Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kale and apple smoothie

Kale and apple smoothie: yumm or yuck?

Have you ever tried a kale smoothie? I hear people talking about green smoothies all the time, but I'd never tried one before this week. Frankly, they always looked and sounded gross to me. I mean come on, I don't think I want to drink pureed greens! Gross.
Then a few weeks ago, during our regular Monday night "yoga" session (aka stretching and girl time), my friends Amber and Haripurkh were talking about how much they love kale smoothies. Really? They like the way they taste? Then Haripurkh said that she adds apple to hers, uses water as a base, and that they taste sweet and refreshing. My curiosity was piqued.
After searching for recipes on internet, and rummaging through the garden and fridge for ingredients, I ended up with something surprisingly delicious. My girls were right!

Kale and apple smoothie made with
water, lemon juice, and fresh mint
1 cup kale - packed (or greens of your choice)
1 cup water
1 medium apple, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs mint (10-15 leaves)
1 cup crushed ice

Blend together kale, water, apple, lemon juice and mint until completely smooth. Then add crushed ice and blend a little more, until desired consistency is reached.

The kale doesn't really add that much flavor, it tastes more like an apple, lemon, mint drink. Surprisingly refreshing is right. Thanks Amber and Haripurkh!

Have you ever made a green smoothie? What do you put in yours? I'd love to know for inspiration.

Above are the ingredients for the smoothie I made today. That's 'lacinato' or 'dinosaur' kale in the front and chard in the back (both overwintered in my garden really well). This is the last of my winter kale so I subbed in some chard, and it worked out just fine. There is also a Eureka lemon from California, a Fuji apple from Washington, Moroccan mint from my backyard, and crushed ice from the Cedar River watershed (okay I put that last bit in just to be obnoxious).

'Lacinato' kale seedlings. If I want more kale I have to
wait for these little cuties to grow up!

I have plenty of 'bright lights' chard left in the garden from last year. It overwintered really well, which is perfect for early spring, when everything else is so tiny.
'Bright lights' chard is an assortment of different colors, but I love the fuschia pink!
Can you see the chives tucked behind the chard leaves? I'm so happy it's spring. 

I like to grow mint in pots so it can't take over my garden beds. It's a very aggressive plant!
This is 'Moroccan' mint, which is fantastic in drinks.
If you are a "challenged" or new gardener, try growing mint! 

These apple blossoms are a sign of good things to come. 
Did you know that we got our apple tree for free through 
the City of Seattle? Check it out here: Seattle reLeaf

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do you have chickens?

Happy spring! Temperatures today reached into the mid 70's and it was fantastic. I think all of Seattle was in a good mood. Winter has finally lifted, the days are long, and there are blooms everywhere. That's all fabulous, but the most exciting thing to happen this spring for me, has been our new chickens! They are such sweet birds, and their eggs are incredibly rich.

Poor Marilyn got caught and had to pose for a picture with me.
I gave her a shrimp as a thank you present!

Do you have chickens? If so, how many? What do you feed them? How old are they?

We purchased one-year-old birds, so as to go directly to the laying phase of their lives, and to avoid the difficulty of chicks. We got them from a teenage boy in Lynwood who has clearly turned a hobby into a small business. I love the idea of supporting a young entrepreneur. We named the girls after talented women who died before their prime: Billie, Marilyn, Janis, and Whitney. Originally we had Amy too, but she died. We're not sure why, but we understand that that happens sometimes. It was sad and disappointing, but we're not too upset about it.

The cool thing is that we are sharing the hens with our next door neighbors. It's totally fun and easy to have another couple to share the responsibility with. Plus, we've gotten to know our neighbors much better through this experience. I really love it. We've discovered that four hens is probably the minimum we'd want to share between four adults, so we're looking into getting a few more. Any suggestions for what to name them?

Of course we've been eating eggs like crazy these days. Here are some eats from this weekend:

Look at how tall that yolk stands up. 
Saturday morning's breakfast was rice and beans, and sautéed radish greens, with a fried egg on top. Yumm!

Later in the weekend we made these baguette sandwiches: hard boiled eggs, charred asparagus, pickled shallots, mustard & olive oil, and fresh spring herbs. Dill would have been nice, but I don't have it growing, so I used chives, parsley, and mint.

Do you raise chickens, or ducks, or other "livestock" in the city? We have bees at our Alleycat Acres Beacon Hill site, but someone else takes care of them (Bob Redmond of urban bee company).
What is your experience? I'd love to know. I'm very curious about raising livestock for meat. Have you done it?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Radish greens: have you tried them?

I had never heard of eating radish greens until a couple years ago, when a friend of my from Alleycat Acres pulled a radish from the ground, brushed the soil off the root, and popped the whole thing in her mouth. I had never seen anything like it. I tried it and I liked the greens a lot!

Since then I've learned more about radish greens, and in particular I have learned that I only really like them when they are very young and tender. When very young they taste sweet and peppery, as opposed to when they get older and the leaves turn tough a prickly. Ouch.

I love radishes partly because their arrival marks the beginning of spring.

I like to plant an assortment of radish varieties. I get assorted seed packets called "Easter Egg".
That way there is a range of colors, sizes, and flavors in the radish patch.
They also mature at slightly different times, which means we don't get a huge flux all at one. 

Don't they look like sweet little jewels?

Last weekend we thinned the radish seedlings at Alleycat Acres' Beacon Hill site, and rather than tossing the thinnings in the compost pile, I took them home to eat.
Besides eating them raw with the baby root still attached, I also sautéed them with some garlic and olive oil (similar to how I often prepare spinach, chard, or kale), and I tossed them in a green salad.

Dressed salads do not photograph well, so I apologize for the horrible photo, but I thought this salad was really delicious. It was simply a salad of baby radishes with their greens still attached, arugula, romaine, shaved raw asparagus, and dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and flaky sea salt. So simple and delicious.

Radishes and their greens wilted with lemon juice and
added to a salad with arugula and shaved asparagus

Here are some links to other radish green recipes that sound interesting:

Spicy stir-fried radish greens
Roasted radishes with brown butter, lemon, and radish tops
Radish greens cheese spread or it can be a butter spread.

Hope you guys are as excited about spring gardening as I am!

p.s. Come garden with us at Alleycat Acres! We have a ton of fun, and are always looking for more volunteers. I'll be gardening at the Beacon Hill site every Tuesday evening at 6pm starting May 1st, through the fall. 3656 24th Ave. S, Seattle, WA.