from the archives: wicked good roasted veggies from the farm girl

Though it is incredibly simple, this dish is really a little masterpiece.

The beauty of this dish is that I grew or harvested each of these veggies– and that makes me feel just a little bit badass. The kabocha pumpkin was grown in my yard, basically as an accident. The baby carrots, leeks, and striped beets were harvested from the farm; the ginger is from Oahu too.  The garlic is from elsewhere (it doesn’t grow here), and the spices are from afar too. The leeks picked up much of the sweetness from the sucanat, and the roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the beets and the kabocha; the ginger and black pepper adds just a bit o’ spice and warmth.

the photo is old too; apologies for the poor quality!

This version is exactly what i made, but it could of course be changed up, depending on the available veggies in your part of the world.

wicked good roasted vegetables

one kabocha pumpkin, about 3-4 pounds, cubed or sliced thin
five small beets
six leeks (not the green tops, save those for stock)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of shredded ginger

Toss the veggies with about 1tbsp sucanat, 1 tsp brown mustard seeds, 2 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp seasalt, and about 3 tbsp of coconut oil.  Bake at 350 for about 45 min, and then at 400 for another 15 minutes or so.

They are totally edible on their own, as a side, or as a mix-in.  I enjoyed mine with some soba noodles and quick peanut sauce. Total.Foodie.Heaven.

little green

For many years I have practiced growing things in my yard- in the soil, in pots, in old yogurt containers. I use the word practice for my gardening purposefully, consciously. Many use the same term for yoga; we practice yoga with no end goal, but rather enjoyment in the physical process and the continued learning. I think of growing food in a similar manner.  For me, growing food is a practice that encourages ongoing learning, continuous patience, and where we will never attain a final, perfect outcome, Rather, we learn to enjoy the journey for what it is and what it becomes everyday.  That being said, I still want to eat the collards, kales, pumpkins, and lilikoi I’ve nurtured for months! 

I’ve moved six times in the past year, and have started and surrendered many plants on both Oahu and Maui. There is a particular sadness in leaving behind plants in their prime, the compost pile that is well-underway, the fruiting trees that you’ve been watering and feeding. I wrote about this before: learning to grow greens and let go. But finally, we are grounding down here in Waialua. The gardening has begun!

hearty sage and thyme plants, not so hearty basil

pea shoots, which win the award for cutest sprout ever (edibile too!)

baby arugula; i've been adding baby greens to my food all week

give us a few weeks!

Best of all, last weekend the boyfriend built this simple garden box for us. He gathered soil and mulch (for the compost) from the fields where he works.  When I realized how long it will take to fill the whole box (it’s about 20 feet long), and then longer to really get it ready (worm castings, micro-organisms, and other goodies to make it really healthy), I got a bit discouraged. So he suggested that in the meantime we separate the box into sections. Just this afternoon I got busy and divided the box into thirds, filling only one section with bagged potting soil, compost, and lots of worm castings and worms.  After about a week to let the soil set up I will begin to plant in this small section, and allow the remaining sections to set up properly (without spending $100 on bags of soil!). Stay tuned for more photos of garden love.

my favorite little greens: kale!

just a little green… anyone know what this refers to?

a busy weekend

lately my boss has been giving me the weekends off, which happens to match up with the boyfriend’s schedule too. this means that aside from hanging out and having fun we are also able to get a ton of stuff done at our new little house.

finally!

first and foremost, a new oven! this was actually moved in last weekend, but seems fitting with this whole home improvement weekend theme.  when we moved into this little house a month ago there were a few issues: no garage for the boyfriend, only a little garden space for girly, no fridge or stove in the kitchen and the bathroom is outside– in a mini room, but outside nonetheless.  but we thought it was so charming that we took it and just made it a project to make the house into our home.  first on the list was making the kitchen into a real kitchen for some real cooking- the mini fridge and the tabletop burner was just not going to work.  from craigslist we got a full-sized gas stove, which is such a relief after cooking on a junk electric stove for the past six months at our other house!  we are still looking for a full-sized fridge, because having a mini-fridge with mega-appetites is not working out well.

