Morning Rounds in the Garden, May

The Spring garden is producing! The lettuces, kale, collards, spinach, peas, spring onions (aka scallions), radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, garlic, and herbs are experiencing unfettered growth.

Farmers grow food to eat, but I have to believe the majority of them are nourishers at heart who enjoy watching things grow. They are people who appreciate the miracle that happens every time you place a seed in the ground, water it, watch it sprout, grow leaves, and bear fruit. They can appreciate that within every seed there is the capacity for dormant energy to awaken and grow a root that pushes downward through dirt to seek water and a stem that pushes upward to gather sunshine for continued growth through photosynthesis.

Picking up where Morning Rounds 1 left off in April …

The Lower Garden

Typically, only the perimeter of this garden is planted in the spring. I usually leave the interior raised beds open and available for summer crops.

Two words about raised beds — build them! The beds are almost maintenance free. The soil does not need to be tilled because there is no compaction from being walked on. They also offer excellent drainage and are easy to weed.

Influenced by my recent trip to India where I saw daikon radishes in almost every village, I decided to grow a trial crop of them in four of the empty raised beds. You can see them in the photo above. A side benefit of growing this crop is how well the radish’s long roots break up the soil. They do the work of a tiller.

The Sugar Snap Peas planted on February 20th have started producing. Like wild! The plants were nearly four feet tall before the first flowers appeared. Now they are loaded with blossoms and peas.

Butter Crunch Lettuce has been growing well at the foot of the pea plants.

Yesterday, I harvested the entire row of lettuce and donated it to The Nashville Food Project. I will plant a summer crop of string beans in its place. This is Booth Jewett, the Food Donations Coordinator at TNFP weighing the donated lettuce. TNFP weighs and logs all food recovered from the community. Email Booth (booth@thenashvillefoodproject.org) if you have an abundance of any food products you would like to donate.

The Champanel and Concord Grapes budded last week. The tightly grouped green balls (aka ovaries, if I must say it–my kids hate when I do)

spread out and flower for only one to two days. During that short time, the flowers self-pollinate. Self-pollination happens when each flower has both male and female parts. They only need a little wind and gravity to bring the two parts together to set the fruit. Tomatoes are pollinated the same way.

One morning, I found little silvery balls of dew around the edges of a grape leaf. That will make you smile.

As I mentioned earlier, inspired by my visit to India, I planted White Icicle radishes on March 13th and harvested them on May 4th.

The bright white radishes were pretty and tasty.

With thoughts of my visit to the Langar Hall of a Sikh temple in Delhi, where I joined volunteers to prep white radishes for lunch, I donated the harvest to TNFP. Little do those volunteers in India know they planted a seed within me that sprouted an idea.

On the left side of this garden, I grew dwarf Sugar Daddy Peas. I planted cool-weather-loving Hakurei Turnips and Sensation Spinach in front of the peas. As the peas grow taller, they will shade the turnips and spinach extending their growing season by a few weeks.

The Back Garden

The back garden gives me more joy than any other spot in my yard. It was built and designed by Jeremy Lekich, owner of Nashville Foodscapes. It is a lush and peaceful place.

My favorite part is the “blackberry fence” Jeremy installed around the garden. He used four-foot high “rabbit” fencing to keep the chickens out. The blackberries are planted outside the fence.

This cluster of blackberry flowers shows each of the stages of flower development: a closed flower bud, an open flower, and a flower that has been pollinated and is now growing a blackberry. Blackberries do require bees for pollination.

The large kale plants in this kale patch wintered over (uncovered!) from the fall. The smaller plants were started by seeds planted on March 10th.

We’ve been picking from the bed of spring onions, shown below, since May first. I planted an entire raised bed of onions this year because I never wanted to run out. I use them almost daily in salads and in cooking.

I planted lettuce seeds on March 10th, but those seeds never germinated. I think the ground was still too cold and wet. When I realized they were not going to germinate, I bought and planted a variety of lettuce plants. Later, in mid-April, I planted new lettuce seeds so I could have a succession of lettuce leaves to harvest. Those seeds germinated and can be seen growing between the larger plants.

