Notes from the Farm
There is always something happening on the farm. We enjoy watching the farm chicks learn how to scratch, chase bugs and navigate the social hierarchy from Mother Hen.
This Week’s Veggie Feast
The weather of late has been ideal for spending time outdoors. The abundance of rain and coolness has prolonged all the beautiful shades of green in the valley and (crossed fingers) delayed our fire season. It has also slowed the crops down. We are waiting for the cauliflower to open, the cucumbers to fruit and even the chard to send out some more leaves. Alas this summer’s growing season has taken it’s sweet time. We thank you for being patient. Most crops look like they will do well, they just need some more heat.
Snow Peas, Tarragon, Fennel, Garlic Scapes, Bunching Onions, Hyssop, Lettuce Mix, and Spicy Mustard Greens
New This Week
Snow peas are flat, pale green pods with barely formed peas. These tender peas can be eaten whole, and are delicious fresh, steamed, sautéed, or added to stir fries.
Tarragon is a perennial herb that is highly prized in French cuisine. It is often used to flavor fish, poultry and egg dishes and also makes an excellent flavoring for vinegar.
Small fennel bulbs are best for salads since they are tender, while larger bulbs are best suited for braising and baking. Fennel makes an interesting substitute for celery, and it takes well to braising, sautéing, grilling, and eating raw in salads. The feathery greens can be used for garnish or for seasoning egg salad, potato salad, or seafood dishes. Since the stalks are stringy, they are best used in soup stocks or throw them on the BBQ for aromatic smoke, cut off the stalks just where they emerge from the bulb. Fennel has a core, which is visible once the bulb is cut in half. If the bulb is small it isn’t necessary to remove the core, but if the bulb is large the core will need to be removed with a paring knife. Fennel pairs well with olive oil, butter, thyme, orange, lemon, tomatoes, potatoes, olives, garlic, Parmesan and Gruyere cheese. If thinly sliced, the bulb makes a nice addition to an antipasti platter or goes well with pork.
Garlic scapes are the flower top off hardneck garlic. They look like a long green, curly pencil. The entire scape is edible, but there can be a tough section at the base of the yellowish-white blossom that could use more cooking time. The green stems are most commonly cut into small pieces and cooked. Scapes are cut before the plant starts to fully flower, and provide a mild fresh garlic flavor that is great added to any dish where you would use a garlic clove. The sugar content is a bit higher so fresh scapes are best added towards the end of cooking to avoid any burning or bitter flavor. The scapes need to be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and are best used fresh since they do not store like whole garlic bulbs. Garlic scapes are mild in flavor so you can add extra when substituting for garlic cloves. They are a great addition to breakfast scrambles and stir fries.
Red Bunching onions
Native to the Mediterranean, hyssop has a long history of medicinal and culinary uses, including the main flavor in the liqueur Chartreuse. This aromatic herb is also loved by honey bees, producing a delicious honey. The flavor of the leaves is similar to thyme but stronger, making fresh leaves a great addition to meatballs, fish or fruit dishes. The flavors of hyssop show well in syrup, which is delicious poured over fresh fruit or added to sparkling water or ice tea.
1 ¼ cup water
¾ cup sugar
Put the sprigs of hyssop in small pan with the water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Strain into a glass measuring cup, pressing the stems with a wooden spoon to extract all the flavor and liquid. You should have about 1 cup of liquid. Add more water if needed. Return mixture to the pan, add sugar and heat gently, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Boil hard for 5 minutes. Skim and pour into a glass container to store in the refrigerator.
Split Pea Soup with Fennel and Tarragon
- 1 medium onion diced (white or yellow)
- 1 cup celery diced (2 stalks)
- 1 small fennel bulb, cored and finely diced (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 4 cups chicken broth or stock
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup split peas
- 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon
- garnish with fresh tarragon leaves, creme fraiche, and a drizzle of truffle oil (optional)
- In a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, saute the onion, celery and fennel in the oil over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add broth and water, split peas and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Cover, simmer on medium low heat 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking and giving a stir after 1 hour.
- In a blender, add 1 cup water, 2 cups frozen peas and the fresh tarragon, and blend until smooth. This will give the soup a bright green color.
- At this point you could also blend the rest of the soup for a smooth consistency, or simply add the blended frozen pea/tarragon mixture directly into the soup pot. Taste, adjust salt.
- Gently warm it up before serving taking care not to over boil or you will loose the lovely green color.
- Garnish with fresh tarragon, and a drizzle of truffle oil (optional).
Source: Feasting at Home
- 1 bunch tarragon
- Apple cider or white wine vinegar
- Cut tarragon into 1-2 inch pieces and place in a clean glass jar.
- Fill the jar with vinegar so all of the herb is covered. Cover with a lid. (Obviously the higher the ratio of tarragon to vinegar will make a stronger flavored product)
- Let steep for at least 3 weeks, taste to test for flavor.
- When fully steeped strain the vinegar into another clean glass jar, cap and store.
Grilled Garlic Scapes
- 1 pound garlic scapes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Heat the grill to a medium flame.
- Wash and dry the garlic scapes. Trim the ends and leave whole.
- Massage the scapes with oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- Toss them on the grill and brown both sides. They’re done with they are soft on the inside and golden brown and bright green on the outside.
- Serve the garlic scapes hot off the grill with salt if desired.
Source: With Food and Love