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Archive for the ‘broccoli’ Category

Tonight we had huge noodle bowls for dinner, relying on fresh produce and poultry from our back yard or Conway Locally Grown.  These noodle bowls are packed with veggies, spice, and cooling coconut milk (which, alas, is not local at all).  Unfortunately, after I planned the dish, I discovered that my neglected fresh ginger was no longer fresh, so I found other ways to get ginger flavor.  If you have fresh ginger, by all means grate it and use it.  Use a wok for this one-pot meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly across the grain
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha or homemade pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons extra-ginger ginger beer
  • natural soy sauce
  • walnut oil (or peanut oil)
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 2 small carrots, cut into pennies
  • pickled ginger juice
  • broccoli (garnish)
  • pea pods (a couple of cups)
  • big pile of shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 baby bok choy heads, trimmed and cut diagonally
  • optional:  splash of hoisin sauce
  • 2 big pinches dried ginger
  • 2 red peter or other hot pepper, seeded if you want, and then sliced thinly
  • leek bottom, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • broccoli florets
  • handful per person of prepared Thai rice noodles (like very white fettucini)
  • 1/2 can to 1 whole can coconut milk (light okay)

Method

Begin by marinating the sliced chicken in the Sriracha, sherry, ginger beer, and a splash or two of soy sauce.  While the chicken gets nice and spicy, prep your vegetables.

Wait–where are the snow peas?  Oh, here they are!

In a good wok over high heat, pour in a little of the nut oil, add your carrots, and pour on a tablespoon or two of pickled ginger juice.  Stir-fry the carrots until they get tender and maybe have a little caramelization on a few. Most of the liquid will have cooked off too.  Distribute the carrots in the bowls you’ll be using for eating.  Next, add a little toasted sesame oil, the snow peas, and a splash of soy sauce to the wok.  You can add a splash of water too if you want, but make sure it all cooks down.  Stir-fry the snow peas until they are tender.  Portion them out in your eating bowls to one side.

Now it’s time to stir-fry the shittake mushrooms.  Add a tiny bit of oil to the wok and toss in the mushrooms.  The mushrooms will give up a little liquid; that’s good, as it will help them cook.  Help them a little more by pouring in another splash of pickled ginger juice.  Is most of the liquid cooked off?  Out of the wok they go and into the bowls!   Be sure to put them in the half where you didn’t put the snow peas.

Next toss in the sliced bok choy with a little more nut oil and some of that ginger juice.  If you have it on hand, add a little hoisin sauce.  As the liquid cooks down, find a spot in your bowls for the bok choy.

Next up are leeks and chile peppers.  We just had a few florets of broccoli, so I added them in here.  Same story–different verse. Use a little oil.  Add a little more ginger juice if you think they need it.  Add in the prepared rice noodles and stir-fry to combine.  Plop in the bowls.

Last is the chicken.  Taking care to get chicken but little marinating liquid, add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the liquid is cooked down.

Now pour in 1/2 can to a whole can of coconut milk and heat until it gets bubbly.Distribute the chicken in the eating bowls and then pour on the coconut milk, which is now conveniently infused with all of the goodness that you stir-fried through the whole prep.  Yes, we just used coconut milk to deglaze the wok.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Since we separated the elements as we stir-fried them and again going in the bowls, you can get a different mouthful of flavor each time you dive into the bowl and pull out a morsel.  Use chopsticks for the most fun, with a soup spoon to get every tasty drop in the end.

Variations

This dish would be delicious with cilantro or Thai basil on top, but, alas, we had neither ready to pick right now.  We also sometimes use Asian eggplant in this big bowl of yummy, but we don’t have that yet either.  Feel free to substitute shrimp for the chicken.

What’s the largest number of local produce and protein that you’ve managed to get in a single dish?  Do you cook a similar pan-Asian dish?  Do tell!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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We went from wondering if another ice age was on its way to believing in global warming again this week.  The unseasonably warm weather cried out for a cooler dinner, and gigantic chives and Asian mustard that went from salad size to mandatory cooking overnight made me think of some of our favorite pseudo-Asian meals.  Tonight we’re having spicy peanut-sesame noodles with broccoli, coconut-crusted chicken, and a mess of mustard greens finished with hoisin sauce.

