The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Eat your greens


Crispy fried potatoes, calabrese and celery

Crispy fried potatoes, calabrese and celery

“If you eat your greens your hair will curl,” my mother would say.
“But I’ve already got curly hair.”

As a child I longed for straight long blonde hair, like my friend Twink. I also didn’t like greens. If I’d had my way it would have been toast or Wall’s Chocolate Carnival ice cream for every meal.

Until I started growing my own veg I didn’t really enjoy eating them. Salad, broccoli, frozen peas and the occasional carrot were vegetables at the more appealing end of the ‘horrid veg” spectrum. One of the few favours that my ex husband did me was to announce when we were invited out to eat:
“Fiona doesn’t eat cabbage.”

But it was our home grown cabbage seduced me back from the veg hating brink. Curiously since I’ve been eating it my hair has gradually become straight!

Celery is one of the vegetables that I have been unable to grow, so far. This is a great disappointment as celery is packed with healing benefits that just start with lowering blood pressure. Danny suffers from high blood pressure but isn’t keen on raw celery. He likes braised celery but wouldn’t want to eat it twice a week. I pack our spaghetti bolognaise sauce with finely sliced celery and bung it into a lot of stews and casseroles but was looking for more ways of introducing it regularly into our diet.

So I was delighted when Anne Mary served Brussels sprouts with chopped cooked celery the other day. The combination was excellent. Last night I mixed calabrese with chopped celery and boiled them for just five minutes. The result was superb mix of flavours. As most of the nutrients are not knocked out of celery when cooked, we will be combining celery with other veg on a regular basis from now on.

On Suzanne Mc Minn’s blog Chickens in the Road, I discovered that you can grow celery by planting the crown. See here for details. I’d forgotten all about this until I started writing this post and am going to try this in the solar tunnel! If anybody out there has any tips for growing celery from seed, I would be delighted if you would share them.

P.S. I will be writing about the crispy potatoes on the left of the plate in a couple of days. Just a little olive oil, garlic and an hour can transform left over spuds into these golden crunchy orbs of deliciousness.

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  1. OUR Ecovillage

    I have heard that if you work out really hard, and you eat a couple sticks of celery your muscles repair faster and don’t hurt as much. Might have been a caring friends way of getting me to eat my greens, or the placebo effect, but it works for me!

    I’m going to try planting the crown this year 🙂 But I would appreciate tips on growing it from seed as well….I’ll ask around the garden team this week.

  2. Here’s a funny way to enjoy celery, especially in the summer: stuff a quart jar with three or four celery stalks and a slice of lemon or lime and then fill it with water. Drink from it as you work in the garden. It’s wonderfully refreshing.

  3. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Isn’t it funny how, if you grow it yourself, you’re almost guaranteed to enjoy it? That’s the whole theory behind getting kids into gardening. It’s one thing to eat a carrot, but it’s quite another to plant a seed, watch it grow, and then harvest an actual, genuine vegetable. It’s not just a carrot; it’s a miracle.

    Happy New Year, Fiona and Danny. I look forward to another year of your unique combination of entertainment, inspiration, and practical advice.

  4. Nickwill

    I’m interested about growing on celery by planting the crown, will definitely be giving that a go!

  5. I too would be most grateful for any hints and tips on growing celery – particularly the self-blanching varieties – as it is so rare here in Croatia, and I love it. And my husband has high blood pressure, so there’s an added impetus for me to grow it. Celeriac is very common here, but I’ve only found English style heads of celery twice in a year.

  6. I like juicing celery and mixing it with apple juice, it tastes so good first thing in the morning. I will be growing it for the first time this year, so thanks for the growing tip Joanna.

    I can’t wait to hear about the crispy potatoes.

  7. Thanks for the info on celery. I didn’t realize that it was so good for you. I have high blood pressure and my husband has high cholesterol, so I’ll be serving a LOT more celery.

  8. Ali at Very Berry

    Good luck with the celery.. I love greens!

  9. I didn’t have any problems with getting the celery to grow this year, which is the first time I have grown it in years. I started mine off by scattering on the surface of some damp soil and placing it on the windowsill in a warm place. Apparently they prefer light to dark, unlike most seeds.

  10. Heather E

    Cripes, Fiona – you’ve just reminded me that I have a whole crop of celery in the garden that I haven’t inspected since first snowfall! About 6 short rows from a pathetic half tray of weak seedlings rescued from a garden centre way back in the summer. My first time at trying to grow celery and at last inspection they appeared to be doing well, though not up to supermarket standard in terms of uniformity etc. Must inspect at first light (well, around 10.00 am, maybe.)I LOVE celery – especially cutting thin slivers across the tops of all stalks – leaves and all – for topping soft blue cheese in sarnies. Like you, I love thin slivers cooked until al dente with brassicas – shredded sweetheart cabbage, sliced sprouts etc. Yum! Finely shredded celery leaves are a great addition to salad greens, as well. I could go on … and on …

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