Thursday, June 14, 2012

week 4

Lettuce                             Green Beans          Fresh Garlic
Chard             Baby Bok Choy           Summer Squash
Parsley                        Sorrel Cilantro          Dill      Anise Hyssop

“There is then, a politics of food that, like any politics, involves our freedom. We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else.  But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else.  The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition.  One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.” ~ Wendell Berry, from his essay “The Pleasures of Eating”
(To read more of this essay, look up Wendell Berry’s excellent book What Are People For.  We highly recommend it.)

How fast it comes, the middle of June.  The days are nearly at their peak of length, and the work fills the days completely, often with some spill-over into dusk and darkness.  We were disappointed with the tiny little 2/10 inch of rain that fell, but there is little to do about it except dance, pray, and keep irrigating. 

The garlic harvest is absolutely stunning this year.  Because of the extremely dry conditions, the stems are brittle and have cured faster than usual.  We enjoy spending some hours of these hot middays in the shade, braiding the soft-neck garlic to hang in the shady shed side of the barn.  The largest and most perfect are kept separate for planting in October.  This week we’ve brought you some of the least of the garlic – that which we decided NOT to braid for keeping.  There’s nothing wrong with it except that it’s a little small.  It will keep fine and you should take all you want and store it.  We will continue to bring you garlic each week – larger bulbs.  Garlic will cure and keep for many months in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at a cool room temperature.

The flea beetles took the first nibbles at the baby bok choy as soon as they had leaves large enough to eat.  Then the grasshoppers started working on them.  Thankfully, there’s still some left.  The damage is cosmetic – the greens are still tasty steamed or stir-fried.  Soak them in water to dislodge the grit in the stems – rinse well and enjoy – leaves, stems, and all.

The first green beans are such a treat.  The kids snack on them raw, in the row.  We love the satisfying snap of them coming off the vine, and the beautiful way they have of hiding, hanging behind the heavy green foliage of the bean bush.  We like to make them in a very simple way.  We steam them, then coat them in butter or olive oil and chopped garlic.   If the raw garlic is too much for you, then heat it in the butter or oil for just a couple minutes.  Add a little lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  They really don’t need much.

The summer squash are picking up speed now.  So are the other herbs, like dill, cilantro, and parsley.  The anise hyssop is at its peak, with those dark leaves and purple flowers.  It’s a sweet treat for all the senses.  Use it in tea, or throw it on a salad.  Some people even mince it and use it in scones or sweet bread.   Oh Yum. 
Summer Squash Salad (Thank you Martha Stewart for inspiring)
One share’s worth of assorted Summer Squash, cut into bite-sized, 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice               1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper                                  6 ounces pecorino cheese

Toss together squashes, herbs, and oil in a large bowl; season with pepper. Add cheese; toss. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Mongolian Garlic (from Angelic Organics)
Here’s a recipe to use a bounty of garlic, in a crock pot.  These intensely flavorful little gems are great as a condiment, or, for an hors d’oeuvre, stick toothpicks in them and serve in a shallow plate in a pool of the sauce. Any leftover sauce is delicious over rice or egg noodles.
(adapted from The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking).  Makes about 2 cups
5 large, firm heads garlic                   2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water                                  
1/4 cup soy sauce                              3 tablespoons sake or Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons sugar                           1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

1. Separate the cloves of garlic from the head. Peel away all skins that fall away from the cloves, but leave the thin layer of skin that doesn’t fall away on each clove. Use only large, firm cloves.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. When the liquid is just about to simmer, add the garlic, turn the heat to low, and partially cover.
3. Stew the garlic in the liquid until the garlic is very soft, 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of the cloves and the variety of garlic. It is very important that the liquid does not come to a boil; the garlic will turn bitter if boiled. Uncover the pot now and then to check that the liquid is just barely simmering and to stir the garlic. At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat, cover the pot tightly, and let the cloves marinate in the liquid for 2 hours.
4. The cloves can be served at this point or refrigerated for up to a week. They are best served warm or at room temperature. The cloves are still in their skins. Pop them in your mouth this way and use your tongue to squeeze out the clove (it comes out easily), or squeeze it out with the flat side of a knife.

Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan in Lemon Dressing
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts                          1 pound green beans
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste                             freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice       3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved (about 1/2 cup)

1. Toast the walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. (Be careful not to overtoast them, as they will burn very quickly once toasted.) Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the beans and salt; cook until tender but still firm, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the beans to a colander in the sink and run cold water over them. Trim if neded.
4. Toss the beans and walnuts in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until well combined.  Pour this mixture over the beans and toss until well coated.  Transfer the salad to a serving platter or to individual plates. Scatter the Parmesan shavings on top.

Thanks for your good eating – Be Well!                                                                    The Entwistles

No comments: