FOUND IN: Uncategorized on March 23, 2013
It's true that we have been in the season of leafy greens for awhile now. Some of you may have grown weary of trying to think of something else to do with them. Here's a little encouragement.
The very best thing to do when that beautiful box of ruffled green and red leaves shows up is to fill the sink with water immediately and clean all of your greens. Wash them well, remove the stems, pop them into the salad spinner to get rid of excess water (which can make them deteriorate faster) and then fluff them into plastic bags. Add a couple of paper towels in there to absorb moisture and keep them fresh.
Now when you are pressed for time to get dinner on the table, you have a delicious, colorful and healthy side dish ready to go. Sauteed greens are my absolute favorite accompaniment to a piece of fish. I will often stop by the fish market on the way home, grab a lovely piece of fish, and within 20 minutes of arriving home, I can have dinner on the table. The greens and pan-seared fish take about the same amount of time to cook, and if the greens are prepped, dinner is a snap. I also cook brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole red-skin potatoes, on the week-ends, in large enough amounts to have a starch course ready to go during the week. I may, then, roast the potatoes, mash the sweet potatoes, or make a quick fried-rice with the brown rice. What can I say? Prep is everything.
But I hear you. It's been a long winter, and sauteed greens may be getting tiresome. There are lots of other options. These are the reasons I love having prepped kale (or any other greens) in my fridge:
- They are the quickest possible side dish and go with everything.
- They turn a smoothie into a complete meal (and are virtually undetectable in taste).
- They make fabulous snacks when turned into Kale Chips.
- When young and tender, they make a great salad, especially with buttermilk dressing.
- They are a wonderful addition to almost any soup or stir-fry. Just throw in a handful or two.
- They pair well with all forms of beans and legumes.
- They take up a lot less room, when prepped than they do with their stems
- They are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, and when they are already prepped you tend to eat them.
I have added several new greens recipes to the Farm section of this site. Check them out: "Spicy Kale Chips", "Pineapple, Avocado and Kale Smoothie", and "Swiss Chard, Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto". There's also a great buttermilk dressing there for you to try in a dark green salad. Break out of your winter doldrums with some new dishes!
FOUND IN: The Fare on March 23, 2013
When you are craving a crisp, salty snack, whip up a batch of these. It only takes a few minutes, and you are rewarded with a virtuous, healthy, but totally satisfying snack. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was junk food.
Yield: 1 large bowl-full of chips Oven: 300 - 325° Convection oven: 250 - 275°
- 1 large bunch of kale, washed and torn into 2" pieces (or however you like; they do shrink a little)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- pinch cayenne
- pinch of cumin
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
In a small ramekin, mix the spices together until well-blended. You can vary them to taste. (To make plain kale chips, just omit everything but the salt and olive oil.)
Dry the kale well, in a salad spinner. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the olive oil and enough of the spices to lightly coat. Spread on a baking sheet. Put in the oven. Check them after about 10 minutes. Toss them around and let them bake until completely crisp but not burned. In my convection oven, they take 15 to 20 minutes at the lower temperature. The slower you cook them, the crispier they become.
Pour them into the serving bowl and snack away, guilt-free!
Note: you can use any kind of kale for this recipe. You can also make chips out of almost any dark leafy green: swiss chard, beet greens, tender collards, etc. Experiment!
FOUND IN: The Fare on February 23, 2013
I use a lot of garlic in my cooking. However, I don't always want to stop and chop every time I prepare a meal. I could buy prepared garlic in jars at the grocery store, but I don't like all of those chemicals and preservatives in my food. Frankly, I don't like the taste or smell of prepared garlic, either. So here's my solution:
When I buy garlic, I buy the firmest, tightest heads I can find. The next time I need chopped garlic, I mince a whole head or sometimes two. I crush the heads with the heel of my hand, separate the cloves, smash each one under the blade of my chef's knife to flatten it and then start chopping. If the garlic is very sticky, I sprinkle a tiny bit of kosher salt (which I keep in a ceramic jar at my work station) on it. This helps keep it from sticking to the knife and makes it faster and easier to chop. Once the garlic is evenly chopped, I put it in a small ramekin, cover it with olive oil and then with plastic wrap. It will keep like that in the fridge for a week or more. I add more olive oil than is necessary to cover the garlic. That gives me some garlic-flavored oil to drizzle on bread for bruschetta or to use as a finishing oil for salads. When I need garlic to make a dish, I simply spoon out the chopped garlic and add more oil to keep it covered. Dinner prep is a snap when I have the garlic ready to go.
Note: prepped garlic needs to be refrigerated and covered completely with oil or it can spoil.
FOUND IN: The Fare on February 23, 2013
Wasp pollinating the thyme flower
This is another in our series of Serendipity Suppers. Here's how it happened. Friday evening I arrived home to find my spouse behind the refrigerator which was now sitting in the middle of the kitchen. I'm thinking this is probably not a good sign. The freezer compartment had completely thawed. Fortunately he caught it before it went above 35 degrees, so most things could be rescued (well, except for the ice cream). He had moved things that were still frozen to the big freezer in the basement, but there were 3 small pieces of beef that had completely thawed. One was a rib-eye, one a piece of chuck and the other some sirloin. Pretty random.
I don't know about you, but that sounded like stew to me. I remembered a beautiful bunch of thyme that had come in this week's farm share. A mostly full bottle of red wine sat on the counter. I had stock in the downstairs freezer, some smoky Benton's bacon, and a loaf of good bread. There were tiny whole white potatoes in the larder. I wrote a grocery list for baby onions and a pound of mushrooms. I called some friends to come for dinner Saturday night.
The potatoes were pan-roasted and served on the side. We had a beautiful salad of pea tendrils, spring mix, apples, and green onions in an orange vinaigrette. All but the apples came from my farm share. It was not exactly Julia's Bouef Bourginon, but it was delicious, hearty, rich and the perfect end to a rainy day.
FOUND IN: Nature, The Farm on February 04, 2013
The monotone hum fills the row of bolted broccoli. Thousands light within the yellow flowers, looking for the golden yellow powder. Many fly with the weight of full pollen baskets back to the hive. Winter has not been a time of relaxation. Warmer than usual, it has spurred active flight looking for pollen and nectar.
We think it is a time to surround the queen, keep her warm, safe and happy. And it is. But this winter has been about more. The bounty comes early. They do not delay.
And today it was obvious as the landscape surrounding us was alive.