Kale Salad with Quinoa, and Black Kabuli Garbanzo Beans.

It seems we’ve moved into that time of year when a good selection of food from the garden becomes a bit scarce, what in olden times was called The Hungry Gap. Making a salad becomes a mix of what is in the house and garden. kale salad with garbanzosYesterday’s salad was based around the ever reliable kale. It’s getting a little tough but stripping it off the stem, tearing it into small pieces and then massaging with a small amount of olive oil renders it rather succulent.

We’re offering a new garbanzo this year, Organic Black Kabuli Beans. The skin is very dark, almost black. black Kabuli GarbonzosDecided to simmer it three minutes like we often do with any bean. Set it aside and tasted a bean that was nearly cooked, gave it another round of three minutes at a steady simmer and repeated. So all in all pretty impressed and it has a fine flavor.

So back to the salad, add some quinoa to the kale, some chopped apple and an orange. Add a bit of olive oil, lightly salt, sprinkle on a little chipotle pepper, some rice vinegar, You see it’s turning into a delicious melange that can’t ever be totally repeated but that’s what is nice about salads…we just make them. Take this mix and lay on a plate covered with arugula or lettuce leaves top with a good handful of Black kabuli chickpeas/garbanzos and crumble some feta over the top. Little of this and a little of that makes a good salad this time of year. Hope you are enjoying your garden as days grow just a little longer.

 

 

 

 

 

Kale Pizza with Garlic and Cheese

National Kale Day is October 7th, 2015.We are having kale for every dinner this week. Here is the most kale pizza scrumptious & nutritious pizza you may ever make. Pizza always seems a little self-indulgent but when you top it with about eight to ten cups cups of fresh kale, rinsed well then drained or dried you’ll enjoy it and it is so fast and easy everyone in the family will soon know how to make it.

Ingredients:
1 ball of fresh pizza dough 12 to 16 oz
Eight to ten cups of trimmed and chopped fresh kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
a dash of salt and black pepper
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
8 oz. fresh asiago, fontina or parmesan cheese
cornmeal to sprinkle on heated stone

Turn oven to 500 degrees and place pizza stone in oven as it heats.

As you see the emphasis and goodness of this dish relies on fresh ingredients. If they are unavailable, use what you have and vow to try it again with the suggested ingredients. While the dough is rising, wash kale and remove stems. You can chop or tear it into bits as you wish. Massage the kale with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. We use a pizza stone but any large baking pan will do the job but you may need to allow more cooking time. Roll dough to fit your stone. Sprinkle stone with cornmeal, place dough on stone and lightly curl up the edges. Now quickly arrange cheeses on top of the dough. Close oven and bake 2-3 minutes . Edges of dough will begin to color and cheeses are semi-melted. Open oven, spread kale and garlic over the cheeses. Now place pizza in the oven. Change temperature setting from bake to broil for 2 minutes. The edges of your kale leaves will look slightly crisped and the rim of the crust is browned in spots, If your pizza is not browned place back in hot oven for one to two minutes with broiler turned off. Remove pizza from stone to a cutting board. Want to know more about National Kale Day just google it.

Garlic Scape Pesto

It’s always fun to try a new recipe. I cook with garlic garlic scapes

all the time. May through June we cut off the sinuous young garlic scapes from our rocambole garlic and stir-fry or grill them with a touch of olive oil. This last week my friend Signe introduced me to Garlic Scape Pesto. The last of our scapes had flower tips that were drying and stems were a little firm. Sigrid showed us how to peel way the outer skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. We discarded the flower heads and cut the stems into 1 inch lengths to run in the food processor. For one cup chopped scapes add 1/2 cup olive and run in process until it’s chunky and add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. It was shockingly good, It’s not unusual to add basil, nuts or sunflower seed. I’ve taken to adding fresh dill and spearmint. So far we’ve enjoyed this was grilled salmon and chicken couscous. The couscous was a real surprise on one of those rushed workday evenings when guests are coming and the rhythm is not quite right in the kitchen. I had not made harissa sauce, a spicy sweet pepper sauce usually accompanying a chicken/vegetable couscous. We served pesto and surprise, we all kept eating eating a bite of couscous and a dab of garlic scape pesto. so if you still have scapes in the garden clip them off and if they still have a bit of tenderness try this recipe. The scapes only occur on the hard neck rocambole garlic varieties. The flowers this garlic produces is invariably sterile. Scapes are lovely in flower arrangements.

