Quick Pickled Veggies

We have beautiful cucumbers and vibrant red carrots coming up in the garden.  Lush, fragrant basil, and bok choi leaves.  I have jars and jars of pickles I put up from last year but I wanted something really crisp and refreshing.  These are great to serve with any meal.  They are nutritious and little something different.  Quick pickled veggies are great on sandwiches, on fish, or on their own!  As the jar empties, you can always throw in another cucumber or carrot (or onion, or garlic, or beet…) to keep the batch going.  I suppose after a few rounds you will have to pitch it and make more.  But that’s okay, because it is super easy!

 

20180719_070512In a wide mouth pint jar add chopped veggies that would seem good pickled.  Add in a good sprinkle of salt and some pepper.  Maybe a little hot pepper.  I filled 1/3 of the jar with rice wine vinegar and 1/3 of a way with white wine vinegar that my friend, Rodney made.  Then I topped it off with a little filtered water so that the veggies are submerged.  Replace lid and shake.  Place in fridge for at least an hour.  Farm fresh eating!

Sunchokes (food security,beauty, and preservation tips)

We were back at my beautiful great aunt Donna’s house gathering sunchokes.  I wrote about these gems last fall.  Their other name is Jerusalem artichokes.  I write to you seasonally so the last thing that was available and the first thing that is available seems to be sunchokes!

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These lovely tubers are much like potatoes with a satisfying jicama crunch.  They can be nibbled on plain, sliced and put into salads, or roasted along with carrots and potatoes under a whole chicken in a Dutch oven, which is what I served on Mother’s Day.

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This beautiful flower/food promises food security as well.  During summer and fall their sunflower heads show protectively and regally over the garden beds.  In the spring and fall they provide delicious foods at their roots.  In aunt Donna’s words, “You will never get rid of them!”  Oh, I hope not.  They are such a delight.

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Last fall when I wrote you about these vegetables I placed a few in a sandwich bag.  Then forgot about them.  They went from David’s house to our apartment.  From one vegetable drawer to another.  Seven months later I pulled them out and they are just as fresh and crisp as they were when I harvested them.

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So, to preserve (though I think you can store them in a root cellar just as you would a potato) scrub clean, place dry in gallon freezer bags and store in the refrigerator.  Then you will always have some on hand for cooking, mashing, roasting, slicing, and for summer salads.  Most certainly a great food for any homestead.

Found Vegetables (dreams, hidden gardens)

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I dreamt it was there.  I dreamt that there were vegetables growing at our old house in Kiowa.  I woke up thinking that was preposterous because our weather hasn’t allowed anyone to have vegetables yet!  We decided to go have a look anyway yesterday while driving though.  The house wears a large foreclosure notice on it.  The landlords wanted us to buy the place or move so they could but that must not have worked out and so the old farm in town on two-thirds of an acre sits with three foot high grass and hidden treasures.  I figured the bank wouldn’t mind.  Being raised by a dad who was captain of the sheriff’s department makes one slightly paranoid about breaking the law.  But I planted this stuff, for crying out loud!

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At the end we left with four huge buckets of onions, beets, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs.  There were potatoes and many more things growing should someone move in before fall.  What a bounty and a surprise!

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I should listen to my dreams more often!

Rhubarb (the ultimate early season treat)

My great aunt recalls how nice it was on the farm after a long winter of preserved vegetables to bite into fresh rhubarb crisp.  I can agree with that wholeheartedly since the majority of our dinners were made from the freezer or root cellar.  I am proud that we were able to put up so much food.  However, cutting the stalks from Aunt Donna’s large rounds of rhubarb and taking them home made me feel like I had struck it rich.

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I took some of it to the farmer’s market to sell.  It did all sell, but there were quite a few folks who recognized it but had no clue what to do with it.  It can be used in place of any fruit that requires more sugar.  It’s a sour little bugger but very refreshing when made into rhubarb pie.  Or compote.  Or jam.  Or syrup.  This year I made Doug a rhubarb pie with homemade ice cream from yet another Amish cookbook I may have bought.  (Seriously, how many cookbooks does one farmgirl need?)