I planted garlic cloves from heads of garlic I had in the kitchen. They have grown beautifully and should be ready for harvest next month. Interspersed with the garlic are self-seeded indigo plants from a crop I grew last summer.  Once I pull the garlic in June, I’ll let the indigo plants continue to grow throughout the summer. I’m dreaming about indigo dyes.

We’ve been eating radishes for about a month now. I will harvest what remains of those plants this week so the beet seeds I planted in the same row and at the same time as the radishes will get more sun.

I only planted a small crop of potatoes this year; just enough to be able to show the children who visit my garden where potatoes come from.

I love my herb garden! Growing in it are lots of rosemary, oregano, and thyme; all herbs I use in my recipes for Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Marbella, and Lemony Grilled Chicken. Also growing are sage, parsley, chives, cilantro and a fun perennial plant to watch called Egyptian Walking Onions.

I have a few rhubarb plants in the garden. They are perennials, and I’m hoping to establish a small bed of them.

The Chickens

The chickens continue to lay their eggs and delight us with their antics. They are the ultimate composters eating almost everything we throw in the compost pile.

Here they are eating radish and kale tops.

 

 

 

Herb Porch Pots

This is my third year to plant herb porch pots on my front porch. I always plant them using hardy herbs in late February.

My 20-month-old grandson and I have lots of rituals we partake in when he comes to visit. My favorite is to pinch a leaf off of one of the herbs, rub it between my fingers, and let him smell it. Sometimes, he tastes it, too. Yet, another reason to grow your own food!

That’s it for this version of Morning Rounds!

Related Posts
Morning Rounds 1
Eulogy for a Chicken
WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece
Herb Porch Pots!
How to Make Grape Jelly (and grow the grapes)
Family Dirt
Cooking 35,000 Meals a Day in a Sikh Kitchen in Delhi (India, Part 1)

Don’t miss a recipe! Become a subscriber and have every post delivered to your Inbox.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Remember to always check this website for updated versions of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Cooking 35,000 Meals a Day in a Sikh Kitchen in Delhi (India, Part 1)

We arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, via London, at 1:30 in the morning after twenty-four hours of travel and a big dose of nervous excitement.  The airport, much more modern than I had imagined, was unexpectedly crowded for such an early hour but apparently, early morning arrivals are common in this international terminal.

We followed the crowds in a jet-lagged daze through immigration (please let us in), baggage claim (please let our bags be there), currency exchange  (please don’t rip us off), and finally the exit (driver, please, please be there). Thankfully, we spied a sign meant just for us, “Mr. Judy Wright.” Yes, someone, on the other side of the planet, was expecting us! I’m not sure there are words to describe our relief; we had no backup plan.

Our driver, Ravi, smiled when he saw us walk towards him. It was 3:00 in the morning. He took our bags, put them in the trunk of a small white car and drove us to our hotel. It took almost an hour to get there. Ravi asked us what time we wanted to get picked up. We told him 11:00. At the time, I don’t think we fully understood he would be our driver and caretaker for the entire time we explored the “Golden Triangle” cities of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.

Why have a driver? Because in India, road lanes are merely suggestions. There are 10 million vehicles in Dehli. The streets are crowded with three-wheeled taxis called “autos,” motorcycles, cars, people, and the occasional street cow, all of them weaving in and out of traffic beeping their horns as they go. Ravi quickly informed us that, in India, a beeping horn means, “I’m here!” not, “I’m angry.” He joked that good drivers must have three things: good horns, good brakes, and good luck. Ravi had much to manage on the road in addition to answering multiple questions from yours truly. We were fortunate to be in the capable hands of such a smart and kind man.

(These videos of road traffic were all shot in Jaipur.)

Sometimes there were harnessed camels sharing the road

or joyful kids

or multiple children being driven to school on a motorcycle.

