Thursday, June 27, 2013


The mustard greens I've been fermenting for about 12 days are done.  I suppose they could have fermented longer, but they were plenty salty and spicy and I think that's enough.  I had a taste 10 minutes ago and my tongue is still tingling!

To stop the fermentation I drained off the brine and boiled it, then poured it back over the greens which had been stuffed into a pint jar.  Now I can add it to stir fry, but not tonight.  I'm getting the farm share today and I expect I will be working through that for a while.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mulberry-Rose Hip Smoothies

Remember way back when I foraged a whole bunch of rose hips off a beach and made jelly?  I froze the leftover rose hip infusion, with an intention of making a lassi or smoothie out of it.  Well, I'm cleaning a few things out of the freezer and found it, and tonight made an excellent smoothie.  Even the 8 year old loved it.  And had seconds.

I put about a cup of homemade yogurt (yep, I'm still making yogurt fairly regularly) in a blender with about 1 cup of rose hip infusion, a handful of mulberries from MY tree, 2 cups of milk and some sugar (didn't measure it, maybe 3/4 cup?) and blended away.  Really tasty and vitamin C enriched!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Triple Berry Jam

This is a good year for mulberries.  I have discovered there is a mulberry tree in my backyard, and this year it really is producing!  Yesterday I picked a cup off that tree for us to eat - they're super sweet - and we went to the tree on the corner armed with a towel to get more.  The ones on the corner aren't as sweet as the ones in the yard, so they're for jam.

My husband and I stood under the tree and held the towel while we shook the branches and got pelted with berries.  A lot of unripe ones fell but after picking through them I had 3 cups for jam.  Today I added a pint of blueberries and the better part of a quart of strawberries, mashed them all up, and made triple berry jam.  When all those berries were mashed it made 5 cups to which I added 7 cups of sugar and a package of powdered pectin.

This made 9 cups of jam which I put into a variety of 4, 8 and 12 ounce sized jars, to add to the gift stash as well as keep some for ourselves!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Out of Strawberries Already

That didn't take long!

Friday night I made strawberry shortcake for a little dinner party.  Again, I forgot to take pictures!  Later we finished up the shortcakes and whipped cream with canned peaches and I can tell you that it just isn't the same.

Yesterday morning I made a strawberry rhubarb pie.  I finally had an opportunity to use the leaf lard I'd been given for Christmas.  I had remembered to thaw the lard for a few days in the fridge so it was easy to work with.  I used the same proportions as I would have with shortening: 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. of lard, and 6 tsp. water.  The filling was 1 quart strawberries and 12 oz. frozen rhubarb (the latter squeezed to remove the extra liquid), 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Super simple!

I brought the pie to my parents' house where everyone raved about that crust.  It was pretty amazing. So so so worth it!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Making It Up as I Go Along

This is generally my cooking motto, and it was in full force today.  I needed to make some kind of starch for dinner with friends and didn't want to go back out to the store.  (I'd worked overnight last night so I was feeling a little tired...) So I looked in my pantry, spent a little time on line, and came up with this:

Chick Pea and Amaranth Salad

1 cup amaranth
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can chick peas
1 can artichoke hearts
1 can diced tomatoes (with the liquid)
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 large sprigs of fresh mint
3 scallions
1 garlic scape
balsamic vinegar

The amaranth was cooked in the stock by bringing it to a boil, covering it and letting it simmer until done, about 20-25 minutes.  I chopped the artichoke hearts, mixed them with the tomatoes and chick peas, then added minced garlic scape and sliced scallions.  I added the mint, all chopped up, and the pecans and the pepper.  When the amaranth was cool enough I stirred it in and drizzled the top with balsamic vinegar.  

And you know what?  It tastes great!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Strawberry Everything!

The farm where I pick strawberries has been open for a week but it's been so wet and cool that the strawberries were slow in ripening.  I figured by now there would be enough ripe ones to pick as I like to get a lot for canning.  It was slower going than usual because the ripe berries weren't all that plentiful but with some persistance I came home with 11 and a half pounds of berries.

First I made strawberry jam - using the powdered pectin recipe I got 10 cups of jam.  One of the jars didn't pop so it's in the fridge and we'll just eat that first.  (Never a problem....)  Then I made a single batch of the strawberry lemonade concentrate.  I still have a few jars left over from last year that I'll finish up before dipping into this year's batch.  Then I made myself a smoothie with a few berries, some homemade yogurt, the foam from the lemonade concentrate, and a little honey.  After a trip to the grocery store to get jalapeños, I made strawberry jalapeño jam.  The website where I found the recipe originally seems to be gone, so I'll write down what I did from another website so I'll have it.  4 cups crushed berries, 1 cup minced jalapeños  1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 package of powdered pectin and 7 cups of sugar.  I got 9 cups of jam from that batch.