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 cup chopped garlic scapes-trimmed and peeled as necessary                                          1 half cup olive oil                                                                                                                        1 half cup Parmesan cheese, shreddedgarlic pesto

Place chopped scapes and garlic oil in food processor until coarsely chopped then add cheese and process only until well mixed. Pesto is good with the additions of herbs, spearmint, dill or basil. Blanched chopped almonds, cashews, walnuts or sunflower seeds are other possible additions. I no longer recommend pine nuts because there have problems with some nuts from China and the price is now exorbitant.

Fresh Pickled Carrots & Radishes

A friend brought her pickled carrots to a meeting and we all asked for the recipe. I’ve been putting in a slice of onion and a bruised garlic clove in each jar instead of the dry onion powder and garlic.

Pickled Carrots & Radishes

I cut the carrots to fit the jar and quarter the upper part and halve the lower if they are large. The jar looks appealing as long as some of the carrot pieces are left long. The radishes are cut into quarters if they are large like a Champion  and if tiny Cherriette types could be left whole. These make a nice little house gift just remind friends these should be eaten within two weeks.

Pickled carrots radishes

Makes 8 servings.

3 cups cider vinegar

1 cup sugar

¼ cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 pounds carrots, peeled, trimmed and quartered

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, garlic powder, onion powder. Bring to a simmer, stirring often until the slat and sugar are dissolved. Add the carrots and then bring to a boil and cook for an additional two minutes, then set aside to cool. This recipe works equally well with radishes but if combined the radish pigments will overwhelm the carrots so I cook the carrots first and reuse the vinegar spice solution to prepare the radishes.  Also I add two thin slices of fresh ginger to the radishes.

Once the vegetables are cool, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a jar or bowl. Ladle just enough of the liquid and spices over the vegetables to cover them. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Winter Salad with Prebiotics & Probiotics

8 cups mixed red & green cabbage, sliced

5 green onions(scallions sliced

5 fresh radishes, sliced

½ pound jicama julienned

1 crisp apple, quartered & sliced

parsley, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

parsley ¼ cup chopped

juice of one lemon

teaspoon fennel seed

Dressing

Natural yogurt 1 cup

2 tablespoons olive or nut oil

salt or honey as needed

The post-Thanksgiving festivities have ended and time to think about the best foods we can eat. A refreshing salad is the center an evening meal. These vegetables are full of vitamins and also rich in prebiotics from jicama and probiotics from yogurt and the optional touch of honey. Both prebiotics and probiotics play roles in our health. To greatly simplify in this draft Prebiotics are non-absorbable vegetables that feed probiotic bacteria and I think of them as forming a scaffolding for the growth of beneficial probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that maintain a healthy digestive system. In any event this salad or one like is good for us all. Make substitutions, maybe add a few nuts, switch out dried cranberries for raisins, pears or oranges for apples but keep the jicama and yogurt.

 

Blueberry Fool for April Fool’s Day

Fruit fools are old fashioned desserts made from on a handful of ingredients. As a gardener with a freezer I have food in the freezer to use before the bounty of summer is upon us. Blueberry FoolI’ve always thought recipes for fruit fool’s were too rich and have passed them by. In anticipation of April Fool’s Day and wanting an unbaked dessert with blueberries this seemed doable. I doubled the blue berries, replaced half the whipping cream with yogurt, cut the sugar to two tablespoons and added two tablespoons of Greek rose preserves. Another time I’ll try orange marmalade.

Recipe for 4

2 cups frozen Blueberries                                                                                                   1/2 cup heavy whipping cream                                                                                          2 tablespoons sugar                                                                                                             1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons rose petal preserves

BBFool setupSelect four glass containers for your dessert dishes. Coarsely chop frozen berries in a food processor and set aside a few whole berries to use as a topping. Whip cream in a cold mixing bowel and stir in sugar. Add preserves to yogurt. To setup this dessert alternate spoonfuls of berries, yogurt and whipped cream into each glass until all ingredients are used. Lightly run a table knife lightly through each dessert serving.

