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August, 2007:

What’s on the menu this week . . . Aug 31 – Sept 6 2007

What’s on the menu this week . . . Aug 31 – Sept 6
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 9/1/2007 6:47 AM and is filed under uncategorized

Sweet potatoes are a top ten power food . . .

Asian Pears
Purple Muscadines
Purple hull peas
‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes
Mustard Greens
Freshly dug sweet potatoes
Banana peppers
Orange Bell Peppers
Jalepeno peppers
Tabasco peppers for pepper sauce
Farm fresh eggs
Freshly stone-ground Miller County cornmeal – Williams Family Cornbread mix

Fresh basil
Fresh chives
Fresh rosemary

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Bitter Melon – Tried it, Stir-fried it . . .

Bitter Melon – Tried it, Stir-fried it . . .
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/18/2007 4:44 PM and is filed under uncategorized

The votes are in.  Four votes were counted: one in favor, one against, two abstained and had grilled cheese.  So it’s a draw.  But this is not in doubt, the bitter melon is one strange and interesting vegetable.  It is as weird inside as it is on the outside.  I was prepared for its innards because I read about “crimson seeds”, but the sight was still shocking.  The plump lipstick red slick seeds are in a cavity filled with white moist fuzz-like fibers.  The fibers and seed coating are very sweet.  I dutifully scraped it all out, sliced the melon into thin slices, and went on to the bitterness reducing measures recommended on various websites, such as wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_melon and the National Bitter Melon Council <a href=”http://www.bittermelon.org.”>www.bittermelon.org.</a>  I salted the melon slices and let them drain in a colander for a couple of hours.  Then I rinsed the salt off, and parboiled the slices in several cups of water, and drained that off.  I was left with a pile of green stuff that was quite tender, but had lost its beautiful lime green brightness.  And it was very bitter.

So making this stir fry was an all day affair.  I set the pork to marinating early in the day.  Kandan had cut up a large boneless pork roast into thin slices, and I cut the slices into ribbons (which was a pleasure to do since he sharpened my favorite knife – thanks, dear) and put it in the fridge with soy sauce and a little sherry.  Since I was so pleased with my pork ribbons, I decided to cut everything up into these thin strips.  Throughout the day, when I felt like working on it, I cut up a huge pile of red bell pepper, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, and a lot of fresh ginger (about 3 T finely chopped) and garlic.  And one whole spicy pepper.  I wished for broccoli, but had none.  I don’t know how I would have make that into a ribbon anyway.  I had a hard enough time with the mushrooms!  Since many of the recipes I read had egg as an ingredient, I decided to try this.  I scrambled one egg and cooked it without stirring until almost firm, then flipped it and finished the cooking.  Then I cut that into strips, like everything else.  It added a nice golden color.

I made the sauce and had to taste the sherry to make sure it was still good and ended up tasting way too much of that.  I admit to being a little woozy as I made the sauce, but here it is:

I mixed it up in a measuring cup, starting with

-almost 1/2 cup soy sauce, then add
-enough sherry to make it measure 1/2 cup
-1 t sugar, heaping
-3 t rice wine vinegar
-2 T toasted sesame oil
-1 t red pepper flakes
-3 T cornstarch mixed with 2T water

The sauce is added at the end.

The quantity of pork was 1 pound, and the quantity of vegetables was enough to fill a large dinner plate to heaping.

Of course home stir frying is never as effective as it would be in a restaurant, our stoves just cant match the BTU’s needed.  I do my best by cranking my gas burner up to high, and heating my biggest cast iron skillet to smoking.  Use plenty of oil, and fry in small batches.  Set the cooked food aside on a platter, just keep piling the batches up on top of each other.  I think a good pair of tongs are indispensable in the kitchen, and I use these to stir the food and transfer the cooked food to the platter.

So, anyway, I cooked the pork strips in two batches, and the cut was perfect.  It cooked so fast, and was so thin that it evenly distributed the meat throughout the dish.  The ribbon may be my standard cut of stir fry meat from now on.

