Archive for June, 2012

Summer vacation and the liven’ is easy! We’re having wonderful weather and enjoying our days in the garden. Tonight’s dinner comes mainly from the garden, a necessary reminder of why I do it!

Today’s harvest

Menu 25 June 2012

radish* top soup

spring vegetable paella-otto with broccoli*, snap peas*, carrots°, mushrooms° and onions*

raspberries* and strawberries* with sweetened yogurt

Radish Top Soup

Radish leaves

This recipe comes from Marian Morash’s The Victory Garden Cookbook, which I love because the chapters are arranged by vegetable. When I have a glut of almost anything, Marian usually comes to my rescue!

I’m sure that following her recipe exactly yields wonderful results, but here’s what I do:

  1. Sautee some onions or leeks in butter and oil. I use about one medium onion.
  2. Add cubed potatoes, water and bouillon. One large potato, vegetarian bouillon.
  3. When potatoes are almost cooked, add radish tops. I use about 2 bunches worth of greens.
  4. Puree, adding milk or cream if you like. Season with salt and/or pepper.

It would be good peasant style, too I think, but I puree it.

Spring Vegetable Paella-otto

Once again, I must say that a real recipe would probably help tremendously, but I believe I’ve noted that if you want perfection you’re going to have to find it elsewhere.

So, here’s what I did:

  1. Cook rice in bouillon in more or less normal way. I couldn’t find any brown rice in the cupboard (I swear we bought some) so I used risotto rice, thus paella-otto.
  2. Sautee chopped onions, broccoli, and carrots in a big pan. I used my wok.
  3. Remove vegetables and then add mushrooms. I got daring and when mushrooms were almost done, decided to finish it all off at once instead of bit by bit. I added minced garlic, thyme and a little saffron (I recommend adding it to the rice cooking water, but I didn’t think of it until this point.)
  4. I added in the cooked rice and the rest of the vegetables and mixed it all together.
  5. It needs salt! And maybe more garlic. And regular rice, not sticky arborio rice. But it tastes good. You can really taste the flavor of each of the vegetables.


Berries with Sweetened Yogurt

The lots on either side of ours are empty, apart from the legion of weeds just waiting to invade. They send in advance troops in by seed, runners under the fence, with birds and the cat. Though I win some battles, they are winning the war, for now. Occasionally, though, they send me something I can use. Dandelions and nettles have come in and I’m happy about that (yes, happy – here’s why). But the other day we discovered a major encroachment onto our plot by raspberry bushes! Lots of them! Happy day!

It isn’t easy to get the girls to refrain from devouring every ripe berry they see whenever they see them, but they managed to pick a small bowlful today. I mixed them with the last few strawberries and served them with yogurt.

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Monday Menu

Is it Tuesday already?  I sort of slept through Monday, suffering from allergy attacks. I believe the girls and Kamil had, brace yourself, frozen pizzas for dinner. Blah… Well, here’s what we had tonight:

Fried cauliflower°

smashed potatoes

sautéed sugar snap peas*

elderflower* cordial

I must admit that I did not make most of this dinner, either. My wonderful mother-in-law agreed to make the fried cauliflower, a Czech specialty, and she threw in the potatoes for good measure! I did pick and sautee the peas with garlic. First of the season and wonderful!


What did you have for dinner tonight?

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All the clutter and dust and mess and untidiness and, yes, even a little dirt and grime…

It’s the end of the school year, we’re busy with events and parties and farewells. I’ve been spending all free  moments in the garden weeding, mulching, planting, digging. The house is a mess and I can’t take it anymore.

By the back door

Behind the hall door (those aren’t real oranges – it’s not quite that bad)

Every flat surface looks somewhat like this

So, I came up with the European Soccer Championships Half-time Cleaning Blitz. All four of us clean like mad for 15 minutes during half-time of the day’s game. That’s like getting an hour’s worth of cleaning done in 15 minutes! Day 2 and the house looks better already! Eight more days of pool play…that’s 8 more hours of cleaning. I’ll let you know how it goes…


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Monday Menu

Back after missing last Monday (or has it been 2 weeks?!). Not that I was away or anything…just slightly more busy than usual with last Girl Scout meeting of the year Tea Party, daughter #1’s dance performance, daughter #2’s dance performance, 4th grade music class performance, a Monday night board meeting at my church, working like crazy in the garden, etc, etc..