Dandelion Bud Omelet

First Day of Spring. Here it was beautiful and sunny though once again rain was predicted. I was out pulling dandelions today and remembered how much we love a dandelion bud omelet. Here’s my recipe from Basic Herb cookery. They remind me of artichokes.

dandelion bud omelet½ cup dandelion buds

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 9-12” non-stick skillet on medium high. Saute rinsed and drained dandelion buds in butter until softened. Pour beaten eggs over buds and sprinkle choves over the eggs. Use a spatula to gently lift eggs in pan and let uncooked eggsrun under cooked portion. When bottom is golden and eggs have set on the outer edges, fold in half. Remove from heat and let firm up for about 30 seconds before serving.Two or three tablespoons Swiss or freshly shredded Parmesan cheese adds to the flavor.

Today I used a full cup of young buds and 6 eggs for three people. Our daughter gave us truffle salt so sprinkled that on…delicious, and with a bit of parmesan quite a delicious dinner. Garnished with a few blossoms and substituted fresh green onions for chives.

When pulling the dandelions I was struck by how many slugs were hanging around though I wasn’t seeing damaged buds, they obviously had been eating petals.

Winter Kale with Cranberries and Apples

Winter gardens are often brimming with kale sweetened from a few frosty days. There are many ways to serve this hyper nutritious vegetable. Young tender kale needs no special preparation other than removing stems thicker than a pencil. Over mature kale can be tough if the leaf veins are over developed. If so, remove the stem and most obvious veins, chop the kale and parboil six minutes. Strain, and braise in skillet following the recipe below. Parboiling is a traditional Mediterranean method and your kale will be more tender and milder in flavor.

Image

1 1/2 lbs kale, prepared following above directions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste or 1 teaspoon Siracha sauce (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white balsamic or cider vinegar
2 tart firm apples sliced vertically into ½” thick pieces Remove core but don’t peel

 Take a large skillet fitted with a lid and place on medium high heat; Add oil, and chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Now add coarsely chopped or parboiled kale and garlic. Cook ten minutes or until tender. Toss in a handful of dried cranberries, a touch of hot sauce and salt and turn with spatula. When kale is cooked add slender vertical slices of two unpeeled tart apples, Cover, let sit ten minutes and it’s ready to serve. The objective is to have tender kale and semi cooked apples.

Triple Ginger Cookies

Served @ Nichols 2013 Plant Day and a few tea and Ginger Cookiescookie Saturdays. My favorite cookie. Easy to make the dough can be frozen and pulled out as needed. Use unsalted butter for a crisp cookie. we offer the spices listed below and recommend the Bakers Cut Ginger, so easy to handle and the Vietnamese Cinnamon is rich in flavor. I tend to usually not cloves but they belong on this cookie. Grating a cold cube of butter is a quick solution when butter is cold from the refrigerator.

Oven temperature 350 degrees  Form into 1″ balls  Bake 12 minutes  Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper and leave cookies on sheet for three minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Makes two to three dozen cookies depending on size. With a 1″ ball I get 30 cookies.

2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Vietnamese/Saigon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves, ground
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup Bakers Cut Ginger or minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon pressed minced fresh ginger juice
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter (softened or grated)
1 egg
¼ cup unsulphured molasses

Sift first six ingredients and set aside. Place remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, turn to medium low speed and when ingredients are well combined add flour mix one cup at a time and only mix until it develops a dough like consistency. Place dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove and follow instructions above. These cookies spread  so don’t place closely together.
*The ginger juice will be about 1/2 teaspoon and can be pressed through a very clean garlic press. If frozen and thawed before pressing it will be quite easy.

Plum Salsa

Plum Salsa

Plum Salsa

If summer demands fresh salsa and tomatoes aren’t ripe consider plums or other fruits as a base. Here in the Pacific Northwest a good plum tree will easily produce a bushel or two of fruit every year. This recipe has a touch of SE Asia to it but if you want a savory Mexican touch, hold the mint, cucumber, and fish sauce. Spice it up a bit with chipotle pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon mild chile powder and possibly some minced garlic. This “free form”salsa is good in a burrito, over veggies and rice, with chicken breast, fish or meat.

