Tuesday, September 2, 2014

End of Season Harvest

The kids have been in school for three weeks already in the deep south, so the gardening season should be just about over, but I still have mostly green tomatoes, and plenty of other things sprouting anew all the time. Our weather has been hellish and soggy, like a jungle, and we all know plants love that.

So here's a recent harvest. Represented are dino kale, rainbow chard, basil, tarragon, Chinese longbeans, tomatoes and my surprise guest: purple cabbage -- that's it toward the bottom: silvery green leaves with purple veins.

The cabbage was a surprise because, well, sometimes my crisper is overly full to the point I lose track of things. About half a purple cabbage was in full-rot (thankfully in a plastic bag) by the time I found it. The rot was nasty, but a brand new plant had sprouted from the slime -- sort of like a cruciferous phoenix! I had a blank spot in the garden so I quickly buried the cabbage-Fawkes to see what would happen. I couldn't be more pleased -- the fresh young cabbage leaves are tender and flavorful.

I utilized my bounty with a delicious, gluten-free Quinoa-pasta salad:

I roasted the sturdier veggies before adding them to the mix. This salad fit the bill for the first college football party of the season. My son's school, University of Georgia, is off to a fantastic start!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pho Fixin's

Have you enjoyed a fresh, steamy bowl of pho? This Thai soup has become a favorite of ours recently as we tend to enjoy "pajama days" on Sundays, or in this case, Labor Day Monday. Delivery meals are perfect for pajama days, but pizza doesn't cross our threshold very much anymore, and Asian restaurants tend to come and go around here for some reason. We have been enjoying a particular local restaurant's pho because the flyer boasts, "We deliver!" Well, as it turns out, not so much. I think the delivery guys don't show up on a regular basis. After a few weekends spent in the car driving to pick up our meal instead of in pajamas, I began to realize I always have some version of the ingredients for this treat here anyway, at least during garden season. Indeed, even the restaurant varies the ingredients based upon what's on hand.  Yes, there's a little prep work, but when you consider the time it takes to shower, dress and drive to and from the restaurant, I believe my pajama-version is more expedient, not to mention more economical and fresh!

In the pantry, I already had rice noodles and organic broth, which I brightened with some fresh lemon and a little tamari. From the crisper I pulled more lemons, spring and white onions and garlic (I toasted the garlic in a little coconut oil). From the garden I got my herbs (no shame in gardening in p.j.'s): purple basil, Italian Parsley and dill. I also found a nice jalapeno pepper in my garden today! Homegrown jalapano bonus: while just as flavorful and spicy as storebought, my homegrowns are slightly milder and are less painful and blinding when I inevitably put my finger in my eye sometime after prepping them. I'm always surprised at how the capzacin of the peppers lasts through several hand-washings. Still -- the homegrown is better!

We each choose our toppings/ingredients. I like a little of everything, topped with a squirt of sriracha. I always have plenty of leftovers which I store separately to retain freshness, but they don't last long.

Since my homegrown vegetables were sunk costs long ago, I'm not even going to count their cost, this late in the season. The rest of my cost today to feed 3 of us breaks down as follows, to the best of my recollection:

  • Noodles: $2.50
  • Organic Broth: $3.00
  • Organic Lemons: $1.50 (I buy them in bulk)
  • White onion: $.20 (I only used half an onion)
  • Spring onions $.50
  • Garlic: $.20
-- for a roughly out-of-pocket $8.00 cost vs. $30.00 at the restaurant. We all enjoyed the homegrown takeout!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gluten-Free and Green

This was a big hit with the family. I liked the shape of this Tinkyada rice pasta -- it didn't fall apart. I think I've figured out how to work with this product. I cooked it two minutes fewer than the directions suggested, and rinsed it thoroughly with cold water while I finished cooking the veggies.

For the greens, here is what I did:  on medium-high heat I quickly pan-seared the broccoli in coconut oil, along with chopped ginger and garlic, leaving it for a little while to get crispy and brown -- just on the edge of burning -- before stirring. This only took about three minutes, stirring 3-4 times. Then I turned off the burner and added chopped scallions, shredded kale, a little salt and pepper and a dash of Tamari, stirring the veggies until they were wilted. Finally, I took the hot pan off the still-hot burner, added the cooked noodles and a drizzle of olive oil and stirred it all together. The whole process took about 15 minutes, including prep.

I'm working on removing all grains as I strive to recover my immune system, but with baby steps --I'm embracing gluten-free products from time to time. This one's a winner!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Lovely Day!

Finally, after at least a week of oppressive heat here in the deep South, we do have a fresh and lovely day! I enjoyed my particularly delicious juice today on the screened porch with my pups. The juice was from garden cukes, half a bulb of fennel, an organic orange, a knob of ginger, a few broccoli stems and a big handful of Italian parsley. It was a very juicy batch, yielding 30 ounces! I'll enjoy a bonus glassful after lunch.

My garden pup, Emma, who always follows me out to the garden and plops down beside it while I pull bugs and caterpillars off my crops, tends to be camera shy, but I caught her!

Normally more ready for her close-ups, I had to look under the hammock to find Ellie today. She's going to hate this photo. I think the girls were just enjoying the weather.