Tuesday, March 8, 2011

week eight: garden harvest

i'm going to use the excuse of unexpected travel and sickness over the past two weeks to account for slacking on my blog projects. this post is less a project than a collection of bite-sized morsels that emerged from our garden recently.
first, there's the tomatoes. while the tomatoes we originally planted have not fared too well - the only tomatoes that grew to full size were enjoyed by the birds while we were away in oakland last week - we have numerous "volunteer" tomatoes that have sprung up around the garden in places they weren't planted.

i hate you, birds.
i assume this, too, is the work of the birds. these little yellow cherry tomatoes somehow are much healthier than their original counterparts, and have managed to produce several handfuls of wee tomatoes that i've actually been able to harvest before our beaked friends get at them.

also in abundance right now are our perpetually-baby kale and collard greens. i'm not sure why the leaves stay small, maybe i planted them too close together in the container, but they are quite tender and hardly need to be cooked.

they go great raw into smoothies. this one includes frozen berries and some poi - yum! as well as garden greens.
i'm a big fan of sauteed garden greens and eggs in the morning. this is a variation on that. i've always been curious about the "egg-in-a-basket" concept, and this was my first attempt at making it myself.

surrounding the egg in a basket are chopped fresh garden greens - collards and kale - as well as lightly sauteed green pea shoots - the harvest from my project of several weeks ago. i've also planted some of the peas along the fenceline to see if they'll mature enough to give actual pea pods. i'll keep you posted.
other things i'm looking forward to harvesting in the coming months: taro and sweet potatoes!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

week seven: carrot top crisps

oops, i've fallen out of the routine here in the past couple weeks so it's time to play catch up. first on the menu is a new way of preparing carrots - using the greens.
i've always wondered if the tops were left on carrots just as a sort of back-to-the-landish aesthetic, but i overheard the interns at ma'o say in the packing shed one day while we were packing up csa boxes, that some people eat them. i tried it once, and found them a bit bitter, so i served them sauteed with garlic and jalapeno (because that will make anything taste good). 

on a recent trip to the farmers market i met up with the lovely ladies of ma'o - interns cheryse, maisha, and anuhea - and because of the excessive rains of late they mostly had a whole lotta carrots to sell at the stand. i wanted to support, so i ended up coming home with six big bunches of carrots, greens and all, so this was inspiration to have another go at the whole carrot top thing.

cheryse - brilliant salesperson that she is - recommended making a carrot top pesto out of them, and i ran this idea past ed kenney, owner and chef of town restaurant, who i saw on my way out of the ma'o stand. ed wholeheartedly supported the carrot top pesto - saying he serves ma'o carrots with a pesto sauce made of their greens, to the mantra "what grows together goes together."
i have yet to try carrot top pesto, but my friend maile (who also bought six bunches of carrots from ma'o that day) made it to rave reviews from the family.

what i chose to do with my carrot top greens was take the concept of kale chips - one of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures, and apply it to carrot tops. kale chips are the best (and probably best for you) alternative to potato chips i've ever had - and i love potato chips. crispy is hands-down my favorite texture for food, so anything that manages to be crispy i'm willing to consume. check out my friends' hannah and phoebe's i heart kale blog for my recipe for kale chips.

my first attempt at carrot top chips was a mixture of kale and carrot tops. again, i was concerned about the bitter flavor being overbearing and figured if it was a mixture it might be better. but something about the roasting process takes out the bitterness, so the carrot tops came out as crispy, crunchy, delicate melt-in-your-mouth greens without a hint of bitterness.

this is in b/w because i'm embarrassed about the state of my pan
the kale and carrot tops "crisped" up at different rates, since they are different shapes and sizes, so the next time i made carrot top crisps i let them ride solo. plus when the carrot greens are laid out on the pan and allowed to crispify they turn into a lovely delicate lace - something i imagine could be put to good decorative use at a restaurant - ed are you listening? :)

i used this batch of carrot top crisps to top a 3 layer roasted vegetable platter i was bringing to a potluck. it included beets, carrots, red turnips (who knew those existed?) as well as the greens from those root veggies - with the crispy carrot greens on top. unfortunately, by the time i arrived at the potluck the crisps had lost some of their crispiness, so i recommend eating them right out of the oven, especially if you live somewhere with high humidity like hawai'i.