Tag Archives: salad

The chard before the storm

Swiss chardEarly June is a relatively quiet time in my vegetable garden. The spring greens, spinach and lettuce are all done, and the summer crops aren’t ready. There are a few plums each day, and we will have a deluge of peaches to deal with soon. But pretty much the only big producer right now is Swiss chard. Here in Oklahoma Swiss chard is a much better bet than spinach. It will produce  year round if you give it enough room, pick it frequently, and cover it in the winter (in a cold frame or hoop house). This week I’m cooking the following:

Curried Chard and Lentils: Cook 1/2 cup of green lentils in 1 cup of water. Sauté 4 cups of chopped chard in a little olive oil until limp. Combine the (hot) lentils and chard with 1 large minced clove of garlic, 2 tsp of Madras curry powder, and 2 oz of cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese is melted throughout. Serve with brown rice.

Chard and green chili breakfast strata: Butter, oil, or spray a casserole dish. Cover bottom with crushed/broken/stale tortilla chips. Sprinkle with chopped green chilis or other hot peppers. Cover with shredded cheese (Monterrey Jack is good), then cover with chopped and sautéed chard. Top with cubed white bread. Beat up eggs with milk, as you would for French toast, and pour over the top (it doesn’t need to cover the bread). Let it sit for a while – overnight also works – then cook at 350 until the eggs are just set and the bread is golden toasty. You don’t need to add salt because the bread, cheese, and tortilla chips all have salt.

Massaged chard salad: Use the smaller and more tender leaves for this. Chop or tear the chard leaves into large pieces. (I also like to add chopped Italian parsley or mint.) Massage with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and a bit of sea salt. Top with chopped walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and grated hard cheese. NOTE: The raw garlic can sometimes be hot/aggressive, so you might want to sauté it a wee bit in olive oil first. Also, this massaged chard is also really good as a pizza topping. Put it on last, and watch to see that it doesn’t burn too much.




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Pickled garlic

If you’ve read my previous posts you know that I had an overabundance of garlic this year. I’ve had two large onion bags of garlic sitting in an extra bedroom, and noticed that many of the cloves were starting to sprout. So this last week, whenever I had a few minutes, I made  a couple of  jars of pickled garlic. First I viewed several recipes online and then made up my own. Since I’m storing these jars in the refrigerator I’m not too concerned about spoilage.

  • 3 cups peeled and washed garlic cloves
  • 2 cup white or cider vinegar, or a combinationpickled garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbed
  • Clean glass jars with well-fitting lids or small jelly jars
  1. Run the jars and lids through the hot cycle of your dishwasher, or sterilize in a pot of boiling water (then drain).
  2. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices in a pan and bring to a boil. Add the garlic cloves and boil another two minutes.
  3. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to put the garlic into the jars. Fill jars with vinegar solution, and immediately put on the lids and tighten.
  4. Turn the jars upside down on a dishtowel and let sit for 5 minutes. Then turn the jars right side up and let cool. The lids should “pull down” and seal (if not, it’s no biggie…you’re going to keep these in the fridge).
  5. Place the jars in the refrigerator and use as needed in salsa, sauces, dips, salad dressing, etc. Also, the vinegar solution makes a great salad dressing when combined with olive oil.

Speaking of garlic and salad dressing…I’ve never found a store-bought Caesar salad dressing I really like, so I’ve started preparing my own. It’s really easy and only takes a few minutes.

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all in a small bowl and whisk up with a fork. Keep leftover dressing in your refrigerator.

On a completely different note, our hens and pullets have started laying! With the really cold weather Mike has been leaving the light on them 24-7, and we are getting about 4 eggs a day.


Filed under Chickens, Cook

Cucumber madness

Mike and I are back from our California road trip vacation, which was

View from our driftwood shelter on Molera State Beach, CA

View from our driftwood shelter on Molera State Beach, CA

wonderful (see Travel Photos). Luckily while we were gone the weather in Oklahoma was cooler and moister than usual, so our garden is in pretty good shape. We’ve already done a lot of weeding and harvesting of sunflower seeds, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil and oregano. Mike dried about 3 quarts of tomatoes yesterday in our dehydrator. We also need to clean up our garlic heads now that they’ve cured, and eat a lot of potatoes before they spoil.

So now it’s August, when backyard gardeners in the Mid-South  are flooded with produce, and at the same time need to start planting their fall garden.  This is a tricky proposition, as it could be too hot (and too dry or too wet) to get good germination on some seeds. There are also grasshoppers to contend with, and they can wipe out a bed of seedlings in one morning. I’m going to see if I can get a crop of Delicata squash before the first fall frost for our area – which could occur in the middle of October, or wait until the middle of December! I may also try some Contender bush beans and some fennel (I saved my seed). I will probably wait a week or two before planting bok choi and our winter greens.

hiddencukeWhen we got home Sunday Beca proudly showed us the large cucumber she had picked earlier in the morning. The next day Mike found four more hiding in the vines! Obviously it’s time to post some simple cucumber salad/relish/snacks for the extended Nelson clan.

Marinated cukes #1: A dish my maternal grandmother, raised in southern Oklahoma, served every day in the summer, along with sliced cantaloupe or watermelon. Mix all the ingredients together and set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. The longer they set, the more “pickled” they become, but I like them pretty crisp and crunchy.

  • Several peeled and (round) sliced cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 thinly sliced onion (white, yellow, or red)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • a couple of ice cubes

Marinated cukes #2: These are similar to the previous recipe, but more like a bread-and-butter (sweet-sour) pickle. I think I may be the only one in our immediate family who likes bread-and-butter pickles?

  • Several peeled and (round) sliced cucumbers
  • 1 thinly sliced onion (white, yellow, or red)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dill seed
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp parsley seed
  • a couple of ice cubes

Marinated cukes #3: This is a favorite of Mike and the kids.

  • Several peeled and (round) sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (you can substitute cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Marinated cukes #4: Spicier and good with fresh spring rolls.

  • Several peeled and sliced cucumbers
  • 1 thinly sliced onion (white or yellow)
  • 1/4 cup rice or cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1  to 2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp freshly grated or minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1  tsp garlic-chili paste or siracha hot sauce
  • Several minced leaves of Thai basil, cilantro, or mint

And of course cucumbers are excellent just sliced paper thin and placed in sandwiches.

Bonus recipes: As I was typing this out I thought about the watermelon sitting in our refrigerator. The rind of a watermelon is sort of like a cucumber, right? So couldn’t you make a fresh pickle or something out of it? HA! Here is a recipe from the Tuscon CSA! If you don’t have pomegranate syrup I bet you could substitute some other fruit juice/syrup/concentrate. And here is a watermelon rind relish recipe that would go great with anything grilled, curries, or on a sandwich. An interesting note – watermelon rind is a good source of citrulline, and you may recall hearing that watermelon is a “natural viagra.”

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