herbal cuisine

IMG_4591If there’s any one way to describe my summer cooking, it’s herbal.  I grow as many fragrant leafy things as I can, then chop and sprinkle all summer long. I wish I were a caterpillar, able to munch my way happily through my tangle of a garden — much like the little guys at work on a Taiwanese tea leaf in my header above, the image that sends the weak fleeing terrified from my blog.  (Every once in a while, I get a comment like “ohmygod, I loved your recipe until I saw the caterpillars! EWWWWWW. Now I hate it and I hate you!”  Yeah.  Don’t let a giant foot smush you as you crawl out.)

My usual summer lunch is mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil with salt and olive oil, of course — of course — but I feel the urge strongly when June hits, even if it’s so grey and chilly I make golabki.  I end up strewing summer savory, lemon thyme, and parsley over the Polish stuffed cabbage baking in the oven for two hours, because one can dream of sunnier days, right?

Or I make potstickers with chives, fennel, and parsley.

There’s plenty of tabbouli, if you want parsley, and I always want parsley.  Home-canned tuna gets parsley, chives, and savory in a salad with beans, or if fresh, grilled with charred “scallions” from culled onion tops.  When I grill a steak, my favorite topping is a gremolata, described in my screed against Steak Diane, resplendent with parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

Gosh, what don’t I eat with fresh garden parsley?

Chicken salad gets tarragon from my miracle bush, with sprigs already three feet long and growing, or lovage, topping out around eight feet high right now. Vegetable salads like cole slaw or spring baby veg get a shower of herbs from borage and johnny-jump-up flowers and salad burnet.

Fish or potatoes can be grilled in packets with handfuls of fresh Mediterranean bay leaves (absolutely worth growing).  New potatoes and mint is an early summer ritual.

Pair cilantro with tiny Oregon pink shrimp for ceviche or with tomatoes and hot peppers in a thousand summer salsas.

Steamed rice gets a shower of shiso chiffonade, or I just fold up bits of rice in a heart-shaped entire leaf, like little fresh dolmades from Japan. Pizza? Fresh marjoram or oregano.  Grilled zucchini shares the plate with mint and pine nuts.  Blackberries get thyme and peaches get basil with rose geranium syrup.

Only raspberries shall remain untouched, I decree: those plump ruby pillows are gifts from the gods, the ones that finally smile on Oregonians in the summer.  Finally.  Lord hear my prayer.

chile weather 2013

IMG_2980I don’t think I’ve ever planted cucumbers and peppers on the same day before, but call me behind the times and ahead of my time.

This year, I’m going loco and concentrating on Mexican chile varietals to play with molé. That’s me eating enchiladas molé at a restaurant in Las Vegas with some modernist studies colleagues, above.

I also bought a couple of Facing Heavens, the Sichuan chile that I use dried and fermented and chopped into a sauce.  Jeff’s Garden of Eaton has several hundred varieties of tomatoes and hot and sweet peppers, including many rare ones, so it’s always fun to go out River Road to look and pick up a few for $2 a plant.  They’re getting tall already, so you’ll want to go soon.

I am switching beds this year, so am hoping the peppers will be happy.  They grow remarkably well in the hottest, driest spot in the garden.

Here’s my lineup (clockwise from East end). What is yours?

  • Facing Heaven
  • Chiltepec
  • Sweet Pickle
  • Pimiento de Padron
  • Chile de Agua (tell your Mexican friends about this Oaxacan pepper, very rare)
  • Pasilla de Oaxaca
  • Mulato
  • Chilhuacle Negro
  • Costeno Amarillo
  • Another Facing Heaven

 

 

eats weeds and leaves: edible spring pruning

IMG_3152Hello!  Long time no see.  It’s planning season in academia, and I’ve been scrambling to pull together grants and reports and abstracts and introductions and applications.  Like so many young(ish) scholars working in adjunct positions, I’ve also been struggling with job instability and will be moving to a joint position teaching in English and Comparative Literature at the university in the fall.  Although I’m excited to work with colleagues I know and respect already (don’t forget Eugene is a small town, so this is like moving down the street), it will shift priorities for me as the new classes and structure will take up more time.  Some additional family financial pressures mean I will need to start prioritizing stability and writing much more, both for academic journals and professional food publications to make ends meet.  Having to move is a very real possibility.

