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Celt's Garden - Fried Radishes for Breakfast and Other Tales of the Recession

I'm becoming quite partial to fried radishes for breakfast, particularly the big fat ones that get a bit hot for fresh eating. Slice radishes thinly, saute in a little oil until translucent and the edges begin to brown, drop in a couple of scrambled eggs, top with green onions and slivers of chilies. Serve with a side of warmed leftover beans. For low cholesterol eating, skip the eggs. Fried radishes out of the the garden are sweet and juicy. Radishes are a frequent volunteer in my garden. A petite pink radish shoots up into a small bush covered with white flowers. Quite darling looking. Black Spanish radishes turn into exuberant bushes four feet high and flower purple. Radishes will set edible seeds pods, juicy and succulent at first, then the pod ripens and becomes stringy and dry. The seed will be ready for harvest in late September. Just collect the dry pods before they split and burst. I leave the pods sitting around in a paper sack in my dining room for a few weeks to finish drying and then thresh and clean the seed. 


You always miss some seed, an occasion to reflect that weeds are any plant in the wrong place. Most of the weed radishes are not worth eating, too spindly, too close together, or bolting too soon. Some are fine, just in the place intended for something else. Those go in the breakfast pan. The first new potatoes are ready. When the potato plant begins to flower, it is possible to reach into the edges of the hill and rob the new potatoes. I have plenty of volunteer potatoes that I have never gotten around to pulling out. This is a good time to dig them up, compost the vines and eat the new potatoes. The volunteers are usually too closely spaced for a good yield of full sized potaotes and anyway, the whole point was to rotate that spot to something else. New potatoes won't keep. Just scrub them, leaving the thin skins on, and steam or slice and saute. A cast iron skillet makes the best fried potatoes.


The garden is part of my business plan. And a good thing, too, as this year seems to be shaping up for a short, intense burst of work in my engineering practice. Engineering has always been seasonal, even back in the day when I was working for the government, like picking strawberries but it pays better. Gardening helps conserve cash for the off season. Besides, the fresh food from the garden tastes better than anything I'm willing to pay for. 


It's time to go out after the dew has dried in the morning and gather herbs to dry. Rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, oregano, savory, Italian parsley and basil dry easily. Collect the herbs and lay out to wilt away from direct sun. The next day, dehydrate on low until they reach the dry snap stage. Bend a woody twig. If snaps with a nice dry sound, the herbs are ready. Best to pack immediately in glass jars and label. I use a large bowl to rub the dry leaves off and a canning funnel to pack them in jars. If dried herbs are left sitting around overnight, the humidity tends to rehydrate them. Some fluffy plants can easily yield enough to last through winter.


Out in Hamsterland, I am hearing alarming rumblings of an economy gone south. Each story is individual: unemployment run out, resources exhausted, job lost, small businesses dragging their small butts, bankruptcy from a construction loan to build a modest house on a modest lot out in the county, the lady talking about her niece the pole dancer in Everett whose tips are way down (I suggested the young lady in question go to BTC and take plumbing; plumbing cannot be outsourced and pays almost as well as pole dancing.) The collective picture is enough to send shivers up the back. All the more reason to cook from basic ingredients and grow what we can. 


Here is Grandmother Colleen Libby's meatball recipe. It makes a package of hamburger into lots of hearty, delicious meatballs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and find a large flat baking dish to hold the meatballs.


1 - 1 1/2 lb package hamburger

1 medium onion or leek, chopped into 1/4" pieces

1 egg

1-2 cups coarse bread crumbs, maybe more

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons mild chile powder and a teaspoon crumbled oregano

   OR 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and a fat pinch of black pepper

juice and zest of 1 lemon

sprinkling of salt


Gently squish everything except the bread crumbs together in a large bowl, trying not to handle the meatballs too much. Overhandling makes them tough. (AH, that's how they do those rubber Swedish meatballs!) Add bread crumbs slowly until you can pat together meatballs that don't self-destruct. The amount of crumbs will depend on the juciness of the hamburger. Form into meatballs a bit larger than golf balls and line them up shoulder to shoulder in the baking dish.


Bake about 30-40 minutes. Test a meatball in the center of the pan and see if it is tender, the juice runs clear, and the hamburger is cooked.





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