Using up the garden: Catching up

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I have posted a bit about what we are doing with the garden produce on the Garden 2011 page, but I wanted to start gathering more information here, because I do look back at these posts for ideas. I want to make sure I don’t forget some of the yummy things we have done to make sure that we actually use our produce! I haven’t been chronicling them as much this year, though, so I have a whole bunch of things to dump here:
  • Fruit smoothies are a great way to use greens. The stronger flavored greens like mustard, collard, turnip and beet greens don’t really work for me here, but spinach and kale are fantastic. I do smoothies a little differently every time, depending on what kind of juice or frozen fruit I have around, but the general proportions for 3 people: 2 cups juice, soy milk or a combination, 2 bananas 1 – 1 ½ cups frozen fruit, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a big handful of greens. I like to blend everything but the greens before adding those. Sometimes I add a bit of vanilla yogurt. I really like frozen peaches in this, or berries or mango, but anything goes. I also add fresh fruit when I have some I need to use up, but I really like the frozen because it hold together better, and makes it seem very decadent–almost like soft serve ice cream for breakfast!
  • Polenta with sausage and greens was a delicious, satisfying dinner (see picture above).
  • I am so excited that we are actually getting beets this year! This is the third time we have planted them, and the first time we actually have beets to eat. The first thing we did with them was to have beets and greens curry with chickpeas. This was pretty and so delicious. I had my Indian food friend over, and she agreed that it tasted great.
  • I made a really great veggie-filled frittata with lots of greens from the garden, onions, garlic, sliced carrots, fresh parsley and basil, and goat cheese. I sauteed the onions, garlic and carrots in a bit of olive oil, then added a huge amount of greens–all the kinds I had available in the garden, mustard greens, collards, beet greens, kale, and chard. When the greens were wilted, I added four beaten eggs and some crumbled goat cheese, then cooked until it started to set and finished it in a 350 degree oven. I am making this again this week with carrots from my garden–the first time it was some baby carrots from the store I wanted to finish using.
  • I made this pickled beets recipe for my son’s birthday party, because he loves beets. He didn’t really love these, though–too vinegary, he said. My mother and aunt and grandma and I loved them, though! It was fun peeling the skins off after I had boiled the beets, too. I know, that sounds silly, but I had such fun just slipping them off so easily once they were cooked.
  • We also had a squash and broccoli side for the birthday dinner, with a sauteed onion, plus a yellow squash and some broccoli from the garden. So delicious and easy! I diced the onion, then started that sauteing while I sliced the yellow squash. I sauteed the onion and squash for a bit, then added the broccoli and a bit of water, put a lid on the skillet and let it cook for about five minutes. Fresh vegetables really do have the best flavor.
  • We went camping again this past week, and for dinner vegetable sides, I brought a big bag of garden veggies. I sliced a couple of small onions, a yellow squash, a zucchini, a couple of small patty pan squashes and added in some green beans. Then, at the campsite, I took some out each night, added them to a small pot with some canola oil, garlic salt and freshly ground pepper and cooked them on a mini-gas grill.
  • We also took a bunch of carrots along for lunch snacking (or anytime snacking). I cannot believe how many carrots we have growing out there!
  • I have added greens to many things, I can’t even remember them all. I know I added some to risottos, like this delicious tomato and sausage risotto. I added some to soups, like our favorite chickpea noodle soup. I think I added some to pasta dishes, too. Basically, whenever it seems reasonable, I go out and grab a bunch of greens to add to whatever I am cooking.
  • I am well into making a HUGE batch of the mint liqueur I made last year, although I just realized I made the sugar syrup with too much water today. That’s okay, though, because I can always add some more mint and rum and extra strong sugar syrup; there is plenty of mint still out there.

I am going to be posting more about what I am doing as I do it going forward, so I don’t lose anything. I am really enjoying my garden, and I don’t want anything to go to waste, or at least not much. I feel somewhat better about it going to compost than being thrown away, but everything that goes on the compost pile feels like a missed opportunity to me. That was some delicious, organic, as local as local gets food, and I missed it! I am much better than I used to be about that, but there is still room for improvement.

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