Kaleslaw!

kaleslaw main

If you’re lucky enough to bring little people into this world, please DON’T let their first experience of Coleslaw be from Kentucky Fried Chicken AKA – ‘The Dirty Bird’!

KFC coleslaw

Even well paid food stylists can’t make this stuff look good…

 

This sickly sweet sloppy mess remains one of the few salad offerings from the big fast food providers and really doesn’t deserve the name sake – originally taken from the Dutch “Koolsla”, the shortened version of “Kool Salade” meaning Cabbage Salad.

With two types of Kale still growing with vigour in my garden (Purple Russian and Tuscan) I decided to make them the main raw veg ingredient in a little dish I like to call…KALESLAW!

I’ve also added some sweet, just picked baby savoy cabbage from my garden.  Staggering the picking of cabbages i.e. using some young and some more mature helps to avoid the:

“Oh my God – I’ve eight giant cabbages that need to be used and I don’t like sauerkraut!”

 

Backyard Harvest Kaleslaw Recipe:

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

2 cups of grated carrot

1/2 small Spanish onion (or a couple of spring onions)

1 cup of thinly sliced purple Russian kale

1 cup of thinly sliced Tuscan kale

2 cups of finely sliced savoy cabbage

Chopped fresh coriander to taste

Dressing:

1/2 cup Whole Egg mayonnaise

Splash of cider vinegar

Salt (I’ve used some black lava sea salt from a recent trip to Hawaii)

1 tblsp Coconut sugar (keeping with the Hawaiian theme)

kaleslaw 1

Grated carrot and finely chopped onion

kaleslaw 2

Red Russian Kale on the left is less known but has a more delicate leaf than the Tuscan on the right.  Both grow with well all year ’round and have far less pest problems than cabbage varieties.  Oh and they’re SUPER FOODS!

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Both kale varieties are finely chopped and added…

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This sweet, sweet savoy cabbage was picked just moments before this pic and had more crunch than a new season apple!

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Mixed and ready for dressing…

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That black stuff isn’t pepper – it’s ‘Black Lava’ sea salt from Hawaii – can’t wait to run out so I have an excuse to go back to Maui!

Green Smoothies

Most green smoothies combine 60% high sugar fruits (think mangos, bananas, pineapple, berries) with a 40% combination of leafy green vegetables and herbs such as kale, lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, celery, parsley, mint, basil and coriander.  Other vegetables such as cucumber can also be added, and if you’re good at weed identification you can (carefully!) include annual stinging nettles.

The other difference between a traditional banana smoothie and a green smoothie is that water is used as the liquid ingredient, rather than milk/yogurt/soy milk.  But don’t be concerned about the smoothie tasting like cold soup as the fruit helps improve the texture – especially when using mango or bananas.  Some recipes also include coconut water as the liquid ingredient.

Try the recipe below and I’m sure you’ll soon be singing about how wonderful Green Smoothies are too:

 

Will it blend?

My blender is a 20 year old model with a French name, but interestingly made in Mexico – obviously labour was cheaper there than China at the time.  It had no problems preparing the green smoothie below, but if you have cash burning a hole in your pocket there are a stack of high quality blenders available now.  Blenders of course can be used for other helpful tasks that enrich society such as this:

Basic Green  Smoothie

I had these ingredients in my garden apart from the banana (…and the ice) and it tasted great!

4 young kale leaves with the stalks cut out

2 stalks of parsley

1 stalk of mint

1 large ripe banana

1/2 cup ice

1.5 cups filtered water (approx – add until you’re happy with the consistency)

Start with the ice, then banana and your roughly chopped leafy greens.

Add water after all the leaves have been chopped up and then keep blending until you’re happy with the constancy.  Enjoy!

Broccoli – like apple trees for giants.

Like it’s Brassica cousin kale, the bright colour in broccoli lets us know it’s filled with free radical fighting goodness.  Free radicals are not just a folk band based in Surrey England, they are very nasty little guys which is obvious if you have a powerful microscope and can see them up close.

