Category Archives: Cooking

Garlic Mustard Pesto for Earth Day 2014

The Snarky Gardener ate garlic mustard to celebrate Earth Day.

Garlic mustard

It wasn’t until last year that the Snarky Gardener knew that garlic mustard is so invasive in the United States or even what it was. I learned that garlic mustard is a type of mustard that is native to Europe but escaped into the wild here in America. It spreads very easily and is hard to eradicate, especially since garlic mustard’s garlicky smell and taste keeps animals (deer, etc) from eating it. Fortunately for humans, it’s delicious for us if prepared well.

Garlic mustard at the top left – just to the right of the logs.  River is of course digging holes.

The first indication that garlic mustard grew at Snarky Acres was the above picture. Notice the white flowered plants just above the yellow flowered plants (to the right of the logs)? The yellow flowers are Seven Top turnips going to seed. The others are garlic mustard. Over this last weekend, River and I walked the property line next to the woods to see how much garlic mustard we have to make pesto with. The answer ended up being “as much as we want”. So to help the local ecology and my stomach, I made pesto on Earth Day with the possibility of it becoming a tradition (unless of course I eat all the available garlic mustard).

Too many garlic mustard plants

After a little Internet searching, I found the recipe I wanted to use.

Garlic Mustard Pesto

3 cups Garlic Mustard leaves, washed, patted dry, and packed in a measuring cup
2 large garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
1 cup Walnuts
1 cup Olive Oil
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano Cheese (or more Parmesan)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine Garlic Mustard leaves, garlic and walnuts in food processor and chop. Or divide recipe in half and use a blender. With motor running, add olive oil slowly. Shut off motor. Add cheeses, salt & pepper. Process briefly to combine.


Garlic Mustard Pesto with Pasta

Baked Kale Chips

With winter around the corner on 11/18/2013, I decided to bring in some of my Red Russian kale.


I received a baked kale chip recipe from a work-related health event this month. Being that I’m a better gardener than a cook, I usually go with easy recipes (the simpler the better). This one would only get easier if the instructions were “Just eat the kale raw.”  The only issue I had with this was overcooking (also known as burning).  Start checking at 6 minutes in 30 second increments.

On a side note, I learned during a work road trip that kale chips in a plastic baggy look like something else to the untrained eye.  To this day people are still putting air quotes around the word “kale” as in “Don’t you get the munchies after you eat your ‘kale’?”

Baked Kale Chips

Kale Chips Recipe

Makes: 4 servings, about 2 cups each

Active Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

– 1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups)
– 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
– 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400°F.
  2. If kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel; transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage the oil and salt onto the kale leaves to evenly coat. Fill 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap. (If the kale won’t all fit, make the chips in batches.)
  3. Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 12 minutes total. (If baking a batch on just one sheet, start checking after 8 minutes to prevent burning.)


  • Make Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • Note: Choose organic kale when possible. Nonorganic can have high pesticide residue.

Turnip, Apple, and Sunchoke Soup

In case you have Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) and don’t know what to do with them, here’s what I decided to make with my own turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, and garlic.  I made a few modifications, including adding turnip greens and not peeling anything (I’m lazy if not anything).  I would make this again so, but alas, I’m out of turnips for now.  Could always buy some at the local farmer’s market.

Turnip, Apple, and Sunchoke Soup

YIELD: 6 to 8 servings

1 leek, trimmed
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Fine sea salt
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 pounds turnips diced plus greens
1 1/4 pounds sunchokes, diced
2 tart apples, cored, and diced
Coarsely ground black pepper or Aleppo pepper
Medium-coarse sea salt

1. Cut leek lengthwise in half and rinse well. Finely chop leek together with onion and garlic.


2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. Add leek mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until water is almost completely evaporated, about 15 minutes.

3. Add turnips, artichokes, apples, and remaining 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer until apple is soft and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes more.

Knobby sunchokes – 11/23/2013
Turnips (including greens)
Local apples

4. Puree soup using an immersion blender until smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve drizzled with oil and sprinkled with a grinding of pepper and with salt, if desired.

Yum! Finished soup

Vegan Potato and Turnip Green Balls

Thanks to Shop.Cook.Make for this wonderful recipe.  I’ve modified it several times over the last 6 months, sometimes using turnip or mustard greens (instead of spinach), green onions (instead of chives), and/or cilantro (instead of cumin).  I finally arrived at that point in summer where it could be made using just ingredients from my garden (except the cumin).  With this batch, I also added a Jalapeno pepper to give them a little more kick.




Vegan Potato and Spinach Balls

3 Potatoes (any type)
3 cloves of Garlic
2 or 3 cups of Spinach fresh or frozen (or any other leafy green) – I used turnip greens
1 tbsp Basil
2 tbsp Chives – I used green onions
2 tbsp Parsley
1/2 tsp Cumin
2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)
3 tbsp White Wine (optional)

Chop the potatoes in big chunks and boil until done but very firm (about 6 minutes). Add some salt to the water if you want. You can use frozen spinach. Just make sure to get all the water out before cooking.

