Monthly Archives: April 2015

Raw Root Salad, Rice and Peas, Fried Plantain and Broiled Salmon

I recommend preparing this meal in the order the recipes are given. I have found this to be the most efficient use of “wait” time so everything finishes at the same time.
DSC_0022PUERTO RICAN STYLE RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion; diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 green pepper; diced
1-2 cloves garlic; crushed
¼ cup olives; optional
½ cup diced fresh tomatoes or sauce
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen pigeon peas (found in the frozen Goya section)
2 cups brown rice; soaked in water 3-8 hours, rinsed and drained
3 1/2 cups water

Preheat a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onion and salt and sauté until soft and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and garlic, sauté for 3 more minutes. Add optional olives, tomatoes and spices. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add pigeon peas, rice and water. Bring to a boil, stir and turn down heat bringing the rice mixture to a slow simmer. Simmer without a lid until almost all the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Do not stir as this can make the rice sticky. Cover, turn heat to low and allow to slow cook/steam until rice is tender and all of the water is absorbed, another 10-15 minutes.

SHREDDED ROOT SALAD
2 beets; peeled and shredded
2 carrots; peeled and shredded
2 stalks celery; thinly sliced
4 scallions; thinly sliced
salad greens (I used mesclun mix)

Prepare vegetables and place in separate bowls or on a serving platter.

LEMON AND GARLIC DRESSING
3 cloves garlic; crushed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch black pepper
1/4 cup fresh pressed lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine ingredients in a glass jar, tighten the lid and shake. Serve with a spoon or mini-ladle.

FRIED PLANTAIN
2 yellow plantain
oil for the pan
sea salt to taste

Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Peel the plantain- this can be difficult depending on how (not) ripe they are when picked. I keep a paring knife handy to slice away any left over peel. Cut as you like into roughly 1/4 inch thick pieces. I normally do disks but wanted to try “fries” today. Add olive oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Place the sliced plantain in the pan and fry until yellow-golden turning each piece till cooked on all sides. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with salt.

BROILED SALMON
2 lbs wild (Alaskan) salmon
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
lemon wedge to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Place the salmon on a lightly oiled broiling pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn oven off and broiler to high and place salmon under flame for 10 minutes (it is done when it starts to brown on the top). Squeeze lemon if desired when serving.

Vegetable Seedlings Planted Indoors; an Update

March 14, 2015 I started seeds indoors (nearly 6 weeks ago). Now, April 24th, you can see the progress. It is still too cold to plant these “babies” outside but by Memorial Day, my traditional planting weekend, they will be ready to go into my Connecticut garden. On warm sunny days the trays have gone outside to help harden them off. These past few days (and the foreseeable future) they will be indoors. Wow, it is a cold April.IMG_0081
TomatoesIMG_0082
PeppersIMG_0083
BasilIMG_0084
Eggplant

April Gardening in Connecticut

Mid April is the ideal time to open up the garden in Connecticut.IMG_0092
Soil turned and prepped for warm weather crops. Rhubarb, on the left, protected with spare stakes so as not to disturb the soil around them. A few forgotten garlic and lettuce survived the harsh winter and will give a special early treat.IMG_0093
 Leaves provide a layer of mulch around berry bushes. Here are the first leaves and buds on a current bush.

To prepare organic vegetable garden beds I start by raking out the leaves (used to add a fresh layer of mulch around berry bushes). Sprinkle a layer of about half an inch each of composted cow manure, peat moss and compost soil over the established garden bed (see notes below if digging a new plot). The manure serves as an organic fertilizer, the pfeat moss helps condition the sandy Plainville soil (but will also help condition clay soils as well) and the compost soil does both. I use a pointed spade, push it 6 to 10 inches into the earth, lift and flip the entire area then rake it out with a bow rake.

Starting a new plot? Measure out the size garden you are planning. Remove the grass (a painstaking but essential first step). I have done this by pushing a spade into the grass, lifting then grabbing the grass to shake out the soil from the roots. My discarded grass goes into a wheel barrow to transport up into the woods where it will break down/compost with the leaves etc. Once the grass has been removed rake out to level the garden plot then follow the steps above. Depending on your soil quality you may need to add more composted manure, peat moss and compost soil. Also, if your soil is acidic like mine, add lime to “sweeten” the soil and add calcium.

The early crops I planted are snap peas, broccoli, beets, carrots, scallions, swiss chard, spinach and leafy greens. They can tolerate cool evenings and even frost (good thing because this spring has been unseasonably cool). For the snap peas I hammered 5′ metal stakes into the prepared soil and attached a wire garden fence for them to climb on. For any seeds that you are planting read the recommendations on the package and follow those. I use my grandparents’ and father’s easy method; draw a mini furrow into the soil with a hand spade sprinkle seeds cover furrow tap down with palms water and keep moist. (This will require thinning but it is fast, efficient and seed packets are inexpensive compared to the produce they yield.) The nice thing about April is that there are usually plenty of showers so mother nature will do most of the watering for you. It is important to keep the soil moist while seeds germinate and while they are delicate sprouts. I recommend investing in an oscillating sprinkler; they simulate a gentle rain and are hands free allowing you to do something else while the garden is watered.

