Category: Vegetables

Brussels Sprouts

Brussel sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are full of goodness.  They contain a lot of folate and indoles, which are bioflavanoids and nitrogen compound. Indoles are supposed to reduce the risk of cancer.

Brussels sprout is cabbage lookalike in miniature. And like cabbage, brussels sprout can cause flatulence.

Choose small green ones and they can be store in the fridge in a paper bag.  Keep them unwashed to prevent them going yellow and tasting bitter and soggy when cooked.

And they got their name from Brussels in Belgium.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel Bulb, photo by PH Morton

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel is related to the carrot family and indigenous to the Mediterranean but they are now grown in many parts of the world.

It is a perennial herb with yellow flowers. It is very aromatic.

Fennel is very versatile.  The bulbs, see above, foliage (leaves) and seeds are widely used in culinary around the world.

The bulb is delicious drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then baked in the oven.  It is sweet tasting, perfect starter or as a side dish with roast meat or even baked fish dishes.

Click here for the baked fennel bulb.

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.

Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.

One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time is beetroot. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Excessive bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce its quality.

All Photos By PH Morton

After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals.  This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂

If using homegrown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.

Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.

Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.

Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-

  1. Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
  2. Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
  3. Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.

Place the beetroots in a suitably sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.

Boil for two hours.

Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.

Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.

The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.

Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.

Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.

Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.

If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.

Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.

But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.

Bamboo Shoots


Bamboo Shoots

Photo by Haragayato of Tokyo, Japan

If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.

And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus.  Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region.  They are also often called ubod.

Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.

Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely.  As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves.  The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.

They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.

 

Kangkong (Water Spinach)

Kangkong, photo by JMorton

Kangkong (Water Spinach)

I love kangkong, or  called water spinach English.

Kangkong is a green leafy aquatic vegetable which is rich in vitamins and nutrients.

They have long slender leaves attached to a hollow tubular stem which is crunchy or there is a bite to it. Yummy

They usually grow in anything watery plot, in fields, swamp, lakes, river or even in bogs.

I remember that they grew near a dike in the middle of our rice field when we were still living in Marag.

Kangkong can grow rather vigorously and needed a good trim to prevent them from overpowering the water surface.  Good thing they are so edible and delicious.

I remember going into the waist-high water in our field to gather the kangkong sprouts.  I almost had a near panic attack after a carabao leech decided to attach itself to my stomach. It took ages to remove it and it seems the more you pull at it the longer its body gets, truly elastic.  That still gives me the nightmare to date.

My father did smoke whenever he plowed the field.  He would use the burning ember of the cigarette to unhook any pesky leech.

Oops, back to kangkong, they are delicious in sinigang recipes as well as blanched and made into a salad with lots of chopped tomatoes and shallots with a good dash of fish sauce.