2 cups chopped fresh plums (not overly ripe)

2/3 cup Walla Walla Sweet or other mild onion

½ cup diced cucumber (include no seeds)

2 minced Jalapeno peppers, seeds and removed

4 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons minced Vietnamese or other mint

1 tablespoon Nuoc Mam fish sauce or salt to taste

Welcome Earth Day 2013

Today is Earth Day and a time we think about our beautiful earth and what we can do to help and maintain it.  Of course as gardeners and readers, the simple act of sowing seeds or planting is a benefit. Because I’m preparing a talk for our local museum about the gardening and seed production heritage of Western Oregon,  I’ve been giving some thought about “knowing our place”.  Know your place is usually a negative disciplinary phrase.  But let’s reassess this and do what we can to better know the place where we live and how it relates to the food production, beauty, preservation and history of our earth.  By knowing the tremendous value of seed crops here in the Willamette Valley I’m very afraid of canola seed being planted on or near fields where it can cross-pollinate or the dropped seeds will contaminate the soil for future crops. The better we know our place the more able we are to understand and speak out the occasional big issue that does appear. I will continue to express this concern along with hundreds of farmers and gardeners and hope it will make a difference. Know your place!   ~ Rose Marie
For suggestions on food gardening and Earth Day click on the image below and read this Huffington Post piece to which I happily contributed.
R-KITCHEN-GARDEN-HOW-TO

Water Kefir – Linda Ziedrich

Friends,

My friend, Linda Ziedrich, has posted a richly informative article on Water Kefir “Tibicos”. I’ve been making this on and off and especially enjoy a refreshing probiotic-rich glass in warmer months. Linda, author of my much used “Joy of Pickling” has researched water kefir and brings forth information new to me. This is just like sharing seeds or plants with someone and having them return with a few new tricks on how to grow these plants. I do recall my morning of three showers, first when I got up, then opening my very fizzy water kefir and having it pour over my hair and all and then the cleanup.

To read this article click on http:agardenerstable.com on my blogroll to your right.

Quince-honey tibi

Celeriac Salad

Celeriac Salad is one of our winter favorites. A little unusual, easy to prepare, and keeps for three to four days. Serve as a salad or add to sandwiches.
February through mid-March is the time to start your celeriac transplants, they will seem slow to start but become quite robust. They’ll store through winter and an average root weighs up to a pound or more. Transplant to a sunny spot and you can keep in the ground unless a hard freeze is anticipated. These root cellar beautifully or store in damp sawdust. An unusual factoid is roots are probably the original jack-o-lanterns and were carved into fearsome faces.

Celeriac Salad

Celeriac shredded 1 pound to 1.25
Carrots,  3 peeled
Cilantro  ½ cup chopped and not packed
Garlic   2 gloves minced or pressed
Lemon juice ¼ cup
Olive oil 3 T
Sour cream 1T
Mayonnaise 2T, lowfat ok
Salt & pepper to taste

Peel the celeriac, cut into chunks and shred in a food processor. I always exert a little pressure for a thicker shred. Cut carrots into chunks and shred. Rinse cilantro and set aside. Mix garlic with following ingredients for dressing. Mix vegetables and dressing until well combined and then add cilantro. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and I hope you will enjoy.

Sow Peas On Valentines Day

HEARTS4PeasPeas, flat, round, long and short, crisp or tender, these are one of the first vegetables to plant in spring. In many parts of the country Valentine’s Day is traditional for pea planting. I look around and it’s a pretty day this year with soil temperatures up to 40 degrees, suitable for pea planting. When I head home today the peas are going in the ground. Here are my favorites and why…what do you do with peas, eat them of course and toss polyspun row cover over the young sprouts if birds in your neighborhood think the young shoots are nesting material. The row cover also gives a temperature boost for faster growth. Plant seeds no deeper than 1”. I make a little furrow and cover with ½” of soil and once they’re up add more, so roots are protected from heat later in the season. I also use legume inoculant so there’s no need to need to add nitrogen since this organically approved product helps legume plants utilize atmospheric nitrogen for growth. All four varieties I’ve listed can be planted for spring and again in mid-July for a fall crop. These are all results of the Oregon State University Horticulture Dept. vegetable breeding program. Multiple disease resistant including enation virus and powdery mildew.

