A Gift Of Chard

Our next door neighbors are a delightful pair of educators whose children we involve in our gardening. One of their extended families has a German tradition of eating cooked Swiss Chard doused with vinegar. That is certainly not our experience with German cuisine, but who am I to judge. We always grow chard so I can make an Italian pie of greens, but our harvests have been so plentiful we always have chard to spare. This year is no exception, and we have so much frozen chard from previous years that I shall not need much this year, except for a bit for a butternut squash and fresh chard phyllo pie recipe husband found. We always grow Argentata, a white chard variety.

The neighbors have happily harvested our chard on two occasions this summer, always looking sheepish and guilty, as though they were robbing us or doing something illegal. We are so happy to share chard with them, and would probably plant chard even if we didn’t need it, just because we believe family traditions are important. The neighbors consider it a real gift.

What family traditions do you think are important to keep? What traditions do you want to eliminate? What simple things do you consider a good gift? How do you prepare chard?

46 thoughts on “A Gift Of Chard”

      1. A relative of yogurt, sort of. Need a starter, or some of filibunk, if I am spelling it right, and raw milk. Set it out to ferment. Also called long milk. Get the image?
        My mother provided raw milk, rather unwillingly, to lots of old Swedes for this purpose.

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        1. My mom and one of the doctors at the clinic she worked at used to drink (eat?) long milk. I thought it looked and tasted disgusting.

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      1. Looks like it’s called Filmjölk in Sweden. Filibunk has to be the old Norwegian name–in Nynorsk it’s called surmjølk or kulturmjølk, but in Finland it’s filbunke. It seems to be the same stuff as skyr in Iceland. According to Wikipedia, anyway.

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        1. I had to imagine old Joe Cardinal saying it to remember the schwa on the end. Joe was another great eater of greens of all sorts. He and my mother talked gardening and spuds. Joe was born in rural Sweden. Hard to imagine Cardinal as a Swedish name.

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        2. Some years ago I was making my own kefir. Husband never did try it, just had no interest, and eventually I had to give it up because I couldn’t figure out how to scale the recipe down to fit my consumption. It was really tasty and I loved. Plus it was no bother to make, at all.

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    1. I believe it is in the beet family. You only eat the leaves and stems. When you pick it you cut the stems, leaving the plant, and it grows new leaves. We had three cuttings this summer. It is supposed to get down to 24° Thursday night, so it will be all done after that.

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  1. Rise and Shine,Baboons,

    Chard is not my thing, and no one around me grew it, cooked it or ate it. My family has many food traditions that are family oriented, back to the pioneer days. I have the recipe for the flatbread my grandma used to make. It really is a cracker. I remember it as crisp and delicious. Maybe this year, but I first must find the rolling pin for it.

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  2. I loke having holiday traditions – one of my favorites was driving around to see lights on Christmas Eve, and then having Swedish Cardamom Wreath bread on Christmas morning. I can see Husband and I need to create some new traditions.

    We have lately started going out with a Burger King (Husband’s idea) coupon, and we bring the cribbage board, go in and sit at a table. It’s one way we can eat out, and we do it every couple of weeks. Maybe tonight!

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  3. I really wish that I had more family traditions. We always had lefse at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that we tried making rosettes, and Mom didn’t make any other Norwegian recipes–her cooking was of the post-war Betty Crocker tradition, glorified rice and all. I wish the family had kept the language and songs and foodways (and that I’d inherited some solje or table linens or something), but of course that was not the thinking of their times. Her mother actually threw away their Depression glass set without asking Mom if she wanted it, just because it was old.

    As for chard, I like it, but I usually buy dinosaur kale because I love the name. Too bad so many stores have changed their tags to “lacinato kale”–that’s no fun, and no way to get kids to want to eat greens. If someone had put “dinosaur kale” in front of me at age 5, I would’ve eaten it (I loved dinosaurs, until school told me they weren’t real and the bones were just put there to test our faith. They really had a gift for ruining everything).

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  4. My family had a few traditions when my brothers and I were very young but they didn’t even last through my teens, so you really can’t call them traditions. I really loved having oyster stew on Christmas Eve, then cleaning up and opening some presents. We often had our grandparents over for Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day we would get up and find all the gifts from Santa. We would play for awhile, then my brothers would be sent outside to play and I would be forced to the kitchen to help Mom with Christmas dinner. I really loved the traditions but I don’t think anyone else in our family cared about it.