first thing saturday morning: our first visit to the pukalani farmers market.  without complaining too much, let’s just say that the highlight was finding sixty dollars on the ground (subsequently used for garden supplies).  there were only a handful of vendors, and everyone has some version of the starfruit/tangerine/passion fruit/coconut combination, not bad, but we really wanted some upcountry bounty: kales, cabbage, beets, onions, etc.  we left with only a small bunch of golden beets, cassava, starfruits, and some of the first persimmons of the season.

picture-perfect persimmons

hotel des ver des terre (sometimes french is just too cute)

next errand: wormies!  we have been talking about getting a worm bin for months, and we finally found a good one on craigslist, and then another man selling the worms.  altogether it was $150, but after a few months we can start harvesting the castings (the worm poop) which is an excellent organic fertilizer for our garden.  and those little worms will eat veggie food scraps, white paper and cardboard, and coffee/tea leftovers- and we have a lot of each here.  for the rest of the food waste- stale or moldy fruit, funky grains, peelings, and all the fallen leaves from the mango tree, the boyfriend made a compost pile!  whittling down the waste stream is priceless.

and then we worked on the garden! there is limitied space in the yard, as we are on the side of the gulch, so i am taking up the container gardening project that i’ve worked with in almost every other house i’ve lived in for the past years.  we headed to the our local organic garden store where we purchased some packaged worm castings, some potting mix and other soil amendments to make a good mix.  we also rescued some transplants that they were killing- red cabbage and collards (which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be cauliflower and broccoli, not a bad mistake!).  after mixing a healthy potting mix, i transplanted most of the cabbage, the cauliflower, and started a bunch of seeds: gobo (burdock), red kale, winter kale, lacinato kale, collards, sunflowers, squash, and more cauliflower.

babies!

and i finally hung pretty curtains in our bathroom: i really wanted to forage for the bamboo for the rods, but we found them at the garden store for only twenty cents each- kind of a no-brainer.  this beautiful fabric has had multiple incarnations: bedroom curtains at my mokihana house, a full-sized shower curtain at the manoa house, and then a smaller shower curtain at my kakela house.  and here they are again.  i only had to buy the hooks to hang them (and ask the boyfriend for drilling help), which means prettiness in the bathroom for less than ten dollars.  and i use the term bathroom lightly, because this room has no sink nor toilet- but has a fantastic steam room. yes, a steam room!

oh yes, and we ate great food too! on saturday the boyfriend slow-cooked the cassava with onions and the last of our greens for a totally hearty and delicious lunch.  on sunday i cooked up some chickpea cutlets for the first time in a long time. i read the new and improved post punk kitchen site, and found that isa made some tweaks to her recipe from veganomicon.  she recommends using store bought breadcrumbs for the cutlets, so i reluctantly obliged her and purchased some from whole foods.  but, it’s true, it makes a huge difference in binding and texture of the cutlets.  they were delish served with roasted squash (from the neighbor) and the aforementioned golden beets, plus some locally grown peas.

no worm food here

local goodies… from our yard and elsewhere

starfruits abound...

i know that it is very cold for most folks right about now, but allow me to share the joy of maui’s autumnal bounty.  we’ve been exceptionally fortunate these past few weeks, and great food is quite literally falling into our hands.

this country road takes me home

on my drive to work, along a winding country road, there is a sign reading “5 starfruits for $1.” this is a great price for these relatively rare fruits. starfruits have quickly become a new favorite fruit of mine, with the crisp flesh and mild/sweet flavor similar to a white grape… but tropical.  and they look like freakin’ stars! how cute is that?

still life with woodpecker... um, oranges

and more! at this cute little house of ours there are not one, but two avocado trees- one should be ready very soon- one mango tree (finished for the season) and a gorgeous orange tree dripping with fruits.  last week I harvested about 10 pounds of delicious fruits, and gave most of that away to our friendly neighbors in the cottage. there is also a lychee tree, some unproductive bananas, and a macadamia nut tree too. we cannot actually locate this tree, but we know it’s here because we get bounced on the head with nuts from time to time.