Two weeks after planting cold weather crops there is life in my vegetable garden.

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Sprouts- soon to be climbing on the fence, blooming and ultimately producing delicious snap peas.IMG_0086
Beet sprouts. They will need to be thinned but I wait until they all emerge and I see which are the strongest and healthiest.IMG_0087
Broccoli sprouts, also to be thinned as they grow.IMG_0088
The carrots are barely visible and as of yet, no sign of the scallions.IMG_0089
The spinach, planted in a large square. When it is time to thin the delicate baby greens will make a lovely salad.IMG_0090
The leaf lettuce (above) and mesclun mix lettuce (below) will also be thinned as they grow making for a lovely baby green salad mix.IMG_0091

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 Arugula (above) and swiss chard (below) will be adding to the salad bowl when it is time to thin.IMG_0095

Detox Dinner

My son and fiancé are following Jennifer Schonborn‘s detox diet this week. This meal aligns with her guidelines so when they joined us for dinner we could all enjoy.
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We started the meal with CREAM OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP (prepared with extra virgin olive oil) and then on to the main meal.

ARUGULA, BEET AND SUNFLOWER SEED SALAD
1 5 oz package arugula
4-5 beets
raw sunflower seeds for sprinkling

Cut off stems and the thin root tail and scrub the beets. Place in a medium sized pot, fill with enough water to cover and sprinkle with sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer over medium low to medium heat. Simmer with lid on for 20 to 40 minutes until the beets are tender. Test with a toothpick, if it inserts easily they are done. Remove from heat, pour off hot water and pour cold water into the pot and let sit 10 minutes to cool. Repeat until the beets are cool enough to handle. The skin will slide right off with a little bit of pressure. Remove skins, slice in half and slice to 1/4 inch thickness. Chill the beets completely in the refrigerator. Assemble the salads just before serving; place beets on a bed of arugula, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and drizzle with lemon garlic dressing.

LEMON AND GARLIC DRESSING
3 cloves garlic; crushed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch black pepper
1/4 cup fresh pressed lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine ingredients in a glass jar, tighten the lid and shake. Serve with a spoon or mini-ladle.

BLACK (aka forbidden) RICE
1 cup black rice; soak 1-8 hours and rinse
1 1/2 cups water

Bring rice and water to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes then reduce heat to low and continue to simmer 5 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Check by tipping the pot sideways carefully to see if any water remains.

GREEN GARLIC AND GINGER SAUCE
1 clove garlic; coarsely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger; coarsely chopped
3/4 cup fresh parsley; coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch black pepper
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine garlic, ginger, parsley, sea salt and pepper in food processor. Process until finely ground, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

BROILED SALMON
2 lbs wild (Alaskan) salmon
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Place the salmon on a lightly oiled broiling pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn Broiler on high and place salmon under flame for 10 minutes.

Gluten Free Potato and Carrot Latkes

Had a deep craving for French toast this morning. My gluten free solution was making potato and carrot latkes dressed in the Pietri classic, a nut butter and pure maple syrup. You can certainly go classic with the toppings (apple sauce and sour cream) or make it tangy with ketchup.
DSC_0009
2 potatoes
1 carrot
1 egg
pinch-1/8 teaspoon sea salt
canola oil for frying

Coarsely shred potatoes (I did not peel my organic potatoes) into a medium sized bowl (it should equal about 2 cups). Finely shred the carrot (unpeeled if organic) into the same bowl (about another cup). Cover with water and let sit for a couple minutes.

In the meantime, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.

Drain the shredded vegetables in a sieve and rinse through with fresh water. After letting the last of the water drip out, pour the shredded vegetables onto a kitchen towel, wrap up and squeeze out any remaining water.

Lightly beat the egg in a medium sized bowl, add the rinsed and squeezed vegetables and sea salt. Mix until the shredded vegetables are coated with the egg.

Generously coat the preheated pan with canola oil. Heat the oil for a few minutes. Prepare a plate by lining it with paper towels.

Using 2 table/soup spoons scoop a dollop of the mass and place into the oil. Fry until the edges begin to brown, carefully lift to see if the underside is golden and flip (I use 2 forks). Fry until the second side is golden. Remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve warm and enjoy.

20 Days After Planting, the First “Real” Tomato Leaves Appear

DSC_0003Three weeks after starting seeds indoors the tomatoes, basil, eggplant, tomatillo and peppers have all sprouted. The sweet Puerto Rican peppers were the last to sprout, the final one just pushing at the earth this morning. I have been watering each pot as needed, after it dries a bit but not all the way through (you would think they would dry at the same rate, but they do not) and turning the trays 180 degrees each day to try and even out the light from the windows so the plants grow straight. I will continue this daily routine until the days get warm enough to start hardening off the plants outdoors. The tomatoes are starting to grow their first “real” leaves.
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