Cascadia Snap Pea: A tall bush type, more productive and sweeter than other bush snaps we’ve grown. Let tender pods fatten up for maximum flavor.

Oregon Sugar Pod II: The most widely grown Sugar Pod in the world. Perfect for Asian stir-fries and you’ve undoubtedly eaten this delicacy in many a Chinese restaurant.

Oregon Giant Sugar Pod: Pease are about 50% larger than OS Pod II and a touch sweeter. It’s a great home garden variety because it takes fewer for a meal and most home cooks like the larger size but little used commercially.

Oregon Trail Pea: This all-purpose shelling pea is twin podded and there’s nothing homier than shelling a mess of peas with a class of iced tea beside you.

We’ll share some pea recipes later in the season…but planting as early as possible is the essential first step. And, these all grow well in containers as Maggie and I discussed in McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container.

Festive Holiday Salad of Reds & Greens

For holiday potlucks we like to do a little extra. Set on a bed of tender greens, this salad combines reds, greens and white as a holiday theme.holiday salad

Ingredients:

Butter Lettuce, Mache, & Radicchio, dressed lightly with oil, vinegar and salt

Roasted Beets: Peel, slice into narrow vertical strips, drizzle with oil, vinegar, salt and optional pomegranate molasses. Set in an inner ring over greens.

Deviled Eggs: 12 eggs hard boiled. Yolks, mashed and  combined with a rounded teaspoon Dijon or your favorite mustard, a quarter teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Fill eggs with yolk mix. If any of the whites hopelessly break apart just add yolk to mixture and set aside or discard the whites. As a last step place eggs.

Parsley, rinsed and chopped, 1/3 cup…sprinkle over beets and salad greens followed by pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Seeds: Purchase ready to use if possible. Used about 1/3 of a cup and provided a delightful crunch.

Place eggs around salad and take to your event. Do not cover with plastic wrap, it will make a mess of the eggs. Sit it all on a large tray or cookie sheet in back of car.

Roasting beets: I wrap them individually in foil and roast at 350 for about an hour. This time I made the mistake of not peeling shortly after roasting and that did not save time.

Achoca with Sweet Red Peppers

Achoca (Cyclanthera) is sometimes referred to as a stuffing cucumber. It is native to the Andes and much cooked in Bolivia and is also grown and eaten in Bhutan. Recipes are difficult to find, most commonly it is stuffed with a rice & meat combination.  I have made this but found filling small fruits rather time consuming. They can also be filled with cheese and baked. These are good sliced and used with mixed veggie stir fries. In Bolivia, garlic is standard with achoca so this recipe is extra generous. This mild vegetable picks up other flavors and seasonings. I like the appearance of the halved fruits, they cook easily in a skillet with high sides. In this photo fruits ranged from 2” to 5” in length.
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of oil
3 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped (1.5 tablespoons)
½  to one cup sweet red pepper strips
1 pound or six cups of achoca halves, scooped free of seeds and pith
1 teaspoon or more Siracha sauce

With any stir fry it is best to have all the prep work done before cooking begins. Scoop out any loose material and seeds from the Achoca halves. Dried mature seeds may be used in a future garden. Heat skillet, when hot add garlic and in a few seconds add pepper strips. Last add achoca halves and stir and turn until they are softened about 5 minutes. If they are not yet tender cook for another one or two minutes, add Siracha sauce and salt to taste. This amount of siracha gives a spicy but not overpowering amount of heat but taste your way to your own preference.

Shishito Peppers Fresh Fried

This time of year peppers are in glorious high production. A simple delicious preparation is to fry fresh thin walled peppers in a bit of olive oil until the skins are blistered. sprinkle with a bit of salt and eat holding the stem, pepper, seeds and all. This batch was with our Japanese Shishito Peppers which have the slightest spicy tang. Just recently a member of our book group fried up Spanish Padron Peppers picked fresh from her garden. They were equally delicious and very similar in taste to the Shishito we’ve been eating. Several years ago we were in Mexico and the restaurant served us Serrano peppers fried in a bit of oil and salted. Same preparation and a relatively thin walled pepper. These were hot as blazes and so delicious we kept eating though our faces were getting a little red. I urge you to give this seasonal treat a try.

