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Posts Tagged ‘mustard greens’

I have a not-so-well-kept secret. Anyone walking in my yard immediately figures it out: I am not the world’s most immaculate gardener.

In the past few years, I’ve been able to divide my yard into “summer” gardens and “winter” gardens. And, for the most part, I’ve been able to get seeds in the ground on time so they have an opportunity to grow.

But I’m not so good about keeping on top of weeding and keeping the bushes trimmed.  Also, I’ve somehow been unable to clean up most of my winter garden beds after the plants in those beds have died.

The bad thing about my procrastination is that I never get cover crop in the soil to provide more nutrients. But, I’ve found that there’s also a benefit to my laziness: free plants!  Not only do many of the greens re-seed themselves in place — I haven’t bought kale seed for years! — but they also show up in unexpected areas.

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The Asian green above is living in a bed along with spring bulbs, pink yarrow and various weeds.   I planted the original seeds about five years ago; now the seed packet (and the memory of this green’s name) is long gone, but I still get to enjoy free food.

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The mustard greens, above, are growing in one of the pathways in my backyard.  Disregard the other weeds that are also thriving in the pathway.

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I must be especially bad about cleaning up mustard greens,  Because, in addition to the original bed in which they grew and the walkway above, a large patch  has sprung up on the side of my yard nowhere near any of my garden beds.   Yum yum!

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Besides greens, I find a lot of cornflowers in random places.  Usually, they sprout in the spring, but this poor guy got confused by our warm fall weather.  I hope the plant makes it through this current patch of cold temperatures, but if it doesn’t, I know that there will be more to take its place come spring!

Anyone else have a messy garden?

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Earlier today, I was cleaning up part of my summer garden. I’ve still got several rows to clean up and cover crop, but the area feels so empty now.

Good thing the winter garden is basically thriving!

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The chard in this bed is growing nicely. Bugs have attacked the chard in another bed.

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Unlike the past few years, the turnip greens are thriving this year.

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Turnip greens in front, kale in back.

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The savoy cabbage may produce, if I can keep the bugs away.

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Speaking of bugs, aphids have attacked the collard greens.

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The bugs must not like mustard greens.

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I always overplant lettuce, so I picked a lot for lunch today.

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One good thing about being a tad behind in garden chores: things reseed themselves! Witness the arugula above and the kale below.

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I love being able to grow food most of the year. And while I’ll miss my summer veggies, I’m looking forward to fresh steamed greens!

What’s growing in your garden?

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For at least three weeks now, we’ve had gorgeous weather during the week, followed by rain on the weekends. So what’s a gardener, who welcomes rain but wishes it didn’t happen on prime work days, to do?

Sometimes I get in some long-distance walking. But this weekend, I opted for a project instead: pickling greens.

Last year, I made a batch of Liana Krissoff’s pickled collard greens. The recipe is in her book, Canning for a New Generation. Unfortunately I can’t find a similar recipe online, and I think I would be violating copyright by putting hers on my blog, even with attribution. So sorry, no recipe.

This year I modified her recipe, using mustard greens instead of collards, and jalepeno instead if habanero. At this point, I’m still unclear if I can put down my adaptation, but to be safe, I won’t.

Picking greens takes some time, mostly in the picking, washing and chopping. If you don’t have a large batch growing, or you just want to save time, you could buy some pre-cut, pre-washed greens.

Here’s my mustard greens, freshly picked, soaking in the kitchen sink:

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I then washed each individual leaf, destemmed, and tore into tiny pieces. The individual washing was very important, at least for me, since I live in the land of slugs. (Sorry, slugs. May you rest in peace!)

Then I put the greens in an old pillowcase, went outside on the deck, and twirled the pillowcase to shake off any remaining water. Who knew my old college pillowcase would someday be used like a salad spinner?

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I then put the greens, along with some jalepeno, garlic and onion in pint-sized canning jars. The recipe says to pack tight because once you add the hot vinegar concoction, the greens will wilt.

Well, I packed those greens in, but not enough, because when I took them out of the canner, the jars were only about half full of greens.

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I guess I should have figured something was amiss when I had plenty of greens left over. So, I might not be able to give any of these pickled greens as gifts, but at least that will mean more for me!

Oh, and I wilted the rest of the greens and ate them with some chickpeas, along with a carrot soup. Yum!

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When I think of my favorite things to eat, of course dessert is right up there at the top of the list. I am a recovering sugar addict, after all.

So instead of focusing on foods I’m trying to limit in my diet, I am choosing to emphasize the delicious foods that are actually good for me.

So here’s a list of my favorite foods, in no particular order:

1. Black beans. I could eat these every day.

2. Broccoli. I do tend to eat this vegetable every day, either chopped in salad, steamed, roasted, or sauted with garlic in olive oil.

The other thing I eat every day is oatmeal. My morning is not complete without a bowl.

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3. Greens. I became addicted to greens years ago when my former boss L. introduced me to the joys of growing kale. Why a joy, you may ask? Well it’s because kale is super easy for me to grow, as are mustard greens (above). I tend to let the plants go to seed, so I have plenty of free seed to start the next year’s crop. And there’s also plenty to share with my friends, the goldfinches.

Back to greens: I’ve just started having luck growing collards, but still have spotty luck with turnips. I can grow one particular kind of spinach (Space), lots of arugula and most leaf lettuces.

In terms of eating, I mostly steam my greens, or add them to soups and stir fry. No need to add bacon grease!!!

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4. Home-made yogurt. I began making yogurt several years ago, partly as an experiment and partly to stop buying all those plastic containers. I used the recipe on this page, and have had great success. I’ve made the labneh, too, but haven’t had luck with the mozzarella.

I eat the yogurt with freshly chopped apple or banana, along with cinnamon. Sometimes when I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll add some chocolate syrup. Who needs all the added fat and sugar of ice cream? (Note that I do, indeed, love, love, love ice cream.)

5. French-roast coffee, teas of all kinds, and simple smoothies made with frozen fruit and soy milk. My favorite thing to drink, though, is:

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WATER!

I love water, which might be obvious looking at my collection of water bottles. (Not included: a Camelback day pack.)

I know people, Nells included, who do not like water, and I just don’t understand this. Water is so refreshing, plus you need it to live! I guess I need more of it than most, since I drink about a gallon a day, and at least two gallons in the hot summer. Perhaps I had a past life where I didn’t have access to enough water? Whatever the reason, water is my bestest friend.

And, as has already been established, I do love most things sugary and chocolatey. I’d have to say my favorite dessert is:

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A brownie!!! Gooey chocolatey goodness!!!

The above brownie is actually half a brownie made and given to me by my neighbor B. I ate the first half (all 170 calories of it) on Monday, and had put the other half in the freezer for a treat this weekend. I’ll eat it off MamaNell’s wedding china with a real silver fork. Anything to distract me from it’s tiny size!

Though I am mighty proud of myself for being able to cut the brownie in half instead of eating a huge piece, like I normally would. Hopefully that’s good news regarding my sugar addiction!

So when the dog bites or the bee stings, or I crave some sugar, I simply remember all my favorite healthy foods, and then I don’t feel so bad. (Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.)

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