Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Sign of Summer

There are no lack of signs of summer around a farm.  There are the crops, of course.  And the fast growing ducks reach their adult size and coloring.

But it is a certain plant that announces the new season as unambiguously as a dinner bell.

And no, it is not the roses.  They are out, but have been out for a while at this point.

My personal, most reliable indicator is a poisonous weed so distasteful that even the sheep leave it alone.  (And they love poison ivy.)   It is foxglove.  And every year its purplish/pinkish flowers with speckled throats let me know that spring is indeed over, and summer has begun.  

It is a biennial, so don't look for it in the same spot as last year.

Alternative Sign of Summer: Raccoons become parents, as did the one who left these prints behind at a friend's this morning.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pea Shoots and Garlic/Onion Scapes

The Pea Shoot (with Blossoms)

Pea shoots are Kingsley's favorite. He likes them even more than peas.  They are crunchy and can be eaten raw.  We often munch on them while working in the fields.

According to Washington State University:"   Pea shoots are considered a “green.” Green leafy vegetables are typically nutrient-dense. This means that for very few calories you get large amounts of vitamins and minerals."

The most important information is to enjoy them today, or keep them refrigerated in an open bag for tomorrow.

To use them:
Rinse pea shoots in cool water, drain and let dry. Remove any stems that look coarse. Pea shoots can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. To cook, place damp pea shoots in an empty saucepan over medium heat. The water clinging to the damp shoots is enough to steam them.Cover and heat just until wilted.
  • Add raw pea shoots to a tossed salad.,or as a garnish to any dish, beautiful!
  • Serve  fresh  pea shoots with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Add pea shoots to any stir-fry or soup near the end of cooking time.
  • Toss wilted pea shoots with sprinkles of ginger and sugar to taste.

See  full article here.
Garlic/Onion Scapes
Garlic/Onion Scapes can be interchanged with scallions or chives in any recipe you like, including being sautéed.  Many prefer their mild flavor. Below is one recipe:

8 chicken thighs, preferaby organic. (You can use 4 leg quarters and divide them into thighs and drumsticks.)
4 cloves garlic.
2 preserved lemons
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
15-20 scapes, depending on size.

Use garlic, onion, or a mixture. Clean and cut into 1″ lengths.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the garlic cloves. remove the pulp from the preserved lemons, rinse the rind, and chop it into pieces about the size of matchheads. Make a paste of the garlic, salt, and preserved lemon rind and rub it into the chicken.

In a 9x13″ roasting pan, toss the scapes with the olive oil, and set the seasoning-rubbed chicken thighs on top in a single layer and ad half a cup of water to the pan. Roast at 400 degrees until the thighs are cooked and beautifully bronzed on top, usually about 40 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness.

Serve with plain cooked bulgur, putting a thigh or two and a spoonful of scapes and juices on top of each serving of bulgur. Very easy and delicious, and healthy too. You can use rice, but a nutty grain (such as bulgar) tastes better with the preserved lemons.