Culinary Creations from the Garden

Pak Choi

Scientifically classified as Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis, Pak choi is generally grouped together with a few other B. rapa subspecies referred to as “Chinese Cabbage”. Pak choi (often spelt as Bok choy, Pak choy, or Bok choi) was transliterated from the Cantonese word for “white vegetable”. Like many other Brassica plants, pak choi, is a biennial plant (a biennial plant grows vegetatively for one season and then flowers and sets fruit the following season) that is grown as an annual from seed and cultivated during its vegetative year.Gardeners who adore pak choi for its culinary uses often prefer to harvest the plant when it is small and tender (approximately 6 inches tall or shorter), yet I used larger plants for my recipe and they were still detectably delectable!

Miso Soup with Pak Choi and Tofu

Ingredients:

1/2 Block Tofu

1 Large Head or 2 Smaller Heads Pak Choi

1/2 Cup Onion

1/2 Cup Basil

1 Medium-Sized Carrot

2 1/2- 3 Tbsp Miso Paste of Choice

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Ginger Piece Sliced Thin

1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil

Approx. 1 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce

2-3 Cups Water

Note: Mushrooms would make an awesome addition to this dish. If you choose to use some sliced crimini mushrooms, toss them to the the cooking pan at the same time as the onions.

pak choi ingredients

Preparation:

Combine coarsely chopped basil with peeled garlic and ginger into one bowl and set aside. Cube tofu and place cubes on a clean kitchen towel. Press tofu with towel in order to squeeze out excess moisture (this allows the tofu to fry up quicker and take-on a crispier texture). Chop of the root and the very bottom of the pak choi in order to free the leaves. Diagonally Slice each leaf (including its stalk/petiole) of pak choi into two or three pieces. The carrot can be thinly sliced with a knife or a mandolin and combined with the pak choi into a bowl separate from the other ingredients.

Cooking Instructions:

1. Briefly fry basil, garlic, and ginger in grapeseed oil until the basil wilts.

2. Move basil to the side of the frying pan or cooking pot to make room for tofu.

pak choi basil starting

3. Add cube tofu to pan and drizzle tamari soy sauce over tofu. Cook for about one minute and allow tofu to gather up a “crust” on one side before flipping it over.

pak choi tofu starting

4. Add chopped onion to the pan and continue to fry tofu until golden brown on each side.

pak choi tofu cooking

5. Add carrots and pak choi plus two Tbsp water. Cover frying pan/ soup pot with a lid and allow the vegetables to steam for one minute.

pak choi almost final

6. Add two cups of water or enough water to almost cover ingredients in the pan.

7. Allow vegetables to simmer in the water until tender.

8. Turn off the stove top burner and mix in miso paste.

9. Keep soup covered for about one minute more.

10. Gently stir soup and serve.

Pak choi soup final

Final Dish Serves 2-3 Portions.

-Madeline Wimmer, WMARS  Intern

2012 – Field Conditions and Vegetable Review

Ruby King-Sweet Bell Pepper

The 2013 season will soon be upon us and looking back on last years field trials I am hoping for moisture. We have taken some time to review last years field conditions and the outcome of the Vegetable Trials. Please visit the following link which includes a review of the 2012 season and an overview of top performing veggies.

2012 Site Conditions and Vegetable Review

2012 Vegetable Evaluations

‘Polar Bear Pumpkins’

Each year we trial annual fruits and vegetables. We evaluate new and old varieties side by side. During the season we make careful notation of flowering dates, fruit set dates, and first ripe fruits. In addition we evaluate plant habit, health, insect pressure, and taste. Our goal is to find out what varieties do best under our weather conditions here in Wisconsin.
Our data is used by both the home and market gardener to determine what to grow.

This years evaluations include a brief summary of weather conditions here at the station.

2012 UW-WMARS Vegetable Evaluations

Vegetable Evaluations – Summer 2010

Vegetable trials at the station were a real trial this year.  Rain totals for the summer were over 37 inches.   The heat and humidity were conducive to a range of diseases and strange physiological problems.  Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers were prone to many undiagnosed spots, lesions, and steaks, not including those identified diseases

'Speckled Hound'  Winter Squash

'Speckled Hound' Winter Squash

This is the first year we have ever seen so much rust in sweet corn, that when we picked the corn we were covered with rust “dust”.  One of our volunteers was walking around with a rusty, red nose.

'Mars' Onion

'Mars' Onion

However, we did find many of the vegetables we were trialing performed quite well, the fruit was very flavorful, and productive.   We did need a machete to cut our way through the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin vines, but the insects seemed to be fewer than in past years.

'Sugarsnax 54'

'Sugarsnax 54'

The link below will include over 100 different selections of vegetables that we trialed in 2010.   We will be trailing as many vegetables again in 2011 and look forward to many new selections.

Vegetable Evaluation 2010