Sunday, August 31, 2008

One Local Summer: Week #13

I decided on a real local feast for the grand finale. Early in the season I had purchased a leg of lamb from Mermaid Farm about a half mile away. Alan and Caitlin's sheep graze in various sites in my neighborhood in the spring so I feel like I really know this flock. I boned the lamb, trimmed it of fat and marinated it in some olive oil garlic and rosemary. As I was working with the meat, I thought about how much fuel it takes to move most of the lamb I eat from New Zealand to here, and I was left with the question of WHY a leg of lamb from a half mile away costs twice as much as one from New Zealand. I know some of the answers ... economy of scale, etc. but I decided that the more we invest in these local producers and give them a market they can rely on, the closer they will come to being able to pass savings back to us. Despite these misgivings, I have to say this was one FABULOUS tasting leg of lamb. Must be terroir. TO this I added my own additions. Each August I make a sage potato dish that is just great. I have a little Creuset terrine that is just big enought to make a scant portion ofr two, but any cast iron casserole with a top will do. I drizzle some olive oil on the bottom, sprinkle some sea salt and then press fresh sage leaves into the salt and oil mixture to cover the bottom of the pan. I cut the potatoes in half and press them into the sage and salt and cook at 400 for maybe 35 minutes. Soooooo good.

To the roasted potatoes I added some green beans and grilled zucchini. And VOILA, Week #13.Many thanks to Kim who has been there every week encouraging us along with her wonderful reports of our attempts. I feel like I know more "fellow travelers" here in New England and have a new set of wonderful blogs to follow both nearby and around the country.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Fair Results

Well the Agricultural Fair was last week, and with it comes both the pinnacle of a season's work and the realization that it is time to start planning for next year. This garden brought home five (count them 5!) blue ribbons. The two of which I am most proud are the ones in garlic, I entered two heads of Montana Giant, and in biggest tomato. At 1 pound 10.3 ounces, Big Zac came through again as the winner.

On the third day of the Fair I went to check on Zac and he was GONE!!! Apparently he had started to pass from ripening to the next stage, and when I inquired as to his whereabouts, I was told he had been fed to the pigs. It somehow seems like just the right thing to have done. And the fate of Big Zac reinforced my decision to slice and enjoy my ripe Cavillion melons rather than enter them in the Fair. The melons have been breakfast fare all week. A sweet reward.

Monday, August 25, 2008

OLS Week#12 - A Vegetable Soup with a Touch of Provence

This week I made a vegetable soup. the leeks and carrots were from Morning Glory Farm and the rest was from my own garden. I have put an asterisk next to the non local ingredients in case you want to add them. It is an adaptation of a recipe in Martha Rose Schulman's Provencal Light.

Vegetable Soup with Pistou

2 cups of greens beans broken into 1 inch pieces
2 medium sized zucchini diced
1 large onion chopped
6 large cloves of garlic minced
2 large carrots chopped
*1 celery ribs chopped
2 leeks, white part only, washed and sliced
*2 medium sized turnips peeled and diced
1 pound (450 gr) medium sized new potatoes diced
1 pound tomatoes ( 450 gr) skinned seeded and chopped
3 quarts (3 liters) water
A bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, bay leaf and a parmesean rind*
Salt and pepper to taste.

¼ pound ( 115 gr) macaroni, fusilli, vermicelli or broken spaghetti*

1 recipe low fat pistou (recipe follows)

Set aside ½ of the green beans and ½ of the zucchini. Combine all the ingredients (except the pistou) in a soup pot, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Add the reserved green beans and zucchini and the pasta. Cook 10 minutes more or until pasta is al dente.

Serve in wide soup bowls and top each with a serving of the pistou to be stirred into the soup.

You CAN make the soup in advance up to adding the beans, zucchini and pasta.

Low Fat Pistou

2 cups freshly packed basil leaves (75 gr)
¼ tsp salt
2 large garlic cloves
1 medium tomato peeled and seeded
*1 Tbsp olive oil
1 oz (30 gr) grated Parmesan

Place the basil and salt in the bowl of a food processor fixed with the steel blade and turn it on. Drop in garlic cloves and run until all is finely chopped.

Turn off the machine and scrape the leaves down the sides of the bowl. Turn on again and add the tomato and the oil. Puree until smooth. Removes and stir in Parmesan. Transfer to a covered jar and refrigerate until serving.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Ag Fair

The Class of 2008

In the end I entered ten different items in the Fair this morning. Now it is in the hands of the judges

All the

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a slice of honey

Of all of my achievements in the garden this summer, I am most proud of these two melons. I brought the seed back from a melon I had in Paris two summers ago called "tranche de miel." Yesterday I picked the two largest and have been agonizing over whether to enter them in the Fair or just eat them. They smelled perfectly ripe, and I was afraid that 5 days in the exhibit hall and I would have 2 over ripe melons. So I opted for flavor instead of glory and had half of the smaller one for breakfast this morningOMG !!!!!!!

The flavor simply explodes inside your mouth. It is almost like drinking a fine wine at the peak of its storage. There is subtlety and after taste and resolved and unresolved sugars. It is pure ambrosia.

Meanwhile, Big Zac continues to ripen on the vine. The countdown to glory continues.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomato Bliss - The Italian Sweet

The Italian Sweet is a bear to grow, but the reward in flavor is indescribable. They are prone to blossom end rot. I have probably heaved 8 of them into the compost pile already. So when I found a ripe one this morning, I could not resist eating it for breakfast. OMG !!! How do I describe the flavor ? "What a tomato ought to taste like?"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

OLS Week #11

While I probably ate more local food for the week as a total last week, I never did get around to posting a fully local meal. THIS week I am relying on a Greek dish made with zucchini, local eggs and onions from the garden. We are all looking for good zucchini solutions this time of year. In addition to this weeks Greek offering and the ones I have listed from past years, here is a new recipe that I served last week that was well received as a backyard appetizer when sliced into bite size pieces.

Zucchini Appetizer

4 C grated zucchini
1 C Bisquick
4 eggs
1/2 C parmesan ( or more)
1/4 C oil
*1/2 t oregano or Italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C finely chopped onion
2 T parsley

Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the zucchini and parsley. Add at the end mixing thoroughly.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes minimum in a 9x12 lasagna pan.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Establishing territory

I need to be away from the garden this weekend, and the tomatoes are of course FINALLY ripening. So I decided I could not leave my garden unprotected. Two years ago Kate and Jonah helped me make a scarecrow, and I still have the parts we used. All it takes is a little straw and duct tape, and soon you have a scarecrow.

Be sure to put the shirt on the cross piece BEFORE you tape the crosspiece together

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When to pick

Yesterday I picked one of my "tranche de miel" Charentais melons. It was too soon. The advice I have been picking up is to wait for a bit of a golden hue to the skin ... or to wait for the leaf next to the melon to turn yellow. I did neither of these. But I have four left on the vine and I shall wait patiently.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Taylor-Bray Farm

I took a delightful side trip on my excursion to Cape Cod this weekend for a wedding. I visited the Taylor-Bray Farm in Yarmouth Port. It sits on the edge of a salt marsh and dates back to 1639. There are community vegetable gardens on the property, and I couldn't keep from taking some pictures.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Big Zac

OK with three weeks left until the Fair, I have a VERY special tomato in the wings for biggest tomato competition this year. I added the lens cap for comparison.