[gardeners] Uses for stuff we grew -Reply

Penny Nielsen (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Fri, 12 Feb 1999 13:29:52 -0400

Hi George

I'm curious cause you say that Jicama, thinly sliced and added to a stir fry reminds you (my words) of water chestnuts.  I believe it was mentioned on this list or gardens a while ago that it had a sweet taste.  I have only had the pleasure of eating water chesnuts from a can, added to a stirfry, which I did not find sweet at all.  Is there a difference between the canned water chestnuts and fresh variety?  I can't recall from what plant the water chestnuts derive.

Penny in Halifax, N.S.

P.S. Do you hire yourself out, for cooking that is.?

>>> George Shirley <gshirley@laol.net> 02/12 12:34 pm >>>
Since some folks on the list have shown an interest in some of the
"weird" stuff we grow I thought I would list some of the uses of them.

Cuccuzi and/or lageneria (edible gourds)

So far we have had these thinly sliced and stir fried with onion and
garlic in a soupcon' of olive oil. Very delicious and a good
accompaniment for any main dish. Additionally we have had them "chunked"
and put in a vegetable soup in the last 15 minutes prior to serving.
Also tasty. I chopped some one day and added them to a spaghetti sauce
and they were okay. I think I chopped them too fine as we could hardly
taste them but, then, it could have been the highly seasoned tomato
sauce. We have also had them hollowed, like a zuke, stuffed with various
stuffings, and baked. The best was one that I put a dab of hot chile
jelly in and then nuked it in the microwave for a few minutes. Still a
little crunchy with an overbite of heat from the jelly. Even chunked
some one day and added to a homemade pizza - pretty good. Of course raw
in salads is hard to beat. As long as the edible gourds are young and
tender there's no need to waste the skin, we eat it right along with the

Jicama (aka Mexican turnip)

Sliced thin, doused with lemon or lime juice, sprinkled with your choice
of powdered chiles, eaten as an appertizer. Sliced thin, mixed in with a
tossed salad. Added in slices to an oriental style stir fry, sorta like
water chestnuts. I baked one once, on advice of a friend. After eating a
bit of it the rest went to the compost heap. I didn't care for it, even
with margarine and pepper, Miz Anne didn't care for it either and that's
unusual. As long as someone else cooks it she will eat most anything and
grin while doing it. Always peel your jicama as the skin is tough.

Sunchokes (what used to be called Jerusalem artichokes)

We like them right well sliced thin and fried in a teflon skillet with a
bit of spray oil. They crisp up and brown well and have a better flavor,
at least to me, than potatoes cooked the same way. Sliced thin and
tossed in a green salad they are excellent as they are in a stir fry.
Today I'm making a spaghetti sauce using chokes chopped into quarter
inch chunks along with sweet chiles, celery, etc. It's at the simmer as
I write this and an initial taste test says it's going to be okay. At
first we tried to skin the chokes but after reading in both the Betty
Crocker and Adele Davis (1949) cookbooks that you just scrub them well
and then slice skin and all that's what we've been doing.

Golden Grain Amaranth (edible seeds)

Grew a very short row of this Native American crop and harvested about a
quart of the seeds. Ran the rolling pin across them to break the husk
and then winnowed them on a breezy day. Ended up with about a pint and a
half of grain which I ground in the blender into a flour and added to a
loaf of bread I was making. Has a good flavor, bakes to a golden color,
but is a pain to grow enough to do any good.

Edible Malva (forget the true name)

The leaves are very large and edible. Used them in salads and as an
accompaniment to sandwiches. Sort of a neutral taste, ie no discernable
flavor, and, like the amaranth, a pain to grow enough to do any good as
a food crop.

That's about it for the unusual, at least for us, that we grew in 1998.
Haven't quite made up my mind what the weird veggie for 1999 will be yet
but will have to get off the dime soon. Many thanks to Burpee Seeds and
Margaret Lauterbach for seed stock for weirdness. <VBG>

George, taking a Friday off but not playing in the garden, it's too cold
out. Must be 45F out there right now.