Wednesday, June 29, 2011

37 Strawberries A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

As if we need another reason to gobble up those summer strawberries. New research has shown that consuming flavonoid rich foods (such as strawberries) every day can reduce your risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. The study found that mice fed the equivalent of 37 strawberries a day had less incidences of this diseases.

You can read the full story here. Until then, what are you waiting for? Start eating your strawberries. 37 maybe a little extreme, but every little helps!!

What's Cookin?: Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote with Ginger and Lime

I had the weirdest craving for something sweet. I had some strawberries and rhubarb in the refrigerator. I was planning on making a compote as a topping for pancakes. But now I wanted something for dessert.

I found a box of cornbread mix in the pantry. It sounded like a weird combination at first but you wouldn't believe how yummy it tasted! To spice up the compote, I added some ginger and lime juice and zest. What a treat!!

Compote is very versitile. Serve it with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, angelfood cake, pound cake, pancakes, waffles or even cornbread!! Don't knock it till you try it!

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote with Ginger and Lime
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2003
Makes 2 pint jars

3 c. fresh rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch wide pieces
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
3 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, minced
zest of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
1 pint container fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

1) Combine rhubarb, sugar, water, ginger, lime zest and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Simmer gently until the rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. Add about 1/2 the strawberries and continue to cook for another 3 more minutes.

2) Remove pan from heat. Stir in the remaining strawberries. Chill the mixture until cold, about 1 hour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June Cucumbers

The cucumber plants are coming along. It's June and they all still have a ways to go. I have a total of 4 types that I'm growing this year. Some are for fresh eating and some were grow specifically for making pickles.

This is a Parisian pickling cucumber. I was intrigued with the description in a catalog. They're typically picked small.

These are Lemon cucumbers. I love these guys. They're really unusual as they are round and yellow. They taste lovely. I usually eat them just like an apple. Yummy!

This is the lone Tasty Green cucumber. I hope it survives. It's a long Japanese cucumber. I've grown this one before and it's very tasty.

These guys are Boston Pickling cucumbers. Right now they're being shaded out by the celery. I'll have to tie the celery stalks to give the cucumbers more sunshine. So far they're holding their own.

My next task is to figure out a trellis for the first two plants. I may go with a tepee type. Any ideas?

**Linking to Jami's Garden Party**

What's Cookin?: Soba with Peas Shoots

I was very excited to eat the pea shoots that I had bought at the farmer's market this weekend. I was also craving noodles. I decided to make up a quick and easy lunch with soba noodles and fresh pea shoots. I like the texture of them raw (and the flavor) but you may like them cooked. It's up to you.

The dressing gave this dish a nice Asian flair. I love fresh ginger so I'm a more is better girl, you may want to use only 1 tsp, then more to taste. I'm sure I used more than 2 tsp but it was yummy! I was originally going to sprinkle the dish with sesame seeds but changed my mind. I thought a sprinkle of nori komi furikake would really accentuate the Asian flair! It was a very yummy treat for lunch!

Soba with Pea Shoots
Serves 1

1-2 tsp. fresh ginger (grated)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
3/4 Tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp. soy sauce

1 bundle dried soba noodles
1 c. pea shoots
nori komi furikake or sesame seeds

1) Mix the ingredients for your dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

2) Cook soba noodles according to package directions. After cooking, drain noodles in a colander. Add drained noodles to a bowl.

3) Top with pea shoots. Pour dressing over the noodles and pea shoots. Sprinkle with furikake or sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) Spring Quinoa Salad

This is a great side or main dish that features the fabulous greens available during spring. It's the essence of spring on a plate. I used veggies that were available to me. Feel free to substitute anything you have on hand. I happened to have some Swiss chard and snap peas from the garden and asparagus from the farmer's market. I love grilled asparagus so I decided to grill mine. You could always decrease cooking time by chopping them up and sauteing them with the snap peas.

The next time I make this (believe me, they'll be a next time!), I think I'll double the dressing and increase the lemon. I love the combination of lemon, garlic and dill. I think I want it to really shine through next time. Here it ode to spring on a plate.

Spring Quinoa Salad
Serves: 4-6

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
zest of 1/2 a lemon

extra virgin oil oil (for sauteing)
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 c. water or vegetable stock (or you can use chicken stock for a non-meatless option)
1 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed off
1/2 bunch of Swiss chard, stems and ribs removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, then blanched
1 clove of garlic, minced
8 oz. sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces

1) Whisk ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

2) Add about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa to the pot and saute for a few minutes. Add the 2 c. water or stock to the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the liquid is absorbed).

3) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and slice into 3/4 inch pieces.

4) Quickly saute snap peas in a little olive oil and 1 minced clove of garlic over high heat for about 2-3 minutes.

5) Add blanched Swiss chard, asparagus and snap peas to a large bowl. Salt and pepper lightly. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the vegetables. Drizzle dressing over the bowl and toss. Re-season with salt and pepper as needed.

