July comes on us with so much lushness, but utter surprise that we are turning the calendar page already. We play this little game with each other .... "Would you rather....?" have it be 95 and sunny or raining everyday for the rest of your life?
Those appear to be our only 2 weather patterns. It is, alas, getting tiring... The novelty of farming for our first season interns has worn off. The reality that the weeds grow and grow and grow and appear to love the rain and the bugs eat and eat, and we farmers harvest and harvest has set it. There are days that run together in their monotony. Tomato trellising for days; diving down deep into the giant zucchini bed for fruits everyday so as not to miss too many (one can only use so many baseball sized zucchinis); the list is always full. The season is running its course, but there is still plenty of time to make mistakes. Its too early to be dreaming of winter... one of those afternoon snowstorms which we watch from the wood-stove... on the couch with a movie with hot chocolate... The phenomenon of manic summers and still winters is part of the appeal of farming. I wonder if our interns know that, or if all they see is the crazy rush of the growing season?
The Farming Season's big picture is still coming together for those who are living it for the first time. I love to watch our returning crew members as they remember patterns, settle in to routines and remember the sweet excitement of sharing the first ripe tomato or watermelon, warm from the field. There is a true joy in seeing the smile of a tired, new farmer as they try something fresh from the field that they have planted.
I also love to watch our new crew pull together a beautiful floral design for a wedding and their joy in setting it all up and admiring the farm-to-table flower magic. Their hands planted those seeds, harvested those blooms and then turned them into something admirable for an acquaintance's special day.
But tucked in all this comfort and love for the adventure we have chosen, is an intense need to take a breath, enjoy a touch of summer and continue to appreciate what all this work affords.....good food, endless beauty, meaningful connections with our community.
Last night, we took ourselves to town for a little date night. Thanks to a lovely little gift from some dear friends (who happened to be eating at the same restaurant!) we settled in to a spot at the bar at the Blue Spoon for supper. It was so good. I won't bore you with all the details of the meal but suffice to say, I licked my plate clean. Eating at the bar somehow creates a sense of intimacy with the kitchen. The chef is so accessible right there in the open kitchen. It was the "farmer's greens" that got me. (John had semantic issues with the naming of the dish, but he also loved it.) I leaned in and poured out my enthusiasm and then boldly asked if I could have the recipe to share with my CSA members. This dish, I tell you, takes pac choi to a level that will please even the most resistant of eaters. The whole time I was eating, all I could think about was how much more exciting pac choi had just become and if all of you could taste it the way I was tasting it, just maybe, we wouldn't have any left on the shelves. Eating a dish prepared by someone other than us, made with something we have in abundance, that tastes so good is a kind of joyful awakening I'll never tire of. Even if this hadn't been a generous gift, we have never regretted spending good money on good food, even though our walk-in cooler is bursting at the seams with the same ingredients!
I was assured that this dish can be made using any greens. The greens are lightly sauteed in olive oil with the garlic and shallot. The greens are removed from the pan and set aside. Then, the wine is added and the pan is deglazed from cooking the greens. The vegetable stock is added and heated up. The cream and cheese are added once the stock is hot and then...to quote the chef "you stir the shit out of it" until it is a creamy sauce, much like what you would put on top of mac and cheese. Mix the cheese sauce with the greens and add the salt and pepper to taste. You will never think twice about grabbing the pac choi again. (John thinks it could be called, "Farmer's Everything" since it probably would work with anything and everything coming in from the Farmer's Farm.) Thank you Blue Spoon! You guys fed us well.
This week's harvest:
2 heads of lettuce
cilantro or dill
zucchini and summer squash
Blessings on the meal,