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There is no doubt: the blackberries have been more thoroughly pollinated this year than in the past twenty.
May’s drifts of snowy blossom are now bright berries, so heavy they’e bending the canes. Any idea why?
See my next post! (For Cobbler recipe, see http://shadygrovefarm.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/pie-is-love-also-food/ )
Easy – and you don’t need a fancy-schmancy ceramic garlic roaster, either. Use a whole bulb of garlic, and remove most of the papery outer wrapper. Snip the tip off each clove. Set the bulb on a square of aluminum foil, fold the corners up, and add a tablespoon of water. Fold the foil together and pinch to seal. Set on a baking sheet in a 325 oven for 15 minutes or until the cloves feel soft.
Let cool a bit, then just force the baked pulp out of each clove, onto a slice of toasted crusty bread. Spread, and add sliced tomato, basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and whatever else is handy.
But if you’re going to light the oven anyway, why not roast a dozen! Add the roasted (mellowed, sweet, rich) puree to homemade salad dressing, broth, pasta sauce, juiced vegetables, gravy, pesto, risotto, scrambled eggs or a marinade. Keep the extras in a covered container in the fridge.
Start water boiling for a pound of pasta. If this were me, it would be fettucine. Separate and peel cloves from a bulb of garlic – about a dozen. To peel easily, lay on cutting board, lay a knife flat over it and whap it with the heel of your hand. Remove skin, leaving cloves whole.
Start the pasta cooking. In a saute pan, heat a quarter inch of olive oil till it ripples, then add garlic and brown. Yes, brown! As long as it doesn’t char, it won’t be bitter. Then chop coarsely a big bunch of chives, add to oil, saute’ a few seconds and turn off heat.
The pasta will be nearly done: now ladle 2 cups of the cooking water into the pan of sauteed garlic. Season with a little fresh-ground black pepper. Drain the pasta and divide into 4 bowls. Top with crumbled Romano, or well-rinsed Feta, then spoon the garlic and broth over all.
The small amount of starch in the cooking water carries the flavor better than just adding seasonings to the pasta, yet it’s a light sauce. You could add a few peeled, chopped ripe tomatoes, or fold in some soft goat cheese. But it’s excellent as is: a first course, side dish or main meal.
Simmer 12 cloves garlic, 6 sprigs fresh sage, 2 bay leaves, a celery heart, 12 cracked black peppercorns, and 2 tbsp olive oil in 6 cups water, covered, for ten minutes. Strain, mashing garlic to release flavor.
Spoon a cup of the broth over a slice of day-old country bread and top with a poached egg.
Or use the savory meatless broth in any soup recipe. Store in a glass jar in fridge up to 2 weeks.
1. Peel and coarsely chop 4 or 5 cloves, and cook in butter over low heat until soft. Add some chopped fresh parsley, and toss over pasta. Top with grated hard cheese.
2. Peel cloves of garlic and split lengthwise in 4′s. Make slits in any thick cut of meat you are preparing, and insert slivers of garlic – 2 or 3 per planned serving – then proceed with roasting or grilling.
3. Peel 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, and puree in blender with one-half cup each mayonnaise and buttermilk. Season with cracked black pepper. Use as a dressing on blanched, chilled vegetables.
4. Toast some slices of crusty bread lightly. Then spread with a mixture of 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup shredded parmesan, 3 tbsp minced flatleaf parsley, 2 tsp ground black pepper and 4 finely minced cloves of garlic. Set under broiler just till golden. This is the definitive answer to soggy “garlic bread.”
5. Peel and mince coarsely 5 or 6 cloves of garlic. Toss in a quarter inch of hot olive oil, being careful not to scorch them, till they’re brown and crisp. Pour them, oil and all, over steamed broccoli.
To celebrate the return of my Nikon Coolpix (sorely missed) from a fine, fast repair service, an image series for you. Click to enlarge.
Also celebrating by reading Richard Heinberg’s The End of Growth, which we may hope will also signal the end, forever, of ”Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy a new one?” Which is what everyone said about the camera.
Also celebrating with a new header. High time, but heck – it could have snowed in May!