I first had peanut-sesame noodles a couple of decades ago at a Chinese restaurant in a country house outside Madison, Wisconsin.  Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if the place was licensed as a restaurant, but it got a big following quickly.  The food was good, but the most fun was the owner’s enthusiastic teenage daughter, Sunshine.  After we’d visited a few times, Sunshine told us that she was going to order for us that night, not from the menu but one of her favorite things that her mother made for the family.  Out came the noodles.  I was in love.  These probably bear little resemblance to those, but I can make them with ingredients I have on hand.

Spicy Peanut-Sesame Noodles

This recipe will make more than enough noodles for a whole family of four (or more).  I used whole-wheat spaghetti noodles, but you could use udon noodles or thick rice noodles too.

Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 box whole-wheat spaghetti noodles
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (or veggie–also okay to use water, but then you’ll need to increase the other ingredients a bit)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup good peanut butter
  • 1 hot pepper (chile), diced finely–I used a red peter pepper I had in the freezer.  Feel free to use more peppers if you like it spicier.
  • 1 crushed garlic clove or several garlic chives, diced finely
  • 2-3 dashes rice wine vinegar
  • 6-7 dashes soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • optional:  freshly grated ginger or pickled ginger, slivered
  • 2-4 scallions or chives, sliced across the grain (both whites and tops)
  • carrot, slivered or coarsely grated
  • optional garnishes:  cilantro, coarsely grated radish, snow peas, shelled edamame

Begin by prepping the sauce for the noodles.  Heat the peanut butter and broth to get everything moving.  I heat them in a one-cup pyrex measuring cup in the microwave and then use the measuring cup for mixing everything else. Add in the hot pepper, garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.*

Now prepare the noodles according to package directions.  Pour off the cooking liquid and while the noodles are still hot, add the sauce and stir well to combine.  Stir in some of the scallions, carrots, and garnish and pile the rest artfully on top.  Set the noodles aside or refrigerate.  You’ll serve these noodles at room temperature or even cold.

Do you want to make this a vegetarian one-dish meal?  Use the veggie broth, and toss in shelled edamame or stir-fried tofu.  By the way, this sauce is an excellent appetizer dip for vegetables!  When we take it to parties, people love that it’s not the same-old ranch or bleu cheese dip, and it’s a lot healthier for you.

Go ahead and take a closer look.

Quick Broccoli

I used two cups of florets, fresh from our garden, and tossed them in salted water in the wok.  That’s all!  Then I used them as additional garnish on the noodles.

Coconut-Crusted Spicy Chicken

serves 2-4

  • 1 chicken breast, about half a pound, cut into strips (half of the thickness of the breast, about 3/4-inch wide each)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2-4 tablespoons lime juice
  • optional:  2 tablespoons rice vinegar (use if you only use 2 tablespoons of lime juice)
  • 1 large jalapeno or other chile, diced fine (or more to taste)
  • 1 egg, beaten  You don’t need to double the egg if you double the recipe.
  • 1/3 cup coconut

Start by making the marinade by mixing together your liquids and prepped jalapeno.  Process everything with a stick blender or in a regular blender.  It’s okay if some of the pepper remains unprocessed.  If you do not have a blender, just chop the pepper even more and let it meld with the marinade for a little while..

Pour the brine/marinade over the chicken breast strips and let everything soak for several hours, turning regularly to make sure that the marinade reaches all parts. (If you’d like to let the chicken soak overnight in the mix, add 1/4 cup water to make a brine.  Otherwise, the acid in the juice and vinegar will “cook” the chicken and make it tough.)

To have un-crusted chicken, pour off the marinade or brine and stir-fry the chicken in a little coconut oil.  To crust the chicken, pour off the brine, dry the chicken well, and dip it first in the egg and then in the coconut.  Place the chicken pieces on a greased cookie sheet and bake it in a 325 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, turning the chicken over half way through, until the chicken is golden brown on the outside (and, obviously, cooked through inside.)