Methley Plums – The Taste of Summer Food

This summer is the year of fruit. One crop of fruit goes banging into the next. My fingers are hopelessly purple after spending a weekend up to my elbows in Methley Plums Cherries, gooseberries, currants have come and gone and our previously most ungenerous plum has produced a bounty of fruit.

Sam Benowitz of Raintree Nursery in Washington, saw this early plum was forced into bloom for the Seattle Northwest Flower & Garden Show several years ago when NW Garden Writers Assoc. members and Pierce County WA Master Gardeners teamed up to construct a food garden promoting the GWA “Plant A Row For The Hungry” program. We received a gold medal and The People’s Choice Cup”. It was time for me to retire from designing show gardens.

When we dismantled the garden I purchased this plum tree from Sam and planted it in our home garden. While it has a lovely spring shower of blooms, in previous years the fruits have been small and sparse. This year we have a huge supply of medium sized Japanese plums. The fruits are a deep red, a delicious sweet tart flavor and a good size for eating out of hand. The pits are not freestone but can be cut in half and popped out with a paring knife. The deep colors must mean it’s full of anthocyanins and bioflavonoids.

With this much fruit, I’ve had ample opportunity to experiment on how what to do with pecks of plums. These are recipes which we can wing it with the abundance of summer, so nothing precise, be careful with hot peppers, the heat can build. I’m not giving you my recipe for jam failure but it happened. Eat your fill of these fresh plums. They’ll store for about two weeks in a refrigerator.

Fresh Plum Salsa, chopped up plums, jalapenos, cilantro, a colorful bell pepper, onion, a little garlic, lime juice and salt. If you want to use a processor do it with a light touch. I prefer the chopped texture.

Chipotle Plum Barbeque Sauce, 6 cups of pitted plums, 3 medium onions, t tablespoon chipotle chili powder & one tablespoon smoked paprika, or 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce, 3 large cloves of garlic, minced, ½ cup cider vinegar sugar and salt to taste after cooking. Run these ingredients in a food processor or finely chop. Put in a heavy non-reactive pan and simmer until thickened. Give these an occasional stir and it’s good to be doing another kitchen task so you can make there is no scorching. Remove from heat, season with sugar and salt. When cool package some up in small containers and share.

Plum Purple Basil Pie, Use any good pie recipe, I prefer those heavy on the fruit. Check out a peach pie recipe and simply substitute plums. The purple basil brings in a nice spicy flavor without little green specks but any basil can be used. A touch of cinnamon can be added.

Plum Dessert Sauce three cups of halved or quartered plums, 1 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons lavender flavored a honey ( a gift that is too strong for toast but good in sauces and lemonade)…add more if you think best, ½ cup sugar, 4 crushed or freshly ground cardamom seeds and 1 teaspoon vanilla. A little cinnamon, a bay leaf, a few drops of almond flavoring or liquor are all possible additions. Prepare the plums while you bring other ingredients to a boil in a non-reactive pan, reduce liquid by about 1/3.  Add plums and gently cook for three minutes. If sauce seems too thin for your liking pour off some of the juices, cool slightly and combine with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Reheat until starch is cooked, it will be transparent. Excellent with pound cake, a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Homemade pound cake, good ice cream or real whipped cream recommended.

If you have a good supply of plums give one of these recipe suggestions a try and don’t be hesitant to tweak to your taste. These should work with almost any plum variety. I see our crop from the Prunus Mume is maturing fast. Just rubbing one leaves a fragrance on my fingers but coming up with something besides salted ume’ plums may be a challenge but oh, to capture the fragrance when it’s not an eating plum.

Our helpful Predators – Cinnabar Moths

The predatory bugs, beetles and in this case the lovely Cinnabar moth are in full force in summer months. Before the Cinnabar Moth was introduced to control Tansy Ragwort, this plant was the bane of farmers with grazing cattle or horses. animals commonly died upon eating Tansy Ragwort. Sheep are curiously unaffected.

