By Amanda Stone
JOPLIN, Mo. —
There are enough beautiful days here and there to give a girl the gardening itch. Sure, it's safe to plant cool-weather seeds such as beets, greens and carrots or potatoes and onions, but I want more.
There's a way to grow food inside that is so easy. Even someone with a crunchy brown thumb can grow windowsill plants from their kitchen scraps.
There are lots of veggies that you already have in your fridge that can be regrown. It's so amazing. Romaine, celery and cabbage can all be lopped off as normal, but instead of composting the stumps pop them into a bowl of water. In just a couple of days you'll see new growth shooting out of the center. It's easy and fun for you and the kids.
I use a ton of romaine, so I regularly try to fit another romaine stump in the cereal bowl of water. It starts growing within a couple of days. Celery takes a little more time, but will grow celery stalks within a few weeks. Once roots are established on your stumps, go ahead and plant them in soil. Easy homegrown veggies!
Check your pantry for sweet potatoes and onions that have those knobby little growths, indicating that you've had them for too long. No problem! Go ahead and chop them up for cooking, but save the chunks with growths. Put the chunks in water and wait for roots to appear, or just pop them in soil. Garlic is even easier. Just plant a clove in the garden. It will grow a bulb if you cut back the green tops occasionally. All of its energy will be focused on growing a big, beautiful bulb. I particularly love regrowing green onions. Snip off what you want to use, and they'll regrow the green before you know it.
Ginger and pineapple can be regrown as well. A little more time is invested, but you'll be rewarded with a beautiful plant while you wait for the prize. Cut off a hunk of fresh ginger, and plant it in soil with the little buds facing up. It will grow roots, a pretty plant and an entire new rhizome. Pull up the whole thing when you're ready to harvest and start again.
Pineapple is super fun to grow. Twist the top off of a very ripe pineapple and remove the fruit until you have green spikes with little roots. Remove some of the leaves at the bottom, plant them in soil and water regularly until the plant is established. You'll see new growth within a few weeks. Eventually an adorable baby pineapple will appear in the middle. It will take about two years to fully mature, but if you're willing to give it the time, the reward will be so sweet.
Try these recipes using your indoor bounty, and remember that spring is just around the corner.
Celery and parsnip soup
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
9 cups celery stalks (about 2 bunches), thinly sliced
2 cups parsnips (about 12 ounces), finely chopped and peeled
11/2 cups chopped green onions
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 thin round fresh ginger, peeled
6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add next five ingredients. Cover; cook 10 minutes. Add 6 cups stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth, adding celery leaves to each batch. Return to pot. Thin with more broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
Adapted from epicurious.com
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
4 whole ripe tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large cucumber, chopped
1/2 whole red onion, sliced very thin
30 whole-pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
6 whole Kalamata olives (extra), chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 whole lemon, for squeezing
Add chopped lettuce, tomato wedges, cucumber chunks, onion slices, halved Kalamata olives, half the feta and the parsley to a large bowl.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and chopped olives in a bowl. Whisk together until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a little sweetener of your choice if needed.
Pour dressing over salad ingredients, then add salt and pepper. Toss with tongs or clean hands. Just before serving, top with additional feta and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top.
Adapted from thepioneerwoman.com
Ginger pineapple fried rice
2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice or whole-grain of your choice
3 tablespoons grape seed, canola, peanut oil or other high smoke-point oil
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh peeled ginger
5 scallions (white and pale green parts separated from greens), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Rinse rice in several changes of cold water in a large bowl until water runs clear. Drain in a colander. Place rice in a 4-quart heavy saucepan, then add water (amount according to the instructions on the package) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, again according to the package instructions, usually 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered and undisturbed, 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and let cool to almost room temperature. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, at least 4 hours.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil just begins to smoke, stir fry ginger, white and pale green parts of scallions, and salt until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Crumble rice into the pan and stir fry until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, then add scallion greens, pineapple and sesame oil, tossing to combine. Season with salt.
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com
Have questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.