Sunday, August 30, 2009

OLS ~ Week #13 Roasted Lamb Shanks with Cranberry Bean Ragout

So here it is the end of OLS for 2009. Many thanks to Virginia who edited the New England section, and to all the editors for their attention to our meals and to helping us share. And here is a shout out to Liz in Maine, who started this ball rolling in the summer of 2006. Good ideas have a way of sustaining themselves.
The bean that has 100 names, the one I call October Cranberry Bean (harvested in August ...go figure), has been arriving in profusion in my garden. It is a beauty.

I decided to pair it up with some local lamb shanks from the Allen Farm for a special OLS meal this week. ALL of the non meat ingredients, except the Morning Glory celery, and (of course) the olive oil, came from my garden.The thing I like about this recipe is that it can be done inside the outdoor grill, so you do not have to melt your house on a hot August afternoon. But be advised: It takes a minimum of 3 and a half hours to slow roast these shanks, so start early in the day.

I take my inspiration from Chef John at He has become the new voice in my kitchen. Here are the lamb shanks:

And to finish it off, Chef John suggests a white bean ragout in which I substituted the cranberry beans.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to Fundamentals

Prize winning tomatoes come from enriched soil. While the carousel pumped out a merry tune from the Fair grounds this weekend, I went about the hard work of building new soil for next year's tomatoes. Using fresh manure from a nearby farm (lamb), and grass clippings from my lawn, with a little rock phosphate and Azomite thrown in for good measure, I began layering and "cooking" the raw manure in an open bin.
That was Saturday. Today the compost thermometer registered 140 degrees. When it starts to cool, I will turn the pile into an empty bin and watch it heat up again.

Immortalizing the Champion

Before the "Special Award" "Blue Ribbon" Brandywine becomes the main ingredient in a Tomato Tart, I decided to make a little watercolor of it for posterity.

Scenes From the Fair

The Ag Fair this year had a little added excitement as TWO cows gave birth to bouncing baby boys (that would be bulls) DURING the Fair.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Earth's Voluptuaries

Once again, this morning's poem is a winner.

Vegetable Love

by Barbara Crooker

Feel a tomato, heft its weight in your palm,
think of buttocks, breasts, this plump pulp.
And carrots, mud clinging to the root,
gold mined from the earth's tight purse.
And asparagus, that push their heads up,
rise to meet the returning sun,
and zucchini, green torpedoes
lurking in the Sargasso depths
of their raspy stalks and scratchy leaves.
And peppers, thick walls of cool jade, a green hush.
Secret caves. Sanctuary.
And beets, the dark blood of the earth.
And all the lettuces: bibb, flame, oak leaf, butter-
crunch, black-seeded Simpson, chicory, cos.
Elizabethan ruffs, crisp verbiage.
And spinach, the dark green
of northern forests, savoyed, ruffled,
hidden folds and clefts.
And basil, sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.
And cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice
in the heart of August, month of fire.
And peas in their delicate slippers,
little green boats, a string of beads,
repeating, repeating.
And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon.

All over the garden, the whisper of leaves
passing secrets and gossip, making assignations.
All of the vegetables bask in the sun,
languorous as lizards.
Quick, before the frost puts out
its green light, praise these vegetables,
earth's voluptuaries,
praise what comes from the dirt.

"Vegetable Love" by Barbara Crooker, from Radiance. © Word Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Fair

Well despite the terrible case of late blight I was able to grow a Brandywine tomato that was even bigger than LAST year's biggest tomato. Then yesterday morning I spied a family of turkeys in my yard and I thought they MIGHT just want to nibble on it, so I brought it in last night and weighed it.I also decided to harvest the applesThis morning I was up early choosing the yellow beans and the green beans.
Deciding on the garlic.
And when everyone was ready, I lined them up on the stairs for the "class picture."
The Class of 2009

Now it is up to the judges.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

OLS ~ Week #11 Roasted Corn Chowder (with a bow to local celery)

So here we are in high summer. What better to celebrate than with a roasted corn chowder? I found the recipe in a cookbook that celebrates the 40 year career of local farmers at Morning Glory Farm.I bought every thing BUT the cream, the onion, sherry and the bacon from the folks at Morning Glory. I highly recommend this book and its recipes. The story is real and the recipes are top notch.