Unfortunately, this will mean fewer events and volunteer projects for the community starting next year, and I’m deeply sorry about this.  It’s important to give back, and the pleasures of the volunteer work I do, including the radio show, this blog, the preservation classes, the events I host at the UO through my research group, the promotion of others’ work, and volunteering at festivals and reporting on my travels and such make life worth living in Eugene.  Don’t worry, I still have a few things planned for next year that are pretty fabulous.  But I need to “lean out,” as they say.

So the prospect of eating from the garden is suddenly even more appealing.  And it’s culling time, so here are some ideas.

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  • Fresh oregano salad, substituting oregano for fresh parsley in any tabbouli recipe, supposedly helps young people study in the Middle East.  And who doesn’t need to sharpen up the memory?  With the tender spring leaves tempered by spring onions and a lemon and olive oil dressing, you won’t be overwhelmed by the dark, musky flavor and woody stems.
  • Common snails. Yes, escargot.  I felt my gorge rise when I realized in France our garden pests — yes, the exact same variety — were one of the species used for escargot.  But Molly Watson has published a piece in Edible San Francisco that lays out how to prepare and cook them in a rather appetizing way.  And what with the foraging all around town making its way into local bistros…new business, anyone?
  • Any basket-weavers who are pruning?  Consider a traditional grilled fish basket made of Mediterranean bay branches (above image).  We lunched on delicious salmon prepared this way on our tour of Sunset magazine a few weeks back as part of the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference.  You might be able to do something similar with rosemary branches, if that’s your unruly hedge issue.
  • Dandelion greens can be wilted and used as a deeply flavorful green in a stirfry or potato curry, or try my fellow Oregon blogger Dr. Fugawe’s adaptation of Duguid’s Spiced Burmese New Potatoes with dandelion greens and shallot oil.

But where it’s really at is RAAB.  These are the tops of cruciferous vegetables that sweetly greenly provided iron-rich leaves all winter long, now bolting in the lovely sun.  The market gives us a bunch of them, all tasting basically the same once cooked, but some sharper, some darker when raw.  Try brussels sprouts raab or collards raab, my favorite (pictured first against tree — a very timely delivery by my beloved neighbor), or the lovely purple cabbage raab.

Easiest recipe?  Chop up a bunch of raab with its pretty yellow flowers and throw atop fried meat, like the utterly succulent chunks of bo ssam Biancalana pork shoulder I made the other day, before wrapping morsels in butter lettuce leaves.  But then there’s also

Pasta.  Try it chopped and sauteed in olive oil that has been warmed up with a little chopped garlic or culled green garlic from the garden, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes (add a little anchovy if you’re adventurous and/or wise).  Throw the cooked raab into a bowl of fresh pasta, something chunky like rotini, and grate fresh parmesano all over it.

You might also sample it steamed or fried with a little oyster sauce, just like the gai lan you see in dim sum houses.

Or little green potstickers, anyone?  Finely minced raab works especially well with ground pork as a filling.

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But best of all is this recipe for stir-fried chopped raab with pork and fermented red chili (above, photographed by the paparazzi).  It’s an adaptation of Fuchsia Dunlop’s Bo Bo Cai Xin, or Stir-fried Chopped Choy Sum, from her cookbook, Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, that just came out in an American edition.  It’s a wonderful cookbook, with a big chapter on leafy greens that I’ve already explored extensively.

My palate is a bit duller than Dunlop’s so I usually use more spice and salt than she does.  You might decide on your own.  But either way, definitely use the pork if you’re a meat eater.  Although we sliced it thickly because of gluttony for Laughing Stock Farm pork and its delicious fat, I’d recommend mincing finely next time.  Another difference is that with raab, you don’t need to blanch ahead of time.  It’s much thinner and more tender than choy sum.  I also substituted my own fermented red ‘Facing Heaven’ chilis for plain red jalapenos, so the recipe reflects that.

Stir-fried Chopped Raab with Pork and Fermented Red Chili

Serves 2 with rice and Chinese pickles, but make several dishes and turn it into a party.

