farm lunch: spring confetti

 

french breakfast radish, carrots, chard, kale, farm lunchToday’s lunch.

I have been calling this mixture here–french breakfast radishes, spring carrots, rainbow chard and kale (three varieties today–purple and green lacinato, plus red russian), plus the beets before we ate them all–my confetti vegetables.  They are the bulk of what we are harvesting, besides lettuces, and so it is this combo cooked with loads of coconut oil, green garlic, and green onions, and served with a little something–poached eggs and pork today–for one of our meals, then a hearty salad, with a little meat, for the other.

This, plus eggs, for breakfast, everyday.  Simple stuff.

It would seem redundant, perhaps, if it weren’t so pretty.  Or if I didn’t feel like I was having a little party on my plate each day with all these colors.  Or, perhaps, if tender, fresh, spring vegetables weren’t so damn good.

We round it all out with peas and strawberries, and even early ripe raspberries, for snacks, al fresco.

Recipes come in all shapes and sizes.  This spring, each meal I cook has three main ingredients–fresh, simple, and beautiful.  It strikes just the right chord of this season.

Topped with a dash of love, each day, and we are filled.

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Eating with your heart

heart-beetbig heart-beetBe still, my heart.

After seeing those pictures that come and go on the internet showing the correlation between the way food looks and the part of the body it is especially good for if eaten, I often find myself doing the same when I look at food.  When I saw this giant beet, the result of what we now know is the miracle of growing food under plastic in spring, new to us this year but quite nice as it turns out after all the hemming and hawing that took place deciding to bring this into our farming picture, my first thought was that it looked like a heart.  That I should eat it, right then, for my heart.

True, or not, we sliced this beauty up and roasted the whole thing, and I did end up eating almost it all myself, right then, since not everyone on this farm loves roasted beets like I do.  And I did feel that my heart was filled, in more ways than one.

The little boy wanted to help slice it, not easy since beets are pretty solid pieces of root food, but we pretended.  We had fun.  We looked at the surprising inside design of this heirloom variety.  We marvelled, together.  I took photos.  Our oldest boy, my visual artist, took photos too.   And my mind strung together thoughts.  Theories on feeding your family well and with joy, and on the need for a healthy, loving approach to food, free from fear.  I played with words, with phrases like, eating with you heart and food for your heart-beet.

beets, heirloom, seasonal eating, local foodbeets, heirloom vegetables, seasonal eating, local foodBut in my heart, I know that modern day diet theories are a sticky issue.  One I prefer to stay out of, mostly, besides shout outs about the obvious things, like DOWN WITH MONSANTO!  Truly, though, I lament the fact that it is all so complicated.  Complicated, more than anything, by the fact that there is a whole food industry that many of our human kin rely on to feed themselves that appears to care nothing at all about really feeding us.   A food industry that not only appears to not care about that seemingly significant idea in regards to food, but also doesn’t seem to care that they are quietly (and sometimes loudly) making us and the land and all the other creatures around us sick instead.  And for so many of us, sick and wanting to feel better, or simply fed up with eating from the hands that bind us, look around for something better.  A little blind, we seek and grasp for a way, but we are not really sure what that is because that ship has long since sailed.  We have lots of ideas, but lots of them are different from each other.  And so much fear surrounds us because of this, fear of eating the wrong way, that we still don’t eat the right way because we feel confused, unsure, and mabye not better.  And to hope to fix this broken machine seems mildly hopeless, making it all the worse.

I have my own theories for my own family, but I like to keep them as such, theories.  They work for us and stem from our own personal experience with our own personal bodies and health.  I know what makes me sick, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well as what makes my children’s bodies out of whack, and their minds and spirits.  We come from a long line of food allergies and we have our own set of things to consider.  So, we do.

As should we all.

But getting to that point, the point of knowing what works for you and what doesn’t, of where and how to source the food that will really feed you the best, personally, isn’t easy.  And so, to say you should eat with your heart doesn’t really work at all for most of us, unless we have already cleared a lot of the post-modern cobwebs out from inside, and can hear, loudly enough, that beating vessel for what it wants to tell us.

What to do?

Thinking about this mess, it struck me that we do, indeed, have something we can all agree on, something we can all do without fear or worry or confusion.  That the easiest, simplest, truest thing that can be said about eating and thriving and feeding ourselves well and whole, without complication, is this–eating fresh, bright, and beautiful vegetables, in abundance, is the right place to start. 

