Tag Archives: garlic

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Northside Garlic Festival

Did you know that all community garden plots have community areas nestled within the individual garden plots? Each year, thanks to the gardens’ leadership committees and volunteers, the community plots are planted and tended with different crops. Most gardens have community raspberry patches, some have flowering perennials for pollinators, annual vegetables, and even a couple fruit trees!  Food grown in these community plots are either shared among all community gardeners at each site or donated to the Food Bank.

Last fall, the Northside Community Garden Leadership Committee and several volunteers planted about 1000 heads of garlic on the east edge of the garden. They planted it with the intention of harvesting and sharing the garlic with all Northside community gardeners.

After diligently hand-watering and tending to the 1000 garlic plants all spring and summer, the time came to harvest. When garlic is ready to harvest, it should be harvested as soon as possible. If garlic sits in the ground too long, the stalk will become too dry and brittle and thus difficult to harvest, hang and cure.

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Last Thursday, the Garlic Festival began. Fifteen volunteers came out, despite the heat, to pull the garlic heads. Young, old and every age in between was drawn to the frenzied fun that evening. Luckily, most of the garlic heads came out with a good ol’ yank, and the help of many hands made light work.

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In total, 860+ heads were harvested, bundled and carried away to hang in a volunteers’ barn for the week. The ideal temperature for garlic to cure is 80 degrees Fahrenheit over two weeks. (For more information about how to harvest and cure garlic heads check out the blog post links below. )

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No need to dust off your garlic just yet. Garlic can hang and cure as is.

This Friday, all the garlic will be brought out of the barn to be cleaned, inspected for any mold or bad cloves, sorted, and braided so it will keep well all winter long. Feel free to stop by the Northside Community Garden, this Friday, July 21st at 6pm, to learn how to clean and braid garlic.

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Happy garlic harvesters with more than enough garlic to share!

 

 

 

PEAS summer school students with GARLIC!

Here at Garden City Harvest, we love our garlic! For further reading on garlic, check out these other related Garden City Harvest posts:

Learn how to plant garlic here: Falling for Garlic

A Day at the Providence Hospital Garden: Harvesting Garlic – Part I

Warding off Vampires & Boosting Fertility: Harvesting Garlic – Part II

 

 

 

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Broth: not just for the tummy troubles

It is the dead of winter. There’s no more figgy pudding, the stored vegetable stores are starting to run low, and the light is still in short supply. I got fed up with my snow boots the last week and braved the snow in clogs. Winter be damned! Somehow, this was my rebellion against the endless layers and tense muscles that old man winter demands.

All I got was wet feet.

It’s times like this that require a little broth. There are many benefits to a cup of bone broth, including some protein,  gelatin, and glycine (the last two are good for your gut!). It’s a great thing to drink daily. Even if you don’t care a fig about the nutritional benefits, bone broth is a building block for so many recipes, that having it on hand is so handy. Buying it is expensive, and it is easy and quick to make at home. Plus, it saves you some bones! It will certainly make your day a little warmer, and that’s really saying something.

The difference between stock, broth and bone broth:

Broth — Broth cooks 45 minutes to two hours and usually uses meat, and perhaps some bones. The flavor is light, and it is generally not drunk on its own but instead used as a building block.

Stock — Stock and bone broth are similar in their ingredient lists, but differ greatly in the time they are cooked. They both always include bones, according to the definition, however a stock is typically cooked three to four hours and bone broth typically 12 – 24 hours. A note on vegetable stock: essentially, vegetable stock and vegetable broth are the same. The difference is how you use them in the end. (Will it be an ingredient of a larger dish? Stock. Will it be drunk on its own? Broth. )

Bone broth — Bone broth is always cooked with bones, and cooked for a long time (12 – 24+ hours). Some add vegetables, some do not.

Where to get bones:

Direct from the farmer (Lifeline Farm, Jamie’s Naturally Raised Grass Finished Beef, Oxbow Cattle Company, Manix Family Grass Finished Beef. . . Check out AERO’s Abundant Montana directory) — try the winter and summer farmers’ markets in Missoula, too. You can get a large amount and freeze them. You’ll need around 2 lbs of bones per 64 oz batch.

At a local natural food store –if you don’t see them on display, ask the meat department if they have any soup bones you could purchase. They’re usually very cost-effective.

You can keep a bone bag in the freezer, and put your chicken carcasses, ham hocks and other pork bones, and beef bones in there until you are ready to make some stock. A mixture of bones gives a wider flavor profile.

Make it without wasting all those veggies!

