Ugly Ducklings

ugy duck beets2When you’re managing a market garden, one of the first lessons you learn is that not every delicious, healthy, beloved veggie that comes out of your garden is pretty enough to sell. To go from our farmstand to somebody’s kitchen table, the food has to look as good as it tastes. That leaves us gardeners with what we lovingly refer to as seconds. The misshapen, the split, the torn, the snail-nibbled, the sun scalded. These are the slightly damaged darlings that stay here in the home kitchen.

This romanesco stayed in the field too long, but it made a delicious dinner for this little tyke!

This romanesco stayed in the field too long, but it made a delicious dinner for this little tyke!

So what do you do with a second? Well the short answer is, anything you can do with a first! Unless you’re having the queen over for dinner, most of these babies will do just fine once they’re peeled, chopped, and skinned. When things are in particularly rough shape, sometimes the best thing to do is shave off all the unpleasant parts (you can chuck them in the compost or feed them to your chickens) and make a vegetable stock that captures all the beauty your homegrown food has on the inside.

One-Hour Vegetable Stock

Adapted Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 carrots, beets, rutabaga, sweet potato and/or other root vegetable, sliced

1 onion, quartered

1 potato, sliced

1 celery stalk, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves (no need to peel)

5-10 white mushrooms

10-20 parsley stems with or without leaves

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Put the oil in a deep skillet or broad saucepan or casserole dish over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the veggies, stir once or twice and leave alone until the veggies start to brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add parsley, 6 cups of water, soy sauce and pepper. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to simmer about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
  3. Taste for seasoning. Use or store (in fridge for up to 5 days, in freezer for up to 5 months).