Spring Chives, Spreading Like Green Wildfire

29 05 2011

Garlic Chives, Freshly Cut

If you garden, you know that there are certain plants that will happily take over every inch of your garden. Mint and oregano come to mind, both of which seem to have the kind of aggression that would make them bad neighbors, if they were people-sprawling their stuff across those property lines no matter how many times you push it back. But neither can match the kind of assault that a chive plant can make on your garden. Yes, as well as sending shoots out underground to tenaciously advance, they also have the self-defense mechanism of an oniony smell, and release tear gas that makes your eyes well up even as you dig the offending stalks from the basil bed.

You would think that I would be in the process of eradicating the fertile chives from my garden, but I am not. I’ve adopted a delicious containment policy. I figure that if something tasty and easy to use really wants to be there that badly, I had better come up with some fun ways to use it.

I should clarify that my particular chive plant is an Asian variety of Garlic Chives. With a hint of garlic flavor in its wild, oniony punch, it grows long, flat stems instead of the thin round ones of regular chives. Because of that it can hold up to a little more cooking. It’s also got the bonus of being the star of lots of great Chinese recipes, like garlic chive dumplings, and stir fries.

link to a tofu potsticker recipe:

http://chinesefood.about.com/od/vegetarianrecipes/r/vegpotstickers.htm

Because of their dual attributes of oniony and garlicky flavors, I can use them in place of scallions, chives, and garlic in recipes. They have a particular affinity for tofu, as the above potsticker recipe would attest. If you are not up for forming dumplings, try a tofu scramble with chives, simply seasoned with soy sauce and ginger, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Chives can take the place of scallions in stir fries and soups, and you can use large quantities of them in cooked dishes, since heat subdues their oniony heat a bit. If you are into eggs, chives are a classic addition to scrambled or baked egg dishes. If you eat dairy, cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt, or creamy goat cheese all make good bases for a chivey taste experience.

Their flavor alone is good reason to use them up, but don’t forget how nutritious they are. They are high in vitamin C and carotene, and are a good source of calcium. They also contain Vitamin B1 and B2.  In Traditional Chinese medicine, garlic chives are considered to be a yang or warming food. And those sulphur compounds that sting your eyes are also antibacterial and antiseptic, and boost your immunity.

Of course, later in the year, my chives will offer up gorgeous, edible purple flowers. That will signal that the stems are too tough to eat raw, and I will snip them for use in salads, stir-fries, and as edible garnishes.

And to think-I once contemplated digging them up for good. My chives are a lesson in making the best of something that is pushy. I’m learning to use it to my advantage, do a little garden ju-jitsu, rather than wage war with it.

Garden lessons are the tastiest kind.

Garlic Chive Vichyssoise

Chill this for a summer soother, or serve warm. If you only have regular chives, throw in a chopped clove of garlic with the saute.

4 medium yukon gold potatoes, 1 1/4 lb, chopped

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped garlic chives, divided

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious coconut creamer)

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil. Saute half of the garlic chives until soft and dark green, then add the potatoes and stir. Add the water, bring to a boil, and cover tightly. Cook for ten minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the water is almost gone. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and add the “milk” and puree. Add salt and the remaining chives and process until smooth.

Serve warm or chill-you may need to stir in more milk after chilling.

Garlic Chive Vichyssoise

This recipe looks like a delicious way to use those blossoms later on!

Avocado Toast With Caramelized Sweet Onion and Grape Tomatoes With Fresh Garden Chives and Chive Blossoms.

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New Evidence that Pesticides are Reducing Intelligence in Kids

22 05 2011

Are sprayed crops worth it?

We have always suspected that there are pervasive ill-effects from the rampant use of pesticides on our food, but so far, it has been hard to prove them. But, a recently published group of three independent studies, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that children who were exposed in the womb to high pesticide levels had measurably lower IQ’s as the researchers followed them from birth to ages 6-9.

Researchers were from the University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University in New York and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

According to the Berkeley study, the most heavily exposed children had an average of 7 points lower IQ’s, which is a serious drop. Compare that to the damage caused by the known neurotoxin Lead, which causes exposed kids to lose 2-3 points. The damage was done in the early stages of pregnancy, when crucial brain development occurs. Once the baby is born, her intelligence is permanently altered.