Oh and check out their blog !!!! HERE

A few words about local ingredients here. My chicken stock was made from the bones and necks I had been saving from my pastured poultry. I wish I had thought ahead and bought the bacon from a local provider. My butter was Kate's Homemade Butter from Old Orchard Beach, and the flour was King Arthur's from VT. As for the vegetables, I want to commend Morning Glory for growing celery. Local celery in New England is NOT a pretty sight. I have never had the courage to grow it, but I seldom cook without it. It is a petro intense luxury to be able to reach for the uniform bag of celery in the produce section. But I WILL for the rest of the season, try to buy mine locally. Local tomatoes and local corn FAR outshine their imported cousins this time of year, but local onions, and celery never look quite as good ... I plan to buy them anyway ...

Roasted Corn Chowder

6 ears corn, kernels sliced from the cob

1 TBSP olive oil

sea salt pinch

ground pepper

8 slices good quality bacon finely diced

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, 1/2 inch dice
2 medium onions, medium dice

4 stalks celery, medium diced
2 medium leeks, white part only, medium dice

1 red bell pepper
4 TBSP butter

6 TBSP flour
1/2 cup sherry

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 TBSP fresh thyme
1 TBSP fresh parsley

I preheated the outdoor gas grill to 400 to keep the heat OUT of the house. Toss the corn in olive oil, salt and pepper and layer on a sheet pan ( I used parchment paper) and roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Move the corn around half way through baking. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed 5-7 quart Dutch oven saute the bacon until crisp and golden. Remove with a spoon, pour off the grease except a small amount on the bottom for flavoring.
Add all the vegetables (except the corn) and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add butter and when melted stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes constantly stirring. Add sherry and stir.

Add the stock and bring to a slow boil. Boil slowly for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the roasted corn, heavy cream and final herbs. Reheat but DO NOT BOIL. S & P to taste. Serves 8-10

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vegetable Love

Once freed from the stalk, she raced across the garden, and threw her arms around her tall, dark, handsome lover. "Together at last she whispered."

an artichoke !!!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

OLS ~ Week #10

In my absence the poultry from a nearby farm kept pouring into a neighbor's "freezer in waiting." So the logical choice for this week's local meal was "local pastured poultry." I added to that some fresh Swiss chard and a zucchini sauteed in mint and garlic all from the garden, and I was a very happy locavore for a night.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Tomato Blight

I have not been writing about the garden because I am so disheartened by this terrible tomato blight that has ravaged my crop during my midsummer absence. Yes, I have fruit, but it is not resting in the arms of healthy plants. Moreover SOME of the early fruit is suffering from blossom TOP rot. I am tempted to harvest it all green and let it ripen on the mantle.But I have healthy potatoes. And my cucumber plants that I held back planting are just now starting to bear fruit as I had planned. The green beans are doing well as is the Swiss chard. So I should not complain, I suppose. BUT ... August is so about the tomatoes.

The beginnings of a summer harvest

The other success is the Brussels Sprouts. Back in March they had gotten very leggy and I had given them up as hopeless, but on a hunch I dumped two of the leggy ones in the ground and they thrived in the ground during a two week absence. When I returned I put the remaining sprouts, by then draped across the seed trays like La Grande Odalisque, deep into the ground and they too are doing very well.

I LIKED this morning's poem


by Ellie Schoenfeld

My country is this dirt
that gathers under my fingernails
when I am in the garden.
The quiet bacteria and fungi,
all the little insects and bugs
are my compatriots. They are
idealistic, always working together
for the common good.
I kneel on the earth
and pledge my allegiance
to all the dirt of the world,
to all of that soil which grows
flowers and food
for the just and unjust alike.
The soil does not care
what we think about or who we love.
It knows our true substance,
of what we are really made.
I stand my ground on this ground,
this ground which will
recruit us all
to its side.

"Patriotism" by Ellie Schoenfeld, from The Dark Honey. © Clover Valley Press, 2009. Published with permission. (buy now)