Saturday, June 27, 2009

More snow peas than you can shake a wok at

The trick to urban subsistence gardening is keeping the yields from overwhelming you. You want to harvest a couple-three meals a day, not 40 all at once, or you either spend all your time trying to preserve things (and store them), or you end up throwing out or giving away too much produce. And as you can see, at this time of year, you get a lot of produce.

I did pretty well this year, largely due to the great management tools at, which helped with planning out successions.

So, as the title of the post says, I do have an awful lot of snow peas, but the first planting is just about done, just in time for the first of the green beans to ripen. If those act true to past behavior, they should be done just about when the second snow pea planting matures.

But in the meantime, I’ve started running out of things to do with snow peas. (Harvest so far-- about 30 servings.) We’ve had a couple of stir fries and a plain side dish. My son got some, and another impoverished friend just out of college is getting some tomorrow. For the remaining 2 dozen or so in my fridge, I used a altered version of this recipe from Everyday Foods, but didn't have the ingredients. So I used what I had (like all good cooks).

Fettucini with snow peas and salami

12 ounces fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2/3 cup heavy cream
Fresh snow peas, strings removed
8 slices salami (about 4 ounces total), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)

Set large pot of salted water to boil (4 quart pot)

Meanwhile, make sauce: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat; add onion or shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas and sauté until bright green. Add cream, salami ; bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice, continue to simmer.

Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. (Some fettucinis take only 3-5 minutes. Don’t overcook!) Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.
Add enough reserved pasta water to thin sauce as desired. Pour sauce over pasta; add Parmesan, and season generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately; top with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cool dish for a hot day

The spinach, which never really grew, bolted, so I cut it all back. Just enough, supplemented with a store-bought lettuce and potatoes, and garnished with nasturtium flowers and salad burnet, for a lovely nicoise.

Salad nicoise a la Xan

Head lettuce
Salad burnet
Nasturtium flowers
Small red potatoes
Tuna (fresh is nice, but canned is cheaper. Get a dolphin-safe brand)

Blanche the spinach and burnet (very quickly-- boiling water, spinach goes in and immediately back out). Arrange artistically (very important) with other ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette to taste. If my tarragon and parsley were large enough to cut some fresh, I'd garnish with these herbs, but alas, still no herbs in the garden big enough to bother.

I also must confess, I had no small red potatoes and used roughly cubed Idahos instead. My bad.

I had some nasturtium flowers left over, so I made some cheese and crackers. Something tells me my kids (for whom I ostensibly write this) are not going to be making these.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cooking, NOT from the garden

"redloon" over at MyFolia made a salad with garden greens and strawberries, which inspired me to try my hand at creating a slaw to go with the crab cakes I had prepared. These ingredients (most of which are actually in my garden) are all store-bought, because they aren't ripe yet out back.

Strawberry-leek slaw

• 1 cup sliced leeks
• 1 small baby bok choy
• 1/2 teaspoon ginger, fresh grated

• 1 tablespoon remoulade
• 1 teaspoon orange zest (fresh or dried)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground

• 2 cups strawberries, thinly sliced
• 1 cup celery cabbage

Sautee first 3 ingredients until leeks are golden. Toss with thinly sliced strawberries. Add additional ingredients to the remoulade and whip. Mix with vegetables & strawberries and set aside at least one hour. Serve as side dish with crab cakes.

This dish did not keep well, eat it when you make it.

Cooking from the garden

I started this journal because my daughter is a performer on a three-year tour, cooking on a hot plate in hotel rooms, and she wanted to be able to make some of our family recipes. So the early recipes are all stove-top, or things that can be adapted to stove top. But that leaves out lasagna, and casseroles, and baked chicken, and too many things, so I thought, well my son can use this too!

And then I started this year’s garden.

As I mentioned last time, in the summer all of our meals come from the garden. Meat consumption plummets as the plants get going. So I’ve decided to join the legion of Chicago garden bloggers and start posting about the garden, and about the food I make from it. I’ll try to keep it linked to the cooking for now (all food gardeners are cooks) but who knows.

Thanks for inspiration to my many, many friends on the MyFolia community garden blog, and to MrBrownThumb, who knows about it, and to YouGrowGirl and MySkinnyGarden, where I lurk.

Stir Fried Garden Vegetables

Ingredients for a cooking gardener are “what is in the garden today?” This batch:

From the garden:
Early spinach
Mustard greens
Sugar snap snow peas
Wild onion greens

From the cupboard:
Almond slivers
3 slices of bacon

For tips on stir fry, see Rock stars need to eat, too.