Currently viewing the category: "Blog"

beet13

I remember a time when my only association with beets were with those that lived in a can. I didn’t pay attention to them until I was in my mid 30’s and a housemate and I joined a CSA. Most weeks we would receive fresh beets in our delivery. The only way I knew to prepare them then was to roast them. Eventually I began eating them raw, using them in soups, and marinating or steaming them. They also make a wonderful “butter”. Fortunately they grow well year round on Kauai reaching maturity in 60 days. They are incredibly sweet, juicy and full of flavor. Now that I have many uses for them I always have a row growing. Beets are a good source of dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Folate and Manganese.   I almost always have a batch of these pickled beets on hand.  They are the perfect condiment for salads, fish, meats, and vegetables.

Tarragon Marjoram Pickled Beets

4 Beets

1 1/2 Cups Balsamic Vinegar

4 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Salt

1/4 Cup Tarragon, chopped

1/4 Cup Marjoram, chopped

Slice beets thin on a mandolin or with a knife.  I slice mine as thin as I possibly can if using a knife.  Add to a glass container with a nonreactive lid.  Add vinegar, garlic, salt, tarragon and marjoram.  Refrigerate overnight and then enjoy.  The flavor intensifies the longer it marinates.  Keeps well for 2 weeks in fridge.   Feel free to adjust recipes to your own palette! Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Mexican Tarragon

Tarragon 2(695x950)

This lovely plant has a sweet, subtle, anise flavor. It matches beets perfectly adding depth and originality. The Mexican Tarragon variety I am growing now is more heat tolerant than the French variety requiring full sun and little water. It bushes out and grows two-three feet high providing an abundant supply. The scent and taste of tarragon is disliked by many garden pests, making it useful for intercropping and as a companion plant, to protect its gardenmates. It is also reputed to be a nurse plant, enhancing growth and flavor of companion crops. The dried plant can be burned as an incense and to repel insects.

Marjoram

marjoram

Marjoram is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean, North Africa and Southwest Asia.  It was known to the Greeks and Romans as the symbol of happiness.  It belongs to the mint family with other more common herbs – basil, mint, oregano and sage.  It has a unique aroma and flavor that is floral, spicy, with a hint of citrus and pine.

Marjoram was not something that ever registered in my culinary psyche until I worked in a Kosher Mediterranean and Spanish  influenced restaurant in California.  Everything had to be extremely fresh, unprocessed and made from scratch.  Most herbs were ordered fresh, then cleaned and dried for storage if not used immediately.   Marjoram was one of the herbs used regularly and in abundance.  I fell in love with it.  When I returned to Kauai after working for the restaurant, it was one of the first herbs I planted.  This under appreciated herb is now one of my favorites.

I use marjoram in pesto with sage and parsley or chopped fresh and sprinkled over finished dishes.  It is compatible with basil, fennel, rosemary, and thyme.  Marjoram’s flavor intensifies as it dries however, dried, store bought marjoram does not do it justice!  If possible grow some of your own or purchase some fresh at the farmer’s market and dry it yourself.  The unique aroma of fresh marjoram will make a believer of anyone.

Marjoram is easy to grow and low maintenance.   It requires full sun, well drained soil, and a balanced compost.   It can be started from seed in cell trays and then transplanted or rooted from cuttings.  I trim the tops and sides every few days which encourages regrowth for an abundant supply.   If I don’t use it fresh I dry and store it.  I bought both my tarragon and marjoram starts from Robin, owner of Heaven on Earth Organics, at the Kilauea Farmer’s Market Saturday from 9am to 1pm.  Robin is a seed and start guru.  If I only need one of a certain plant I usually buy it from her.  Most other items I grow from seed. Robin is extremely knowledgeable about both farming and cooking.  A real gift to gardeners and Kauai!  She also sells her starts at Hoku Whole Foods in Kapa’a.

 

 

 

daikon final

Daikon have become an acquired taste for me. I grew my first crop as an experiment to see how well they would do and whether or not I would enjoy eating them.  They reached maturity in 30 days and they all reached maturity at the same time.  Some were developing a  bacterial wilt that can be common in brassicas however,  so we harvested them all at the same time.  Twenty daikon is a bit much for two people to eat within a reasonable time frame.  I decided to take the preservation route.  I’m thrilled to say that pickled daikon is now one of my very favorite condiments. The aromatics and vinegar cause the radish to burst with flavor and the chile adds the perfect amount of heat. I use them as a garnish for salads, fish, wraps, or even as a light snack.  Daikon is a good source of Vitamin C, minerals and beneficial digestive enzymes.

Did I mention they are easy to grow?  They also go to seed here which means the seed can be saved and replanted without being purchased from the mainland.

Ginger Pickled Daikon

4 large daikon radish julienned

2 cups rice wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon salt

1/4 c tamari

2 inches minced  ginger

8 cloves garlic

2 hawaiian hot chiles (more or less according to your preference)

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar with a non reactive lid.  Let sit 24 hours before serving.  Flavor intensifies the longer it sits.  Can last several months in refrigerator.

 

daikon3

 

I would like to add that ginger is a highly medicinal and wonderful aromatic used world wide.  Ginger is reported to be a digestive aid, alleviates highblood pressure, treats nausea and morning sickness, and lowers LDL cholesterol. The two cultivars grown in Hawaii, much of it in Hilo and Puna on the Big Island, are Japanese and Chinese.  The predominant cultivar grown and sold in Hawaii is the Chinese variety.  It has larger rhizomes, lighter colored flesh and considered not as pungent as the Japanese.   Buy organic ginger! Conventional ginger is treated with many fungicides and pesticides.

My favorite Kauai ginger farmer is Ben Ferris, owner of Kolo Kai Farms in Kilauea. He is certified organic and his ginger is beautiful.  He also sells sweet potatoes, avocado and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  His goods are available at the Thursday farmer’s market in Kilauea and the Tuesday farmer’s market just passed Hanalei in Waipa.

My favorite ginger/farming website…..Seriously….go to this website for ginger entertainment in Puna!

pickled daikon

Hawaii Grown Hot Chiles

3 (950x713)

Pretty Purple Pepper Variety Regenerations Botanical Garden

 

Sweet peppers are not a highly successful crop on Kauai due to the Solanaceae Fruit Fly.  This pest can destroy most varieties in the Solanaceae family .  This particular fruit fly has 33 hosts it can lay its larvae within thereby making the fruit inedible.  Luckily, Hawaiian hot peppers remain largely unaffected by this fly.   And they are HOT!  I usually use 1-2 peppers for seasoning and this is plenty heat for me.  The pepper plants are high producing and easy to grow.  I just feed it compost at the roots and spirulina tea once a month and it produces dozens of  small 1-1 1/2 inch peppers.  I use them for hot sauce, pickling, chile powder and any dish needing a punch.  One Kauai farmer that grows beautiful sweet peppers, cucumbers, watermelon and a variety of other foods is Dylan Strong of Growing Strong Farms.  He shelters his crops with hand made protective coverings and gives them lots of TLC!  Visit him at the Kapa’a farmer’s market Wednesday’s at 3 pm.  Get there early!

1 (950x713)

 

This Pretty Purple Hot Pepper is growing at the Regenerations Botanical Garden and Food Forest.

4 (950x713)

Hawaiian Hot Chile

 

5 (950x713)

Thai Chile Pepper