Tomorrow I'm making strawberry shortcake for dessert so I set aside 1.5 pounds of berries with a little sugar for that, and I put aside another quart of berries to make a pie on Saturday.  That leaves a little more than a quart for eating, and all the berries are accounted for!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tall Order

One of the last things left from the farm share was a bunch of swiss chard.  I mentioned that we would be eating it tonight and my husband said, "Can you make it taste good?"

Challenge accepted!

I made this:  Quick Caramelized Onion Swiss Chard.

He says, "I enjoyed the onion."

Whatever.  I thought it tasted really good.  Everyone ate it.  The 8 yo had a bite.  Just one.  You can't please everyone, I guess!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stir Fried Cabbage and Dumplings

Last night, I heard my 8 year old utter words I never thought I'd hear:  "Dumplings and salad!  Yay!"

Thanks to pretending to be the rabbit, said 8 yo ate lettuce for the first time ever on Sunday.  And liked it.  So I made another salad, less challenging, as we didn't have to pick out the arugula first.  Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, turnips (the last of them) and mulberries.  We had gone to pick mulberries from the tree around the corner, and just in time, too.  A thunderstorm passed through just after we got back home; had we not picked them all of those berries would have been on the ground.  We got about a cup or so.  Anyhow, the salad was a success.

For the main course, I'd asked my sister if she had any recipes for Napa cabbage and she suggested stir frying it, maybe with a little pork.  I remembered that I had a bag of frozen pork and leek dumplings from that Korean supergrocerymegastore and thought maybe I could cook those instead.  I fried up some garlic scapes in oil for a minute, then stir fried the cabbage with 4 scallions, slivered, and then when they were wilted put the dumplings, partially thawed, on them.  I poured some white wine into the pan and covered it, letting the dumplings steam from the wine and the moisture from the cabbage.  This cooked for about 10 minutes like that while I made a quick sauce:  soy sauce, white pepper, minced fresh ginger, chopped scallion, and a few drops of sesame oil.  We put the cabbage and dumplings in a big bowl in the center of the table and, with some white rice, it was gone in no time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Farm Share Father's Day

As it seems to often happen, I did have to work today, but I stopped at the store on my way home and got a wee little lamb roast to cook for Father's Day.  While it was roasting, I fried some potatoes and garlic scapes in butter, pushed them to one side of the pan and fried half of the snow peas I got from the farm.  At the last minute, I threw some arugula on the potatoes and stirred it in until it wilted.  We also had a large salad of lettuce, arugula, spinach, radishes, turnips and snow peas.  I am working through that farm share, slowly.

Wonder of wonders, we discovered that the 8 year old will eat lettuce!  (Be careful not to mistake arugula for lettuce or it will end badly.)

Lastly, tonight I started the brine/ferment for the pickled mustard greens I'd been hoping to make from the greens I brought home from the farm share.  I really love reading Hank Shaw's blog.  He has so many unusual recipes and every one I've tried so far has been fantastic.  I'm hoping to meet him when he comes to Cambridge this fall on his book tour.

What's left?  Swiss chard, Napa cabbage, more garlic scapes, spinach and arugula from the farm, and a LOT of lettuce from our mason.  We've already had Korean barbecue in lettuce wraps, finishing up the cabbage kimchi I made last summer and sampling some of the field garlic kimchi I made a few months ago.  And salad.  A lot of salad.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

First Farm Share of the Year

Ever since I started getting a farm share I've eagerly awaited the first day of the season.  That was today.  Usually we just get a little bit, enough for one meal.  Not today!

I came away with:  1/2 pound of mustard greens (and a plan to pickle them, maybe tomorrow), a bunch of arugula, a pound of spinach, a bunch of radishes, a bunch of Hakurei turnips, a bunch of swiss chard, a head of Napa cabbage, 40 (yes, 40. Forty. Four-oh.) garlic scapes, a pint of strawberries, and a pint each of snow and shell peas.  That is a lot of food.  Mostly greens.  I'm hoping Mocha will help make a dent but he hasn't seemed so interested in the radish and turnip greens so far.

Adding to the greens:  last night our mason came to our door with a HUGE grocery bag crammed full with lettuce.  I hope we can get through it before it goes bad!

Tonight's dinner, therefore, featured a large salad.
Lettuce, arugula, spinach, turnips, radishes, strawberries, peas, tomatoes and goat cheese.  With a little balsamic vinegar.  Yum.

