At this time of year, our palates yearn for tender spring vegetables like asparagus and fava beans, but it’s a little too early to find those if you want to shop locally.
But you can always add variety to your vegetable routine by sourcing a plethora of late season winter greens still fresh at the farmers markets and grocery stores, from collards and kale to mustard greens and mizuna.
Helping folks know what to do with exotic greens like bok choy and inspiring them to expand the way they prepare familiar greens like cabbage is the impetus behind Portland chef and restaurateur Jenn Louis’ new, award-winning cookbook, “The Book of Greens.”
“One of the reasons I wrote the book was that a lot of people would approach me and say, ‘Hey, I got ‘X’ at the farmers market, and I don’t know how to use it,” Louis said in a phone interview from her home in Portland. “There are more and more varieties available, and people are afraid to cook them and fail, so I wanted to add things that are pretty unique … that way people can find new greens and know how to use them.”
The leafy greens are not only healthy — a recent study in Neurology journal found that seniors who had daily helpings of greens showed a slower rate of cognitive decline than seniors who did not eat many greens — but also make for delicious dishes that offer all kinds of complex flavors.
“The whole goal of the book is to show how greens are used globally, in main dishes, rather than as a side or a salad like in North America,” she said. “I wanted to create an encyclopedia and to show how to use them in a more versatile way.”
Structured alphabetically from Agretti to Watercress, “The Book of Greens” provides unusual recipes, such as the Charred Cabbage with Miso and Lime recipe inspired by one of the most popular dishes at Louis’ Israeli-inspired restaurant, Ray.
“At Ray, Roasted Cabbage with Turmeric and Caraway is the top-selling dish,” she said. “People think cabbage is just for coleslaw, but it really makes an elegant dish.”
Along with cabbage, Louis is a huge champion of kale, which many trendoids have declared over its peak, if not dead. Louis begs to differ.
“Kale is delicious, and kale salad is absolutely delicious,” she insisted. “There are so many twists and variations. I like to add cocoa nibs and dates.”
One of her favorite kale recipes is for Colcannon, an Irish recipe usually made with potatoes and cabbage. She gussies it up with Russian kale, Savoy cabbage and bits of cured meat or salami.
“It would be great as a breakfast with a poached egg on top,” she noted.
Right now, Louis is growing broccoli rabe in her garden, an intensely bitter green that tastes less bitter when it’s fresh or blanched. Her book includes a recipe for a Broccoli Rabe Pesto that can be served on top of a Testaroli crepe, an ancient form of pasta.
Another way to make bitter greens such as chicory more palatable is to serve them with some kind of fat, such as Gouda cheese. You can also add more acid, she said, which can soften the chlorophyll.
WHAT’S LEGAL POT GROWING AND WHAT’S NOT
Here’s a summary. For full legal information for Sonoma County, visit sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis/Personal-Use-and-Cultivation/
Who Can Grow?
Medical: Any patient or caregiver with a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis. The cannabis cannot be sold or distributed
Recreational: Any adult 21 or older. The cannabis cannot be sold
Size of plants: Up to 100 square feet of grow area per residence
Medical amount: There’s no limit on the number of plants for medical use
Recreational amount: No more than 6 plants
Where: Cultivation must take place at the person’s full-time residence
Outdoor: Plants cannot be located in the front or side yard setback areas and cannot be visible from public streets or walkways. Outdoor growing is not allowed in multi-family units or in the medium or high-density residential zones (R2 and R3).
Indoor: Indoor grows must be in an accessory structure, like a greenhouse or garage. Growing inside a residential structure is not allowed, unless there is no feasible alternative.
WHERE DO I GET PLANTS OR SEEDS?
You can get seeds from suppliers on the internet. The Gage Green Group (gagegreen.org) is a reputable company selling organically grown seeds for medicinal or recreational grows. Close to home, The Cali Connection (thecaliconnection.com) is a website to look into. Farther afield, in Amsterdam in fact, is a fine company called Sensi Seeds (senjsiseeds.com) that sells medicinal, recreational and feminized seeds.
If you want to do more research, here are other seed suppliers to Google: Brothers Grimm Seeds, Swamp Boys Seeds, BC Bud Depot, MTG Seeds, DNA Genetics, TGA Genetics, Green House Seeds, Archive Seed Bank, Aficionado Seeds, Amsterdam Genetics and The British Seed Company.
You can also stop by the Emerald Cup at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in December. An Early Bird Weekend Pass is on sale now for $120 plus $12.74 fee, no babies in arms and no strollers. You probably don’t want to take the kids to this event anyway. For tickets, visit theemeraldcup.com/tickets/
For starter plants, talk to a growe.r
Identifying gender of cannabis plants
If you let the male plants spread pollen among the females, you’ll ruin your crop, unless your aim is to grow and harvest seeds. If pollinated, the females will put their energy into ripening seeds, not producing big kolas of flowers.
Male and female marijuana plants are identical for the first six weeks of life. After June 20, they will start to differentiate by gender. If you’re serious about growing quality plants, you must remove all male plants and get them off the property or bury them as soon as you can tell their gender.
Use a magnifying glass to look at the joints on the stalk where the branches meet the main stalk. At first both males and females will have small clusters of ball-like bulbs there, but soon small, hairy, translucent filaments will emerge from the female bulbs. When many of the female bulbs show these filaments, it’s time to remove the male plants, which will still not have filaments but will soon shower the patch with pollen. Pull them out and get rid of them asap.
For more information and pictures, visit wikihow.com/Identify-Female-and-Male-Marijuana-Plants