Still Growing

 

EF443250-4280-4110-895A-DAD18A72A0D8.jpeg

Mustard greens are next on the list for my growing greens mini series . As a wonderful winter crop, they thrive in cool temps and are cold hardy, meaning they will survive a light frost. I planted these in November as baby plants and they shot right on up in less than four weeks. I’ve harvested three rounds from the greens so far and it is continuing to grow, making bi-weekly and weekly harvests possible,depending on the number of servings I’m cooking. While I planted my mustards in a raised bed, they can easily be planted in a container outside.  If you’re thinking, “i’m not going out to buy a container,” you can always use household items like an empty storage bin, large food containers, etc. that you can poke holes into with a screwdriver or pair of scissors. 

As we are in winter, pick up a few transplants from your local nursery. You can usually get groups of 6 for a couple of bucks. It is worth the investment to let sunshine and nature grow a plant that keeps on giving all season long. The greens should keep producing into the spring. 

To get started:

  • Identify a sunny spot in your backyard (or front yard bed) to plant your greens. 
    • Dig holes to fit two transplants each if smaller or plan them individually 6-8 inches apart.
    • Cover with dirt and then add mulch to help the plant retain its moisture
  • If using a container, prep it by poking holes in the bottom for drainage
    • Fill it 2/3 of the way with a mixture of compost and soil. Add plants and the cover with dirt, then mulch.

You can harvest the leaves by clipping them off with kitchen scissors; I waited about 6 weeks until the leaves were large and mature, but you can also clip them when they are young (2-3 weeks) and about 3-4 inches long for a little added spice to your salads. 

Only cut what you plan to eat. The plant will continue to grow new leaves. Check out my stages of growth below. Happy growing!

49d46923-5679-44d6-ad40-17d664d02ae7

73615d13-cd59-4258-a986-2cc9df60697a

If it starts to warm and you start noticing holes in your greens, you can spray them with organic pest sprays. You can cut, chop, bag and freeze them. I’d recommend labeling the bag with its content and the date so that you stay on top of its freshness. They should be consumed within 12 months.

f7a63559-66e8-4cad-9961-e9739e8344f8

Thanksgiving Sides

3727B30F-1F86-4C5C-AEB8-1B76E3C77926.jpeg

Thanksgiving brings together family with food and fun and also brings the opportunity to share gratitude. In addition to time with family we all look forward to our favorite dishes for the Thanksgiving holiday. While I am certainly looking forward to mirliton dressing, I will also prepare a healthy side to share my gratitude for health in this season. 

I fell in love with the oyster mushrooms from the Red Stick Farmers Market and wanted to share this tasty idea a side option. With multiple varieties of kale in season, I selected the tender Dino kale  and sautéed them with garlic and the mushrooms for a quick and easy side dish. You can always substitute any other mushroom of choice. Check out the recipe below.

In addition to this recipe, the savory sweet potato dishes in my last post would also make great seasonal sides. I challenge you to make a healthy dish and add it to the mix this Thanksgiving. Be sure to share your creations!

Sautéed Kale and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 cups of Kale

2 cups of oyster mushrooms diced

6-8 cloves of garlic minced

1 tbsp. Olive oil

1/2 cup of water

1 tsp. Red pepper flakes or cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse kale and slice leaves in half longwise before chopping. 
  2. Heat oil over medium heat. Peel and mince garlic  and add to oil. Add red pepper flakes.
  3. Chop mushrooms and add to garlic. Add in kale and stir well for one minute.
  4. Add water, top and reduce heat to low for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Seasonal Sweet Potatoes

181DBC51-3995-4427-BE8E-E7A616C413A3.jpeg

Every fall, we are lucky to have the delicious sweet potato crop produce in abundance. Sweet potatoes, like all potatoes, have their share of nutrients and vitamins such as high fiber, iron, calcium, B vitamins (energy) and Vitamin C (immune boost). Of course by name alone, this starchy vegetable lends itself more to desserts; however sweet potatoes are a great addition to many savory creations. After purchasing a couple of sweet potatoes from the Chenier Farm at my local farmers market, I used the potatoes to make two sides: rosemary and garlic chive roasted vegetable medley and savory mashed sweet potato. These are great side dishes for any protein of choice. If you want to keep things simple, bake chicken, which you can season 2 to 3 ways on one baking sheet, and steam the leafy green veggie of your choice. Check out the recipes below.

