Last September we planted mustard, collards, lettuce, kale, pepper cress, mixed winter salad greens and tatsoi in hopes of having something fresh to harvest throughout the fall and winter.  All of the seeds sprouted, grew and looked pretty hardy by the time the weather grew colder. In Seattle we don’t have to worry too much about severe temperatures , so optimistic we were as we set in the transplants with high hopes of harvesting throughout the gloomy days ahead. The kale and collards grew slowly but will be ready for the longer days and milder temperatures as we travel toward spring.  Their leaves are about  6-8 inches  tall and not quite ready for picking unless we want to lessen our early spring harvests. The absolute most enthusiastic of all the plants are the tall succulent “Green Wave Mustard Greens” from High Mowing Organic Seeds. I have to tell you, of all these plants, mustards are the one plant I wasn’t sure of. We have grown collards and kale throughout the winter and they have survived our occasional freezing temperatures. The mustards looked  fragile; bright green leaves glowing in contrast to our gray Seattle skies. They seemed to say, “pick me pick me I’m right here don’t you see me holding my fine leaves up for you”.   Some of the leaves had grown tall and gangly so easily were weighted by the rain we had experienced recently. I had harvested a few of these for a spicy addition to some vegetables in a stir fry and added some to a lettuce salad for a slight pungent but welcomed change.

"Stir Fry With Mustards"

Last week we experienced our first real winter blast of freezing rain, sleet and finally an 8″  blanket of snow. Two days before we debated; to cover or not to cover. That was the question. We decided not to cover, to wait and see. The wait and see turned into…”wow, it’s all white out there, guess everything is covered up now, better harvest some mustard leaves while we can still find them “. So Richard harvested the leaves and they were coated with ice and snow and yet still looked happy. After they were rinsed he set them in a bowl on the counter. They looked perfectly  unscathed.  Later that night  I cooked up a big bunch of mustard greens to compliment some fried catfish and some delicious  red potatoes left from last season’s harvest.  I tell you what! That catfish was pretty darn good but it was even better snuggled up to greens and taters.

“Braised Mustard Greens”

8 cups of chopped mustard greens

"Sauteed' Mustard Greens"

1 tablespoon of oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1  sliced medium sized carrot

1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno

1-2 cloves of chopped garlic

1/4 teaspoon of salt

fresh pepper to taste

*1/4 cup of  vegetable stock

I use a large soup pot so I can stir in the mustards easily.

Saute’ onion on medium heat for a few minutes, add carrots and cook another 3 minutes, add jalapeno, garlic and salt.  Stir for about one minute making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add vegetable stock  and then add the chopped mustards. The mustards will magically reduce to about a cup in a few minutes. Cook 5-8 minutes stirring frequently  until the greens are tender but not overcooked.

Optional: Sprinkle with a little vinegar and/or “tabasco” sauce. If your jalapenos are super spicy beware of adding more heat.

* I use powdered vegetable stock from PCC’s bulk spice bin. It is called something like “Chicken Flavored Vegetable Stock”, yes, that is correct. I don’t know what is in that stock but I love  to add it to vegetarian dishes for flavor.

"Catfish, Home Grown Potatoes & Mustard Greens"