This plant, a member of the Senecio family is highly toxic and grew with abandon throughout Western Oregon until the introduction of this moth by Oregon State University researchers in 1960. The moth is native to western Europe and parts of Asia. the moths seek our the tansy plants, lay eggs and in a few weeks their larval offspring are denuding the plants of flowers and foliage. It has proven a positive introduction to our region. Like all predators they don’t exterminate their source of food. We do notice a cycle of tansy showing up along the roadsides and the following year an increase in Cinnabar Moths.

Garden Chives – Allium schoenoprasm

A stand of garden chives planted in the ground or growing in a container provides a lift to spring cookery. The mild onion-like flavor and tender texture. Schoenoprasm roughly translates to grassy leek or sedge leek. It is the slender foliage that can over mingle with weed grasses that leads me to grow it in a container. It is an attractive plant in late spring with the fresh outspread foliage. Our chives are just beginning to show buds and here are a few suggestions on how to use and care for chives.

When blooms open cut the tough flower stem all the way to the base. Give the flower head a sharp twist off the stem and it will break into a handful of lavender pink florets. These are delicious and beautiful scattered over a green salad, an omelet, baked potatoes, fresh fish, and more. The chives will produce all summer and benefit from regular light fertilizing. To harvest, determine how many stems you need and cut to the base and they will sprout new shoots. If you only cut half way down, the stubby stems will reproachfully sit and slowly turn brown at the tips.

Chives when provided six hours of sun a day, fertilizer and moisture grow vigorously and are best divided in late summer or early fall. Dig the clump from the ground or remove from container with a few taps and a tug. The simplest way to divide is drop the plant from about 15″ and roll to loosen the bulb clusters. These can be transplanted into assorted containers or planted in the ground. I recommend working about a tablespoon of bonemeal per pot or cluster when replanting. Plant several small clumps together so you have a strong planting come next spring.

This summer keep your plants fertilized, my usual preference is liquid seaweed, Sea Magic or Maxi Crop and a rounded teaspoon of bonemeal scratched into the soil per plant for established plantings. Chives are tolerant of some shade. Chive varieties recommended for greenhouses have a stouter stem and tolerate reduced light without becoming floppy.

Cilantro Dip or Green Sauce

We’ve been enjoying this all week and it is one of those recipe that varies not in a bad way but cilantro doesn’t always taste quite the same. Nevertheless, this began as a dip for carrots. Since then it’s been part of a salsa omelet, a dip for chips and added to burritos.

Ingredients:

1 large bunch fresh cilantro
2-3 cloves peeled garlic
5 green onions
1-3 jalapeno peppers, deseeded
1/4 cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Directions: all these ingredients will be chopped and placed in blender or food processor. Rinse cilantro and trim off stems, coarsely chop garlic, trim onions leaving 3-4″ green tips, cut peppers in half and remove seeds and pithy cavity lining. Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. You may wish to add peppers one by one since they vary in heat. Add a little less salt than you think necessary and allow mixture to sit in blender for 30 minutes. Add more jalapeno, salt as needed and even additional lime or lemon juice if you want additional tartness. Puree again and serve or store until needed. Our Purple Haze Hybrid carrots are shown on the plate with the Cilantro Dip. Cut the carrots on a sharp diagonal and they make great chips for dipping. These carrots are easy to grow with stunning delicious results. Cilantro can be sown every three weeks for a steady supply. Papaloquelite is a good summer substitute for cilantro which bolts in hot weather. Slices of Yacon should be delicious with this dip.

Marinated Winter Squash Salad

I‘m always looking for easy ways to use our crops of winter squash and have adapted this unusual recipe found in “Cooking From An Italian Garden by Scaravelli & Cohen. A cooked salad from winter squash struck me as novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The squash in the photo is Sibley Select, a sweet thick-fleshed Cucurbita maxima. Other varieties of winter squash are also suitable and find them preferable to pumpkin.

Winter squash 2-2.5 lb. piece, deseeded.

Roast in oven 30-45 minutes, only until

it can be pierced by a fork but is still firm

1 red or green bell pepper, diced

2-3 green onions finely sliced

1 rounded Tbsp capers (optional)

Dressing:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

1 tsp. Nichols Malibu blend or ½ tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves finely minced

A few drops of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce

Allow lightly roasted squash to cool. Remove rind and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add chopped bell pepper and onions and combine with squash mixture.Add dressing and mix. Cover and marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. When ready to serve add salt to taste and sprinkle with 2-3 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley. Serve at room temperature.