 

Let’s just agree broccoli is good for you.  It helps to regulate blood pressure with its high amounts of magnesium and calcium, plus ample amounts of potassium help optimise your brain function – making me wonder why the term “Broccoli Brains” never really took off.

Growing broccoli can be amazing simple or equally frustrating depending on the season.  As seasoned gardeners know, life in our patch is seldom perfect.  Broccoli grows wonderfully quickly in warm weather and uses its water repellent leaves to direct every sprinkle of rain to its roots.  However, those warm days and nights also bring out white butterflies, who love to lay eggs on broccoli plants.  These eggs turn into green caterpillars which judging by their colour are probably also filled with free-radical fighting goodness.  Having accidentally eaten a few in my time I can confirm they test will test the gag reflex of Mick Dundee and are best removed before cooking…

Having seen the pest issues with broccoli when I’ve been growing it, I’d really recommend it’s one vegetable you only purchase organically – especially in summer.

My personal growing strategy it to grow all year around, but cover the crops from late spring through to late autumn with an appropriate barrier draped over hoops.

Otherwise you can spray using an organic based spray (or make your own by steeping crushed garlic in water overnight and straining into a spray bottle).  Other less toxic controls include Dipel power which is mixed with water and sprayed onto the foliage.  It’s an internal bacterial poison for caterpillars and will kill them in a few days of spraying.  This will need to be repeated for follow up infestations.

Soil preparation

LIke the rest of the brassica family, broccoli is quite a heavy feeder so make sure you choose rich, well draining soil which has been enriched with composted manure.  Sprinkle some pelletised manure over the surface after planting seedlings and water in well.  Liquid feed weekly with worm juice or a high nitrogen seaweed product.

Varieties

I like the readily available ‘green dragon’ as it produces side shoots which are perfect for stir-fries.  It also gives you more reward for a plant that takes several months to produce over winter.  This year I’m going to try some purple sprouting broccoli which seems quite popular in the UK but less so here.  It looks amazing.

How to eat it.

My late autumn planted crop is producing beautiful heads now, so I’ve been trying to include it in a few different dishes.  I’ve also starting eating it raw with dip or pesto – just avoid the lower stems as they can be a bit stringy (use them for cooking).

Spanish broccoli and potato Tortilla

This is a great way to use left overs and I think the spanish idea of adding potatoes takes it to a place where frittatas fear to tread.

 

Cook in a heavy based pan with a generous lug of olive oil.  I use a cast iron pan so I can finish the tortilla in the oven.  NB: if you’re using raw potatoes, finely dice and add now too.

Gently cook the onion for a few minutes and then add your broccoli (one head of florets)  It’s best to pre-steam the broccoli or blanch it.  Even better would be using left overs from the day before.

Pop on lid to keep the moisture in and keep cooking on gentle heat.  I also add a splash of water if things are looking dry.  NB: If your broccoli isn’t pre-cooked this will take a lot longer.

I had some left over baked potatoes so I diced these and added them once the broccoli stems yielded to a sharp knife NB: you can use raw spuds, just dice them finely and add them with the onion at the start.  Just make sure they’re cooked – crunchy potatoes will ruin your day!

With a fork beat 6 or so eggs (depending on your pan size really) season and grate in a good handful of parmesan cheese

Making sure all the other ingredients are cooked, pour in your egg mixture

Let it cook on the bottom for another five or so minutes

Place the whole pan into a medium (180 C) oven for about 15 minutes to finish cooking.  Don’t do this if you’re pan has any plastic components on it!  And remember the handle is very hot – use an oven mitt!  

Alternatively you can flip the tortilla onto a plate (just make sure the top is not too runny first) flip it onto another plate and back in the pan so the former top is now in the bottom of the pan.  Well I’m confused but this guy makes it look pretty easy.

