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Easy Beets

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Cooking beets is really easy. You don't even have to peel them first! Here are the steps:

  • Preheat your oven to 390 - 400 degrees.
  • Wash the sand off your beets & cut off the tops (eat them, too). You can leave the tails on.
  • Wrap beets in foil. (you can also put them in a covered dish.)
  • Place in oven on a pan or tray so beet juice doesn't leak on your oven.
  • Cook for 30 - 40 min. depending on the size of the beets.
  • Open foil and let beets cool enough to handle them.
  • Rub the beet skin off with your fingers.
  • Slice and use in salads or in these tasty recipes.

Pink Dip or Beet Hummus (like regular hummus but without the chick peas. feel free to substitute cumin for coriander or leave it out completely. find tahini at Publix, Fresh Market, Capitol Market, and Whole Foods.)

Beet Salad - just toss your cooked beets with some oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and they're really good. You can add toasted walnuts, pecans, blue cheese, goat cheese. The Food Network has also compiled a whole list of beet salad recipes if you're looking for a little more inspiration.

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Barrels of Fun (or Rain)

Our April Farm in the City workshop focused on water catchment and conservation. With help from Coosa River Keeper, U.S. Green Building Council Alabama, the RiverNetwork, and barrels from the Coca Cola Company, fifty households in the River Region are each saving up to 1300 gallons of water a year.

If you missed the workshop, here a resource list to help connect you with your own rain barrel or with water conservation organizations in Alabama.

Where to find the organizations who participated in the Rain Barrel Workshop

Coosa Riverkeeper, Facebook

USGBC-Alabama

USGS Water Science School- learn about all things water related!

Video from Coca-Cola & River Network on how to install your rain barrel!

Coosa River Swim Guide- Get the Skinny Before You Dip! Coosa Riverkeeper conducts citizen-based bacteriological monitoring from Earth Day to Labor Day Weekend that provides free water quality data to the public! We monitor 20 sites weekly and results are provided by noon on Friday. You can text SWIMGUIDE to 844-83 to get water quality alerts directly to your phone.

Where to find more rain barrels and supplies

If one barrel just isn’t enough, you can buy plastic barrels at Farmers Feed and Supply (16 E Fleming Rd, Montgomery) and the Prattville Farm Center (1154 S Memorial Dr, Prattville) for around $20. (E.A.T. South also has a limited number of left over barrels. Email farmer@eatsouth.org to claim one.)

Farmers Feed and Supply also has commercially made rain barrels for sale.

Rain Barrel Depot is the source for the conversion kits you received at the workshop. They also sell very fancy rain barrels and compost bins.

Want to host your own rain barrel building workshop? Are you a part of a nonprofit? Check out the River Network’s Rain Barrel Workshop Planning Guide.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation uses tubes with small holes to slowly drip water into the ground next to your plants. Drip irrigation conserves water because you put it right where you want it, and you don’t lose a lot to evaporation. Saving water will also save money on your water bill.

Local Sources for Drip Irrigation - Home Depot and Lowes sell drip irrigation kits and some parts, but look for them in the plumbing, not the gardening, section. Ewing Irrigation (5890 Monticello Dr., Montgomery) also has all kinds of drip parts including small sprinklers.

Drip Works - California-based company that specializes in drip irrigation. Great customer service. They will help you think through your drip system, and their website has how-to videos, plans for drip irrigation and more.

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Market Inspiration

At the Montgomery Curb Market this week, we'll have all the ingredients you'll need for fresh delicious salads, but we have a few suggestions for other ways to enjoy spring eating.

Beet Green Frittata - From New York Times Cooking - Use our eggs, fresh garlic and beet greens for a spring breakfast (we eat this for dinner, too) treat. (Tip from a busy mom: consider skipping step one where you put beet greens in boiling water. Just wilt them in oil in your pan and pour in the eggs. You can also add cheese.)

Vietnamese Carrot and Radish Pickles (Do Chua) - We've got some spicy icicle radishes that would be delicious in this simple refrigerator pickle. If you've ever wondered what to do with a radish, this is a good answer. This Serious Eats recipe calls for daikon radish, but I use whatever kind is on hand. Save time by washing but not peeling them. Enjoy on sandwiches or as a side.

How to make a basic vinaigrette, the Kitchn, Dress our fresh greens in a basic vinegar dressing for one simple, delicious spring salad. One part acid (lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar) + four parts oil = easy, delicious, inexpensive, homemade salad dressing. Dress up your dressing with fresh chives or other herbs at the market.

Peas Shoots: The Taste of Spring, Food52, Pea shoots are the tasty tip ends of the pea plant. They're a fleeting spring time treat, and we'll have some Saturday. Try them!

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Green Spring Pesto

March is the season of bright green things - salad greens, green garlic and arugula. Green garlic is garlic harvested before the bulb matures and is a real spring treat. It's garlic-y but doesn't have the bite of mature garlic. Arugula or rocket is a leafy plant, sometimes a little spicy, that is often added to salad mixes.

Ingredients

  • A big bunch of arugula (maybe 2 packed cups)
  • One stem of green garlic (see below for how to clean green garlic)
  • A generous squeeze of lemon juice (two lemon slices squeezed)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Chop green garlic into large pieces, put arugula, garlic, big squeeze of lemon juice and salt in blender of food processor. Cover with oil. Blend. Add more oil if needed. Stores in the refrigerator for about a week. Add to pasta or use as a toast or sandwich spread. Yum!

For a richer pesto, add toasted pecans, almonds or walnuts when blending. 

How to clean green garlic (or leeks)

Like an onion, leeks and garlic grow in layers. In the garden, dirt gets into the layers between the leaves. To clean and use green garlic (or leeks):

  • Cut off the root end just above the roots. 
  • Cut off the green leaves where the green meets the white. (Try finely chopping the green garlic leaves and adding them to scrambled eggs, tomato sauce or crock pot stew.)
  • Slice the garlic stalk lengthwise like in the picture. (Slicing lengthwise lets you easily wash any dirt out of the layers.)
  • Roughly chop slices for blending in pesto or chop them finely to add to other dishes when you want a garlic flavor.

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