Mom, Wife, Chef, Gardener, Dog Wrangler, Mom, Writer, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Mom, Creative Problem Solver, DIY Chick...figuring out life one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mom/Gardener: a whole mess o' greens

So we have had our first frosts of the season and I'm trying to pull the last few things out of my garden, such as it was this year. With the birth of our first child this spring, it is understandable that we just didn't have time for a garden this year. What I did have was pots of herbs, peppers and tomatoes on the porch. Also some eggplants, but they never even got to flower, our growing season was so short this year. How short was it, you ask? So short that I got three whole cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes people, not big beefsteaks. I now have a window sill full of green tomatoes ranging from marble sized all the way up to golf ball sized. A few may ripen but I'm going to start looking for green tomato jam recipes.

green tomatoes
 I did manage to get some peppers this year. I grew jalapenos and tried out a new (for me) variety of bell pepper called 'King of the North' which is supposed to be good for cooler climates. We got a few bell peppers but they are small and a few jalapenos as well.
peppers picked but not pickled
I also brought in the last of the basil, which surprisingly did well this year. It is being made into pesto that will be frozen for use throughout the winter.

basil pre-picking. In back: Italian basil, purple basil, Thai basil. In front: lemon basil.
 That's it for my mini-garden this year. But the CSA box has turned out to be an amazing investment. I have had more than enough fresh, organic vegetables, enough to freeze some, and make baby food too. I ended up this week with two bunches of kale, a bunch of chard and a bunch of mustard greens and decided to make my favorite green concoction, saag paneer.
a whole mess o' greens
Saag panner has several steps but comes together pretty fast.

First bring a gallon of milk to 165 degrees, slowly and stirring it frequently. Once it is at temp, add 1/4 cup white vinegar and stir. It should start to curdle and separate.
curds and whey forming
Set curds aside off of heat for 10 minutes. Once the curds have set then dump curds into a cheesecloth lined colander in the sink. Allow the whey to drain off, then rinse the curds quickly under cold water. Let drain again, then fold the cheesecloth over the top of the curds and place a small plate and something heavy (like a can of soup) on top of the cheese. Let press for two hours or overnight.
Eventually you get this:
paneer done!
Okay, that was the hard part. Next, get a big mess o' greens and chop them up. (use the stems from the chard and mustard greens, discard the kale stems) Also chop up half an onion, two cloves garlic, and mince some fresh ginger if you have any, about 1 Tablespoons worth. If you have a jalapeno or other medium spicy chili then chop that up too.
Next, hit a large saute pan or skillet with some vegetable oil and toss in the onion, ginger, chili and chard stems. Hit with a teaspoon of salt and saute for five minutes, until everything is getting soft. Now come the spices: 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Saute the spices for two minutes, or until they get nice and fragrant. Then add the garlic and all the greens. Stir these around until the greens just start to wilt then add 1/3 cup broth or water, your choice. Cover and simmer on low until the greens are all cooked down, it will take about twenty minutes.
Uncover and taste for salt, add more salt if needed and throw in another teaspoon of garam masala. Add the paneer, (which you have diced up right? I usually only throw in half a batch) and if you like it a little creamier you can now stir in 1/4 cup of plain yogurt.
Serve over rice, sometimes I add turmeric to the rice for a pretty color but you don't have to do that part.
Saag Paneer, yummy!
Enjoy the yummy, creamy, spicy goodness.

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