 

Amazing Parsley

I’m less inclined to believe that one (especially as I’m a bloke) however legend has it that parsley will ‘strongly affect men’s sexual powers’.  Maybe if these guys had gone for parsley instead of olive wreaths, they wouldn’t be described as the coxless four.

 

 

I’ll continue onto some other less controversial facts about parsley…

It’s super high in potassium with over 700mg per 100grams of leaves.  This combined with the herb’s high iron, copper and manganese content means it’s great for building healthy blood.  Parsley is also quite high in vitamin C and as with citrus fruits, our leafy green friend is at its best in winter, right when we need it.  I also found references to parsley being infused and applied to puffy eyes and even steeped into red or white wine with some other choice ingredients to produce ‘heart wine’ – great for any cardiac problems!  Parsley is from the same family that we find celery, carrots, dill and fennel – the easiest way to tell is to see their flowers forming and seeds.

‘Tis the season.

My summer basil is a distant memory, and despite growing in a vertical garden against a north facing wall, this year’s winter has all but defeated my coriander.  On the other hand I look at my parsley.  I remember Bill Mollison describing an ’embarrassment of parsley’ in one of his early Permaculture videos.  Yes, I have an “embarrassment” of parsley and what a nice feeling it is.  Parsley is biennial meaning it generally lasts for two years after which it will go to flower and produce a stack of seed.  You can simply let this seed fall in your garden beds and there’s a good chance new plants will pop up.  Alternatively if planting seed deliberately, be prepared to wait a while as the seedlings are renowned for long germination.

Varieties

Whether I’m cringing over memories of curly parsley from my childhood or not, I now only grow the flat leaf or ‘Italian’ variety of parsley (Petroselinum crispum .var. neapolitanum).   It’s hardy, vigorous and produces wonderfully tender flat leaves that are also easier to handle on a chopping board.

Parsley in the kitchen

I have to warn you, if you want to get the best out of the culinary value of parsley, you’ll have to look beyond our Anglo-Australian history.  My childhood memories of parsley were as an awkward accompaniment to fish and chips if the local pub was feeling fancy, or if Grandma was in an adventurous mood it would be chopped finely and added to a béchamel/white sauce.  As a general rule you can use it in place of basil and it deserves to be the hero of simple oil based pasta sauces where it goes so well with chilli and a good quality hard cheese.  Today I made parsley pesto, and while I love basil pesto I reckon this “picked and prepped within an hour” dish is superior to any Italian made imported pesto.

Parsley Pesto

2 cups of loosely packed fresh parsley, washed and dried well (pat dry with tea towel or use a salad spinner)

3/4 cup walnuts (I used some local, sweet beauties from Bannockburn)

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano if possible)

1 clove roughly chopped garlic (it will be chopped further by the food processor)

Good local extra virgin olive oil – cold pressed (sorry didn’t measure this, just drizzle it in slowly but probably about 3/4 cup)

sea salt to taste

Process the walnuts first, then the parsley and roughly chopped garlic.  You may have to keep stopping the processor to push the ingredients down the wall of the processor bowl and back onto the blades.

Once you’re sure the parsley is well chopped and the ingredients are mixed together, drizzle in your olive oil while the processor is mixing.  Add the oil slowly and in batches, mixing in between.

Place your finished mix into a bowl and add the grated parmesan.  Add salt as necessary making sure it’s really fine (I crush my Malden sea salt in a mortar with a pestle)

As with basil pesto this goes great with pasta, as a dip, spooned on top of poached eggs and as an accompaniment to grilled meat/fish etc.

Another way to take full advantage of large volumes of parsley is by making the middle eastern salad tabbouleh or tabouli.  Apart from tomatoes (and burghal) all the ingredients to this salad are available locally right now.

Here’s a you tube recipe which seems pretty good if you can get passed the North American pronunciation of herbs and oregano!