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 3 cups of chopped raab
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Sichuan fermented red chiles, or substitute finely chopped fresh red jalapeno or even red bell peppers
  • 1/2 pound ground pork or finely chopped pork shoulder meat, best quality
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons spring onions (good use for culled onions from garden)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil (optional)

Do all your chopping and measuring ahead of time, and set aside each ingredient in little bowls.  Heat wok to sizzling, then add a tablespoon of the peanut oil to heat, then quickly add the chopped raab and cook until bright green and still crunchy, just two minutes or so, then stir in red chiles.  Set aside in a serving dish.

Add rest of peanut oil, then add chopped or ground pork and a little salt.  As the pork loses its pink but is not yet completely cooked, add ginger and garlic.  When everything is nicely browned, add back the raab, stir to blend flavors and cook for a couple minutes more, then remove from heat, stir in sesame and chili oil, then serve with rice.

drunken botanist on the radio 3/24/13

Drunken-Botanist-high-resJust in time to celebrate the beginning of spring planting, we are so excited to have Amy Stewart, bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks, on our radio show today, Sunday, March 24, at noon.

Amy is a garden writer of renown, and her new book compiles a glossary of great herbs, plants, and trees that provide us with all the flavors that make up our liquors, cocktails, and other delicious drinks.  She promotes old-fashioned herbs like borage and new vegetables like the Mexican sour gherkin, discussing everything from suze-and-soda to roll-your-own cinnamon.  Expect some wonderful stories and a wicked charm!

We’re also pleased to host Cottage Grove grower Alice Doyle, whose Log House Plants are a continuing source of joy for so many of us in Lane County.  Alice opens her business, one of the foundations of our garden industry, to myriad local volunteer workshops; I visited her during my Master Gardener training a few years ago to practice grafting.  Little did I know she was hard at work creating the grafted tomatoes that became the nationwide stars of the 2011 garden season.  She’ll be discussing her grafted vegetables and the brand new Drunken Botanist starts collections that she developed with Amy, now available at places like Down to Earth, Gray’s, and Jerry’s.  You *must* check them out, and have a listen!  Food for Thought on KLCC Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations all across Oregon, or live on the web.

coughy and tea

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Oregano courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Must have been all the excitement yesterday.  Woke up this morning unable to speak with painful, swollen breathing bits, felled by the upper respiratory virus that’s been making its rounds on campus and sniffing around my feet for the past few days.  Very, very, very bad timing (which seems to be the theme of 2013).  I’m usually uncommonly healthy, and any respiratory illnesses are particularly mild.  In fact, I can’t think of the last time I had a serious cold.  Maybe 10 years ago?  My body is usually polite enough to have the decency to wait until I am not otherwise occupied with classes or travel.  But lately, it has not been interested in the comedy of manners I call my life.

And as in uffish thought I stood, or rather lay there in my bed, my savior in the form of my cleaning lady, Mercedes, knocked on the door.  Mercedes has been helping me since I hurt my knee in the summer, but I was never as thankful as I was this morning.  She brewed me up some of her home remedy for cough and various flu symptoms, a strange but oddly comforting herbal, sweet, and savory tea made from oregano, alliums, and spices.  It seems to be one of many interesting variants of Mexican cough remedies.  Mercedes is a great cook and precise, too, so I present her version to you herewith, as I suspect you might need it as much as I do.

Also, for good measure, I’ve included my recipe for anti-nausea tea, just about the only thing that helps me when the tsunami hit my shores, and a recipe to keep the wolf from coughing at your door. I’m going back to bed.

Cough Tea

  • 5 cups water
  • ¼ medium yellow onion, skin on
  • 5 small garlic cloves, skin on
  • handful of fresh oregano (about two dozen sprigs)*
  • honey to taste (start with a tablespoon)
  • juice of one lemon

Boil down the water, onion, garlic, and oregano to a cup and a half of tea.  Season to taste with honey and the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Drink 2-3 cups a day until symptoms subside.

*My guess is that Mercedes grows Mexican oregano instead of the Greek stuff I have in my garden, but it worked in a pinch.

