Posts tagged garden

Guest Post: Creative Ways to Use Extra Greens

Raised garden beds

Photo Credit: Kate Kutnick

Sadly, I’m a basil killer. And zucchini. And tomatoes. And nearly every other plant that people are apt to say, “Oh, but they’re so easy to grow.” My friend, Kate Kutnick, has a gift when it comes to greens. She’s always making fresh meals after picking through her luscious garden for inspiration.

For ideas about how to use your extra garden greens:

A few years ago, I installed 6 raised garden beds in my backyard. To this day, the smörgåsbord of fruits and veggies just feet from my kitchen never ceases to amaze me! I will also admit that the blessing of such a leafy buffet is also a double-edged sword. Sometimes I feel inundated by radicchio leaves and pole beans. Just the thought of yet another salad or plate of steamed beans can be nauseating!

 

This year, however, I have finally figured out how to keep the same ingredient fresh and palatable day after day. Per the Beastie Boys advice, I got crafty. Here are some ideas of how I’ve been successful at using all my homegrown produce and enjoying every bite.

 

Soups and smoothies- ‘nuff said! I’ve tapped into Organic Gardening’s recipe collection for this amazing soup. I was intrigued by the thought of salad in liquid form, but hey, I was pretty desperate.

As for the smoothies, I really wanted a way to get the tougher leafy greens into my diet in a raw format, and this method came through! Viewer discretion advised: this will be a very green in color drink, but uber delish and nutrish!

  • 1.5 cups plain, non-fat yogurt

  • a few large ice cubes

  • handful of hemp seeds

  • 5-8 whole, seedless dates

  • 4-6 tablespoons honey

  • 2 large carrots

  • dash of vanilla

  • 4 large leafy green leaves of your choice (kale, collard greens, etc)

Dump all these ingredients in your blender and blend until pureed.

 

Sauces: Sauces can make such a huge difference at any meal. I’ve been really into making flavored butters lately. Last week I made a bowl of garlic, chive, & lemon butter to drizzle over some grilled veggies (from the garden, of course). I’m thinking my next butter adventures will involve lavender and other earthy herbs from the yard. These are super easy to mix together before any meal.

The Gardener and The Grill also has an amazing section of heavenly sauces for your garden bounty.

 

Preparing your crops in these ways admittedly takes a bit of time planning & researching, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start thinking about and more importantly, enjoying your food in a totally new way.

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Farmers Market Conundrum—Where are the farmers?

Photo credit: Julia Manzerova

I’m a lousy gardener, really.

I’ve tried everything from peas to never-fail zucchini and so far that only thing I’ve been able to grow in abundance is mint—and I didn’t even plant that! Instead of pining over my lack of gardening skills, I’m investing my energy in finding the best farmers markets in my area. I’ve been surprised by what I’ve found.

The two closest farmers markets to my neighborhood include vendors that didn’t grow their products from seed—unless organic skincare products and gourmet popcorn have suddenly started sprouting up on trees somewhere in Colorado’s eastern plains. Fresh produce booths are outnumbered 2 to 1 at our nearby market, which also includes booths for pre-packaged steaks, bakeries, and more. The presence of non-farm goods has lead me to question whether the produce that is available is actually from local farms—and if so, whether the person selling them is affiliated with a farm at all.

I’m not the only one noticing that something doesn’t seem quite right at area farmers markets. Wall Street Journal writer Lauren Etter reported last week that some “real” farmers are being undersold at area markets by resellers. These resellers buy bulk produce at auctions for cut-rate prices and then pass them off as their own at markets. Farmers who are selling their own goods are feeling the pressure to drop their own prices to compete.

The national Farmers Market Coalition is now taking steps to define what can receive the “farmers market” label. Posting on the FMC website in January, Jeff Cole, chair of the Farmers Market Coalition ad hoc Definition Task Force and Executive Director of the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets, wrote that “the definition of a Farmers Market must be simple and clear: that it must include the words ‘farmers selling directly to the public products they have produced;’ and that a farmers market must define, and make public, what it means by ‘local.’”

When I first started frequenting farmers markets that’s what I expected to find. By allowing other vendors, the whole notion of what a farmers market should be becomes a mixed message. I want to support locally grown produce, but I don’t want to stumble over the skincare booths and artisan bread vendors to get to them.

Have you noticed your local farmers market has become less about produce and more about products? And how do you decide where to shop for locally grown goods?

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