Wednesday, May 30, 2012

week 2

Lettuce      Swiss Chard         Fresh Garlic
Baby Beet Greens        Parsley           Broccoli
Sorrel              Green Onions       Purslane       Oregano
Mint & Lemon Balm

The heat is on. With luck, by the time you read this the rain will be moving in and with it a “cold snap” taking temperatures back down into the seventies, where most of humanity is comfortable.

We spent the weekend getting the last few summer crops planted, including our beloved Indian Field Corn, which we haven’t given ourselves space to grow for a couple seasons. Now we will be defending it and the sweet corn from marauding crows and turkeys until it gets large enough to be un-pluck-able. We are hoping for some sweet rewards in the summer.

In other news – everything is growing fast, and will grow even faster once it gets an honest rain. The green beans have a nice set of flowers, green tomatoes are getting larger by the hour, and the summer squashes are buzzing with pollinators and setting a good load of fruit. Garlic is ready to dig a full three weeks early. Summer is as Summer does.

Purslane is a new one this week. Its native home is the Indian sub-continent, but it now grows almost everywhere as a thriving weed. It is a healthful little weed, though. Purslane contains more Omega 3s than some fish oil, and quite a lot of Vitamin A too. The sour to salty taste and succulent crunch are well suited to salad fixings, but you might find other ideas if you look on-line. Keep it in a bag in your crisper drawer and eat it while the leaves are still fresh and crispy.

We will finish thinning the beets this week, so this will be the last of the beet greens until we send the beets. The oregano will also be finished with its seasonal haircut. We’re slowly reclaiming a portion of the herb garden that has been over-run with beautiful mint and lemon balm for too long. Dry your oregano (put it in a paper bag – tie and hang in a drafty shady place for awhile) and other herbs to use later. Here are a couple of easy suggestions for excessive amounts of fresh herbs.

Mixed Herb Butter
2 cups (1 pound) butter, softened
¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs
1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic (optional)

In a large enough bowl, cream the butter until it is very soft and fluffy.  Add the herbs and garlic and mix until thoroughly combined.  Cover and refrigerate until the butter is just firm enough to shape into sticks.  Working quickly, use your hands to shape the butter into 4 sticks or logs, each about one inch thick.  Transfer one or more of the sticks to a covered butter dish in the fridge, or wrap the logs in waxed paper and store them in the freezer for up to six months.  Use on bread, melt over vegetables, potatoes, steak, or anywhere you want.

Fried Herb Topping
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil               1 cup chopped fresh herb or combination of herbs
1-2 cloves garlic                                 ½ lb hot cooked pasta
½ cup freshly grated parmesan or asiago cheese

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until it is very hot but not smoking.  Add the herbs and garlic; cook until the garlic is fragrant and slightly golden and the herbs are crisp but not burned.  Remove the skillet from the heat.  Pour the fried herbs and flavored oil over the warm pasta or vegetables of your choice.  Top with grated cheese and enjoy right away.

It is a great pleasure to bring this beautiful spring broccoli to tow. Planting broccoli is always a gamble.  The plants take up a lot of room and need a good deal of fertility to make a nice head.  Then they need good weather, and defense from hungry cabbage worms.  Please consider soaking your broccoli is cold salt water for ten minutes or so before cooking, just to dislodge these pernicious worms.  Remember, evidence of organic bug life indicates truly natural farming practices.  We don’t like them either, but we consider them the least evil.  Eat your broccoli in a salad, or if you must cook it, don’t cook it long.  The flavor and texture of fresh broccoli is such a different experience than the California-box-store broccoli.  However you eat this broccoli – do it soon – it’s best that way. 

Here’s one more good looking recipe, in case you want some help with the Chard (and I bet you could throw in the broccoli as well as a few mint leaves too).

Chard Utopia from Simply In Season
2 cups minced onion                                                  1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano (2 tsp fresh, at least!)                ¼ tsp salt
In a large frypan sauté in 1 Tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes.

2 lbs Swiss Chard, stemmed, finely chopped
Add and cook until wilted, 5-8 minutes

4-6 cloves garlic, minced                               1 Tbsp flour
Sprinkle in, stir, and cook over medium heat, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and mix in….

2 cups feta cheese, crumbled             1 cup cottage cheese              Pepper to taste                      

1 lb frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
Place a sheet of phyllo in an oiled 9X13 pan.  Brush with olive oil.  Repeat for 7 sheets.   Spread half the filling evenly on top.  Add 8 more sheets of oiled phyllo.  Cover with the rest of the filling and follow with remaining phyllo, oiling each, including the top sheet.  Tuck in the edges and bake uncovered in a preheated over at 375F until golden and crispy, about 45 min.

Good news from Hidden Springs Orchard – we’ll likely be making those awesome blueberries available at the end of June! 

Eat well – Be well.  Thanks for your support.
Paul, Coree, Lulah and Levon

The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.  I am not alone and unacknowledged.  They nod to me and I to them.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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