Sharing Your Garden’s Abundance

Garden Shares across the country seek to end hunger by sharing extras from home gardens while strengthening food security and community. The concept is simple: Bring something you have, take something you do not.

Members (signing up is free) trade homegrown fruit, vegetables, eggs, herbs, honey, flowers, seedlings, plants and seeds. If a garden isn’t producing, members share homemade treasures that include food, drinks and supplies, as well as bath and cleaning products, all made from or for the garden.

In the past, Wailua Monthly Garden Share members have brought katuk (a highly nutritious tropical shrub), artichoke, tomato, Mexican oregano, dragon fruit and bell pepper starts, as well as oranges, tangerines, lemons, avocados, breadfruit, sugarcane, lemon basil, Thai basil, eggplant, lemongrass, mint, water lilies, banana leaves, taro leaves, cacao trees and 10 gallons of coffee grounds for compost.

“We talk story about gardening, share our extras, sometimes enjoy snacks and always go home with something interesting and new,” says Sustainable Kauai founder Megan Pittsley-Fox. “We had an herbalist share recipes for all-natural mosquito repellant, and another member brought three grocery sacks full of starfruit.”

Joe Fox, Megan’s husband, is a line cook at Merriman’s Poipu and the founder of Kauai Brew Club, a group of fermenting fiends who brew anything from beer to mead, kombucha and more. The couple made cider with all that starfruit and brought it to one of the brew club’s monthly meetings.

The next Kilauea Monthly Garden Share is Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Malama Kauai Food Forest. Wailua Monthly Garden Share is Friday, Feb. 18, at Lydgate Beach Park in Kapaa. The Waimea Monthly Garden Share’s date and location have yet to be announced. Bring bags, paper towels and containers to take things home. Any remaining items will be donated to a food pantry or community garden.

Besides monthly Garden Shares, Sustainable Kauai also organizes educational tours and volunteer group workdays, which have included Kauai Community College’s Hoouluwehi Sustainable Living Institute; Wiki Wiki Worm Ranch; freshwater fishing; Kauai Brew Club’s discussion about the process of home brewing; Community Seed Bank; Regenerations International Botanical Gardens Food Forest project; Lihue United Church Community Garden; Kalo Festival at the Waipa Foundation; and SurfRider Kauai beach cleanup and net patrol.

To register, go to SustainableKauai.com. Click on “Gardening” and then “Sustainable Kauai’s Monthly Garden Share.” You will be rerouted to Sustainable Kauai’s page on meetup.com. Once you register, you’ll receive emails for upcoming events.

FOXY EMPANADAS

Joe’s recipe makes flaky empanadas with warm, creamy centers. Most of the produce was harvested from the Foxes’ backyard garden. Joe says you can use whatever you like in the filling, from cheese and vegetables to leftover meat and herbs. Makes eight servings.

For Dough:

• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 ounces unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon cold water
• 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Add butter and mix/mash until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs with water and vinegar until combined. Drizzle liquid over flour and mix until dough just comes together. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until smooth, three to five minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about one hour. While the dough is resting, make the filling.

For Filling:

• 1 cup organic ground beef
• 1/4 cup Maui onion, diced small
• 1/4 cup bell pepper, diced small
• 1/4 cup Japanese eggplant, diced small
• 1/4 cup tomato, diced small
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 jalapeno, minced
• 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
• 1 tablespoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
salt, to taste

Put 1 teaspoon of oil in a hot pan and add onions, bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, jalapenos, cumin, paprika, pepper and chili powder. When onions begin to soften and become translucent, add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add tomatoes and cilantro and cook until tomatoes soften, about five minutes. Taste, add salt and transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of water. Portion dough into eight equal parts and roll them into balls. Roll each ball into a flat circle about 1/8-inch thick. Place one tablespoon filling in the center of each round. Brush egg mixture around edge and fold dough over filling to form a half moon.

Press with a fork or spoon to seal edges and place on a greased sheet pan. Brush tops of empanadas with egg mixture. If desired, sprinkle top with Hawaiian sea salt, fresh herbs or a combination of both.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Marta Lane is a Kauai-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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