You can make bone broth without any vegetables (well, you always use the garlic). However, if you want the flavor vegetables offer, just start collecting your vegetable scraps. I’ve recently started keeping a bag in my freezer for my vegetable scraps. Any time I prepare a meal, I put the discarded ends and peelings, etc. in the bag for my next broth making venture.

Vegetables to keep — the basic aromatics are what I typically use (carrots, onions, celery) — they give a good base to work from. However, once I started staving scraps, root vegetables, stalks, leaves, tops, ends, peelings. Kale and chard stems, bell pepper cores, green beans/string beans, mushroom stems, herb stems. I put the garlic and onion skins in, though I’ve read that onions skins, along with beets, will turn your broth dark brown, so it’s more of a cosmetic thing. If you have some veggies that are about to turn (but haven’t yet) or are a bit dehydrated, this is a great use for them!

Vegetables to send packing — cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, (all from the brassica family, which has a certain odor you don’t want in your stock/broth), turnips and rutabagas (those are two roots to avoid). And of course, rotten spots and moldy veggies are also not a good idea.

How to make it

I prefer to make bone broth in my slow cooker. It is an Instant Pot so it can hold up to 64 oz, which is key for this recipe. If you are in the market, I can’t say enough about this one, it’s made of safe, stainless steel, it’s big, and can pressure cook, make yogurt, and rice. Anyway.

This makes 4 full quart sized mason jars.

Mason Jars

I got the bones (I used beef bones this time) and vegetables scraps out of the freezer, and dumped them in.

my ingredients

On top, I poured the apple cider vinegar and salt. I added a whole head of garlic, just smashing each clove between my knife and the cutting board before adding. I poured water to the max fill line in the slow cooker.

bone broth ready to boil

 

After that, all I had to do was stick the lid on, and put it on high until it came to a boil. Then, I turned it to low, and cooked it for 12 hours.

Here’s the beautiful elixir:

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Other notes:

set your slow cooker for 12 hours

Cooking time: Some say the vegetables will become bitter if you cook them longer than 12 hours. The longer you cook the broth, however, the better for you it gets. I often cook it for 24 hours without a problem, but if you are concerned about bitter broth, just scoop out the vegetables at the 12 hour mark and keep on cooking. Or skip the vegetables and just use water, vinegar, bones, salt and garlic (that doesn’t get bitter). You can also check doneness by taste and smell. This batch tasted perfect at 12 hours, so I didn’t have to worry. You know you’ve gotten all the nutrients out of the bones when they are starting to crumble at the edges.

Stovetop or oven: You can also do this on the stove top or in the oven. You want to bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it is simmering in such a way that a tiny bubble trickles up every few seconds. Same cooking time (12 – 24 hours). For the oven, bring to a boil on the stove, then place in a 200 degree oven.

Storage: You can keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days, then it’s time to freeze. I like to either freeze in an ice cube tray or small baggies. Remember to label the baggies so you know how many cups are enclosed, and when you made it.

Roasting the bones for flavor: This is a great idea if you have time and want to bring out a richness in the bone broth, but easily skipped for simplicity. Coat the bones in a high heat oil (I usually use a solid fat like lard, bacon grease, or duck fat) and distribute them in a roasting pan. Roast at 400 degrees for around an hour.

To drink on its own: add your favorite herbs (fresh or dried), or just a little garlic and salt.

Recipe

This recipe is designed to make 64 oz of broth. Make sure your soup pot or slow cooker has the capacity. 

Ingredients:
  • Whole head of garlic, broken apart and each clove smashed (leave skin on)
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs stock bones (can use chicken, beef, or pork bones)
  • Vegetable scraps (optional)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water
How to:

Combine the bones, vegetable scraps, and bay leaf. Pour the salt and apple cider vinegar over the top. Add water until you reach the max fill line in your slow cooker or soup pot.

Bring the water to a boil, then cook it for 12 – 24 hours. The longer the better. Remove or skip the vegetable scraps if you cook it longer than 12 hours. Let cool and refrigerate or freeze.

If this bone broth doesn’t do it for you, then try this quick video. There are places in Alaska where they only get minutes or an hour of sunlight some parts of the year. And start garden dreaming: sign up for a community garden plot or CSA share!

 

 

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Falling For Garlic

This week The Real Dirt is featuring a guest blog from Patrick, Community Gardens Operations Coordinator. Patrick grew up in Wisconsin, and from day one wanted to be outside whenever possible. While earning his degree from the University of Montana, Patrick enrolled in the PEAS Farm class, and couldn’t give it up – staying for two semesters and a summer session. Through the PEAS Farm and his Environmental Studies Program classes, he’s decided he wants to keep working on local food efforts now that he has earned his degree. When he’s not digging in the dirt, he is hiking, biking or fishing with his dog, Lola.