    With regard to food, we had a few family favorites but chard wasn’t one of them. I got to know chard on my own and I really like it. I grew rhubarb chard this year. It is quite red and has a much stronger flavor than other types. I would return to white chard if I was going to grow some next year but I doubt I will grow much of my own food next year. I might try to grow some in a pot, we’ll see. I love it sautéed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic. I’ve put it over brown rice and in omelettes. It’s very nutritious.

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  5. I do chard every now and then, usually mixed with other vegetables. Like other baboons, I never knew chart existed until I was an adult. I don’t cook much these days. I’m essentially just cooking for one and I have not figured out the trick of it.

    Family traditions we have a lot of them, although some of them have morphed overtime. When YA was very young we used to burn a whole log on Solstice and we would sleep downstairs in sleeping bags (takes a long while for a whole log to burn, and I didn’t want to go upstairs with the fire still going). As she got older, we quit doing overnight logs but still opened solstice gifts with a fire going. The last two solstices we haven’t had a working fireplace, but we played a Yule log YouTube clip on the television while we opened gifts!

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    1. There is a book people recommend to me about how I live called something like Married and Not Married. Since reading is so hard, I have not read it. Cooking for one is part of the not married part. I only cook from fresh. No cans or boxes, as my Cub check out clerk Destyni notes. The book Instant Pot for One taught me a lot. Many of the meals I adapt to regular cooking. I do use cans for tomato products. And chicken stock. Tonight ground turkey soup. Sometimes I make meals like that one meal, like I will tonight. Sometimes I double it and eat it two nights in a row. You have to focus shopping and cooking and build new habits. It is cheap shopping. But chicken thighs on sale and freeze them one per bag. It has got me to reduce meat and increase fruit and veg. I buy 3 lbs of ground turkey and divide it up into 1/3 lb. lots and freeze them. Things like that have made it work for me.

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    2. In our last house, we had two fireplaces and the one downstairs never would draw right, so we had a gas insert installed and it was the best thing we could have done. The gas insert is much more efficient that a wood fireplace in warming the room and there are never issues with smokiness or the draw. If your fireplace is not satisfactory, I would recommend gas conversion.

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      1. The problem is that the clay tiles up the chimney are disintegrating. We’ve talked between the two of us about a gas insert but I’d have to check to see whether we still have to fix the clay tiles or replace the clay tiles before we could even do a gas insert. It’s just low on the priority list.

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        1. We’ll we might be in luck… we had to get the metal insert two years ago when the clay started to fail and it was causing the boiler to turn off since it was producing carbon monoxide that couldn’t escape.

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  6. Husband is a big eater, so cooking for two in this household means cooking for at least three or four. We eat chard occasionally, usually when my friend Helen gives me a bunch. I rarely buy it, don’t really know why, except possibly that I’m more familiar with other greens.

    About filibunk, my dad used to make it, or something similar, when I was little. We called it surmælk or tykmælk. We never used it in cooking but ate it for breakfast sprinkled with pumpernickel crumbs mixed with brown sugar. Mom didn’t much care for it, so it never became a family tradition.

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  7. Mollie Katzen, in her cookbook Still Life With Menu, has a recipe for Pasta with Greens and Feta. The recipe can accommodate just about any sort of greens but when I had a big garden and grew chard and also when I had a CSA and had to deal with a bunch of chard, this was my go-to recipe because it calls for 7-8 cups of greens and because it’s good. The recipe also uses 1/2 to 3/4 cup of crumbled feta. I could type out the recipe but only if there were sufficient interest and perhaps not tonight.

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      1. Thank you PJ! I’m not sure how you knew to find it in a secondary source. If there is any ambiguity as to what is the “sauce” to which Mollie refers, it’s the greens/onion/feta combination. Maybe I’m the only one, but that sent me looking for the sauce—chopped greens and onion and cheese didn’t fit my conception of sauce.

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  8. I had a simple sauteed swiss chard recipe, but it wasn’t a favorite, so it didn’t make it into the recipe hall of fame at my house. When I think about chard, I usually elect to buy cabbage instead. Or cauliflower. They just seem easier to me. I kinda feel that way about bok choy, too. Sometimes I’m considering it, and then I just pick up the plain old green cabbage.

    I think good simple gifts include things like chocolate wine, and socks. Other edibles are quite welcome too. Sometimes I get gifts of things like lotion and fancy soaps, which are lovely, but my dermatologist has a kind of heavy hand on those. She just hands me a list and says not to use anything that’s not on the list. Of course there’s only a few things on the list, none of them particularly enticing.

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