Sunday, November 27, 2011

Garden Recipe 1: Greens Tacos

I know what you are thinking, that this is some sort of vegetarian hippie thing, but you would be wrong.  These are authentic and delicious.

First you will need some greens
I'm partial to Swiss Chard in this recipe but you could use Kale or Collards or even Spinach.   The most recent batch I made included a few collards in addition to Swiss Chard.
Rinse greens and cut into 1 inch strips and trim stems
Blanche greens (although I skip this step when using spinach) until just shy of tender to remove any bitterness and soften ribs.  For Chard this is about 2 minutes.  Drain then Rinse in cool water.
While these hang out and drain.  Next you will want to sauté 1/2 of a medium onion, I'm partial to red onion, in olive oil until soft then add 1 clove fresh chopped garlic.  After 1 minute, add greens and cook together until greens are soft, about 5 minutes (longer if using kale or collard greens).
Warm up a few corn tortillas and assemble as preferred.  I'm partial to sour cream as a base, then greens topped with cheese and guacamole.
Yum.  Recipe based from Greens Taco in "Everyday Mexican" by Rick Bayless.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I'm pretty thankful this year.  Lucky in health, happiness, and being surrounded by wonderful family and friends.  I'm also thankful to the friends that I've encountered on the web through my blog here, KGI, and FB relating to the garden/cooking world.
So, I've decided to embark on a little project to share some of the love.  Over the next few weeks, I'm going to post a series of garden based recipes.  Some are quick and easy, some are a bit more involved.  That said, I am not a chef and things just don't get too complicated around here given that we are dodging a 2 year old at most turns.
Here are some teasers.  Recipes to follow.
 Quick Fridge Dill Pickles
 Autumn Tomato soup with herb Foccaccia bread
Papas con Rajas
Fresh Pasta with Fava beans and English Peas

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to all of yours.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Food Politics

I am neither a food professional or a politician.  However, I am a human who eats food, a mother, a healthcare provider, and a gardener.  I think I may be as well qualified to weigh in on national food policy as the average congressperson, perhaps more so.
I'd like to discuss the big headline story about pizza being classified as a vegetable by Congress.  Well, that's not exactly what happened, but as this Washington Post article discusses, the whole vegetables in school lunch issue is so muddy at this point that its no surprise that we are hearing about the 1/8 cup of tomato paste on a kid's pizza getting extra credit.

I'd like to approach this from a different angle all together, as a person who loves pizza, and vegetables.  Why is the tomato sauce the only vegetable on the pizza?  You see, I feel like pizza could, in the right hands, be a regular vehicle for good.  I 'm not talking about the pre-made frozen factory stuff.  I'm talking about homemade pizza for our kids.

Like this one, it doesn't have any tomato sauce at all but has ricotta, wilted kale, and caramelized red onions.

Or this one with tomato sauce (which actually contains tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, and carrots), spinach, and sliced red bell peppers.

Are you starting to get my gist?  I am totally OK with feeding my kid pizza if its put together like this, with a balance of components that equate to more than just grease, carbs, and salt.  How do we produce this en masse for entire schools?  I've watched the Jamie Oliver programs about school lunch and I'm convinced that its completely doable and pretty economic when done in bulk.  I'm OK to keep pizza on the menu as long as we get rid of the nonsense and really get down to the work of feeding our kids healthy, tasty food.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The survivors

I'm slowly learning that which varieties are cold hardy and freeze tolerant.
 Here are the details, in the above bed are bulls blood beets, sputnik arugula, red champoin radishes, and a few Chiogga beets.  Below are Napoli and Royal Chantenay carrots.  Both of these beds are currently being protected by row cover only.
 This bed contains Cortland yellow onions, Rossa di Milano red onions, Lincoln and Scotland Leeks.  These are under plastic and are going to get an added mulch of leaves and straw in the next week, we're hoping to overwinter these until spring.

Rainbow Chard above, before a good trim down so that we can place some row cover without breaking too many leaves.
I haven't pictured them here but I still have Lacinato Kale, Waltham broccoli, and Champion collard greens without any extra cover at all.  We're going to eat these up then pull them out once the snow flies.
It turns out that this part of the garden maintenance is pretty low key and very high yield for the amount of time and work I'm putting in.  And yes, I have some help as always.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hard Freeze

We knew it was coming, but it has been such a beautiful mild autumn that we almost forgot.  Yesterday we readied the winter garden as best we could and said farewell to our warm season crops.   For us that amounts to bringing a lot of "almost ripe" tomatoes inside, picking some baby eggplants and small okra, and picking every last pepper that looks close.
We also draped some row cover over our greens, carrots, and root veg.
Also, on our last trip to California we made a stop at Peaceful Valley Garden Supply and procured some 6 mil greenhouse plastic to establish some tougher hoop houses for this winter
The low last night was 28 degrees F, so after I finish my second cup of coffee this morning I'll go see what survived and how my winterizing projects are going.  I'll let you know.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To the coast ...

Last week, we headed to California for a vacation.  There is something magical about the Northern California coast.
Despite cool weather and cold water, we couldn't resist some time on the beach.
We got a little more cold and wet than planned.

We also spent some time in the Napa Valley where we took a hike in Robert Louis Stevenson state park.
Yes, it was a little chilly, but none of us really minded, we had fleece and hats.

