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. :-)