Fresh-From-the-Garden Stir-Fry

OKRA PODS
OKRA PODS

 

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil into a skillet over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, toss in lots of sliced garlic, fresh string beans cut into 2” slices, thickly sliced okra, whole sugar snap peas, maybe a few greens like kale, chard, mustards, or even arugula, plus any other veggie you happen to pick from your garden.

If you have carrots or little beets, add a few of those for color, flavor, and nutrition. Add whatever herbs and spices you enjoy – or none at all.

I like my veggies slightly underdone, but when they are the way you like them, an optional finale is to shake in a tad of balsamic vinegar or some red pepper flakes for a bit of extra flavor.

I literally went out and picked a few string beans as the oil was heating up when I made this dish for lunch last week! Now that’s fresh!

Except for the garlic (plus the olive oil and balsamic vinegar), everything comes out of my own garden. I plan to put out garlic this winter, however. There is an old saying that you plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, then harvest it on the longest day. No one knows exactly where that saying comes from, but it’s a good guide.

Also, I don’t mince garlic – I slice it, or quarter it! Can you tell I like my garlic? It’s good for you, too.

When this is all ready for eating, dump into a bowl and eat with chopsticks so you don’t gobble it down too fast. Take time to enjoy the flavors. This is definitely a heart-healthy meal.

A hui hou!

Quick Coffee Cake

 

Twelve of my married years were as a Navy wife. As some of you know, that role carries a fairly heavy responsibility, especially if your husband is an officer, as mine was. You had to be able to whip up a quick snack if company stopped by unexpectedly. I could mix it up and have it ready to serve before they left. Sometimes I just needed an extra something to go with our breakfast coffee or afternoon tea, and occasionally I was required to bring something for a potluck.

I’m not sure who gave me the recipe for this quick coffee cake originally, but I’ve used it for fifty years or more. It seems to be one of those “hot from the oven” things that is appropriate any time of day or night.

Quick Coffee Cake

Mix 2 ½ cups unbleached flour, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup canola oil. Mix well and set aside one cup of it for the topping.

To the remainder, add 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 egg, 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup sweet milk into which you add 1 tablespoon vinegar to curdle it), and add a teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix this and pour into an ungreased pan. Put on the cup of topping you saved back, spreading all around, adding ½ cup nuts.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until done, at 350 degree. Serve hot with coffee. Makes an oblong glass sheet pan full for 8-12 servings.

Lucy’s Note: Whenever I end up with a little bit of leftover milk that is almost sour, I freeze it and keep it handy to use for recipes that call for either buttermilk or sour milk. Because I live in a fairly isolated area, I can’t always run to a grocery store. Writing this made me hungry. Maybe I’ll make a batch to have handy for my company this week.

A hui hou!

Turnip and Mustard Greens


MUSTARD GREENS PATCH

 

My brother Hilton has talked about turnip greens in his blog, using a down-home recipe from our Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. Since I’m fixing a “mess o’ greens” today out of my garden, I thought you might enjoy reading a little blurb from our dad that I happened to find the other day. It comes from a little cookbook he and Mother were putting together for their church folk. Here it is in his words.

Turnip greens were what mama used to serve with southern smothered fried chicken, fluffy white rice, and creamy chicken gravy. (Sometimes she served collard greens, but we didn’t like them so well.)

When she cooked turnip greens, she’d have one of us children run out to the garden and bring in about 4 pounds of young turnips and their green tops. These were well washed and drained to remove the red Mississippi sand.

Then she boiled ¼ piece of salt pork (chopped up) in a quart of water for 15 minutes, and added the turnip greens, a pot of hot pepper, which she always kept growing in a pot on our front porch, and slowly boiled all together an hour and a half more. (The younger greens cook quicker than more mature greens, so take them off the stove when tender.)

Before serving, she cut the greens a few times across with a paring knife, before spooning into a bowl to go to the table. This served six of us.

Pepper sauce (hot red peppers soaked in vinegar in small bottles for a few weeks) is good poured on turnip greens for an extra flavor.

Lucy’s note: I happen to love a combination of collards and mustards or turnips, but perhaps collards are a more acquired taste than mustards, although some people don’t like the peppery taste of either one. I also love to make beet greens. When I harvest my beets, I use the greens that same day, and save the beets for the following day. In the South, they have a special kind of pepper sauce bottle that sits on every table, not only at home, but also in restaurants. I can’t eat turnip greens without it.

I have one more comment on the difference between Hilton’s greens and Daddy’s recipe I give here. Our dad grew up in a poor preacher’s home in rural Mississippi. While Hilton and I might put ham hocks or bacon in our greens, I suspect that Daddy’s family could barely afford to find a little piece of salt pork. The bottom line is that you start with the greens and add whatever kind of smoky meat you happen to have on hand.

How I fixed my greens today:
I put half a rasher of bacon (cut in large pieces) and my mess o’ greens (cut in large pieces) into a large skillet and let it cook. About 15 minutes before it was ready, I cut up a small red potato and added it to the mix. I sat down and ate the entire thing all by myself for lunch! I’m still reeling from the wonderful flavor! After that pig-out, it’s time for a nap, I think.


