Tag Archives: veggies

Another Way to Cook Turnips

Yukon potatoes and purple turnip

When I got inundated with turnips from my winter produce CSA last week (after trading my beets for more turnips), I started thinking of how to get creative with recipes. The first attempt was Bill’s spontaneous root vegetable melange. The next attempt was something you may have had with Thanksgiving dinner: mashed potatoes and turnip puree.

I had one very large purple turnip and only two Yukon potatoes. Ideally, I would have added a couple more potatoes, but it still turned out pretty tasty. All I did was peel and dice both vegetables, making them uniform size. Then I put them in a big pot of water and cooked the vegetables until tender (about 15-20 minutes). This also turned into a science lesson: I learned that turnips are less dense than potatoes and float to the top!

Boiling diced turnips and potatoes

When they were done I simply mashed them and added a little buttermilk leftover from making butter, along with salt and pepper.

Mashed potatoes and turnips with buttermilk

It was a delicious side dish to accompany roast chicken with gravy and oven-roasted carrots.

Roast chicken with carrots, mashed potatoes and turnip puree, and gravy

Bill-Friendly Fried Green Tomatoes

I don’t know about you but I hate to waste food. So when there are green tomatoes on the vine at the end of summer it’s a great opportunity to make fried green tomatoes. But what do you do when most of the recipes include bread crumbs and/or cornmeal—and you’re allergic to wheat and corn like Bill is?

When I tried making them, I improvised the best I could! Here’s how:

Set-up is key, just like when you make stir-fry. You need to have everything prepared ahead of time because the process of dredging, dipping, and frying goes quickly.

First, slice the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick.

Then put some buttermilk in a bowl. I used leftover buttermilk from my raw milk butter process because Bill can consume raw cow dairy products (as opposed to pasteurized). If you have a dairy allergy you could try rice milk instead.

Mix together oat flour with some paprika, salt, and pepper and put it on a plate for dredging the tomatoes. (In retrospect, I would probably use brown rice flour since it retains less moisture.)

Beat an egg in a bowl.

For the bread crumbs, use old bread, or create old bread by leaving a few slices out the night before. We use Sami’s Millet & Flax Bread because it doesn’t have wheat or corn in it. (If you don’t have a wheat allergy you could use any kind of plain bread crumbs.) Simply smash the dried bread with your hands or a rolling pin to crumble the bread into small pieces.

Once everything is ready, heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet. I used safflower oil and was very liberal with it so the tomatoes wouldn’t stick.

Then it’s just dip, dredge, dip, dredge—from buttermilk to flour to egg to bread crumbs. And into the pan they go.

Fry on each side for about two minutes or until brown and crispy. If you need to fry in batches, keep the cooked ones warm on a plate in a low oven.

We enjoyed ours with a variation on Bill-Friendly Mac & Cheese on a cool autumn night!

Jersey Girl Grows Okra

My garden is nothing to speak of this year. The parsley and collards have reseeded themselves wherever they saw fit. Some of last year’s onions and kale are lingering. A couple rows of carrots came up from the seeds I planted, if you can discern them from the parsley. And I have a few tomato plants–some from a friend who gave me seed starts  and a couple of grape tomato volunteers. Watering was a big chore most of July and it seems the extreme heat took a lot out of everybody. Except the okra.

I’ve never grown okra before, and I’ve rarely eaten it except for trips to the Deep South. In New Jersey, where I grew up, it seems our standard plantings were tomatoes, summer squash, chard, lettuce, and green beans, which my sisters and I would laboriously weed around every summer. So when I saw okra seedlings for sale at the Holland Farmers Market back in May I figured, what the hay. They seem to have taken awhile to get going but I finally have okra pods, which is the part we get to eat!

Apparently okra thrives in the heat, which is likely why it’s prevalent in the South. But when to pick the pods? And then what? First I Googled “how to grow okra” and came across Chris’ Backyard Gardening Blog, which was extremely helpful in answering my questions. (And, Chris just happens to be from Lower Michigan!) I’m glad I researched it, too, because you should not pick okra with your bare hands. The tiny spines on the pods and leaves can irritate skin. I used a combination pruning shear and tongs to snag them when they were ready for harvesting.

The only way I remember seeing or tasting okra is fried or in soups and gumbo. Again, I did a little research, this time for okra recipes. And I was glad I did because many of the comments I read about recipes mention its slimy-ness. If there’s one texture I despise in my mouth, it’s slimy. (No mushrooms for me, please!)

