Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rainbow Chard Harvest

This lovely chard is the first veggie I've harvested this season. Yesterday it was 89 degrees in the deep South, so these greens will be getting bitter any day now. I'm not opposed to that, but I'd like to try them tender and sweet first. Being a slow learner with gardening (i.e. I can't be bothered with an almanac -- for now) this is the first time I've cut the greens instead of pulling out the whole plant. It'll be fun to see what happens next. I love the way these fresh stems look -- they remind me of candy. I chopped the stems and sauteed them in coconut oil and olive oil with a couple of cloves of garlic, then added the tender greens very briefly before taking them off the heat. It was delicious. I regret there is no photo of the cooked greens. In this summer season, dinnertime seems to have devolved into a feeding frenzy/circus, with various and sundry friends, schedules and agendas. I'm at the stage in life now when "letting it be" seems much more appealing than attempting to reign in this happy chaos. Long story short, by the time I pulled out my camera, the food was mostly gone.

I've seen a massaged kale salad recipe incorporating chard. Only the shredded kale is massaged with the lemon, salt and oil, and the raw chard leaves, being more tender, are shredded and added last. If my chard plants proliferate, I'm going to give it a try. A bumper crop of dino kale is next on my chopping list.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Roasted Veggies

I've had some luck recently with a couple of roasting experiments.

Basil Zucchini Wedges:  I tossed the wedges with gluten-free bread crumbs, chopped basil from the garden, salt, pepper and olive oil, then roasted them for 25 minutes at 425. The basil was so delicious roasted, and the wedge-shape of the squash allowed for more crisping surface. I've not put this into a recipe format yet because I believe I'd like these better at a higher heat for less time (more crispy, less mushy). I'll share future results.

This is Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower: I blanched the cauliflower first, then tossed it with Texas Pete hot sauce, gluten-free bread crumbs and olive oil, and roasted it at 425 for 30 minutes. This could have also benefited from a higher heat. My bottle of Texas Pete was the shaker kind, so I only liberally sprinkled the cauliflower with the sauce instead of coating it. I need to do some more testing to come up with the proper amount. This wasn't very spicy, but it was good anyway. I'll keep you posted on how this experiment evolves.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Set to Pop (Garden Shots)

Set . . . to . . .


Here's my peony bush, lush and lovely, finally benefiting from my benign neglect [see Peony Update for backstory on this]. Peonies are on my short list of favorite flowers (the others being gardenia and iris) and I feel this little bush has forgiven my past transgressions and is ready to send me Mother's Day love this weekend!

The color juxtaposition of this little lantana plant in our front border is lovely.

Here's my first sunny yellow iris in a large bank of them I planted a couple of years ago in our dry river bed. I received a couple of large bags of these from my friend, Ann, who was splitting her tubers a couple of years ago. These things go bananas and multiply in a marshy or wet area of the yard. I don't mind. I have the perfect spot for them.

Here's a kousa dogwood that was in bloom in my "jungle" a couple of weeks ago. It's a different variety from the ones I grew up with in Virginia, but it brings sentimental thoughts whenever it's in bloom. I also have three of the Virginia-type dogwoods in the backyard, but they bloomed even earlier, during the worst of the pollen when you don't really want to go outside without a gas mask around here, so I missed taking photos of them. The indigenous ones in the back are lovely trees though -- large and tall for dogwoods, so I bet they are a century old or so. Our lot was one of the last cut into a virgin forest.

Repeated shots of the same vegetable garden can be tiresome, so I'll try to avoid too much of that, but the rainbow chard is so photogenic, isn't it? If you look closely, you might see tiny little leaves that give the initial appearance of moss. I believe it is the "wild ground cover" that took up residence in the garden last year due to the shadier conditions from the maturing trees nearby. I thought I had eradicated it by pulling last year, but you may recall that the roots of this mystery plant are deep but fragile (so there is always some left behind), and have amazing powers of underground regeneration. I wasn't going to use weed killer in my garden, obviously, so I covered the whole thing all winter with a blanket of newspaper. This mystery plant seems to be saying thank you for the warm blankie. I salute your fortitude, little weed. Welcome back, I guess.

There are a few additional unidentified weeds here and there. Last year I pulled whatever seemed to be out of place, and then I missed a few days and realized that the pulled "weeds" were actually veggies from the year before that had self-propagated. My recent MS issues include memory loss, so I don't really remember much more about the regretful over-regulation of last year's garden. As such, I have decided to give these apparent interlopers a chance to identify themselves a bit more fully before I decide if they should stay or go. Not all surprises in life are welcome, but surprise garden veggies will be!

Has Spring sprung where you are?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gluten-Free Grilled Cheese for Breakfast

My camera seemed to like the sandwiches in the back row better, but hopefully you can see the contents of these yummy, albeit blurry, morsels. This morning I was craving something substantial for breakfast and so I started thinking about grilled cheese. Of late, my diet is more carefully curated that usual, so I feel a little guilty about including gluten-free bread and daiya non-dairy cheese. These qualify as "filler" foods on the new plan, which is more nutrient-dense. To make myself feel better about eating this I decided to incorporate some delicious, decadent veggies. I sauteed half a red bell pepper and sliced half an avocado -- these scored for rainbow vegetables and healthy plant fats. Since my gluten-free bread slices were tiny, I decided to make two sandwiches -- vegan, gluten-free grilled cheese "sliders" really. Delish!

To avoid a soggy interior, I started by toasting the bread while the pan was warming to medium-low. Next, I distributed the daiya shreds on all four slices, then put a lid on the pan for about 3 minutes. The closed heat melts the "cheese" more effectively, gluing it to the bread sooner so the bread doesn't burn. I added the veggies next to only one side so putting the two sides together later would be less of a mess. I put the lid back on for another couple of minutes to be sure the "cheese" was pretty well melted, then I put the cheese-only slices on top of the veggie-ful sides and flipped the sandwiches over until well-toasted. It is best to use a low - medium heat for all this since the daiya is slower than dairy cheese. This was a wonderful breakfast and it only took about 8 minutes.