That first morning, we drove into downtown Dehli where Ravi pulled over at a busy corner, and like magic, in jumped our red-turbaned tour guide named Daljeet. They decided to take us to Daljeet’s place of worship, a Sikh temple known as Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib built in 1783. It is one of ten Sikh gurudwaras in India. It was not on our original itinerary, but it became one of the most memorable, serendipitous stops of our trip for reasons to be explained.

Daljeet gave us a brief history of the Sikh people and explained the tradition of sewa —  voluntary, selfless service on behalf of and for the betterment of the greater community. He said it is their religious mission to respect all humans and to take care of people.

Sikhs do not have a caste system, nor do they discriminate against people of other religions, ethnicities, or gender. Everyone is considered equal; thus, poor people pray and eat beside the more privileged in the gurudwara.

Sikh men wear turbans to hold up the hair they never cut from birth to death. They do not shave their beards, either. Their turban is a symbol of bravery, self-respect, and spirituality.  The women cover their heads, as well.

To enter the temple, we had to remove our shoes, place a covering over our head (orange kerchiefs were available for visitors),

wash our hands with soap and water, and rinse our feet in a stream of running water.

Once inside the temple, we knelt down and prayed at the railing of the lavish temple made of marble and covered in gold.

We became intoxicated by the symphony of music and praying.

After visiting the temple, we went out the back entrance to the 20-foot deep holy lake.  Historically, people bathed in this lake; more purification. Daljeet invited us to dip our feet in the holy water.

Our second stop was to accept a small portion of Prasad, a sacred pudding served while scripture is recited. It is a devotional offering to God.

The sweet pudding is made with equal portions of whole wheat flour, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar.

.

Here is how one accepts prasad.

“Yes, I would like to see the kitchen.”

Here is a photo of Daljeet. He is calling Ravi to tell him the Americans want to stay longer and tour the interior of the langar, the community kitchen and feeding hall of the gurudwara. He had just finished telling us how the Sikhs feed thousands every day and I wanted to see how they did it. I told him of my passion for feeding people at The Nashville Food Project where we grow, cook and share nutritious food, too.

The Sikhs feed the masses — 35,000 meals are made and served Monday thru Saturday in the langar. On Sundays, 65,000 meals are served. Lunch consists of rice, dahl (black lentils), vegetables, chapati (bread), kheer (a sweet dessert made with rice, milk, sugar, and almonds) and tea. Daljeet fixed me a sample of the food and served it on dried leaves. Delicious.

The Food Hall

For 500 years Sikhs have been feeding people in this hall that is now air-conditioned. As people exit from one end, volunteers come in and sweep and mop the floors, followed closely by a new group of dinner guests entering from the other end of the building.

The room fills quickly. Stainless steel trays are passed by volunteers. There are no utensils; the diners eat with their hands.

Next, volunteers walk up and down the aisles serving hot food from large stainless steel pails and chapati from bowls.

After dinner, guests drop off their trays as they exit.

Inside the kitchen, the steel plates are washed creating a cacophony of sound. Daljeet said when he has free time, he comes in and washes dishes.

The Kitchen

Our next stop was to tour the kitchen. At the entrance, a group of people sat and prepped daikon radishes, the vegetable of choice that day. I recognized this long white root vegetable as a plant used by American farmers to break up soil in a sustainable way. It is not a plant Americans typically eat. It is currently in season in India. We saw it being transported, along with green onions and cilantro in every town we visited.

I asked if I could help prep the radishes. The women offered me a stool and handed me a knife.

I got to help roll the chapati dough, too.

Here are people cooking the chapati. Each chapati is brushed with a little ghee after cooking.

The cooking area was a beehive of activity.

Most of the people in the kitchen are volunteers. Daljeet told us the congregation employs the chefs only. The temple supports each chef’s family, including educating the children.

A few more pictures:

This team is in charge of refilling the serving bowls of chapati.

These men are refilling the pails of dahl and rice for the servers on the other side of the window. It is a well-oiled machine of food service.

Look at the size of the kettle. It looks very similar to some we saw at the Amer Fort, built in 1592, near Jaipur.

fullsizeoutput_4995 IMG_5626.jpg

This is the rice and milk dessert.