Harvest Monday 6/27/11

This week's harvest is still greens. I harvested more of the spinach, arugula and mustard greens. The first run of arugula is bolting so I pulled them out and the second batch will go in soon.

A few more Swiss chard stems were harvested. The plants are looking good and producing heavily!

I guess I wasn't paying attention to the gai lan because this week I noticed one of the stalks was already flowering. Ooops! I harvested a few gai lan shoots and broccoli side shoots.
The most exciting harvest news this week was the first harvest of snap peas!! Yaaahooo!! I used some of my harvest to make a yummy Spring Quinoa Salad.

This week's harvest totals:
- peas = 0.18 lb
- spinach/arugula/mustards = 0.27 lb
- gai lan/broccoli = 0.64 lb

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Planting out Melons and Warm Weather Veggies

Yesterday I took advantage of the mild weather to plant out my melons. They have been getting big despite not having a permanent home. They have been spending the nights on the deck to acclimate them to the cool Oregon nights.

Today they were planted out into their permanent homes. They went directly into the ground. Since the soil here is clay, they were given a lot of compost and chicken manure. I hope they like their new home. I tried growing a melon last year but the fruits didn't mature in time. I hope this year they will. I think my mistake was allowing too many fruit to try to ripen at the same time. This year I'll allow only a few per plant.

This year I planted the following melons from seed:
- Tularosa Market (seeds from Linda)
- Charentais
- Petit Gris de Rennes

I also planted one winter melon/squash:
- Kabocha

In addition to these plants, I decided to plant out the remaining peppers and eggplant.

GTTC: Kale, Swiss Chard, Strawberries, Blueberries & Rhubarb

This week's GTTC features some greens, pickles and the first of summer's berry crops. I'm so excited about the berries!! Yummy!!

I make this Kale and Swiss Chard Salad for my Meatless Monday meal. It was a great way to use up the greens and served as a nice break from the normal salads. The addition of cranberries and almonds gave it a nice crunch. Just think of all the vitamins you're getting in just one serving!
Since I only used the leaves of the Swiss chard for the salad, I saved the stems to make refrigerator pickles. These turned out great. As an added bonus, I love love love the pretty colors in the jar!!
This is a quick and easy pudding cake to use some of the summer berries (none came from my garden). I used some rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries in my cake. It was delicious!!

**Linking to Wendy's GTTC at Greenish Thumb**

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Bakin?: Rhubarb Strawberry Blueberry Pudding Cake

I had some strawberries and rhubarb from the farmer's market. I also had some leftover blueberries. I was looking for an easy recipe to incorporate all of these berries.

I found a recipe online for a pudding cake. I made some changes to the recipe and doubled it for a 9 x 13 cake pan. It turned out delicious! Feel free to change up the berries in this recipe. It's best served warm with some vanilla ice cream. Yummy!!

Rhubarb Strawberry Blueberry Pudding Cake
adapted from Goumet, April 2007
Servings: 6-8 (8 x 8 square dish)

1/4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. plus 1/3 c. sugar
2 c. fresh rhubarb stalks, chopped in small pieces (about 3 stalks)
2 c. fresh mixed berries (I used 1 c. strawberries & 1 c. blueberries), cut into small pieces
1 c. flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 c. 2% milk
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1) Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.

2) Stir together water, cornstarch and 1/4 c. sugar in a saucepan. Stir in rhubarb and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once at a simmer, stir occasionally for about 8-10 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.

3) Remove the pan from heat and stir in the other mixed berries. Set aside.

4) Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/3 c. sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

5) In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to this bowl and whisk in until the mixture is just combined.

6) Reserve 1/2 c. of the fruit mixture, then add the remainder to the baking dish. Pour the batter over the fruit, spreading it evenly. Drizzle the reserved 1/2 c. of fruit mixture over the batter.

7) Place a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet under your pan to catch any overflowing fruit. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake portion comes out clean, or about 25-30 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Farmer's Market 6/25/11

It was another Saturday trip to the Farmer's Market and there were lots of goodies to be bought.

More Hood Strawberries! This time I only bought 1/2 a flat.
It's the start of cherry season in Oregon. These are Brooks Cherries. They're really sweet and delicious!!
There were some beautiful Fingerling Potatoes at one stand. I bought some white and some pink potatoes. I also picked up some dill and pea shoots!! Yummy!!

This maybe the last week of Asparagus. I bought 2 bunches (a little over 3 pounds worth).

Today I got a smoked brat for breakfast!! Yum!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Second Planting of Asian Greens

These are a second sowing of greens. They were seeded inside around April 30th. These were the greens that were infested by aphids (in the house). Grrr!!

I salvaged what I could and they've been hanging out on my deck. Since I had harvested all of the Asian greens last week, I decided to replant these to see how they do.

