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Archive for March 27th, 2007

picture.jpgWe’ve made it through four letters of the alphabet, the ABC’s of Vegetables. We’ve looked at artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, and cabbage and lastly, dandelion greens. I hope you’ve found at least one recipe that appeals to your culinary adventurous spirit. In doing my research, I have. I found asparagus and cabbage recipes that I plan to fix in the near future. I have them in the stack of about 2,356 other new recipes that I plan to fix in the near future.

I have realized that if I prepare a new recipe for dinner each day, or even three new recipes, I will never use all the recipes I have clipped or bookmarked or saved on one of our three computers. It is a little discouraging, especially since I keep on looking and saving more. I cancelled subscriptions to four of the cooking magazines I was receiving. Now I’m down to four and I plan to cancel one that I used to really enjoy.

Cook’s Illustrated has become tiresome. I have decided that the recipes can be too complex, not difficult mind you, just too complicated to be worth the slight increase in their tasters’ enjoyment. I have tried a lot of the recipes “perfected” by the magazine’s staff and just can’t say that they are often worth the extra step(s) recommended. The last issue comes with an invitation to subscribe to their online site for more recipes and tips. Sorry, but if I’m already paying for the magazine, the last thing I want to see at the bottom of an article is the suggestion to join the online version to see more information about the article. So, I’m going to cancel it. That will reduce my clipped recipe increases by a few per month.

Part of the problem is organizational. If I want to fix a chicken breast recipe for example, I have too many places to look. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. Often I will just say “Heck with it. I’ll just fix a quick saute and deglaze the pan.” Of course, then I have to decide with what to deglaze the pan. Wine? Vinegar? Do I add herbs? Fresh? Dried? Do I need to shop for ingredients?

Every year I declare my resolution to go through my recipes (as if I could do it in a year!) and weed them of repeats, ones that no longer are appealing, or ones that are just too unhealthful for me. You know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. I must be near pergatory by now.

Anyway, tonight we are having chicken. Maybe I’ll find a new recipe to fix. I have a new cookbook to look through.

Morgana

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We’re still on our trip through the alphabet with vegetables and now that we’re at “D”, I could only find “dandelion greens” and “daikon radish.” I’m sure there must be more “D’s” but since any more must be very limited in availability I decided to stick with the only one I have any experience with and that’s dandelion greens.

Dandelions are the scourge of lawn purists, yellow heads bobbing up among blades of grass, spreading leaves smothering new growth, seeds hiding in gardens waiting for spring’s warmth to pop up unbidden and nearly un-pullable. Yes, I know the flowers are pretty and I enjoyed blowing the white seed heads just like any other child does.  Each one of those spent dandelion flowers probably has hundreds of seeds ready to land somewhere and start growing anew. The taproot grows deeply and stubbornly and once established , the weed (definition of a weed:  any plant growing where it oughtn’t ) holds on for dear life to the soil around it.  This is why homeowner’s and lawn managers resort to chemicals to prevent or stop the growth of the little devils.

By the way, what is the origin of the name “dandelion?” It comes from the French words “dent de lion” or “lion’s tooth,” so called for the deeply lobed shape of the leaves. 

What about the culinary uses?  I’ve  heard of dandelion wine but  never tasted it.  I understand  dandelions are used raw in salads, young leaves and flower buds, but I’ve never tasted that either.  That leaves me to discuss dandelion greens.

I love cooked greens, collards, kale, mustard, chard.  Definitely a comfort food, dandelion greens are required in some homes for a New Year’s Day traditional meal.  We often have it then, with pork and cornbread. Here is how I fix a “mess of greens.”

Greens – serves 8

4-5 pounds greens, all one kind or a mixture

a couple of ham hocks

1-2 onions, chopped coarsely

2 quarts water, or more

1-2 t. salt

pepper

Hot sauce, optional

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Remove the tough stems and ribs from the greens.  Wash the greens in cold water, three times, or until water is totally clear of sand and mud.

Chop the leaves in roughly 1/2″ pieces.

Put water, ham, and onion in a large stockpot.  Bring it to a boil. 

Add the greens a large handful at a time, stirring after each addition. Return pot to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer the greens for an hour or two.  Remove the ham hocks and cut off any meat if you want to add it to the greens.

Serve with the pot “likker” and hot sauce, if desired.  Soak it up with  cornbread.

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Although it’s more of a cold weather dish for me, it’s great any time of the year.

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