Tonight I took my basket into the garden and picked things for dinner. (I don’t actually have to use a basket, but it’s such a lovely, romantic thing to do!) I picked mint for some iced mint tea, savory to flavor the beans I have soaking, chard and strawberries. My poor girls had their Czech exams today and I wanted to make a special dinner… Now, you may think that beans for dinner is not that special, but when I first made this dish, they decided to name it “Yummy Plate of Beans” though I made it with kale, not chard. And though it is better with kale, what I have is chard. Lovely, rainbow chard.

I also have beautiful strawberries and some leftover couscous… Tonight’s menu, then is:

Yummy Plate of Beans with Swiss Chard*


Sofie’s favorite corn bread

iced mint* tea

strawberries* with yogurt and chocolate chips

Maybe it does’t look like much…

…but everyone had 2 helpings!

The strawberries for dessert were sublime…Honestly, after growing my own strawberries and eating them within minutes of picking them, I just can’t eat store-bought strawberries anymore. I mean, why bother? They just can’t live up to the ones we grow ourselves.

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Round 1 Explore the dandelion

This one is pretty easy, given we already eat them every year as I described in an earlier post. But I have been exploring other ways to eat dandelion.

My mother-in-law makes dandelion honey. I am not sure how she does it, but I know she sends the girls out to pick 100 dandelion flowers, cooks them up in a simple syrup and then leaves them out to sit over night. She must then strain it and put it in jars. So, it’s basically dandelion flavored sugar syrup, but it’s yummy. We eat it on pancakes and use it to sweeten tea.

I have also been experimenting with dandelion muffins. I got the idea here, but use an entirely different recipe that I adapted from The New York TImes New Natural Foods Cookbook (published 1982 and stolen from my mother in about 1992).

Fabulous 3-grain Dandelion Muffins

1/3 cup corn flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup soy flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup oil

1 cup dandelion petals

1/3 cup or so dried cranberries

Combine dry ingredients. Add in dandelion petals and mix well. Mix egg, yogurt and oil together and then add to dry ingredients. Mix in cranberries. Bake 25 minutes at 350F.

Mixing in the dandelion petals. The muffins never stick around long enough to photograph!

And, to top it all off, with all my talk about dandelions, a colleague made some dandelion jelly and brought me a jar. Delicious!

Round 2 Hunt for morels

Mushroom hunting is big in the Czech Republic. Very big. It has been quite dry here, though, notwithstanding a couple days of rain not too long ago and I haven’t seen the mushroom hunters out. I hope I can do some hunting myself this year and will surely post about it if I find anything. The problem always seem to be that the serious hunters are out at dawn (which occurs about 5am these days) and there is nothing left by the time normal folks roll out of bed and get into the woods!

Round 3 Cook a foraged meal

This is the one we really go into. Friend and neighbor, Andrea, my partner in all these crazy things I am doing these days (who is highly amused at being called “friend and neighbor,” though it is an accurate description) got in on this one with me. And once again, she sacrificed her vegan principles for a taste of our (not in the least vegan) foraged dinner.

Elder is flowering so we decided on a traditional German elder pancake for dessert and elder cordial to drink. For the main course, I proposed nettle gnudi and a salad. The salad is mostly from the garden, but we threw in some foraged lamb’s quarters.

Foraging is even more fun with a nice basket.

The nettle gnudi recipe comes from the Fat of the Land Blog, a wonderful source for foraging and home of this round of the challenge. The recipe calls for ricotta but there was none at the store, so I substituted tvaroh and cottage cheese and it turned out just fine. Of course, frying anything in sage butter and olive oil is bound to taste good!

Adding the chopped, blanched nettles to the cheese.

Roll it out and cut into pieces.

I made them by the plateful.

My helpful daughter cooked them while I rolled and cut. When they float, take them out of the boiling water.

Ninety nettle gnudi…try saying it 5 times fast!

Fry them up in olive oil, butter and sage.

I barely had time to snap a photo…those gnudi disappeared fast!

Now for dessert:

Andrea made a thin pancake batter, dipped the flower heads in and then plopped them into hot oil.

Fry until golden

Nibble right off the stem!

They were great plain but also with a little dandelion honey.

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