Fall can mean a sudden change of pace for those of us who spend time working in the dirt.  Our lives as well as those in our gardens undergo some major changes as we transition from the warmth of summer into Missoula’s cool and dark winter.   For many of us, this is a bittersweet time.  We will miss our time in the garden, fresh picked meals, and chatting with fellow gardeners.  But winter also offers a chance to reflect on the past season, plan for the next, and hunker down with a warm winter dish.

An oddball in our fall routine of closing our gardens down, putting our storage foods up, and settling into a new schedule is garlic.  This time of year, when all of our crops are reaching the end of their lives, or have already passed, another round of garlic is getting ready to grow.  We plant our garlic in the fall to overwinter so that it can begin to grow as soon as weather permits in the following spring.  Garlic can also be planted in the early spring as soon as the ground is workable.  However, bulb production seems to be greater when fall planted.  Also, fall planting is simply a much welcomed change of pace from our usual fall routines.

Planting Garlic

When planting garlic we do not plant seeds, we plant individual cloves.  The first step then is to harvest and cure your previous garlic crop.  Read Emy’s blog post about harvesting and curing for more details.

Since we produce our next garlic crop asexually through cloning, we want to make sure to choose the right cloves to plant for next year.   We want to choose cloves that exhibit traits that we like, and would like to continue to see in our crop.   So we don’t plant small cloves or cloves from heads that have rotten, because we don’t want small or rotting heads next season.  After the garlic has been cured, choose the cream of the crop; good looking cloves with desirable traits.

Choose cloves with desirable traits.
Choose cloves with desirable traits.

If you did not grow garlic this year, don’t worry!  Simply use garlic that you normally buy from the farmers market or grocery store.  (It is best to save cloves from a local garlic source, as you can be sure that they will grow well in Missoula!)

Once you have your chosen cloves, keep them in a dark, dry space until late fall.  I normally plant garlic in late October when the weather is getting cold yet the ground is still workable.  Garlic can be planted pretty close together; I usually plant cloves about 5-6 inches apart.  Make sure that the cloves are planted root end down, and cover with soil.photo-4

Your next round of garlic is now underway for next season!  Cover your garlic beds with a significant amount of straw.  The straw will help keep weeds down and also balance out temperature fluxes in the soil surface.photo-1

Next spring when things start to warm up, start pulling back/removing a portion of the mulch.  Leave some mulch in place as weed suppression (garlic has a small leaf area and is a poor competitor against weeds), but do be aware as too much mulch can cause rotting at the base.

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Warding off Vampires & Boosting Fertility – Harvesting Garlic Part II

Picking up on where we left off oh so many weeks ago, a la Harvesting Garlic – Part I, it’s now well time to harvest your garlic. Before we walk through the simple process, here’s a few facts to wet your palate, ward off vampires, treat your wounds, prepare for battle, and boost your fertility.

According to the researchers at American Folklore, “Garlic: Superstitions, Folklore and Fact” …

  • Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Sanskrit records show its medicinal use about 5,000 years ago, and it has been used for at least 3,000 years in Chinese medicine. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans used garlic for healing purposes.
  • Hippocrates (300BC) recommended garlic for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy, and digestive disorders. Dioscorides praised it for its use in treating heart problems, and Pliny listed the plant in 61 remedies for a wide variety of ailments ranging from the common cold to leprosy, epilepsy and tapeworm.

  • During World War I, the Russian army used garlic to treat wounds incurred by soldiers on the Front Line. Although Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928 largely replaced garlic at home, the war effort overwhelmed the capacity of most antibiotics, and garlic was again the antibiotic of choice. The Red Army physicians relied so heavily on garlic that it became known as the “Russian Penicillin”.
  • Dramatic results in treating animals infested with ticks showed that garlic was able to effectively kill the ticks within 30 minutes, while garlic proved to be a repellent toward new infestations. Garlic was also successful in treating cattle with hoof and mouth disease.

  • In a study conducted in Russia in 1955, garlic extract used therapeutically was found to bind with heavy metals in the body, aiding their elimination. Workers suffering from chronic lead poisoning while working in industrial plants were given daily doses of garlic extract and saw a decrease in their symptoms. Other experiments that took place in Japan using mercury and cadmium also found that garlic bound with the heavy metals.
  • Egyptian slaves were given a daily ration of garlic, as it was believed to ward off illness and to increase strength and endurance. As indicated in ancient Egyptian records, the pyramid builders were given beer, flatbread, raw garlic and onions as their meager food ration. Upon threatening to abandon the pyramids leaving them unfinished, they were given more garlic. It cost the Pharaoh today’s equivalent of 2 million dollars to keep the Cheops pyramid builders supplied with garlic.

