Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

June 28, 2013

Cooking with fresh produce

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — I have to admit that I am not the most daring person when it comes to trying new foods.

I’m usually quite satisfied with the old favorites of a cheeseburger and french fries or a ham sandwich or salad. However, I have begun to expand my comfort zone and try new items, especially those of the more healthy variety.

On June 10, I joined about 10 other area residents who took part in a Franklin County Purdue Extension program at Michaela Farm, Oldenburg, to learn how to prepare produce, including kohlrabi, bok choy, radishes and Swiss chard. Before that, I had never even heard of the first two vegetables.

About 2.5 acres of gardens supply food for the Sisters of St. Francis convent, reported head gardener Becky Miller. “We grow things as naturally as possible. We try to stay away from things that are harmful to nature and the environment. Our goal is to feed the soil. Once the soil is fed, the plants are healthy. Our philosophy is to work with nature to grow food, and that makes very tasty, nutritious foods.”

While giving the group a tour of the gardens, she said, “Adding straw helps add organic matter and keeps the rain from pounding the clay ground.” A thin white cloth covered some of the rows of crops, but it still lets the water and sun through. “It protects the leaves and is a really nice natural barrier.”

All four vegetables to be prepared were freshly picked. Kohlrabi bulbs, small vegetables similar to cabbage, grow “totally above ground,” she revealed. “They look sort of cool like they’re floating. You harvest them before they’re bigger than the size of a softball .... or they’re not very tasty.

“Swiss chard comes in all different colors, but they all taste the same. You can eat the stalk and the leaves.” Bok choy is a variety of Chinese cabbage having pale-green stalks and dark-green leaves.

“There are lots of crazy, cool things you can do with radishes,” Miller revealed, and the leaves should be removed from them after they are harvested because they cause moisture and nutrient loss.

Holly Murray, health and human sciences extension educator, along with Anna Morrow, agriculture and natural resources extension educator, and Miller prepared various recipes using the vegetables. Murray pointed out, “It’s good to use fresh items, things we grow or get at farmers’ markets, but a lot of times, people don’t know what to do with them, so we’ve come up with a few different ideas” (please see box on Page 1).

Murray announced the ingredients can be changed to meet “your tastes or what you have around .... (For example) you can use minced or powdered garlic instead of a fresh clove.”

I liked most of the recipes, and my favorite, the bok choy salad, I even made at home since then. I also learned some new ways to prepare radishes.

Murray and Morrow announced they are considering having more classes offered throughout the year.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.

1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1/2 cup olive oil 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1/4 cup margarine 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds 1/4 cup sesame seeds Two 3-ounce packages ramen noodles 1 medium head bok choy 3 green onions Whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar and soy sauce. Set aside. Melt the margarine over medium heat in a small skillet. Crush the ramen noodles while still in their packaging. Add them, the almonds and sesame seeds to the margarine. Saute until golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel. Chop the bok choy and green onions and add to a large bowl. Just before serving, sprinkle with the noodle mixture and dressing and toss to coat. 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil 20 radishes, ends trimmed and cut in half Salt and pepper to taste Heat butter in a skillet over low heat. Arrange radishes cut side down in the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until radishes are browned and softened, about 10 minutes.