Notes from the Farm
June is the season of the weeds. As the days get longer and warmer, these resilient plants sprout and grow at amazing speeds. Idyllic photos of farms show fields with row after row of crops delineated with a strip of black loamy soil. There are probably beautiful children playing behind a white picket fence too.
Not our farm. We have weeds; and it’s not such a terrible thing. Repeatedly working up the soil to kill weeds also messes with the soil structure. Weeds help cool the earth, retain moisture, and protect precious topsoil where the nutrients live. Weeds such as plantain, shepard’s purse and dandelion have medicinal qualities. And many weeds, lamb’s quarters, dock leaves, pigweed and salsify to name a few, are tasty and rich in vitamins and nutrients. We invite you to indulge in some of our weeds!
This Week’s CSA
The large and beautiful spinach leaves continue to be perfect for cooking or making a wilted spinach salad. The stem in spinach retains lots of water, so make sure to remove it before cooking so you don’t end up with soggy spinach. After cooking, take time to drain excess liquid before adding to a dish.
Kale, at the beginning of the season, is still very tender, making it suitable raw in salads or used in a gently massaged kale salad. Kale greens pair well with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, potatoes, legumes, pasta, and eggs. You will find more ideas on how to use kale on the website along with cooking ideas.
Lamb’s quarters are a wild annual green with dull green leaves that have toothed edges, while the garlic scapes look like a long green pencil that smells of garlic. Basic information on lamb’s quarters and garlic scapes can be found on the website as well.
Both members of the mint family, lemon balm and chocolate mint are each great for tea and desserts. Lemon balm, with its crinkled, serrated leaves, is native to southern Europe and western Asia. When crushed, the leaves have a fresh lemon scent that makes it perfect in marinades for fish and chicken. It can also be used to flavor sugar cookies, compound butters, and cheesecakes.
Chocolate mint has dark green to purple leaves with the scent of an after dinner mint. It is great in chocolate desserts, fruit salads, ice creams, and custard-based desserts. Additional information on mint and lemon balm can be found on the website. For a refreshing summer cocktail, here is an idea from Bon Appetit. Using lemon balm as a search function on cooks.com, you will find several recipes for desserts using the fresh lemony herb.
Spinach Salad with Apples and Almonds
Courtesy of Edward Espe Brown Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings
1 large bunch of spinach, stemmed
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
juice of one fresh lime, about 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon honey
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, optional
1 good eating apple or your favorite fruit
1/4 cup olive oil
Stem spinach leaves. Wash well and then spin dry. Cut the largest leaves into halves or thirds.
Roast almonds for 7-8 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool and roughly chop almonds.
For the dressing, grind whole spices in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine ground spices, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper. Quarter the apple, remove the core, and slice into thin lengthwise pieces. Toss slices with the dressing.
Put the spinach in a stainless steel or wooden bowl. Heat the olive oil in a small pan until nearly smoking. Pour over the spinach with one hand, while using tongs to toss the spinach with the other. If the spinach in not sufficiently wilted, press clumps on it into the hot pan using the tongs. Then toss the spinach with the apples and dressing. Check for salt and pepper. Garnish with toasted almonds.