Friday, June 24, 2011

It may be June(uary), but the salad days are here anyway!

The cooler weather may have the rest of us in the Portland area grumbling, but the greens in our garden have, for the most part, been happy with it.

Here is what we have (or had) going thus far:

Spinach - With the other night's dinner (pasta, fish spinach and lemon juice), we've had five batches this spring!

I planted one patch of about 10 plants every two to three weeks. This helped us keep up with these prolific plants - just as we harvested on batch another was being planted.

Mark incorporated the spinach into several soups and stir fry dishes (more to come on this in a future post).

The variety we selected has enormous leaves and no gritty metallic after taste.  A definite keeper!

Lettuce - We have four types of lettuce growing right now. One of the things I love about lettuce is that you can tuck it in between plants and it is ready to harvest about the time that its neighbors need a little more room.

My favorite short season variety is a butterhead called Tom Thumb which matures in about 30 days and is about the size of a softball.

I've also staggered my lettuce plantings every couple of weeks so we should have lettuce throughout the summer.  Looks like the salad days are here indeed!


Pak Choy - Sadly the variable temperatures we've been having have wreaked havoc on the pak choy. Over the weekend I noticed that it had definitely bolted, but for now I am leaving them in since the bright yellow flowers are attracting pollinators. I think that we will retry pak choy in the fall.

Chard - I have chard planted in several smaller pots along the base of the troughs and in an old wooden fruit delivery box.

The plants are coming along nicely despite the occasional leaf attacked by leaf miners. Right now my defense is comprised of plucking the affected leaves - anyone know another way to deal naturally with these pests?

Lacinto kale - I also have kale planted in smaller pots along the base of the troughs.

The cabbage moths have been busy laying eggs which hatch into voracious lime green caterpillars.

I have been removing eggs and caterpillars from the leaves diligently each night, but it seems that the caterpillars are having a field day eating the young leaves.  

The caterpillars have been really active on the purple cabbage as well, but the garlic I interplanted with the Veronica broccoli seems to be holding them at bay in that section of the garden. If only they chose a couple of plants and left the rest to us! 

My latest addition is purslane which is a perennial that you can add to salads and sandwiches. Yum!

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    The Pea Experiment Continues - Too Much of a Good Thing?

    It is hard to believe that we are in mid-June and the peas are just starting to come in!

    Later this week or next the onslaught will begin. In retrospect, 37 feet of peas may be too much for us and our urban Portland, OR plot to handle.

    In the mean time, I have Mark on the look out for all meals that incorporate peas - shelling, snow, snap and soup.

    Not sure how the soup peas differ from shelling, but in truth I bought them for their purple pods and  the contrast they would bring to the patch - if they taste good, even better.

    The fava beans are also flowering so they should follow shortly.

    If you have any favorite pea or fava bean recipes please share them with us!

    Too much of a good thing? The jury is still out - ask us in a couple of weeks.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Gifts from the Wild- Spring Inspired Meals

    It's good to have friends- especially friends who forage and fish. This past week has seen a few local spring delicacies bestowed upon us to inspire our kitchen creativity. The gifts from the wild were fresh caught salmon and Morel mushrooms. Both were so absolutely pristine and at the peak of their season that we really didn't want to fuss with them too much on the journey from the wild to our pots and finally our plates.

    For dinner Wednesday night the salmon was lightly dusted with a spice mix similar to Old Bay, then sauteed until lightly browned on top and the skin crispy underneath. Cooking it until medium-done left it so tender and moist... yum. We served the fillets on a bed of braised Savoy cabbage topped with a scattering of sauteed Morels. The mushrooms were cooked in butter with a little shallot, thyme and a splash of Marsala wine.

    We used the leftover Morels for breakfast this morning. Scrambled eggs with sauteed Morels in butter topped with Tails & Trotters pancetta-wrapped local asparagus. Served on toast and sprinkled with chive blossoms from Bonny's garden. All the flavors really shone through individually, yet worked so well together, almost like they had always known each other. The chive blossoms were the surprise star. Beautiful on the plate, but so tasty on the palate with their onion-garlicky savor.

    The local Spring bounty has provided us with a great start to a season of good eats. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and the green thumb of my wife. Can't wait to see and taste what crops up next...