Saturday, June 30, 2012

5 Tips on How to Store Strawberries

Four baskets of Sorted Strawberries
From Ripest to Least Ripe

Method by Robin and Live Earth Farm

Recently my husband Bruce did a Google search on “how to slice a watermelon.” One of the top suggestions Google offered was “how to store strawberries.” Seems like a lot of people are asking that question at this time of year. And it’s a sad fact that the most deliciously ripe strawberries can go moldy in a matter of hours if stored wrong. One bad strawberry might not spoil the whole basket, but it certainly discourages one from finding out by tasting.

The main cause of mold on strawberries is too much moisture and too little air circulation. Hot temperatures, especially in humid climates, are another factor. Keeping strawberries as dry as possible until just before you prepare them to eat is the goal for successful storage.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Green Garlic Bok Choy with Ginger Lime Sauce

Bowl of Green Garlic Bok Choy with Sauce
Green on Green on Green

Recipe inspired by Panlasang Pinoy

It’s early summer and we’re still using up our green garlic from springtime. Luckily green garlic has a long fridge-life, as long as it’s kept dry. I use an air-permeable bag for veggie storage. My kale with green garlic experiment was such a success that I felt inspired to continue the greens & green garlic theme with the bok choy from our CSA share. I was thinking of a stir fry with fresh lime sauce and a hint of ginger. To balance the sourness of the lime and the slight bitterness of the greens, I wanted to add salty and sweet components.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cherries in Light Honey Sauce

Jars of Canned Cherries in Honey Sauce
The Finished Product, Ready to Store or Share

Recipe by Happy Girl Kitchen and Robin

My most popular post ever, referenced in the Huffington Post’s 12 Unusual Uses for Honey, is about Berries in Light Honey Sauce, adapted from a recipe from Happy Girl Kitchen. This year, since cherry season is so short, I decided to try a similar recipe to preserve some whole cherries. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Microwave Steam Vegetables

Broccoli in Baking dish with Lid
Preparing to Steam Broccoli

Method by Robin

Summertime has just begun, and already it’s time to get out of the kitchen. Heat waves are sweeping the US and kids are out of school. We’re motivated to simplify meals and contemplate a vacation break. Conserving personal and planetary energy while preparing our veggies is a natural.

Easy salads of mixed greens are good choices; add a few strawberries if you like. Cole slaws and other cabbage slaws are also good bets. Raw veggies with dip are another cool idea. And for simple cooked veggie preparation, try microwave steaming as a cooler and energy-saving alternative to conventional steaming or boiling.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Dressing

Two bowls of salad with dressing on the side
Celebrating Strawberry Season

Recipe by Robin

Happy first full day of summer (for those of us in the northern hemisphere)! Hope you enjoyed your solstice yesterday.

I love serendipity. What’s not to love when you get the right answer without even knowing the question? I’d wanted to make a strawberry salad for some time, since Live Earth Farm, our CSA, is renowned for its strawberries. I wanted salty feta cheese and a variety of bitter and neutral greens to contrast with the sweet flavor of the strawberries. The spinach and arugula that were on our list to receive last week seemed perfect. However, life is not always predictable, especially when dealing with small scale local farming and Mother Nature.  Oh, the irony of having an actual use for the promised arugula (which my husband says tastes like dirt), and not having it in the fridge. And yet, digging a little deeper (literally, in the vegetable drawer), I found a reasonable substitute from past weeks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

12 Tips for Nontoxic, No-Poison Gopher Control

A Movie Star We'd Rather Not Meet, from Caddyshack

Inspired by Gophers Limited

Got gophers? If you’re a gardener in the US west of the Mississippi, you probably just said “Yes,” possibly followed by some expletive. It’s disheartening to lose the veggies that you’ve worked hard to cultivate at the hands (or the teeth) of these rascally rodents. For me, the last straw was the demise of a third lovely old English rose bush planted by a former resident. But using traditional poisons will also poison into your organic soil. Rain brings the poisons down into the water table. Poisoning gophers also poisons their natural predators such as gopher snakes, owls, bobcats, foxes and coyotes: your friends in gopher control. And of course, poison is unsafe around children and pets.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Greek Frittata with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta

Slice of Greek Frittata on Plate with Fork
Brunch is Served (Add Fruit & Muffin)

Recipe inspired by the Heavenly Café

Every couple of Sundays, and not too early, I can be seen at the nearby Heavenly Café eating their Greek Scramble with a fruit cup and a homemade muffin. Although I haven’t mastered the art of the muffin as they have, I was able to create a rather convincing Greek Scramble-like frittata today. Tomatoes aren’t quite in season here, so I did use a not-quite-seasonal ingredient. Reconstituted sundried tomatoes from last season would have been better. I tried, but my reconstituted dried tomatoes look blackish and had no smell at all. Who knows when they were dried? Before last year, and probably by quite a bit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Artichokes with Ravigote Sauce

Artichokes and Ravigote Sauce
A Beautiful Combination

Recipe inspired by The Complete Book of Herbs

Even though I had no idea what it means, ravigote is a compelling word, especially when pronounced with a French accent. According to the Huffington Post Food Encyclopedia, ravigote is derived from the verb ravigoter, meaning “to perk up,” also translated as “to give new life to.” There are two types of ravigote: warm and cold. This recipe is for a cold ravigote, which is essentially a highly flavored vinaigrette. Ravigote is often used as a topping for fish and meat, and occasionally vegetables.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thai Style Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad

Plate of Thai Chicken Salad with Fork
Summery Salad

Recipe by Robin

I have no idea where this recipe came from. Does this ever happen to you? It’s in my own writing. I found it in “The Cooking Decade,” a binder of family recipes that my older sister gave me. It’s one of the recipes that I added, and like all other Cooking Decade recipes was pre-tested and family-approved. Yet I have no recollection of making it, naming it, or writing it.

But who else would make a dressing with no oil, using simply lime juice, tamari, and garlic? Certainly not a professional chef. Doubtlessly it was created during hot weather when our CSA supplied us with plenty of Napa cabbage and we had limes on hand. On a day like today.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Green Garlic Kale with Leeks

Green Garlic Kale on Plate with Fork
Greens and More Greens

Recipe by Robin

I have a love-hate relationship with green garlic. I love the novelty of the first green garlic in spring, its mellow flavor both green-ish and garlicky, and how we can slice up the whole thing without separating it into cloves. I love celebrating the green garlic season, before garlic dries into its more familiar form. My problem? Too much green garlic! During the season we get a bunch every week from our CSA, and as time goes by the bulbs get bigger, which means increasing weekly quantity.  After the usual Pasta a l’Olio, Red Pasta Sauces, and Stir Fries, I run out of green garlic ideas.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marinated Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms with Rosemary

Grilled Portobello with Piece cut out on Fork
Tasty, Toothsome Morsel

Recipe inspired by Kelly

Did you know that Portobello mushrooms are grown-up versions of the common button mushroom that we see in US markets everywhere? And Crimini mushrooms are the same Agaricus bisporus species in adolescent form? In fact, all white and brown mushrooms cultivated in the US (except shitakes and oyster mushrooms) are varieties of this species. Button mushrooms are native to both North American and European grasslands.

Although mushrooms are now cultivated year-round, I can imagine our ancestors gathering most mushrooms in spring and summer, during warm weather with moderate to high rainfall. So, I’m thinking it’s Portobello season now, and not just because it’s BBQ season in the US!

Monday, June 4, 2012

June Veggies and Recipes

Marigolds in Pot on Front Steps
Birthday Gift to Self: Front Step Guest-Greeter

Calling All June Dragons

Although I enjoy every month for its unique gifts, if I had to choose a favorite it would be June. Longer days and warm weather boost growth in the garden. My birthday and the summer solstice are causes for celebration. School time ends and summer begins, heralding the season of vacations and staycations. The very short cherry season comes and goes, and raspberries and apricots ripen. In the northern hemisphere flowers are everywhere, both on the central CA coast and in places where winters are harsher.