GARDEN GOURMET-- May 2009
rainy weather has kept the damper on most of the gardening efforts this
spring, but the warming trend and the letup of the monsoon may give us
a new lease on the planting season.
rototiller still sits in the barn getting marinated in last fallís gas,
but the next two or three weeks will spin the yarns of success and failure
at gardening. The whole schemer smacks of a mini experiment I conducted
see, I had some bad luck with a brave of zucchini plants. I planted only
four zucch plants in spring, and only two of the four made it to harvest
stage. They produced well, but after the first crop was in the kitchen,
they were infested with what the pros call stem borers. They turned yellow
and conked out.
in my estimation, are almost as important to the garden as cucumber is
to a good garden salad. They are, so to speak, the soldier without a gun.
remedy the situation, although we now were at mid-summer, I decided to
do some experimental seeding (garden shops had long since bid zucch plants
adieu). I did the next best thing. With hoe in hand, I fashioned three
elongated, two-inch hills, arming each with half a dozen seeds. When they
broke ground, I saved a couple of plants in each hill, late or not.
the zucchs seemed to prosper, I thought I might even try some goose neck
rest is history. I harvested some very welcome zucchs into the fall, not
to mention so many summer squash that I had trouble finding friends to
take them off my hands.
donít know. Maybe it will only work once. But the real crux of such a situation
lies in the fact that seeds donít germinate real well in an envelope. If
efforts fail, losing seed is not as bad as losing cars.
knows! You might get a bailout.
SHANK -- For the better part of a year, I have
been experimenting in the kitchen with beef shank, among the cheapest cuts
of beef, yet one of the most tasty.
first ventures were fairly simple -- vegetable soup. This is very common
usage of the cut, I found it excellent for this use, but that did not sate
my cooking appetite so I started a series of experimental dishes that included
this lower beef back leg just below the roasts.
do not find this cut of beef in all grocery stores, but some carry it for
as little $2.99 a pound. Of course, the shank cut, usually about an inch
thick, and six or seven inches in diameter, includes round leg bones, and
a little fat -- all of which lends the ďmama-miaĒ taste to dishes.
in my series of experiments was with an iron skillet (with cover) and about
two tablespoons of olive oil and one chopped strip of bacon. As the bacon
started frying, I added a sliced onion and let it cook slowly for about
five minutes (not long enough or hot enough to burn the onion). That stage
finished, I added several coarsely chopped vegetables -- eight baby carrots,
one chopped potato, one cup of cabbage strips (finger size), and a few
dried Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms (crumbled). With this cooking slowly,
I added one ounce of water, cut the heat even more, covered the skillet,
and let it all steam for 15 or 20 minutes.
the veggies to the outer perimeter of the skillet, I placed the dredged
shank in the center of the skillet after adding a bit of olive oil. I let
the shank sear on each side for five minutes (uncovered). Then, adding
an ounce of wild strawberry wine (home-made, well aged), I spooned the
veggies over the shank, covered it, and turned the heat to simmer. Turning
the meat and stirring the veggies occasionally, I let it simmer for two
shank was as tender as a steak, the veggies cooked to tenderness, and there
was no need for making gravy. It was in the skillet.
The shank, during the searing process, may tend to curl up around the bone.
If this occurs, meaty parts should be cut away from the bone to create
pieces of serving size. Ordinarily, one shank will be enough meat for two
or three people.