I also served dinner with mustard greens in hoisin sauce (pictured in the upper right corner of the bowl).  Simply prep a mess of greens (see photos above and below for what constituted a “mess of greens” tonight!) by stripping off the tough stems, chopping everything roughly, stir-frying quickly in sesame oil, and tossing in some hoisin sauce to finish wilting the greens.  As hot as it’s been outside, the greens were really sharp.

*If you have a family member who’s a little leary of new things, reduce or leave out the toasted sesame oil altogether and add a bit more chicken broth and vegetable oil to thin the noodle dressing. Sesame oil has a distinctive (some say acquired) flavor.

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After more than an inch of ice and at least half a foot of snow precipitated on us and then lingered for four days in late January and early February, I had my doubts about whether my veggie tunnels would still have viable veggies in them.  Temperatures, after all, have been running about ten degrees below normal for several weeks, and adding ice and snow on top of that did not bode well for plants that like sunshine.  It took some time to brush off the snow and break off the ice, but I’m delighted to report that almost everything survived.  Given that it was still quite cold when I took photographs, I didn’t want to take the tunnels all the way off, so “after” photographs are through the tunnels.

On November 29:

January 31:

Are those really veggie tunnels under all of that snow and ice?

Yes, and those are cold frames in the distance.

February 1:  time to take off the snow

They’re looking pretty sad.  Did anything survive?

Yes!  the veggies live!

I also dug several radishes and some carrots from the cold frames yesterday, so those too continue to thrive.

We’ve already got at least four inches more snow today (February 8), and radar shows a heavy band of snow moving in within a few hours and then more overnight, for a total of 8-12 inches.  I’ll sleep easy through this storm, though, knowing that my winter garden is surviving, snug under its tunnels of veggie love.

If you’re in the path of this latest storm (or any other) make sure you tuck in your veggies before you tuck in yourself.

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Earlier I wrote about various ways to sustain winter gardening, including grow tunnels.   The recent weather, with temperatures down close to zero overnight and never getting out of the 20s (F) during the day really challenged all of my winter protection measures.  I’m pleased to report few casualties, though, and most of those things were warm-season herbs I had never expected to survive.  Best of all, everything under the grow tunnels did just fine.  I anticipate having cabbage, broccoli, and so forth long before I could have without the tunnels!

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Our winter garden has had a really challenging week, and it’s only getting worse.  I’ve taken all of the basic precautions, but when temperatures drop well below freezing and stay there for days, I know I’m going to lose some things.  The first thing I did was cut a whole bunch of kale and pull the most vulnerable leeks and made a Tuscan sausage, leek, and kale soup.  I also dug some baby turnips that were on the outer edge of the cold frame.  I’ll roast those later this week.  Where ice and snow have accumulated, I’ve left it on my cold frames and plastic coverings; the snow will be a better insulator than the glass and plastic alone.  Tomorrow I’ll pile pine straw and leaves around everything that I can, including my vegetable tunnels.  The good news is that, although some of what I’m growing will freeze, most of it will grow back, given a few weeks.  I’ll just have to be patient!

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Broccoli is in season, and we can get it local and organic when we don’t have any in our own garden. I bought some broccoli last week.  We had the florets sauteed, steamed, and in salad.  Then I took on my favorite part:  the stalks.  Broccoli stalks are actually sweeter than the florets, and peeled and sliced they can easily form the basis of a fantastic, rich soup.

Start by dicing one or two red potatoes.  Set aside about two thirds of the diced potatoes.  Toss about a third of the diced potatoes in a medium-sized pot.  Now peel off the outer, woody exterior of a half dozen or so broccoli stalks.  If florets are present, trim them off and set them aside.  We can use some of them.  Slice each stalk in half lengthwise and then slice again across the stalk, in slices each of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch each.  Toss the broccoli stalks in the pot with the potatoes.  Add enough lightly salted water or chicken broth or stock* to cover.  Start cooking.  Add one medium leek (or part of a large one), cut lengthwise and cleaned and then cut across the grain, like you did with the broccoli. Be sure to use the leek tops.  They will help make the soup greener!  Simmer the portion of potatoes, broccoli stems, and leeks for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the diced potatoes on a cast iron baking pan (or any other heavy baking pan), toss with oil and seasoning (I used a Greek seasoning mix), and roast at 400 degrees for about half an hour, turning regularly.

