Tuesday, May 19, 2009

from top to bottom

I wish I could capture the true color of these radishes. They seem to photograph in a more magenta hue than is accurate regardless of the light I use. In reality, however, they vary from the palest lavender to a deep and moody plum color - hence the name Purple Plum, I suppose.
When pulled straight from the soil and given a rinse, they bite at your tongue with a quick, but intense spice and crunch. Yet when refrigerated or cooked, their flavor mellows.
The greens are covered in fine, bristly hairs that graze your fingers like a cat's tongue. Their flavor is similar to arugula, I find, and when wilted in the pan much of their slight bitterness softens.

Honey-Lime Heirloom Radishes with Greens
(adapted from the recipe for Sauteed Radishes with Radish Greens or Arugula in Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables)


1 Lb. radishes with greens
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. fresh lime juice (approximately 1 lime)
2 tsp. honey
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika (optional)

Wash, trim and quarter radishes. Pick through and rinse radish greens. Whisk the lime juice and honey together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat until melted. Add radishes and saute until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove radishes, place in a bowl and set aside. To the same pan, add the radish greens and saute until just wilted, about 2 minutes more. Add the radishes back to the pan with the greens. Add the honey-lime mixture and stir to coat the greens and radishes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with chili powder or smoked paprika.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Things are growing...

pretty purple chives about to blossom

the tiny pea shoot has started to flower!

tender baby lettuce in complimentary hues

Mandarin honeysuckle in need of a trellis

heirloom radishes; big and small

Ostrich ferns - tall and cool, for a little hide-away

The garden is full; all planted in tidy rows, tucked away in a bed of straw. Gleefully weed-free - for the time being... Among the new transplants - 27 fragile tomato plants; and there's a chance of frost for the next 3 nights.

I'm thinking warm thoughts...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

spring in full swing

Rhubarb is here, spring is in full swing, and I'm ready to start making jam. I should be outside working in the garden, but surely one of the greatest joys of having one's own garden is the time spent in the kitchen getting to know the harvest - and I still have a lot to get to know about rhubarb. I don't yet grow rhubarb in my own patch, but it is readily available at local farmer's markets and some grocery stores for a few weeks in the spring.

Since the first signs of spring I'd been dreaming of making a rhubarb jam. I'd imagined a blushing pink hue and pleasant tart-sweet flavor, maybe flecked with tiny vanilla seeds (as a friend cleverly suggested), or perhaps bits of chopped figs. I'd never tried rhubarb in jam form, but there was just something quite appealing to me in the idea.

In flipping through some inspirational books, I came across the recipe for Rhubarb Grapefruit Preserves in the Chez Panisse Fruit book. The simplicity of the recipes in the Chez Panisse books always wins me over, though I couldn't resist the addition of dried figs which I found sweetened the jam just a touch and seemed to blend rather nicely with the intensely fragrant grapefruit.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe:
Rhubarb, Fig & Grapefruit Jam
(adapted from the Alice Waters' recipe for 'Rhubarb Grapefruit Preserves' in the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbook)

yields approximately 3 1/2 pints of jam


2 Lbs. rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 grapefruit, peeled and juiced, pith removed and the rind chopped very fine
4 cups sugar
8 oz. dried Black Mission Figs (or other dried figs of your choosing), chopped - stems removed


Place a plate or two in the freezer for testing the jam later.

Prepare canning jars and lids.

In a large stockpot with a lid, combing the chopped rhubarb, grapefruit rind, grapefruit juice (strained), and sugar. Cover and let sit overnight.

Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Continue to cook, skimming off any foam rising to the surface, until the jam is thickened and reaches the 'gel stage' when placed on a cold plate. (This took me roughly 15 -20 minutes)
When the jam has reached the gel stage, turn the heat off, and begin ladling the hot jam into the hot, sterilized jars, being sure to leave 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims clean with a clean, damp towel, place the lids on and screw down the bands just until finger-tight. Process in a water bath canner with the lid on for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and process for 5 minutes more. Remove the jars from the canner and test the seals. Any jars that do not seal may be placed in the refrigerator and will be good for several weeks.