Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Greens and the Strawberry Moon

Since it is still early in the season, (happy first full week of summer) we are eating lots of greens. It's too bad that we can't start out the season with some standards of the vegetable world, like cucumbers or tomatoes. If the season allowed that, then we would SLOWLY ease our CSA members into the more adventurous vegetables. We would transition from lettuce and spinach to Asian greens and eventually kohlrabi, working up to the challenge. But that is not the way the season swings unfortunately. No, we drop you patient people right into Sorrel and Raab!
This week for the harvest, we have:
Pac Choi
Garlic Scapes

So, still lots of leafy greens... But just as some of our long term CSA members attest to, I claim addiction to greens, and it goes way back to my very first forays in the world of gardening. I realize that the word addiction is a strong one, and I would not want to offend anyone.

 In 2000 and 2001 I worked part time at a homeless shelter in Tuscon, Arizona and there were some people there certainly struggling with addiction. Part of my work in Tucson was in a large urban farm called at the time the Farmacy Garden. I would harvest large bundles of chard and kale (this was winter in Arizona) and use it to cook meals for the folks at the shelter. Most of the homeless community much preferred the donuts, coffee, and processed comfort food to what I was cooking up, but by "serving" others, I was probably more honestly exploring my own issues. (Which, some might say, is the great payment in unpaid labor.)

 In any case, I started eating really healthy greens, and lots of them. The food shared in this environment made some of the best meals in my memory, and I started to develop a conviction and a healthy addiction to eating fresh food.

One of those hard-working greens is called chard, and we are distributing it this week. It is a little like a big beet green since it is in the same family as beets, but the flavor is not very similar. It makes a great sautee, and will leave lots of flavorful juice in the pan. It was one of the first greens I became addicted to, back in the bachelor days: Get a pan hot with oil, throw in a diced tomato (from a can, since its not season yet), then the chopped up chard, then just as everything is wilted and simmering in juice (maybe 5 minutes), crack a couple eggs into it and let them poach in the juices. Add some vinegar and or soy sauce, and its done. That's vintage bachelor John cooking! (and that is called a caveat!)

Pac Choi is another one. We had this once before already, but its a great early summer vegetable: crunchy, juicy, and great flavor. If you do a recipe search beware that Pac Choi, Bok Choy, Pak Choi are all the same thing!

Kohlrabi-- This is unfortunately neglected as a staple vegetable. We are here to change that! Kohlrabi tastes like the stem of broccoli without the stringiness. Raw or cooked it is mild and healthy. It can keep in your refrigerator for a long time... but don't forget about it back there. Easy to eat raw with some dip.
You can eat all parts of all of these vegetables.

After all that work with greens, you have the dessert you deserve: Strawberries. This year, the harvesting hits us right on the full moon of its name.
Just a couple years after discovering the Farmacy Garden, I found myself with Stacy, desperately trying to find my way through our first season in Maine . And then too, the greens did not let me down.

(This is Stacy here...I'm not sure where John is headed with the last part, and I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I'm sure it was going to be something sweet. Anyhow, he left we with the task of inserting photos.  and getting this harvest list out to you all. The bugs are arriving, the weeds are in full effect and there are berries to be picked. ...he's back in the field. Blessings on the meal, Stacy) And John.

 PS...Flora has opened what she calls a store within a store.

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