Sunday, June 14, 2009

Escaping Cows and Other News

For all of you visual learners, I've finally figured out how to post a slideshow of pictures to my blog. Hit play to take a tour around Caretaker's fields. My techno saavy has limits, though, and I'm yet to figure out how to include captions. So here's some commentary to explain the slideshow: Katie has planted an learning garden for children, complete with a Native American "three sisters" planting, bean huts, and assorted interesting plant varieties. The bales of straw were used to mulch all of our tomatoes, tomatillos, and husk cherries. Hopefully, the mulch will help prevent disease and shade out weeds, as well as making everything smell straw-sweet. "Early Jersey Wakefield" cabbage are just beginning to head up--they should be ready in a few weeks. Our hoophouse tomatoes are coming along nicely. They are a relatively new variety of hybrids, and thus have lame cyborg names like BH152, or something like that. I suggested that we rename them something more interesting, but the only suggestion, courtesy of Margaret, was to called them "inside" and "outside." Note the innocent looking cow under the solar panels (Don has been wanting someone to take a picture like this all season). This same cow escaped from her lovely pastures and took a morning stroll through our carrot beds, only narrowly avoiding our delicate (expensive) row cover. A few carrots lost their lives, but thankfully most of our veggies were spared.

If, on the other hand, you are an experiential learner, here are a few more recipes which have received positive reviews on my cook day.

Beet Greens Gratin

Don't compost your beet greens! Beets are in the same family as swiss chard and spinach, so it stands to reason that their leaves would be both healthy and delicious. The real secret of this recipe is the nutmeg. Nutmeg complements any of the members of the Chenopodiaceae family, taking average dishes and making them exquisite. I'm estimating on my quantities here, as I made this recipe up as I went and didn't really measure my ingredients. Adjust to suit your taste.

Beet greens (I'm guessing about 6 cups loosely packed. They will cook down significantly)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped (or garlic powder, if your garlic has all green sprouted)
1 1/2 t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c walnuts

Blanche the beet greens until wilted and just cooked. Drain. In a bowl, mix together everything else except the walnuts. Add the drained greens, mix thoroughly, and taste to see if your seasonings need adjusting. Scatter the walnuts over the top and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and the walnuts are golden, about 15-20 minutes.

Spinach and Feat Borek

"Borek" is a generic Turkish word for dishes that contain filo dough. I was first introduced to the miracles of Turkish cuisine by my good friend Zey's mom, who might just be the best home cook I know. Store bought filo dough is surprisingly easy to work with (just keep it covered with a damp towel so that it doesn't dry out) and guarantees a flaky, crispy, pastry of a dish. I was cooking for a bunch of ravenous farmers, so I made two casserole dishes worth. You could easily cut this recipe in half)

1 box filo dough, defrosted
8 cups spinach, loosely packed
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh dill, chopped
feta cheese
2 eggs
1 c milk
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 390 F.

Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until transparent and fragrant. Add the spinach, cover, and cook until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally for even cooking. Remove from the heat and add the dill, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, beat the milk and the egg together.

Grease a large (9x13 is good) baking dish with s0me of the butter. Begin layering the filo dough in the pan, brushing each sheet with the milk and egg mixture before you add the next. after about 5 sheets of filo, add a layer of spinach. Dot the spinach with crumbled feta cheese and small pats of butter. Repeat with 5 more layers of filo, followed by another layer of spinach, and then more filo. Brush the top generously with the milk and egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (Use the remaining filo dough and filling to make another pan, if you can. )

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the filo and sesame seeds are golden.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Good call on the beet greens - most of the time I think they are actually better than the beets themselves (which are often too sweet for my taste).

If you want something else surprising to do with nutmeg, think Italian cooking. I never would have thought of it until I tried it, but a traditional rag├╣ really needs it.