Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, January 01, 2018

In the Garden Turmeric plus, and some Recipe ideas - Happy New Year!

Fresh Turmeric Root
Dear Folks,

Happy New Year!

May your new year be filled with abundance of garden rewards, peaceful days and loving ways.

A friend shared this wonderful picture made by a friend of hers on facebook and it so captured my hope for a positive way of viewing the new year, that I have to share it with you. 

So back to the Tuermeric.

On July 6, 2016 I planted a turmeric root I got from Whole Foods - it popped up August 5, 2016, and I have been letting it grow for the last year and a half, waiting for the leaves to start dying back.

The weather this fall and now early winter has been weird to say the least.  The lingering warm fall has left many of the plants confused.  Just in this last week - literally - everything that was still lush, green and looking like it was not winter - decided it WAS and so the turmeric died back, the fig tree finally shed most of its leaves, the asparagus finally turned umber (ready for cutting to the ground), the citrus ripened early and on and on . . .

The point about growing tropical roots like turmeric and its relative ginger (I've grown ginger for many years) is they can take several years to develop a root system big enough to harvest for use AND have some for replanting.

So yesterday I dug up the turmeric.  The collage shows the plant withered, the whole root mass, the fresh pieces I am keeping for use and the bed replanted and covered with leaf mulch.  I put the biggest of the original root back in and also popped about 4 or 5 other (forgot how many :-)  back in for a new crop.  The pieces I saved measure about 1 to 1 and a half inches.  Good for a start.  OH, and the darkish pieces on the left in the picture is actually part of the old root, so I tossed that back into bed as well.

I mentioned the weird warm fall.  I have been watching the last of my roselle seed pods waiting for them to finish drying and splitting.  Seriously they just kept looking nice and plump and shiny with no drying and then boom - just in the last week, they went from shiny to dry.  Now to harvest for my seed bank. 

Today I will be following my annual tradition of planting potatoes on New Year's day.  I will update on that in another post, as well as more garden happenings.

IN THE Kitchen.

These are more useful tips than using fresh from the garden.

My wonderful guy had some oral surgery, which created a challenge for him to eat anything really solid and for me to find ways of getting nutritious food into him.  Oh sure there are a lot of liquid and smoothie options but that is neither satisfying for him or really enough to keep his spirits up.

Soooo, I went back to a neat grind-your-own-meat tip I discovered and used a couple of years ago.

This idea was from many folks who would like to choose the quality of their ground meat, not just rely on the butcher's choices.  Essentially you can grind any meat into a good "ground consistency" using your freezer and a food processor.  Keep in mind your are looking for something that looks like ground meat but not pate.

My poor guy struggled through our Christmas Roast Beef dinner (we had a couple of family over too) with the roasted meat.

I decided the next day this would not do.  So using the same principle (explained below) I cut up some of the roasted beef into small chunks.

Grinding Your Own Meat

Get a tray or large dish.
Get your food processor out and whatever container you will store the meat in.
Cut the meat up into small cubes - 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch and place, separated, in a single layer, on the tray, put the food processor blade on the tray as well.  Put the tray in the freezer and start your timer. 

It should take between 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the chunks.  At 10 minutes feel a cube of meat.  It should feel firm but not frozen - no "give".

When firm enough, put the blade in the processor, work quickly using a spatula (so you don't warm up the mat) to move the meat to the processor and begin pulsing.  DO NOT over process or you will get pate instead of ground.

In the picture you will see the meat looks like tiny chopped pieces - this is because the meat was already cooked.  Your raw meat will look like, should look like, what you buy in the store.  P.S.  We like our roasts medium rare.

So what did I make with this ground roasted beef?

I used it with left over mashed potatoes and beef gravy, to make a nice comfort meal - mashed potatoes, ground roasted beef, covered with gravy.

Next day, I ground up barley to make a "flour/meal" then made a batter dumpling mix (eggs, barley flour, & salt), brought some beef broth to a rolling boil, dropped spoonfuls of the barley batter into the broth, waited until they rose to the surface then added the ground roasted beef.  A nice hardy meal of beef and barley dumpling soup.

Both my guy could eat and enjoy

Poor Man's Lobster

While watching a youtube cooking video last week, one of the suggested videos on the side bar was for "Poor Man's Lobster."  Well that caught my eye.  Here is the original video.   The gentleman has a nice way about showing a recipe (I subscribed and also saved his "Poor Man's Sausage" for a later meal.)

As I do when I find a recipe I want to try, I look for other ideas of the same type and in doing so I found several variations on the amount of sugar, salt (salt or no salt), and choice of fish.

I chose to change out the proportions of my version.  I will give you some of our after taste thoughts.  Basically we were VERY pleased with the result.  And this was a treat both my guy with his healing mouth, and I could enjoy for New Year's Eve.

My Version of Poor Man's Lobster
Fresh Wild Caught Cod (choose how much you want to make - recipes range from 1/2 a pound all the way up to 2+ pounds. (I used 1 1/3 pounds)
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
Lemon, quartered
Melted butter
Seafood cocktail sauce

You will need a LARGE pot.  There is a chance while cooking that it may want to boil over and you have to keep the heat adjusted to keep it boiling but to keep from boiling over.  This is truly a watched pot recipe - do not leave the stove while you are cooking this.

You will need a tray or plate.  I covered with paper towel to absorb any excess water.  You will need a slotted spoon or spider to life the fish when done.

IMPORTANT tip. after you add the fish DO NOT STIR.  The sugar, salt and lemon create a chemical reaction firming the fish up so if you stir you will break the pieces up.

Fill the pot to 1/2 to 3/4 full
Bring to a full rolling boil and add salt and sugar, stir to make sure it is dissolved.
Add half of the lemon (2 quarters).

Cut fish into 1 inch or so cubes.  Begin dropping in the fish a little at a time so you don't drop the temperature too much.  Once all the fish is in watch but DO NOT STIR.  All of the pieces will drop to the bottom of the pot.

You can skim foam, just do not stir.  After a few minutes you will see the fish pieces bobbing to the surface.  You can start to remove them a few at a time, still not stirring, just skim them up and drop on your prepared tray.  Once a few start to rise the rest follow quickly.

Use the other half of the lemon to squeeze a bit of juice over all the fish.  Then serve with melted butter, cocktail sauce, and/or other seasonings (dill, parsley, paprika etc.)


We first tasted the fish with just the lemon.  Very nice taste.  Then we tried both butter and cocktail sauce alternating.  We actually wound up eating half of the pan!!  (Since it was just us we just took the pan to the table with our respective drinks and dug in.)

1)  I waited a bit too long to start taking the fish out, so it was a bit more flaky than intended.  Next time I will make sure to remove as soon as they start floating to the surface.
2) The salt and sugar provide multiple levels of flavor and this first try we agreed I could have used more of each.  I went for the lessor proportions of both (the video gentleman did not mention salt - other recipes did) figuring I should try less this first time.  Next time I will use about a heaping quarter cup of salt and about 3/4 cup of sugar.
3) This is a keeper of a dish.  We have some left over and I am thinking of making a "lobster roll' type sandwich.  OR we can just use the cocktail sauce and finish them up as a light lunch :-)
Happy New Year.  I leave you with another fun graphic.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Check out the two versions of my new perpetual gardening calendar.

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