Archives for posts with tag: chard

Hello. It is the last day of March and I have moved again: on March 21 I moved out of my mother’s house and back to San Leandro. I am still unpacking things and rearranging them — I can’t remember where everything went last time around, although I remembered the locations of all of the pieces of furniture. As I settle into the house and take up routines of cleaning and cooking I find myself thinking a lot.

These are the kinds of things I think. “I want to make some bread. I don’t have any whole wheat flour. I have oats and cornmeal and molasses and white flour. I can make anadama bread. If I make double amounts of the cornmeal mush we can have cornmeal pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. If the oven is on to bake bread, I should roast a butternut squash from the cache that I grew last year. We can have that tonight with baked beans and fresh bread.” Then I bake bread and roast squash, saving the squash innards in the freezer for some future batch of butternut squash soup. Using the oven to prepare more than one dish at a time is something I learned from my mother in her kitchen.

I think about the garden. Because I am going on a short trip to New Mexico in late April I do not want to start seedlings or plant anything new outside until I get back. The garden, however, had plans of its own. Forty tomato plants have started themselves from the smushed remains of last year’s tomatoes, tomatoes that fell off the huge Sun Gold vine. Many of them decided to grow between the tiles of the only paved area in the yard, although some have reasserted themselves in the soil by the fence where I planted them last year. The largest of the patio tomatoes is now in flower. We will have to wait to see what we get because Sun Gold tomatoes are hybrid tomatoes. I had also planted Amish paste tomatoes and Principe Borghese. It remains to be seen if any of them have come up in the tomato forest. The chard asserted itself as well and formed two healthy clumps in a boggy area near the shed. So far my gardening activities have been limited to weeding, cutting down dandelions and thistles and teasing out oxalis from the stems of the chard. I cut chard everyday to eat, adding it to pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta or scrambling it into eggs with scallions. I think, eating from the garden, that I would like to plant some lettuce soon, maybe some radishes for variety, and then I remember that I am going away in less than a month and it would be better not to plant anything until I can be here to tend the garden.

I think about what I need and what I don’t need. At certain points in unpacking I declare “I don’t need any more stuff.” Then I realize I haven’t seen my set of biscuit cutters (“Maybe they are in the cookie-cutter tins by the kitchen bookshelf”) or my dough cutter. Because two of my bookshelves sit in the kitchen as a makeshift pantry and china cabinet respectively I have to edit the books that I display on the bedroom shelves. Last time around I consigned the short story collections to the shed. This time I have them out, but I am thinking they will be boxed up once again so that I have room for music books and volumes of poetry. Another strategy is to place books I have bought but have not yet read on a high shelf and to ask Johnny, who is tall, to get them down as I need them. Tomorrow, my “day off” I will face the book-sorting issue: last time I rearranged the books three times before I was satisfied.

When I spill water on the floor I am full of desire for a new, more effective mop and a large batch of cotton rags. When I think of making soup I covet an immersion blender, or, at least, a working regular blender. When I bake bread in conjoined loaf pans I remember the nice set of bread pans I saw at a thrift store in Berkeley and wonder if they are rust-proof and if they are still there. I make mental lists of groceries: whole wheat flour, lemons, sour cream, cinnamon sticks. Whenever I put something away in some inconvenient place I think, “Is there a better place for that in the kitchen?” (or the bedroom, or the bathroom).

As per the last time I moved I cannot find my camera battery on the evening that I write this blog post. If I find it soon I will perhaps add some pictures of the tomato forest.

Anadama Bread

In a saucepan combine:

1 and 1/2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup cornmeal

Stir constantly until cornmeal thickens and bubbles. Pour into mixing bowl.

In a glass measuring cup, measure 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of corn oil or soft shortening. Add to cornmeal mixture.

In that same greasy measuring cup, pour 1/3 cup molasses. Add molasses to cornmeal.

DO NOT WASH THAT CUP YET. Into that molasses-smeared cup, put 1/4 cup water. Pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until lukewarm and add 4 and 1/2 tsp yeast. Stir with a fork until the yeast dissolves.

In another bowl measure 4 cups sifted flour.

Either go away and leave cornmeal mixture to cool to lukewarm and then add dissolved yeast OR start adding flour to the cornmeal mixture, which will help cool it. When the mixture is lukewarm add the rest of the flour and the dissolved yeast and begin to knead the dough. You may have to add more flour to overcome the stickiness of the molasses. I like to turn the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a lightly-floured  wooden surface.

When the bread is smooth and no longer sticky, add 1 Tbsp butter or oil or shortening to the mixing bowl and place the dough in it again. Cover with a dampened and warmed linen or cotton towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled (over an hour). Punch down. Let rise again (about half an hour).

Grease a bread pan or pans and shape dough. This recipe makes a good-sized round loaf or four small loaves. Preheat oven to 375 Bake for forty to forty-five minutes until nicely browned. Remove loaves from pans and let cool before slicing.