Whether you plant your own small (or large) garden and eat your own harvests, or you head to a farmer’s market, easy to find these days, and eat the harvests of other farmers like us, or even if you just go to the regular market and look for the brightest, most beautiful, and fresh looking produce you can find and bring it home, this is the place to start.  Eat them, everyday in every way. This is a powerful and fulfilling way to eat no matter anything else.

Or so my heart and head decided, stewing about this all, beet in hand and then in tummy, the other day.  I know, without a doubt, that this food feeds the whole me.  And the whole you probably wants a bite of this beauty too,  this vibrant, healthy, uncomplicated, sweet kind of food.  There is little bad you can say about the humble vegetable class.  Besides the sometimes unpleasant flavor of less than fresh broccoli, it is all good.  This, I feel sure about, even in a time when sure is hard to come by.  So.

Eat Your Veggies!  With love.

beets, radish, carrot, spring food, local food, seasonal eating

News! News! Market Credit/Shares Now Available!

InstagramcarrotsThis just in.

Local folks!  Growing Wild Farm is now offering market credit/shares.  This is a wonderful option for those of our shoppers who prefer picking and choosing what vegetables from the harvest they would like to take home each week, but who have also wanted to become more a part of our farm family.  A CSA is not for everyone, and this we can appreciate, so this year, we are offering a market share option.

Paid in $90 increments, market members will receive a $100 credit at our farmer’s market booth.  Then with ease and without worrying about how much cash to bring each week, you can just swing by and grab what catches your fancy.  We will subtract it from your credit until it is used up.  Then, you can pay again.  We, in return each week, will harvest a lovely selection of what is ripe and ready from the fields, with lots of our standard favorites~salad mix, beets, kale, chard, onions~plus loads of summertime goodies~summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  We will also send out our popular and helpful weekly newsletter to each of you.  Part cooking ideas, part farm philosophy, you will get a big hug of farm love to your inbox with fun, interesting, sweet, and new recipes both for your kitchen and for living.

And all of our farm family is invited out to share in the summer-loving potluck evenings we host once or twice out on the farm each season.  Consider joining us in the adventures and flavors of our 2013 farm season.  Come by the market booth and sign up today!

balancing acts: purple cauliflower

purple, purpleThere are a few themes I have running in my head like a mantra for this year.  Balance was the one I was sure most important.  It was the word I kept writing on the tops of my to do list.  That, and “today is the only day”, which is a constantly good reminder.

But the truth is that balance is a finicky goal when you are a homeschooling mother of four.  I keep wanting to balance some self-care, self-soothing, self-loving time in with the call of other’s needs and the beating rhythm of the farm, but I just can’t trump those others’ needs with my own, it doesn’t work for me.  And I seem wildly inept at creating time.  Sometimes, there just isn’t enough of it and I know that some day my “today is the only day” will look a lot less peopled than my today’s, so I let go of wanting more than it seems I can do while my main occupation and preoccupation is being here for smaller folks.

That kind of balance is hard to find when I look at how the scales are tipped at present, and I want to have peace with that as easily as I did when I probably had more peace in general–a few spirits ago and only a dream of a farm in hand.

so much purpleThe balance that is coming in to focus this year is the structure of our farm business.  We have been a CSA driven business since we set up shop out here, and we always thought this was the best way for us to farm.  We love the deeper connection we tend to get with our CSA customers, the sureness of their harvests over the more changing nature of the markets, and it just was always our driving intention.  We had read so much about it before we actually started to farm, our book knowledge left us settled with a plan before we’d begun at all.

As can be the case with just about anything you learn from a book, but so much so with farming, until you are on your land and doing your thing, you don’t really have all the information you need.  And as great of a model as the CSA model is, for our farm and its particulars–size, labor force, capital, etc–it meant that our own little (big) family was always last on the receiving end of all the really great food we grew.  Having community members invested in our farm for the whole year and having them be the main supporters of our farm meant that we prioritized their experience, always.

This is, of course, a good thing and is what we should be doing for them.  And we were always happy to do it.  But, as with the shoemaker’s children running barefoot round town, at times it was really hard for us to not taste any of a particularly wonderful crop, or to end up (graciously) eating food from other farms instead of our own.  To say it like that makes it sound a bit crazy, even though it wasn’t.  It was, however, not really sustainable for a sustainably driven operation, right?

