Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

It Is Spring, Regarless of the Date!

Dear Folks,

Officially it is not spring, but the activity in our gardens says spring is here!

The Quail are back and calling which means they are looking for nesting spots.  A gorgeous male Cardinal  stopped by the other day (we usually have a pair visit each spring and fall).

And the flowers of certain plants are offering promises.

We are still harvesting our blood oranges - so good!  Baby peaches are on, and the blueberry is flowering.  The last flower in the collage, right, is our mango and I'm so hoping for fruit this year.  We will see.

The Mango flowered last year after planting, but the plant wisely dropped the baby fruit to pay attention to its own growth -- since I did not remove them - nature does do what is necessary.  Now that the tree has been in the ground for a year I'm hoping!

So many of the edible flowers are blooming, the gardens becoming more colorful by the day.

Purple Stock, an incredibly fragrant member of the broccoli family (yes it tastes like broccoli) my nasturtiums and lovely burgundy sunflower.

Those huge nasturtium leaves can be used for their peppery bite, in many ways, including salads, stews and soups in wraps and in case you missed my post on Nasturtium Leaf Dolma (stuffed grape leave substitute) here is the link.

We have a new banana flower which is already revealing "bunches" of bananas.  This picture is from when we first spotted the flower (mid-February).  This new flower represents the 3rd plant flowering since Fall (2016).  And the timing is actually perfect for ripening fruit during the warm/warming weather (Takes about 4 months).

And another plant's bunch looks like this (this was the 2nd plant's bunches).  This photo was take January 9th and happily our frosty few days did not hurt the developing fruit.

I hope you enjoy a look at our gardens and that it inspires you.

Have a best day in the garden and kitchen with your bounty!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

You can purchase my books and calendars through links on the right sidebar.

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe below by entering your email, to get all my posts!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Homemade Corned (Brine Cured) Beef for St. Patrick's Day Dinner. First Asparagus!

Dear Folks,

Started the "Corning" (brining) of my beef for St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner.

The beef needs 10-14 days to brine before cooking.  Lots of spices and herbs, kosher salt and sugar (I use organic).

I do NOT add any nitrates or salt-peter - it is unnecessary.  It does create the customary "pink" color of the finished meat, but also contributes chemicals to the food.  Why do that?  The finished meat has the look of cooked, boiled beef.  The flavor is fabulous!!

If you are not familiar with the process of corning, it is simply a type of pickling/curing with salt.  The "corning" refers to the old English term for any kind of large grain of something, in this case rock or Kosher salt.  Sugar and spices are also used to add flavor and some preservation to the meat.

Other foods which are cured in a similar fashion are:  fish (like Lox), vegetables (bread and butter pickles), and meats like salami (dry cured or cooked -- click here for my version of Jacq Pepin's Saucisson salami - which is dry cured in the refrigerator - it was delicious!)

Back to the corned beef.  It is very important to make sure the meat stays submerged under the liquid during the entire curing process and refrigerated.

[Recipe can be doubled etc. 3 pounds = twice as much spice and brine, etc.]
1 1/2 pounds of beef - if you can get grass fed, do so!
1 teaspoon each mustard seed, coriander see and black peppercorns
1 small stick of cinnamon
2 bay leaves, broken
1/4 cup of organic sugar
1/2 cup of kosher salt
about 3 cups of water

1 non-reactive dish or pan large enough to hold the piece of meat plus liquid [pictured I used a large plastic container with lid and two glass plates)

1-2 glass dishes or plates to weigh down the meat (some say any plate, but I did not want any un-glazed china to be in contact with the meat)

1 glass cover or plastic wrap

1 tray large enough to hold the dish to contain any spills

Grind the seeds and peppercorns to a coarse ground, grind the cinnamon just to break up.

Dissolve sugar and salt in water.  If boiling to do this, let cool before proceeding.

Pierce the meat multiple times on one side to infuse more flavor.

Place meat in the dish, rub spices over one side.  Use brine to completely cover the meat.  Add dishes or plates to weigh down and cover all.  The meat MUST be completely covered at all times.

Place on tray and refrigerate for 2 weeks.   You can turn the meat once part way through but it is not necessary.  Re-check periodically to make sure the meat continues to be completely covered.

Drain but DO NOT rinse the meat the day you want to cook it.

Cook as usually with carrots, potatoes and cabbage.  Serve and enjoy!

. . .

From the Garden -- we have begun harvesting our asparagus.

I decided on another savory oatmeal for dinner.

Saute asparagus in a tiny bit of bacon fat and avocado oil. I added some of my dried celery leaves.  Add water and oatmeal, cook for 5 minutes and top with chopped walnuts and shredded cheese.  A nice simple, fast and satisfying meal.

Oatmeal with Asparagus & Cheese

Serves 2:

5 small asparagus spears, sliced
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
3/4 cup of shredded cheese
1 tablespoon of dried celery leaves
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon each of bacon fat and avocado oil (I keep un-cured bacon fat for these kinds of meals)
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1 3/4 cups of water.

Melt fats in a medium sauce pan, and add sliced asparagus. Saute for 2 minutes.  Add celery leaves.  Bring pot up to boil, add water and oats.  Bring to fast simmer, stirring frequently and cook for 5 minutes.

Divide between bowls, add 1/2 of nuts and cheese to each bowl.  Serve and enjoy.

I hope you try both of these recipes.

If you enjoy my posts please share with your family and friends and Thank You!

You can find links to my calendars and book in the side bar on the right.
-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe below by entering your email, to get all my posts! 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.