Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Garlic Exilir - Wowza - this recipe is strong medicine!

I've heard that in Italy, a family keeps the best of what they grow or make (olives, wine, whatever) for themselves and takes the rest to the market. Well, we did do that for our garlic's seed stock, but we still never, never took anything to our local farmers' markets that was not both beautiful and perfect, even beyond perfect. We heard that over and over again from our customers.

If by chance a customer picked up anything less than perfect that accidentally showed up on our table, Dick or I quickly helped them pick out something better, explaining there was nothing really wrong with that little spot, etc, and in fact 'the family' (i.e., us!) would trim and eat that clove, but we did not want to sell it. We only sell the 'A+' garlic to our customers who always smiled and thanked us for the detailed attention we give to our garlic and to them.

The same is true with our seed stock. As we broke apart thousands of heads of garlic to plant our ~17,000 cloves that are now finally in the ground, we would occasionally find a clove here or there with a 'spot' that gave us pause about the health and/or viability of that clove and would throw it in a paper bag that we called "Eat Now!" (Full disclaimer, out of those thousands of heads, we did find two heads that were moldy inside. They promptly went into another bag called the "Burn Bag".)

We have been 'working on' eating that "Eat Now!" bag of less than perfect cloves for the last month or so. However, after reading a recipe called "Garlic Elixir" that called for 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves (developed by Chester Aaron and printed in the book Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil by Doug Oster), I decided it was time to trim up and empty what remained in that bag of sad looking garlic cloves and give them a purpose in a beautiful and delicious recipe. What better time to do that than on a rainy day (ha - another rainy day - what a surprise - we feel like we have been living in 'Seattle - East' for the past 3+ months) when we need to take something to a potluck dinner tonight.

So here is the recipe with some photos. Yes, get ready! This 'Garlic Elixir' really might be a 'cure-all' for anything that you're ailing from. Seriously, this is strong medicine!


1 cup garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed of ends and any imperfections
1/4 cup parsley
1 teaspoon salt (I only used 1/2 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Olive oil - 1/2 to 1 cup (I only used 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon pepper (I only used 1/4 teaspoon and used white pepper)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (oops! I did not have any so I used ~1/2 Tbsp. lime juice)


1) Process garlic and parsley in a blender or food processor until finely chopped (may make more chunky or even more pureed to your liking)
2) I used a small food processor and just slowly added the remaining ingredients, mixing as little as possible to keep the consistency from being fully pureed.
3) If using a blender for the first step, remove the garlic and parsley, place into a bowl and then stir in the remaining ingredients, adding olive oil last to develop consistency of a smooth spread.

The directions say to store in a glass jar, covered with ~1/4 inch of olive oil. Stores in the refrigerator for about 1 month.

Use on anything and nearly everything, such as bread, baked potatoes, pizza base, gyros, bruschetta, in soup, egg salad, a sandwich spread, eaten straight (here is where the 'wowza' comes in!!!), etc., etc. Be creative and tell me how you would like to use this.

Special Note: the recipe does suggest adding other ingredients as desired like capers, anchovies, olives, red pepper flakes, etc., by adding them to the blender/food processor first before mixing the parsley and garlic. However, if you are adding olives, capers, or anchovies, definitely taste before adding any salt!

Photos below show the process and end results. 

(Photo: Ingredients - see even here the lemon juice is missing! The garlic trimmings are on the plate to the right. They went into the compost bucket)

(Photo: Garlic and parsley in my mini-food processor)

(Photo: Garlic and parsley after a few seconds)

(Photo: Garlic and parsley with the olive oil added)

(Photo: All done, ready to serve! Makes about 1 cup.)

(Photo: Our new pond, viewing it through our kitchen window. It is 10 feet deep in the center and is ready to overflow the top, filling from the rain we have had these past two months plus the run-off and ground water finally having a place to collect on our property. Yes, those are more drainage tiles ready to be used if necessary in the left of the photo. Maybe next year we can finally have a dry area behind the house instead of a marsh or a moat!)
We took the Garlic Elixir, pickled garlic scapes, and pickled garlic to the potluck dinner tonight for the vendors at the Ypsilanti Downtown Farmers' Market, sponsored by Growing Hope, where we had our first market appearance in June of 2010. We love that market; it is 'just right'. :-) And the other vendors dove in and LOVED the Garlic Elixir, which is not for the faint of heart but will really wake up your taste buds!

