Springtime Dutch Pancake

I’m in love with chives this year! I’ve always liked them, but for some reason they are just shining this month. Chives chopped finely are the freshest green garnish of the season. They add a small bite, a nip of allium flavor. The tiny chive is a reminder of larger vegetables to come soon.

Some weekends growing up, my mom used to make what we called “special pancake,” which we served with Vermont maple syrup and a splash of lemon juice. I’ve also heard it called Jacob’s pancake, Dutch baby, and “failed popover.” The recipe is very simple, and similar to popovers, just two eggs, a cup of milk, a half-cup flour, and butter pre-melted in the pan while the oven’s heating up. Flavor it however you feel like, whether plain, or with thinly sliced apples & cinnamon, or shredded cheese. Today I have mixed in a handful of chives, fresh sage, one of the first yellow summer squashes, salt & pepper, and a small pinch of nutmeg. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 400 F degree preheated oven. When it is approaching golden brown, and poofed up in random beauty, it is done. Serve immediately, or watch it deflate in a few minutes.

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Sprouts & Salads

It’s so easy to sprout things, and then they’re alive! Sprouting changes the texture and make-up of beans to make them more edible with less digestive issues, and makes some vitamins more accessible. There’s just something special about eating a live bean rather than a dull, dried bean (nothing against them, I cooked some yummy pinto beans with apples & turmeric the other day). My favorites for sprouting are green lentils, mung beans, alfalfa, chickpeas, and sunflower seeds (raw, not toasted – non-irradiated). Making sprouts adds a fresh-grown item that could be a good substitute for salad during low-yield times in the garden.

I like the way sprouts twist and curl and reach out. And their crisp crunch that tastes so fresh and clean. Here I have added some green lentil sprouts along with mung beans, chickpeas, navy beans, pintos, chard, dill, lemon, & olive oil to make a glorious 5-bean salad, a step up from the white bean salad I’ve been making lately.

First soak your bean/seed of choice (dried, not canned or cooked) in cold water for the first day, to fully hydrate. Then rinse them with fresh cool water twice a day (morning & night), straining the water out. All they need to live is water and a bit of air, and they will start sprouting in a couple of days. When the sprouts are big enough for your taste, refrigerate them to prevent overgrowing. It’s that simple.

I sprout in a metal pot with a holey lid, and strain with a sieve. In the past I’ve used a set-up with glass mason jars fit with screened lids, that you can simply fill with water and strain without having to undo the lid.

We’ve had some red sumac powder in the pantry that someone saved last fall. It’s an unusual item that looks like chili powder but isn’t spicy at all. It tastes very lemony, kind of like a whiskey sour. Here I have combined sumac with lime juice, olive oil, turmeric, white pepper, and pickled beet juice to make a lovely colorful dressing that probably most people weren’t sure what to do with. Also shown here is a coconut-mint-lime dressing (coconut milk adds a creamy factor to vegan dressings), and a spicy thai dressing with a green bell pepper puree.

Bean Salad with Chard & Chives

We have lots of lovely rainbow chard brightening our plates this week. Kale and spinach too, which all seems to go down with a bit more enthusiasm when combined with various forms of garlic. Fresh green garlic chives and scallions are in great shape this spring, a flavorful garnish for pretty much anything. Lately I’ve been favoring this cold white navy bean salad with chives, chard, fresh lemony sorrel, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice (a bit of zest would add oomph), salt & white pepper. I chop up the rainbow chard stems like celery, a colorful crunch, then slice the greens up finely. This is a refreshing way to use up some of the abundant greens this spring.

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Celebrating Spring with Mint & Mango

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Fresh-tasting split pea soup with mint & mango (& other green herbs: thyme, parsley, sage, tarragon, celery, plus turmeric & white pepper). Surprisingly delicious, savory combination! We happened to get a surplus stock of 20 cases of very ripe mangoes… time for smoothies & mango salsa!

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Deep dark loaf: whole wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat, molasses. Sweet & Earthy.

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The courtyard in bloom, complete with kitty & lilacs

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First rhubarb harvest of the year! Mango-rhubarb jam?

Dragon Eggs

Dragon eggs for Brunch! I used pickled beet juice to dye some hardboiled eggs pink, and tried to use wasabi/turmeric/scallions for green but ended up adding some food coloring to that one… turned out pretty cool, kinda tie-dyed. Better color after soaking them overnight without their shells. Happy Spring!