I did the veggies in three batches.  Err on the side of rawness, because they will get warmed again with the sauce, and you want them crispy and fresh. Then dump everything back in the pan, and pour the sauce over.  You have to stir consistently at this point, because the sauce needs to coat everything and not clump.  As soon as it is thickened and glossy, turn off the heat and serve.  We ate ours with brown rice, but any rice you like is fine.  Don’t eat the hot pepper!

Since there was violent opposition to the bitter melon from my dinner companion, I kept it to the side, and as I was plating my meal, I put the cooked melon on the rice before I spooned on the stir fry.  I found that it had a distinctive, but not unpleasing, bitter taste that didn’t overwhelm the other flavors when used in small amounts.   I wouldn’t want to have to live on bitter melon alone, but if I were transported to a culture whose cuisine had a lot of this bitter flavor, I think I would come to like it very much.

I do not intend to repeat the ribboning theme with my stir fry vegetables.  I prefer the look of the different shapes, each suiting the nature of the individual vegetable.    But with the meat it was a great discovery.

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What’s on the menu this week . . .

What’s on the menu this week . . .
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/10/2007 4:53 AM and is filed under uncategorized

August 10-16, 2007

Yellow watermelon
Banana peppers
Italian Roasting peppers
Yellow summer squash
Zucchini squash, including yellow ‘Gold Rush’
Slicing tomatoes
‘Rellano’ Anaheim pepper
Bell peppers
Jalepeno peppers and cayenne peppers
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Farm fresh eggs
Fresh basil – for the tomatoes

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Chiles Rellenos

Chiles Rellenos
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/10/2007 6:04 PM and is filed under uncategorized

This recipe is from the Saveur Cooks Authentic American cookbook, by the editors of Saveur Magazine, published by Chronicle Books.  I bought this book for the pretty pictures, but it has actually been a very valuable reference book.

Here is a link to the exact recipe in my book, along with a clever slideshow of the pretty pictures.  The chiles that I made looked just like the ones in these pictures.  It was pretty amazing . . .

www.saveur.com/cooking/ethnic-specialties/making-chiles-rellenos–49568.html
The changes I will make next time I cook this dish are to put more salt in the egg batter ( the recipe calls for a pinch, but I would us 1/2 t), and I will use the sharpest cheddar cheese I can procure, not the monterey jack that is called for – it is too mild.

I used the same batter to make stuffed jalapenos (like a Jalepeno Popper), of course you don’t need to peel them first, and they have to be deep fried because they aren’t flat.  They were delicious, and the jalepeno mellows alot when cooked this way.  It is the only way that I have ever made them without the batter falling off in the hot oil.

Have fun with the Chiles Rellenos, and I am going to see if any of my other favorite recipes from my book can be found on the Saveur magazine site . . .

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Watching your food grow

Watching your food grow
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/8/2007 5:57 AM and is filed under uncategorized

Here are squash seedlings,
ready to be set out in the garden.

Squash are some of the most rewarding seedlings to grow – if you want to start a plant with a kid this is the one to try.  It is as close to instant gratification as it gets, I think.  The seeds are large and easy to handle, the germination is very rapid, only a few days (not like the parsley that you see in the empty packs in the picture – it can take three weeks or more to sprout).  When the sprout comes up, it is usually wearing the hard outer seed coat, like a hat.  You can see this in the picture, in the lower left, a tiny seedling with a patch of bright white.  The hat falls off, and the seed leaves emerge, joyously green and very distinct from the true leaf, which emerges a couple of days later.  I don’t know if squash sprouts are edible, but they look like they would be delicious, maybe sauteed.  I might have to try that!

So, this past weekend we set out squash and more tomatoes.  It is so hot that I can only stand to be out in the garden planting in the evening, and besides it is better for the seedlings not to be transplanted in the heat of the day.  We also have three kinds of beans growing, an Italian heirloom bean “Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco,” a french fillet bean, and a snap bean.  I have some very tiny seedlings in pots for the scallions we will be eating this winter (hopefully!).