but most joyful of all, there is a coconut tree, and I just did my very first harvest. usually coconut trees are an impossible 50 feet tall, but this one tree is only about 20 feet tall, and leaning just perfectly on the roof. so, with the help of a very tall ladder and a very nervous boyfriend, i hopped up on the roof and cleaned and trimmed the tree, and harvested a huge bunch of coconuts, each weighing in at about 3-4 pounds. unfortunately I was overly excited and chopped them all at once; I should have checked because they are actually a bit too young. there is a ton of juice inside, but no meat at all- not even the young gelatinous stuff. there are lots of baby coconuts on the tree, so hopefully within the next six months we can enjoy those too!

cocos!

and our new neighbors gave us some cute little limes and a very funky squash from a farm upcountry.  and my boyfriend’s coworker gave us this beautiful avocado. maui’s bounty, indeed.

huge, gorgeous avocado: priceless


growing greens… and letting go

i love to grow food.  admittedly i am a bit lazy sometimes about watering or tending, but i generally am stoked to play in the soil, talk to the plants, give them goodies like compost tea and worm castings, and generally nurture something besides my kitty and my boyfriend.

collard greens!

the problem is, i have always lived in rental houses!  i don’t think this is a problem itself- i do like houses and all– but it comes to be an issue when you have plants like avocado trees, citrus trees, and edible greens that live for years… but i only have six month leases!   i recently moved from oahu to maui; not a huge jump geographically… but definitely a journey.  moving houses repeatedly (three times by the end of this year!) means that i am donating established gardens to others (like i did twice on oahu) which is pretty cool, but i would very much like a little piece of land of my own.
on maui there was a possibility of such a place, at the big farmhouse on the hill.  but, after only one month  we chose to leave (for a myriad of reasons).  after weeks of searching we found a cute house closer to civilization- but still only for six months.  i’m certainly not complaining- the house is great; there is a big garage for my mechanically-gifted man and gardening space for both of us, including fruiting banana trees and a lemon tree.  soon after moving in we realized that the soil was in bad shape and that the plants (and soil) were all suffering from an overdose of miracle-gro (and bad landscaping…).  but we got to work!

big basils

we set about trimming, pruning, uprooting, watering, and loving the yard; and i began on the two small raised beds in the front.  i uprooted and transplanted all the ugly ‘ornamentals’ and transplanted in some basil, collards, pole beans, squashes, and lots of marigolds.   the squashes did not make it, nor did the beans, but other plants really took off.  after the initial weeding and clearing we added in worm castings (poop), humic acid (concentrated compost), and other soil amendments from the local eco garden shop.  about a month ago we added in some homemade compost tea and then things really started to pop!  the collards went from ok to oh-ma-gawd.  super healthy, big and bright- i have three plants to harvest from now.  the basil plants are also going crazy- i have never seen a basil this big!  i am also growing marigolds throughout the beds, and they are already re-populating the soil with the prolific seeds.

small red ursa kales

having run out of room in the beds (there are weird sun patterns and two strange dying palms taking up lots of space), i decided to use some planter boxes.  i think movable gardens are great, but the difference between plants grown in pots compared to the soil is pretty remarkable, and i like to keep them in the ground if i can.  but, the pots definitely work when one has only limited amount of space. so, i’ve planted a (rare, heirloom) red ursa kale and some beautiful purple choi sum.  the kales are still a bit small, but the choi sum is really amazing: beautiful green leaves with bright purple stems- makes your stir fry that much more colorful!

purple choi sum

so, that is my garden… for now.  but we have to move in just a few months and this will all be left behind.  at this point in my life  i very much want to find a place and really settle into it.  the past year of my life has been full of big changes and i am ready to be done (saturn returns… are you listening! i’m done!).

i want to be a (semi-) homesteader, growing and cooking my own foods, nurturing my partner, and caring for the land.   i would like to plant trees, grow greens and let them seed, and know that i can continue learning in one spot, nurturing the soil with organic practices and love.  and i would really like some chickens.  and maybe a goat too.