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The best is a rhubarb crisp, oh, around Christmas time!  So, I need to preserve some as well.  I have canned rhubarb and it is quite good, however my aunt’s suggestion (as usual) is best.  Chop the rhubarb in half inch pieces, remove any unruly strings, and place in freezer bag.  I freeze four cups of rhubarb with one cup of sugar together in each quart bag.

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Rhubarb is fleeting, you don’t have long to harvest it before it goes to seed or grows tough.  So, if you haven’t already, track down your dearest friend or nearest relative and get you some rhubarb!

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My Rhubarb Crisp

Put 4 cups of chopped rhubarb mixed with one cup of white or brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of flour in a pie or baking dish.

Top with 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of flour with 4 Tablespoons of butter squeezed in with fingers until pea sized, a sprinkling of pecans, and a dash of cinnamon or cardamom.

Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  The nuts will be browned, the sugar caramelized, and when you smell the delicious aroma of rhubarb, it’s done.

Enjoy one of the early season fruits….or is it a vegetable?

Desperately Seeking Fresh Vegetables (and a fine Brussels recipe)

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I stared at the dusty jars lining the warped shelves in the basement.  They still feel like a blessing but at the moment were seeming more and more like a curse.  I swear if I have to eat one more jar of green beans…or peas…or corn…or beets…or…

I understand that hunger doesn’t care.  If I lived before grocery stores, out on an old homestead, or if I didn’t have a hundred bucks to spare, that food would be tasting real good right now.  But it is late February, too early for anything fresh, and my mind was dreaming of food that has not even been planted yet!

We have been fabulous at eating seasonally.  We ate almost all the potatoes, lots of carrots, onions, jar after jar of items I preserved, frozen vegetables and fruits.  I have been creative.  I have added fresh herbs from the windowsill.  We ate all but one pumpkin.  I need a radish.

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We picked up Maryjane and Emily (You know your life has changed when going to the health food store in town is the highlight of the week.) and off we went to Vitamin Cottage.  The pretty rows of product lulled us into a sense of summer and freshness.  I caught sight of the Brussels sprouts, as large as two golf balls side by side, and giggled like Gollum finding his Precious as I loaded up a bag.  I did a little jig in front of the ruby red orbs of radishes.  Maryjane held a piece of broccoli she had snagged as her mother walked by the green trees (what my kids used to call broccoli).  Emily pointed out various mouthwatering vegetables as we told the baby how she is going to love vegetables.  Doug walked over with crisp apples.  We put kale in our basket, Roma tomatoes, boxes of salad.  Large grapes for fresh chicken salad.  Long, elegant leeks to go into humble potato soup.  We felt like royalty.  Everything was organic, but I do not know where it was grown.  Certainly not around here.

I woke up yesterday and cut up two radishes even before the coffee was made.  I sprinkled them with a bit of smoked sea salt and popped them in my mouth.  I smothered a few with butter.  They held the crisp edge I was looking for.  They are not near as good as the earthy, spicy radishes that will come out of my garden beds in a few month’s time, but they were very suitable for a long winter of mushy green beans.  (Which tasted amazing, by the way, all through the cold winter months.)  Last night we had salad with homemade croutons and the melt in your mouth giant Brussels spouts.

Soon we will be back to frozen eggplant, and gelatinous peas (which tasted amazing, by the way, all through the cold winter months.  I need to repeat that so y’all aren’t tempted to not start canning.  It is great, and it is really fun going to the grocery store in the basement.)  I just needed a taste of spring.  I’ll be saving up for a green house!

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Melt in Your Mouth Brussels Sprouts

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in the “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by the great Bryant Terry.  He would be disappointed in me for the addition of bacon.

Fry up two slices of bacon, drain on paper towel and when cool, break into small pieces.

Drizzle pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of bacon drippings.

Trim off the end and cut in half a bunch of Brussels sprouts, enough to fill your skillet with a single layer of halves face down.  About a pound.

Sear for four minutes or so until nice and slightly blackened.

Add 1 cup of rich broth.

Cover tightly and braise over medium high heat for 12 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of white wine (I like Chardonnay) and a few tablespoons of lemon or regular thyme, fresh preferably.

Continue braising for five minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  Top with bacon.

I would show you a picture but we ate them too fast.  Sorry.