Wednesday, July 30, 2008

OLS Week #9

THIS week's meal is special. First everything but the protein came from my garden. Second, and more importantly, the local chicken I cooked is the result of many eat local initiatives here on the island. Until the Farm Institute came along, an island chicken was hard to come by. The Farm Institute birds were succulent and delicious and word spread fast. Local restaurants wanted to feature them and LOTS of people made the pilgrimage to Edgartown on Tuesdays hoping to pick up one after "processing." But the Farm Institute could not handle the demand, nor was it sure that processing chickens for increased demand WAS their mission. They are first and foremost an educational institution.

Meanwhile, Island Grown Initiative sponsored a Pastured Poultry Program, and secured a Mobile Poultry Processing Unit. (For those of you into acronyms that would be an (IGIMPPU). And one of the farms to take advantage of it is Flat Point Farm here in town. I love the enthusiasm of these guys and you will get bitten too when you check in to FPP for a look see.

It is all about re-creating infrastructure that will allow young farmers to provide for us locally. Right now, unless you are willing to slaughter them yourself for family use only, all livestock, with the exception of poultry, has to get on a ferry boat before it can go to "freezer camp." (I thank Lisa at Mack Hill Farm for that LOL euphemism).

So enough already ... what about this MEAL? Well I picked up my freshly "processed" chicken at the farm on Saturday and let it "rest" for a few days in the fridge before cooking it Tuesday night. I used a winner Ruth Reichel recipe from Garlic and Sapphires. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a film of olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Quarter four Yukon Gold potatoes, add an onion that has been cut in eighths, 6-8 whole unpeeled cloves of garlic and toss in the oil. Wash the bird and drain. remove some of the excess fat from around the neck and slide it in between the skin and the breast at the top of the bird. Put a lemon that has been pierced several times with a fork and some fresh rosemary into the cavity of the bird. Sprinkle every thing in the pan with salt and pepper and cook for one hour. OMG !!! Sublime flavor. All the veggies were from my garden. Only the lemon and olive oil are not local.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Morning Glory

and an artichoke ready for harvest !

Friday, July 25, 2008

quivering with excitement

TWO and 7/8 Inches of rain (74 mm) !!!! Just what the garden needed in those inches below the surface where it was getting as dry as dust. Meanwhile, the first tomato blush has appeared ... my tomato knife is quivering with excitement.Admirable harvest baskets are marching out of the garden each morning. And tonight I will harvest my first artichoke in two years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OLS Week #8 - Slow Food Convivium

So what, you ask? A plate of garlic green beans? Hardly a meal. Actually this serving for six was my contribution to THIS groaning table of potluck goodies all made from local ingredients.Last night was the July meeting of our local Slow Food Convivium. When we arrived in the hall there was a live band playing. and the local aquaculture group was providing oysters at the far end of the hall. On our table was a plate of delicious goat cheese from Flat Point Farm and some roasted local veggies and dip. As we were waiting to take our turn at the buffet, a local farmer announced to the hall (I think there were 500 in attendance) , that he would be slaughtering chickens this weekend and you could come to table #10 to reserve a chicken for pick up on Saturday. Once all the tables had been called to the buffet and we had eaten our fill, we settled back to listen to the speaker for the evening, none other than MICHAEL POLLAN himself !!His latest book, In Defense of Food, was the subject of his talk. In a nutshell he said, stop thinking of food as nutrients ... the science of nutrition is NOT a science ... all we REALLY know is that the Western diet causes people to get sick ... eat food, but not too much of it and when you do, eat mostly plants ... the leafy parts.

And as a a send off he gave us 5 rules of thumb to use when making food choices.

#1 Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
#2 Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A.) unfamiliar B.) unpronounceable C.) more than five in number, or that include D.) high fructose corn syrup
#3 Avoid foods that make health claims
#4 Shop at the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
$5 Get out of the supermarket whenever possible

OLS Week #7

Boy did I screw up! I thought for sure I had posted week #7 !! It was an absolutely delicious tender meal of lamb shanks form Mermaid Farm a half mile away that were seasoned with onions from Tiasquam Farm, herbs from my garden and some tomato sauce from last year's harvest. It was blistering hot, so I decided to pack the shanks into a little terrine maker I have and put it on the GRILL out doors at a very low temp for 3 hours, and kept the heat from making the house warmer. The meat slid off the bone and I served it with fresh beans from the garden. It was SUPERB!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

and the latest panoramic

click to enlarge

Inside the Garden Gate

Some little treasures are emerging inside the garden this week.
first, after weeks of blossom drop I finally have a bell pepper
and, be still oh my heart, it is a little tiny artihhoke !!!! Hurray !!!
And in the category of Biggest Tomato, I have isolated 2 Big Zac plants this year. I had it down to two fruit per plant, and last night I made the final cuts. We have two Big Zacs throwing ALL their plant energy into beating last year's 1lb 10 oz entry ... stay tuned.
And last but not least, here is a little treasure of a melon. It is a French melon ... a Cavaillon melon. I have tried growing them from the seed packets sold here in the States, but they never lived up to what I had in France. And even in France, they would vary in flavor. Until one day, at the Aligre Market in Paris I came upon a tranche de miel. One slice and I knew I had hit the motherlode of flavor. The kind of flavor that would send my eyes rolling back in my head muttering le petit Jesus en culotte de velour.[loosely translated it means "it tastes like the baby Jesus in a pair of velvet trousers"]

So I pocketed some of the seeds from that Aligre Market tranche de miel and brought them home 2 summers ago. When I stumbled over them in my seed box, I had little hope that they would even germinate this spring, but they DID and now I am watching with delight as they ripen here in my garden.

