicled in her book, Farm City, and continued on her blog Ghost Town Farm). Its taking the phrase “eating local” to a whole new microclimate. The challenge: Only eat food grown in our yard for a week.
Now, my husband and I tried this for a few days last summer. It was poorly planned and done on a whim, so we failed after about 2 days. I just didn’t have my heart in it – and like many things in life (running 50 miles in a day, for example), you’ve got to dig deep and commit to make it work.
This time around, we’re developing rules around what’s allowed (olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar) foraging, and trading (between our yards, and if we can trade with others not participating in the challenge). And oh, the planning!
Tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash, cucumbers, green beans, kale, barley, millet, buckwheat, potatoes, corn, eggplant, bell peppers, onions… the list goes on. What will be ready in October? What will ripen before that? How will I preserve it? My mom gave me a ton of canning jars at Christmas, and her big canning kettle, so I’m really looking forward to batches of dilly beans and whatever other projects crop up this summer.
Tonight I picked the 2nd and 3rd squashes of the season – and just learned that what I previously believe to be Lungo Biango, is actually Golden Pippin. (Doesn’t really matter- its just got a really nice firm texture.) Right now squash is still a novelty, but I know in a month or two I’ll be pulling out all the creative stops. So tonight I made the simplest of dinners: squash, kale and eggs. I suppose its also relevant to note, that this dinner completely qualifies for The Challenge!
Simple summer squash saute
2 medium summer squash, sliced into half or quarter moons
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 big handful kale, chopped
1 handful of herbs (I used lemon thyme, marjoram, and oregano), chopped
2 eggs per person
Saute the squash for 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add kale and garlic, saute til wilted. Add the herbs and a few grinds of salt and pepper. Dish onto two plates.
Add a little more olive oil in the pan. Crack 2-4 eggs, cook how you like (once the whites are fairly set, I flip mine and turn off the heat. I like the yolks still runny but the whites done). Serve on top of squash. (A squirt of Sriracha would be a nice touch.)
Note: This is a pretty light dinner, which is perfect if you feel like indulging in dessert (we usually d0). I whipped up this gluten-free peach-apricot-plum-berry crisp tonight, and I must say – it was pretty good!
Filed under: Salads, Side Dishes | Tags: cabbage, carrot, kohlrabi, peanut butter, sugar snap pea, sunflower seed
I don’t even want to go into the reasons why I haven’t posted in 15 months. None are very good, but there are some exciting things happening in the garden right now, and a very challenging week coming up in October. But that deserves its own post, and I’m determined to be more committed to my blog this summer.
There is great truth to the phrase that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Or in my case… what do I do with the vegetables that are piling up in my fridge? Specifically, the cabbage?
The last two months have been the magic season for cabbage (and all brassicas, I suppose). The aphids left (too hot?), and the cabbage thrived, gifting us with a few very perfect heads of cabbage. Now, I love cabbage. But, my creativity is limited (at times), and when it’s hot out, cabbage soup or braised cabbage isn’t very appealing. “Coleslaw, duh!” is probably what you are thinking. But I didn’t really have a good coleslaw recipe that I loved.
But tonight, I thought I’d give it a shot. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? It tastes really bad, and the chickens will eat it. Or at least scratch at it, and be amused for awhile. So I started chopping, and looked at 2-3 different recipes for inspiration. And magically… it all came together. The peanut butter at the last minute really is what did it. I also used about half savoy cabbage and half normal green cabbage.
Cabbage peanut slaw
1/2 head cabbage, finely sliced
2-3 medium carrots, grated
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1 bulb kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchsticks
8-10 sugar snap peas, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
3 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp safflower or walnut oil (olive also works)
1 Tbsp lemon thyme (thyme, oregano, or lemon/lime zest would all work)
A few grinds of salt and pepper
Combine chopped vegetables in a bowl. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl with whisk, then tost with the vegetables til coated. Taste, and add anything else you feel is lacking. I have a feeling this will only last about a day in the fridge, so best to eat it immediately.
Filed under: Salads, Side Dishes | Tags: Fennel, onion, orange, raw, vegan
One of the disadvantages to having a birthday right after the holidays is that most people are tired of celebrating and eating so much rich food. Its understandable – usually I feel that way too! So to celebrate my birthday this week, I decided to host a potluck based on my birthday challenge this month. I asked my friends to bring their best healthy dish (vegan or raw got extra points!). And wow, did they bring it! We had a stunning array of food: rawsagna, sweet potato soup, kung pao tofu salad, raw lemon bars, pears with raw honey, roasted brussel sprouts, roasted beet relish, shaved fennel salad, and peanut butter chocolate cookies.
My first week of birthday challenge went really well. I felt great, full of energy and zest for all the beautiful vegetables piled in the kitchen! We started each day with a filling green smoothie, I ate leftovers and more vegetables for lunch, and for dinner? More of the same. I made a delicious and very easy baked squash and millet dish (courtesy of Mark Bittman via 101 Cookbooks here) that I would then add broccoli or greens to round it out. I hit all my target workouts for the week, and found that I can run for about 2 hours on one green smoothie!
