Posts tagged: garden harvest

Crunchy Kale Chips – A New Favorite!

By , July 14, 2011

Kale chips fresh from the oven

I admit that I don’t love kale. It’s not a green that I crave the way I do others, but there are ways to prepare it that can really make it downright delicious. And it’s so full of nutrition! But best of all it self-seeds itself in my garden pathways, so it’s always there in abundance when we need it, all throughout the spring and summer.

Here’s my new favorite way to eat it. I LOVE these chips!! They have the salty, satisfying crunch of potato chips.

Crunchy Kale Chips

1/2 lb kale, ribs removed and leaves cut into 2″ pieces

Generous 1/4 tsp sea salt

1 Tbsp olive oil, on the generous side

Preheat your oven to 250°F  (120°C). Wash the kale if needed, and dry it well. Toss in a large bowl with salt and oil. Spread on cookie sheets in a single layer (you can crowd them together and overlap a bit). Bake 20-25 minutes until crunchy. The kale should remain a bright, deep green. If it begins to brown, it’ll taste slightly bitter.

Store in an airtight container if you don’t eat the whole batch right then and there!

De-rib the big leaves by folding in half and cutting the rib away.

Cut into 2" pieces.

Arrange in a single layer on cookie sheets.

Make Your Own “Green Smoothie Frozen Concentrate”

By , July 5, 2011

Green smoothie frozen concentrate made with lettuce, spinach, and lambsquarters.

So I peeked into my remaining three bags of lettuce from the garden this year, and discovered that they were starting to go south and needed to be used right away. I separated out the slimy leaves, washed the rest, and had an idea! I’ll make green smoothie frozen concentrate cubes!

To make the concentrate:

1. Pour some kefir, water, juice, or watered-down yogurt into a blender. You won’t need too much — just enough to get everything to blend together smoothly.

2. Add lots of greens. Ideas are: lettuce, spinach, beet greens, chard, lambsquarters, purslane, mint, parsley, cilantro, edible flowers, etc. (Kale is the only one I don’t like in a shake, but if you do, go for it!)

3. Start the blender and let it run until you have a uniform slurry.

4. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

To use:

When you’re ready to make a green smoothie, thaw out some cubes; I usually use 2 cubes when I make a shake for myself. Add the green liquid to your blender containing the rest of your smoothie ingredients — I like to use fruit and kefir with some ground flax seed and vanilla extract. Blend & enjoy. Yum!!

*****

If you’re curious about green smoothies, you might check out the book Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko, or the related website. My friend Sasha recommended this book to me, and I loved it! While I don’t agree with absolutely everything in the book, I’m glad I read it.

*****

Mid-May Vegetable Garden Photos

By , May 14, 2011

I went over to play in my garden yesterday, and was astonished at how much it’s grown since last week! The beautiful vegetables have really taken off — the mere sight of them just feeds my soul. I never tire of watching my garden grow!

Here are some update photos:

As you can see below, the baby peach and plum trees that I started from seed almost 2 1/2 years ago are doing great! They grow very fast…

And now a photo of the salad I made yesterday. This was the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. You’d think a salad would be a salad, but this one — with everything picked just minutes prior — was the sweetest, tenderest, most incredible-tasting salad. My theory is that the two straight days of rain we just had made the flavor more incredible than normal. I’ve noticed that rain makes the grass a different shade of green than tap water does…rainwater is special stuff. Collect it and treasure it! My grandma would collect rain water to water her houseplants and rinse her hair with!

The best salad ever. Fresh from the rain-soaked garden: baby arugula, spinach, lettuce, radishes, dill, cilantro, parsley, and onion greens. Dressed with olive oil, balsamic & red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

How To Make Candied Violets

By , April 11, 2011

Here’s an old fashioned spring project to do! Preserve those ephemeral little violet flowers for use as a garnish (on a coconut cake for Easter would be nice…) or for a lovely treat at any time of year — violets have a wonderful taste and will keep for months once they’ve been candied!