From the Garden Gate: July 18, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Succumbing to the "Queen of the Night"

I cast my lot with vegetables long ago. I leave flowers to others. HOWEVER, last night I was invited to a friend's house to see her night blooming Cereus and I have come away totally enchanted. I knew vaguely of them ... that they existed ... but I had no idea how exotic they are ... how they can fill an ordinary summer's night with romance and mystery ... how their single night of blooming can put you in the mood of all night reverie.
My friend's Cereus is so big it is belted to a chair near a skylight in their bedroom. They have to fight with it to get to their dresser drawers. I LIKE this kind of devotion to beauty, albeit a beauty that is restricted to a few glorious summer nights. But I realize that to accept a cutting of this plant is to accept a way of life (sort of like having a successful purple martin house in your yard). But accept it I didand lo and behold there on the cutting is a blossom ... YIKES. These blossom grow out of the leaf itself ... very scary stuff, if you ask me. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meet the Contenders

All season I have had my eye on two garlic varieties ... the Montana Giant and the Carpathian. The girth of the stalks was sizable and they remained green and strong right up til the end of the garlic harvest. I am pleased and proud to present them here for the first time. One of these two varieties will be my entries in the Fair this August

Saturday, July 12, 2008

OLS Week # 6

I know we have all done this before ... googled the ingredients we have and see what recipe comes up ... Well that is how I found this hearty vegetable concoction for this week's meal. It is an Emeril Lagasse recipe featuring green beans.

Green Beans, Zucchini and Potatoes

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
Generous pinch of cayenne
4 ounces zucchini, split in half and cut into 1-inch thick slices
4 ounces small red skin potatoes
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 cups crushed tomatoes and juices
Salt and pepper

In a large, heavy, and preferably non-stick pan heat oil. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Then add the green beans and cayenne pepper and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, potatoes and herbs. Pour tomatoes and their juices over the vegetables, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool or serve warm

I had all the ingredients from my garden except the onions which I bought at the Farmer's Market this morning. And I used a jar of tomato sauce from last year's garden in place of the crushed fresh tomatoes.

Then I washed it all down with a refreshing glass of mint and lemon verbena suntea that has been steeping on the porch. Very refreshing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

When I taught school, back a lifetime ago, it seemed like I had just settled in to the rhythm of the school year. I knew what to expect from the kids, they knew what to expect form me ... we were humming along productively growing each day. When all of a sudden the principal said, "It's time to prepare the course catalog for next year." NEXT year? I'm barely starting THIS year !

That came to mind yesterday as I made my annual pilgrimage across the field to the farmer with the sheep to start the process of preparing NEXT year's soil by acquiring some of his lamb manure. I've just now gotten the tomatoes in harness. The zucchinis are finally writing decent topic sentences. And off I go to start NEXT year's soil.Meanwhile, I got inspired to turn my OTHER compost pile ... the one that takes the vegetable scraps. It is never a pleasant thing to turn half decomposed garbage in the hot sun. I added some compost starter to about every 3 inches that I returned to the pile, and then watered it down. Look at that thermometer !!!! It was worth it.

The first runner bean blossom

I had about given up hope of ever seeing a blossom on these runner beans, when I heard a bee this morning in the garden and I let my eye follow the sound.

Oh the beauty !!!

Now I ask you, is this not worth waiting for? These are the garlic I have named Place Monge after the market in Paris where I acquired my first head of it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A basket full of fingerlings !!!

Simple Milestones

After many weeks of careful coaxing ("No, you don't want to wind around that piece of grass ... come over here to the chicken wire on the fence.") my morning glories have found their way to the garden gate

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Garlic Harvest Begins

As you can see from the above photo some of my softnecks have already fallen over. A sure sign that harvest time is near.

I try to operate on the 4-6 dead leaves rule. When the majority of the garlic in a particular variety are showing 4-6 dead leaves, then it is time to dig them up and let them cure. I did that last night with my Loiacona soft neck and my Ukranian hard neck. They are resting in the "curing shed."
It still feels a little early to be pulling up garlic in New England. Take a look at the Music porcelain variety. If I follow the 4-6 dead leaf rule, this puppy is ready for the shed. But the head itself is healthy and growing, showing no signs of having been in the ground too long. So I am tempted to leave the Musics in another week. If I follow the 4-6 dead leaf rule, this puppy is ready for the shed. But the head itself is healthy and growing, showing no signs of having been in the ground too long. So I am tempted to leave the Musics in another week.

From the Garden Gate July 8, 2008

The difference a week can make

I don't know about you, but I find that the garden jumps by leaps and bounds after a real rain. You can be THE most faithful waterer, but there is something about the gentle, steady rain that causes the plants ( and the weeds ) to explode.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

In between crops right now

There's not much happening in the way of harvest in the garden right now. Some lettuce leaves, radishes and a small offering of baby zucchini and peas. But soon it will be raining zucchini.

OLS Week #5

This week I decided to make a spinach omelet and dress it up with some French breakfast radishes. The eggs were from the Allen Farm, the spinach from Morning Glory and the French Breakfast radishes were from the garden.