Archive for May, 2008

This is what a good egg looks like.

goodegg.JPGThis is a good egg. A tasty egg. A nutritious egg.

See how the yolk is practically orange?

That’s because the chicken pecked all around in grass and weeds, eating bugs and plants and whatever it could scratch on 8 acres of pasture down the road at the Greenville Garden.

There’s just no comparing this kind of egg to the pale imitation you get from a confined chicken, even an organic one. You don’t need laboratory tests to tell you that these eggs are miles better. You can see it. You can taste it.

This little egg was destined for rice fritters.

I’m trying to use up last year’s garden vegetables that are still in the freezer. Frozen (thawed) grated zucchini is perfect for rice fritters. (You can also use just about any kind of vegetable leftovers — rice fritters are versatile!)

First, squeeze the water out of the zucchini (save it for soups and rice and such).

Mix the zucchini with rice and enough egg to hold it all together. (You may need to add a little flour if your rice isn’t very sticky.)

Add salt and spices — I like chopped garlic and a bit of hot paprika.

To fry the fritters, get a heavy pan (preferably cast-iron) thoroughly hot over medium heat, and add some oil or fat (I use our home-rendered lard). Spoon the batter into the pan, and wait until the fritters are set before you try to turn them. Cook them until they’re nicely browned on both sides.

I love these fritters with yogurt-garlic sauce. But then, I love just about everything with yogurt-garlic sauce. (Yogurt-garlic sauce is easy: just add chopped or pounded garlic to some yogurt and salt to taste. It’s especially wonderful with goat or sheep yogurt.)

Happy frittering!

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Spring greens: bamboo shoots.

bambooshoots.JPGThis month’s herbal blog party theme is “Spring Greens,” hosted by Darcey.

This spring I happen to be living next to a massive bamboo windbreak. Now, this is not something I would have planted myself — bamboo is overwhelmingly invasive and pretty much impossible to control — but since it’s established here, we’re doing our best to control it by eating the shoots!

These bamboo shoots are not like the ones you find in cans at the store. First of all, they have a lovely fresh, almost pea-like flavor. They’re also hollow in the center — you slice them into pretty little circles.

To harvest fresh bamboo shoots, just break them off at the ground when they’re about a foot tall. Peel off the tough skin, and slice. Most recipes call for soaking overnight or parboiling to remove bitterness and potential toxins, though our bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) is not bitter at all.

We’ve loved ours in miso soup and in stir-fries, and I’ve been pickling them too.

Yesterday I made a half-gallon of spicy Indian-style bamboo pickle. It’s hot and tart and crunchy — wonderful with flatbread or papadums.

Now, I didn’t really measure anything, but this is the basic gist of what I did:

Harvest, slice, and parboil bamboo shoots. Drain.

Saute a bunch of whole or almost-whole (if they’re big) garlic cloves in a good amount of oil. (Mustard oil is traditional, but you could use a neutral liquid oil like sunflower oil or non-roasted sesame oil if you need to.)

Add a whole lot of hot pepper, a bunch of mustard, some black pepper, a bit of asafoetida, plenty of salt, and other spices to taste. (I used some cinnamon, cumin, and fenugreek.)

Add the bamboo shoots, some sliced lemon, and enough lemon juice to make it nice and sour. (The liquid surrounding the bamboo shoots should be thick, but not too stiff. Cook it down or add more oil, lemon juice, or water if you need to. It should be pretty oily.)

Taste. Adjust the spices and the texture. (Keep in mind that the flavors will mellow as the pickle sits.)

Bottle.

Let it sit at least overnight.

Enjoy!

Tips:

The pickle will keep in the fridge for a long time if you make sure there’s always a film of oil covering the top.

If you want to can your pickle, you should probably use a pressure canner — I’m not sure it’s acidic enough for a water bath.

Next: The nature of bamboo, and a very different pickle.

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Twitter twitter, tweet tweet.

So, I’m trying out this twitter thing, aka microblogging.

(Guido,  Kiva and Darcey have been doing it too, which makes it more fun — a little virtual herbalist party.)

I’m posting about the food I’m cooking and whatever herbal mischief I’m up to at the moment.

I’m going to try to put the feed on the blog, too, but that may take me a few days.

In the meantime, enjoy the minutiae!

PS: The May blog party theme is Spring Greens, hosted by Darcey. Posts are due May 15th.

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Drink your lawn: blender juice.

blenderjuice.JPGThere was a nasty, hot, lung-drying bug going around these parts this spring. Turns out the perfect thing for it is one of your lawn’s best-kept secrets: blender juice.

Specifically, blender juice made of cooling, soothing, mucilaginous plants. Plantains (Plantago spp.), chickweed (Stellaria media), violets (Viola spp.), and mallows (Malva spp.) are especially nice.

(This combination is also wonderful for hot, irritated digestive systems — think ulcers, “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” / IBS, and other inflammatory conditions.)

Making blender juice is a great way to get the fresh, green, cooling properties from just about any plant.

Here’s how to do it:

Pick your plants.

Rinse them off if you need to.

Toss them in the blender with a bit of water.

Blend.

I like to let them sit for a while to infuse, then blend a little more and strain. But you can just go ahead and strain after the first blending if you need to.

Drink.

(Hot tip: mallow/plantain/chickweed/violet blender juice is wonderful sponged on a sunburn.)

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