The sun was out all week, and it was really refreshing to spend time wandering around the garden, checking out all my plants. It felt like I was catching up with old friends… seeing the tiniest of broccoli heads emerge, discovering plump pink-blue blueberries, and weeding to make room for some tender seedlings to grow. I also started seeds for peppers and eggplants (I can’t believe its time already!), and a few other winter plants that I haven’t had much luck with starting in the ground (no chickens in the garden = more bugs to chow down on seedlings). My favorite seed source is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, for their mouthwatering variety and beautiful catalog.
In trying to decide what to make for my birthday potluck, I stumbled upon this recipe for a shaved fennel salad with red onions and oranges in my favorite vegetable cookbook “The Vegetable Dishes I can’t Live Without“. What an odd combination of ingredients, I thought! What really intrigued me, though, was Mollie Katzen’s comment in the book that “I actually like it for dessert.” How could I not try it?
If you have a mandolin, this is the time to pull it out. The thin-ness of the onions and fennel is key! While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this dessert-worthy, I thought it made a nice light side to our already healthy potluck spread. And it would be tasty on a bed of romaine too!
Shaved Fennel with Red Onion, Olive Oil, & Oranges
1 large fennel bulb, shaved (chop off the top fronds and cut out the core, then slide it on the mandolin to get a cross-section cut) (4-5 cups)
1/2 medium red onion, shaved (about 1/2 cup)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt, to taste
3 oranges – peeled, seeded, and sectioned (I cut my slices in half)
A handful of fronds from the fennel, snipped into tiny pieces
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine the shaved fennel, red onion, olive oil, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and toss with a fork.
Add the oranges and stir gently. Cover and chill until cold. Just before serving, toss in the snipped fronds. Top each serving with a few grinds of black pepper.
Ahh, relish the break from squash recipes! I have tons up my sleeve (and in draft form on my computer). The reality is, squash is now just a part of my every day life, and I’d have to increase my blog postings 7x to get all the ways I prepare it to you. Frankly, that sounds exhausting – its hard enough cooking all of it, much less posting! But I’m trying to be better about it, really! So instead of more squash pictures, lets enjoy some pictures of the heirloom zinnias that I’m successfully growing this year.
Something I’ve noticed about Santa Barbara is that people really like the barter system. I see it all over – the neighborhood garden exchanges. On Craigslist. In my work. And the barter that the athlete in me benefits the most from: my massage therapist. I see her every 4-6 weeks or so, and in exchange for a painful (but very effective) sports massage, I cook her food. Sometimes she’s craving something in particular, and other times she just asks for “something healthy.” Last week, she asked if I knew how to make Indian food – a chicken curry perhaps?
Fortunately, I knew that one of my friends has a beautiful Indian cookbook – complete indian cooking. I picked out a recipe, Kashmiri chicken, that seemed like it wasn’t overly challenging but looked tasty. As it was finishing up, I decided to quickly make something else to go with it. I chose Aloo Sag because it featured ingredients I had on hand (mainly freshly-dug potatoes and chard) and was fairly easy to assemble. I think this could accompany a number of things – even some fried eggs (its sort of like breakfast potatoes with an Indian twist). Oh yeah, and it would be great to go camping with!
Aloo Sag (adapted from complete indian cooking)
6 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, chopped
2 fresh green chiles, finely chopped (I actually just sprinkled in chile powder)
1 tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound potatoes, cut into small pieces
1 pound fresh spinach or chard
Heat the oil in a lidded skillet, add the onion, and cook until soft. Add the ginger, chiles, turmeric, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and salt to taste, stir well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add chard or spinach to the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, until both vegetables are tender.
Well, we’re pretty much drowning in squash over here. The winter squash plants are sending out vines in all directions and fruiting the most beautiful varieties – red turban, kabocha, blue hubbard, spaghetti squash, acorn, etc. And the summer squash grow by inches every day! In addition to plain ol’ zucchini, I also planted green scallop squash, gold zucchini, lungo bianco, round zucchini, and a few mystery varieties. I love the spread of colors and shapes, and even the slight variations in taste. It’s probably what makes eating so much squash so tolerable!
So, what do I do with all this ,you say? Eat it. Every day, usually twice a day. One day last week I had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – in the form of green smoothie, potato/squash gratin leftovers, and then dinner of squash soup and oven-baked zucchini sticks. Oh yeah, and a leftover zucchini muffin! In addition to an abundance of squash, we have an abundance of fresh eggs. So most of what I’ve been cooking lately is high on the squash and egg content.
Last week I made these squash fritters, which we ate for dinner along with a side of squash frittata (which was interesting, as both involved essentially the same ingredients prepared differently). I like them because they are very easy to throw together, and could easily be served with a green salad, or soup. They would taste just as good without the cheese, or with different kinds of cheese. Sames goes for herbs- use whatever you have that is fresh!
Squash Fritters (adapted from Simply in Season)
1/3 c flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten
3 c summer squash, shredded
1/3 c onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (parsley, lemon thyme, oregano, basil, etc)
1/4 c feta or cheddar cheese
Mix ingredients up to the squash to form a very smooth batter. Add in the squash, onion, garlic, herbs and cheese; mix gently. Very lightly coat a frying pan with oil and heat to medium hot. Drop a large spoonful of batter onto pan. Fry until golden, turn and cook on other side until done.
I like them served with sour cream or greek yogurt, or a bit of avocado!