  • During the reign of King Tut, fifteen pounds of garlic would buy a healthy male slave. Indeed, when King Tut’s tomb was excavated, there were bulbs of garlic found scattered throughout the rooms.
  • It became custom for Greek midwives to hang garlic cloves in birthing rooms to keep the evil spirits away. As the centuries passed, this ancient custom became commonplace in most European homes.

  • Roman soldiers ate garlic to inspire them and give them courage. Because the Roman generals believed that garlic gave their armies courage, they planted fields of garlic in the countries they conquered, believing that courage was transferred to the battlefield.
  • Dreaming that there is “garlic in the house” is supposedly lucky; to dream about eating garlic means you will discover hidden secrets.

  • European folklore gives garlic the ability to ward off the “evil eye.” Central European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against devils, werewolves, and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn on one’s person, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes.
  • This old Welsh saying may indeed have merit as a health remedy: “Eat leeks in March and garlic in May, Then the rest of the year, your doctor can play.”

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Untie your bundles of garlic from their drying place.

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Clip off the top stalk of the garlic and brush off remaining dirt around the cloves so it looks like this:

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Be sure to save some cloves from larger bulbs, break them apart, and plant them for next season’s crop.

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And shazaam! Garlic for the year!


Facts from “Garlic: Superstitions, Folklore and Fact.” American Folklore. Last modified December 13, 2014. Accessed  September 6, 2016. http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/10/garlic_superstitions_folklore.html.

3 Freezer Meals for the Cold Dark Nights Ahead

The nights are cooling off. The days are getting shorter. My little is back in school. It’s labor day weekend, again. As I put away my white pants and shoes (haha), I brush off my Carrot Cardamom Soup recipe from Michelle Tam and shine up my soup pot to make some of my favorite freezer meals for those times when we need a quick meal that reminds us summer is waiting for us in a few months. While this weekend I am heading to the Helmville Rodeo (a Montana institution), I will be making or have made many of these meals in the next few weeks.

1. The Soup: Carrot Cardamom Soup, by Michelle Tam

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There she is, loving on the carrots and cardamom!

I love this soup. What’s even better: my four year old Austen loves it too. It is a bowl full of carrots and apples and homemade bone broth. Nutrients abound. She has no idea. Moo ha ha ha.

When we’re talking soups and freezing them, however, what I often do while I have fresh carrots, celery, and onions, is make a mirepoix — a french term for the flavor base to many dishes — from a pan of beans to a meat skillet to a pot of soup. Because it is the base to so many dishes I make, having some frozen and on hand in the winter months saves time. So, if you don’t want to make the whole cha bang, just saute two parts onion, to one part carrots, and one part celery in a pan with your favorite cooking oil (butter is GREAT, bacon or duck fat work as do olive or coconut oil).

If I am feeling ambitious, I will cook the base, leaving out the apples and cardamom in case I get tired of this soup (it happens occasionally, but not often) and feel more like Curried Carrot Soup.

Or I’ll just go for it and make the recipe, cool it, and most importantly, put it a bag or mason jar that is the appropriate size for what my family would want in one sitting.

I once put all my carrot soup in gallon sized bags in the freezer. Two things happened: one, I put them on the door, and the bags leaned into the bar on the freezer door and froze, forever molded into place. One pinning the other in place as well. I think I had to break the bar to the the damn things out. It’s best to lay them out flat, let them freeze, and then stack them either like library books or in a big stack. Two, I had to thaw the whole bag to get about 1/3 of it for all of us to eat. Then I had to eat carrot soup for a week because I couldn’t bare to re-freeze it. Then, I didn’t want to see carrot soup for the rest of the winter. I use quart sized bags now.

2. The Main Event: Shepherd’s Pie by Elana’s Pantry

This is technically a cottage pie, because it is made with beef rather than lamb. However, it

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That’s the shepherds pie I made — complete with creamy mashed cauliflower topping.

sneaks extra veggies (this one has a mirepoix base, too!) in the topping: it is made of cauliflower. You can use your lovely potatoes from this week too, if you’d prefer.

The last time I served this, we were hosting my 16 year old niece. She is a pretty typical teenager, sweet enough to eat anything I put in front of her, but only enthusiastic about a few things. This she loved. She was seen later in the evening spooning up the faux mashed potatoes and eating them all by themselves.

This makes a lot, so you could serve half and then freeze the other half. Make it soon! Cauliflower is on its way out.