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painting of Oregon farm yard in October

Oregon Farm Yard 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

When I was in Oregon visiting my friend Carol F. I ate like a truck driver, a stevedore. The weather was cooler and Carol’s husband Spike cooked up thick burgers on the grill — with Safeway meat, mind you — and I ate them for three days straight: hot for dinner and cold for the next two lunches with tapenade and homemade bread-and- butter pickles and fresh tomato slices. When I wasn’t eating burgers I was eating egg and potato frittata with green chile and bacon and cheese. Seriously. Except for Sunday night when we went out and I ate a chile relleno and refried beans and chips and green salsa and a fish-bowl-sized margarita on the rocks with salt. Fortunately, I took a few strolls around the yard, inspecting the vegetables and apples and grapes and berries, went up and down the stairs several times and walked way out of my way at the convention center to get a latte from the evil Starbucks (the only decent coffee option there). Monday night we had rainbow chard and baked delicata squash and grilled chicken, but I had a small dish of boysenberry apple crisp for dessert and before dinner a neighbor brought us a warm loaf of whole-grain bread with molasses, corn meal, wheat and I don’t know what-all else and I ate that with Carol’s homemade boysenberry jam. Plus, I foraged that afternoon while I was in the yard, eating raspberries and boysenberries off the vines and blue-purple grapes.

painting of kitchen

Spike’s Kitchen 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

And when we weren’t eating we were talking about food: Spike makes Shaker lemon pie and gingersnaps and biscuits and pumpkin pie with bourbon, any of which I would be happy to eat at least once. Saturday breakfast was a tough call: I was given a choice between green chile frittata and pancakes with homemade boysenberry syrup. Which would you choose? My addiction to green chile won out, but part of me mourns the pancakes I didn’t eat.

We talked about our food likes and dislikes. Spike drinks gin and the only white thing I will drink besides milk is tequila. He likes bourbon. I like Scotch, Laphroaig single malt Scotch, to be precise, and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, with or without the cream and sugar and coffee, and dark rum and good-quality brandy. Not that I consume any of those things often, but I like them all. We both like hot sauce and various chile pepper and fruit combinations.

My excuse to visit Carol and Spike was the Wordstock literary festival. When I was there I took a break from food projects and listened to a lot of people read from their new books, but I did pick up a copy of A Homemade Life by Orangette‘s Molly Wizenberg and I have to say it is a charming book, full of things I will cook and a few things I won’t. The writing is lovely.

painting of kitchen interior

Carol’s Kitchen 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

When Carol cooked the chard on Monday night she started with garlic, oil and washed and trimmed chard. We talked about eating it with vinegar, but she had some green olive tapenade with sun-dried tomatoes and wondered if it might be good. I said yes. I thought I was going to eat it just like that and then Spike said it would be good with Cholula. I had never heard of Cholula, a Mexican hot sauce from Jalisco, which apparently can be got at Safeway — look for the glass bottle with the wooden stopper. I put three large drops on my plate next to the greens.

It was delicious. The next time I get to Safeway I am buying myself a bottle of Cholula for eating with cooked greens.

Now, tapenade. Tapenade is not something I tend to have on hand unless it has been recently featured at Grocery Outlet, but I usually have Spanish olives and kalamatas. I dry my own tomatoes during tomato season and don’t usually run out until about March. So I imagine what I will do is finely chop some Spanish olives and leave some dried tomatoes to soak with them for a bit while I wash and chop my chard,

Without further ado, another stellar greens recipe,

Wash 1 bunch chard (or beet greens or turnip greens or spinach — you get the idea, don’t you?)

Trim stem ends and separate leaves from stems.

Chop the stems first while you heat a little olive oil in a skillet (You’ll need a lid later). Then chop the leaves into ribbons.

To the oil, add the chopped stems and some minced or pressed garlic to taste (I can’t tell you how much garlic Carol used. I wasn’t paying attention — two cloves? Three? Four? You know if you like garlic or not — trust yourself).

After a minute or two,  add the chard ribbons to the skillet with any water clinging to them and put a lid on it. Cook until done — maybe three to five minutes.

Add 2 Tbsp green olive tapenade or chopped green olives mixed with sun-dried tomatoes.

Serve with Cholula or your favorite bottled pepper sauce.

How good was this chard? After I had firsts, I went back to the kitchen to get a little more and had to scrape the pan to get a tablespoonful. How nice that chard is in season. How wonderful that you can use other greens for this recipe. Enjoy.

Paintings Note: I decided not to paint chard so soon after painting beet greens, so instead I offer you one partly imaginary view of Spike and Carol’s yard and two partly imaginary views of their kitchen. Many of the objects and animals depicted are real, but I used artistic license. Spike would like you to know that the black chicken on the hay bale is named “Batman” — at least that’s what he told me.

If you want some of Spike’s or Carol’s recipes, make some noise in the Comment section and I’ll bug Carol to write you a blog post. I’ll be eating lots of greens with cumin and greens with tapenade because today I got beet greens, arugula and Russian kale!