Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

I just wanted to take some time before Earth Day is officially over to contemplate some of the ways we can celebrate our earth through food, since that is really what this blog is all about.  Here is an Earth Day bouquet for you, freshly picked form our back yard.  ;)
And here are a few Earth Day recommendations for places to go for more information on food, the earth, and you:
  • Jamie Oliver TED Talk on Food - Great talk about the problems with food in our country and the effect it's having on all of us, especially kids.  
  • FRESH the Movie Trailer - Just saw this for the first time tonight!  Very similar to Food, Inc. (below), but a more of a focus on the great non-industrial food alternatives out there.  
  • Food, Inc. Movie Trailer - The go-to movie for information about the problems with our current food system and alternative ways to grow food.  
  • Michael Pollan Website - If you like the movies above, he'll fill in the details for you.  Pick up any book he's written to get started.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Green and Spicy Arugula Pesto

Pesto is about more than just basil.  For this pesto, I've used fresh arugula out of my garden (and out of necessity), but I've also done a mix of kale and arugula in the past which was delicious as well.  It's a fun way to get creative with greens and use up a bunch if you end up with a harvest bigger than you can handle.  This was pretty potent the first night, but much milder the second night.  Use it on pasta (as below), throw it in at the end to finish soups, or serve it with a splash of balsalmic vinegar as a dipping sauce for Bruschetta.  Keep it in the fridge or freeze it in ice cube trays to throw into whatever whenever.  The bright green color and spicy flavor is a punchy accent to any dish.
-3 cloves of garlic, mashed
-3-4 big handfuls of arugula (or other greens) + some for garnish, chiffonade
-1 handful of pine nuts + some for garnish
-olive oil
-salt and pepper
-whole wheat pasta, prepared
-grated Parmesan or Asiago

-->Put the garlic, pine nuts, and arugula into a food processor (or a blender) and blend adding oil until it forms a smooth consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over cooked pasta (about one tablespoon pesto to one cup of pasta).  Garnish with arugula, pine nuts, and cheese.  Serve!
~*TIP: If you plant arugula in late fall or early spring (depending on which zone you're in), you can harvest it several times by cutting it off at about 2-3 inches above ground when it starts to bolt (go to flower).  I've harvested my arugula forest (below) completely about two times now, and I'm hoping for a third.  This last harvest yielded two HUGE bags from maybe 6 square feet of garden space!*~

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Greens Pita Pizza

I debated whether pita pizza was worthy of a post, but it is after all one of my favorites (especially on a lazy night), and this version was just too tasty to pass up.  Pita pizzas are quick and easy, really hearty, and a great way to use up what's in your fridge.  For me that meant Mom's sauce, goat cheese, greens, and (much to Derek's dismay) kalamata olives.  Mmmmm...

-Pitas (white, whole wheat, sesame, whatever you got)
-1/4 c Onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Spring greens, chopped (I used arugula, spinach, and fresh basil)
-Goat cheese
-Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
-Parmesan cheese

-->  Put the pita in the toaster oven (or oven) at 400 degrees.  While it crisps, saute onions and garlic in oil.  Add greens.  Turn off heat and let wilt.  Take pita out, and spread sauce and goat cheese on it.  Toast again for a few minutes.  Top pita with sauted greens and onions, then with green olives, and sprinkle with parmesan.  Toast again until cheese is melted.  Mmmm... (again).  

Grounustu over Quinoa

Grounustu, or Ground Nut Stew as it was originally called, has become one of my favorite go-to meals.  My roommate Rachel renamed it by accident one night, and ever since it has been grounustu.  The recipe is adapted from my favorite cookbook these days, Simply in Season.  The stew is a really hearty vegetarian meal and pretty easy to make up at the beginning of the week and eat all week long.  The recipe uses a lot of cold weather crops and canned veggies, so you can make it fall through spring.  Don't be scared of the peanut butter!  You won't regret it.  

-1 large onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 medium butternut squash, cubed
-1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
-red pepper flakes
-4 c stewed tomatoes (I use a quart of my mom's home-canned whole tomatoes)
-1 c apple juice
-2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
-2 c green beans (again, a pint of the home-canned)
-1/2 c all natural peanut butter (aka just peanuts and maybe salt)
-quinoa, brown rice, or millet
-chopped green onions, parsley, cilantro, and/or crushed peanuts

--> Sauté onions and garlic in oil until translucent.  Add squash, cabbage, and red pepper flakes.  Mix.  Add tomatoes, apple juice, and ginger.  Cover and simmer until squash is fork tender (about 15 minutes).  Add green beans and peanut butter.  Mix peanut butter in and simmer until dissolved.  Serve over grain of your choice (quinoa, rice, millet) and top with onions, cilantro, parsley and/or peanuts.  

~*TIP: When cooking rice, quinoa, etc., add some salt, cilantro and green onions before you put the lid on.  Also, once you put the lid on, leave it!  (Just ask Derek...  I take this very seriously).  Turn the heat down and keep the lid on for the entire time the cooking directions tell you to (depending on the grain).  Don't peak!  You can also fold a tea towel or cloth napkin and put it between the lid and the pot for a really tight seal.  At the end of the cooking time, leave the lid on and let it sit for another 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.*~

Monday, April 12, 2010

I-Already-Ate-My-Dream Dilled Carrots

My dream carrots did not last long. I munched on a couple of them straight from the garden, but the rest I cooked up for dinner tonight. I have a huge stalk of dried dill still hanging from my blinds in the dining room. I need to use it before my fresh dill is in full force again this year, so it was a welcome accompaniment to this dish.

