Saturday, October 11, 2008
Stretch-the-Veg Greens Update
Jack had surgery yesterday on his forehead, to remove a cancerous place.
Yes, the C Word...the panic-inducer, life-flashing-in-front-of-your-eyes word association. The day we found that out, I was pulling up every possible internet dietary recommendation I could get my hands on under the title Cancer Prevention. At the top of every list was the category Greens. Dark, leafy greens of every sort are a vital component of a body's cancer-and-other-diseases defense team. Those same leafy greens are something we really need to include more of in our meals around here, and that means finding ways to enjoy eating them as well as developing some garden savvy in growing them.
Thankfully, they seem to be an easy food to grow, and here in Florida, we should be able to stretch a couple of seasons and still keep them going. In colder areas, I'd imagine they could be included among other greens grown under a protective polytunnel or other crop-prolonging method.
We didn't have an active seasonal in-ground garden of any sort this year, for reasons discussed in prior posts. What we did do is begin slower-growing plants, and some herbs, trees, experimental and exotics in 5 gallon (what else?? ha) pots. We're gearing up to make decisions about what to start putting into the ground and whether we'll be seeing any daylight with our goals for relocation. So many decisions, quite a bit of waiting, and so many things that just can't wait...it's a head-scratcher sometimes trying to find ways to strike a balance.
Recently, I posted about dual-use veggies...ones commonly used for a better-known food (think beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, okra, papaya), but with the real potential of dual usage for humans for a second table food. In these cases, the second food is Greens.
We're continuing to experiment a bit with our Blood Sugar Regulator plant, Gynura procumbens/ Sambung Nyawa. Its flavor is not unpleasant, but since it is a new taste to me, I'm not used to it...and so we experiment for a better taste "fit." So far, we've had it raw in salad, steeped fresh in hot water as a tea, blanched, and a cut up and stir friend ingredient in chicken enchiladas (mmm!)
We still have 3 1/2 gallon ziplock bags full in the fridge, and I'm trying not to waste it. Tonight's inclusion was with some shredded cabbage, stir-fried in a tablespoon of olive oil with a pinch of salt and then continued briefly with the addition of a couple tablespoons water, to sort of steam/stir fry it just till the greens brighten and begin softening. I don't cook past that point...I like them tender, cooked till no longer crunchy, but no more...I can't stand pale, gray, limp overcooked cabbage.
The picture above is at the just-done point. I served this for each person tonight for dinner in a bowl, in this order: hot cooked rice, some cabbage and greens served on top of that, and a ladle of steaming Winter Squash-and- Turkey Soup over all. Yum!
Over at a recent entry on Duane Marcus' blog The Funny Farm, he's written about finding another wonderful Asian green called Komatsuna. It is said to be delicious eaten for its greens as well as its stalks, which can be substituted fresh for celery. I've never tried it, but he says his customers enjoy it, and gives it great reviews for its hardiness and ability to withstand some cold weather as well as heat without bolting. It's a warmer zone plant, so we'll be looking into it for sure. Thanks for the heads-up, Duane!