Gift Basket

It's almost at the last minute, but I've made the gift basket I'm taking to the stables' Open House for a raffle or silent auction or whatever they're doing with it.  It has:  Dilled Carrots, Pepper Relish, Seedless Raspberry Jam, Maple Pear Jam, Violet Jelly, and Spicy Cranberry Rhubarb Compote.  Plus a voucher for a canning lesson - like I did last year for the PTO.  I tried to avoid foraged ingredients and was a little disappointed I couldn't go strawberry picking soon enough to add some strawberry but this will have to do.  Hopefully it will be well received.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Garlic Scape Pesto

Now I will be the first to admit that I'm not often in the mood for pesto.  In fact, in the farm share there is generally lots of basil to pick, every week, and I generally pass it up.  Because I don't really know how to deal with lots of basil except pesto, and I've never been much of a fan.  However, once I discovered that pesto did not require basil in the slightest, I've begun to change my mind.  I've dabbled with bittercress and had terrific success with cilantro.  Today, I branched out to garlic scapes.

The scapes were provided by a co-worker of my husband, from her garden.  She suggested making a pesto, and even provided me with the basic recipe (thanks, Lauren!).  I was inspired to try it.  I even bought fresh fettuccine!  The pesto was all of the garlic scapes, some toasted pecans, olive oil and parmesan cheese.  At least, that's what I started with.  I felt the mixture wasn't wet enough as it wasn't getting ground up properly.  I added more oil.  I thought maybe there wasn't enough green in it, so I added some spinach leaves.  Nothing was really helping.  Then I decided maybe what it needed was some of the pasta water so I put the whole thing, blender and all, in the fridge, until dinnertime.

Just before I drained the fettuccine I took out a cup of the pasta water and gradually blended it in.  That was exactly what it needed.  I tossed some with the fettuccine and had enough left over to freeze 2 portions for another time.  It went really well with a steak.

Tomorrow is the first farm share distribution and there are likely going to be garlic scapes in that as well.  I have a different plan for those; the farm emails recipes in the weekly notices and there is a recipe for garlic scape white bean dip I might try.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Another Nettle Wednesday

It's Wednesday, so it's a riding day, so that means I have time to forage around the stables for nettles and other things.  I brought back a bunch of greens for Mocha's dinner:  curly dock, dandelion, sheep sorrel, red clover, a little oregano, and some other dandelion-like green.  I also grabbed a small amount of nettle tips and a handful of oregano for our pizza.

The pizza was an unexpected gift; we'd gone for dinner the other night at the home of our mason, who wanted me to meet his wife as we had a lot of cooking interests in common.  She has a tremendous vegetable garden, well organized and well placed with full sun and in a place that is easy to tend.  Her husband built the garden for her, including the retaining wall which held it in place.  He's quite proud of it, and with very good reason.  She is a woman of many talents.  She gardens, cans, makes cheese and cured meats, they even pick mushrooms!  For dinner, along with many other wonderful foods, she served home made pizza 3 ways - with tomato sauce (homemade) and cheese, with garlic and cheese, and with chopped up greens.  She sent us home with an entire tomato and cheese pizza and freshly made bread as well.  Wow!

Knowing the culinary leanings of my children, I sprinkled the fresh oregano on 2/3 of the pizza, and then spread chopped blanched nettles on half of the oregano'd part.  That left 1/3 of the pizza with just tomato sauce and cheese for the 8 year old and nettles and oregano in varying concentrations for the rest of us.  I drizzled the nettles with olive oil and baked the pizza in the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese was melty again and the nettles were crispy on top and soft on the bottom.  It tasted really fresh and not excessively nettle-y.  Totally worth doing again!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Best Burgers Ever

It's been a tough May and my cooking activities have been pretty stagnant. No one is more unhappy about that than I am!  Between work, and the 11 year old's play, and the weather, and some travel (we finally took the kids to DisneyWorld) and just plain old exhaustion, I haven't had the energy to forage, create, can or do anything fun like that.  I think it's going to change soon, though.  Strawberry season is starting in a few weeks, the mulberry tree around the corner has a ton of little unripe berries, and the farm share is starting in 2 weeks as well.  I'm hoping to make another batch of that ginger apricot mulberry jam I made last year, which was one of the best flavor combinations I think I've ever come up with.

However, last night I made hamburgers that everyone felt were the best I'd ever made, so I wanted to make sure I wrote down what I did.  Usually when I make burgers, I just take the ground beef, add some salt and pepper, and make patties for the grill.  Boring.  This time I felt like trying something new.  I put 1.3 pounds of the 85% lean ground beef in the mixer with 1 egg, some salt, about a teaspoon of maple pepper, about half a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a generous amount of shredded mexican blend cheese.  This made 4 patties of awesomeness!

The other day I watched a woman forage for dandelion leaves near the subway stop and it made me smile.  She wasn't trying to hide it at all.  It made me wonder why people don't do it more.  I mean, there is food out there, all around us, and we don't take advantage of it as a society.  Perhaps the general trend is changing?

Lastly, in a couple of weeks I will be preparing a basket of canned goods for an auction at our stable's Open House.  I plan to tuck in a voucher for a free canning lesson.  There should be a report on that soon, if all goes well.