The dry storage room. Much of the wheat and rice stored here are grown by Sikhs in the Punjab. Grow. Cook. Share.

YwOkRaMZQ%+ecsJ1nbhHaA

This video shows the beehive of activity in the kitchen.

We spent almost three delightful hours at the Gurudwara. Of the 18 million people who live in Delhi, I am grateful that Ravi and Daljeet were assigned to be our guides and that I had this remarkable opportunity to see how another organization uses food to provide nourishment and form a sense of harmony and community in a city.

We had been in India for only twelve hours, and already we had driven through a city where people beep to say “I’m here” instead of “I’m angry,” to get to a place where food is used as a way to say, “Welcome, I care about you.” We experienced this pattern of kindness and generosity of spirit throughout our ten-day stay in India.

Namaste. (“I respect you from my heart and soul” as Ravi put it.)

Places we Visited in Dehli

Humayun’s Tomb

India Gate
 

Parliament

Lotus Temple

Related Posts:
Learning How to Block Print in a Factory in Jaipur (India, Part 2)
A Stepwell, Parcheesi, Brick-Making, and Chapati-Making (India, Part 3)
Room with a View: the Taj Mahal in Agra (India, Part 4)
A Cook’s Tour of a Farm in Southern India (India, Part 5)
Shopping for a Saree in South India (India, Part 6)

If you enjoyed this post, please become a subscriber! Be sure to confirm the subscription on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.
Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright

 

Thick Rolled Oats, Walnuts, and Summer Preserves: The Yummiest of Oatmeals

I volunteer at The Nashville Food Project, a non-profit in Nashville whose mission is to bring people together to grow, cook, and share nourishing food with the goal of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in our city.

Occasionally, friends, restaurants, and neighborhood, school, and church groups call me to ask if TNFP could use their surplus food after an event or a glut of vegetables from their home gardens.

Just before Christmas, a few friends emailed to ask if TNFP would like their stash of unopened jars of fruit preserves and relishes. TNFP’s Donations Coordinator, Booth Jewett, was happy to accept the donations. If you or your organization ever wonder what to do with excess food, email Booth at booth@thenashvillefoodproject.org. He will let you know if TNFP can accept the food and will help make drop-off arrangements at our Green Hills kitchen.

These recent emails about what to do with homemade preserves got me thinking about my own abundance of preserves: Roasted Strawberries with Rosemary, Crabapple with Rosemary Jelly, and Campanella Grape Jelly and the jars of jelly given to us as gifts by friends and clients (which we adore receiving!).

I had an idea.

Almost every morning I make oatmeal for breakfast. In the summer, I add fresh fruit and walnuts to it, and in the fall I add sliced apples or pears with a little honey. What if I started stirring in a teaspoonful of homemade fruit preserves during the winter months?

I gave it a try with Lil’s Blackberry Jam gifted to us by jack-of-all-trades and master of all, nurse practitioner, Heather O’Dell. The oatmeal was delicious! Add to that a few chopped walnuts, and it was like eating an ice cream sundae only much more nutritious.

(The photo above is fake news. I do not set the table for breakfast every morning. Ask Kelly.)

Ingredients (2-3 servings):
2 cups of boiling hot water
dash of salt
1 cup THICK rolled oats

Instructions:
Bring water and salt to a boil.
Add oats. When water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low.
Simmer for 5-7 minutes until water is absorbed by oats.

Oats Explained 
A few months ago, I discovered thick rolled oats. I now can’t go back to the regular “five minute” old-fashioned oats; they seem mushy by comparison. I buy the oats in one of the bulk bins at Whole Foods. It’s one of my favorite new foods.

They are special because of their extra chewy texture and nutty flavor. Bonus: oats are good for you; they are full of protein (7 grams from a ½ cup dry serving), fiber (4 grams), vitamins, and minerals.

Oats processed for oatmeal start out as oat groats. Groats are the hulled kernels of cereal grains. From there they are processed into either steel-cut, rolled, or quick or instant oats. All oats are nutritionally equivalent except for the bags of individual serving instant oats which generally have lots of added sugar and sodium.