How are the potatoes, stems, and leeks in the pot?  Are they starting to soften?  At half an hour, turn off the heat and take off the lid.  Let the mixture start to cool.  After it has cooled a fair amount, scoop out the solids (potatoes and stems), leaving behind the liquid.  Yes, we’ll use it, just not now.  Put the solids in a blender.  Now add cold milk just to cover; the cold  milk will help you avoid a blender explosion.  Puree until you have a wonderfully smooth mixture.

Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the retained liquid.  Add the roasted potatoes.  Add a handful of the florets, cut rather small.  Now heat the soup until the florets are tender.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve. Eat.  Add good grated cheddar cheese to the top if you want.

*Here’s an important frugal tip:  make your own stock or broth by boiling the bones from your roasted birds.  I’ll cover details in a future post.

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Watch this site for an upcoming post on using grow tunnels to protect your cool-weather-hardy veggies from freezing temperatures.  I’d be posting full details now, but I just got finished putting my tunnels on my broccoli and cabbage and now need to make dinner with what’s left of warm-season eggplant and tomatoes.  🙂

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I noticed that someone found this site after searching for organic controls for the little wormies that attack broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.  These little wormies are actually caterpillars, but I don’t care what they’ll turn into when they attack my veggies.  I begin by smooshing (yes, it’s a technical term, like wormies, buggies, and veggies) the caterpillars I can see.  Next, I apply an organic control.  Your best solution is to use Bacillus Thuringiensis, commonly known as BT.  It is easiest to find in the form of Dipel Dust, but you need to check the Dipel Dust carefully to make sure that it is organic, as not all Dipel Dust carrying agents are.  BT will kill the bad bugs but only the bad bugs because it’s a  bacteria with limited impact.  I dust on BT with a food strainer that I use  exclusively in the garden.  Of course one of the great things about winter gardening is that if you wait a few weeks, frost will reduce your buggie, wormie problems.  Happy organic gardening!

Broccoli

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If you are wishing you could extend your gardening season but think it’s all over when the first frost hits, you have a whole world of winter gardening awaiting your growing pleasure.  You just need to pick the right things to grow, to give them adequate protection, and to expect them to grow a bit more slowly because they’ll be getting less sun.

It may surprise you to know that one of the nation’s most famous four-seasons farms is in Maine.  Granted, Maine’s coastal waters keep it from being as cold as, say, Minnesota, but it still gets awfully darn cold.  The folks at Four Seasons Farm are real experts, but you can get a start on small-scale winter gardening here with me.  Let’s get first to the seed.

For winter gardening, you obviously need to pick vegetables that are ordinarily geared for colder weather.  Do not expect to grow anything that seed packets label “tender” without a lot of energy-intensive protection, which is not sustainable.  That means you will most likely not be successful growing peppers, squashes of any kind (winter squash isn’t called that because it grows through the winter but rather because it keeps through the winter), cucumbers, melons, or most beans.  You can, however, grow everything in the cabbage and broccoli family Red Russian Kale, most greens, many root crops, and certain herbs.  For example, basil and parsley prefer warm weather, but chervil and cilantro like it cooler.  If a seed guide recommends early spring or late summer planting, you may be able to get a winter harvest.  If anything requires pollination, expect to do it yourself with a tiny paintbrush, because the buzzies who usually do the job won’t be out and about.

Now let’s talk about protection.  Winter gardening requires you to cover crops through the coldest weather.  If you only have an occasional light frost, you can do the job with old sheets.  If you expect regular freezing weather, begin by adding mulch around tender plants and especially root crops.  Then cover with plastic or glass, being sure that the plants do not touch the covering; plants that touch the covering may freeze.  Building raised beds make covering much easier.