One of the main pesticides the studies looked for in peoples diets were the organophosphates, which have also been linked to ADHD. There is enough evidence that these are dangerous that they are no longer sold for home use, but are perfectly ok to spray on our food crops.

So, if you were looking for a reason to opt for that organic lettuce that costs a quarter more, here it is. Even if you are not a woman or planning to get pregnant, do you really want to consume chemicals that harm the brain?

The current epidemics of ADHD and developmental problems in children didn’t just come out of the blue. We have to stop dumping dangerous chemicals on our food and planet. As much as you can, support organic agriculture, and speak out when you get the chance. The costs to us as a society are huge, in lost potential, as well as real costs spent on special ed for the kids who are the victims of this pesticide experiment.

If you must eat sprayed produce, give it a serious soak and scrub. The pesticides are designed to stick even when it rains, so you can’t just give them a rinse. If its something like lettuce or raspberries that can’t stand up to a scrubbing, buy organic, always.

If you want to take action, go to the website of the Organic Trade Organization for news about the latest legislation affecting your food supply.
http://ota.capwiz.com/ota/issues/alert/?alertid=24747501

I got tired of feeling powerless, and took my own little stand. I now have entered my elected officials phone numbers into my phone, and when legislation comes up on the website or in the paper, I use my down time to make a few phone calls.

Clean food is too important to leave to the lobbyists.





May is Mediterranean Month!

14 05 2011

Soaking up Mediterranean Sun

May is a good time to think about eating healthfully, with summer sneaking up on us, we all get a little bit more “into our bodies.” Getting active and moving around outside, hopefully that motivates us to think a little more about maintaining our health for the long haul.

If you are in that frame of mind, the Oldways organization has declared May “Mediterranean Diet Month.” If you are not familiar with Oldways, they are a wonderful group that was founded in the 80’s to educate modern eaters about the wisdom of eating the “old” way. The Mediterranean Diet is an ancient way of eating that emphasizes unprocessed foods from the Med region. Lots of whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, fish, a little dairy, and very little meat, with olive oil and wine thrown in for good measure.  Med goes Veg very easily.

If you are thinking of going veg, or of trying to tempt people to eat veg with you, Mediterranean foods are always crowd pleasers. The meatless standards of hummus, tabouli, veggie lasagna and big salads are all from the Mediterranean. Just skip the fish and replace it with walnuts and other high omega 3 foods, and you will be dining like the ancients. Small amounts of dairy, in the form of yogurt and cheese, can work for you, or you can go vegan and eat more calcium rich leafy greens. Whole grains are an important base for the Med diet, and they confer all their health promoting qualities to you as you enjoy them in hearty Greek salads and Lebanese flatbreads.

The reasons for reviving the good old days of eating are many. Oldways has collected countless studies showing that eating this way will prevent most of the diseases of our current society, from heart disease and diabetes to obesity and tooth decay. Olive oil and walnuts are even associated with lowered risk of depression.

for a past post on that:

https://robincooksveg.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/winter-blues-feed-your-brain-with-the-mediterranean-diet/

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was created by the group based on the eating style of the island of Crete, Greece and Southern Italy circa 1960, when their rates of chronic diet-related disease were enviably low. 1960 isn’t all that long ago, but those regions were still eating the way their ancestors did, and enjoying life to the fullest.

The Oldways Pyramid, Just take out the meat and fish

So if you want to stay active, feel great, and eat delicious food, the Mediterranean way is a good way to go.  It’s certainly a tasty way to eat yourself well!

For recipes on the Oldways website, go here:

http://www.oldwayspt.org/recipesresources

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

(from Oldways)

This recipe was passed from Oldways Staffer Georgia Orcutt to Sara Talcott after a conversation about the wonders of barley, and now is a favorite. Its flavors are rich and complex, and it is wonderful over a bed of spicy arugula, and can be served cold or at room temperature. Recipe adapted from Gourmet.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
1 3/4 cup veggie stock or 1 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Instructions:

1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425 degree.

2. Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

4. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Serve with cheese slices.

Nutritional Analysis:

Per serving: Calories: 324, Protein: 6 grams, Fat: 19 grams, Saturated Fat: 3 grams, Carbohydrates: 36 grams, Fiber: 10 grams, Sodium: 533 mg.

Yield:
8 servings
for a hummus recipe:

Hummus