Garden writers can wax poetic about time and worries slipping away in the zen of gardening. Not me, I was caught up in a sweaty profane battle against bishop’s weed in my perennial bed. Bishop’s weed spreads by underground runners, and I suspect in a battle for territory against mint, the bishop’s weed would prevail. It arrived unannounced and unwanted, probably in a perennial I purchased or was give by a “friend.” Trying to get rid of it required digging up every square inch of garden and then sifting through the soil to remove even the smallest piece of root that remained. I have no illusions that I succeeded in eradicating that pest, but I do think I made serious headway. And along the way, I separated the iris and daylilies, which were in need of attention.
Sichuan-Style Stir-Fried Chinese Greens
This has a few exotic ingredients, because I wanted to keep this vegetarian and I wanted to make something you might not have already tasted. The odd ingredients are: Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese black vinegar. Sichuan peppercorns are actually the berry of the prickly-ash and can be found at Asian groceries, perhaps under the name anise pepper, Chinese pepper, fagara, flower pepper, or sansho. Chinese black vinegar has a distinctive flavor, closer to balsamic vinegar than to regular rice vinegar. To make a reasonable substitute for Chinese black vinegar, mix 1 part soy sauce, 1 part Worcestershire sauce, and 1 part rice vinegar.
4 small dried chiles
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds napa cabbage, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, kale, or other Chinese greens or a mix of greens, trimmed and sliced 1 inch thick, tough stems discarded
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
Chinese black vinegar
1. Chop 1 ½ pounds kale or other greens
2. Heat 2 tablespoons in a large wok over high heat. Add the 4 small chiles, 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, and 2 minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, just until fragrant. Add the greens and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Cover and let steam until tender, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the green and your preferences.
3. Add the ½ teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and salt to taste. Toss to mix. Drizzle with the vinegar and serve immediately.
From Recipes From the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. ©2010. All rights reserved.
Andrea Chesman is a food writer and author of many cookbooks, including Serving Up The Harvest, Recipes from the Root Cellar, Mom’s Best One-Dish Suppers, and Pickles and Relishes and is coauthor of Mom’s Best Desserts and The Classic Zucchini Cookbook from Storey Publishing. She has also written and edited numerous additional cooking, food, and garden publications.
Andrea Chesman lives in a historic farmhouse in Ripton, Vermont, where the poet Robert Frost boarded. She lives with her husband and two sons. When she is not at work on a writing project, she edits and indexes cookbooks for numerous publishers.