Stinging Nettles Casserole

If you’re looking for a way to use up all those stinging nettles that are available just for the picking right now, here’s a recipe to try.

Stinging Nettle and Rice Casserole

  • 1 cup raw rice
  • a colander full of freshly-picked stinging nettles
  • 1 medium onion, copped
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar is good)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice. Steam the nettles. Rinse in cold water until cool enough to handle, then chop with a knife or scissors. Sauté the onions and garlic. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped nettles, sautéed onions and garlic, grated cheese, and cooked rice. Place in a greased baking dish and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This recipe could also be made with spinach or any other greens you have available.

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Refrigerator Pickles

I was thinking the other day about the delicious refrigerator pickles I made last summer when cucumbers were abundant, and feeling sad that I would have to wait many more months before tasting them again. Then I realized – why wait, when I have a bag full of locally-grown beets in the fridge right now. I mean, pickled beets, right? I figured I could use the same recipe for pickling the beets as I used for the cucumbers. So I did, and they came out great.

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Cucumbers or beets, these pickles make delicious snacks, add sparkle to sandwiches, taste great on cheese and crackers, are delicious however you eat them. You can use the leftover brine for salad dressing, as part or all of the liquid in a bread recipe, or for livening up soups and stews.

Refrigerator Pickles

  • 1 lb cucumbers or beets 
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water (you can use the cooking water from the beets)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each mustard seed, peppercorns, ground turmeric

Slice the vegetables. If using beets, peel them first and steam the slices until tender, about 15 minutes. Pack the vegetables into two clean pint jars. Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer, while stirring, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the brine over the vegetables in the jars. Put on the lids, let the jars cool, then put in the refrigerator. Wait 24 hours before eating. These should last about a month in the refrigerator, unless you eat them before then, which you probably will.

 

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Carrot Greens

When you come home from the Farmer’s Market, the CSA, or your own garden with a bunch of fresh carrots, don’t discard the carrot greens. They are delicious and nutritious and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Here are some ways to use carrot greens:

  1. Add them to a stir-fry
  2. Roast them with other vegetables
  3. Make carrot greens pesto
  4. Add them to a green salad
  5. Use them in place of lettuce in sandwich
  6. Make a carrot greens omelet
  7. Make a carrot greens pizza

Here’s a recipe that uses both the carrots and their greens.

Spicy Carrots and Greens

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp each turmeric, coriander, cumin
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced, and their greens

Sauté the garlic and onions with a small amount of oil in a large frying pan for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Mix in the spices and cook another minute or two. Add the carrots, stir to coat with the spices, and cook until they are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the greens and cook until the carrots and greens are as tender as you like them. You can add small amounts of water while cooking if needed to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice or the grain of your choice.

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Bee Balm Bread

bee balm flower

Bee balm is an unusually pretty garden flower, attractive to bees and hummingbirds, as well as to gardeners. It has a delightful fragrance reminiscent of oregano and mint. I dry some bee balm every summer to make a fragrant tea to enjoy all winter long. It is not only tasty but is also supposed to be antimicrobial and soothing to the nerves.

Bee balm is also used in cooking. It can be used to flavor meat, tossed into salads, and added to biscuit and muffin recipes. Today I added it to a whole wheat bread recipe. It came out sooooooooo tasty. Here are the ingredients I used.:

  • 1  1/2 cups water
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 cup bee balm petals and leaves
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups white bread flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 1/2 t yeast

Here are the ingredients in the pan:

be balm bread

I made the bread in my bread machine. You can do the same, following the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine, or you can follow your usual procedure for making bread by hand, or you can just use your favorite whole wheat bread recipe adding 1 cup of bee balm petals and leaves to a two-loaf recipe.  However you make it, it is sure to come out delicious, especially when you eat it fresh out of the oven with butter.

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Savory Sautéed Apples

This is another great year for apples. Not only are there free apples everywhere, literally just for the picking, but they are also showing up in my CSA basket. So I figured it’s time to move beyond apples for breakfast and dessert and make some into a main dish for dinner. Here’s what we had the other night:

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Savory Sautéed Apples

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 large apples, cored and sliced
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t dried thyme or rosemary
  • sausage, bacon, or ham (optional)

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Add the apples, balsamic vinegar, and thyme/rosemary. Continue cooking until the apples are tender, about 5-10 minutes. If you want, during the last few minutes of cooking add two small sliced sausages (I use garlic sausage), 4 strips of cooked, crumbled bacon, or 1 cup of diced ham. Serve with the grain of your choice.

Local analysis:

Local – apples and onions (from CSA), garlic and rosemary  (from my garden)

Non local – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sausage

 

 

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Stinging Nettle Pancakes

Here’s a fun recipe to try if you have a good supply of stinging nettles available.

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Stinging Nettle Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 3-4 cups loosely packed stinging nettles

Whisk together the milk, eggs, and salt. Stir in the flour and then the melted butter. Steam the nettles for 4-5 minutes in boiling water. Remove from pot and reserve the cooking water. Run the nettles under cold water until cool enough to handle, then drain, squeeze out the excess water, and chop. Add the chopped nettles to the batter.

