Tomatillos and Salsa Verde

Tomatillos_detail

We didn’t grow any tomatillos on the farm this year. They are a minor niche crop that don’t sell especially well and frankly we couldn’t spare the space or time. Fortunately, Adam, grew several plants in his home garden (how does he have time for a home garden?!?) and he was generous enough to drop off a big bag of perfect fruit the other day.

I love tomatillos. I love their fresh, tart, almost lemony flavor. I love their bright green color. And I love how well they combine with other foods, especially with foods that are just a bit fatty like chips or enchiladas.¬†Tomatillos are the base of all the traditional green salsas and sauces found in mexican and tex-mex cooking. Every tomatillo recipe I’ve ever seen is variation of the very simple salsa recipe presented here. If you’re hankering for sauce over salsa, just take this salsa recipe, double it, saut√© it for a few minutes in lard or oil, thin it with stock (animal or veggie) and reduce it back to sauce consistency (until it coats the back of a spoon). It’s a very traditional preparation. Recently I’ve been taking a less traditional path and making a green sauce by simply blending the salsa verde with avocado. It produces a rich, velvety but still tangly sauce I like using on enchiladas or black bean cakes (and it’s much healthier than the traditional, avoiding both the oil and stock). Continue reading Tomatillos and Salsa Verde

Garlic Time Again

Garlic_Kettle_River_Giant

It’s fall again and we’re planting garlic again. Work like a metronome ticks out my life. Repetitive tasks set the rhythm and mark the time, blurring everything in between. We’re closing the poultry coop at night – that means another day is over. I’m loading the trailer for market- it must be Saturday, a week has passed. Gheda’s paying our taxes – a fiscal quarter is done, three more months down. And now, Adam is planting garlic. We’re planting garlic yet again – this time a whole year’s gone by.¬† We’re right back where we started. Are we any smarter? Any wiser? I’d like to think so. But who can tell?

It was Autumn a year ago, during garlic planting, that we decided to make a go of the farm. That’s when we decided to take it from a hobby garden to a business. The intervening year has been productive; we incorporated a business, got insurance, grew a lot of food, sold a lot of food, made a busload of new friends, earned some money, paid some bills, preached the good news of local, sustainable agriculture and went more or less sleep deprived for months. I hesitate to draw any conclusions about the year. Did we do any good? Did we waste a lot of time and energy? I avoid questions like that. All I know is that we’re setting up for another year, wholeheartedly believing we can do better than we’ve done up to now. There’s redemption to be found in looking forward.

Garlic_cloves Continue reading Garlic Time Again

Fennel Pollen

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This year I let all our fennel go to seed, never harvesting more than a few bulbs. I know, it looks bad for me. Still more evidence of my fundamental sloth and incompetence, some might say. Fortunately, it’s different this time, because this time I had a plan. And my plan was this: I was going to let them bolt. Yep. That’s it. I was going to let them bolt. You see, this year I wasn’t in it for the fennel bulbs. Instead, I wanted to harvest fennel pollen. Unfortunately, after harvesting the pollen, I’m not sure what to do with it. Of course we’re going to eat a bunch. And there is a good market for fennel pollen. It’s a big market and can be quite lucrative (the pollen brings $20-$40/oz). But despite harvesting the entire patch, I only have a few ounces, too much to eat but nowhere near enough to make it pay.

Probably because of the glaringly, half-baked nature of my fennel plan, our farm partner, Adam, was… I’ll say… skeptical. Every week he wanted to cut some plants for market. “People are begging for bulbs,” he’d plead. But like a desperate, degenerate junkie, I couldn’t deviate from the plan. I wouldn’t. I was on the verge of a huge pollen score. I couldn’t just quit.

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Continue reading Fennel Pollen