Here are plants in a raised bed in early February, having started their life in early January and survived several nights down to almost 0 degrees F.Seedlings in a Cold Frame I built the raised bed to fit an old window that my neighbor was replacing.  I placed the window directly on top of the wooden frame (made out of scrap wood).  On warmer days, you can slide the window back or use a small piece of wood to raise one end and let the cold frame vent hot air.

This pup-tent style grow house can be found in many forms on the internet and works well if you need something taller:  Grow Tent in the Snow Note that I did not remove ice and snow after a storm.  Those are going to be a consistent 32 degrees F, so if the air temperature is much colder, the snow actually serves as a blanket.  Just know that it reduces light, so you need to get it off eventually.

That brings me to my last warning on winter gardening.  You’ll find that crops grow much more slowly in the winter.  They also may germinate less well, so you may want to overseed.  (You can always eat the thinnings, as we did from the cold frame shown above.) Still, you’ll find that the plants will take off as soon as the sunlight starts coming back, giving you an early spring harvest that will be the envy of your gardening neighbors. April Bounty

 

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Our basic rule for preparing and eating food in our home is that a significant portion of it be homegrown or local, with organic or free range from farther away as something we’ll accept for a much smaller proportion.  I also usually follow the old Southern rule of “meat and three”:  a small portion of some kind of flesh (fowl or fish in our house) accompanied by a bean, a grain, and a leafy green or other high-nutrient vegetable.  Sometimes we skip the “meat” altogether and just do the latter three.

Tonight, after a big time out in town yesterday, I decided to change the formula a bit.  I wanted the lightest meal I could put together with big flavor.  Our “meat” tonight was a splurge in two ways:  it was sea scallops, which are costly, and, while they were a US product, they certainly did not come from the Ozarks.  I paired them with local broccoli and homegrown butternut squash, all organic.

The question was how to get big flavor with a light treatment.  Somehow I thought Asian, but I didn’t want to pull anything standard out of my repertoire.  I began by peeling, dicing, and baking the butternut squash with a generous dose of ginger and a light application of honey.

I started the broccoli (about two cups of florets) by putting it in a fry pan with water sufficient for it to go about half way up each piece.  I sprinkled salt on the top, put on a lid, and turned the burner on high to start a combination steam-boil.  As soon as the broccoli turned bright green, I removed the lid, tossed around the broccoli, and added a couple of tablespoons of orange preserves (no, not local, but at least organic).  Then I starting cooking off the small amount of water that remained, finally adding about 2/3 cup chopped chives with white bottoms (like scallions)* to the top of the mixture after the last toss.  I was working, by the way, in a 9-inch saute pan.  That meant that all the broccoli was in a single layer, and the liquid had plenty of surface area to cook down.

Last, while I was working on the broccoli, I sauteed four cloves of chopped garlic in a bit of organic spray oil, added a little sherry, and cooked the garlic until it started to soften, all in a 7-inch saute pan.  Then I added the scallops (11 total) and started cooking off the liquid.  I turned the scallops three times each to let the thickening garlic-sherry sauce coat them and then removed them for the final cook-off of the sauce.

Although all of the main ingredients in tonight’s dinner are common enough on Euro-American tables, I tried to bring out the Asian potential of each dish without screaming, “I’m making Chinese tonight,” something I do attempt pretty often.  The chives and orange preserves in the broccoli hinted at Chinese food.  The garlic uplifted the scallops and added another common Asian ingredient.  And the ginger, which could have been prominent in every dish in Asian cuisines, brightened the butternut squash.  Ah, homestyle fusion!  Best of all after yesterday’s hedonism, tonight’s dinner was full of flavor and nutrients but virtually fat free.

This same dinner with minor variations could have gone Italian.  Keep the garlic with the scallops but change the seasoning with the broccoli and squash, and you could be along the Mediterranean coast.

*I have scallions in the garden right now but did not want to use them tonight.  On the other hand, I have way too many chives and thought this would be a great opportunity for thinning them.  I pulled 5 or 6 chives and stripped off the dried leaves, damaged ends, and roots.  Ah, scallions with a bit milder flavor!

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