The process is simple, and not too time consuming. You can make this a more delicate project by painting eggwhite onto each flower with a paintbrush, and then dusting with fine sugar, but I think I’d only want to dedicate that kind of time if I were making these for a really special occasion!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Freshly picked violet flowers & leaves (having them very fresh will make the project go faster and prevent frustration!*)

Egg white (not beaten or frothed) (use eggs you trust since it’s raw)

Ordinary white granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

Here’s what you do:

The flowers should be dry. No need to wash/dry them first — just pick them on a dry day and go for it. Dip each flower into the eggwhite. Give the flower a firm shake to get rid of any excess eggwhite. Hold it over a dish filled with sugar, and spoon the sugar over the flower until all surfaces are coated. Let the flowers dry on wax paper, parchment paper, or on a bed of sugar. (A plain baking sheet works too, but the eggwhite sticks, so you’ll have to carefully loosen the flowers with a metal spatula after they’re mostly dry.)

*The most important thing is to have fresh flowers (and leaves if you’re using them). Don’t pick the flowers, put them in a zip-top bag in the fridge for a few days, and then do the project; the flowers will have lost too much moisture and when you dip them in eggwhite, they’ll collapse. See photo below! Very fresh flowers will hold their shape even after being dipped in eggwhite.

Both have been dipped in eggwhite -- the flower on the left was in plastic in the fridge for a couple days, while the one on the right is fresh from the yard. Fresh is best!

That’s it! When they’re thoroughly dry (give them about 24 hours), store them in an airtight container. Room temperature is OK.

Juice Your Kitchen Scraps!

By , February 22, 2011

I was inspired today by this post about raw vegetable juices over at Wooly Moss Roots. I’ve never been into juicing because separating the fiber from the juice just doesn’t seem natural, and it’s not the ideal way to consume vegetables according to what I’ve read. But then I’ve also read that as long as juicing is used in addition to your regular consumption of fruits and vegetables, it can actually be a very good way to boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. I can certainly see both sides of the story.

We actually have a juicer already (it came with my Hubby), so today I decided to go for it. I used some kitchen scraps that would’ve otherwise gotten tossed (cilantro and parsley stems, a mandarin orange with very tough membranes, and spent beet chunks from making beet kvass), as well as a carrot and some celery. It turned out pretty well! I was especially thrilled to be juicing the last drops of lacto-fermented, enzyme-rich goodness out of those beets! (I’ll share my beet kvass recipe soon. We love beet kvass in this household!)

Remembering that all those vitamins and minerals would probably need some fat in order to be absorbed properly, I added some grassfed whipping cream in a ratio of about 3 or 4 parts juice to 1 part cream.

OH YEA.

The cream was the key. Better nutrient absorption, better taste!

I even felt a sort of…uplift…after drinking this raw veggie juice. And I loved how it was such a clean, light way to start the day!

What’s your opinion about juicing? If you juice, what are your favorite veggie combos?

Pretty layers of juice!

After Halloween: Cooking Your Pumpkin and Roasting Its Seeds

By , November 9, 2010

I hope you had a happy Halloween! Mine was uneventful, but I did go on a wonderful bike ride through the neighborhoods on Halloween night to see the decorated houses, carved pumpkins, and kids trick-or-treating. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time. To boot, it was an unusually mild night with a few diehard crickets still going (usually it’s snowing here on Halloween!), and people were sitting out on their front porches, candy bowls beside them.

Anyway, last year I cooked our Halloween pumpkin and I wanted to share the process if you’re interested in doing the same thing. One thing to note about the generic jack-o-lantern pumpkins is that they’re very lacking in flavor. Bland! And watery! But after draining out the excess water (which we’ll address below), the blandness can be a good thing because you can then sneak the pumpkin puree into your cooking (or baking) without affecting the dish’s flavor very much.

Here’s what to do:

With a sharp knife, cut your pumpkin in half, then cut off the stem.

