Easy Homemade Polenta

I’m always amused when I see packaged polenta at the grocery store, because it’s so easy to make at home. Bring 3 cups of water to boil, and slowly whisk in 1 cup of cornmeal.  Continue to whisk constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and pour into container of your choice.

Plain polenta is a bit bland – which is sometimes exactly what you want if it’s accompanying something spicy — but I like to add fresh basil or rosemary to it. This is especially good if you’re going to fry it and serve with a gravy or white sauce (my favorite method of preparing it).

I like using a bread pan to pour the hot polenta into, because the solidified polenta can be easily sliced for frying. But for presention — when serving with fried greens and beans, for example – I’ve used Dixie cups or similar so I can slice pretty rounds of it. I’ve also poured it into round ZipLoc containers, which makes an attractive mold if you’re serving it cold on a buffet.

Frying up rosemary polenta

Fall Garden Update

Well, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, my garden is finally growing again. I think the major problem was that I planted the greens far too early, when it was too warm for them to germinate.

The carrots are getting to be decent sized, with the largest being the size of about a small-medium grocery-store carrot (based on the top of the carrot which I can just barely see). I’m leaving them for at least another month, possibly longer.

The sugar peas have not only blossomed, but I actually have a couple of pods. That’s about 2 1/2 months after my original planting.Haven’t figured out why some of the plants are all dotted with white spots and lacy holes, though.

Peas ‘n Carrots
Sugar pea pods

After sitting for 2 months (!) as a tiny 1″ sprout, the giant chard is finally growing in leaps and bounds. In just a couple weeks, it’s quadrupled in size. Whew!

Fordhook Giant Chard

The broccoli did the same – an itty-bitty sprout that never got any bigger. It’s finally starting to grow, albeit not by much.

Broccoli — hard to believe this is considered “getting bigger”

The yams have been great. They were the one crop that did not give me any problems at all. That lush foliage all came from two grocery-store yams I put into the bed! I’m anxiously waiting for the tops to die off so I can dig them up and see how much they produced. But if nothing else, it does look pretty!

Yams – even if they don’t produce anything, I love that gorgeous foliage!

This is (I believe) a tomato plant that accidentally sprouted up from the compost area of one of the beds. I figure I’ll just let it go until something happens or the cold kills it off.

Accidental tomato (or possibly pepper … who knows?)

Finally, about a month ago, I got so frustrated with the bed in which I had planted the collards and bok choy (neither of which have ever sprouted) that I had scattered a bunch of spinach seeds in that same bed. Well, they’re sprouting up like mad. The initial leafing looks like two blades of grass (which is what I thought it was when I saw the first sprout), but if you look closely, the subsequent leaves are properly round spinach leaves.

Spinach sprouts
Spinach closeup

Oh, and after a rocky start, my spearmint is doing fantastically well. It’s interesting because initially after transplanting it had gotten very “leggy”: tall, skinny stalks with few leaves. I chopped down those stalks to about 3″ tall. When I noticed runners (shoots spreading out from the roots, just below the surface of the soil), I gently tugged them so that parts were exposed above the dirt. Now it’s nice and lush!

Beautiful spearmint — time for Mojitos!