Garden Report 3

I’ve let a little too much time pass between reports — but I got behind on the weeding and busy with spring chores and social engagements.
But, without further ado, here’s where we’re at.

Asparagus ferns.

The asparagus plot is doing nicely. Each crown sent up a few slender stalks that turned to wispy ferns. Its location at the east of our vegetable garden and back of our lot is perhaps a little less than perfect. Keeping the weed seeds that blow in from the no-man’s land behind our property from taking over is an ongoing challenge.

Pak choi.

My greens – particularly the pak choi and to a lesser extent the Swiss chard – were hard hit by an invasion of flea beetles. I searched the web for eco-friendly solutions – one suggested planting pak choi as a diversion crop since it’s practically irresistible to the tiny jumping bug. But I want to eat it. So I used an old all-purpose standby – a mixture of onion, garlic, hot sauce, dish soap and water. It seems to me making a difference, but I’m afraid much of the pak choi could not be saved.

Early early girl tomato.

Everything else is growing like mad. All the seeds – carrots, parsnips, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber and pumpkins – have sprouted. The tomatoes are starting to bloom and I see a few green fruit on the early girls. Same goes for the Thai chile and jalapeno peppers. My garlic is just beginning to produce scapes.

As long as I can manage any further pest infestations and keep up with the watering the long, hot summer this is shaping up to be will require, it should be a good harvest.

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Pork and beans

David works an afternoon shift half the time, which means I’m alone to make and eat dinner (and leave his in the fridge to be reheated, if necessary, or just eaten as is at about midnight). These meals are often vegetarian (or minimal meat) versions of the following: big salad, grain salad, grains and veggies, soup and pork and beans. Well, actually, pork and legumes … and turkey and legumes.

Chickpea stew.

Chickpea stew (pork and legumes)
This recipe stems from my love of chickpeas. Olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and cumin seemed obvious, as I always add them to my hummus. Onions or shallots, peppers (and sometimes chopped celery) and tomatoes add flavour, nutrients and body. And bacon keeps David (who is not quite as enthusiastic about chickpeas) happy.
The first time I made it, he told me the next day, “It looked like I wouldn’t like it, but I did.” High compliments indeed.

Ingredients
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion or 2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 28-oz can tomatoes, chopped (or the equivalent of garden fresh or frozen Romas)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 mL (2 tsp) cumin
15 mL (1 tbsp) lemon juice (or more to taste)
250 mL (1 cup) whole-wheat couscous
olive oil
salt and pepper

Method
Boil 500 mL (2 cups) water in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add a splash of olive oil, then couscous. Cover and let sit until couscous has absorbed water. Fluff with a fork before serving.
In a large pan over medium heat, fry bacon until cooked. (We like it slightly pliable, but if you like it crispy, go for it.) Drain bacon grease.
Put a little olive oil in the pan. Add onions/shallots and peppers, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add cumin and garlic, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add chickpeas and tomatoes and simmer until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add lemon juice. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice.
Ladle stew over couscous and serve.

Lentils and kielbasa.

Lentils and kielbasa (turkey and legumes)
This recipe is adapted from CookThink.com
I’ve upped the vegetables and Dijon and cut back on the kielbasa.
I find frying turkey kielbasa until browned dries it out, so I recommend a light sauté for a little colour and flavour.
Sometimes I add chopped fresh tomatoes to this dish before serving.

Ingredients
375 mL (1-1/2 cup) green lentils, picked through and rinsed
250 g turkey kielbasa, cut in half length-wise and thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
45 mL (3 tbsp) olive oil
15 mL (1 tbsp) red wine vinegar
15 mL (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard
10 mL (2 tsp) chopped fresh marjoram or 2 mL (1/2 tsp) dried or ground

Method
Combine lentils and 1 L (4 cups) of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When water boils, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until lentils are tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain.
In a large pan, heat 15 mL (1 tbsp) of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kielbasa and sauté for a few minutes until warmed through and slightly brown. Remove.
In the same pan, heat 15 mL (1 tbsp) olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, season with salt and pepper; cook 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add onions, garlic and marjoram; cook until vegetables are tender, stirring often.
Add lentils to pan with vegetables. Stir in kielbasa, vinegar, remaining olive oil and mustard.
Serve.

CSA report: Week 2

CSA, Week 2

What a difference one week can make on the farm.
In addition to asparagus, radishes, spring onions and mixed greens, which we received last week, this week’s CSA bounty included butterhead and romaine lettuces, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, grape tomatoes and strawberries.
I also bought another dozen eggs and a jar of honey.
Because the box is packed and waiting for pick-up, you don’t know what you’re getting until you get home and open it up. As I drove home last night, smiling and looking forward to the big reveal, I thought, “I’m never this excited/happy when I leave the grocery store.”

Here’s a breakdown of how we used last week’s box:
Asparagus: roasted with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper for dinner side
Beets: raw, sliced in slaw with fennel, apples, mint, canola oil, balsamic vinegar
Beet greens: chiffonade in soup with sausage, carrots, celery, red pepper, spring onion (whites and greens), marjoram, tomatoes, chicken stock
Eggs: lemon pound cake (five); Caesar dressing (one); corn cakes (three)
Jerusalem artichokes: not yet used; roasted?
Maple syrup: not yet used
Radishes: snacks
Rhubarb: stewed with strawberries, eaten mixed with plain yogurt; more in the freezer
Salad greens: five small salads (lunch and dinner)
Spring onions: greens in salad, bok choy and pork stirfry, corn cakes, soup; whites in soup and alfredo vegetable sauce

Our first foray into CSA

We picked up our first CSA (community supported agriculture) box today.
CSAs are a way for consumers to buy directly from farmers. They pay a lump sum in the spring and are supplied with produce (and sometimes other goods) on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. Consumers support small local farmers and are rewarded with great local produce.
Golden Harvest Family Farms, located in western Kawartha Lakes, runs the Triple Cord fresh produce program and offers a pick-up in Sharon, just a few kilometres east of our home in Holland Landing.

Contents of our first CSA box.

Our first box included: mixed salad greens, radishes, green onions, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb. Because the produce pickings were a little slim, we also received a dozen eggs and a 250 mL jar of maple syrup. We made arrangements to buy a dozen eggs each week when we go to pick up our box.

I plan to dedicate some time every Monday evening to prepping and cooking the fresh produce.
Tonight, I trimmed and washed the radishes and stuck them in a container of water in the fridge – ready for snacking through out the week. The salad greens made a quick side for dinner.  I used a few chopped green onions to garnish the wild rice and vidalia onion soup I made yesterday, reheated and then broiled with a few rye bread croutons and gruyere cheese.

The rhubarb was stewed with sugar and frozen strawberries.

The long and lovely rhubarb stalks were washed, chopped and stewed with sugar and strawberries from the freezer.
I separated the beets from the greens, storing both in the refrigerator, along with rest of the produce, to use later in the week.