Friday, June 28, 2013

CSA Cooking: Spinaci e rucola penne con ouvo

I'm starting a new blog theme hereabouts...  you all know the "Homestead Eating,"  well the new one is CSA cooking.  Our first share came this week, and I think I'll enjoy documenting how we eat/use/preserve the seasonal bounty.  The Farm Notes newsletters that come with the shares generally include a recipe, and they're soliciting member contributions, so here's to that!  Picking up the share, which included a stalk of lovage, our farm lady was jovially telling everyone to let her know what how to cook with it, and I couldn't help mentioning the bake a chicken breast with honey and lovage from now two years ago....  and I started to smell a blog post.  A whole series of them.  Not to mention that for newbies to the eat-seasonally-from-the-garden gig, a bag of sometime unkown and sometimes random veggies can certainly be intimidating:  so here's my edu-drop-in-a-bucket to you who is sitting out there longing to plant a garden or get into the kitchen.

Starting with the oh so simple peasant food that sounds oh so glamorous when you give it an italian name: Spinaci e rucola penne con ouvo!   Otherwise known as pasta with spinach, arugula and an egg.

One of my dearest friends in the world went to college at the American University in Rome (Italy), then fell in love and married an italian, and now works as the staff journalist for the European Space Agency in a picturesque hill town with a view of Rome.  When I went to her wedding a few years ago, I met a number of her college friends from AUR, and it was from one of these fantastic ladies that I learned this quintessential italian peasant food:

Start with pasta.  Add any veggies and/or beans that you have on hand.  Top with an egg.  Add cheese if you have it.  Salt and pepper is good.

So simple.  And a complete meal nutritionally, assuming that you do HAVE veggies on hand :-)

For this meal, I took two of the small bunches of greens that came in the CSA share.  Neither was enough for a complete meal, barely enough for a side.  Growing up vegetarian has given me the expectation that a meal is a mound of good green or orange red yellow vegetables with some other things, and even the sustainable family garden farm and outreach educate the kids to grow good food and eat it too ethos that informs Calypso can't make early summer first harvest greens bunches the giant size I secretly expect.  So!  I combined two of them: arugula and spinach.  Yum.

While I watered the little garden, my darlin man chopped 3 cloves of garlic and set it in oil in a skillet, and boiled pasta.  Under my shouted-from-the-garden direction he roughly chopped the greens, and put them in the pan.  I came inside (having emptied 15 gallons of good spring water into thirsty thirsty soil) and sauteed the greens until the stems began to get tender.  These went onto plates and two eggs went in the pan.  Over easy is the key here, so that when placed on top of greens and pasta, the yolk breaks and makes a lovely sauce.  Garnish with parmesean (or other hard cheese of your choosing) and salt and pepper.  Total time (minus water coming to the boil): 10 minutes, maybe.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: A Gratitude Practice

Lingonberry flowers, from a week ago, when it
was cooler.

Its been 90 + degrees and fire season is upon us, this means a blanket of wildfire smoke in town and constant sweat.

I am striving to be thankful for the heat, after grumbling over the extended winter that called itself spring.

I am thankful the fire is no where near my house.

 I am thankful for seedlings leaves becoming stronger and darker green every day.

I am thankful for the strength I cultivate hauling water.

I am thankful for my love.

I am thankful for my health.

I am thankful for blooming flowers and sunny nights.

I am thankful for the more scenic, residential route into town that road construction on the highway is giving me the opportunity to use.

I am thankful to teach.

Monday, June 24, 2013

100 Degrees and the First CSA share

It is supposed to be 100 degrees tomorrow.  Tonight I pick up the first share of the summer of the CSA we are a part of.  Why is the first share coming near the end of June, you ask?  Because we had snow and freezing temps until just about a month ago.  This land is a crazy beautiful land. 

I finished planting my bit of a garden, beet seeds and potatoes in the ground.  The peas are pushing above the earth, and I counted 95 calendula sproutlings that I have planted so far.  The well is still broken, so we've been hauling water in 5 gallon blue jugs to feed the oh so delicate (and oh so hardy) green life that faces 24 hours of light, and recently has been facing temperatures in the high 80's and early 90's.

Hauling every bit of water that I feed my plants, in blue jugs that grow heavier before they grow lighter, from the spring in Fox gives me a new appreciation for the generations of farmers and gardeners on whose abundance we humans have built so many different civilizations.  I think of pioneers in the midwest, where a well meant the difference between thriving and starvation, and where each bucket was hauled up hand over hand before a windmill was built to do the job.  When I come home to sunbaked seedlings that are beginning to wilt in onslaught of light and heat against their wee root systems despite the previous evenings watering, I start (very distantly) to feel the overwhelming sense of futility and despair of a farmer in a drought.  I think of farmers (and mothers for that matter) in places even today where running water is unknown and drinking and gardening water must be carried long distances, in buckets or atop one's head.  I think of the archtypal old lady with her herb garden, living alone on the outskirts of the village, with her little roofed well: and I imagine 70 year old arms hauling up bucket after bucket of liquid life from the depths of the earth.  So much respect. 

All in all, I am increasingly grateful for my luck and foresight to find a home with a plentiful well in light of my homesteadly gardening plans.  A friend of mine who runs a small CSA out of his garden was telling me that last week he hauled 600 gallons of water in the back of his truck because he does not have a well.  Now we just need to figure out how to fix a broken plumbing system.  Which means first learning to diagnose a broken plumbing system.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Garden Planting!

Someone who loves me very much is working four ten-hour days for the summer and spent some time on his work-at-home friday getting a truckload of topsoil for me, and unloading it into the spot that will (starting next year!) house perrenial asparagus and strawberries.  This weekend, I planted peas - sugar snap and soup peas both - along the back of the bed, so they will hopefully use the dog yard fence as their trellis.

All this gardening work, while earning my myriads of mosquito bites, was done barefoot in the dirt.  Oh, the feeling of earth between my toes!

Misha has strong opinions about the relative
value of time spent planting green things vs.
time spent hiking with a husky.

In front of the peas I planted by 6 squash starts, and a few calendula sproutlings.

Half the bed
You see here the back 1/2 of the eventual bed.  One more truck load of dirt will finish the dimensions of the bed and house potatoes that have sprouted in pantry, the 9 beet seeds I got from the seed swap and the rest of the calendula sproutlings.
Hopefully I'll get that load of dirt this week!  Its a bit late to be planting out, but better late than never.  The squash are supposed to be ready to harvest in 50 days, and the peas in 72, so both should be producing before the first frost.  (*fingers crossed)

Calendula sprouts!
 These five pots on the stairs, plus another 4 pots on upstairs porch, a few handfuls already in the garden bed, and I've still got at least 30 sproutlings to plant out.  Maybe this year I'll let some of them go to seed, and save my own seed!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

In the Mail: "Its All About Fantasies and Deadwood: chopping up useless thoughts, clearing room to dream"

I got two lovely letters - or a letter and a package, really - in the mail many weeks ago from two dear East Coast friends.  I promptly took photos, and never wrote about it.  Today, I finished writing my second response, and will have it in the mail on monday.

There is something about the speed (slow) and the tangible immediacy of paper and ink in hand - as opposed to the very different immediacy of electronic communication - that carries love and friendship so well.  

Lovliest letter, with a four leaf clover
and a sprig of sister cypress

Such Goodies!
Buckwheat pancake mix
gourmet coffee : roasted April 14th
organic maple syrup
and a book mark

Words on a card

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thankful Thursdays

I am thankful for sun.
for flowers.
for green leaves
for seeds growing