Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Pat's Breakfast

Oh, you probably figured out this was coming. There is only one day I can get away with this meal. Since one of my exceptions for March is oats, I decided to make them green.

Green Oatmeal

Cook the oats in the usual way with a bit less water than usual.
Remove the leaf off one green-, yellow- or white-stemmed chard leaf. Puree in a blender with just enough water to get it going. Strain in a fine mesh strainer and add the chard juice in the oatmeal a little bit at a time until the desired color is reached. Cook a bit more until the raw veggie taste disappears.
Remove from heat and add a touch of honey and cream or half 'n' half.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why I am called the Chard Lady

Swiss chard is sort of like zucchini, only flatter. One plant will provide more than enough for a typical family, and more than enough to exhaust all your friends. But like zucchini, no good gardener plants just one chard plant. First there are a couple of plants, just in case one dies, then a neighbor plants a couple of other colors and soon there is chard envy and pretty soon there is every color of chard growing in every available corner and chard stuffed in a gaggle of bread bags in the vegetable crisper. And that doesn’t even account for what happens in the next year, when the plants start to send up a seed stalk that needs to be chopped back daily. Pretty soon the greenship is overrun with chardlet tribbles. You know you are really in trouble when the chard starts finding its way into smoothies and breakfast cereal.

I have a really great garden, and some of my friends do as well. Sometimes we grow just a little bit more than we can eat. I’ll admit that I am just a little bit like octomom when I get to gardening. If I get great germination, well, I need to plant each and every seedling, regardless of how I might take care of them or whether my tiny plot is already full. After all, they’re my seedlings, and I am not going to kill them, even if in the end it kills me. I never had chard when I was a kid and now I want to create that perfect chard garden that I longed for in my youth.

Sometimes my friends and I go on long vacations during the peak seasons, so we harvest for each other. Faced with my own surplus, and that of my neighbors’, I started taking all the extra chard to the local food pantry. After a couple of years of almost-weekly delivery, the director started calling me the Chard Lady.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Fantastic Fava Falafels!

Well, I guess they weren't all that fantastic, but at least they were more tasty than I had feared. Of course, without the flour, they didn't hold together well, and without the cumin they didn't really taste like falafels and without the pita bread and hummus they weren't really falafels at all. But, the bean paste sucked up the olive oil like an eggplant, so how can you go too far wrong with anything fried in loads of garlicky olive oil? Next time I will try adding some oat flour and my homegrown coriander seed and maybe even a bit of cooked rice for more of a burger texture. If they didn't take so much time and use so much oil, I could easily eat these every day for March.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March exceptions

This month, my exceptions are turkey, rice and oatmeal. We celebrated the end of the month with an extra pot of coffee last evening, which I enjoyed till almost before midnight. I am also giving up commercial beans, hoping to have enough of my stash to get through this month. Some of these beans I have never tasted, so I hope it works out and that this isn't my undoing. If it proves too difficult, I can always run to a faraway farmer's market and get the local beans. I have several servings of Hutterite soup beans which I have found to be very tasty. I have several servings of blue-speckled tepary beans, which have sort of a hauntingly weird taste too reminiscent of lentils for me to want to try them until the end of the month. I have about a pound of Italian horticultural beans, a pound of Kentucky Wonders and a couple of pounds of the Jack in the Beanstalk beans. All of these varieties I have tried in the shelling or green pod stage and some varieties are my favorites. Lastly, I have a large drawstring bag full of fava beans. They aren't my favorite either, but maybe I will make some hummus with my local olive oil and lemons, my homegrown garlic and sunflower seeds. The good news is that I got 100% germination on the fava beans I planted, and have 10 plants going in the gardens, some already over 1 foot tall.