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From the Garden this Week - Cinco de Mayo Eve 2023

From the Garden this Week… Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Snap Peas, Kale, Salad Turnips, Radishes, Carrots, Fennel, Onions, Arugula, Spinach, Salad Mix, Dill, Cilantro, Parsley, Grapefruit, & Borage

Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno

With Cinco de Mayo coming up, Mexican food is bound to be on the menu this weekend. Usually, Mexican food means tomatoes, peppers, and corn, but with none of those items growing in the garden right now, I wanted to come up with a Mexican recipe that uses more seasonal vegetables. I put together this salad recipe, and kept the vegetables in line with what’s available, of course if you have a tomato or pepper from the store, add it in too. I also toast raw pepitas and make tortilla crisps in the oven, but you could use prepared chips and roasted pepitas if you have them.

Mexican Salad

¼ cup raw pepitas

4 corn tortillas, sliced into 2x½

inch strips

2 teaspoons oil


8 cups lettuce, spinach, and

arugula, washed and chopped

1-15 ounce can black beans

rinsed and drained

3-4 radishes or salad turnips,

thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped onions

½ cup cubed pepper jack cheese,

more or less to taste

1 cup cooked chicken

1 avocado pitted and cubed

Cilantro Dressing

¼ cup packed cilantro leaves

½ teaspoon peppery sauce

2 garlic cloves peeled

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice use

less if using Greek yogurt

¼ teaspoon chili powder or paprika

* Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl combine the pepitas and tortilla strips, oil, and sprinkle with salt, stir well. Spread out the tortilla strips and pepitas on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Combine all the dressing ingredients, stir well and set aside. Remove the toasted tortillas and pepitas from the oven and let cool slightly. In a large salad bowl add the lettuce, beans, radishes, onions, and any other vegetables. Add the dressing and mix well. Put the salad in a large serving platter and top with the cooked chicken, avocado, tortillas, and pepitas.

Borage: A Purple Star

Borage is an edible plant with star-shaped purple blossoms. Its leaves and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked in sweet and savory dishes. Its leaves add a delightful cucumber-like flavor to soups, stocks, and salads. The sweet flowers have a taste of honey, so use in salads, yoghurt, desserts, and drinks. The flowers can also be crystallized into candies or used simply as a decorative garnish. Separate Borage’s flowers and leaves from its “hairy” stems, remove the back stems from the blossoms, and then feature these delicate star-shaped delights in your favorite sides, entrees, desserts, even drinks.

Snap Peas…

Snap peas are one of the seasonal treats of spring. They don’t like the heat or cold and are perfect right now. Trim off the ends by hand, pulling the end towards the pea, letting the string that runs down the edge pull away from the pea. You can steam them for a few minutes, but I prefer to eat them raw.

Pea and Turnip Salad with Hard Cooked Eggs

Juice and zest from one lemon, about 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

¼ teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, parsley, and dill

1 cup sugar snap peas, stem removed, washed, and sliced in half

3-4 salad turnips, thinly sliced

2 eggs, hard cooked, peeled and sliced

* In a large mixing bowl whisk the lemon juice, zest, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Add the peas and turnips. Stir gently and turn out onto a serving platter or bowl, add the eggs to the top and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Metaphors of Soil and Soul…

Fennel Has Few Friends

by Cindi J Martin

Have you often wondered why you get along with some people but not others? Are you embarrassed to admit that you don’t enjoy spending time with everyone equally, even some in your own family? Jesus said that we are to love others, even our enemies, but how do we love those whom we genuinely dislike? We can learn from gardeners who have known for millennia about Companion Planting.

According to the website Tilly’s Nest, “Companion planting involves placing plants that can benefit from one another adjacent to each other in the garden. It also involves keeping some plants distanced from others, as they can be detrimental to one another’s growth.” Distance, however, does not mean we exclude incompatible plants from the garden; it does mean acknowledging conflicting preferences and respecting placement needs. Fennel and Basil are delightful herbs whose anise flavors pair deliciously well on a plate but not together on a plot of ground.

Fennel grows well in the garden but doesn’t grow well with others. A loner, it has a “bad boy” reputation because it becomes aggressive when crowded, and an allelopath – herbal sociopath, perhaps? - fennel secretes noxious chemicals to suppress growth or prevent germination of plants that encroach on its space (“Stay in your row, Bro…ccoli!”). Fennel particularly dislikes intrusive and clingy tangle-vine plants like bush beans, eggplant, and tomatoes. Basil, though, is everybody’s buddy, loves a crowd, and helps other plants thrive. Though fennel and basil have conflicting needs for space, water, and closeness, let us refrain from calling basil the “good” plant and fennel the “bad” simply because they aren’t each other’s BFF – best field friend. We should acknowledge their unique characteristics and appreciate their significant culinary contributions. Respecting differences and preferences means we find the right, albeit removed, garden home for fennel to thrive and beautify our diverse and productive garden.

What if we were to honor a similar reality in the human garden? We do get along with some people better than others! What if we learn to better understand our differences and respect the reasons we must keep a healthy distance from fennel-like friends? Insisting on being close to all prevents some from growing and thriving. We can better love those we dislike when we realize we do not need to plant ourselves in the bed right next to them. You’ve heard it said, “Bloom where you are planted!” This is also wisdom: “Plant where you will bloom!”


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