-carrots, sliced
-dried dill, crumbled
-salt and pepper
-carrot tops, chopped

--> Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat carrots in oil and season with salt, pepper, and dried dill. Roast for about 15 minutes until fork tender, stirring every few minutes. Sprinkle with chopped carrot tops right out of the oven.

~*TIP- Don't let your carrot tops go to waste! They can be chopped up and used like parsley to finish any number of dishes, like the one above, but are especially good to finish soups. They are also great to add to the stock pot if you are making a chicken or vegetable stock from scratch.*~

My Dreams Come True

I have literally been dreaming about harvesting carrots at least once a week for the past couple of months. Generally, in the dreams, I find these beautiful carrots growing somewhere that I had forgot I had planted them. I've been growing a small patch of carrots in my garden since last fall, but past attempts to pull them have yielded very tiny carrots. I left them over the winter and tried to forget about them so that I could wait to pull them at full size. Well, today, I couldn't take it any longer, and I pulled up four or five of them. Some are an orange variety, and others are purple... All are a little funny looking, but at least they've finally made my carrot dreams come to life. :)

Spring Salad Possibilities

This "recipe" includes many variations on a spring salad that uses things available during the spring from both the garden and the farmers market. It's a fun way to be able to "harvest" from the garden before any major crops are ready. I'll outline one version of a tasty spring salad, but mention several variations of each element along the way.


Greens, etc.:
->Start with a base of any kind of greens you like and have available. This is also a fun place to use edible flowers from you garden, such as Pansies!

-Baby Spinach
-Cut and come again lettuce
-Pansy petals
*Other variations: dandelion flowers and greens; young tender growth off of kale, swiss chard, radish or turnip greens; older outer leaves of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnip, chard that have been blanched; pea shoots or leaves.

Fresh Flavor:
-Fresh herbs, chopped (I included mint, parsley, cilantro, basil, lemon balm, and carrot tops)
-Red spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
-Green garlic shoots, sliced
*Other variations: any other fresh herbs you have available.

Dressing (one of c-dogg's favorites):
-Olive oil
-Apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
-Grainy mustard
-Salt and Pepper
*Other variations: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper make a good compliment to mint and parsley.


-Strawberries, sliced
-Asparagus, blanched and cut in thirds
-Radishes, sliced
-Goat cheese, crumbled
*You could also add sliced apples if they're still available, spring peas, other local cheeses, toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts, or leftover shredded chicken to up the protein content and make it a meal.

--> Wisk dressing ingredients together to taste. Toss greens, fresh flavors, and dressing together. Top with toppings of your choice. Serve and enjoy!

~*TIP: When you first pick or bring home your greens and flower petals, soak them in ice water until crisp. Then store in plastic bags with a barely damp cloth napkin or tea towel to keep them moist but not soggy.*~

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not to be outdone!

I'll admit, to this point, Amanda has been winning the blog war. Her pace of posting is perceivably pounding my own. Despite working more than any sane human should these days and for the foreseeable future, I will do my best to keep up and turn the tide. To that end, I present to you, pictures of Derek's yard!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Amanda's garden has got it growin' on.

Here are some photos of the curb-side garden at my house. The beds have all been put in over the course of the last year with lots of help from friends, and I've received a few donations of plants from family members as well. :)

I Love Spring Time at the NC Farmer's Market

It's officially springtime at the NC Farmer's Market... Purple asparagus, red ripe strawberries, red spring onions(who knew?), bags of rinsed baby spinach, bunches of cilantro and still plenty of butternut squash, onions, apples, and sweet potatoes left from fall.

~*TIP: When I get home from the market, I fill one side of the sink with cold water and a douse of white vinegar and the other side with cold water and a sprinkle of baking soda. I wash off my fruits/veggies in one side, then the other, and let them air dry on towels before bagging them up for the fridge. This way they're already clean of anything nasty when you're ready to use them, and you save water by doing it once rather than rinsing every time.*~

Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw

Last night D and I made some really tasty fish tacos with a red cabbage slaw. The fish was grouper caught off the coast of NC (according to the guy at the Capital Fish Market), and the slaw is made form a combination of veggies from my garden and the NC farmer's market... see below.


For the Fish:
-1-lb fillet of grouper (or other white fish)
-cumin, curry, salt, pepper

->Season the flower with spices to taste. Dredge the fish fillet in the seasoned flour and then brown in a pan with oil until white and flaky. Remove from pan and flake fish.

For the Slaw:
-1 c red cabbage, finely chopped
-1/2 c radishes, finely chopped
-1/4 c cilantro, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, mashed and minced
-1/2 c red spring onions, minced
-juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 a lime
-1 Tbsp brown sugar

->Combine cabbage, radish, cilantro, garlic, and onion. Mix sugar into lemon/lime juice until dissolved. Pour over slaw. Let sit to "pickle" the slaw a bit.

-->Serve in hard taco shells by layering flaked fish, grated cheese, fresh yogurt, and slaw. Enjoy!

~*TIP: We used bottom leaves off of my cabbage plants. This way you can harvest a little at a time before it's time to harvest the whole head.*~

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seed Babies!!

We currently have many fresh shoots from seed getting bigger by the day in Derek's warm sun room. We are growing everything from tomatoes to squash to kohlrabi! Most of the seeds are heirloom varieties, meaning they are not what you will find in your local grocery store (unless your local grocery store is really cool and/or a farmers market). Pictured below is about half of our seedlings as many have already moved from the sun room to the garden...