SKILLET OF GREENS AND BACON

 

If you are growing any kind of greens, or if you pick up a “mess” at your local farmers’ market or grocery store, you might try any of these three ways of fixing them.

A hui hou!

Treasure Chest Cake

Welcome to my new mid-week post! This is designed to do several things:

To begin with, over the past year or longer, I have talked often about various foods without giving you the recipe. In these posts, I will give you the recipe that comes closest to being what I talk about, or what I had in mind.

Especially here in our island state that relies heavily on imported goods, we are working toward better self-sustainability. So another purpose for these mid-week posts will be to share ideas with you on how you can use what you grow or buy locally.

Then, I have many recipes that have been handed down from several generations back, plus recipes that have been given to me by church members – recipes for food they have brought to church suppers or shared with my clergy family over the generations. These are too good to lose, and they may bring you a bit of nostalgia as well.

If these mid-week recipes coax you into cooking or bring up memories, then I will have done my job! Please share your thoughts and feelings with me.

I’m going to start with a family favorite that came to my grandmother Pearl from one of the church members. The copy I have was written out by my mother on the back of an old church bulletin cover. I will copy the exact words and comments she adds in parentheses in the recipe, including her underlining. A lot of the ingredients as well as her comments bring a chuckle every time I read through them.

Pearl’s Treasure Chest Cake
(I always make twice this batch, some to eat hot and some to serve later)

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening (cold bacon grease, or Crisco either, or combined)
1 egg
1 c. sour milk (put 1 tablespoon vinegar into 1 c. sweet milk)
1 scant teaspoon soda
2 c. flour
½ teaspoon allspice and a dash of cinnamon

Grind 1 whole orange rind and 1 c. raisins and add, along with the juice from the orange, to the batter, pour into greased, floured pan, and bake slowly 325˚ oven, until your finger doesn’t stay down on the bottom of pan if you test it! I use twice as much orange rind as this and more juice or water so it’s more moist.

Can add nuts if desired and budget allows. (I save up orange rinds from several meals then add some frozen juice and water sometimes.)

Lucy’s Note:
She doesn’t say what size pan to use, but a double batch does go into a 9X12 pan. Also, I would probably not use Crisco or bacon grease, but maybe one of the newer, healthier margarines. Sometimes I substitute canola oil for recipes that call for shortening, but here I think it doesn’t need the extra fluid. The extra orange juice makes this extremely moist and rich. The word “cake” could be misleading because it’s really not like a traditional cake. I cut it into squares and serve as a desert, maybe with a little Cool Whip on top, but it’s very dark and rich all on its own. As a child, I ate this so many times when one of our bishops came to visit, or when we took it to a church potluck supper.

Tiptoe through the…Sweet Peas?

 

I must have gotten to the market on California Avenue in Palo Alto too late in the season to see tulips, but there were plenty of other flowers to enjoy! The sweet aroma of huge bunches of sweet peas was almost overpowering. These in the above photo gave my room a wonderful ambience.

Other flowers that were in great abundance were the gerberas, iris, roses, dahlias and so many other spring blooms.

 

Brilliant yellow iris filled buckets everywhere I looked, almost in competition with the various colors of the cauliflower in the background.

 

Flowers everywhere! Of course, I was so envious of any farmer who had enough good soil to grow this kind of beauty. When I got home, however, I was happy to see so many of my canna, daylilies, and gladiolus bulbs had grown. I’ll show those on next week’s post.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many Canterbury Bells in one spot in my life! The color combination of these blossoms with raspberries was like eye candy for the soul.

 

Even though I live in “orchid land,” I still get a thrill at the sight of the Phaleonopsis (also spelled Phalaeonopsis), also often called the moth orchid.

 

I was pleased to see a display of eco-pots. Produced by the Sweetwater Nursery in Sepastapol, these pots can replace your clay or plastic pots. They are made of substances that are by-products of renewable and sustainable crops. Even when they can no longer be used, the pots are biodegradable.

 

Cole Canyon Farm had so many wonderful varieties of herbs. Please visit their site for information on purchasing and growing not only herbs, but veggies and fruits. I was especially interested in this display of mints. I didn’t know there were so many varieties. I want to taste them all!

 

I wanted to bring home one of each of these! I’ve looked all over for seeds for some of these varieties.

 

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these aromatic thymes, mostly because the saying by the famous “anonymous” is so correct! I may start using that as part of my signature on emails. Currently, I use “live gently on the earth,” another philosophy I attempt to adhere to.

 

This basket of basil looks like the profusion of sweet basil I grow in my own garden. I will soon make up a big batch of fresh pesto when I harvest mine. I can’t use up enough of it on a daily basis.

 

The New Natives company started out almost thirty years ago with wheatgrass as their original product. Since then, they have branched out into all kinds of healthy sprouts. This crop is experiencing renewed popularity. You can read about some of the health benefits here.

