When we were running the family catering business, we often repeated the phrase, “The eyes eat first” – meaning that our food had to look good as well as taste good. “The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle” is a feast for the eyes as well as an inspiration to savor traditional recipes with a modern twist. I have the pleasure of receiving a review copy and being able to offer one to a lucky reader as we head into the perfect time to experiment with these farm to table options.
The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle
The Nourished Kitchen cookbook is written by Jennifer McGruther of www.nourishedkitchen.com, an award winning traditional foods website. Her years of managing a farmers market and teaching traditional food preparation shine through in this beautiful new book.
What’s in the book? [Read more…]
Last week I started posting strawberry recipes, but I didn’t say a whole lot about where we got our strawberries. I figured this week I’d do a couple more strawberry posts, first sharing a bit about our strawberry picking adventures, and then wrapping up with another “how-to” post on preserving berries.
Strawberry season ran late in our area due to an awfully cold spring. The boys and I first went picking on July 8th, weeks later than the season would normally start. Our first stop for berries was Kraynik’s Berry Farm, just north of Hwy 29 and less than ten minutes from our home. If you’re heading east on 29 between Green Bay and Kewaunee, just look for the big red berries.
Kraynik’s also has U-pick peas and raspberries, which should be starting up shortly, if they haven’t started already. Normally the peas are ready much earlier, but the owners said that when they would have normally been planting, the field was under a foot of snow, and went they went to plant a second time, it was under standing water. I know the feeling…
Here are boys, all fired up and ready to get picking (well, maybe not so much, but they know it’s their job).
I wish you could have smelled the air in the berry patch. The sun was shining and the berries were sweet and juicy due to the heat and rain. The only downside was that it had been a little too wet, and there were quite a few rotten berries as well.
Here’s Todd, the owner, weighing up our berries. Pretty reasonably priced, IMO.
Here he is posing with the truck where they store the berry boxes. Kraynik’s moves the stand to the field where the berries are currently being picked.
After a couple of hours in the hot sun, the boys and I went out for custard, just like my mom and I used to do when I was a kid.
Our second round of picking was at Wilfert’s, just south of Mishicot. I like to visit Wilfert’s later in the season, as their berries tend to be larger than Kraynik’s as the season progresses.
The local growers don’t spray much, maybe because the cold kills off a lot of the bugs. These folks only spray once during blossom set, unlike many commercial growers. Apparently 50 different pesticides are used on strawberries, making them one of most sprayed fruit crops. We ran into more rotten strawberries here, too, and the boys had a tough time picking. You can see the berries were very soft, and my hands got quite stained.
Wilfert farm sells out of a large building where they also sell other produce, and they post regular updates on their site and to their Facebook page. I picked up some peas, cauliflower and kohlrabi.
Like I told the boys, it’s more work to pick your own, but it a good way to help support your local farmers. I’m sure local growers have struggled with the weather just like I have, and their incomes are probably lagging well behind where they ought to be by this time of year. You’ll never beat the freshness of something you’ve picked yourself. PickYourOwn.org lists dozens of farms throughout the United States, and some from around the world. If you can’t grow it yourself, pick your own is the next best thing.
If you have fresh strawberries available, check out my recipes for Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake made with Almond Flour, Low Sugar Honey Sweetened Strawberry and Strawberry Banana Jam, Old Fashioned Strawberry-Banana and Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, and Gluten Free Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble.
I had the opportunity to babysit my neighbors asparagus patch for two weeks earlier this season, and I was blessed with a bounty of asparagus like I have never seen. The photo above was just one picking – and it kept coming! For those who are not asparagus savvy, you need to keep the spears harvested during the production season, otherwise they will get tall and produce seed, and you will have no more asparagus to harvest. Thus, I was over picking every two to three days to keep the plants producing. The neighbors have a lovely 100+ year old farmhouse, and four different asparagus patches around the yard. As I was picking, the fresh spears looked so good that I decided to try one raw for the first time. It was really good! It tasted very much like fresh picked green peas, without much of the stronger “asparagus” taste that puts many people off. I ate several more. Since there was such a bounty, I used several methods of preserving asparagus. [Read more…]
Alas, my ground outside is still very much covered with snow and ice, and here I am ogling greens seeds old and new. I love the variety you can find by shopping through seed catalogs.
