Pots & Pans – Bobby Flay’s Soup


In the January issue of Food Network Magazine you will find a terrific recipe for Bobby Flay’s Spanish Chorizo, Kale and Cranberry Bean Soup.

I cooked up a batch of this soup last week and it was delicious and hearty. I did make some changes though. I used leftover sparkling cider in place of the wine. I also substituted chicken cutlets, marinated for several hours in a strong vinegar, olive oil and spice solution, in place of the chorizo. After I baked the chicken and cut it into small cubes, I added it to the soup for a minute or two before serving. Next time I will use boneless thighs, the breast meat became a bit dry.

I also cooked the beans and kale separately to cut the cooking time for the other vegetables down a bit. When everything was cooked through I combined the ingredients in a big pot. Scrumptious!

Pots and Pans – Cabbage & Kale Casserole


Grocery stores are full of cabbage and kale this week. The gorgeous green colors of both these superfoods enticed me to purchase them. I wanted to find a recipe that would combine them. I found a good choice in the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook,  contributed by Edwina Stolzfus of Narvon, PA. I was sure I could tweak the recipe a bit to include kale. This casserole is created for cooking in a crockpot. The ingredients could easily be adapted to bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45- 60 minutes.

Here is my version of the recipe. I added kale and mustard and a touch less cheese than the original. This recipe is a perfect choice for St. Patrick’s Day.

1 medium head cabbage, chopped
1/2 bunch of kale, torn away
from stem in bite-sized pieces

Boil cabbage and kale in salted water
for about five minutes.
The pan will be full,
but as the cabbage and kale cook and
soften they will reduce in size. Drain.

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2  8 oz. block of cheddar cheese,
shredded, about one cup
1/2 to 1 tbsp gourmet mustard
(I used champagne dill mustard, it is a
very delicate mustard, if your mustard
choice is strong in flavor use a bit less)

In a saucepan, gently melt the butter, do not
allow to burn. Stir in flour, salt and pepper.
Whisk until they thicken a bit. Add milk,
stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture
thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and
mustard. Pour sauce over cabbage and kale.
Place in crockpot. Cook on low 4-5 hours.

Delicious! Even my seven year old grandson loved it!

Problem-Solving – Unwanted Pest

I am never sorry to lose a few parsley or dill leaves to the black swallowtail caterpillar (see photograph above.) There are never too many of them; the most I have ever seen on any plant has been about six. I would never consider them a pest. On the other hand, although I think the fluttery cabbage white butterflies are pretty, I don’t like their egg-laying abilities. A few cabbage white butterflies hovering over any plant in the cabbage family means big trouble, as in the recently shredded leaves of my prized Tuscan Kale.

In the past few days I have hand-picked dozens of caterpillars off of this plant. I think I have caught up at the moment and the plant is free of pests. Where are all my praying mantis predator bugs? I was going to plant a few broccoli plants this week, but now I am rethinking it since they are members of the cabbage family too.

Here is good link to a post about this pest: Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar

Projects – Square Foot Garden Update

This is an early morning photograph of my Square Foot Garden. I have to say, hopefully without sounding like I’m bragging, this method of gardening has been a major success for me. I have lettuce daily, my broccoli and bread seed poppies are ready to begin budding. I have cooked and eaten my kale and swiss chard, and though I have always loved fresh greens cooked in various ways, I can now feel a “fresh greens fanatic” point of view taking me over.

The Square Foot Gardening Website can be found here: Square Foot Gardens. Take a look and browse the information and photographs. Better yet, buy the book and create your own little area of vegetable heaven.

This is a view of the back of my Square Foot Garden. I know my pea trellis leaves a lot to be desired, but the peas come and go quickly, and I will be replacing them in a few weeks.

Because I didn’t want to give up too many of my squares to the dozen tomato plants I am growing I planted half in containers. These are doing very well too, the stems are beginning to look like tree saplings. I already have some flower buds on a few plants. O Happy Day…tomatoes in a month or two. Hooray!

I was honored to see one of my Square Foot Garden photographs was featured in a Mel Bartholomew Blog Post. Take a look: My Square Foot Garden Squares On Mel Barthlomew’s Website.

Plants – Update Square Foot Gardens and Swiss Chard

My Square Foot Gardens are doing great. Except for a few empty squares in the second garden, most of the space is filled with seeds or plants and growing well. I have harvested many servings of lettuce already. In fact, I can’t eat it fast enough and have been taking handfuls to family whenever I visit. The lettuce comes in a wide array of greens, pinks and reds and pairs perfectly with the arugula and water cress I have growing in the herb garden. A new sowing of mesclun is thriving and will soon be ready to begin harvesting. The bread seed poppies are magnificent and I expect them to send up budding stalks any day now. The peas in the back of the garden are in need of quick staking,  they are growing a few inches daily.

Here is a closeup of the earliest sown squares. Last week I sauteed a few pieces of kale with olive oil and garlic powder. Ah, so amazingly good; I wish I had begun this type of gardening years ago. This week I tried several leaves of the swiss chard. I chopped the stems and ribs and kept them separate from the leaves.

I gently boiled the chopped stems, and after about three minutes added the leaves along with a little Adobo spice mix, and gently simmered a few minutes longer.

Wow! The taste was beyond my highest expectations. I sprinkled the swiss chard with a squeeze of fresh lime, and “oohed” and “ahhed” with every mouthful. The best thing about both of these greens is they are still producing. I can’t wait to try my hand at cooking and eating them again.