Archive for Gardening

Recycling Week: Regrow your food scraps

If you bought 10 bags’ worth of groceries, would you chuck four of them out the window on the way home? Unless you were doing some really weird cross-training for upper-arm strength, no, of course you wouldn’t.

But it turns out that most of us are doing something like that, because up to 40% of edible food goes wasted in the United States (NRDC pdf). Some of that is lost on the fields or in transportation before it reaches stores; but we consumers contribute a good share of waste, as well.

One of the oft-mentioned solutions is to compost food scraps – it cuts down on the millions of pounds of food waste piling up in landfills, and returns nutrients to the soil for future crops. But what if we skipped the compost middleman and went right from scraps to food? It turns out, it’s stupidly easy to do.

Leeks_all

Pretty much any food that you would buy with its root end (leeks, scallions, bok choy, cabbage, onions, celery, garlic) or that easily sprouts new buds (potatoes, ginger) can be resurrected from its leftover bits with just some water and/or soil plus a little light. Andy Whitely wrote about 16 veggies you can easily regrow on Wake Up World, and you can find little summary charts all over Pinterest.

Bok choy

I recently tried my hand at this with leeks and bok choy, and it really is as easy as Teh Internets say. The leeks sprang up within a mere 24 hours of me putting the hacked-off root ends in water, and the bok choy has re-leafed itself nicely (although, it keeps trying to bolt on me).

So if you start regenerating vegetables, what are you going to do with all those second helpings? Glad you asked, because I’ve found a week’s worth of recipes that use these easy-to-restart veggies:

  • Minty green celery-olive salsa from HuffPost Taste (here)
  • Seared scallops with crispy leeks from Delish (here)
  • Potato, spinach and leeks frittata from Cooking Light (here)
  • Summer coleslaw with snow peas, hazelnuts and scallions from Health (here)
  • Carrot soup with ginger from Our Earth Land (here)
  • Mushroom and cheddar stuffed onions from Eating Well (here)
  • Sesame-shiitake bok choy from Eating Well (here)

Asparagus Week: Whoa! Where’d those come from?

Did spring go from zero to ALL OUT in roughly 14 seconds where you live? It sure seemed that way here in New England, where the boxes of dirt and pine needles we called our vegetable garden sprang to life almost overnight. Plants going gangbusters currently include some beans (tended by a gopher family)…

…hearty chard that survived our snow-tastic winter…

…and a surprise appearance by this week’s star, asparagus.

It’s not a complete surprise to see the asparagus – it’s there thanks to our planting last year, not because of some Johnny Asparaseed sneaking into our backyard. But we were under the impression that asparagus plants took at least 2 years to produce edible stalks, so when that (admittedly, small & overgrown) bunch of spears shot up unexpectedly, I had to scramble to figure out what to do with it.

I went with a long-standing spring favorite of mine: the white bean, leek and asparagus panzanella from Smitten Kitchen. It’s a colorful, vibrant mix of spring’s best that highlights the unique flavors of each component.

But, of course, there are innumerable things you could do with those slender green spears – and the more the better, since asparagus is a good source of several vitamins (especially K), minerals (including iron), and the pre-biotic fiber, inulin. Give some of these a try, and see if asparagus surprises you, too

  • Spring panzanella from Smitten Kitchen (here)
  • Zucchini pasta with roasted asparagus & sweet potato from Spabettie (here)
  • Asparagus soup with poached egg on toast from Jamie Oliver (here)
  • Spicy pickled asparagus from Simple Bites (here)
  • Coconut ginger braised asparagus from Teaspoon of Spice (here)
  • Indian-spiced chicken & asparagus from Eating Well (here)
  • Flatbread with pancetta, mozzarella & asparagus from Cooking Light (here)

Garden Week: Eating from the Lynch Farm

It’s that time of year: the temps are ever hotter, it’s juuuuust noticeable that daylight hours are getting shorter, and Lynch Farm is starting to yield a few edible crops.

Last year, every chipmunk and squirrel within a 75-mile radius seemed to have heard about our vegetable garden, and they were merciless about eating seeds, sprouts, and anything that wasn’t nailed down. But (I think) thanks to a milder winter that left more wild food sources for the critters, the fava beans, chard, tomatoes and more are all ours for the picking in 2012.

Maybe these “guards” did the trick?

Leaving us to wonder – what the heck are we going to do with the bazillion heirloom tomatoes, piles of brussel sprouts, waves of rainbow chard, and an army of fresh mint? Well, the earliest edibles (fava beans) made for a simple dinner with zucchini and pasta in a recipe I’ve posted previously. Then the big lumpy “black” tomato that came off the vine first went into gazpacho (without bread, as my husband has a fearsome wet-bread phobia). When the next ones are red and ready, this “evolution tomato salad” with beans, basil and tuna from Jamie Oliver sounds like a tasty use for them.

For more garden-centric recipes, head past the jump.

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