Sunday, August 8, 2010

my garden

I had a different picture in my head when I planted my garden.  I imagined me stepping out of the kitchen door and snipping a little bit of fresh oregano off a branch and putting that into a sauce made with my tomatoes grown in an upside down planter.  "Oh yes," I would say to my guests, "I made everything from the freshest vegetables and herbs grown just outside in my garden.  There is just nothing better than peppers plucked fresh from the vine, is there?"

Do peppers grow on a vine?  How would I know, the graceful, sophisticated herb and small vegetable garden that I pictured turned out to be a three foot wide gash of dirt along the back of my house that the dog enjoys laying in.  There are two sad looking jalapeno pepper plants that have so far produced one pepper, a stem of oregano that could easily be mistaken for a frill pick and an undetermined chili pepper plant that keeps falling flat into my grass where I am sure it will be run over with the mower any day now.  What isn't plain black dirt is mostly over run by some series of strangling vines or my incredible, indestructible ever expanding mint.  Oh yes! I was sure I could contain mint... "no problem"  I told my friends "I planted them in buried five gallon buckets, they will add a nice touch to the edge of my herb garden"   these things are worse than dandelions on crack!  I just cut out a bushel of it two days ago an it is back with a vengeance! I think it is going to climb into the bedroom and murder me while I sleep.

The one thing that did take root well and seems to be thriving in all of this chaos is my Rainbow Chard.  I have no clue how or why but the beautiful, colorful stems shine through everything in my (I guess for lack of a better word) garden.  They stand proud against the back wall of my house the only things that even slightly resemble... well... anything.  I cut some a a couple of days ago, it looks like I have enough of this lovely green  to make maybe two portions. 

The first I served with brined pork chops and a balsamic glaze.  When I was a kid my dad always put vinegar on spinach or whatever green we were eating and that has carried over for me.  The tart flavor adds just a bit of comfort for me.

The pork chops:
4 Cups water
1/4 Cup Kosher salt
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 green onions chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 TBS parsley minced

Mix the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer until salt and sugar dissolve then cool.  Once cool add the pork chops and let them sit refrigerated for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Some chemical stuff takes place during the brining process that makes the meat more moist when cooked.  I have read it and it makes no sense whatsoever to me but it works.  When it is time to cook, take it out of the brine and grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side, I like mine about medium.

The balsamic glaze:
3/4 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary minced
1 TBS brown sugar

Simmer until reduced by half when reduced pour though a strainer and hold hot

The rainbow chard:
1 TBS butter
about 8 leaves of chard
1/2 small onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste

Wash chard then cut the stems out, chop the stems and put in the pan with the butter, garlic and onion and cook until softened.  While that is cooking roll all of the chard up like a cigar and cut into one inch strips add those to the pan and saute until done (maybe another 7-8 minutes).  

I served with mashed potatoes so the plate was potatoes next to the chard with the pork chop on top, sprinkle it all with the balsamic glaze.  This is another time that I am going to say that my picture doesn't do this meal justice.  Really it was wonderful all the flavors and textures played well together.  The tart syrupy vinegar was ever present and the chard did taste a wonderful as it looked.


  1. Love it! Your imaginings about your garden are exactly what I'm picturing now...and I'm sure that once I actually start planting, reality will set in. But what a lovely bunch of swiss chard and a lovely recipe to follow. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Your chard looks great! I bet you're enjoying at least that part of the garden. I've never grown mint before, but planted a thyme plant that very quickly became a thyme bush. My mum (it was in her garden) wanted a different plant in that location, so she destroyed it. Or so she thought, it has successfully grown to bush proportions every year. Ah, the trials and tribulations of gardening

  3. Love the colors in your chard. I've only had Swiss chard and must find this one. Bet the chops are great! I'm new here and see lots of good recipes to look at.

  4. Monet- I really had the best of intentions when I planted... the fresh herbs. That darned reality can really mess up a good idea.

    Dana- and NEVER try mint, I couldn't believe the crazy mess that it became! Seriously I have been beating it with sticks and running it over with the mower and I just can't keep it back.

    Pam- thanks for visiting I like your blog too... the Rainbow Chard has been a great addition to that mess I call a garden, well worth a try.

  5. Was you dad from the south? Southerners put vinegar on greens. I'm from the south!! I decided to have a kitchen garden when I grew up after my first visit to Mt. Vernon. In southern California, our backyard was mostly straight down a cliff. In west Texas, all dirt blew to Dallas. In Charleston the children and the dalmatian were hazardous to herbs. Cooper, the dal, even uprooted a small tree and raced around the yard with it in his mouth. Here? Here is another thing altogether. Herbs are thriving--most of them in pots (including the mint). Thyme is the only thing that stays in the ground and it spreads almost as much as mint. The rosemary comes in with us for the winter. Yikes, I've written a chapter in blogging annals!!


  6. Italians too put vinegar on greens.
    That swiss chard is just beautiful.
    I took a quick look around your last posts...and I'll have a blueberry martini for cocktails and the orange glazed tenderloin as the main meal with a side of this chard. So what's for dessert? ;o)

    Thanks for coming for a visit...nice to make your acquaintance.
    Flavourful wishes,

  7. Owwhhh, I love balsamic vinegar on winter greens, so I'm with you here. Happened upon your blog. Greetings to you fellow chef all the way from 'down under' :) Loved your garden story but cheering you on for arriving at harvest time (no matter how dismal it sounds). Now about that mint..... (the only thing I've ever grown.., Ive long since moved out of the place but often wonder (like now) whether that darn mint managed to murder someone in their sleep. Take care now..., looking forward to your next post.

  8. I am laughing at your murderous mint! My mint has gone AWOL, too. Even *I* can't consume mojitos fast enough to tame that mint field out back. Beautiful looking chard.

  9. How interesting the color of the sure makes the pork chop very nice :-)

  10. Claudia, Anna, Juliana Welcome! thanks. I have It has been fun reading your blogs.

    TKW Oh it frightens me, all I wanted was a couple of Mint Juleps and I have this giant beast.

  11. Good for you and your garden, wish I had even a light green thumb. Thanks for sharing.