Tag Archives: greens

How I saved my greens.

I’m ashamed to think of how much cilantro has gone bad in my fridge over the years. I love it, and so I buy a fresh bunch from time to time, which isn’t usually that pricey, but still, when it goes into the trash slimy and blackening, it’s a sad waste. 😦

Today I was busying myself cooking up vegetables that came in my CSA (community supported agriculture) box, and I came to the bunch of cilantro… Hmm… Maybe I had planned to combine that with tomatoes and peppers to make more Indian Egg Bhurji. But — No tomatoes were in the house, and I didn’t want to spend time de-stemming cilantro anyway. (I must need a special prayer to pray while I am doing that perfectly lovely job that seems so tedious. That’s what Kate told me to do about my boring floor exercises.)

An idea came to me when I saw the bag of arugula I’d bought yesterday — also something that I love, which I probably thought I’d put in a green salad, if I could get around to washing the lettuce… When I was a child, the task of preparing the large, leafy-green salad that without fail was part of our evening meal always fell to us children. I always wonder if I am harboring a childish rebelliousness deep in my psyche, that makes me resist salad-making, too.

The thought that occurred was, Could I make a sauce or pesto by combining arugula and cilantro? I’m not confident enough as a chef to go right at it, so I looked online and found that many people had done just that, with great variations. I customized mine to be fast-friendly (vegan) and not too lemony, and to use more arugula than cilantro, because I had a lot more of that leaf on hand. I kept the ingredients list short, and didn’t add garlic or pepper because the greens are both pretty flavorful already.

Here is what I came up with. All the amounts below are approximate. Many people like their pesto less thick, and will add more oil. Before washing the cilantro, I cut off the longest stems while they were still tied together in a bunch, but left the rest of the stems for the food processor to deal with. No de-stemming by hand!

SAVE the GREENS PESTO

3 cups packed cilantro
4 1/2 cups packed arugula
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup toasted walnut pieces

Grind the walnuts in the food processor and then add the other ingredients to make a paste, adding more oil or salt or lemon to taste.

Until today I never paid much attention to all those “pestos” made from everything but the classic basil-olive oil-Parmesan combination, but recently I learned how to make Tarragon Salsa Verde from Jo, and found it very adaptable and always delicious. (I have planned to share my results with you but this recipe pushed ahead in line.)

I think its versatility gave me the hope that other green things could work together the same way. And they did indeed form something easy that saved us, greens and human, from possible shame, and added another tasty and healthy item to my menu options. Now I can spread my salad on crackers!

Back to my happiest place…

gl2 P1040417This afternoon I returned from a short road trip, and within a few minutes I’d taken a stroll around the garden to see what changes might be evident. I hoped that the newly planted items had made it through the weekend without my attentions, and they had.

The Terra Cotta yarrow has begun to bloom, and it looks pretty against the blue pincushion flowers nearby. In a month the rows of lavender bushes will all be flowering in contrast as well, but already one variety is starting to open enough that a fat black bee was checking it out.P1040414

 

The vegetables have not stopped growing huge — just what magic is in this custom mix of dirt for planting boxes? I’ve never grown or even seen such lush and large leaves of kale and Romaine lettuce.

 

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Just the day before my trip I had set out  a flat of flower and vegetable starts, including this feathery fennel and two zinnias. I always like some zinnias mixed in with vegetables. In the garden, that is.

That’s rice straw mulching the fennel; another task I had completed the day before my trip was to wrangle a bale of the stuff out of my Subaru and into the back yard so that I could at least tuck it in around the tiniest plants for protection against drying out while I was gone.gl2 P1040422

 

 

It’s surprising how several of the Iceland poppies are still flowering even in the warming weather, no doubt encouraged by having lately enjoyed several spells of cool rain, and by the well-drained soil that they reportedly appreciate. Usually they don’t make it through the summer around here….

 

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Lovage towers above leeks and parsley.

The happiness of being home in my garden again gave me the energy to actually use some of my produce; I picked a dozen kale leaves and cooked a mess of greens in the pressure cooker, to go with my eggs for dinner.

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Water music for workers and for hospitality.

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plum

Last week I felt such relief from having a load lifted from my mind, I was immediately energized to prune the plum trees. These are the Elephant Heart plums that I had to buy two of after all. You might remember that I polled the neighbors to see if anyone had a Santa Rosa plum or an Elephant Heart to be the pollinator for mine. Several did, but then I found out that the helper tree would have to be within 50-100 feet of whatever I planted in my space. That is, next door. Which they weren’t.

A pruned tree might not be a lovely thing if it were not demonstrating a great success to the pruner, that of surmounting my fears and inadequacies and ignorance and getting it accomplished. Landscape Lady had given me some tips, and then I rgl P1030363 pruned plumead quite a bit online and printed off some pictures and advice about how many inches between scaffold branches and what percentage of the length of the branch to cut off, etc. — things I don’t already know from pruning ornamentals.

The relief I felt was over the completion of my fountain project. This was another story that was in process when I thought it was done, because the first fountain was found to be defective. The finish peeled off in big flakes before it had been here two months. The tasks of getting my money back and getting it taken away was hard enough, and then the shopping for a new one… I needed the help of two friends two days in a row to find what I wanted, and praise the Lord it was one I could buy right there, and have it set up within a few days. gl P1030392 hospitality

Now we garden workers and garden sitters can enjoy the accompaniment of the fountain song again. And I think I like this new one better than the first. I learned that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, which made me happy, because I want my new garden to be a place where I can be hospitable to my friends, both human and animal. If you look closely you can see the bell of bird seed on a pole in the distance behind the fountain, a gift to the birds from Kit.

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Kit is also pruning, the wisteria, right at this moment while the warm air and the water music come in the open windows to where I am typing. I told her to prune it hard, that she couldn’t kill it, and she climbed up on the arbor and has given it a drastic haircut. Maybe the towhees won’t think us very hospitable for taking away a nice platform for their nests.

 

The last few days have been downright balmy. So when I finished pruning I did more things, like planting a succulent and a thyme plant, and weeding in the front yard. And taking pictures of buds.

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I dearly love the viburnum buds that come out the end of January, two-by-two along their gracefully curving stems. Even the dwarf pomegranate bushes have buds, which I was not sure about when I first saw them last week. I bent down to trim the ends of the tangly branches, and saw red dots that looked like mites, they were so tiny and bright; now they are easier to recognize for what they are, bold upspringings of pomegranate life. I have to use my hand as a background in order to get the camera to focus.gl P1030378 pom buds

This season when sprouts come up and out of everywhere — I never can get used to it! I will have to write about it every year.

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This week I made another bold move: to phone the “Oriental Gardener” who leaves flyers around the neighborhood from time to time advertising his services. I got a bid from him for pruning the osmanthus at the front of the house. It has dead wood from drought damage, and needs to be reduced in size. He will do it tomorrow, so I took a Before picture this afternoon.

 

 

 

Housemate Susan told me that she used some kale from the front yard recently, and that pleased me very much, because I have not eaten one leaf of all the greens I planted last fall. While I was waiting for the Oriental Gardener to come by I picked my own bowlful of collards and Swiss chard and am looking forward to a good mess of greens real soon.

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