Recipe Spotlight: Cooking with your edible garden


THE RADISHES are poking their little green heads up in the garden. It won’t be long before the kids can help with the harvest. Greens are getting ready for cutting, and can peas be far behind?

Asparagus shoots can be shorn a few times before you have to let the plant get prickly and bushy. Cole crops include broccoli and cabbage, and both are really good for you in so many ways. Eggplant should be ready by the end of February. Carrots are plentiful almost all the time in Central Florida.

Check the weekly ads to find out what is abundant and priced to sell — yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans are featured now.

Our area has crops to harvest almost all year, but they do get a little sparse in the months when the sun melts the insulators off the electricity poles and you feel as if you could save money by cooking eggs on the sidewalk.

Because of so much abundance, you need new recipes to keep your family interested. The Friends of The Library Bookstore in the Winter Haven Public Library is the place to go for ideas. The store is run by volunteers and every penny goes straight across the hall to the library.

I stopped by the other day and picked up “Seasoned with Grace, My Generation of Shaker Cooking,” written by Eldress Bertha Lindsay and published in 1987. When there are more books than the shelves can hold, they often go on half price. My book cost a whole dollar … plus tax. Here are a couple of salad recipes adapted from it. Canary Salad is especially suited to Central Florida because it includes carrots, celery, and orange.

CANARY SALAD

1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup small dice celery
1/2 cup peeled and sectioned orange
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Lettuce

Mix the vegetables, fruit, and mayo. Serve on lettuce.

Vegetables and macaroni are tasty, filling and healthy, especially if you use whole wheat macaroni.

MACARONI VEGETABLE SALAD

2 cups cooked macaroni
1/2 cup cooked peas
1/2 cup cooked green beans, cut into one-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated raw carrot
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
French dressing
Lettuce

Mix macaroni and vegetables. Marinate in French dressing to almost cover, a couple of hours, turning a few times. Serve surrounded by shredded lettuce.

Zucchini can be a pain in the garden when they are producing faster than you can pick them. You need recipes … and plenty of friends. Here’s a recipe for Zucchini Cakes, adapted from “Healthy Recipes,” credited to Vered DeLeeuw.

ZUCCHINI CAKES

2 pound unpeeled zucchini, coarsely grated
4 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green
1 cup plain bread crumbs (Italian flavored are good too)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped parsley, flat or Italian
Oil for frying

Drain zucchini in a colander for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Mix everything except oil. Heat two tablespoons oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, drop in zucchini mixture by a quarter cup. Cook about four minutes or until brown on the bottom. Flip and brown the top. Repeat until all the zucchini is used. Keep warm in the oven.

Green beans are a super family food because the children can snap the ends off while Mom does other things. You really don’t have to snap the little end.

Stir fry these for two minutes, then add a quarter cup (roughly) of orange juice. Cover the pan and let the beans steam for a couple of minutes, until tender and about half of the juice is gone. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with two ounces of orange juice. Stir into the simmering liquid and cook until thickened a bit.

If you missed the fall planting and still want to grow your own, it’s not too late to start now. You could get tips and how-tos from all over the place, but the folks who know are at your local old-timey garden store, like Doty Farm and Garden Supply in Winter Haven, and the state UF/IFAS Extension service. Pull up http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021 and you get everything you need to know — except how much to pay for your seeds.

CREDIT

article by TRENT ROWE

Trent Rowe is the food editor of Central Florida Ag News.