So that’s some of what is going on in the garden this morning . . .

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On the menu this week August 3-9, 2007

On the menu this week August 3-9, 2007
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/7/2007 6:04 AM and is filed under uncategorized
Vine ripened cantaloupe
Banana peppers
Yellow summer squash
Asian white summer squash
Zucchini summer squash, including yellow ‘Gold Rush’
Slicing tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Okra
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Farm fresh eggs
Fresh basil – for the tomatoes

______________________________________________

The asian squash was interesting.  I have never seen or eaten this vegetable before I got it last week from a grower whose farm is in northern Miller County.  It had good flavor.   I grilled mine and it was more like a yellow squash than a zucchini.  Very moist.  The skin was so tender that it didn’t hold up well to transport or packing.  Alot of scratches.  If I get this again I will have to pack it in towels find some way to get it home without scratching.

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Another baby goat . . .

Another baby goat . . .
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/7/2007 6:14 AM and is filed under uncategorized

An armload of goats

He finally arrived – in this picture he is the lower goat, with the larger white marking on the forehead.  He is five days old now (8-7-07) but in the picture he is one day old.  As you can see he is already as big as Cookie, and he is very active.  The midday heat is hard for him but he is getting better every day.  We call him “Cracker.”  He will be a wether (a neutered male goat).  He and Cookie look like twins, and since the mothers came from the same herd I suspect they have the same father.

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Anticipation

Anticipation
Posted by Georgiaberry Mobley at 8/1/2007 7:06 AM and is filed under uncategorized

This is why gardeners love to read seed catalogs – anticipation.  Mmmmm, what are we going to grow so that we can EAT IT!  I don’t see why I should have all the fun – you’ll be eating it, too.

So here is some of what I am ordering to plant for fall and winter.

First and foremost is SALAD, and I mean lettuce, red and green, romaine and buttercrunch, mixed baby greens and whole heads and mini heads and big leaves for making wraps, and mesclun – a spicy eureopean salad mix.  We have a grower with a greenhouse, so we should have access to lettuce all winter.

Then we will have finger food – and by that I mean veggies that you can just eat raw and fresh, like carrots (3 kinds) and radishes (‘Easter Egg’ and ‘Icicle’ and french breakfast types), and sugar pod peas and snow peas – kids love these peas, they are like garden candy.

We will be trying brocolli and cauliflower – ours is not the ideal climate for these but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

And scallions.

And greens – I long for greens during the heat of summer.  Besides our southern favorites, turnip greens and mustard greens (don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the prep for these, and they are delicious) we will have the asian greens that I love – bok choi, for instance – and kale and swiss chard (see the picture above).  Also beet greens and the beautiful beets that go with them, including the ‘Chiogga’ beet that is the gourmet favorite.  If you have only ever suffered through a beet from a can, you are going to be amazed, and they are packed with nourishment.  And it is a little tricky, but we are going for spinach, probably in the early spring, not this fall.

And whatever else we find that is good to eat!

We are entering a lull right now – in between the flush of summer crops and the onset of later plantings, when the oppressive heat is hard on the grower and plants alike.  It is times like this that it helps to look to the future – anticipation!

Oh and speaking of anticipation, I am buying lots of baby chicks in the next few weeks because the demand for eggs is huge!  Rhode Island Red brown egg laying hens is what I am going for, and I found them locally so they don’t have to suffer through the mail.  They will be raised from hatching with plenty of space and a clean pen so there is no need for the routine antibiotics that factory produced chickens get.  I’ll post a picture of the chicks when I get them.  So cute!  About a month from now . . .then a few months more until they begin to lay eggs.  Lots of eggs!

What do you want to eat?  Email me at georgiaberry@yahoo.com or call 870-653-3062 or leave a comment and we’ll consider the possibilities.

Disclaimer! — Please keep in mind that there are many variables when growing and I am not promising any of these veggies – but I am promising that, like always, I am doing my best to grow healthy delicious produce for all of us, and it usually works out!

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