Cut off the stem

Scoop out the seeds and SAVE THEM! We’ll be roasting them while the pumpkin cooks.

Scoop out the seeds and save them for roasting.

With a spoon and some elbow grease, scrape out the long stringy fibers. You have to really get in there with your spoon; attack that pumpkin!

Scoop out the stringy fibers

Set pumpkin cut-side down into a large baking pan with sides to contain the juice. If you don’t have a pan with sides large enough, then just bake them on cookie sheets, cut-side up. Or be creative and set them on something else, like a muffin tray to catch the juice!

Bake at 350* (or 375* — the temperature isn’t too important). You’ll bake it until the flesh is very soft, which usually takes about an hour, maybe more.

After you put your pumpkin in the oven, put the seeds into a colander. Rinse them and remove as much of the stringy orange stuff as you can.

Wash seeds & remove orange fibers

Spread them onto an un-greased cookie sheet and sprinkle them fairly liberally with salt. Bake them until they’re a very light golden color; you don’t want to over-bake them, but you do want them dry to the touch, and crunchy. This seems to take about 15 minutes for me, but the times may be different for you.

Spread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt; cook till dry and crunchy

Eat!

Now, back to the pumpkin.

When the flesh is very soft, remove from the oven and let the pumpkin cool until it’s handle-able.

Bake till very soft

Scrape out the flesh, and discard (or compost) the skin-shell. Run the pumpkin flesh through a food processor or blender to improve the texture and break up stringiness. If it’s too dry to run through the blender, add a little water and blend; you can drain the water out (or cook it off) later.

Blend till smooth, adding a little water if needed

Since these pumpkins generally have quite a bit of water in their flesh, you’ll want to drain the puree after blending it. I like to dump the pumpkin puree into a colander and let that sit over a bowl overnight. You’ll be amazed at how much water drains out! Alternatively, you can just cook the water off instead of letting it drain away; just simmer the pumpkin puree, uncovered, in a pot over low heat until you’re satisfied with its consistency.

That’s it! Measure your puree into ½- or 1-cup portions and freeze into ziploc bags; I like to stack my bags neatly on a plate and freeze them so that they freeze into stackable shapes, like this:

Measure, stack, and freeze!

Apple Harvest Time!

By , October 6, 2010

Happy Harvest!

Boy, it sure is that time of the year. Packed & stacked refrigerator and freezer, bags of beautiful, just-picked organic fruit on the counters, busy-busy-busyness getting it all put up for the winter. It’s a rush against nature’s unforgiving timeline…trying to eat, freeze — and occasionally can — the bounty before it begins its process of ‘going back into the earth’ right there on the refrigerator shelf. Busy, yes, but I love this time of the year!

The weather here has been glorious, and on Friday I had a lovely time picking apples from my parents’ Red Delicious tree in their backyard. Between the squirrels and the coddling moths, there weren’t many apples left for us, but I found a clutch of nearly perfect ones hanging over the porch roof. With each impossibly juicy, crunchy bite, I remember how grateful I am that I can grow my own food. It’s a good, satisfying feeling. I think that’s the way we’re meant to feel about the food we eat — filled with pride and appreciation that can only come from watching your food progress from seed to blossom to bearing.

And did you know that apple seeds taste like little bitter almonds? I’ve never eaten the seeds before, but they’re really quite a taste sensation. But this would make sense, since they’re in the same family (Rose) as almonds. Try them sometime!

And here’s something else to try sometime. I dreamt up this snack over the weekend to use up some of our beautiful apples, and WOW! Yum.

Autumn Apple Salad

Apples, diced

Chevre (goat cheese), crumbled

Dried cranberries

Toasted pecans (or walnuts)


What have you been harvesting lately?

Wilted Cucumbers? Bake Them!

By , October 3, 2010

Ever wonder what to do with cucumbers that have begun to wilt and lose their crunch? Obviously the first thing you’d think of is to make a Loch Ness monster like the one below, right?

