Some of My Good Days Look Like This… And Fabu Asian Peanut Sauce

We had a super busy day yesterday in mid-Maryland.  Evening plans and Father’s Day/my birthday on Sunday meant garden obligations had to be met in short order to allow festivities to be truly festive and to allow my neurotic soul to breathe easy and enjoy.  So as soon as breakfast was done (a big honkin’ kale smoothie made into a parfait with overnight oats – cause that’s just how I roll), I grabbed the lawn mower and got a move on.  The great thing about mowing around the garden is that it allows me to peek in and re-evaluate my plan of action.  I had originally planned to leave my broccoli and cauliflower alone as I wasn’t convinced they were done.  I had tomatoes to plant, preferably in the ground as my container tomatoes just don’t seem to do well.  I had basil to pot and various other things to plant, water, weed all in time for my 25th high school reunion (gulp, that sounds like a long time ago).

I quickly discerned that most of the broc and cauliflower were either spent or not budding (with 100 degree heat in the forecast, it seemed like time to give up).  I cleared those puppies out, planted a few new cucumbers and a tomato.  Dug up my ornamental fennel that a dear friend sent me seeds for from her plant in Michigan (i had thought it was edible so put it in the veggie garden – that’s a big plant for no eating in the veggie garden, but lovely and so yum smelling). “Mom…. a snake!”  Ran to children.  Observed large rat snake leaving patio, down retaining wall into woods.  Back to garden.  In went the watermelon.  Husband (pack mule) brought soil and compost to required location and did the part of the mowing that makes my knees go all wing-wangy.  Soil and compost piled in sunny spot, tomato planted.  Carrots pulled, beets pulled, raspberries picked (and eaten –  who could resist?!).  Dig, dig, dig, Hunh?

 Turtle in garden.  Shell completely closed.  Husband transported turtle to patio for warming.  Turtle slowly gained courage and eventually crawled away.  Weeds removed, basil planted, zucchini checked for mildew.  Japanese beetles on raspberry canes squished (without remorse).  Garden haul gathered and taken to kitchen.  Fresh carrot munched while removing leaves from 8 broc/cauliflower plants (rinse, wrap in cool wet and slip in plastic bag then fridge), beets same, carrots same.  Second fridge full.  Warmed leftover bulgur and added freshly harvested (raw) broccoli so it warmed and got the tiniest bit tender.  Stirred in homemade Asian peanut sauce from container in fridge.  Deeeeelish.  Shower.  Actually used a blowdryer – yes, a special occasion indeed.  Met friends, dropped off kids.

Reunion.  Such fun.  Hugs.  Fabulous old (and by that I mean young, vibrant, and absolutely wonderful) friends.  Stories.  Hugs.  Dinner. Cake. Wine. Bed.

Just about perfect.  Hope you are all enjoying a fabulous weekend.

Fabu Asian Peanut Sauce

  • Two large glops of peanut butter
  • A few shakes of soy or Bragg’s (to taste)
  • red chili flakes (or chili paste)
  • crushed garlic
  • minced/crushed/or powdered ginger
  • chopped cilantro
  • water

This is a wonderful sauce in that it is highly adaptable and easy to adjust for different tastes and uses.  I usually don’t measure (shocker, I know), start with the PB, and add the other ingredients to taste (which means I get to eat it while I’m making it, which is obviously a good thing).  Most of the ingredients are optional or could be changed out, but I find this combo to be the most yum.  When I’ve mixed everything but the water to taste, I add enough water to make it suit my needs.  If it’s a drizzling sauce I add more water.  If I want to dip veggies in it, less water.  It keeps beautifully and adds a lovely Asian peanut vibe to just about anything you might want to eat.  Great on noodles, fabulous on broccoli…. especially broccoli you’ve just brought in from the garden.

Using The Whole Dang Thing

So things are rolling in the garden, and I have to say (although I should knock on all the wood I can find) we’ve had a pretty great season so far. My intentional neglect seems to be more effective than drowning the lovelies as I usually do. I harvested my first broccoli ever the other day and it was stupendous. I should add that I really love broccoli – always have. Fresh from the garden broccoli is not as revelatory as fresh peas compared to store-bought; however, it was noticeably more delicious. More tender, sweeter, and green all the way through, rather than white in the middle like the store version.

While I was harvesting, I was thinking of Big Sis’ cauliflower leaf roasting escapades the other day, and so, since the variety I’m growing will still produce more broccoli, I just took the top head and the top of the stem, and then quietly, gently, furtively, I took just a few of the gihugic leaves as well. I chose them carefully so that I could get some more sun on my juvenile beans and cucumbers. My daughter evidenced some small amount of concern as she saw these enormous and, in my view, somewhat prehistoric-looking, leaves in the harvest bucket.

Back in the kitchen, I cut the leaves from the stems and chopped them roughly (is there any other way, really?). I warmed some olive oil in a skillet, placed the stems in and let them cook slowly while I assembled the other elements of my throw-together dinner. I steamed the broccoli, pulled out some bean sprouts, warmed some leftover quinoa, retrieved some cashew cream from its jar (you could totally use shredded cheese or parm), and let the stems soften a bit. Added 2 small cloves of garlic to the pan and stirred.  As everything else became warm, I added the brocco leaves to the pan with a little salt and some red wine vinegar. Then I added chopped spring onions. And thus, the varia-bowl of the week was born. I added some roasted pine nuts, because I can’t help myself when I smell a pine nut opportunity.

So I ate it, and it was delish, and it got me to thinking… what other plant parts am I discarding or relegating to the compost pile when they could well be going in my mouth, which lately has been wanting an awful lot of food in it all the time. Thus far, I’ve discovered that pretty much every part of the broccoli plant is edible (I assume cauliflower is the same) and that Shari Goodman has a few suggestions for all those bits.

Carrot greens are also apparently edible.  Now, in reading it was clear to me that carrot greens are not without controversy as members of their bio family can have toxic greens, so you should probably check this out for yourself just in case I, and other people, are wrong. I have to say, however, that I am looking at the row of carrots in a whole new way. I am ALWAYS up for a new pesto.

Now, I was aware that pea shoots are edible, and have enjoyed eating them (not my own, I simply can’t bear to shorten the life of any pea plant that is growing on my property). My question was whether or not the mature vines are edible. It seems that they are, although I don’t know if that makes them desirable, but I do intend to find out, especially since my pea production seems to be winding down. Wouldn’t that be a lovely way to extend pea season? Seems to me that even if they aren’t so dandy to eat, they might be swell for making bean soup broth.

In my internet searching I tried “eat the whole plant” and a variety of other word combinations that indicated that I wished to eat more than the conventionally farmed bit, but didn’t have a great amount of success. A few sites about how to eat the whole animal came up, and while I have respect for that notion as being both frugal and more respectful (if you’re going to kill it, you ought to at least make the most of it), it didn’t help me out very much. I’m sure this info is out there, I just haven’t hit on the right combination of words yet, or asked enough country gardeners. So I’ll put it out there to you my fine friends. Any of you eating the “other” parts of the plants these days? Veggie offal anyone?