Saturday, June 23, 2012

Year Three -- Week Two: The Green Share!

Unloading this week's share I noticed something...everything was green! Seriously. Other than the white turnips, it was all green things!

Week Two

1PT peas
1 handful sage
1 bunch kale
another large head lettuce
another large handful garlic scapes
1 handful pea shoots
1 bunch turnips

I have something exciting to show you for this week's share, but that'll be at the end.

Peas: These were shelled and added to the peas already in the fridge that Dad had brought over on Father's Day and eaten in quick order.

Sage: I love sage but don't use a ton of it over the summer, so that went right in the dehydrator and is put away for fall.

Kale: Wilted. Just didn't get to it in time. :(

Lettuce: The usual salads.

Pea Shoots: Okay, this was *the item* that I was most excited to see in the share. Yes, really. So, I ran to google and most people recommended to cook them ala saute. This item alone inspired me to make a stirfry and include the last bits of radish from week one along with some extra fridge goodies. Verdict: Stirfry - Yum. Pea Shoots - need work. They were really chewy. Really. Like chewing on a mouthful of old grass chewy. Despite being disappointed, I would try again in a different way.

Garlic Scapes: Pesto, pesto, pesto. Forget the fact that I have pesto from last year in the freezer - you can never have too much pesto! So, I took the scapes from Week One and Two - the leek from Week One, the oregano from Week One and made three different pesto. Garlic Scape & Oregano, Garlic Scape & Leek and .... Asian Style Pesto - yes, Asian Style.

Asian Style Pesto inspired by Mark Bittman

So, how does one make Pesto Asian? Step One: You consult Mark Bittman and his excellent book: The Food Matters Cookbook and turn to page 198.

I am not taking credit for his recipe whatsoever, but I'm going to tell you how *I* did it following his suggestions. All measurements are approximated as I don't really measure anything when making pesto. If you've made pesto before, you understand, it's really a visual thing.

I started with 1/4 c. of chopped garlic scapes in my food mill. Poured some olive oil in, about 4 seconds worth (yes, I measure it in time). Pulse a few times, or until it's creamy looking, but not flowing around the food mill well. Add 2TBSP sesame oil. Pulse around a bit more.

Now, Bittman suggests adding cilantro, mint, Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass, etc. So, I go get some lemongrass. One good pinch, using all five fingers. If I had to quantify it, it's probably a scant 1/4c. Now, my lemongrass was dry so I brought it to boil in a cup of water in the microwave, strained it and put it in. Then I added 1/2TBSP cilantro. Pulsed it around some more, added more sesame oil. Put in a dash of Chinese Five Spice Powder, Pulse around some more. Grab a handful of cashews, pulse around some more. During all this pulsing, I was adding olive and sesame oil alternately and tasting until it looked like this:

Asian Style Pesto

Yeah, I know, it looks like poop. Or dog puke. I know, I seriously thought the same thing - especially if the dog has been eating grass thanks to the stems of lemongrass. But it tastes yummy, I promise you!

I store my pesto in ice cube shapes. That way it easily goes into bags or tupperware in the freezer and you can grab how much you need by the cube full. It's also really easy because of all the oil, those things just slide right out of the ice cube tray when they're frozen after one twist.

Pesto Storage

Thanks Mark Bittman!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Year Three -- Week One: Let the Season Begin!!

So, back with The Good Food Collective for the 2012 season - and *so* excited.

This year, I am going to try a different presentation here. Pick-up is on Tuesdays this year, which really works for me, I think. So, this year, I'm going to post the picture on Wednesday at the latest with what we've gotten that week.

Throughout the week I'll update the main post with what I ended up doing with the items, or there will be a recipe post or two if I try something new. That's the goal.'s to a GOOD 2012!

Week One

Looking back to last year's share here - it's pretty similar - just sub the bok choy for radishes!

1QT strawberries
1 large head lettuce
1 small bunch beets
1 medium bunch radishes
1 bag garlic scapes
2 leeks
1 large bunch swiss chard
a few springs oregano
a small handful lemon balm

What I Did:

Strawberries: Snacking and breakfast. I love sliced strawberries in cereal. Also used the last bits with some angel food cake.

Lettuce: Salads, salads, salads.

Radishes: I'm not sure *why* I love radishes - I just do! I've been eating them in my lunches. Some of them went into salads and a few of them also went into a stir-fry. Interestingly enough, they lose most of their heat cooked, and are akin to a water chestnut texture wise.

Garlic Scapes: Used a handful sauteed up with some swiss chard, rendered fat and Parmesan Cheese for a side dish for a grass fed steak. I also used a couple (3) in a Quiche that I made over the weekend. The rest were used in pesto.

Leeks: I used one whole leek in the aforementioned Quiche and one leek in pesto.

Swiss Chard: Used 2/3rds of it in the above mentioned sauteed side dish. The remaining 1/3rd I used in a Quiche dish for the weekend. I actually made so much Quiche that I had to gift one!