3. Breakfast: Breakfast Cookies!

Seriously! Adapted by the Kitchn from 101 Cookbooks (two of my favorites)

Photo by the Kitchn
Photo by the Kitchn

These are filled with carrots and lots of other yummy dried fruits. The only sweetener is maple syrup. And they freeze beautifully. They are there for you when you are short on time and need breakfast. You can also freeze and put a cookie or two in a kid’s lunch when you are trying to stretch to the next grocery trip.

 

 

Midsummer Madness: a recipe roundup

KateCooper2009 (2)August. It’s August. And not just the beginning — it’s mid August. Bittersweet: I think that is the word for this month. The slow letting go of lots of sun, swimming holes, and unstructured days. Deep breath.

But we don’t have to say goodbye to vegetables too soon — we are just hitting the peak. From now until mid to late September our gardens and farms will be plumping up, ripening and sweetening our vegetables for your tables. This summer has been relatively cool, so tomatoes and eggplants and peppers may be slow, but the rest of the high summer veggies are coming on strong.

So pack it in while you can, friends.

Here are 9 recipes that make the most out of our last month of summer.

Summer Chicken Stew from BBC Good Food

This recipe has two steps. Really. It’s that easy. Great for a weeknight, has lots of seasonal veggies.

Vegetable Hakka Noodles (AKA Chow Mein) from Manjulas Kitchen

Simple sauce and noodle base that allows you to build whatever veggies you can in there. This recipe happens to include only veggies you’ll find in your CSA.

Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous with roasted chickpeas from Andrea Bemis of The Kitchn

(hint: the cauliflower is riced, so it takes the place of the couscous — sneaky!).

Cauliflower couscous by The Kitchn.
Cauliflower couscous by The Kitchn.
Cauliflower Steaks from The Kitchn

Apparently, this is a thing. Popping up on restaurant menus all over the place. I didn’t know. But it sounds easy and amazing, so put it on your menu this week! Great for vegetarians and those looking to give the cauliflower main stage.

Zucchini with Chorizo and Lime from The Kitchn

An easy one pot meal. There’s a lot of parsley in my CSA, so I’d sub that in for the cilantro in this recipe, and maybe add a little coriander (since that’s the seed of the cilantro plant).

Green Bean Potato and Corn Salad from Love and Lemons
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Love and Lemons’ green bean, potato & corn salad.

This could be a side, or add your favorite meat or seafood and make it dinner. It even has basil, which I have a lot of. Making this tonight!

Summer Squash Vegetable Pizza from Love and Lemons

What a great way to use up veggies: grab a Le Petit crust, roll it out, and load on the veggies and herbs and a little tomato sauce or olive oil. Done and done. This one from Love and Lemons is a great mixture of seasonal veggies.

Darla’s Delicious Frittata from Epicurious

I’ve starting making a frittata over the weekend when I have a bit more time and serving it for breakfast (or dinner) throughout the week. I recently read a frittata recipe that, instead of listing what vegetables, just said “vegetables.” As in, as long as you have some veggies, cheese, and maybe a little cream or meat (totally optional, though I do argue bacon is always a good idea) along with eggs, you’ll be good to go.

Easiest Refrigerator Pickles from Smitten Kitchen
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Easy refrigerator pickles by Smitten Kitchen.

And a little nod to what’s coming down the pike: storing veggies. Pickling! Cucumbers, they are great for snacking, salading, and some great Greek food. But when in doubt, pickle them!

We’ll be taking a break next week. Because #peasfarmparty. Hope you all will join us for our 20th anniversary get down Thursday, August 18th.

I’ll be writing about going back to school (gasp!) next time around. Until then, eat well.

 

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How to Prevent the Zucchini Apocalypse, Part 1

It is that time of year when the vegetable stars align to give us an abundance of possibilities.

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Beware the zucchini apocalypse! Graphic by Ken Lockwood.

It is also the time of year when desperate gardeners start slipping zucchinis into unlocked cars. If you find yourself at either end of this situation, I’ve got a great recipe for you. It will take care of 4 – 6 zucchinis, and a few other things that are just coming into season right now.

Want more zucchini ideas to ward of that sense of impending doom? We’ve got a collection just for you.

Now, you can use a regular peeler for this recipe, but I would recommend either springing for a spiralizer (takes up a bit more space in your kitchen, so its a bit more of a commitment) or a julienne peeler. I recommend either the Swissmar or Kuhn peelers if you purchase online. The only place I could find that sold them locally was the Good Food Store.