You are all friends, so I say this without fear of sounding condescending. (It will sound condescending, I just don’t fear it. ) I chuckle at NYT Food writers all of a sudden “discovering” things that I’ve been promoting since 1996, like Green Garlic, or Epazote. Like this makes them so cool. (It’s like 7th graders and sex: okay guys, you discovered it, you didn’t invent it.) This week, it’s foraging in your own yard. I won’t even include the link. You don’t need it, you have me.
Yesterday at Market, all 5 lb of Lambsquarters I brought were sold: some to brave new customers (hope you love’em), some to long-familiar cooks. So we (ahem) are ahead of a lot of Times readers, writers and their pet chefs.
It’s been a while since my last Recipe page, and Lambsquarters are good right now, so here. Recipes call for a half pound, which is the size bag I sell. In the country this quantity is termed a “cooking mess.”
“Spinach” Crepes with Goat Cheese
1. Queso Blanco: mild, crumbly, fast-to-make.
In a copper bottomed stock pot, heat 2 quarts fresh goat’s milk to 180 and keep hot ten minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar. You will see the curd start to separate. Line a strainer with a large coffee filter or clean white handkerchief. Ladle curds and whey in and leave for an hour. Turn curds into a bowl and add 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Toss to mix thoroughly, and refrigerate till ready to use. Let stand at room temp while you do the other stuff.
3. Blanch lambsquarters just till bright green and limp. Drain well, reserving a cup of liquid, and turn out on cutting board. Chop very fine, cutting in several different directions until all leaves and stems are reduced to quarter-inch pieces or smaller.
4. Chop a medium onion very fine. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saute’ pan, add onion and saute till soft and golden-brown. Add lambsquarters, and season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little cayenne. Add reserved blanching liquid, cover, reduce heat and simmer ten minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Turn off and cover.
1. I am not going to tell you how to make crepes. Make a dozen unsweetened ones. Stack on a plate and keep warm. Or make ahead and refrigerate.
5. When the greens and cheese are done, fill crepes by spreading 2 tbsp cheese along one side, then top with greens, and roll up. Lay side by side in a shallow baking dish: may make 2 layers.
6. You can warm them a little and serve as is: or, top with a rich bechamel sauce, some shredded Swiss cheese and place under a broiler for a few minutes.
“Saag” with Lambsquarters
Among my favorite Indian recipes are those featuring Saag. These include Saag Aloo (potatoes), Saag Paneer (cheese) and Saag Ghosht (lamb stew). It’s been explained to me that Saag is a general term for various tender cooking greens, some of them foraged, that are available in India. Western-adapted recipes call for chopped frozen spinach, or for chopping and sauteeing fresh. Prepare Lambsquarters as for the crepe recipe above, and omit the seasoning: then use as spinach in any Saag recipe. Lambsquarters will be a little more substantial than spinach: I don’t consider this a bad thing.
Chop 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, or a stalk of green garlic, coarsely. Saute’ in 1/8 inch olive oil till golden and sizzling. Add washed and coarsely chopped lambsquarters, with some water still on leaves, reduce heat, cover and cook till a fork goes through them easily. Serve over cooked pasta (I like fettucine) and top with crumbled Feta.
Korean-Style “Spinach” Salad
Blanch whole lambsquarters just till bright green and limp, then drain quickly and plunge into ice water. Let stand till cooled, then drain, squeezing out as much water as possible. Toss with 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp each garlic powder and cayenne (or if you have green garlic and chiles, chop very fine and throw ‘em in), 1 tbsp soy sauce, and top with sesame seeds. This is great over cold rice on a hot day. It keeps a long time because of the sesame oil, which is a natural preservative.
The image above, if I do say so myself, is a very accurate one of Lambsquarters. So now you may find it in your own garden. Just snap stalks where they’re tender. Cut it back like Basil to keep it leafy, and leave a plant to self-sow in Fall, in a spot that won’t be disturbed.
Three years ago my friend (and occasional barn/fence/tractor carpenter/mechanic) Steve announced, to everyone’s delight, that he had set up 2 beehives in his City yard. I’ve been following his learning process, progress and setbacks with the same concern he brings to mine with goats.