Nausea Tea

  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 small fresh ginger root
  • honey to taste (optional)

Chop up ginger root coarsely and mash a bit with the back of your knife or a spoon.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Add honey to taste.  I omit honey because I like the medicinal flavor of the ginger.  Drink with a soda cracker back, if you can.

When I have the flu, I will keep replenishing this brew with the old ginger in the pot for days.  I also pour some into a mason jar and keep it chilled for feverish moments. One large cup will almost immediately quell nausea, but the effect may be short lived.

Tea for Two

Starts around 4:45, but you really want to listen and watch the entire thing.  Absolutely perfection.  Makes one almost want to drag one’s phlegmy, unwashed body into the kitchen to bake a sugar cake.  Can’t you see how happy we can be-ee-ee-ee!

planting seeds: good, bad, ugly

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IMG_2698 IMG_2701Seed catalogues for 2013 are now out.  The Willamette Valley is one of the richest seed-producing areas of the country, so we’re fortunate to be able to have close and intimate relationships with several farms and businesses cultivating seed crops.  Seeds that are adapted to Northwest gardens or heirloom varieties from maritime cool climates elsewhere in the world that grow well in our fair state are plentiful.  I’ve listed my favorites, and welcome your suggestions for others.  You also might want to be aware of vegetable hybrids that are owned by Monsanto.

Monsanto-owned brands (these may be distributed by other seed companies, so look at names of particular varieties):

Northwest-friendly, bred in Oregon:

  • Territorial Seed (Cottage Grove, OR): This is the big boy in the crowd, but still a solid local business.  They’ve stopped stocking Seminis seeds as of a few years ago, so the rumors of a Monsanto connection aren’t true.
  • Adaptive Seeds (Sweet Home, OR): Also Open Oak Farm, specializing in beans and grains and roots and all kinds of wonderful things for the PNW.  The pictures above of cool vintage farm equipment and the field used in their seed operation were taken a couple of months ago during a tour of the farm.
  • Wild Garden Seed (Philomath, OR): Also Shoulder-to-Shoulder Farm and related to Gathering Together Farm, specializing in lettuces and flowers, too.  Farmer Frank Morton developed my favorite variety of kale, White Russian.
  • Log House Plants (Cottage Grove, OR): excellent plant hybridizers responsible for the grafted tomatoes and a range of unusual seeds; check out their new Drunken Botanist collection.
  • Nichols Nursery (Albany, OR).  “New and Unusual” features sugar beets and a great romanesco-type zucchini.
  • Siskiyou Seeds (Williams, OR): Also Seven Seeds Farm.  Lists a number of cooperative seed growers locally and in WA and northern CA, too.

Others:

  • Chinese/Japanese/some Thai produce: Kitazawa Seed Co. (Oakland, CA): These are often sold in big Asian supermarkets on the West Coast.  I’ve seen them in Uwajimaya in Beaverton, but not around Eugene.
  • Italian produce:  Seeds of Italy (Italy): Absolutely gorgeous range of Italian varieties of vegetables and herbs.  Be careful on the growing seasons for some of the hot weather crops.

And if you’re thinking about learning more about gardening by volunteering, check out the Food for Lane County Gardens Program, which reports a record-breaking year in 2012. 190,000 pounds (their largest yield ever) of produce distributed to meal sites and pantries!  Contact Jen Anonia, Gardens Program Manager, janonia@foodforlanecounty.org or 541-343-2822.  Or just donate to FFLC!  There’s a terrific 1-for-1 matching program for the month of February.  All donations will be matched by an anonymous donor.  We’ll be interviewing Executive Director Beverlee Hughes this Sunday on Food for Thought on KLCC.

parsley pips

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Beachscape still life, unknown Dutch contemporary artist

The garden lies in waste, ravaged by the recent cold weather and the slugs that reign supreme over Western Oregon for most of the year.  No, I shouldn’t say ‘waste’ — even without serious intent, mustard greens and various alliums and artichokes are up and running, and wonderfully peppery wild arugula that reseeds each year, and a few lettuce and escarole heads here and there, and enough flowering borage to make a winter bouquet.

