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

Mirliton Dressing

7690891f-6051-47d7-9630-e41735a823e9

Ever ignore the strange pear-shaped green vegetable at the produce stand? Mirliton or coyote squash is easy to transform into a dish everyone will love. Mirliton dressing with seafood and ham is one of my favorites and is an easy dish to cook in larger quantities for the week. In addition to dressing, it can also be pickled, sliced thin for stir fry and curried among many other uses. I used the whole vegetable, skin and all for added nutrients. They are out in abundance and an easy win to add to your shopping list. For the protein, I like ham and shrimp; however it is easy to substitute ground meat or ground chicken for the ham if you do not eat those meats. I did make my own bread crumbs for this dish and will include that recipe below. Certainly your favorite brand will work in this dish as well.  Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts. 

Mirliton Dressing

Serves 4

2 mirliton

1/2 lb shrimp

8oz diced ham

1 cup diced onion

1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 cups of kale *optional (I added it because I had it)

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread Crumbs

4-6 slices of wheat bread (depends on size)

1/2 cup dry oats

2 tbsp of flax seed

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350. 
  2. Rinse mirliton and boil in a pot over high heat for 30 minutes.
  3. In the last 10 minutes of boiling, toast bread, then grind it, the oats and the flaxseed in a food processor, blender or other device. Place in a baking dish and add seasoning and 2 tsp of olive oil. Mix well and brown in the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain mirliton, rinse in cool water and let cool for 15-20 minutes. While the mirliton cools, rinse and chop kale small. Dice onion and sauté both in 1 tsp. oil.
  5. Peel shrimp and chop before adding to skillet and cooking. 
  6. Dice ham and add to skillet. Reduce heat. Remove breadcrumbs from oven 
  7. Chop mirliton small and add to the skillet. Add seasoning and mix well. Add in breadcrumbs and mix well. 
  8. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 10-15 minutes until top is lightly browned.
  9. Enjoy!

Back to Normalacy

 

9FC6F151-D962-4FB3-BCA4-2D0A633E8B6D

After thanksgiving and being in two weddings in the past 3 weeks, I’m getting back to my healthy. That means more soups/gumbos and salads to combat the wonderful indulgences that the holidays and weddings provide. 

Since I knew what was coming, I had already planted my winter crops and am excited to cook my first mustard green harvest. I’ve also already stocked my freezer with different soups and stews over the past several months, so the work is already done.

My salad crops of arugula, mixed greens and mustards are also nearing harvest. Growing is pretty easy and you can pretty much harvest any young greens for quick salads. 

I’ve been trying my hand at growing everything from tomatoes and peppers this spring and summer to now garlic and turmeric. If you are interested in growing some of your own food, I’d encourage you to start with herbs or indoor micro greens. Both were great starts for me and after conversations with my local farmers, I’ve since expanded to other things and built simple boxes for my crops. Growing can be work depending on how much you are doing, but it’s been so rewarding to eat things I’ve grown myself.

To prepare these greens, I just rinsed, chopped and sautéed them in olive oil with garlic for 5 minutes; simple and tasty.

I’m considering a short spring growing series. What do you think? 🙂

A Bit Of Winter

IMG_6343

This post is dedicated to all of my friends who were part of the many dinners my brother and I hosted during college. Some of my favorite memories are of friends telling me what they “don’t eat” though they’ve never tried it and getting them to try something new by incorporating it into something more familiar. You really can’t go wrong with a good pork chop and the chops from the Cutrer’s at the Farmers market always pleases. The sides are where you can really get creative with introducing seasonal vegetables like fennel, turnips and daikon in new ways that are tasty and easy to make. Mashed potatoes are a easy go-to side that is the perfect dish to incorporate like-colored vegetables like daikon, turnips or parsnips. With this dish, I can now say I’ve used all three at one point or another. Another easy dish is roasting vegetables. Give the broccoli and cauliflower a break and try these other winter veggies instead. It is one of my new favorites.

I know today begins Lent; however this post was delayed due to Mardi Gras and moving forward all post through the Lent season will highlight our great Louisiana Seafood. Enjoy and be sure to like it and share it.

Potatoes ingredients:
1 cup quartered ( cut potato in half, he halve each half) small red potatoes with skin
1/2 cup of peeled and diced daikon or turnips
1/2 cup of thinly-sliced yellow onion
2 tsp sea salt

