Creamed, Steamed and Marinated

Turnip Green Tart
Filling the Turnip Green Tarte

In my quest for more magnesium in my diet, without using a supplemental pill, I have turned my attention to the dark leafy greens of winter. I am a fan of the hearty greens year-round. Seasonably speaking and eating, these are put into the cold weather crop variety. Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale, Turnip Greens to name a few. These can all be eaten raw, but in all honesty, they are a tougher green. Rather than the “rabbit-type nibble” one may use for tender lettuce, greens of the hearty type can render a “cow-cud chewing method”. Although effective, no one is going to want to join you at the table while you’re chewing your cud so to speak. As a firm believer that meals should not be eaten alone, these greens are best eaten prepared in one way or another.

I mentioned magnesium above, it’s a rather important mineral responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our body and it’s estimated 90% of the population is deficient. I have found that when I don’t have enough my headaches turn to migraines  and I get both more often. Low magnesium can also result in morning sickness for expecting mamas. Magnesium affects more than just that. Low magnesium cause or increase anxiety and depression, cause muscle cramps, high blood pressure, hormone imbalances and more.

A side note Soapbox: All these farmers that are using chemical fertilizer are not helping the situation. Chemical fertilizer depletes the soil of many naturally occurring minerals causing the food grown in them to be less nutritious. God bless them for growing food for the masses but large scale is not always the answer. For more on soil depletion dig into how composting works and the effects of chemical fertilizer on the naturally occurring organisms do the dirty work of breaking down that leaf pile into black gold that contains multitude of nutrition when used to grow your vegetables. Done.

Turnip Greens Tarte
Turnip Greens Tarte
Turnip Green Tarte
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My version of a traditional Croatian Pie. This works just as well with Chard too.
Turnip Green Tarte
Print Recipe
My version of a traditional Croatian Pie. This works just as well with Chard too.
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 cup Whole Wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2/3 cup Lard
  • 1 each Egg
  • 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp Cold Water
Filling
  • 4 cup Greens (Chard, Turnip or both) chopped
  • 3 each Garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
Crust
  1. In a bread bowl combine the flour and salt
  2. Add the lard and mix with stiff fingers until it resembles heavy corn meal.
  3. In a small bowl combine the egg, vinegar and 3 tbsp. of water.
  4. Add the liquid to the flour and mix again just until it holds together. (an additional tablespoon of water may be needed.)
  5. Divide the dough into two ball and roll each on a lightly floured surface a little thicker than a thin pie crust. (1/3-1/4 in maybe?) -One for the bottom crust and one for the top.
Filling
  1. Toss everything in a bowl just until the greens are evenly coated with oil.
  2. Place the filling on the bottom crust and carefully cover with the top crust. Roll the edges and pinch together.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 min or until lightly browned.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little extra minced garlic clove
Recipe Notes

**That is the traditional preparation. I like it, my family finds it a little boring. To spice it up for them I add some browned pork sausage, sautéed mushrooms  and chevre cheese.**

 

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Creamed Brussels Sprouts
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This recipe is my favorite with steamed Brussels Sprouts. Spinach can be substituted for part or all the sprouts.
Creamed Brussels Sprouts
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This recipe is my favorite with steamed Brussels Sprouts. Spinach can be substituted for part or all the sprouts.
Ingredients
  • 12 oz Brussels Sprouts, quartered or 2 bunches of Fresh Spinach
  • 1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1 each Garlic clove minced
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together in a baking dish.
  2. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes with sprouts (or 20 with spinach).
  3. Top with a little extra parmesan cheese.
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Balsamic Kale Salad
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If this is left to marinade for 12-24 hours the "cud-chewing" aspect is reduced considerably.
Balsamic Kale Salad
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If this is left to marinade for 12-24 hours the "cud-chewing" aspect is reduced considerably.
Ingredients
Salad
  • Kale roughly chopped
  • 1 each Apple roughly chopped
  • 1 handful Toasted Pecans
  • 1/2 handful Dried Cranberries
Dressing
  • 1 each Garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Spicy Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 each Juice from Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • to taste Salt and Pepper
Servings:
Instructions
Dressing
  1. Place everything but the Oil in a blender or food processor. Process until the garlic is super finely minced.
  2. While machine is running slowly stream in the oil.
Assembly
  1. Toss the salad pieces with the dressing (enough to lightly coat everything, it doesn't need to swim) and let it sit in the fridge over night.
  2. Top with some crumbled blue cheese before serving.
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Vegetable Gardening 101: Brassica’s

Brassica’s are a very interesting family of vegetables. Personally I love them! I would guess we eat more out of this group than any other. This too has a few sub categories; Cabbages, Stems and Buds, and Leafy.

CabbageCabbages sounds a bit straight forward, but this also includes Brussels Sprouts. I usually start cabbage  indoors in February then transplant outside late spring. This doesn’t always work the best for me but I try every year anyway. I start the second planting in late May to early June in a spot where I can protect it some until July. This tends to give me a better harvest.
Cabbage needs a fair amount of space; like 3 foot rows for most varieties. Planting them close together works if you would like a few heads that are small (baseball/softball size). Pull the thinnings and leave the others to grow into full size heads. You can get a second crop of small heads if you cut the mature head just above the root and continue to water them. Up to 4 small heads will form from one stem.
If you’ve ever tried to grow cabbage you most likely have met the little critters that come with them. The first time I tried to grow cabbage at our last house I had the best crop of cabbage moths you’ve ever seen! There are a few remedies that will keep the pests at bay. If you prefer the dusting method, a light sprinkling of cayenne pepper or white flour works. Planting fragrant plants close to the cabbage, such as dill, thyme, garlic or onions usually works well too.
Cabbage stores very well in a root cellar or a cool basement. It also stores well as Sauerkraut! (Then you can make Sarma)
Brussels SproutsBrussels Sprouts are another member of this category. These I do start indoors rather than outside. They should be planted about 16 inches apart and can be hardened off in early spring. The pests that love the cabbage love Brussels sprouts too. The same techniques work for both. I have also heard if you put a nylon stocking (like grandma wears) over the plant it will keep the bugs off; might have to give that a try too. I will let you know what I find.
Harvesting the sprouts is quite simple. They grow on the main stem of the plant that is topped with leaves. They have a Dr.Suess look to them. Start at the bottom, grab the tiny head (about 1 inch average) and twist. You can get a few pickings from the same plant so don’t pull the plant right away. You can leave the plant in the ground through the winter if you like. The sprouts can be pick from the stem even in the snow! To keep them in a root cellar it’s best to hang the whole plant rather than keep the sprouts individually. They can be canned as well; I have only ever had fresh or frozen. I will can some this year and let you know how it goes.
Pak Choy

Chinese Cabbages are in this category too. I’m too familiar with these. I have grown Bak Choy that the moths got. I have seeds for Pak Choy for this year. Chinese cabbage can have different forms but are can be prepared the same as cabbage. It is also easier to digest than regular cabbage.

Stems and Buds include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, and Kale.

BroccoliBroccoli is another plant that like sun but not heat, making it rather tricky to grow in some areas. If you start from seed indoors be sure to not start too early as it can easily get root bound and spindly. Like cabbage and sprouts you can get multiple cuttings from one plant. Generally the first will be the largest with smaller ones to follow.
Knowing when to harvest your broccoli can be a learning experience too. If the plant likes where it is, it can grow from 2-4 feet tall! The buds, when growing will be tight together, once they start to loosen its time to harvest. If you let them go longer they flower with  a whole bunch of tiny yellow flowers. When that happens you can cut the stalk and place it in a mason jar on the table and enjoy the flowers.  Don’t worry you can still get other smaller cuttings from the plant.
CauliflowerCauliflower prefers partial shade and extra fertile soil. They should be planted 18 inches apart or so. Once the heads are about 3-5 inches across take the outside leaves and tie them up, covering the head. This will blanch the cauliflower and leave you with a clean white head. Not blanching the head will not hurt anything, you will have a slightly yellow/green head that will taste the same as the white. Once you harvest the head you can pull the plant as it will not produce more as broccoli does.
Storing you cauliflower can be done in a root cellar, however it won’t last long. I usually can or freeze mine.
Kohlrabi should be grown quickly in cool weather. Hot weather slows their growth and causes them to be woody and sharp tasting. Kohlrabi look a lot like a turnip growing above ground with stemmed leaves growing out of it. Harvest your spring crop when it is about 2 inches in diameter, in the fall about the size of a tennis ball.
Storing can be done in a root cellar when stored like carrots; remove the outer leaves and layer between damp sand or saw dust.

The Leafy clan includes collards, kale, mustard, and turnip greens, among others.
Collards are a traditional southern crop and dish for that matter. I don’t have much experience growing these…yet.
KaleKale is a great crop, not only because it’s super nutritious, but is can grow well in the cold and heat. Plants should be about 12 inches apart and watered well in the summer.
To harvest cut the outer leaves and leave the inner smaller ones to continue to produce. At the end of the season, leave the plants in, don’t till them and them should be back in the spring.
Mustard greens remind me of growing spinach.
As far as Turnip greens I eat the turnips, not the greens, they are too prickly, kinda like fiber glass.

Previous Article: Leafy Greens
Next Article: Edible Stems

Sarma (Pigs in a Blanket)

Pak Choy, Napa Cabbage and Morel Stir Fry
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Pak Choy, Napa Cabbage and Morel Stir Fry
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Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Ginger finely chopped
  • 3 each Garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2 each Napa cabbage shredded
  • 1 bunch Pak Choy shredded
  • 1 lb Morel Mushrooms sliced
  • 3/4 cup Beef Broth
  • 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Saute everything together just until the cabbage wilts.
  2. Serve hot
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