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Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

First corn of the season

I’m not a hundred percent sure what it is about corn that makes so many people so happy… but it does….

Why not be happy? It’s a thrilling vegetable.

And really, it’s rare in the vegetable world… veggies are a lot of things, but thrilling is not typically an adjective folks use unless their being hyperbolic… I mean, let’s be honest, it’s just corn!

I mean, corn doesn’t win the Super Bowl. Corn hasn’t sold out Fenway Park. Corn won’t win a Nobel Prize or become a poem laureate.. now will it? Corn is just corn… and it’s temporary… but it is thrilling.

In days gone by, when we’d put the corn sign out in front of Cricket Corner Farm, the dynamic of our farmstand changed immediately. Folks who would come by to get it…. would want to know what kind it was, how it was growing that year… they’d tell stories about picking corn as a kid, before dawn in Concord, MA, to get it to the Boston markets…. or tell stories about their granddads corn.. that he saved and planted until one year when he didn’t make it through the winter, but they kept the jar of his seed ‘just in case’ someone in the family got the itch to play in the dirt…. stories about the best way to cook it, in milk, with butter, on the grill in the husk, or on the grill husked, baked, broiled, steamed, soaked & microwaved. Then there were the hundreds of recipes for succotash, fritters, and corn relishes they’d generously share with us.

We’d listen to their stories about the best ear they’d ever eaten…. or how today we seldom find worms in the ears.. “now why is that?” they’d inquire. I’ve met very few people that don’t have a top five corn eating moments list… about the farm or farmer that grew it… about the company of friends and family gatherings, or the special camping trip… and more recently during a point deep in Covid isolation… that first or last ear of corn shared with a loved one.

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Yup, corn hits like a primordial gong.. boing!… it sort of reasonates equally and instantly through the entirety of this magnificent universe… and though any vegetable could do that… they don’t, but corn clearly does – and that’s what makes it so special. We’d take the growing of corn very seriously on our farm because we knew the potential gravity of the corn eating experience. Yes, growing corn can be a bit tricky, and we didn’t always get it right, but we’d try our damndest… probably more than any other crop on our farm… for you, for us, for everyone.

Corn is important….

Corn is the staff of life… and it sure is thrilling! 🙂 C’mon, how many of you can deny biting into that first buttery ear of the season and not smiling to yourself? 🙂

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Getting attached.. can’t bring myself to cut into these two! Thinking of naming them! LOL

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I guess it wouldn’t officially be summer without serving something stuffed right? Okay, I have a serious love/hate relationship with zucchini–I’ll be the first to admit it. I just love it’s lovely yellow blossoms…. but I hate that one plant yields so much fruit all at once-I probably serve it three times weekly around here. I love the tender nutty flavor of a four inch zucchini and how lovely it presents in many dishes with it’s vibrant green color.. it’s truly delicious.

Some call this vegetable boring, but truth be known zucchini is one of the many squash plants I grow, and in moderation, I seldom tire of it. This year I wanted to add to my squash patch, so I tried growing round Tondo zucchini. They are really so sweet looking in the garden, the yield so far has been great and now I have a new dish to squash to stuff! You really don’t need to use solely the Tondo or round zucchini for this recipe, the typical Italian long squash, delicata squash, Lebanese cousa or pattypan , will work equally as well.

Stuffed Zucchini

4 round Tondo or long zucchini
2 TBLS olive oil
1 onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices pancetta, diced
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 TBLS pine nuts
4 TBLS panko bread crumbs
2 TBLS fresh basil leaves, torn
2 oz freshly grated romano cheese
1/4 cup grated fontina cheese
2 TBLS olive oil
2 TBLS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Cut off the top of the round zucchini or cut a slice lengthwise from the long zucchini. Scoop out the flesh, making sure that you don’t cut through the skin, leaving a shell 1/4 inch thick. Chop the vegetable flesh and put aside in a bowl.

Add the tomatoes, pine nuts, panko crumbs, cheese to the vegetable mixture and season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Now spoon the mixture into the prepared zucchini shells and drizzle with the olive oil and place the stuffed squash into an oven proof casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the foil top, and sprinkle over the parmesan cheese and bake uncovered 10 minutes longer,until the cheese is lightly browned. Enjoy!

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Yum!! And not a one made it into my kitchen! 🙂 LOL

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First year for growing collards! So prolific! Tonight was first harvest. Tomorrow, some onions, a couple of ham hocks and a long slow cook. Yummy!

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Yumma!!

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The full moon of May has passed, the sun is finally shining… it’s time to get digging!
Another busy day here now that the rains have moved out. Many transplants will go into the ground, more seed sown, a few shallots that a friend gave me to try and more onion sets that have finally arrived after five weeks since ordering! Grrr! Things are coming along slowly.  We just need some consistent warmth to really get rolling. But the rain did help the beets and carrots, so that’s a plus. 🙂

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Transplanting today… tulsi, nasturtiums, celery, za’atar, ruby chard, shallots, and a few that I’ve potted up and onion sets.  Then some runner beans.. scarlet runners because they are just so showy in the garden, easy to grow and attract so many hummers and golden sunshine runner that I just love growing for it jazzy chartreuse foliage and bright orange flowers. Both keepers in my garden! I’ve been hunting for just the right oblisk trellis to plant my runners around this year, but so far just not the one I’m looking for.

Even though the full moon has passed, it’s been quite cold here, so I’m going to hold off another week to set the tomatoes. Hope you’re able to get out on this sunny  day to plant your gardens!

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One silver lining of this pandemic lockdown is that it comes at the start of the growing season. Between now and the fall, folks have the chance to coax foods from the soil while also feeding their souls.

This year, a vegetable garden might also provide one thing we seem to be lacking at the moment: control over our lives. It includes the satisfaction of raising nutritious and delicious food, exercising outdoors, fresh air and sunshine…. and all the while socially distancing, relieving pressure on the nation’s food supply system, or passing essential knowledge on to your children and growing some extra to share with family, friends and neighbors, who may be in need. At the very least, it’s a constructive distraction for us in a confined environment… and think of all the tomatoes you’ll have come August! 🙂

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It’s been slow going at the farm, compliments of one very nasty virus, plus Mother Nature. Neither being very cooperative. 😦

Thinking of pies and jams – yum!
Plenty of fresh spinach! Thank goodness for salt marsh hay here I use to protect the plants, considering we had snow again yesterday 😦 So far, many salads, Nonna’s spinach pies have been made and I tried a new Greek dish call spanakorizo this week.. kind of similar to an Italian risotto.. made with fresh spinach, rice, tomatoes and spices… so yummy!

… then… before the skies opened up I set the last of my leeks

We are, per the governor, still under lockdown 😦 but I tip -toed down to the beach this morning to greet the sun! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining finally.. and it’s going to be a beautiful day here.. you know where you’ll find me 🙂 Happy gardening!

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Last of the tomatoes 😦 Gosh, they are just so delicious! Some went into sauce, some into meatballs….. some roasted as well as many jars of salsa. End of another fairly good growing season. I’m gonna miss picking you off the vine come mid February and no doubt cussing. LOL!

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