The flavor of garlic and hot pepper can intensify overnight. To correct add more chopped bell pepper or ½ cup chopped celery. This keeps for three to four days and is quickly transformed into soup with a 13 oz. can of coconut milk and ½ cup water. Blend until smooth. Place all in a medium size saucepan and simmer for ten minutes. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of cilantro.

Forcing Winter Branches Into Bloom

Every New Year I cut branches of shrubs and trees to force into early bloom. Think Spring! Now we have vases and jars of  Flowering Quince, Forsythia, Dogwood, Daphne, Hazelnut, and Willow.  A branch of Snow Berry adds a little substance to it all. When I brought in the branches the stems were gently scrubbed and recut before placing in water. The first few days it’s best to change the water daily. After three or four days if the buds are swelling I ease up. If buds are not swelling and branches are not using water your house may be too dry and a misting will help the buds open. Also cut off 1/2″ of stem to give them a fresh start. These are meant as simple directions for casual enjoyment of what’s in the garden at the beginning of a brand New Year. Place one variety per container since they bloom and leaf out on different schedules.  I’ll put up more photos when we have color. Place these flowering stems in a bright area but out of direct sun.

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Greek Pumpkin Pie

This version of pumpkin pie, incorporates winter squash or pumpkin, with gently cooked onion, feta, spearmint and filo, traditional Greek foods. Well the pumpkin is a little unusual but I have frozen winter squash left from last year. There are versions that are sweet as well as savory. I plan to make it again and will add half a cup of golden raisins, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper not so traditional but I think the flavors will compliment. Aleppo pepper is offered by Nichols and is a Syrian hot sweet paprika that is coarsely ground. I use a lot of this in my cooking, it’s a gentle intensely flavored pepper not widely available in this country. The coiled design is traditional but if you are in a hurry cook it as you would Spanakopita with a few layers of filo, then filling topped with 6-8 sheets of filo.

4 cups baked or canned Pumpkin or Squash, pureed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ large onions sautéed in olive oil

¾ lb. feta cheese ,crumbled

1 ½ tbls. dried spearmint,

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 heaping tablespoons dry breadcrumbs or panko (see preparation notes)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1lb filo defrosted and allowed to sit out of refrigerator for one hour

1 10” Spring form pan coated with olive oil

Preparation: I used Sibley Squash which is not as moist as fresh or canned pumpkin. If you are using pumpkin try to pour off any visible liquid and include breadcrumbs which will be unnecessary with many squash.

Sauté onions finely chopped (a whirl in the food processor is fine) in olive oil for about 8 minutes at medium heat. Combine pumpkin, cooked onion, cheese, spearmint, crumbs, salt & pepper and taste. Note: eggs are added last so you can safely taste this mixture and check seasoning. Last stir in eggs.

Turn oven to 350 degrees and have a rack in center

Unwrap package of filo, and cover sheets with a tea towel.

On a clear work surface take first filo sheet, place it horizontally in front of you and very lightly brush with olive oil. Sheets do not need to be evenly coated. Place a second sheet on top of first and make an even strip of filling 2” above the lower edge and filling to the left and right margins. I used a scant ½ cup for each strip. Fold filo over the filling and roll over lightly brushing each turn with olive oil until you have completely rolled your first coil. Place this along the inside edge of pan. Lay each coil next to the last end and work to center until the pan is filled. Should you have extra filling wrap separately in filo and bake. If it looks as though you’ll run short start using a little less filling as you finish. Mine did come out exactly even with these amounts.

Lightly brush top of pie with olive oil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for one hour and check. If dough is still looking pale continue cooking and check at ten minute intervals until nicely browned. Carefully remove the pan ring, first running a knife blade along edge.  Allow to cool for twenty minutes and then transfer to serving plate. Run a spatula all under pie to loosen before transferring. This recipe runs rather long because these steps will be new to most readers. If  you have access to sheep milk feta buy it,  as it produces a superior result. this pie served with a little salad is an adequate dinner and also a good side dish. This is good hot or cold. Reheat in a warm oven. A microwave does no favor to filo based dishes as they lose the delightful crisp quality and begin to steam.