More from brunch: the finished eggs, & cinnamon rolls (vegan, with a ground sunflower seed filling)

Chocolate mud pie with Mint seedlings!

Chocolate pudding with crumbled chocolate cake “dirt,” with mint sprigs “planted” as tasty seedlings! Even made one pan a VGF no white sugar version, with sorghum. Spring has me feeling cutesy about food. The other week, I made an egg basket with a bed of kale for grass, and boiled the eggs with beet juice and turmeric for color. 17821065_1602441943118926_268973652_n17814005_1602441866452267_839711818_n

Berry Delights

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Not many strawberries this year

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Blueberries are plentiful 🙂 Here’s a Blueberry cake, coconut lime (VGF). I like the patterns that the blueberries make when they explode.

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one of a couple of herb gardens, from left to right: oregano, sage, garlic chives, rosemary, thyme, sorrel, parsley, basil, & strawberries

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Blooming sage, wistful

Red Clover Fields

I’ve been loving the red clover fields. It’s just a cover crop, destined to be turned back into the earth, but it started blooming a week ago. A big red patch of garden in the middle of the field, with green, windy rye on one side and a blank brown slate of earth on the other side. It catches my eye every time I walk past it on the path. The bees have found it.

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Rye & red clover cover crop next to the solar panels.

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Future blueberries

Swept Away By Spring Update: Kale, Kombucha, Sourdough Redux, & More

Swept Away By Spring Update: Kale, Kombucha, Sourdough Redux, & More

Well, it’s been a while since my last post. I should have been writing about the boatloads of kale we’ve been getting from our garden and turning into kale chips, salads massaged or otherwise, smoothies, hummus, pesto, kimchi, kale slaw, pickled stems, and just about everything we can come up with. Kale-pocalypse, as we call it, has been two weeks of Iron Chef: Kale. It is a superfood with large amounts of vitamin C, iron, and more.

There’s also been lovely spring onions :), great lettuce, and still beets & carrots aplenty. I’ve taken some not-so-super photos with my phone, but I should get back into the habit of bringing my Canon DSLR… sorry for the quality and blurriness and lighting issues. I’ve also been meaning to get out and take more photos of the spring beauty all around – flowers and the garden sprouting – and now we’ve had several days of rain. I’ve gotten a bit swept away by the beauty and peace this month, reconnected with some friends, and got out of my winter cave. I even went to an awesome indie rock concert for the first time in a long time, at Richmond’s Broadberry, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, with Little Scream and Avers. Sometimes you gotta rock out:

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Thao & The Get Down Stay Down is touring with their new album “A Man Alive.” Their song “Meticulous Bird” has been playing on loop all week on my mp3 player.

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Little Scream (from Canada) was great too, they opened for Thao.

Anyway, here are some food things I’ve made lately:

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Kale salad with shredded beets, blood oranges, and red onion

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A bouquet of rainbow chard stems

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Chickpea salad with olives, kale, & tahini

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Potato casserole with homemade yogurt, fresh herbs (chives, chervil, parsley), eggs, & olive oil

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Fresh sourdough loaves ready for a spring picnic

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My first attempt at babka – cocoa cinnamon swirls in a banana bread dough

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Blood orange kombucha (we were recently gifted a bunch of blood oranges, which is awesome. So pretty. Cheers!

A couple of notes/corrections on my last blog, about sourdough:
– A friend found out that there is no GMO wheat grown in the US, yay!
Rye is safer than I thought. Of course folks have used rye in sourdough successfully for a long time. The concern about trippy rye mold is mostly null in modern times – the specific mold that causes hallucinations, the ergot fungus, grows on the rye while in the field. It’s removed after harvest now, and affects not just rye, but many grain crops like wheat, oats, barley, & more. Rye flour & berries mold easily if left out in the climate in VA, which should be avoided in general, but it’s not the ergot fungus.
– Some folks say it isn’t best to feed sourdough a 100% whole wheat diet, that variety is best. You’ll find that every sourdough baker has something that they prefer to feed their dough pet: white unbleached, rye, oats, leftover porridge grains. One friend swears by feeding his sourdough dehydrated potato flakes, and you know what, it tasted great and was fluffy. Just goes to show ya that many methods work.

Coming soon: More spring harvests, the herb garden, and birthday cakes.