This years planned greens include:
- Lettuce – Rocky Top Mix
- Lettuce – Red Romaine
- Amaranth – Joseph’s Coat
- Lettuce – Really Red Deer Tongue
- Lettuce – Blushed Butter Cos
- Lettuce – Summerlong Gourmet Mix
- Mache – Verte de Cambre
- Spinach – Bloomsdale Long Standing
- Spinach – Bordeaux
- Minutina – Erba de Stella
- Strawberry Spinach (saved seed)
- Spinach (saved seed)
- Kale – Dinosaur (Lacinato)
- Swiss Chard – Five Color Silverbeet
- Kale – Nero de Tuscana
- Kale – Red Russian
- New Zealand Spinach
- Bok Choy – Ching Chang
- Chinese Cabbage – Michili
To get a jump on the season, I’ve got an indoor planting bench and a small greenhouse attached to the house. This year, I decided to try something different and pre-sprouted and grew out some pea seeds just for use as greens. The tender tops and little tendrils make a nice salad addition.
To sprout my peas, I placed them in a wide mouth mason jar, covered them with water and the sprouting strainer lid, and let them soak overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse and leave them on the counter for a few days, rinsing once or twice a day. By the end of they week, you’ve got something like this:
As you can see, the peas have developed mice little root systems. Some of them haven’t sprouted, so those get tossed.
I put some potting soil in old organic salad mix trays, snuggled the little seedlings in and tucked them under the grow lights. At the same time, I started some Rocky Top lettuce mix, some butter Cos, some spinach, some Alyssum and some Painted Tongue.
Two days later, and the peas were coming along nicely.
A week later, and the first pea tops were ready to harvest. The salad greens and flowers were poking up out of the soil. As I said, it’s been really cold and dreary here, so I’m setting no records for rampant growth. I moved all of these trays out to the greenhouse shortly after this photo, and they’ve really been creeping along.
Here’s my first bowl of pea tops.
I added them to a nice mixed salad with some organic store bought greens (a month later, and the lettuce and spinach are almost ready to harvest as micro greens – trying to be patient). Here we’ve got some leftover shell peas from supper the previous night, greens, pea tops, crispy walnuts, raw milk bleu cheese from Nala’s, soaked sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, balsamic vinegar and flaxseed oil. I regularly enjoy having a big mess o’ salad like this for lunch. Sometimes I’ll add sardines or pickled fish, or fresh sourdough bread slathered with plenty of butter.
Temps are finally warming up this week, so I’ll be starting more seeds inside and hopefully be able to plant outside within the next few weeks. I decided I’m going to use my sprouting jar to pre-sprout my early peas before plating them out in the garden (these really early ones will remain inside for greens) , since I regularly have germination issues with peas when the ground is cold and wet. I’ve got some worm castings from Whitetail Organics to top dress the soil, which adds a nice little nitrogen boost that leafy veggies love (I also add it to my potting mix). The worm castings don’t have the potential disease issues of improperly finished compost or pathogen potential of other manures, which is another reason I like to use vermicompost if I have it. Most greens do well in (or prefer) cooler weather, so they are great season extenders.
What are your favorite greens? Do you have any tips for growing them that you’d like to share?
UPDATE: The snow has finally cleared from the garden, and I can see the semi-permanent greens bed that had just started leafing out last fall coming to life. I’ve been letting this corner of my garden self-seed with mache and strawberry spinach. Last fall it was getting quite overgrown with inedible weeds (the dandelions went in the salad bowl, too), so I cleaned it and added spinach. The little plants are about an inch tall. Yeah!