Garlic was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed by Greek Olympian athletes, and thought to be essential for keeping vampires at bay. It is also good for zapping bacteria, keeping your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, regulating blood sugar in diabetics, and warding off coughs and colds. For example, if you have a cold, put lots of chopped garlic into chicken soup, or even just the broth (if you cannot down the noodles and veggies in a soup).
Being spring, or third winter, here in Monticello, the health aisles at the stores are running short on cold and allergy medications. Once again, not feeling up to downing a bowl of soup, then let your nose do the work for you. Create a steaming broth of garlic and hot peppers, place a towel over your head and the bowl, and breathe in deeply. Only do this for a minute, or the vapors will irritate your eyes. It is your sinus passages you are trying to clear out, not your eyeballs.
I have grown garlic; it is very easy, and takes little space in a garden; each small clove will give you a whole new head! Purchasing garlic braids not only adorns your kitchen, but garlic is just in your reach. Make sure the garlic on the braids have not been treated with a wax, or painted with an acrylic coating. This is done to keep them from rotting, as this means the braid is meant for decoration only, but it is unhealthy, perhaps deadly, to ingest. Often sold in farmers’ markets, the intent is definitely for ingesting, not décor.
Rather have the garlic already minced, chopped or sliced for use, then that can be purchased at any local or super market. The garlic is usually immersed in water or olive oil, and can be kept in the refrigerator after opening the jar. Of course, the olive oil will coagulate once it becomes cold, but it does not affect the consistency nor taste of the garlic.
When garlic is roasted in the oven, the cloves become very soft and sweet; it can be used as a spread, in dips, salads, etc.
Roasted Garlic Bulb
1 head garlic
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Remove the outer papery covering of the garlic. Slice off the top of the head so most of the cloves are exposed. Place on a square of aluminum foil for easy cleanup, or select the smallest baking dish you have. Drizzle the oil over the cloves.
Fold the foil over the head to completely enclose it, or cover the baking dish with foil. Roast for about 45 minutes, until the garlic is completely soft and lightly browned.
To serve, separate the head into individual cloves, or squeeze out the cloves into a small serving dish. If you have leftovers, squeeze out the pulp into a small dish, cover with olive oil, and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Now here's a recipe for a very easy to make meal which is garlicky and spicy.
What are soba noodles? This is a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour and water. Sometimes a small amount of whole-wheat flour is added to keep the noodles from deteriorating. If allergic to gluten, or simply not eating it, this is one product you will be avoiding.
Cannot find soba in the store? It can be purchased, in a dried form, online, or substitute spaghetti. Looking for something vegetarian? Use one of those new kitchen devices that can create noodles out of vegetables, and with my recipe, just omit the chicken.
Garlic Chicken with Soba Noodles
2 Tbsp sesame oil (if not available, use canola oil)
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ¼” slices
½ cup soy sauce, divided in half
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup snow or sugar snap pea pods
1 cup chopped Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage (Napa) or white cabbage
12 oz Soba noodles, cooked and drained
In a Wok or large skillet, medium-high heat, heat the oil and pepper flakes for one minute. Add the garlic and let cook for an additional 30 seconds before adding the chicken and half the soy sauce. Stir fry until the chicken is thoroughly cooked; remove, set aside and keep warm.
Add into the Wok, or skillet, the mushrooms, bell pepper and pea pods; stir fry until bell pepper begins to soften. Mix in cabbage; as soon as it begins to wilt add in the remaining soy sauce, chicken and noodles. Mix thoroughly; stir fry for 2 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.