Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cooking Fennel



I’d like to make a side trip here, and talk about food. Specifically, garden food.
This winter gardening season has been very tough. Aside from lettuce, not much has been happy with all the chilly days we’ve had. One plant—a new one for me—that did pretty well was bulb fennel.
“Why would you be growing bulb fennel anyway?” I hear from the wings. Well, it’s this way—they never carry the stuff in the grocery stores. And it’s supposed to be good. Besides, I think the seeds were on sale! And it sprouted. It grew. The chilly weather didn’t bother it, like it did the peppers and tomatoes and eggplants. The fennel plants were just there, happily growing with their tall feathery tops.
Eventually I pulled one. Used the fronds to bake fish. (Not a winner, I don’t care what the famous Father Z says about it.) Sliced the bulb into a green salad. It was tough and it was tasteless. Certainly neither of these treatments was a good plan. In fact, the way they came out, I would have said there was no reason to domesticate the darned plant in the first place.
But I still had more of the fennel plants. So…yesterday being a Friday, when I prefer to serve fish or vegetarian dinner, I thought I’d try again with the fennel.
I had a bag of the frozen mixed seafood. (Tiny octopi, mussels, etc. etc.) I had butter. And I had the fennel plants. I pulled 2 plants, trimmed off the tops to feed my chickens, cleaned and sliced the bottoms. Melted butter in the big skillet and added the slices, began cooking them on low-to-medium heat. After a while, I turned over the chunks that were big enough to turn, sprinkled with a bit of salt, and added the frozen mixed seafood. A sprinkle of Tony Cachere’s Cajun seasoning, too. Put the cover on the pan and turned it down a bit.
Success! The taste of it was salty, but the fennel was just the least bit sweet. The seafood was good, too. We ate it with a side of sweet potato fries, sprinkled with a wee bit of cinnamon and baked in the oven.
Low carb, high taste. 
That pretty much finishes off the little fennel patch. I guess I’ll grow them again next year—since there is a way to make it taste good.
This morning we walked six miles, no packs this time, and got Q tacos on the way home for breakfast. I think our average speed worked out to about 18 minutes per mile. We’re getting excited now—made a little sewing kit to carry, including a small holster for the thread scissors, and bought luggage tags at Wal Mart yesterday.