Sunday, June 14, 2020

Endless Greens: Free Bok Choy from Spring to Fall

Baby Bok Choy 

I love bok choy.  During the beginning of the COVID19 period of isolation there was an amazing amount of organic bok choy available in our local grocery and whole food stores.  

Bok choy comes from the cabbage/crucifer/mustard/brassica family, and is a Chinese Cabbage (grown first in Asia), as you might be able to tell from the name.  I guess we mostly see the Cantonese version here-- the Shanghai Bok Choy is a darker green-- the one I think of has broad light green/white stems and lighter green leaves, as in the picture above.  I particularly like the dwarf versions of bok choy, called Baby Bok Choy.  Light, easy to slice and eat, and mild-tasting with lots of delicious leaves.

On Instagram I ran across an account that showed several small chunks of the bases of a bok choy plant sitting in water. When I inquired if they were rooting it to plant, they told me that that don't really wait for roots to form, but that they grow leaves from the old "wound" and after 6-9 days they just pop them into soil and they grow up edible there.

That was worth a try!  So here is what I did and found out:

I copied the folks on IG and just cut those little suckers 2 inches from the end and stuck them in water until they had developed fairly good leaf growth (I'm mostly interested in the tender leaves for eating).
"rooting" the bok choy in water

When the plant had developed a pretty impressive set of new leaves I planted them in my backyard planter (filled with decayed seaweed and sea debris that my husband harvested from a nearby beach, and then topped with a luxurious 18 inches of our compost (kitchen scraps, organic soil, rotted brown matter like leaves).  The grow-box is a former wood box that we removed from beside our fireplace.  It's perfect.  I hardly have to bend at all to 'garden' there.  So far this wonderfully, spongy humus contains the bok choy, some celery that I have started in the same way, and some collard seedlings.  I have glass jars over the smaller plant-lings because something likes to snack on them.
                                                                               

Now, as you can see, they are not "true" to the bok choy image at the top of the page.  But they are covered with tender leaves, big and small, and even have some edible flowers for the mix!  I cut the plant off near soil level and let the roots stay in there to decay (we will see) to offer further organic matter to feed new plants (or the little wood bugs that are so anxiously awaiting each new delivery).

                                                                                
             
Not bad for a plant grown from the 2" heel of a store-bought bok choy, eh?   I keep putting the heels in water and expect to have one or two of these every week or so throughout the summer.  This is the company today's bok choy kept:

                                                                                          
       

I am happy to report that they taste tender, succulent and mild, just like the original bok choy, even if they do not look like grandpa exactly.  The cubes are a recipe called General Tso Tofu from Michelle Blackwood's Healthier Choices site (vegan and gluten-free recipes).  I steamed the bok choy.  The flowers are cutely edible.

Have you ever planted bok choy like this?  Do you think you might give it a try?  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Oregano-Lemon Balm Vegan Pesto



This year I am intent on using more herbs from my small herb garden in our meals.  

Oregano-- also known as wild marjoram-- lives in a couple of spots in our yard.

In my current favorite reference book--Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte-- the author states that oregano "is used the world over the world over in Italian, Mexican and Spanish dishes."  Oregano contains thymol, "a powerful antiseptic when internally or externally... The pleasant aromatic scent... is very lasting.
. In the garden [oregano has] a beneficial effect on nearby plants, improving both growth and flavor." (pg. 102)


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OREGANO-LEMON BALM-WALNUT PESTO

Put the following in a small blender and blend until smooth:  

*1 cup fresh oregano leaves
*1/4 cup walnut parm OR nutritional yeast
*1/4 cup walnuts or hemp seeds
*1 tablespoon olive oil OR water
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon balm leaves
                               OR
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
*1/4 teaspoon sea salt

You can find other related articles I've written here:



Thursday, May 14, 2020

Kale-Chive Vegan Muffin

Beautiful Kale-Chive Vegan Muffin

This delightful muffin is made with wheat flour (organic all-purpose) in this recipe, but I think it could be made with a gluten-free flour, and also would work with half whole wheat or other half oat flour, half whole wheat.  I can also see it done up as a sort of cake (using spelt flour) and used to mop up olive oil and basalmic vinegar-- a kind of focaccia-soda bread.

