Monday, July 8, 2013

Garden to Table: Cabbage

As we tend this new garden of ours in it's very first season of use, our discoveries, learning experiences, and recipes bring about a new series of sorts here on the blog.  I will be using it as a garden journal to look back on through the years.  Since we have already harvested a lot of the first plantings, this post is a step back in time to about a month ago, when we pulled our first heirloom Cour di Bue cabbage from it's bed.  What a site that was!  The roots went deep and as you can see, the plant was quite substantial.  This cabbage has a very different form; it grows in the shape of a football.  It (obviously) needs a lot of growing space; which was hard to believe when we transplanted the tiny seedlings into the garden.

We started everything from seed this year, except the two basil plants my mom bestowed upon me.  It never ceases to amaze me how such a tiny, speck of a seed explodes into a monstrous plant in just a couple months.  My heart is filled with childlike wonder with each and every sprout that turns into a plant that renders us delicious nourishment.  I wish everyone could experience the everyday miracle that sustains our lives.  We plant it, God breathes life to it, and we get to harvest and eat it.  It truly is astounding. 

We ended up planting only six cabbages this year.  Most of them were used in this cole slaw recipe that we could't seem to get enough of.  My changes were: creme fraiche instead of sour cream, whatever kind of onion we had on hand instead of specifically a Spanish onion, coconut sugar instead of regular sugar, apple cider vinegar instead of white, a tablespoon of mustard from a bottle instead of dry (it's what I had on hand), omitted the celery salt (didn't have any), and used Celtic sea salt.  What a brilliant pairing it was with organic pulled pork from locally-raised foraging pigs.  We can't forget about lacto-fermented sauerkraut.  I like adding a bit of dill to the kraut as it ferments these days.

Next year, plans are to grow more cabbage.  We had great success with this variety, and will most likely use it again.  Also?  I am longing for a root cellar.  Actually, it's become more of an obsession.  Fermenting/culturing the harvests is my preservation method of choice because of how nutrient-dense the food becomes, but there is no way the refrigerator can store even a small fraction of what we would put by.  Someday (soon, I hope) our hillside will have a little root cellar door in it!

What kind of cabbage recipes and seeds do you like?

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The End Of An Era

Our seven-year-old is one of the most sentimental people I know.  She left her VBS bracelet on for two weeks until it rotted off because she "never wanted to forget the fun."  She carried around a picture of her first school teacher and herself for the first week of summer vacation because she missed him so much. Everything and everyone holds such significance to her that when things change, it's tough.  The apple doesn't seem to fall far from the tree.  As I decided to stop posting weekly menu plans, I may or may not have gotten a little nostalgic.  It's crazy, I know.  Most folks dread menu planning.  It had become a weekly ritual for me, though.  With a nice cuppa, some dearly loved (and warn out) cookbooks, grocery shopping lists, the weekly produce box contents list, and bookmarked blog recipes, I'd set up my little menu planning station and settle in.  I really quite enjoyed it.

Now that we grow about 90% of our own produce (our fruit trees are still too immature to bare fruit so we have to supplement there), I let the inspiration from the garden compose the plan.  Bits of whatever we are able to harvest in the morning ends up in lunch and dinner.  Some of what we pull during the evening garden sesh is found in our breakfasts the next day.  The garden, paired with a little bit of Kitchen Wisdom (and years of menu planning using seasonal produce from the produce box) has become my new rhythm for food prep.  I am loving it!  Unlike my daughter, I do love change, most of the time.  It keeps things fresh and interesting and there's always something new to learn.

If you are looking for seasonal menu plans and recipes, there is a collection of over a year's worth of menu plans with recipes links from all over the internet, here on the blog.  I still reference them frequently and hope they might be of some help to you when that inevitable food rut rears it's boring head.  

Plans to better organize all of my personal recipes is also underway.  I am hoping to list them into seasons, dish categories, and specific diet needs.  As life twists and turns, the blog dances along with it.  I think that's what I like about blogs; watching how people change and grow and with it, what they choose to write about.  Sometimes, lots of times, change is good.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Raw Zucchini Pesto Pasta ~ A From-The-Garden Recipe

After coming in from the garden, we are pretty hungry.  And very sweaty.  Here is a bit of an instant-garden-gratification lunch that I crave this time of year.  Most of the ingredients have just been pulled from the earth, making it fresh and flavorful.  The best part?  It only takes about ten to fifteen minutes to whip up and is very satisfying.  Use it a a base recipe if it suits your druthers.  Have some avocado?  Slice it up and toss it on.  Sometimes I'll pull a chard leaf or two, chiffonade them (find chiffonade instructions at the bottom of this link), and sprinkle over the dish.

Raw Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Prep time: 10-15 minutes; makes 1 dish
  • 1 medium/large zucchini
  • 1 medium tomato, or half of a large one
  • 1-2 tablespoons pesto (see recipe below)
  • 1-2 slices organic lunch meat (I use Organic Prairie's or Costco's)
  • A sprinkling of parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Make zucchini noodles by using a julienne peeler.
  2. Toss noodles in pesto on large serving plate.
  3. Chop tomato and sprinkle on top, as well as pieces of meat, parmesan cheese, and pepper.
Simple Pesto
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Place all pesto ingredients in food processor and mince until it's as coarse or smooth as you'd like.

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summertime Happenings

I started this post a month ago and then...  Construction on the Christmas Cabin began and the garden exploded, demanding all of my extra attention.  All that, along with embracing a nomadic life as we hop from place to place until our home finishes it's growth spurt has temporarily transformed me into a bit of an unintentional recluse.  An interim gypsy recluse am I; desperate to somehow keep the home fires burning (wherever "home" is at the moment), family togetherness, and the garden alive.  Several posts have been floating around in my head and I have really missed blogging.  At the same time, it felt good to lay it down for a while and allow for some realignment and focus.  It would do my heart good to be a consistent writer once again because most of these scribblings are used as a kind of family and personal journal.  It's the busiest summer we have ever experienced (and our summers are always busy!) but I don't want to forget what has transpired on these long, hot, glorious, strenuous days.

In the meantime, here is where I spend the mornings and evenings.  Here is where I meet with the Lord.  Here is where my ears and heart open and I receive wisdom, direction, and inspiration.  Oh, and I harvest all the produce we can possibly eat, too.

We started breaking ground in February, when it was still cool and damp.  The oaks were bare and our new batch of pullets were snug in the brooder, under the roof of the big, red barn.

The beds were put in, and underneath rested fine mesh to keep the digging, root-eating creatures out.

I learned the hard way to irrigate first, then plant the starts that grew on our kitchen table next.

But those nine trays of starts had outgrown their first little home, so they had to go in, and the drip lines followed.  From there they burst into plants so quickly.  It was like they were holding their breath until more room was given them.

French Breakfast Radishes and Tuscan Kale were the first to fill the harvest basket and it was thrilling.

Baby tomatoes were spotted shortly after and I couldn't stop thinking about eating them.  There is nothing like a garden-fresh tomato.  Nothing.

The radishes were lacto-fermented using this recipe and the kale was chipped with this one.  Each were enjoyed immensely.

The garden looks quite different now, and we are bringing in a good fifteen pounds of food each day.  I look forward to catching up with you very soon but for now, I need to prepare for canning some salsa tomorrow before the tomatoes take over the entire kitchen.  I hope this finds you all very well and enjoying this first of July.


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