These can be cooked like regular pancakes on a griddle, or cook like crepes, one at a time in a small frying pan.  Serve with butter, jam, applesauce, or anything else you like, and mugs of nettle tea (the cooking water you reserved).

If you still have some nettles leftover after making these pancakes, check out more ideas for cooking with nettles here and here. Or, make more pancakes!

Local Analysis of last night’s pancakes

Local: stinging nettles (picked near my house), eggs, milk, and butter (from local farms via co-op)

Non-local: flour, salt

 

 

 

 

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Crabapple Sauce Bread

Crabapple trees are abundant in my neighborhood, and I’ve written in the past about using the fruit to make crabapple sauce. You can use crabapple sauce in baking in the same way you would use applesauce. I always make a large batch and freeze it in half-pint containers. Then I can enjoy eating and baking with it all year round.

Here’s a recipe for a tasty quick bread using crabapple sauce. Of course, you could use applesauce instead if that is what you have available.

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Crabapple Sauce Bread

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger
  • 1/4 tsp each nutmeg, allspice, cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 c olive oil (or other oil)
  • 1/4 c plain yogurt
  • 1 c crabapple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts

Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until well combined. Beat in the oil, yogurt, crabapple sauce, and vanilla. Fold in the flour and nuts. Bake in a greased bread pan at 350° for 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely

Local analysis of the loaf I made last week

Local – crabapple sauce (from my freezer, made last fall from fruit from neighborhood trees), eggs (from local farm via co-op), yogurt (homemade from milk from local farm via co-op)

Non Local – flours, baking soda, spices, salt, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, walnuts

 

 

 

 

 

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Tomato/Tomatillo Soup

Summertime, with bees busily buzzing in the herb garden and tomatoes ripening in the sunshine, seems so far away on an icy February day. Fortunately, while summer was still here, I stocked my freezer and shelves with garden products, and the other day I used some of them to make a tasty tomato/tomatillo soup.

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Here are the tomatillos, still frosty from the freezer.

Tomato/Tomatillo Soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups diced tomatillos (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 3 cups diced red tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 t oregano
  • 2 t cumin
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • salt to taste

Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, about five minutes. Stir in the tomatillos, tomatoes, corn, broth, and spices. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer, covered, 20- 30 minutes. Add the beans and rice and cook a few more minutes until they are heated through. Add more water as needed (or the cooking water from the beans) and salt taste.

Local analysis of this week’s soup:

Local – garlic, oregano (from my garden), tomatillos (from neighbor’s garden via my freezer), corn (from farmer’s market via my freezer), broth (homemade from vegetable scraps)

Non local – canned tomatoes, cumin, beans, rice, salt

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Baking with Red Clover

Red clover grows in abundance around here. It is, after all, the state flower. I harvest the blossoms in the summer and dry them for winter use. Combined with peppermint and lemon balm they make a tasty tea.

I read somewhere recently that you can use red clover in baking, substituting it for up to 25% of your flour, so I decided to give it a try in a loaf of whole wheat bread.

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Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 1 5/8 cups water
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white bread flour
  • 3/4 cup dried clover blossoms
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 1/2 t yeast

I made this bread in my bread machine. If you want to do the same, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you prefer to make bread by hand, you can just follow your usual steps.

The red clover added a nice, light texture to the bread and probably also some vitamins and minerals. It also gave it a higher percentage of local ingredients (always my goal, of course).  I think the bread was quite tasty (even though the red clover did not seem to make any difference to the flavor) and I plan to make it again. I’m also thinking about what else I could bake with red clover. I might try biscuits next.

Local analysis:

  • Local – red clover blossoms (wild harvested near my house), maple syrup and butter (from local farms), water
  • Non local – flour, salt, yeast

 

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Green Tomatoes with Fresh Baby Ginger and Turmeric

Fresh baby ginger and turmeric are harvested while the roots are still young and tender and before the skin has formed. The flavor is much milder than that of the mature root. They can be used to flavor rice, stir fries, soups, and many other dishes. You may find  fresh baby ginger or turmeric at your local farmer’s market or in your CSA basket. Recently, I have been lucky enough to find both in my CSA basket. This week’s basket contained some green tomatoes, as well. So the obvious thing to do was to cook them all together.

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Green Tomatoes with Fresh Baby Ginger and Turmeric

  • 1 leek (or large onion), thinly sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 3 T minced fresh baby ginger*
  • 3 T minced fresh baby turmeric*
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4 medium green tomatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
  • salt to taste

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Saute the onion in a small amount of oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric and cook 5 minutes more. Add the green pepper and green tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally . Add salt to taste. You can add a small amount of water to keep the tomatoes from sticking to the pan if needed. Serve with rice or the grain of your choice.

*If fresh baby ginger and turmeric are not available, you can use the mature root, but since the flavor is stronger, reduce the amount by about half. Alternatively, you can use ground dry ginger and turmeric, 1 teaspoon of each.

Local analysis of the dish I made last night:

Local – everything from the CSA except the salt and oil!

 

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