Oregano: Since there really wasn't much of it, it went in the Quiche as well!

Heavy Lifting & Letting Go

(otherwise known as the post wherein I ramble, somewhat aimlessly, about many things, emotional and otherwise.)

I have been heavy and had much selecting.....

This post has been a long time coming. Okay, maybe just a month. Either way, when I began thinking about all of this stuff, I wouldn't have been able to dream up a better quote - Thank You Gertrude Stein.

Spring finally gave way in May. Forget about that warm spell at the end of March - and then the snow in April. May was when Spring really came into being here.

It's odd. Being in this house 1.5 years - the winter of moving, there was 20 inches of snow on the ground. Spring came and I can't recall much about it in particular. Last winter was brown and grey, somewhat cold, but just so dismal in general. For some reason, Spring this year was a season of wonder again, more noticeable. I'm not sure why, you'd think that after the grey-white blanket of winter, green would be really noticeable. *shrug* I really can't explain it. I'm just going to waste your time, poor reader, trying to explain it, so I will stop trying.

For whatever reason, this year I didn't take the the approach of Spring for granted. I reveled in every little thing, I still do as I patiently wait for the last of the trees, their little leaf buds to ever so slowly start to creak open.

Early this Spring, before our March summer, the neighbor who owns an L-shaped parcel of land around the house, clear cut the windbreak that sheltered the West side of the house. I was not impressed. I got angry, really righteously angry, fiery sword ready to rampage.

After the anger and the grieving and frustration came the rebuilding. Or replanting. Thanks to Dad and the apiarist neighbor, there were now trees to plant. So many trees have gone in this year: 3 mulberries, 6 pink locusts, 5 scrub maples, three sugar maples, one red maple and three American Hazelnuts (not to mention close to a dozen springs of Bittersweet vine). The windbreak is lacking, but there is growth, there is potential.

May was emotionally taxing. I think I'm still paying for it in some ways. The beginning of the end of the school year started, I thought one of my dear hearts was headed to an active war zone, and another one of my dear hearts had a very difficult time dealing with the anniversary of the loss of her littlest angel. I cried, sweat and bled for many of my friends during this time. And it emotionally wiped me out.

Couple that with the frustration of the clear-cut, the feeling of violation that strikes very deeply to my soul, and the fact that many of the things that were planted did not seem to be doing well, I was not in a happy mental state. Seedlings that had started with leaves dropped them, branches felt brittle and ready to break, bigger trees started to bend. Apple trees that were in bloom early in the season were hit by cold and quickly dropping blossoms.

I'd check new plantings a couple times a week, getting more despondent and more frustrated. Less patient and more angry.

And then I really started to breathe deeply, got back to my mats (yoga and spiritual ones). I tried to be present in each moment. I re-learned how to let go of those things that weighed me down, that scared me. That intimidated me. I re-learned how to acknowledge these things and then to let them go. It was only then that....

I started to notice changes.

Bittersweet Climb
What looked like dead sticks I had stuck in the ground were beginning to climb...

Baby Apples 2
Fruit started to emerge. Proof that some things weathered the cold.

Baby Apples 1
Some of it was a little worse for wear. These apples will probably be more suited for sauce, jams and jellies instead of eating. But they're growing.

You'd think I'd know this already, right? I grew up on plenty of land - this isn't my first time growing things. This isn't my first time watching crops fail. And it won't be my last. But it has been one of my most poignant and most reflective acknowledgements of these things.

Baby Scrub Maple
Seedlings that looked like I had just randomly shoved dead weeds into the ground had grown crowns of leaves.

Locust Bud
Trees that wobbled and didn't almost quite bend, things that came close to breaking still live.

Maple Bud
Things that I had just about given up for dead, things that I was ready to pull out of the ground and start all over with, showed me that there was still some fight left in them.

Mulberry Leaves
After aphids, brittle branches, way too close calls with lawnmowers, not enough water and nibbles from deer, there are leaves reaching for the sun.

And that's life for you. Unexpected. You'll have snow in April and Summer in March. Things will come and hit you in your blindside. Sometimes things will cut you back, so far sometimes, you're not sure there's anything left in you to grow at all. Branches will break, heavy with snow.

There is hope. In the darkest moment, at the point where you think it's best to end it all, or start over completely from Square One, there's still something left to fight for, something to live for.

Yeah, you knew that already. So did I. Most of us did. But sometimes we all need a reminder.

As I walk into the yard tonight, I see that some leaves had died. Aphids have returned. The Hazelnuts (at least 2/3 of them) look like they might not make it.

But if there's anything that I've been reminded of this past Spring, this past almost nine that there is always hope. Some times, it just takes a lot of healing first.

Last Spring, Dad cut back the blackberries. We had thought they were domestic, since someone had taken the time to place them in nice little rows - and we knew that you are supposed to trim domestic berries back in the Spring before they blossom.

And a year later...

Baby Blackberry
there's a new generation.