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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The Humble Pot

A cheap cut of meat and some aromatic vegetables. This used to be thought of as a poor folks dish. An inexpensive way to feed a lot of mouths for little cost. Slow food revolution, back to basics cooking, whatever you want to call it, this pot of humble beginnings is what it’s all about. I haven’t seen it make the comeback that it rightfully should, but in time I’m sure it will.

A rich aroma that passes through the house gets anyone within reach feeling hungry. The warmth of the oven makes the kitchen a cozy place to wander in and stay. Second only to bread, a dish made in a single pot can warm a house and gather everyone to the kitchen before they are called for the meal.

I am not talking about hotdish (for you non-Minnesotans, casserole) although, those can be good and an easy way to use up leftovers, a humble pot dish is so much more. In the way of comfort food there is really nothing better. The meat- super tender and juicy, some of the vegetables- cooked down until they reach a rich, flavorful sauce, the rest have soaked up all sorts of great seasoning. Everything mingles together in one pot. No single ingredient more important than another (except salt, that rules all).

Recently, I have been making these more and more. Mostly because I work full time in town and still want a decent homemade meal for my family. A humble pot dish can be started the night before or morning of and placed in the oven with a timer and left to cook for the better part of the day. Some people use crockpots for such dishes. I do sometimes, but more often than not, I find it is not roomy enough to get the full potential from the ingredients inside. The vegetables need space to cook down and work with the added liquid of choice. I prefer to use cuts of meat that have the bone in tact, not only does it add richness to the dish but it also adds more nutrients too. Even a small roast or bird take up a considerable amount of space when coupled with vegetables and broth.

For all of these dishes I use a heavy enameled cast iron pot. The whole thing can go into the oven, lid and all. The lid is important; a foil covered dish just doesn’t make the same results. I think it has something to do with how the lid retains more of the steam and helps the insides to keep a more even temperature… or I am just full of it. It’s just a guess. In addition to the collection of cast iron skillets in my kitchen, I also have a variety of these pots as well. In a perfect world I would set up a pot for each weekday on Sunday, place them in the fridge and have them ready for the week. Maybe someday, if we end up with an extra refrigerator, right now there is no room in the one we have.

I must admit, not every humble pot I make looks very pretty, in fact most don’t. The taste more than makes up for the lack of visual appeal. Honestly, over time the look doesn’t change but the dishes start to look better and better just because of the anticipation of the deliciousness to come. I know it’s possible to make such a meal vegetarian style, I have yet to make one as such. Considering we just made the last chicken in the freezer, this may be something to look a little closer at. I can and have “offed” a chicken on a meal by meal basis, but it’s not something I would like to make a habit of. I would like to stretch the beef supply as long as possible. I really don’t want to have to start getting meat at the store. I could. I don’t want to.

The method is simple:
Start with a combination of aromatic vegetables, most common around here is onions, carrots and celery in a 2:1:1 ratio.
Sauté the vegetables.
Add any herbs, spices or seasonings.
Add meat. ( a cut with the bone in tact will produce more flavor and nutrition)
Add dry rice, par cooked beans, or raw potatoes or squash.
Add liquid. (water, broth, wine, beer etc.)
Cover and cook slowly until done.

With this simple “recipe” there is an endless amount of meals that can be made.

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Cider Whipped Squash

We eat a lot of squash during the winter. The multitude of varieties gives way for all sorts of different cooking options, from my favorite Poppy Squash Pancakes, to Stuffed Acorn Squash, to this Cider Whipped Squash. It works with most any variety, though I prefer it with ones that have a darker orange flesh. This is a super easy recipe and a good way to “spice” up squash without getting too crazy.

 

Cider Whipped Squash 2 http://wildflowerfarm.org

Cider Whipped Squash
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Cider Whipped Squash
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Ingredients
  • 1 each medium Squash of your choice
  • 1-2 each Apples peeled and cored
  • 3/4 cup Apple Cider
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp Butter
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Peel the squash and remove the seeds.
  2. Cut the squash into equal sized chunks. Do the same with the apples.
  3. Place all of the ingredients into a baking dish.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour or until the squash is soft.
  5. Once baked through, whip the squash as you would mashed potatoes.
  6. Serve as is or with some maple syrup.
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A Peck of Pickled Peppers

The last few summers I could have been called Peter Piper because I picked a few pecks of peppers and pickled until I got sick of it. I was giving pepper away by the grocery bag full. Now, I love peppers, and you might expect my to say that I really don’t want another high yielding year, but I won’t. I can find so many ways to work peppers into our meals and for what I can’t use there is always someone in need of a few.wildflowerfarm.org

Pickled Peppers
To pickle my peppers I like to keep it very basic
1 tsp.  Kosher Salt
equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar and Water poured over the peppers that have been washed and placed in clean jars.

I opened a jar of chili peppers and one of jalapenos (the top two jars in the picture) today. I wanted to test the flavor of the peppers and wasn’t thinking apparently because I just grabbed a chili pepper and took a bite. These chili pepper were burning my fingers last fall when I was picking them. I like hot food, but I also like a little warning before I take a bite. A little warning with this one would have been nice. After I got over the initial shock, the flavor was pretty good. The heat of the peppers had lessened slightly since last fall.

I then tested one of the jalapenos. I was a little more aware of what I was doing with this one. They turned out relatively mild in my taste. A step above the pepperccini peppers I like to use in Bloody Mary’s. The flavor was great, a little vinegar, good pepper-ness, all around good. I see a new pickled egg recipe in the future as well as a pepper relish and of course some Spicy Bloody Mary’s.

Bloody Mary By the Glass
I like to make a meal in my Bloody Mary. I list the ingredients I use because there is no measuring when I make drinks a little of this and a little more of that, by the end of the night it’s a lot of this and a dash of that.

Tomato Juice
Pepper Vodka and/or Pendleton Whiskey
Tabasco Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
A1 Steak Sauce
Pepperccini Peppers
Celery Stick
Green Olives
New Pickled Peppers

Everything in the glass and enjoy!
A peck, by the way, is an actual form of measurement.

1 US peck  = 1/4 of a bushel
= 2 dry gallons
= 8 quarts
= 16 pints
= 32 cups

By this measure I had at least a bushel of peppers and a few bushels of tomatoes!

 

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The Vegetable Garden of 2014

The first sketch of the 2014 vegetable garden is done! I’m pretty pleased with the layout so far so I think this will be a keeper. I’ve got my seed order ready so if I deviate from the order I have to write a new map.

Vegetable sketch

Each square equals about 1 square foot. So this year the garden will be about 20×40. Mostly likely bigger because once the ground breaking begins I get a little carried away sometimes.

The Herb garden for this year I had all sketched up and ready to go too and then realized I missed a few… back to the drawing board.

As much as I would like to tear into the flower beds this summer too I can almost guarantee that there won’t be time. So that will be a bonus. For starters I will have to decide which, if any I want to keep. Then will be removal of old rail road ties. I will have plenty of hostas if anyone wants some. I’m not sure what else is growing around here.

Then there’s the orchard. Apparently there was a horse barn on the hill of what I plan to fence for the cow pasture. The neighbor told me the foundation is still there and if it’s the same as the dairy barn it’s built with field rock. That will be the boarder of the orchard. I will have to start some cuttings from the grape vine to move in there and then picking out fruit trees.

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