Bees have fascinated me since age 5. Mother handled all encounters with Nature alike: “You mustn’t get mad at the bee.” It was afraid of me, I had stepped on it, and it died from stinging – to a child’s mind, terribly unfair. Then the 1958 National Geographic with those incredible closeups. And one day in the woods, not long before my family left Columbia Station for Cleveland Heights, a sound like a tractor from the edge of a field where no tractor should be, and a swarm the size of a soccer ball weighting down a large maple limb.
In 1988 when I found the ravines here lined with Black Locust trees, heavy in Spring with creamcolored blossoms and honey fragrance, beehives were a logical thought. But something else always came first. The way horses and dogs accumulated was a caution. I resisted turning into one of those nut-job rural outfits with peacocks, llamas, potbellied pigs and a mud lawn. Goats were a sound investment for the terrain, but more lives to be responsible for.
4 years and 3 kidding seasons in, the goats are settled. Down to 3 horses and 2 dogs, the day’s rhythm is sustainable even in weather extremes. So early this Spring, when a stack of old hive boxes turned up in the cellar of an abandoned house nearby, it seemed like time to add 1 new species to my cares.
My old 3-bay Central Compost Facility moved to the barnyard, leaving a space down out of the wind, open to the East but shaded at midday by a dozen locust trees. Bees would have a clear flight path out over the valley to the ravine and pond. The spot gets early sunrise, never suffers in drought, and in locust bloom season, looks like a heavy snow.
“Everything will happen faster than you expect,” goes a maxim in technology. Who would have thought, after the sunny day I spent scraping and priming those old hives, that an excited call from Alaina would announce that they had captured a swarm in their yard, and that Steve would be bringing it the next day?
So a heavy (3 lb), vigorous colony settled into a loaner hive, till the paint dries on my recycles. Then, when these tireless urban beekeepers saw the potential in locust bloom, two more hives from their backyard arrived. One has a honey super, so there may even be some pale, delicate Spring honey to reward them for scrambling to make this happen. For me, reward enough, 3 or 4 times daily, to observe the coming and going, the colors of pollen, the change in sounds as they respond to a scout message, or settle for the night.
When the camera is back from repair, I’ll let you see the Bee Yard in its lovely setting. For now, some archive images of what the foragers have been finding. More about Steve & Alaina’s beekeeping in all its trials, successes and beauty, at http://pasztphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Bees/12270969_NqhDFb#!i=875419354&k=ZbC2b
No, trips to the barn don’t leave a lot of gardening time. Yes, the goats are fine. (Kids = still 18)
Some Winter, huh? People ask, “Do you believe in global warming?” as if it were a doctrine. It’s not, it’s science, which means it’s based on evidence, which may or may not be complete, or correct, and future science may find contrary evidence.
For now, I accept scientific evidence (including my own observations) that climate is changing. Whether it is due to human activity, you can debate. But what to do if it is (reduced consumption, sustainable farming practices, and use less fossil fuel and more muscle power) are all things that make sense anyway. And those trying to persuade us we don’t need to do those things, stand to profit if we don’t. Which calls for skepticism.
Regardless: if all were implemented today, none would make a difference anytime soon, out here. (Already doing the sustainable-farming part) So nothing is left but to deal with it.
And, uncertainty means paying attention – observation, recording, experimentation, adaptation – in short, science. Wonder if the first real scientist wasn’t a farmer? Debate that.
A few weeks ago, did I mention that yearling does Lefty & Rap would probably just have single kids this season? Was there something about Columbine “reliably twinning”? What about Jonquil having had “unusual” twins her first breeding season and triplets her second?
All right, here’s the scorecard:
1-21, Hyacinth, triplets, 1 buck, 2 does
1-21, Edie, triplets, 2 bucks, 1 doe – 1 stillborn, the other two died shortly after birth
1-22, Jonquil, triplets, 2 bucks, 1 doe
1-23, Columbine, triplets, 3 bucks
1-25, Lefty, twins, 2 does
1-26, Aggie – I should make you scroll down to the picture and count them as family and friends had to do with my late night e-mail – no – Aggie, quadruplets, 1 buck, 3 does.
Nightshade, Rap and Trillium are left to kid. And before you congratulate us, speculate about the SGF water supply, or request Nobel’s autograph: yes, 15 live kids out of 18 for 6 does make an impressive tally. Never mind the quads, which even with the prolific Boer occur in only .9% of cases.
