Savoring the Seasons: What food are you growing?
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
What food are you growing this season? Do you have perennials like asparagus, Turkish rocket, rhubarb, and wintered-over kale producing food right now for spring meals? Or did you take advantage of earlier, warm weather to plant lettuce, greens, peas, and other cool-hardy plants?
What about “wild edibles” that you’re encouraging in your garden and neighborhood, like dandelions, lambs quarters, purslane, or sheep sorrel?
Is garlic planted last fall showing lots of greens and contemplating scapes production? Do you have logs growing mushrooms? And, how about sprouts growing in a jar on your kitchen counter?
Are you raising chicks to be laying hens or for meat? Or calves, lambs, and goats that will live happy lives until it is time for them to become food for your family?
Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the time when many gardeners put out their “warm-needing, frost-sensitive” plants. I used to plant my annual “lots of basil to make into pesto in September” plants at the end of May. Last year, I decided that it was better to wait until later into June since I don’t harvest it until September.
I’ve heard from friends who lost “warm-needing” squash and basil plants in the frosts we had in mid-May. Did you lose any plants to frost? Patience is sooooo hard when the weather is lovely and the garden is calling. And, my experience is that many “want warm weather” plants don’t do a lot of growing early in the season and quickly catch up if planted later.
There are so many ways to grow great food, no matter where you live or how much time, energy, and access to land you have. I’d love to hear any food-growing tips you’d be willing to share with other readers of this column.
Free Soup and Games Night to Benefit Seeds of Solidarity, Monday, June 3, 5 to 7:30 p.m., Hope and Olive Restaurant, Greenfield. Come out and support Seeds of Solidarity at this warm and wonderful restaurant. Soup, salad, and bread is available by donation and the restaurant staff volunteers their time and donates proceeds from the bar for this event that benefits a different Franklin County organization each month. Information about Seeds of Solidarity’s programs and other upcoming events are available at:
Open House at Orange Food Pantry, Tuesday, June 4, 4 to 6 p.m., 118 East Main Street, Orange. Visit the Franklin County Community Meals Program’s Orange Food Pantry’s new space and learn more about those we serve in our community. Meet staff from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Healthy food samples and door prizes. Please RSVP by May 30 to (413) 772-1033.
This Week We’re Eating. . .
Two Simple, Tasty Recipes Sent to me by my Friend Pat Lively from Seattle
KALE SALAD WITH RICOTTA SALATA
Wash and trim the stems off two large handfuls of kale. Chop into confetti-like strands. Shred a boatload of ricotta salata on top, add about 1 tablespoon of red onion that has been sliced to the point of transparency. Add a few glugs of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and freshly ground pepper. (Note from Mary: I hadn’t heard of ricotta salata, so I asked Pat what it is. She said: “Pressed, salted, dried ricotta. It is hard and white with mild salty, nutty, milky flavor. Can shave or grate.”)
BAKED BEETS AND JUICE
(From “Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant” by Annie Somerville)
Cut off greens and trim both ends. Wash 3 medium-sized beets in cold water. Fill casserole dish or Dutch oven with 1/2” water. Place beets in water. Place lid on dish. Bake at 400 degrees until tender (about 45 minutes). Peel and slice for green salad.
NOW THE BEST PART! Save the juice and refrigerate (healthy and delicious). Then, drink at will.