Luckily, I found Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe in the New York Times for Roasted Okra. Roasting anything in an oven at 450 degrees in the middle of summer is not appealing but on a cool day I tried it. I think you could easily grill the okra instead but this is definitely the way to go to avoid slimy vegetables, and to keep it simple. Nothing beats olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roasted okra makes a lovely side dish to accompany Pork Steak on the Grill and collards!

Lentil “Chili” with Lamb Stock

I call it “chili” because the first thing Bill said when he tasted this soup was, “It tastes like chili!”

Last weekend I made Slow Grilled Leg of Lamb and I never like to waste any part of the animal so I boiled up the leg bone to make stock. I also happened to have some lentils I wanted to use up so I Googled “lamb stock” and “lentils.” The first result in my search was a lentil soup recipe from this blog: “Sh*t I Bake.”

I love Angela’s recipe. What I made is pretty much on par with what’s in her recipe. The only substitutions I made were tomato paste for tomatoes, since I didn’t have them on hand, and lemon juice for lemon pepper. Also, I only had 3/4 pound of lentils so I modified the recipe accordingly.

Per her instructions, I sautéed the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil until the onion was translucent.

Then I added about half a 6 0z. can of tomato paste to the oil and stirred it into the mixture.

I added about 6 cups of lamb stock, the lentils, and the following spices: ground coriander, cumin, and dried oregano, as well as salt and pepper. (See Angela’s recipe for quantities as well as how she makes her lamb stock.)

After bringing the soup to a boil, I simmered it, covered, about 40 minutes.

It turned out pretty thick so when I heated it up the next day, I added some water as well as a good squeeze from half a fresh lemon. But you could also cook up some rice to accompany this lentil dish, without thinning it, for a satisfying meal of legumes. Maybe that’s how we’ll try it tomorrow. For today, it was the perfect lunch. Filling and delicious. Thanks, Angela!

Kale Chips

Curly kale is one of those vegetables that seems to be available from fall through winter in the northern Midwest. An excellent source of nutrients, Bill and I like to throw it all kinds of dishes. But if you have kale leftover, a great way to use it up is by making kale chips.

Simply wash about a quarter pound of kale.

Dry the kale on a towel or with a salad spinner.

Pull the leaves off the stems and chop into about one-inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy with a sandwich instead of potato chips!

Michigan Ranks in Top Ten for Winter Farmers Markets

Who would have thought a state in the middle of the snow belt, where Lake Effect creates cloud cover and precipitation over the Great Lakes from November through March, would be in the top ten of all the states in the country for its number of winter farmers markets?

According to the Holland Sentinel, Michigan made the list for the first time ever for states with the highest number of winter markets, meaning, those that operate between November and March.

At the top of the list was New York–no surprise–with 180 markets. The Hudson Valley region, in particular, is a mecca for locavores.

The USDA announced the list, citing that the number of winter markets has increased 38 percent nationwide, from 886 to 1,225.

Here’s the list by state for the top ten:

  1.  New York
  2. California
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. North Carolina
  5. Ohio
  6. Maryland
  7. Florida
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Virginia
  10. Michigan

“The demand for locally grown food continues to increase,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Keith Creagh. “Through winter markets, consumers are able to buy local products year-round, and farmers are able to bring in additional income to support their families and businesses in what has traditionally been a slower time of the year for many farm businesses.”

One way farmers in colder climates have been able to extend their season is by using hoop house technology, which is probably how I found Michigan raspberries in November at my local market.

Keep it up, farmers! I prefer getting my produce locally from you!

Love Leeks?

I do! And now’s the time to start thinking about freezing some for the winter if you want to have locally grown leeks on hand for savory meals.

Leeks are a vegetable that freeze well and are a tasty, nutritional addition to soups, risotto, frittatas, and other main dishes. I bought some today from the Boeve Farm at the Holland Farmers Market.

I prefer freezing over canning since there’s less equipment and time involved. That doesn’t leave me as many options for preserving the harvest, but at least I can keep a good portion of produce for the winter in my freezer.

For leeks, all you need to do is remove the roots, dark green stems, and outer layer.

A trick I learned during a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America is to slice the stems lengthwise and rinse under water to remove any dirt.

Then chop the stems and slice the pale green section.

Put in bags and freeze. It’s really that easy. When you’re ready to thaw them for use, you’ll notice they don’t have the same consistency as fresh ones, but for cooked dishes such as the ones I mentioned above, they work great!