It's tasty!  Savory is often the way to go.  Especially as this pandemic plays out for those of us who seemingly can't stop baking muffins and banana bread and cakes.  Savory is a nice change-up to something that seems healthier.

And it goes very nicely with a lunch soup.  Or as a breakfast muffin with some melty vegan cheese on top (or avocado or tomato and fako-bako-- you get the drift).

It makes 10-12 muffins, depending on the size of your muffin cups. 


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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cup (300 ml)         non-dairy milk
1/4 cup    (60 ml)           extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (22 g)        ground flax

Add the above together in a small to medium bowl and stir until combined well.  Set aside.

2 cups (120 g)                organic unbleached flour
2.5 teaspoons (11.25 g)  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 g)           fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (3 g)           powdered turmeric
1/2 teaspoon (3 g)           powdered mustard
1/2 teaspoon (3 g)           powdered garlic
1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g)        cayenne, ground
1 teaspoon    (5 g)           fennel seed (whole) 

Add the above dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.

1 cup fresh kale, chopped small
1 cup fresh chives, chopped small

Set the oven for 400-420 degrees Fahrenheit (200 - 220 degrees Celsius).

Get your pans ready.  If you are using metal pans, it is easier to deal with getting the muffins out when you choose to use parchment cups. Otherwise, 'grease up' the cups or use silicone pans.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir to combine until a stiff dough.  Don't stir too long or the resulting muffins will be tough.

Fold in the kale and chives.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.

Pop into the oven for 20 - 23 minutes.  A toothpick should come out of the muffin, clean.

Let the muffins cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cooling racks.

Other muffins and banana cake recipes made during the COVID19 lockdown:





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Monday, May 11, 2020

Molasses-Maple-Banana Muffins with Dates and Walnuts, Gluten-free, Vegan

Molasses-Maple-Banana Muffins

This most recent muffin is inspired by the molasses cookie, specifically the molasses cookie my grandma used to bake.  It was fragrant, lightly spicy, soft but chewy, and generally had dates and walnuts in it.

The muffins smelled so great when they came out of the oven, but for a few minutes I thought back to the sort of sugar-gritty and oily features of those delicious molasses cookies.  I am pretty sure my grandma used white sugar (and quite a lot of it, I would imagine) and some kind of oil.  These particular muffins are free of any poured oils, and instead of a sweet white or brown sugar I used a mix of molasses and maple syrup and banana to sweeten it.

Would this muffin be a flop?

Then I tasted it it... and

IT WAS / IS DELICIOUS.  It is uncannily like the molasses cookies of my grandma... or my memory of them... except puffier and muffin-y.  

I also use the oat flour and almond flour base of my last batch of muffins on here (the lemon-fruity muffins) so if you used certified gluten-free oats, these muffins are gluten-free.  

And there are no eggs or dairy in this recipe, so these muffins are also vegan.

But above everything else, they are delicious.... try the recipe and see!

So-- TO MAKE 12 LARGE (not Jumbo) MUFFINS:

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup  water
4 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 cups  almond flour
2 cups  oat flour (I ground my oat flakes up in my vitamix to make flour-- but can be purchased)
1 cup    rolled oats (certified gluten-free if needed)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup     maple syrup (not maple-flavoured pancake syrup)
2 riped   mashed bananas
4 tablespoons coconut water, or just plain water or non-dairy milk
1- 2 cups total of chopped dates and walnut pieces
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METHOD:
1. Combine flax seed and water in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
2. Combine and mix together: almond flour, oat flour, rolled oats, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a large bowl.  
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/ 177 degrees Celsius
4. Mix maple syrup, mashed bananas, molasses, and coconut water (or plain water / non-dairy milk) in the medium-sized bowl with flax seed and water.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
6. Mix until well combined.  
7. Gently add in chopped dates and walnuts.
8. Spoon into the muffin cups.
9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes on rack. Enjoy. These muffins freeze well.

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