Chop the Spinach (or other greens). Cook in a pan with the chopped garlic and the wine (or substitute for water) for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s soft.

Chop the herbs (if fresh). Dried can be used also.

Mix everything in a bowl, (including the nutritional yeast if you have it on hand) and let it rest until it’s cool enough for you to touch it without burning your hands.

Then proceed to make small balls (like meatballs). Use cooking spray in the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Slow Cooker Chili with Jacob’s Cattle Beans

I was at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market in Kent Ohio this winter and ran across some Jacob’s Cattle beans from Breakneck Acres (located just around the corner from Snarky Acres – aka my house).  I had read about Jacob’s Cattle beans in one or two of my many gardening books and wanted to eat (and grow) some myself.  After a Google search, I found a recipe I could adapt to make my own special local chili.  Converting it into a crock pot recipe made it quick and easy.

Note:  I saved back one bag so I could plant them this spring.  Maybe in the fall I’ll be doing this same recipe with my own beans.


1 pound (aka bag) of Jacob’s Cattle beans
1 or 2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp. Garlic powder)
Olive oil for frying
1 pound ground beef
3-4 T. chili powder
2-3 T. cumin
Fresh cilantro
2 Jalapeno peppers
Dash of cinnamon
Large can crushed tomatoes (2 1/2 cups fresh)
1 tsp. local honey (instead of brown sugar)
2 T. vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider or balsamic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Turnip Greens (optional)

Soak the beans in water about 2-3 inches above the beans in the crock pot or a non-metal bowl for 6-8 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water and cover with fresh water an inch or two above the beans. Cook the ground beef until nicely browned and crumbled, set aside. Sauté the onions in a oil until soft, then add everything to the crock pot and stir well. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours.

Soaking the Jacob’s Cattle beans
Frozen tomatoes from last year’s garden
Two jalapeno peppers from the AeroGarden
Onions and garlic from the garden
Onions and garlic chopped up
Local grass fed ground beef
The finished product – local chili

Ingredient sources

– Jalapeno peppers – fresh from the AeroGarden
– Turnip Greens – frozen from last year’s garden
– Tomatoes – frozen from last year’s garden
– Onions – fresh from the garden
– Garlic – fresh thinnings from the garden
– Cilantro – fresh thinnings from the Front Yard Herb garden

– Jacob’s Cattle beans – from Breakneck Farms
– Ground beef – from Sirna’s Farm CSA in Auburn Ohio
– Local Honey

– Olive oil
– Cumin
– Chili powder
– Cinnamon
– Vinegar
– Salt and pepper

Sauteed Turnip Greens

One of the reasons I garden is to provide my family with as much of our own food as possible.  There is a certain pride in being able to point to a dish and say “I grew AND cooked that”.  It occurred to me that if I wanted to grow entire meals, I would have to go vegan (because there aren’t bacon plants – though I think Monsanto might be working on them).   To that end, I’ve collected some recipes from the Internet (and beyond) that I can totally produce from my produce (minus oils, sauces, spices and salt).  As the season progresses and I can make dishes and whole meals from my garden, SG will blog about it.

The Snarky Gardener overwintered Seven Top turnip greens and they have really came back like gangbusters (or is it ghostbusters?) this spring.  I’m not really a turnip green lover, but they are nutritious and easy to grow.  Seven Top turnips are grown just for their greens, as the roots are not really edible (not that I have tried).  Of course by letting them go over winter, the first thing they want to do is go to seed (thus the definition of “bi-annual”).  I figured these greens would be bitter as plants who bolt tend to get that way.  But a trial munch found them to be better than they were last summer as the cool weather must be what they like.  So I decided to make sauteed turnip greens with this spring bounty.

Overwintered Seven Top turnip greens – 4/13/2013
Overwintered Seven Top turnip greens – 4/13/2013
Overwintered Seven Top turnip greens (outside the fence on the west side of the garden) – 4/13/2013


I found an online recipe with just a quick search.  This one is common and can be used with other greens (spinach, kale, collard).  Most turnip green recipes include bacon or salted pork as a component because turnip greens tend to be bitter (supposedly because of their calcium content if you believe the Internet) and bacon makes everything taste better.  This recipe is vegan (no pork) but it suggests using balsamic vinegar or soy sauce which do taste good with bitter dishes (went with the vinegar this time).  The garlic I used for this did not come from my garden (not ready until July), but it was from the local farmer’s market, so close enough for now.


1.  Coat the bottom of a wok or skillet with high-heat vegetable oil (canola or peanut but not olive oil) and heat over medium heat.
2.  Peel and mince 2 garlic cloves and saute in the oil until lightly browned.
3.  Add ½ lb. turnip greens, rinsed and with the stems removed.
4.  Cook greens, turning them gently, until they darken and become limp.
5.  Season with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of either soy sauce or balsamic vinegar.

Don’t I look delicious?
Freshly picked turnip greens – 4/20/2013
Sauteing garlic in peanut oil – 4/20/2013
Sauteing the greens outside – 4/20/2013