 

Mashed Sweet Potato

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet Potato (2 -2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. butter

½ cup of milk

3 tbsp. green onion

½ tbsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Rinse and peel sweet potato.  Cut in half then slice.
  3. Boil for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
  4. Strain water. Add butter and mash potatoes with a fork.
  5. Add milk, green onion and seasoning. Mix well.
  6. Enjoy.

 

Roasted Vegetable Medley

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (2 cups)

6 medium turnips (2-2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. avocado or olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary

2 tbsp. garlic or regular chives

½ tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and peel potatoes and turnips.
  3. Cut off both ends of turnips but leave stems to stabilize the root while cutting. Cut it in half, then slices. Dice the sliced turnips. Repeat with second half, remaining turnips and potatoes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and chop herbs.
  5. Add vegetables, oil, herbs and seasoning and mix until evenly coated with your hands or a spoon.
  6. Spread vegetables into an even layer on parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (Test with a fork. Fork should slide easily into and out of the diced veggies.)
  7. Enjoy.

 

 

A Bit Of Curiosity

IMG_6215

I’ve always heard that curiosity killed the cat, but that certainly doesn’t ring true when cooking. I went to the Red Stick Farmers Market this past Saturday and was inspired to create something warm to fight off the cold day. I picked up some beef marrow bones and oxtail from the Gonsoulin farmers to make a rich broth for a beef and veggie soup. I’ve never cooked with either but was curious to find out what difference it could make in a dish. The flavor was beyond incredible paired with garlic, onion and herbs. I’m certain a pot of this will be a winner and should make 10-12 servings for easy meals during the week as the Christmas preparations are underway. Please see the recipe and instructions below and be sure to share your thoughts if you try it.

This will be my last post until after the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Ingredients:

1 lb oxtail
1 lb marrow bones
8 quarts of water
2 heads of garlic
2 medium yellow onions
2 medium-sized red potatoes
1/2 lb lentils
2 cups chopped carrots
8oz pack of whole baby Portobello mushrooms
1 bundle of mustard greens
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp italian seasoning
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Add marrow bones and oxtail to a large pot and cover in 8 quarts of water.
  2. Peel and chop onions and add to pot.
  3. Remove garlic cloves from each head, peel off the skin, cut off the hard end and mince into mid-sized pieces. Add to pot.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil reduce to low-medium heat (3 out of 10). Let boil for an hour.
  5. Peel and chop carrots into 1 to 2 inch thick pieces. Add to simmering pot. Let cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse and slice potatoes into 1 inch thick slices before cutting in half. You want the potatoes to serve as a thickening agent. Let cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Slice mushrooms into 1/2 inch thick pieces, including stems unless tough. Do not rinse mushroom caps before slicing. If you see dirt, remove it with a damp paper towel.
  8. Add mushrooms and all of the seasoning to pot. Let cook for 30-45 minutes.
  9. Stir pot and use a large metal spoon to remove some meat from the bones if tender enough to break with the spoon.
  10. Wash mustard greens by submerging them in a bowl or sink of water for 10 minutes. Chop the greens in groups of 4-5 leaves, into thin strips. Cut long strips in halves or thirds.
  11. Add greens to pot and let cook for 10-15 minutes before cutting off heat. The residual heat will continue to cook the soup.
  12. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve in a bowl and enjoy.

Note: I made a ham and cheese sandwich with microgreens to go with my soup. It can be served alone or with the sandwich addition of your choice.