Exploring Boston: the Arnold Arboretum

I rarely go to Jamaica Plain (also known as JP).  Since moving here, I've only been 3 times, all to volunteer at the same place.  This Sunday, since neither Josh and I were working, we decided to head down to JP and check out the Arnold Arboretum.  We drove there, but it's easy enough to get to via the T; just take the Orange Line to Forest Hills and it's about a 5 minute walk from there.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Arboretum isn't packed with tons of people, making it a welcome alternative to other outdoor spaces such as the Boston Common.  I highly recommend checking this place out if you want to spend a lazy afternoon in a beautiful space.

There are quite a few flowers still in bloom and tons of honeybees.  We even saw the head of a massive turtle as it came up for some air.  There is a bonsai exhibit but we missed it because we didn't get there until after 4 pm.

Swiss Chard and Potato Enchiladas

My sister came up last weekend to visit, so I had her write today's post on one of the delicious meals we made together last week!  Enjoy!

enchiladas

Greetings from the other Henke sister! I went up to Boston to visit Sarah this past weekend. I was able to witness the excitement of the arrival of Sarah’s CSA box, which was then promptly followed by the panic of what she was going to do with the huge bunch of chard that was left over from the previous week. While she napped away the stress of the overflowing fridge, I took to the internet to find something that 1) used all of the chard and 2) didn’t feature a salad or pasta which already occurred too frequently in that week’s menu. After a little bit of digging, I came up with Chard and Potato Enchiladas.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 pound rinsed and chopped chard (you could also use collard greens or kale)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (add more as needed)

  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 6 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • Fresh ground pepper

  • 4 ounces crumbled fresh cheese (we made it from scratch-more on that next week!)

  • 12 corn tortillas

  • Homemade salsa

What to do:

  1. Saute potatoes in oil for about 8 minutes or until fork tender and golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until soft. Add the chard leaves, cover, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat. Combine the potatoes with 1/2 cup of the cheese and the Swiss chard mixture, and set aside.

  2. Once you are ready to start putting the enchiladas together, pour enough vegetables oil into a skillet so it is about a 1/4 inch deep, and heat over high heat. Fry the tortillas one at a time for about 5-10 seconds until they are softened. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour about a cup of the pre-made salsa into the bottom of 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Put 2 heaping tablespoons of the Swiss chard mixture in the center each tortilla and roll them up. Place the tortillas, seams side down, on the salsa so they are right next to each other laying the enchiladas snugly next to one other. Pour the remaining salsa over the enchiladas. Cook in a 350 degree F oven until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is softened, about 20 minutes. Serve with plain Greek yogurt on top for a little extra flavor. Enjoy!

Spotlight on Cambridge: Formaggio Kitchen

When my boyfriend moved up to Cambridge last August, one of the very first places we went to in Cambridge was Formaggio Kitchen located in North Cambridge.  Formaggio has two locations in the Boston area (one in Cambridge and another in South End) and one in New York.

The cheese counter at Formaggio.

The cheese counter at Formaggio.

Formaggio focuses on providing artisan cheeses and meats, as well as olive oils, vinegars, fruit spreads, wine and beer.  What I especially love about Formaggio is that they try to only source their products from farmers and cheese makers that focus on the traditional methods of cheese and charcuterie preparation and avoid the mass production of the modern world.   A lot of their products are organic and come from small farms that emphasize appropriate treatment of animals.  They also have a cheese cave at their Cambridge location to make sure the cheese they are selling is maintained at the correct temperature which you can apparently visit according to their website.

The refrigerated part of the cheese counter.

The refrigerated part of the cheese counter.

I also love the fact that all of the people that work at the cheese are charcuterie counter are extremely knowledgeable about their products and can tell you exactly how each cheese was made.  Usually I just walk in, ask for a recommendation, and walk out with something amazing, like today, when I left with a soft cheese that had hints of blueberry.  One word: divine.

A cheese board we made with our haul from Formaggio.  On the far left is lomo, to its right is prosciutto, on the far left is mousse trufee and in the top right corner is Zimbro, a sheep's milk cheese.  In the center is fig preserves and at the top is a fresh baguette.

A cheese board we made with our haul from Formaggio.  On the far left is lomo, to its right is prosciutto, on the far left is mousse trufee and in the top right corner is Zimbro, a sheep's milk cheese.  In the center is fig preserves and at the top is a fresh baguette.

If you are ever in Cambridge, I highly recommend checking this place out.  They're awesome.

Urban Gardening Update!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the state of my urban garden here.  At that point, the only thing doing anything was the kale, which is actually still rocking.  Sadly, our zucchini that showed so much promise either never got pollinated or just wasn't suited for the porch life.  So my dreams of endless amounts of zucchini bread this summer have died.

The kale has gone through several harvests.  As long as you don't cut the bud in the middle, it'll keep producing delicious kale.

The kale has gone through several harvests.  As long as you don't cut the bud in the middle, it'll keep producing delicious kale.

The good news is we have two peppers!  Look at how awesome they're doing!  We put them up on buckets in an attempt to get them more sun and that seems to be working.

Our tomato plant also seems to be finally starting to produce.  Right now we have one tiny little green tomato, but here's hoping more come soon!  I love nothing more than ripe tomatoes picked fresh off of the vines.

My teeny little tomato.

My teeny little tomato.

Here's the cucumber.  He had a very slow start and was actually the last to sprout when we had them inside.  In fact, I was almost certain we weren't going to get any cucumbers, but then they started flowering, and I can see the beginnings of a baby cucumber!  Needless to say, I'm super excited.

My little cucumber that could.  Look at the little flowers on the left!

My little cucumber that could.  Look at the little flowers on the left!

What I've learned so far is that plants like zucchini need a lot of space and lots of bees: things in which porches in Cambridge are severely lacking.  Other plants like hot peppers (we gave ours a way to a home with more sunlight) need lots and lots of sunlight to grow.  Kale it appears is the rock star of this crop, so I think next year, I'm going to plant more things like chard, kale, kohlrabi, and spinach since they seem to do well in the limited space I have.

Let me know if you have any urban gardening tips!