In the summer, we eat a lot of zucchini pasta at my house. It is is my #1 defense against the zucchini apocalypse. And a great way to replace a grain with a vegetable. And trick my unsupsecting child and husband. They’ve figured it out by now, but I can blend pasta and z-pasta together and they are pretty darn happy.

This salad is so simple and so good. I am always surprised at how delicious raw zucchini and carrots taste with a bit of garlic,salt, and olive oil on them.

This is great on its own. You can add a few things to it if you are trying to purge your fridge. I added scallions to it cause I had such fresh, lovely ones today. I made it at the office, and decided it would be my lunch. I put some sliced turkey and ham on the side (and a plopped a little mayo on the side too, because I am a mayo freak). Great meal!

Other additions include mozzerella, tomatoes, chunks of bread. . . Sides of toast! I’m guessing a little spiralized kohlrabi wouldn’t be bad, either. Maybe olives? But I haven’t tried those yet.

Caprese SaladSummer Squash Caprese Noodle Salad

adapted from Diane Sanfilippo’s book, Practical Paleo

Ingredients:

Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (I’ve used dried in a pinch, just reduce by a 1/3rd (4 teaspoons)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste (I used white pepper, but black pepper is great too)
Salad:
  • around 5 cups spiralized or julienned zucchini or summer squash – I used 3 medium squash plus two of the patty pan
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned, peeled or spiralized (when tomatoes come into season, you can use those instead)
  • 1 scallion (optional)

How to:

I peeled my zucchini, the noodles just work better that way. But you certainly don’t have to. Spiralize or julienne peel your squashes. I spiralized mine, using the larger noodle setting. Set aside. If you want to get a bit of the water out of the zucchini beforehand, salt the zucchini noodles before you set them aside.

spiralized squash

Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

dressing

Peel the carrots right into the bowl with dressing.

Carrots

If you opted to salt the squash, now’s the time to take a clean rag, towel, or paper towel and squeeze some of the water out into the sink. (I didn’t do this – I just don’t care enough about the slightly watery situation.)

Add the squash and toss with your hands. Grind a little fresh pepper on top. I added a few scallions here, too. Tastes great either way.

Eat right away, or stick in the fridge to let the flavors combine.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Day at the Providence Hospital Garden: Harvesting Garlic – Part I

The Providence Hospital Garden is a special aspect of the community garden program at Garden City Harvest. Patrick and I, as Community Garden Coordinators, have the unique opportunity of planning, planting, maintaining and harvesting fruits, veggies and herbs for this therapeutic space. The garden is intended for the use of patients in recovery; and we get to witness patients practicing rehabilitation in this space almost daily. The garden is also intended for the use of Missoula community members, and I find that few know this special resource exists. Although I spend many working hours at the hospital garden, on weekends I’ve found myself bringing lunch or coffee and a book, picking bouquets of flowers, and meeting friends there to catch up.  It is perhaps my favorite shared place in Missoula.

Some background on how this space came to be:

In 2014, Garden City Harvest and Providence St. Patrick Hospital/Foundation agreed to partner in building a therapeutic community garden intended for Providence Center patients, staff and the greater Missoula community.  Garden City Harvest staff worked with Green Path Herb School to choose native perennial plants, such as  lamb’s ear, lavender, mint and thyme, among others, that entice the senses and offer a place for healing and recovery. Nine raised beds line the inner portion of the garden, planted with a variety of fruit and veggie crops. The veggie beds yield around 1,500 pounds of produce per season, which is donated to the Missoula Food Bank and others in need.

The bounty I gathered one sunny weekend at the Providence Garden. Lavender, Beebalm, Yarro, Lambsear and others which are either aromatheraputic, can be used medicinally, or are sensory to the touch.
The bounty I gathered one sunny weekend at the Providence Garden. Lavender, bee balm, yarrow, lamb’s ear and others which are either aromatheraputic, can be used medicinally, or are sensory to the touch.
Bouquets, delivered to the staff at the Providence Center.
Bouquets, delivered to the staff at the Providence Center.

A typical day at the Providence Garden ~ Harvesting Garlic Tutorial Part I:

It’s that time of year for harvesting your long-awaited garlic. Today, Patrick and I harvested the garlic at the Providence Garden. Here’s a step by step guide for harvesting your own garlic –

  1. When the top of your garlic looks like this, i.e. dried and yellow, you know it’s time to harvest.004
  2. Harvesting is pretty simple, gently pull your garlic bulbs out of the ground and shake off the dirt. Try not to disrupt the roots too much, there’s no need to clean your garlic prior to drying.0020033. Bundle your garlic in groups of five or six and hang-dry them in a semi-aerated place such as a shed or back porch. An ideal temperature for drying garlic is around 80 degrees.IMG_0008 (1)4. Let your garlic hang for at least two weeks. In a few weeks I’ll post Part II which will continue instructions for harvesting garlic.