Steel-Cut Oats: oat groats that have been cut into two or three pieces. They are very hard and take about 25-35 minutes to cook. They remind me of brown rice in texture and cooking times. I don’t buy the steel-cut oats very often, but when I do, I cook them in a rice cooker. For instructions, check out this post: Ode to a Rice Cooker
Rolled Oats (aka old-fashioned oats): whole groats that have been rolled flat. They take about 5-7 minutes to cook depending on how thickly they are rolled. Often they are steamed in the processing plant to soften the groat before rolling. Some varieties are lightly toasted.
Quick or Instant Oats: these oats are often pre-cooked rolled oats that have been dried and then chopped into smaller pieces for faster cooking.

There is a nice website with photos of each of the different styles of processed oats on The Whole Grains Council website.

Other Recipes with Oats
Oats, Sorghum, and Ginger Cookies
Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe or pattern.

If you enjoyed this post, become a subscriber! Be sure to confirm the subscription on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Outrageous Roasted Rosemary Cashews

Warning: these nuts can become are addictive!

Even the reject batches turned into something absolutely wonderful.

I had been served roasted rosemary cashews twice, both times at The Nashville Food Project’s Patron’s Party for Nourish. I was smitten! After this year’s event, I cruised the Internet for a recipe and found that superstar chefs like Ina and Nigella and a slew of others had been writing about these “bar nuts” from the Union Square Cafe in New York City for years. I had to make them.

A few words about the ingredients:

The Nuts. I made this recipe using one-pound bags of raw (unroasted), unsalted, cashews from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. The pound bags cost $7.99 at both stores. Be forewarned — raw, unsalted, cashews are hard to find at traditional grocery stores. At the Union Square Cafe, they use a combination of raw nuts.

Kosher Salt versus Table Salt. If you use kosher salt, you will need to add more salt. Kosher salt has larger crystals than table salt. Thus the salt takes up more volume but has less weight in a measuring spoon. Plan on using 1¼ to 1½ tablespoons of kosher salt to 1 tablespoon of regular salt.

Kosher salt has larger crystals because historically it was manufactured for “koshering” meat, a process where large crystals of salt were rubbed onto meat to remove surface blood. If table salt had been used, it might have been absorbed by the meat. Eventually, the name “koshering salt” was reduced to kosher salt.

Olive oil versus Butter. I  tried using olive oil instead of butter, but the seasonings wouldn’t stick to the nuts.

Yield: 6½ cups
Preheat oven to 350º

Ingredients:

2 pounds whole, raw, unsalted cashews
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (from about ⅔ ounce of sprigs)
½ -¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on how much heat you like
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt (if using kosher salt, you will need to use 1¼ to 1½ tablespoons)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mise en Place:

Instructions:

Pour nuts into a large, rimmed, baking pan in a single layer. Roast for 10-12 minutes until very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, measure the seasonings and mince the fresh rosemary.

Melt the butter and add to the bowl of seasonings. Stir.

Immediately after removing nuts from oven, pour nuts into a large bowl and add the seasoning mixture. You could add the butter mixture directly to the pan and toss, but the nuts tend to spill out as you stir and much of the seasoning stays on the bottom of the pan. I think it’s better to mix in a bowl.

Let flavors meld for about ten minutes, occasionally stirring to distribute the seasonings evenly. Your house will smell divine. Serve warm or allow nuts to cool by spreading them in a roasting pan.

These nuts make great holiday and hostess gifts.

Roasted Rosemary Cashew Nut Butter

What did I do with my reject batches of roasted cashews? I tried making nut butter for the first time using my Vitamix processor. The results were amazing!! I’m so thrilled to have made something new that is so tasty. I processed the three pounds of nuts for only two minutes.
 

P.S. The seasoning mixture is yummy on popcorn.

Related Snack Recipes:
Roasted Tamari Almonds (and growing soybeans)
“Croatian Cheese” a Flavorful,  Exotic Appetizer Made with Feta and Goat Cheese
Cooking Popcorn in a Brown Paper Bag

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe. Thanks!

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.