And ‘waste’ is wrong for the promise of spring, too.  It’s hard to feel hopeful right now.  But I know that under the hay and reddened leaves the strawberries will blossom, and the currants and gooseberries, now sticks, will emerge and fruit again. I know this patch by the shed will become a rhubarb, and that bare spot of ground is an 8-foot-tall lovage plant, and that over there is a much healthier asparagus patch than it was last winter, and this bucket of dirt is horseradish about to break free.  It’s the luxury of being rooted.

But just as there’s a place for patience, life also entitles us to say enough is enough, and we’re tired of waiting around for the wind to change.  On those days, we scavenge. I am reminded of M. F. K. Fisher’s recluse artist friend Sue, who hosts dinners on the windy coast of California on no budget at all, augmenting stolen flora and fauna with weird plants she finds in the hostile, rocky cliffs. (Although how hostile could it be if other people manage gardens and chickens. Eh. Details.) Sure, we call this ‘wildcrafting’ now and have made it a thoroughly acceptable bourgeois diversion, but ‘scavenging’ is better.  It means making something of refuse, castaways, leftovers, junk.  It’s creating value where none exists, if you’re the capitalist type, and it’s making art of one’s surroundings, if you’re the creative type, and it’s experiencing the world with your nose, the tip of your tongue, and your throat, if you are fundamentally, irrevocably, unflinchingly a cook.

Today it is the pale green tops of the overgrown parsley in the herb bed.  I usually let these go all winter, for unlike dill and quite horrifically like fennel vulgare, the fronds burst into seed and then drop them everywhere, making little parsleys that are great when thinned to enliven spring salads and greens and new potatoes. But we’re about a month from that moment and I need a burst of spring, so off with their heads!  I crush the tender new growth and the green seeds (pips, the British call seeds, a much better word because it captures the jaunty spirit of those little newborn chaps)…the parsley pips I smash down with my fingers and throw them in the pot of purple barley, which I’ll use tonight to stuff more cabbage.  For stuffed cabbage is the best reminder that life is infinitely variable, and there’s comfort in quarters unknown this morning to you.  Comfort in quarters you’ll know, I promise, by supper.

No, one can’t get tired of scavenging; it’s a mandate, really.  Carpe diem isn’t for lovers and it isn’t wasted on the young; it’s the last hope left.

 

you say green tomato again: green tomato pork ragu with pine nuts and raisins

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try:

I was inspired by a comment on David Lebovitz’s post about his Indian-influenced spiced green tomato chutney.  The chutney looks delicious in its own right, but the real star was someone named Tia, who shared ideas from Rome for green tomatoes:

Late in the fall, green tomatoes take over the Roman markets. They are good as a salad on their own — especially the ones with a rosey hue — they add body to chicken soup, and they also make a nice, somewhat tangy ragu for pasta: Lightly crisp a small amount of pancetta in olive oil, add a smashed clove or two of garlic and some chopped shallot or onion along with a bay leaf and a bit of fennel seed. If you want a richer sauce, crumble in some mild pork sausage. Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink, but don’t let it brown. Add a lot of roughly chopped green tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook into a sauce over medium heat. Toss with penne, ziti, orecchiette, or other shaped pasta. Finish with parsely, lemon zest, and black pepper. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and flock with grated pecorino cheese.

Is there any way to improve on this?  Why yes, there is.  It’s a good idea to roast your remaining green tomatoes: slice in half or in chunks, toss in olive oil and salt, and roast on 225 for a few hours before bagging them up and freezing.  They can be used for enchilada verde sauce or this delicious ragu in the middle of winter.  I like the balance of sweet, savory, and tanginess in my adaptation, too, which used up the last of the rosé.  It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was absolutely delicious.

Roasted Green Tomato Ragu with Pork Sausage, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

Serves 4.

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 lbs. green tomatoes (roughly 3 cups cooked down)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup very dry, pale rosé or pinot gris
  • 1 lb. pork sausage meat (sweet Italian with fennel or pork with sage is perfect)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds, if pine nuts aren’t in your budget
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, for topping pasta

Mince onion and garlic.  Chop tomatoes.  Plump raisins in the rosé.  Toast pine nuts until just barely colored, and set aside.

