Sunday, December 27, 2009

Coming Into the Light

The darkest night is now behind us (winter solstice fell on the 21st this year in the northern hemisphere). Thank goodness~ because the past few weeks for me went by in a foggy blur of work-related frenzied activity followed by "the crash" -- a rare giving in to the seasonal flu/cold bug. But now 'I'm baaaack' and ready to reflect on some of the more nourishing moments of the end of this year.

Although bundled up and still feeling rather lousy, on a foggy, rainy day a group of us braved the hills to celebrate the winter solstice and the return to longer, more light-filled days. Walking the single path in and out of the labyrinths offered the chance to reflect back over the year and bring into light my intentions for the coming one. So even though it was cold, wet and (for me) sniffly, it was extremely rejuvenating (thanks Stace for organizing the event!). 

Now what about the food production front? Did the slugs win the battle? "NO!NO! NO!" (Cue Amy Winehouse here...). These slugs must have Irish or British blood in them -- they drank the beer and left! No death by drunken stupor for these ones... So, plan B (thanks to a neighbor's great idea). Mini "green house" protection for each plant. And it is seemingly working - even if it does look a bit odd.

So now, feeling healthy again,  I need to get back into the garden -- the compost is looking really wormy (good stuff!), the green tomatoes managed to ripen (mostly) and it's time to pull those plants. Amazingly we ate the last of them today and it's late December! The broccoli is looking almost ready to harvest, and it's time to start thinking of crop rotation now those tomatoes are 'done'. Ideas? I'm thinking some quinoa for its high protein and eating flexibility (salad, cooked greens, seeds).  And lots and lots of carrots. Yum.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Beer for the slugs... Spinach "something" for us...

I'll start by confessing that this 'blog' is for my own enjoyment and expression -- so sometimes (ok many times) this may be a YAWN moment for anyone 'out there'. Anyhow, I've not yet blogged about the day's grub -- and today's seems to be particularly good (IMHO) since it was created by sheer gut-feel and taste. And I love it when faced with a selection of "things that must be used up, or else, in the fridge" and a tasty (nourishing moment!) meal is produced.

In today's case here are the ingredients that needed to be used up: Spinach (lots of it, fresh from last week's farmers market and starting to wilt (oops) ; fresh ginger (now getting hard around the edges), tomatoes from the garden (yes, some have finally ripened but who wants salads on chilly evenings?), hot red peppers (loads actually, a gift from a neighbor - will need to make a wicked salsa (later)) and chicken breasts.

So here's the idea -- create an Indian chicken saag with the spinach.... It's something we order out quite a bit and my grandmother was really into Indian cooking (she spent early years in India), and we do have a lot of the spices that (I hope/believe) are typically used....

Here's the dish ("festering" on the stove top until I make the black rice -- sorry I don't do white!)

Total time from prep to the picture above - 30 minutes (on full speed ahead mode)...

Ingredients (kinda rough since I don't measure):
About 3 bunches of spinach
1 1/2 lb of chicken breast in cubes
1 onion (chopped fine)
About 8 cloves garlic (minced)
I red hot pepper kept whole (so you can remove if the dish is getting too hot for you)
large piece of fresh ginger (chopped fine-ish)
2 tomatoes (chopped fine)
some milk (about 2 tablespoons)
some lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon)
Olive oil (about 3-4 tblsp)
Spices: cardamom seeds (2 smashed up by pestle/mortar - that my grandmother gave me (lovely coincidence eh?)
6 cloves (smashed up per above)
tumeric (approx 1 teaspoon)
coriander (approx 2 teaspoon)
paprica (approx 2 teaspoon)
ground cayenne pepper (approx 2 teaspoon)
ground cumin (approx 2 teaspoon)
garam masala ( approx 2 teaspoon - we made this up ahead of time ages ago... you may not have it, sorry - improvise or leave out)
salt and "no salt" (you be the judge; I use about 2 tsp of each)

What to do...

Brown the chicken in some of the olive oil
while doing so put small amount water in deep pan and add spinach, bring to boil, turn off heat and cool - when cool (later) you will blend in a blender (kinda like a Kermit-the-frog moment)
Add to chicken rest of olive oil and the onions, garlic and ginger - brown
Then add the tomatoes and rest of the spices and the whole hot red pepper
After about 5 mins add the blended kermit (oops, spinach), and the milk
Reduce down to a thicker consistency and put a lid on to let it sit and "fester" (get more flavor in it - although I know this is not the real definition :-).

Serve with rice and popdums (or whatever tickles your fancy)

And that's my nourishing moment for today, folks!

Oh ...Beer for slugs -- more on that tomorrow (if it works)... The darn slugs/snails are eating my kale! My friend across the street suggested covering the small plants with jars and leaving out beer... we shall see!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So here it is, the day before Thanksgiving holiday in the US, and time to make the pies for tomorrow. Of course, in my desire to home-produce some of the food for this meal, I had planned to use our apple tree as the basis for an apple tart.... Planned is the key word here -- I just went out to pick off the last of the year's crop, and someone has beaten me to it! The tree's naked! I'm suspecting a midnight raid (someone clearly had a lot of pies they needed to make).

So, it's plan B time; drag out the can of pumpkin instead. I could perhaps smash up the pumpkin that still sits happily (or so I choose to think) on our front porch, a reminder that it's still Fall, but that was store bought anyway, so it will be saved the axe.

Talking of axes, I'm hopeful that our neighborhood turkey makes it through tomorrow... Having just read the section of the Farm City (see book recommendation list) on how to kill a turkey, I realize how "easy" it would be. Well, not for me, I realize that too!

So tomorrow's festivities are almost here and this year the only produce from our own garden will be the roasted parsnips and some herbs (sage for the stuffing, rosemary for the bird, thyme for the gravy). Carrots were all eaten last week and the rest of the crops are not ready by any means. Next year I intend to plan for this event!

Wishing "Happy Thanksgiving" for those of you who celebrate it and happy Thursday for the rest :-) May your day be filled with nourishing moments.