Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I have been craving dark leafy green veggies a lot lately.  My girls just won't eat them anymore, which frustrates me for two reasons.  One, they used to love them, and devoured them like they were candy, so why the change?  Two, I love them and don't get to eat them when they're with me.  I could cook them, but I'm doing double duty, making two different meals.  So, another way to appreciate my time alone - I'm devouring them while they're not here with me.  I started with spinach.  That was great, but I wanted chard.  Unfortunately the store on my way home didn't have any chard.  All through winter, when it should be growing, not a single bunch of chard.  And what really irked me, is they cut the greens off of their beets.  I mean really!  WTH?

I was getting a little tired of spinach.  Luckily I found myself in a different store in a different town and lo and behold!  They had beets with the greens attached!  Even though that's not what I was shopping for, I grabbed a bunch.  Oooo!  And they had chard.  Rainbow chard!  And they had mustard and kale and collards.  I stopped myself at the chard.  Then, for some reason I had a sudden urge for radishes and grabbed a bunch of those too.  So I left the store with my booty of greens ( and a bunch of strawberries and rhubarb too).  Two bags for less then $30. A lot cheaper then I usually pay for 2 bags of groceries.  This craving is saving me some bucks.

I got home and I roasted those beets in olive oil, kosher salt and fresh sage.  I sauteed the beet greens in olive oil, then tossed them with the beet infused oil from my roasted beets, which I had mixed with a little balsamic vinegar.  I topped the roasted beets with a little chevre cheese and I was one happy camper.  This meal ended up being quite a lot and I was able to squeeze a couple more meals out of it.  That same night I also made a strawberry rhubarb compote, so for breakfast I had whole milk honey yogurt topped with granola and my fresh homemade compote that tasted a little like summer.

But back to my greens - unfortunately I haven't been able to cook up my chard yet, that will be tomorrow, but tonight I got into my radishes.  I had a big lunch, so I didn't need a huge meal, and something crunchy and fresh sounded good.  So I made myself a butter and radish sandwich for dinner.  Perfect!  The sweetness of the butter against the peppery, slightly bitter flavor of the beets was just what I was craving.  And sprinkled with a little kosher salt on top.  Perfect.  But then I got to thinking, what about the radish greens?  (See, I really am obsessed with greens these days).  So I did a little searching and figured out I could make soup with them. I had everything I needed on hand.  A couple of potatoes, onion, chicken broth, butter, garlic, the radish greens and milk.  Very simple.  I sauteed the onions in the butter, threw in the diced potatoes, garlic and radish greens, tossed them in the butter and poured a couple cups of chicken broth on top.  I simmered for 30 minutes, cooled it and pureed it in my blender.  Then I put it back in the sauce pan and added about 1/4 milk and a dollop of sour cream, just because, and heated it through.  I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and I have a yummy lunch waiting for me tomorrow.  I was surprised at how tasty something with radish greens in it could be, and very pleased with myself for not wasting any part of the plant.  Waste not want not they say.

So tomorrow will be a baked potato, with sour cream of course, and chard sauteed in olive oil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and beet infused olive oil.  I'm getting my fill of dark leafy greens and feeling very healthy for my efforts.  I can't wait for the farmers markets to open up so I can start fulfilling some of my other cravings - like purslane, zucchini blossoms, and heirloom tomatoes ripened on the vine!  Oooo I can't wait for that!

Annapurna The Goddess of Nourishment

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spiritual Food Thought

"In this food I see clearly the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Pickled May Day

I spent my Saturday attacking the monster level of grass and weeds in my yard with a weed eater and my gloved hands.  I woke up almost unable to get out of bed this morning.  Enough with the yard for the weekend! Forget the raking that needs to be done - it can wait. Time to pickle some things instead! 
Two of my friends recently got carried away with their shopping and were kind enough to share their over abundance with me.  My friend Sony was over zealous with her Costco shopping and bought herself a whole bag of garlic - for one person!  I use a lot of garlic, but that's just too much for one person for every day cooking.  And my friend Michelle bought a pound of serrano peppers not realizing they might be a little too spicy for her taste.  For some reason they both thought I might be a good person to offer their excess purchases too.  Imagine that! 

But, I live 2 weeks of every month alone, and the other 2 with my girls, who eat like birds, so there was no way I was going to be able to use all of this abundance up with conventional every day cooking either, so I decided it was time to get the canning equipment out.  Time to PICKLE!

I started with the serrano's.  I found this great recipe from Rob Walsh's blog Texas Eats. Normally I fool around with peoples recipes and make them my own, but this just sounded too good to mess with.  The only difference is my serrano's weren't red.  I have to say, the smell in my kitchen while I was putting this together was spectacular.  I love the smell of chili's!  The serrano's I had were pretty mild, so they didn't overwhelm like pepper's usually do, they just made the house smell delicious, homey, pleasant.  Perfect for what felt like a summer day here in Humboldt. 

1 lb of serrano's, 1 lb of carrots, 1/2 lb onion, 1 1/4 cup white vinegar, 5 cloves of garlic peeled and quartered, t tbs olive oil, 1 tbsp Mexican oregano, 1 tbsp pickling salt, and 4 bay leaves - click on the Texas Eats link above for all of the instructions.

These babies aren't run through a hot water bath canning process, so they're perishable and need to be kept refrigerated.  I can't wait to taste them in a few days!

Now for the garlic!  Man!  Even with blanching garlic is a challenge. The pickling is easy, but it takes a lot of patience peeling all those cloves.  This would be a good thing to do with a friend or two.  It would go a little faster with extra hands, plus it would just be a nice way to sit and chat while you make it happen. 

I found this recipe at this awesome site called Gourmet Garlic Gardens.  This site has a lot of great information on garlic, you should check it out. 
Once I got my 10 heads of garlic separated, I blanched the cloves for 30 seconds in boiling water then threw them into some ice cold water to keep them from cooking any more.  This made it a lot easier to get the peel off of the cloves. 

I then combined 2 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 cup of white wine (can't help but wonder how red wine would do in this),1 tbsp pickling salt, 1 tbsp sugar 1 1/2 tbsp Mexican oregano and boiled that for 1 minute.  Removed it from the heat and added the peeled garlic and stirred for one minute. 

I then packed the garlic into 3 hot, sterilized pint jars, added one dried chili to each jar, then the hot liquid up to within 1 cm of the top of the jar.  I knocked the air bubbles out with a rubber spatula, wiped the rims clean, put the lids on and then processed them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  If you're at an elevation over 1000 ft increase the time by 5 minutes, 10 minutes if you're over 3000 ft and 15 if you're over 6000 ft. 

And there you have it!  A pickled Sunday!