Sunday, June 29, 2008

Farm Bulletin: Better Late than Never


Our correspondent Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm is back with his weekly bulletins, and GSNW is happy to post his musings once again. To get them fresh in your in-box, simply e-mail Anthony directly. Or check in here for the skinny on what's happening in the natural world. You can find Anthony and Carol live in the flesh every Sunday at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market from 10 am to 2 pm.

This has been a very peculiar season by any measure. Almost every crop in the field is 10 days to two weeks late. Our frikeh production, which normally occurs around the 18th of June, will start on Monday. Because of heavy weed pressure, the harvest will be a salvage operation, with a sharp production decrease for this year. We will have to collect the heads using small sickles once used to harvest rice in the Orient. There will be few gage plums, but a good crop of prune plums. The Chester blackberries will have an excellent crop, albeit late. The flowers are just opening on the grapes, and they should produce well this year. Most of our squash fall into the past tense...squashed. The pampered melons are doing well.

Despite the languid pace of the season, and what season it is we are not quite sure, it has been very busy. Feeling subdued and disconcerted. Funny, as we plant more and more stuff, the works piles up on us.

Our offerings this week will be sparse. Here is what we should have:

Fenugreek Greens
Fenugreek is a low growing legume. The seeds (left) are used as a seasoning. The greens (photo, above) are used in Indian and Persian dishes (see Khoresht-e Ghormeh Sabzi for example). Pleasantly bitter and very fragrant, they can be mixed with other greens such as spinach, or used to season potatoes or lamb.

New Potatoes
New potatoes are harvested while they are still growing, the tuberous equivalent of fresh shell beans. The potatoes have yet to form their permanent skin, a process initiated by the green part of the plant. They are perishable, and should be refrigerated. Size is not a good diagnostic as you can have very large new potatoes, as well as dinky ones. They also require careful cooking, no rolling boils. They make a good potato salad. They can also be sauteed or roasted, and dressed with chopped wilted fenugreek, as in the Indian dish aloo methi. Good hot weather sustenance.

Quelites (kay-lee-tays)
A Mexican term, equivalent to the Italian verdura trovata (encountered greens) and Greek horta, refers to a mixture of noncultivated edible plants that grow in the fields and on roadsides. Quelites include lamb's quarters (fat hen) and pigweed (amaranth), and are very nutritious. The names "fat hen" and "pigweed" are not the least bit derogatory, rather they refer to the tendency laying hens and nursing sows to seek out these calcium rich greens. In the mix will be some Quinoa, Orach and Polish Amaranth. Cook and use as you would spinach.

2 comments:

Kevin B said...

I live in corvallis, oregon and being Indian have given up on finding fresh fenugreek. Any idea where one can buy fresh fenugreek?

kab said...

Hi Kevin. I know that for part of the year you can find it at the Ayers Creek stand at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market. I got hold of Rahul and he said a place to try would be India Direct off of Cornell Rd. in Beaverton.