Preparation and a Chocolate Almond Smoothie

For some reason, last week I started to get a little bit nervous about our October Challenge while walking around the garden. Why aren’t there more green beans to harvest? Why aren’t the beets coming up? (Scrub Jay, are you digging up my seeds when you bury your peanut? Because I really NEED those beets come October!) Why is there only one, gigantic spaghetti squash on the vine? Why isn’t the summer squash exploding yet??

The remedy to my nervousness is three-fold for me: (1) start my official Garden Journal to document what’s been planted and when  (and what’s been harvested so far),  (2) start a spreadsheet to figure out the nitty-gritty of what we’ll eat in October, and (3) get out and spend some time in the garden. The last is of course the most gratifying, between harvest and tucking seeds in.

There are no absolute guarantees in gardening. Just because you plant a seed, doesn’t mean it will germinate and grow to its full potential. Sometimes the birds come. Sometimes there’s not enough water (or too much), or there’s something vital missing in the soil. Sometimes disease comes and decimates  a few tomato plants, and you have to hack them out piece by piece (today’s gut -wrenching activity).  Or maybe the aphids decide to come pay you a visit. All of these factors are what makes a successful harvest taste that much better, and that is why we do this. There is a lot of magic in growing your own food.

As I scrolled back through the last few years of posts this week, I realized that one of our critical daily routines hardly makes an appearance. I’ve touched on it before, but really not enough considering how important it is to our health: green smoothies.

I tend to settle upon a combination that I really like, and then make it every day for at least a month. Through the years, I’ve learned that some greens just don’t taste good in smoothies (swiss chard, curly kale), and that banana is a required (though not locally grown) component.

I’ll be teaching a Green Smoothie class at the Goodland Kitchen on July 12. This is a big stretch for me, as I’ve never taught before. But I do feel strongly that green smoothies (really, just fresh raw leafy greens in general) are so beneficial to good health. Not to mention how good I feel running with a green smoothie as my fuel!

Chocolate Almond Smoothie

Layer in blender in this order:

1 c  frozen blueberries (I also like the cherry berry blend from Trader Joe’s)

1-2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I like Vega or hemp protein)

1-2  frozen bananas

1-2 tbsp hemp seeds

1-2 tbsp almond butter

2 large handfuls lacinato kale (or spinach)

~1 c water (or nut milk of your choice – almond, coconut, etc)

Blend til smooth and enjoy! Serves two.

The Challenge, and a simple summer squash recipe

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.

Millet

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!

Cabbage Peanut Slaw

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

Sauce (approximately):

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.