Thursday, June 24, 2010


Everybody is pretty familiar with the old standby veggies: corn, peas, potatoes, and carrots. Some brave souls venture into spinach, broccoli and even Brussels Sprouts. Lettuce, tomatoes and celery mostly are relegated to salads, and that’s about that.

But let’s try something new this time—let’s try leeks.

Leeks are members of the onion family, and before you run the other way, making a cross with your index fingers in my direction, let me reassure you—you won’t get digestive upsets from eating leeks that are properly cooked.

What you will get are compliments on this yummy side dish that goes well with fish, beef, or chicken. (As far as I’m concerned, it goes well with anything, and after dinner–-or ‘supper’, if you’re a Southerner like me--I just dump the leftovers in my “Soup” container in the freezer.)


Make your old standby flat container with holes in the bottom, covered by pieces of coffee filter. Don’t drink coffee? Then use pieces of paper towel. Can’t afford such luxuries? No problem! Use doubled squares of bathroom tissue or small squares of rag. They’ll all work, and one is as good as the next. Now fill your container with good dirt, either potting soil, garden soil or your own compost. See upcoming Post #10, “How to Make Compost—in the City, the Suburbs or the Country.” It’ll cover the whole process no matter where you live.

Back to the leeks: with a popsicle stick, a pencil or a twig, make ‘drills’ (evenly-spaced shallow gutters in the soil) for your seeds. Space the seeds about an inch apart, or the width of the first joint of your thumb. Plant them carefully, but please don’t go so far as to use a ruler or anything; just do your best. Seeds are innocent creatures of God, and they are very forgiving. Cover them gently, pat down lightly and water well. Some people like to use vermiculite to cover them. Do whatever you like.

In a week or two, you’ll see slender little loops of green pushing up through the soil.

Leeks are monocots, which means they don’t have the two halves of seed casing like beans, tomatoes and most others. Those kinds are dicots, which name comes from the Greek meaning “two” (“di”) and cotyledon, (“hollow;cavity.") I have no idea what 'cavity' has to do with it, but I know they're not dentally dangerous, so don't worry.

It’s easier to remember when you’re actually looking at the plant. If it has one green finger pointing upwards, and no seed split case, it is a monocot-- actually, “monocotyledonous” (sway "say "mono-cotrty--LEE-din-us." Throw THAT at your science teacher, kids, for a shock. Just make sure he has a strong heart first. Corn, bamboo, leeks, scallions and lilies are monocots; beans, lettuce, squash, tomatoes and most other veggies are dicots (“dicotyledonous.”) Hit him with that, too, if his heart will take the double whammy.

All you have to do is be careful not to overwater (or underwater) the leeks, keep them in a sunny window or under grow lights, and relax. Plant them out in the garden or in a pot when they get abaout three or four inches tall, and us them for cooking when they’re an inch thick or more through the stalk.

Carefully cut them off about two inches above the soil. This is your first and perhaps only harvest, but if you’re lucky, your plants may give you a second, smaller harvest from the same plants. You can only hope.


3-6 large leeks
½ stick (4 oz) butter, margarine or olive oil (but the butter tastes best, trust me!)
½ --3/4 tsp marjoram
salt and black pepper to taste


Remove most of the heavy medium-green portion of the leek. This gets rough-chopped and tossed into your compost container; or failing that, chop them; cook them down over medium heat in about 3 c. of water for about 30—45 minutes; drain, reserving the liquid; and add it to your Soup Container in the freezer. The solid stuff goes in the compost.

Cut the white portion and the lighter green, more tender portion of the leek into 1/8”—1/4” slices. Separate them--they will look like concentric rings--and wash well in a colander under cold running water.

Drain \thoroughly. Heat the butter/margarine/oil in a large frying pan, sauté pan or skillet, add the marjoram, and sauté for one minute, until the fragrance begins to rise. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring gently from time to time, until the leeks are tender. You will be surprised at how such a lot of volume cooksw down to a much smaller amount. Ah, but the taste of that amount! Put them into a warmed bowl and serve them to 4—6 hungry people. Mmmm…

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