Roasted Veggies Ingredients:
2 cups of quartered turnips
1/2 cup of chopped fennel
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
 Pork Chops Ingredients:
4 pork chops bone in
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup of green onion
11/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil
3. Wash and quarter potatoes. Peel and chop the daikon into smaller pieces than the potatoes as they will need longer to cook. (If using turnips, wash thoroughly, cut off bottoms and cut into small quarters). Thinly slice half and onion. Add all ingredients to the  pot and let boil for 20-25 minutes.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash veggies. If using whole fennel, cut off stalks as you will only roast the bulb. Save fronds ( soft green tops) for plating and salads during the week. Cut a medium-sized bulb in half and then quarter each half. You should have 8 pieces. If using multiple smaller bulbs you want 8-10 pieces of fennel. Add to the cooking sheet.
5. Cut turnip bottoms off and quarter each turnip. You will need 6-8 turnips. Add to the cooking sheet.
6.Using half and onion, slice and dice the onion into bite-sized pieces. Add to the cooking sheet.
7. Drizzle the olive oil over the veggies and mix gently with your hand making sure they are evenly coated. Sprinkle the seasoning on top in a light, even coat. Place in the oven for 15-17 minutes.
8. Add olive oil to the pan and let heat over medium-high heat.
9. While heating the oil, use half of the seasoning on one side of the pork chops and then place in the heated oil seasoned-side down. Season the other side with the remaining seasonings. This should cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the chop.
10. Wash your hands and then strain your potatoes.
11. Flip pork chops, reduce the heat to low- medium, then add green onion and a 1/4 cup of water to the pan before topping it.
12. Add strained potatoes, daikon and onion back to the pot you boiled them in or a bowl of preferred and add butter before mashing with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
13. Remove veggies from the oven and turn off all heat, including pork chops.
14. Plate and enjoy. An optional addition is topping the roasted veggies with some of the fennel fronds for added color and a burst of flavor.

A Bit Of Preparation

IMG_6288 IMG_6292

A lot of my friends know I often bring my lunch to work; it’s cost effective and I know exactly what’s in it. I often use part of my weekend to prep meals for the week, both lunch and dinner. I made a simple chicken salad that was great for lunch today. One can makes enough for 3 to 4 servings. You can also sear fish or chicken to go with a salad or sides of your choice. Yesterday evening I made a brining solution for the two beautiful whole, fresh flounder I picked up at Saturday’s Farmers Market. I let the flounder soak overnight and seared them in olive oil and finished the fish in the oven with fresh lemon, capers, butter and parsley. I wilted some beet greens and Swiss chard with garlic, topped them with pickled onions and carrots and topped the fish with microgreens from the farmers market which packs the nutrients  of broccoli, kale and assortment of other veggies without requiring me to eat them all tonight. And while this dish is absent of a carb or starch, I should mention I roasted potatoes with onions for my leftover fish; tonight I am saving myself for the ice cream I also made this weekend. Should I add chocolate? I think so. 🙂

Check out the recipes below. The chicken salad took all of 5 minutes and the fish dish took 35 minutes. Now I could be faster with my knife and potato peeler but if you have a partner or kids, they can make easy work of the pickling job or chopping the greens.

Chicken Salad Ingredients:
1 can chicken or 1 cup of leftover baked or roasted chicken
1/2 cup of minced celery
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1 1/2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp creole mustard
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1tsp coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Chop celery and onion.
2. Open and strain can of chicken by pressing lid down to release liquid and place in a small bowl.
3. Add celery, onion mayo, mustard and seasoning. Mix well.
4. Top with foil and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Day 1:
Flounder Brine Ingredients:
Ziploc gallon bag
Measuring cup
3 cups of water
1 1/2 tbsp sea or kosher salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
3-6 bay leaf depending on size
2-4 pieces of lemon peel

Directions:
1. Place fish in Ziploc bag after rinsing.
2. In a measuring cup, add water sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Pour into Ziploc bag.
3. Add bay leaf.
4. Cut the ends off of a lemon and the  zest from each side. Avoid cutting into the fruit. Add to the Ziploc bag.
5. Seal and squeeze excess aid from the bag, being mindful of the water solution.
6. Store on a plate in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:
Seared Flounder Ingredients:
Flounder in brine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 lemon or 2 tbsp juiced
1 tbsp capers (optional)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup of chopped beet greens
1 cup of chopped Swiss chard

Pickled Veggie Ingredients:
1 carrot shredded with potato peeler
1/2 onion sliced thin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:
1. If cooking potatoes, slice 3 in half and then  into 1/2 inch thick pieces and add to a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper with thin slices onion. Drizzle olive oil, salt pepper and garlic powder and add to a preheated 375 degree oven. If no potatoes still heat oven for the fish. (Optional)
2. In a medium-sized bowl, add vinegar and sugar and mix until dissolved.
3. Peel carrot then shred, using a potato peeler, into the bowl.
4. Thinly slice onion and add to the bowl. Add seasoning and mix with a fork before topping with foil and setting it aside.
5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
6. Rinse fish in cool water to remove excess salt and place on a plate. Season each fish with a fourth of the seasoning on one side. Once pan is hot place seasoned-side down. Season other side.
7. Let it cook for 3 minutes. Then flip to other side and reduce heat to medium for 2 minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice to deglaze the pan, then add parsley, butter, capers and a splash of water and place in oven for 5 minutes or so depending on size of fish.
8. While fish cooks, add greens to a non-stick pan and cook for 3 minutes with garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper and a pinch of water.
9. Turn off heat and remove everything from the oven carefully.
10. Plate greens first, then picked veggies. Place the fish on top. Add micro greens or a little chopped parsley to the top and enjoy.