No, impressive or not, it’s not all good news. Doe goats normally have two functional teats. So with triplets, one of two things happens: one kid gets left out, usually the smallest or least aggressive, and fails to thrive: or the doe strives womanfully to feed them all (like Jonquil last year) and winds up depleted herself.
And, I bear the full responsibility for any such problems!! Only now do I learn that multiple births (and overlarge kids like Edie’s, causing birth trauma and losses) are owing to overfeeding, especially of grain, which is too rich for this thrifty species’ normal diet.
For now, these hardworking females will get their full ration, plus daily tonic, to make the best of their huge flock. But when the kids are weaned, I will re-work my feeding program. My overfeeding came out of 1. ignorance, 2. misplaced pride in a sleek, well-fed flock, 3. over-reaction to some horror stories of neglect and ill-judged thrift on other farms 4. worry that the low goats don’t get enough. Which, if Lefty’s twins are any indication, hasn’t been a problem!
Okay, okay, you want pictures! But first, a full measure of gratitude, tamped down and flowing over, to (in chronological order) Pam, Charleigh, Steve, Ken, Jess, Charlie, Julie, Larry and Genia, for help, patience, milk replacer, pocketknives, cheer, gloves, information, blankets, insight, sandwiches, chocolate cake, and soup! Ken especially, for 2 late chilly evenings, flashlights and more of a learning experience than you bargained for! I owe ya one and will be there for the alpacas!
Okay, readers – this is my Christmas card! Enjoy!
Writing’s been a little blocked the last couple of weeks. On December 20 our Mom Rosemary died, age 99, after a very good life, but then a gradual and what must have been for her, heartbreaking decline. So although we were relieved to see her at rest and at peace, Christmas was, well, subdued.
In the two weeks we spent going back and forth to her bedside (and two of my sisters spent at her bedside) a lot of pre-Christmas stuff just didn’t happen, including blogging. Can’t complain that it didn’t snow, and that temperatures have been mercifully mild, but there’s also been a shortage of sparkly frosty scenes. Then I thought, what better seasonal images than those below?
Tamales are traditional Christmas fare in Northern Mexico, for logical reasons. Corn has always been associated with divinity in this culture, and the wrapped husks recall the swaddled Christ Child. When Fall ends, the hogs have been butchered, the lard rendered, the corn processed with lime into tender masa flour, the chiles harvested and dried and the husks cleaned and sorted.
Then, tamales are best made in a gathering, and the hours of steaming allow for a perfect warm, relaxing visit. Thank you, Steve and Alaina, for your beautiful efficient kitchen, your bright home, and a friendship that begs to be shared over good food.
So you don’t have to click back thru ancient posts after kidding starts, to see which does are which, I took advantage of a sunny evening to just hang out with them a while and get some new images.
About why the yearlings don’t have botanical names like the rest: the smaller of the two, before they were named, used to doze off, or get absorbed in her browsing or cudding, and then panic when the rest of the herd, including her sister, went down over the hill without her. So, “Raptured” and “Left Behind.”
Does someone have a book out by that name? Too bad. Most garden books, if you sort out the actual new content (season extension, herbs, raised beds etc) could be condensed into an article about as long as one of these posts.
A few rules, based on my 50+ years’ garden experience
Rule # 1. Get out of the wet socks. Doesn’t matter if you have 18 things to do, and can’t decide which should be first. Once you have dry socks on, everything else will be more fun.
Rule #2. For the first half hour before doing anything fun, pick up trash, sort and stack stuff. You make your work easier, plus whatever you do next will definitely be more enjoyable. Remind yourself, “This is for me. It’s not for my second-grade teacher.”
Rule #3. Pick something fun. ( I picked shifting compost) If it’s not the highest priority, while you’re doing it you’ll think of whatever is. Yesterday, that turned out to be pulling the weed stalks from the former Garlic rows. As it happened, I needed them to refill the Accumulation section of the Central Compost Facility after I shifted the Working pile to the Sifting section, and the old Accumulation to the Working section.
Rule #4. You want four rules?When my friend Newton supervised the loading area of a local bakery, he enacted two: “If something is falling on you, get out of the way,” and “Give Harold [the biggest, surliest route salesman] whatever he wants.” 3 rules are enough for anybody.