 

I need to tell you that there is so much more at this market than just fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. These next few photos come in the “miscellaneous” category, but they are as important as anything else I’ve talked about in these posts.

For example, who couldn’t resist having fresh pasta?

 

I absolutely adore fresh oysters! Too bad that we have to import our oysters from Washington and the East Coast here.

 

In Hawaii, we have our “huli huli chicken” – an enormous rotisserie along the side of the road that sends delicious smells into your open car window as you drive by. At this California market, I found RoliRoti Chicken.

 

Of course, no one can go to the Bay Area without eating hot sour dough bread. Pardon me while I drool for a few minutes!

 

At the end of the rows of produce, there was this musician giving us a background that was totally in keeping with the ambience of the market.

 

I’ll end this series on the California Avenue Farmers’ Market with a scene that is familiar to those who live in the Bay Area, or visit there often. I think most people understand when I say that I both miss it and don’t miss it. In case you want to go back and check out the other two in this series, go here and here.

 

Next week, I’m going to give you a break from California and show you an update of my garden. Things are beginning to grow again.

In the meantime, you might like to enjoy a slideshow of the California Avenue photos all in one place.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf
Click here to see a full sized slide show.

A hui hou!

 

“This land is our land . . .”


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SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS

 

. . . from the redwood forest . . .

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE&hl=en&fs=1&%5D

 

Who among us doesn’t remember singing along and feeling proud of our countryside? It was an era of protesting the educational system, the government, the war, the “establishment” in general, and anything else we could protest, but we loved our land – the unique geography that makes up these United States.

In fact, there is a movement to change our National Anthem to something more sing-able. I cast my vote for “This Land Is Your Land.”

During the past few weeks while I was in California, I re-visited the coastal range where I’d spent so much time during the 70s and 80s. Some of those years were spent in the San Francisco Bay Area and some were along the Central Coast of San Luis Obispo County, but it’s all fairly similar.

Winding through the streets from Palo Alto toward the Pacific Ocean, I felt the same sense of freedom that I had so many decades ago. Much has changed, but the terrain will remain the same forever, I think.

Because I was at the wheel, I couldn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to, so mostly they exist only in my mind’s eye. I was able to stop and get a few shots, however.

One of the stopping points along the crest was the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. This sign warns visitors what to do in case they encounter a mountain lion.


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WINDY HILL OPEN SPACE PRESERVE

 

Beyond the sign, a path led into the preserve area. The sky was just as beautiful as I remember it. We used to call the hills “golden,” even though they were basically just “brown.” I still love those golden rolling slopes.


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ON THE TRAIL

 

This preserve of 1,312 acres includes 12.2 miles of trail. Please check this link to read more about it.


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MAP OF THE PRESERVE

 

If you carefully cross the road from the parking area, you get a spectacular view of the Peninsula.


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VIEWS ACROSS THE PENINSULA

 

Another stop along the drive was by a restaurant that was closed for the day. It was explained to me about the “second-growth” redwoods. As you can see here, there is a cluster of trees around a bare piece of ground. The original old redwood was either logged out over 150 years ago or could have been hit by lightning. These new “baby trees” sprouted up around where the mother tree had been.


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MORE SECOND GROWTH REDWOODS

 

The opening photo gives another perspective on a grove of second-growth trees. These magnificent trees may be relatively young, but they still take my breath away – and make me proud that they are a part of my country.


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VIEW THROUGH THE REDWOODS

 

The tops of the trees just seem to reach toward the sky for an eternity!


REACHING FOR THE SKY

 

When I stopped for gas at a crossroads, I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a shot of Alice’s Restaurant! This is not the restaurant that inspired Arlo Guthrie’s song of protest against war. In fact, it is the other way around – this restaurant took its name from the song. The original “Alice’s Restaurant” was in Massachusetts. It seemed appropriate somehow, to include this bit of nostalgia here.


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ALICE’S RESTAURANT

 

We had lunch at Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero – a busy spot where some of the very finest food can be found. I started with a bowl of Cream of Green Chili Soup, a dish I’m going to experiment with making at home. It was heavenly, but there was no way they were going to give me the recipe! I followed the soup with a fried oyster roll. It’s hard to say which was better! A dessert of warm Ollieberry pie with ice cream was shared with my friend.

Even though I live in “Paradise,” there is a lot about California I miss. What I do not miss is the traffic, which has gotten worse since I left. I’ve become too accustomed to a more casual lifestyle. Still, I intend to keep visiting whenever I get the chance.

Today, we could write more verses to add to our song that would include our island state of Hawai`i, or our northernmost state of Alaska. All fifty states are worth going to see! If you have never been to California, it’s worth braving the crowds and traffic to see a special part of our incredible country. “This land was made for you and me.”

You might enjoy watching a video of a this modern-day song that reminds us of what our country is and what it stands for on this Fourth of July Weekend.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBZSBGHm0RY&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999%5D

 

A hui hou!

 

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