Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Oh, if only our garden still looked like this. These photos were taken a few weeks ago when Washington was still experiencing a winter heat wave. Lately we've been hit by a blast of frozen air, with temperatures about 10 degrees below normal, and today the city is covered with snow and frozen rain. But this recent class just proves that kids can have fun with broccoli and cabbage. They even enjoy eating these hearty winter vegetables when they are freshly cooked and seasoned simply.

Besides cabbage and broccoli, the brassica family includes a huge variety of familiar vegetables: cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnips, rutabaga, arugula, radishes and Chinese greens such as tat soi and bok choy, to name a few. The fruit-bearing vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts often are slow to develop. In our garden, which gets a limited amount of sunlight because of its location next to our very tall school building, it took nine months from the time of initial planting before the broccoli was ready to havest. Even then, we did not gather the florets, but allowed them to grow their long flower stems and produce seed pods. We were hoping to harvest our cabbage eventually, but this long recent freeze may have dashed those plans. Oh, well. A gardener has to deal with the weather as it comes.

In the After Four session where we focused on brassicas, we cooked broccoli the simplest way possible. Just bring a large pot of salted water to boil, drop the florets in the water to cook for a few minutes until the are just tender. Season lightly with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Yum.

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