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Emy & Patrick, just a couple o’ garlic-heads. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to come visit this hidden garden-gem located behind the Providence Center, on the corner of N. 3rd and Ryman Streets.

Don’t miss these upcoming events at the Providence Garden!

– Learn how to grow, harvest and use herbs. Join Northside Community Garden leader, Sarah Johnson, for an Herb workshop next Thursday, 7/21, 5:30 – 6:30 at the Providence Garden.

– Don’t miss our First Friday Event (7/5) at the Providence Garden. Refreshments, garden-grown foods, live music by Ali Solomon, local art by Candice Haster and more, will all be waiting for you. August 5th, 5:00 – 8:00 pm.

MAP the Providence Garden.

 

Bad goat equals good dust

Molly BradfordHere’s a final post on putting up food for the winter from Molly Bradford, one of our dedicated winter share members, who knows how to put food up like a champ!

I’ve been putting up food for nearly a decade with produce from the winter share through Garden City Harvest’s River Road, also called the grubshed. In my last guest post for this blog, I touched a little bit on using some grubshedder techniques for your summer CSA. In this post I’ll talk about best practices for storing onions, garlic, shallots, squash, and root vegetables: carrots, celeriac, parsnips, beets and potatoes.

I’ve tried numerous techniques over the years for preserving my food, for as many months of the winter as possible, with the least amount of effort as possible. After many years blanching and chopping and drying and vacuum sealing and freezing things like carrots, I’ve come to realize that most root vegetables are easily preserved in damp sawdust.

Fun at Bad Goat Good Wood picking up sawdust for vegetable storage.
Fun at Bad Goat Good Wood picking up sawdust for vegetable storage.

This week my son and I visited Mark Vandermeer at Bad Goat Good Wood products here in Missoula’s Northside. He generously gave us as much sawdust as we wanted. It was actually pretty fun to hang out near the train tracks and scoop up handfuls of these wonderfully scented curly Q shavings, some already damp from the rain.

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Loading up the bags of sawdust for home.

The first thing I do is add water, a little bit at a time, to the shavings until they are damp but not swimming in it. I don’t want it to be so wet that when squeezed a bunch of water comes out. The next thing that I do is find some crates: milk crates, metal crates, doesn’t really matter. If the holes are pretty big, this is better for aeration. I either line the crates with screen, which I buy by the roll at Ace, or with cardboard that I’ve poked a bunch of holes in.

It’s a pretty quick and easy process:

  • Couple inch base layer of damp dust
  • Single, packed layer of root veggie
  • Enough dust in next layer to cover and protect first layer
  • Another layer of veggies
  • Repeat until crate is full, veggies are gone, or you’re out of dust

The raw veggies, ready to go:

before storage

Then, the potatoes getting covered in sawdust:

sawdust and potatoes

I always reserve a large handful of carrots for my fridge to start, as I go through those the fastest.  I’ll also keep out a little of the rest to cook this first few weeks: 6 beets, a couple parsnips, one celeriac, and a few potatoes.

I do get about 3 or 4 different kinds of potatoes in my grubshed. To keep them sorted, I like to divide one of my larger crates with pieces of cardboard horizontally so that I can create two or three little “bin” areas within my crate. Then I just layer each one of those areas individually after I line the crate with screen. I top each area with a little sticky note, so I know what kind of potatoes are in each “bin.”

Potatoes and sawdust in sections
Purple potatoes organized for the winter.

Don’t forget to check how to dried out your sawdust is getting throughout the winter. You can just use a spray bottle to mist the sawdust on the outside to keep it damp. The stuff on the inside is going to be wetter than the stuff on the outside naturally. Usually when I’m peeling back sawdust to get out some more potatoes or carrots, I take this opportunity to mist from the top and the side.

Luckily the garlic and shallots we get from Garden City Harvest already come dried or cured. But the process that they used to do this really isn’t much different than what I end up doing with my onions. As as recommended by Greg at the River Road farm, get a long piece of twine about arms with, fold in half and knot it at the end. Start laying the onions with the green stems through the twine. After you lay one onion through, twist the twine two or three times in one direction and pull the stem through as far as you can so the twine is tight and as close to the onion is possible. Then layer the next onion in the opposite direction. Twist 2 or 3 times. Then lay an onion in the opposite direction, twist again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Hang up the onion braids in a cool, dark, dry place so they are not touching. When the onion greens are completely dried out, you can snip the onions off and put them in the big crate with large openings for good air circulation. I store my garlic and shallots the same way as my onions; in crates or metal bins with good air circulation.

