Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Too much mint! And a recipe for what to do with it

So the mint in my garden is finally overgrown. What else can be expected of a mint. Beyond making tea with it I usually don't get too creative. Now I have more mint than I know what to do with.

Mentha piperita (peppermint) is a fabulous, tasty herbal tonic. It is refreshing on a hot day, and very supportive of the digestive system. Peppermint is even said to have nervine qualities, able to ease anxiety and tension. I can see truth in this. I usually feel pretty relaxed after drinking a cup of hot peppermint tea, though I have always attributed the feeling to the act of drinking tea. I'll try to pay more attention to this.

For dinner tonight I decided to incorporate mint into the dish. I had to be creative because my husband and I have fairly different diets. His entire diet revolves around meat, vegetables, bacon, coconut and dark chocolate. Mine revolves around vegetables, eggs, yogurt, beans, tofu and milk chocolate.

I really didn't want to make drastically different dishes tonight. When I cook the meat my chef side is very curious how it came out. My husband isn't the best at relaying this info. Oh well. Using what I had on hand I came up with this.

Vaguely Greek Inspired Lamb Meatballs or Tofuballs with Mint and Preserved Lemon

I started by making the sauce that would hold my tofuballs together and would go on top of all the balls.
1 cup full fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chopped preserved lemon
1/4 cup mint leaves
(would be good with some cucumber added in but I didn't have any)

Mince everything finely and mix together or just throw it all in a food processor. Done.

For the lamb meatballs I took 1lb of ground lamb and mixed in my seasonings: black pepper (a bunch of turns on the grinder), fresh thyme (2 tsp), dried rosemary (1/2 tsp), smoked paprika (1 tsp), oregano (1 tsp), Celtic sea salt (pinch), and about a tsp of preserved lemon (this stuff is salty so go easy on the salt in other places). (Please note that these are just guesstimates as I use my hands for cooking). I also added a splash of apple cider vinegar and a little olive oil. The olive oil was probably unnecessary due to how much fat is in the lamb.

For the Tofuballs I stared with a block of extra firm tofu that I squeezed the water out of and crumbled up. Add 1/4 cup each instant oats and almond flour. I used the same seasonings, a bit extra olive oil, and 2 tbsps of the yogurt sauce to hold everything together so I could form balls.

Sear the balls in a bit of olive oil. I transferred the tofuballs to an oven proof dish (because I wanted to use my cast iron to make some greens to go with it). Top the balls with little dollops of yogurt sauce before putting into a 350 degree oven. The lamb just went directly into the oven in its cast iron, though you can just cook it on the stove top instead.

Bake for like 20 minutes or until the house smells good and the meatballs are done to your liking. Tofu really doesn't care when it's done, unless it's burnt. Don't burn the tofu.

Serve with Quinoa, cooked dark leafy greens, and some balls on top. Add more yogurt sauce. Yum.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ephemeral Spring

I have been enjoying the bounty of spring. The early warmth and lush greenery was welcome after such a piddling, grey winter. I've been spending as much time as possible outside. I finally ID'd wild lettuce and found it in my neighborhood only to have it fade before I could do anything with it.

The ephemeral quality of spring especially has me on my toes this year. I feel like my senses are finally open to the plants after many years of learning them on paper. I am discovering things that have been under my nose the whole time. This is a nice break from feeling like nothing grows near me. Quite the contrary. I'm finding I have everything I need right here within reach. This has to do more with my personal development and an attitude change, rather than any change in the diversity of the plants around me. Now that I know I will be in the DC area for a significant amount of time, I've started to view it as my home and have begun to see it with a little more possibility. A visit from one of my herbal friends also helped. Getting lost in the woods with an herbalist is the best kind of lost to be.

Right now I'm getting lost in the flowers, wild rose, multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and even elderflower (after a long search she caught me by surprise today). I have both strawberries and rhubarb at home and gathered an armful of roses and eldeflower today. I may soon be making something delicious. Next post...