Cook onion in some olive oil over medium heat until golden (do not brown).  Add the garlic and sausage meat, continuing to cook over medium heat until cooked through, breaking up large chunks of sausage. Add chopped green tomatoes, either precooked/frozen earlier or raw.  Add wine and raisins.  Let simmer with sausage, pressing against tomatoes with wooden spoon to break into sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.

As the sauce is simmering, prepare your pasta.  This ragu does best with penne or a similarly large, ridged rolled pasta.  Or a lovely macaroni — kind of like a gardener’s Hamburger Helper, if you think about it.  The sauce is done when the pasta is done.  Add more wine or water if it seems to be too thick.

Integrate the sauce and cooked pasta, leaving just a bit of starchy water in the bottom of the pasta pot, and adding enough sauce to coat well.  Fold in pine nuts just before serving, and top each bowl of pasta with lots of grated parmesan.

you say green tomato: fermented chow chow

I’ve posted a bunch of green tomato recipes for canning in the past, but what if you can’t can?  You’ve come to the right place, you sexy tomato.  I’m going to post several of my favorite green tomato recipes just for you!  The first is a fermented relish called chow chow traditionally made to use up the leftovers of the garden harvest, a beautiful reminder of the passing of summer.

Fermented Chow Chow

This is a delicious fermented version of the southern condiment chow chow, usually sweetened and vinegared, then canned.  I like this fermented version, where the chopped vegetables are set out on a counter for a few days to sour.  It has a complementary combination of flavors that you can make your own by varying the amount of onion, the heat, and the sweet.  Don’t have time to ferment?  It’s delicious fresh, too.  Just substitute a whole grain mustard for the mustard seeds, eliminate the whey/water, and reduce the salt to a tablespoon or less.

Makes about quart and a half.

  • 2 lbs. green tomatoes
  • chunk of very fresh green cabbage
  • 1/2 lb. of a mix of all or some of the following: green peppers, yellow peppers, jalapenos (if you like heat), carrots or red pepper, cauliflower.
  • A few tablespoonsful of sweet white onion (e.g. Walla Walla)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whey from plain yogurt (the liquid on top) or juice from fresh sauerkraut or other fermented pickles to help along ferment
  • 2 tablespoons water

Chop up all of your green tomatoes into a fine dice.  This is a relish that’s all about texture, so I recommend some deft knife work instead of relying on the food processor.  But heck, if you are busy, do what you can.

Shred the cabbage finely, then chop into 1-inch pieces.  Dice your peppers and/or jalapenos, cauliflower, carrot, etc.  You’ll want to use a ratio of 1/3 green tomatoes, 1/3 green cabbage, and 1/3 other vegetables (plus a few tablespoonsful of minced onion).  Mix all into large bowl with green tomatoes and weigh.

Assess the situation.  Add more cabbage or green tomatoes to add weight, if necessary.  You’ll want 2.5 lbs. per 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt for a good ferment.

Add minced onion, spices, salt, and sugar.  Taste.  It should be a bit too salty, but make sure the onion, jalapeno heat, and sweetness are to your liking.  Add more if necessary.

Using your clean hands, crunch up the vegetables a bit so they start to release a liquid.  Add whey and water.

Pack firmly into two quart jars, dividing evenly.  Press down so the liquid covers the top as much as possible.  Cover jars with cheesecloth and set aside for 1-3 days on the counter, mixing and tasting daily.  When it is sour enough for your liking, refrigerate and eat with anything that needs a relish, like sausages, rice and beans, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna fish, etc.

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try:

poppies will put them to sleep

It’s been harder than anticipated to get back to writing.  I blame the somnolent state of the blogger, laid waste by a general anesthetic and the drowsy lullaby of pain medication, not the tiny field of poppies growing in the back of her garden. For these are ‘Elka White’ Slovakian bread poppies (from local seed savers Adaptive Seeds), papaver somniferum, a relative to the ones that halted Dorothy and her companions on the way to the Emerald City.  If I ever wake up, I’ll turn the seeds that tumble from the dried seed heads into fine Eastern European poppyseed pastries who will be forgetful of their gardener’s sleepy summer start.

Hope things will be more normal soon.  It’s harder than one might expect to be laid up with all the time in the world — and unable to turn thoughts to words.