We tasted some beautiful wines, of note we visited 3 biodynamic wineries which turns out to be a really fantastic integration of organic farm and vineyard.  Thanks to Quivira, Truett Hurst, and Littorai for allowing us to check out the gardens as well as tasting beautiful wines.
The kind people at Failla gave us a tour of their cave and Carson got to check out the grape crushing process.
On our last day, we visited the Hendry winery where we had one of the most informative tastings I have ever had, not to mention a really kid friendly environment.

Upon our arrival home our own garden was full of produce that survived the 40 degree nights while we were gone.  We're pretty much eating out of the backyard this week.
It was a great trip.  Its also really nice to be home.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tomatillo Notes

Tomatillos are a particularly nice summer treat.  They are a component of many dishes in Mexican cuisine from salsas to soups and grow really nicely in my garden.  Even so, the information available on growing and harvesting these beauties is pretty sparse, so here is my contribution to the growers compendium.
Tomatillos are a member of the nightshade family and are a firm green fruit with a sticky coating surrounded by a papery husk.
They require some cross pollination so 2 plants are required to guarantee fruit.
Tomatillos grow nicely in the same locations as tomatoes- ample sun, well drained soil.  They can sprawl somewhat but staking and support will give the plant some nice structure.
You know a tomatillo is ripe when it mostly fills the paper surrounding it.  Before cooking, the husks need to be removed and the sticky coating rinsed in water.
They can be cut up and made into a fresh blended salsa with jalapenos, garlic, salt and cilantro; can be added to fresh tomato salsas, or...
Roasted with onions and jalapenos then blended with cilantro, salt, and lime juice for one of my favorite salsas on the planet.
Here, roasted tomatillo salsa served over squash blossom quesadilla with pico de gallo and grilled corn.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 lb tomatillos, papers removed and rinsed
1/2 white onion, cut into quarters
2-3 jalapenos
handful of cilantro leaves
juice of 1/2 lime
salt to taste
water to thin as needed

 In a 400 degree oven or over a hot grill, roast tomatillos, onions, and peppers until tomatillos and peppers are soft.
Remove tops of peppers and seed if less heat desired.
Add tomatillos, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime juice to blender and process until thick but not chunky.
Add salt to taste and thin with small amount of water if desired.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

He's 2!

Let's take a break from the gardening to celebrate Carson.  He turned 2 yesterday.  We've been celebrating all week long.  We started with a swim at Bear Lake.
We made some Cake (then tried the icing on for size)
And of course, we blew out some candles.
We love you Carson.  Happy 2nd Birthday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Sometimes a day doesn't feel right from the start.  This happened to me on Monday.  I was running late, forgot my coffee, was feeling a little tense, and then, while driving 75 mph on I-80 on my way to work, my car started to shake, violently.  Then I had some trouble steering.  Once pulled off the road and after completing a little panic attack, I called for a tow to the mechanic and got a lift home.  Needless to say, I didn't make it to work (my apologies to any patients that were rescheduled.  I owe you a batch of cookies or some tomatoes).
My stress started to abate pretty quickly when I entered the house to a smiling Carson yelling "Mommy!"
So we did what you do when stuck at home waiting for the news from a mechanic.  We sat around in the backyard, did a little garden maintenance and put together the components of a composed salad.
Beets with fresh oregano and carrots with fresh thyme.
Roasted until tender, then beets peeled and seasoned with salt and pepper.  The carrots were just sliced.
On a plate with some lettuce, fresh tomatoes, cukes, and green beans.  This was drizzled with a quick balsamic vinaigrette and some crusty bread and goat cheese.  It was a perfect summer composed salad.
Oh, and my car, fine, it turned out that a dry cleaner's bag was wrapped all around my drive train and while this rendered my steering useless for a moment once removed my car (and myself) remained unscathed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The goods

After cold, excessive rain, and late warming, things are picking up the pace in the garden.
The scarlet runners are enticing the bees
The cucumbers are spreading out on their trellis
The collard greens and chard are taking off even though they are being snacked on by the birds
The companion planting of basil and onions is working out nicely
It turns out that carrots and tomatillos are good neighbors too.
So far this month I've been harvesting carrots, dark greens, potatoes, cucumbers, and herbs on a regular basis.  Carson is conducting his own harvests also.
Next, we get ready for the winter garden...more on this to come.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fava Beans

Fava Beans (aka Broad Beans) are a food that I discovered only a few years ago.  I liked them so much I started to grow them.  They are an easy bean grow, which is nice.
Here are 2 views of fava plants.  The first shows beans almost mature, the second are mature and ready to be picked.  Gravity gives some great clues.
This was a nice harvest.
OK.  I know, enough with the bean photos.  Moving on to what we cooked with these beauties.  We made a pasta dish with favas, garden peas, dried tomatoes, onion, and garlic.  The fresh pasta came from Nu nooz, the rest came from the garden with the exception of the Parmasean cheese.

Can you say delicious?  Yes, it was.  Can you tell that I have a little bit of a love thing for these beans?

Winter, finally (and seriously)

I planned to start this blog last spring as my garden flew into action, but then got into the actual work of gardening and abandoned the task. However, today its winter, really winter. I'm wearing long underwear and sitting under a blanket and I'm still cold.
Today is the shortest day of the year so from here on in it gets better. I look forward to longer days, that's for sure. But I'll also tuck in and enjoy winter's freeze and snow, it does mean skiing after all. Maybe more importantly is the snow pack - without snow there isn't water for the West.
The end of the year and the solstice are a good time to think back on the last 365. I have no reason to complain and feel really lucky about the last year and really hopeful about the year to come.