As I am now accustomed to doing, I listened to recently archived shows from my favorite radio program Thistle and Shamrock while cooking in the kitchen. I don't know which makes me happier, cooking or moving my body and tapping my feet to that beat. The two shows I got through today were 1) Roots Down Under (Celtic music from New Zealand and Australia) and 2) Canadian Celts, which included my all-time favorite fiddler Natalie McMaster. Funny, I just now remembered that I was dreaming last night of dancing in Scotland. I have thoughts about that, but those are for another day or another lifetime. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

PS - Our pond early on the following morning after the day's heavy rain and overnight snowfall of a couple of inches.  I put this photo at the top of my blog on November 30, 2011.  It's not 'over the top' yet, but this pond is 10 feet deep at the center and was dug this fall. IF it freezes smooth, it will be a great hockey arena! Wait! We need to finish mulching the garlic before we can think of something fun like that. :-) I'm embarrassed to show you photos of the half-mulched garlic beds complete with their 'canals' dug to drain the paths. Those are not pretty, but they were mostly effective (what a hard job for Dick moving that saturated soil). Maybe some of that water from our fields is actually draining now around and then behind the house down into the pond. What a civil engineering project this has become. :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Taking a break from planting

while warming up with some hot tea before heading out to plant another 500 cloves or so before the sun goes down and what do I read? Mark Bittman's column in yesterday's New York Times called "No Turkeys Here", which is a column giving thanks for real food and those who are 'making it happen'. It's a great column, and I submitted a comment saying so. I don't know if it is posted up yet (comments are moderated on the on-line edition of The New York Times, just like I need to approve comments on my blogs to keep spam off - I've never had any abusive comments, but I do get 'spam' comments a couple of times each week that you never see.)

I often am so far behind with reading that I never have a chance to get a comment posted if I feel I have something 'extra' to add to an article I have read. However, I guess I got lucky today! I don't know where it will be in the queue of comments, probably buried, so I will include it here for you to read. However, I do encourage you to read the full article. :-)
Diana Dyer Location Michigan

Thank you Mark, first for making your very first statement of gratitude be for the smell of garlic simmering in olive oil. I could not agree more with you! I am one of the two tired farmers at The Dyer Family Organic Farm/Dick's 'Pretty Good!' Garlic in Ann Arbor, MI. We almost but not quite done planting our 40+ varieties of garlic for our 2012 crop. However, more importantly, thank you for giving thanks. For several years now, I have been blogging off and on at my main blog (www.dianadyer.com) about how much meaning this simple act gives our food, our meal, our life. My husband (the other tired farmer at this time of year) and I read many different and interesting food blessings before our main meal each day, but the simplest one we say is "Thank you to all hands and hearts who brought us this food," which honors each and every person who in some way brought us the abundant real food (never food-like-substances) on our plates.

PS - I'm taking a quick break to warm up before heading back out to the fields to get in another 500+ cloves before the sun goes down. :-)

OK - now I'm heading back out to the fields, again!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

More recipes are moving on over!

I spent a little time last night transferring some of my recipes and past newsletters posted on my website (www.CancerRD.com) over to my new blog by that same name CancerRD.com (http://cancerrd.blogspot.com/) where I am gradually moving the content of my website (which will be less expensive and I will have more control of the content and changes/updates).

The recipes I transferred were the Fish/Seafood Entre├ęs, and even though I had already eaten supper, my mouth was watering the entire time. I enjoyed remembering the first time I 'threw' most of these recipes together, and I could even remember the first meal for some of them.

I was surprised by how many recipes are on my website, reflecting on the nearly 15 years that my website has been in existence. I was one of just a handful, no more, of dietitians who had a personal website back in the 90's - my boys insisted that I do that! Thanks, guys, for pushing me into the world of cyberspace. It has been quite a ride, which is still going, of course. :-)

If you click on my blog link above, you will go to the homepage for that blog. It is set up a little differently than this blog with 'pages' where I am grouping post information, rather than 'tags'. You can browse by post entries or just click on the 'page' that interests you, such as Recipes or Archived Email Newsletters, etc, you get the idea.

As I look at all these recipes, I am thinking I could spend a year just making recipes I have already posted on my website and my blogs (this one and my kale blog www.365DaysofKale.com). Maybe that should be a goal for 2012, maybe just for fun or maybe to start thinking about actually putting my recipes into a book. I was rather 'bummed' at the thought a week ago when we had no internet access for some random reason, realizing that I could not access ALL of my favorite recipes - eeeeek!!!

If my blog readers have favorite recipes from my website and blogs, please let me know. I'll put those at the top of my list to make.

Oh so much food and so little time! So much fun growing food, selling food, teaching about great food, buying food from other growers, cooking food, tasting food, eating and sharing food, and last but really first, being grateful beyond words for all of the above. 