The Loch Ness Cucumber

I thought so.

And although that’s fun — yes — the thing that really uses up those cukes is to bake them. This was originally a Julia Child recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I’ve tweaked it somewhat to be simpler, with bolder flavors. I never thought to bake a cucumber until my mom made them last year; delicious! And a real bonus is that they freeze pretty well after baking. Thawed, they’re a little softer than the original out-of-the-oven ones, but that doesn’t bother you, right?

Try them out…I think they’re absolutely delicious! They have kind of a pickle-y flavor, yet gentle and buttery. This recipe makes a fair amount, but they do cook down to about half their original volume; and of course, feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Baked Cucumbers

3 lbs cucumbers

1/2 cup finely minced onion

1/4 – 1/3 cup wine vinegar (to your liking)

1/4 tsp sugar

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp dry basil

1 Tbsp dry dill weed

4 Tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup minced parsley (optional, for serving)

Preheat oven to 375*. Peel cucumbers if the skin is bitter. Cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide. Cut the strips into pieces that are 2″ long.

Mix all ingredients together, stirring well to evenly coat the cucumber pieces. Divide into two baking pans (I use two 9″x13″ glass pans) and bake, uncovered, for about an hour, tossing every 20-30 minutes. They should be tender, but still have a little crunch. Sprinkle with minced parsley (if desired), and serve. Mmmm!

Recipe Collection For A Bounty of Vegetables

By , September 21, 2010

September is always a very busy month in our kitchen as I scramble to use as much of our fresh garden produce in as many meals, smoothies, muffins, and cookies as possible! I’ve also been freezing meals made with garden produce, as well as freezing the produce itself to use in the coming winter months (so far, cooked kale as well as peach & cucumber slices for smoothies).

So I’ve put together a recipe collection (from my archive) categorized by vegetable in hopes that it might give you some fresh ideas if you’re overloaded with a particular veggie at this time of the year!

**List UPDATED on 2/3/2016**

Apples

Apple Harvest Salad

Applesauce (Homemade)

Apple Peanut Butter “Sandwiches”

Traditional Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Basil

Pesto

Zucchini Pie (Crustless)

Zucchini Parmesan

Beets

Beet Kvass

Cabbage

Minnestrone Soup

Sauerkraut

Carrots

Minnestrone Soup

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Cilantro

Citrus Salad with Macadamia Oil, Cilantro, and Avocado

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Pesto

Gazpacho

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa with Avocado)

Cucumbers

Baked Cucumbers

Homemade Bubbies Pickles (raw, lacto-fermented pickles)

Gazpacho

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Quinoa Salad, Greek Style

Cucumber Raita

Grapes

Concord Grape Freezer Jam (sugar & pectin free)

Concord Grape Fruit Leather

Grape Leaves

Pickled Grape Leaves

Zucchini Dolmas

Kale

Kale Chips

Minnestrone Soup

Parsley

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Pesto

Tabbouleh

Zucchini Dolmas

Pumpkin

(see Winter Squash, below)

Spinach

Greek Melt Pita Sandwiches

Green Smoothies

Green smoothie frozen concentrate cubes

Spanakopita

Tomatoes

Gazpacho

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Fresh Tomato & Zucchini Chili

Greek Melt Pita Sandwiches

Minnestrone Soup

Quinoa Salad, Greek Style

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa with Avocado)

Tabbouleh

Tomato-Quinoa Soup

Zucchini Parmesan

Winter Squash/Pumpkin

Cranberry-Pumpkin Muffins

Japanese Squash and Mushroom Soup

Pumpkin Pie Fruit Leather

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Zucchini/Summer Squash

Zucchini Dolmas

Zucchini Pie (Crustless)

Fresh Tomato & Zucchini Chili

Zucchini Parmesan

Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

Zucchini Cake with Spiced Frosting

Zucchini Muffins (or Bread)

 

The Herbangardener is powered by WordPress