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.

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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.

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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.