Today should be dry enough (and warm enough) to really really almost finish getting our garlic in the ground. This Fall's planting really has been 'inch by inch, row by row'. Our farm's bluebirds have already been flitting around and looking in the windows urging me to get outside and get going! So, sign off I will and get going with the rest of my day. Grateful and happy.  :-)

Happy Thanksgiving (again) to you all. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, November 18, 2011

Winter's coming!

A little flock of American tree sparrows finally arrived under the bird feeders yesterday, and there is ice on the pond this morning. I guess that makes it pretty official that winter is on its way. I also had my first episode yesterday of fingers getting too cold when outside, even with gloves on! So it is time to find and get all the assorted winter gear to the front of the closets.

We are not yet done with the garlic planting as the fields have just been too wet. We keep waiting for the intermittent rain to stop (a neighbor's rain gauge is currently sitting at 21.5 inches since August 1) but now we just have to get them into the ground. We have ~3,000 more to go plus all of the assorted small cloves that we hold back from the seed stock to plant as 'green garlic', which will be harvested at the end of April/early May, clove and green leaves together and used just like a 'green onion'. Hmmm, yum, yum, yum, the first fresh garlic of the year. :-) We have sold all of this to local chefs the last two years, but next year we'll reserve some of the special green garlic for our Garlic CSA members, too, so they can know the joys of the most delicate of garlic taste in a vegetable!

My husband will be out planting today, sloshing through the set paths if necessary, but I am speaking to the Michigan Dietetic Educators about the "School to Farm Program" that I spearheaded for the Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (www.hendpg.org) of the American Dietetic Association (www.eatright.org). The goal of this new program is to facilitate the rapidly growing interest among the dietetic students and interns regarding sustainable food and agriculture systems by providing them places to have volunteer experiences on farms owned by ADA members (there aren't many, but I am not the only one!).

This should be a fun and interesting day! It was time-consuming but enjoyable to put together a powerpoint presentation (even though I should have been planting garlic!).

I don't know if I will have time to make another post before Thanksgiving. We are traveling to spend the day with special friends. So I want to leave you all with a lovely food blessing that a friend sent me yesterday.

With gratitude and reverence for all life, 
we savor food mindful of all that has contributed to it.   
    We commit ourselves to a more equitable sharing of the earth’s bounty.

            - From UUA Statement of Conscience: Ethical Eating, Food & Environmental Justice

I have posted in the past that Thanksgiving Day is my day in the year that I "mark" as a cancer anniversary since I have had too many cancer diagnoses, treatments, procedures, etc to know which one to count as 'the' one.

May Thanksgiving Day for all of you be a joyful day filled with great food, great company, and deep gratitude for the abundance in our life.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention Webinar

Registration for a free upcoming webinar open to the public is now available.

More information

Frontiers in Nutrition and Cancer Prevention: Online CME Series

Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention: Shining Light on the Current Research

Friday, December 02, 2011
12:00 – 1:30 pm EST




  • Discuss dietary guidelines for vitamin D in terms of recommended dietary allowances, tolerable upper intake levels, corresponding serum 25(OH)D levels, and evidence to support the new guidelines
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses of data relating to vitamin D and cancer prevention
  • Discuss biological basis by which vitamin D inadequacy or excess influences cancer risk 
Like most nutrients, recommendations for public health, let alone one specific disease, is complex, especially remembering that cancer is not cancer is not cancer, as there are 200+ different types of cancer diagnoses with different cancer biological processes involved.

I needed to miss hearing some of the talks about vitamin D at the conference I attended last week, but I heard enough to know there are concerns about a "U-shaped" curve, which in essence means that more/bigger is not always better and may even be potentially harmful. I am making a strong bet that research discussing this concept will be discussed during this webinar.

In addition, the previous webinar about the potential for curcumin (a component of the spice turmeric that has anti-cancer activity) to impact the cancer process has been archived for viewing and the link to that webinar is also available on-line at http://prevention.cancer.gov/files/webinar-20110517.wmv with continuing education credits available for Registered Dietitians.

I have not had time to view the curcumin webinar yet, but I know there is enough research already showing potential benefit that I considered opening up new fields on our farm to plant turmeric (until I read about the growing conditions needed and realized I would need to live in the tropics, like southern India, like where it is grown commercially!). 

Happy viewing and learning!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

PS - We're still planting garlic, even with our wet fields this fall and light snow today! It's been a slower than expected planting season. I was composing haikus in my head this afternoon while working in the field to keep my focus off my cold fingers. Here is one I can remember:

Gray fast-moving clouds
November garlic planting
Snow pellets on dirt