Sorry for the delay in posting this blog. Emily, Lizzie and I attended cousin Abbey's graduation party last night and we left almost as soon as I got home from the farm. There will be multiple posts again today so be sure to check the archives at the right for today's date.
Here is a wonderful head of romaine lettuce still in the row. This particular variety is Rouge D'Hiver and is a cold weather favorite. I really can't grow these in the heat of summer but they do great in the early spring and once this planting is fully harvested I'll switch to another variety and then back again in the fall.
Many people in our culture are indoctrinated with ideas about what is healthy and what is not. When it comes to vegetables, the more color the better. The lighter green a vegetable is the fewer vitamins it contains. On the health spectrum of lettuce, 'Iceberg' (the lifeless heads found in restaurants and grocery stores...I won't touch the stuff) is the least healthful. I don't offer any lettuces that fit that description. The darker green the better and the more color the better. Consider that when looking at this beautiful head of red romaine. Delicious and healthy. Some people find the outer leaves tough. I recommend only eating the inner leaves and composting the rest for you folks. However, I eat the entire head and simply slice or tear the outer leaves into more manageable sizes for salads.
Collard Greens! This is one of those wonderful examples of a CSA member requesting that I grow something. I have some neighbors who are originally from Kentucky and they looked desperately for collard greens around here. The ones in the store weren't up to snuff of course. So I figured this year I'd give it a try and these are wonderful. They are the large greens that are bursting out the the plastic bags this week. I found a short video showing an easy way to slice them for cooking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH0j-98AUH0 Also, a quick google search returned lots of hits for sites showing recipes. I suggest looking through them for some that tickle the fancy. I found a couple that seemed to use them in other recipes and included chicken broth and things like that. I use vegetable broth for any recipe that calls for chicken broth. I recommend this unless you know a farmer who will sell you whole chickens to make your own broth. I really recommend people do not use chicken broth available at the store. It terrifies me and it should do the same for everyone. If you'd like to know more about this please email me and I'll be glad to point you to some information about the dangers of industrial chicken farming. Suffice it to say, local, humane, sustainable is always better and that's true of chicken products as well. Here is the link to the google search. http://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+prepare+collard+greens&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&ie=utf8&oe=utf8
Also this week: Cilantro! This is the earliest I've ever had it and that's thanks to our new movable greenhouse. I took this picture at about 5 am yesterday in the greenhouse. Oddly enough, neither Brittany nor I like the smell of cilantro. It's one of the most unique and overpowering herbs out there. For most people it's a love it or leave it type of herb. My mother-in-law loves this stuff and actually eats it raw. It makes me shutter! I grow it mostly for her but we had a lot so I threw it in. Brittany and I drew straws to see who would deal with it. We ended up compromising as I harvested it and she bagged it. :-) All nay-saying aside, this is a wonderful herb and it is great in salsas, salads and to dress up light meats like chicken. Sue makes a wonderful bean and corn salad in which I actually like the taste of cilantro. Just proves my friend Mark's theory that if you don't like a vegetable (or herb) you just haven't figured out how to prepare it.
Also this week, dill returns to the share. Last summer's growing season (approximately three days long) was so terrible I didn't even get to plant dill. My growing experience, knowledge base and the fact that Brittany is an awesome help in the garden has allowed me to bring back this wonderful herb. You won't hear me say anything negative about dill. It's awesome. I like it as an addition to any salad. grab a sprig and hold it by the stem and then cut tiny pieces with sharp scissors right onto the salad. You don't even need dressing when you have dill (though I sometimes then drizzle olive oil on top). Also, if you have young children they will love to chew on a sprig of this. Lizzie thinks it's great and even though she wrinkles up her nose when she eats it she asks for more. She ends up spitting it out but it is fun for her to 'help' cook with dill or be my taste tester in the garden. We are trying to get Lizzie to eat more spinach as her iron count is a little low. Spinach is an excellent source of dietary iron (local, beyond organic spinach raised in healthy soil that is). So we actually toss a handful in the blender and then mix it in with spaghetti or any past meal we make. I am going to try throwing in a bunch of dill the next time to add a new flavor. Don't forget to check out the next post in the archives...