Summer Veggies Are Here!

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Not many words this post instead mostly pictures. Pretentious? … Perhaps. But what’s the harm in occasional indulgence? After all, it’s summer, it’s hot and I need something to do inside that doesn’t involve cooking. Every day for the last few weeks we’ve neared 100-degrees. It’s been much too hot to comfortably (or safely) work the garden. Things haven’t been much better inside. The kitchen has been stifling. Just the idea of lighting the stove or the oven or even the toaster brings agony.

On the upside, and it’s a big upside, all the heat ripened our summer veggies earlier than we’d anticipated. Another week or so and we’ll be happily packing bushels of  peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers off to our market stand. That will be a glorious day. I can’t wait! So today, sweaty and full of anticipation, I had to stop and document the first peppers and tomatoes of  our season before cutting them into my salad. The pictures came out okay. But the salad was sublime; as if there was ever a question. Like Ali in the jungle or Lady Di on the causeway, the first tomatos of the season are casually  full of grace.

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Baby Beets - Balsamic Glazed Tops and Bottoms

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The standard line for growing beets on a small farm is this: plant dense, thin for greens, harvest  young for baby beets then harvest old for storage. One planting, three crops, three meals, it sounds perfect. And in practice it’s pretty good. It’s a scheme that’s served us well for eons, but it’s not perfect. The problem is the storage piece at the end.  Beets are best when their small. Golf ball size is ideal. At this size they’re sweet and tender. They pickle well, clean up well and  you don’t have to cook them for hours. But as they age, they get woody and woodier.  Around baseball size their quality really starts to decline. They get bland, are no longer much good served raw and really should be peeled before cooking.

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(A quick observation: beet seeds might be the coolest things in the garden. They’re a bone yard. They’re Kuiper Belt refuges. They’re rubble in the wasteland. They’re fantastic!)

Unfortunately, large beets are very common, especially at big grocery stores. Most grocers buy produce from big farms and most big farms grow their beets big. They want them large because they last longer. Big beets can sit in boxes, on trucks and on grocery shelfs much longer than small, tasty ones can. It’s about serving a distant retail customer and it’s a crying shame. Baby beets are so much better.

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BEER!

Forgive the Delta Tau Chi style title outburst but I do love me some beer. Not to say we’d ever adopt a new farmers’ market just so we could hang around a beautifully rustic taproom sampling yummy, hoppy libations.  Not to say we’re into cool, local music or Longmont’s weekly Wednesday night cruiser ride. We have [...]

Defending Kale - Sesame Kale

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Sixteen years ago, after more than a decade working in restaurants, I punched out from my last kitchen shift and took a job running the deli in a natural foods grocery store. The place was adorable. Our produce was 90% organic. (It was also 90% ugly and bruised but that’s what you got with organic back then.) We sold nuts and grains from huge, bulk scoop bins. We sold herbal cures and tinctures. All our meat was 100% hormone, steroid and anti-biotic free. And my deli? We served some good food (house made gravelax and pate spring to mind), but ultimately we were as crunchy as could be. We served hippies and the hippies loved us. They wrote songs about us! They named their bands after us! Really, they did. It was incredible.

The store and my deli should have been a haven for all things kale. But it wasn’t. We ordered exactly one case per week and we used it exclusively to garnish platters in the deli case. We never cooked it. We never served it. We never ate it and nobody ever asked us to. I don’t think I even realized it was edible.

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