Braided onions
Onions hanging in the garage.

If you have a lot of squash, like we get with the winter grubshed, you first need to make sure that you harden them off inside. I usually spread them apart on a towel or a cardboard box and make sure that none of the skins are touching. I let them hang out for a week or so.

We have figured out a storage technique that seems to work pretty well. I rip pieces of cardboard from packing boxes. Because you don’t want any of the edges of squash touching, I use the strips of cardboard as barriers between my squash. The parts that touch can make soft spots quite quickly and cause mold.

The basic technique goes like this. Line the bottom of a crate with some cardboard. Put some squash in the bottom. Put some cardboard barriers between the squash that are taller than the squash. Put another horizontal layer of cardboard. Set some more squash on top. Put some more strips of cardboard between them to make a barrier. Repeat this until you have filled your crate.   I check my squash once in awhile to for mold or soft spots. The lucky thing with squash is, if you get a soft spot, you can just cut that part out and then cook up the rest of the squash and you’re good to go.

Tidbit on last years harvest: this year we ate our last squash in about April, and we had onions, garlic and a few root veggies til May!

Squash
Squash, separated with cardboard. If the squash comes in contact with another squash, it is much more likely to start to get mushy or mold.

This weekend, in addition to packing vegetables in damp sawdust, we’ve been unpacking vacuum sealed fruit that we picked at the peak of summer season like apricots, raspberries, and flathead cherries. Can you guess what we’re making? Fruit leather!  This year’s flavors include apricot almond spice, flathead cherry raspberry rhubarb with vanilla, and sweet asian plum with sour pie cherry, maple syrup and cloves.

Next up we’ll be making a huge batch of that sweet apple cider kraut I talked about in my last post, while my husband is turning all the hot peppers into an apricot hot sauce.

Hot peppers
Turning hot peppers into sauce. . . Apricot hot sauce.

Happy grubshedding!

Head over heels for garlic

There’s not too much going on in the garden at this point in the season… unless you’re a garlic lover! Now is the time to plant your garlic for next year. Here are a few tips:

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Gather the largest, best-formed cloves of garlic.  Garlic cloves are essentially clones of their garlic plant, so you want to pick the cloves that look the best.  That way, they’ll produce big n’ healthy cloves just like their forefathers and mothers. So grab a nice looking head of garlic and pull its cloves apart, making sure to leave the papery husk on each individual clove (sometimes this is easier said than done, but it helps protect the cloves from disease and pests once in the soil). Then put aside the ones with the nicest shape – you know, the ones you really want to chop up and eat. Those are the ones you’ll want to plant.

It’s best to plant garlic cloves that are from garlic you or a friend grew or to buy seed garlic. Although technically you can plant cloves from grocery store garlic, it may not be a variety that is well-suited to grow in Montana, or it may have been treated which will make it harder to grow. If you don’t have trusted garlic to plant this season, purchasing some seed garlic online or at a local nursery could be well worth the investment because next year you can save that garlic to plant for the following year (no additional expense necessary). It’ll be a garlic revolution! (Or maybe just a new garlic-y tradition for you and your family….)

Plant in well-drained soil and rotate your garlic beds. Garlic doesn’t like to be over-saturated and will benefit from being rotated to different garden beds from year to year to help it fend off disease (although garlic is relatively disease and pest-resistant). Once you’ve chosen your garlic bed, plant the cloves you set aside into the bed. The cloves should be placed about 1-2 inches down into the soil, with the pointy end facing up, and they should be planted about 4-6 inches apart from each other. You can lightly water your garlic in at this point.

Mulch after planting. Mulching your garlic bed with 4-6 inches of straw will protect the cloves from extreme temperatures over the winter. If your garlic is exposed to many freeze-thaw cycles it can either rot or be pushed to the surface, where it won’t germinate.

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Voila! You’re work is done for the time being. In early spring you’ll see small shoots of green emerging from the bed of straw and this will let you know your garlic is doing just fine. At this point, you’ll want to keep the garlic bed well-weeded and moist (but not waterlogged).

If you planted a hard-neck variety  of garlic, scapes will form in spring that can be harvested for an early garlic treat.

When the leaves and stalks start to dry out, it is starting to get ready for harvest. It’s a good idea to stop watering your garlic once it gets to this point. Once 3 or 4 of its leaves are yellow, usually around August or so, the garlic is ready to be harvested.

And to carry on your garlic tradition, save some of your garlic for re-planting for the following year’s harvest!