This bed includes some Waianae Kai Choy (from Hawaii) and Craquerelle du Midi (from France).

This bed includes more Baby Bok Choy and Red Choi Pac Choi.

Pea Harvest

The peas seem to be doing really well in our cool spring weather. Here's the shelling peas. There are lots of peas on the vines. I'm letting them plump up a bit before harvesting. It's hard waiting. I love those shelling peas!!

The snap peas are also flourishing. They, however, were ready for harvesting.

My first harvests of peas for 2011!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's Cookin?: Swiss Chard Fridge Pickles

This is a great recipe to make sure none of your Swiss chard goes to waste. When I made my Kale and Swiss Chard Salad, I used only the greens of the Swiss chard. I de-stemed the Swiss chard but saved the stems to make this pickle.

I saw this recipe for Swiss chard refrigerator pickles in the June 2011 Bon Appetit issue. It was the article titled "5 Chefs/1 Ingredient". The ingredient was Sriracha. After getting started with the sauce, I realized that my Sriracha was expired. I substituted Sambal Oelek once again!

Swiss Chard Fridge Pickles
Adapted from Doug Flicker's recipe in Bon Appetit, June 2011
Recipe is for 1 pint of pickles (1 1/2 c. Swiss chard stems and 3 c. liquid)

1 1/2 c. Swiss chard stems, chopped
1 c. distilled white vinegar
2 c. sugar
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly
2 tsp. Sambal Oelek (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. dill seed

1) In a small bowl, mix the Swiss chard stems and sliced onions. Set aside.

2) In a small saucepan over medium heat, add vinegar, sugar, Sambal Oelek, celery seeds and dill seeds. Mix well and continue to stir over heat until sugar is melted. Do not boil.

3) Pack a clean jar with the Swiss chard stems and onion mixture.

4) Pour warm liquid over the vegetables. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few days then dig in!

I had some leftover sauce and leftover Chinese cabbage so I decided to make some cabbage pickles also.

I'll let you know in a few days how they taste. They look delicious!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Refrigerator Pickles-Advice Needed!!

Does anyone know how long refrigerator pickles last? I found a jar of Pickled Green Tomatoes (Tomolives) that I made last September. I opened them up and found no obvious signs of ickiness. I even tasted one of the pickles and they still taste delicious. I'm not sure how this jar escaped being seen for all these months. Of course they've been sitting on the top shelf of the refrigerator this whole time.

Do you think it's still safe to consume? I really really really wanna eat them! LOL! By the way, this recipe is awesome!!

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) Kale and Swiss Chard Salad

I harvested some kale and Swiss chard this week. My refrigerator was already overflowing with other Asian greens so I decided to combine these greens for a nice and refreshing salad. This lovely salad was a nice break from the normal lettuce. If you prefer, the kale and Swiss chard can be left raw. I don't really care for the consistency of raw kale so I decided to blanch my greens instead. The dressing is very flavorful and the cranberries and almonds added a nice touch.

For my recipe, I used Lacinato kale. Be sure to de-stem your greens. For your Swiss chard, save the stems to make a quicky refrigerator pickle. (Recipe to be posted later)

Kale and Swiss Chard Salad
Serves: 4 (if greens are blanched) and 6-8 (if left raw)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. agave
juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

1 bunch Tuscan or Lacinato kale, center ribs and stems removed & leaves cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch Swiss chard, center ribs and stems removed & leaves cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. sliced toasted almonds
sprinkle of Parmesan cheese

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil over the stove. While water is boiling, prepare dressing.

2) Whisk all ingredients for the dressing together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3) Once the water starts to boil, add kale first, then Swiss chard. Immediately turn off the stove. Drain vegetables in a colander and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Transfer vegetables back to the colander and drain.

4) Squeeze excess water from the vegetables and add to the large mixing bowl with the dressing. Add cranberries and almonds and toss well. All flavors to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.

5) Add greens to a plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve.

Harvest Monday 6/20/11

Lots of greens are being harvested here in the Pacific NW (Oregon). I've been having to get creative with the recipes to keep it interesting. I've posted a few new recipes so be sure to browse the blog for them.

The Swiss chard plants are doing well under row covers. It was time for another harvest.

The arugula, spinach and Osaka purple mustards were also ready for another harvest.
I decided to harvest most of my lettuce this week. There was slug damage in some plants so I salvaged what I could. Luckily my lettuce windowbox (that was set outside on the deck) is also flourishing (with the added bonus of NO SLUGS!!). I'll be able to harvest those next week. I had lots of greens so I shared with some friends. Boy were they happy!
I also decided to pull out the last of my Asian greens (tastsoi, bok choy and pac choi.

This week's harvest totals:
Swiss chard=1.4 lb
spinach/arugula/mustard greens=0.47 lb
green onions=0.28 lb
Asian greens (tatsoi/bok choy/pac choi)=5.14 lb
lettuce=1.3 lb