And so, this year we significantly downsized our CSA.  We even downsized our markets to one summer-only market.  We hope that by restructuring it all, with our family prioritized, we will actually better serve everyone.  The word that has now materialized like a sweet song in my mind for this year is this~abundance.  A beautiful word.  A positive word.

Not that balance isn’t, but for me, it was always sounded with a sense of lacking and guilt.

Our smaller CSA will have a pretty sweet year since we will never be stretched at harvest.  We can provide for them even more abundantly.  Our market customers will be greeted with abundance each week too, since most of the harvest won’t be under the table set aside for the CSA.  And our family will experience the glorious state of abundance as well, which is after all, truly one of the best blessings of growing your own food.  It fills you up in many, many ways. If you have ever done it, you know that feeling.

And so, already in March, my kitchen is up to its ears in purple.  Cauliflowers!  A crop that was usually so important for market at this time of year that I could only drool over it while it made its way into our dear customers hands.  And already, I am getting out the vinegar and the canning jars (fermented cauliflower was decidedly unsavory in our opinion), preserving the abundance.  This, I love.

And although all we do out here on this farm stems from our love for it, to deepen this, straighten it out a bit, and get it just a little bit more right, is always good.  Change is a constant for us–today really is the only day–so we won’t say things are settled, we know better than that.  But I can tell that for this year, or this today at least, things are looking so good.   Balanced, even, a bit more.

pretty pickled purple

For the love of chicory

chicory loveThis time of year we hear the same thing from most everyone we run into–the craving for fresh, green food is intense for those folks eating mostly what they grow themselves or from the farms around and about them.  There are greens to eat in the winter here if all goes well, but they are not really green, they are overwintered.  They sit through those cold, dark months of December and January, freeze and unfreeze often, and wait.  We harvest what grew before all of that, and it is usually not pretty nor tender.  They are greens that beg to be cooked.

By now, our desire for green is for fresh.  And new growth is happening, it feels like finally, after all that wait.  Fresh leaves are making there way to our plates again.  The greenhouse is fully planted and we are working arugula thinnings into our salad mix.  Before we know it, there will be lettuce again!

But while we wait for the traditional and tender lettuces to be in the mix, what is fresh in February and early March make me quite happy to eat.  More than happy…I almost don’t want to move on.  The inner leaves of sugarloaf chicory are as easy to eat as lettuce but with so much more to offer, I may love them more than anything.  And the smaller, spoon shaped inner leaves of radicchio are so sweet and bitter, royal and right. The mid -summer lettuce leaf salads really can’t compare with the mix of colors and textures of right-nows green salads, except that we love those for all the other fresh vegetables that are able to join in on the fun.

I sit down to eat this salad every day and the sight of it, its beauty, steals my heart.  And then I do bite into it and the flavor is almost too much, it is so good.  After roasted roots and meat, and cooked kale and collards, all winter, my body sings kind of like the rest of the animal kingdom outside.  The birds and the frogs and I are enlivened right now.

And I am over the moon in love with my plate.

Just as I am with one thing or another, each season,  in its turn.  Rapinis will come soon to sweep me off my feet, then peas.  Peas!  Then summer, the season that rarely offers itself monogamously, will bring so much to love it is ridiculous (and why we love it so).  Then come autumn-year after year after year–arugula will bring me to my knees.  And delicata squash, oh my!  Osaka purple mustard. Tat soi.  Even come next winter, I will sing, again, the survival instinct that cabbage and turnips inspire in me.  Then, the whole wild love-fest will begin again.

It has been seven years for us out here on this farm, that same length of time since we learned about our food allergies.  Our diet is so different now.  But it is also so simple and so good.  All the pleasure it brings feels like the same natural pleasure the earth itself takes in bringing it forth for us as it circles around the sun.

These love affairs I have, they feel so nourishing and healthful, that is how I dare say eating should be.  This is not to say I don’t have my weaknesses (coffee), and not to say that we don’t eat some things from miles away every single day of the year in bland repetition (bananas).  But the heart of all of our meals is this land.  And there is more joy in that than I think we know until we are experiencing it.

There are so many food movements, so much divergence in opinion.  There are external factors and internal ones.  I naturally shy away from dogma, I try to keep my vision clear and focas on myself…and those eating at my table each and every night.  There can be so much confusion about what to eat, guilt over what you are eating, and so much that does not nourish you to pick up on the cheap.

Whatever you choose, my hope, my own two cents on what it should do for you, is this–that it deeply feed your body and soul.  Not in any one night stand kind of way, cheap and wrong even if it seems right in the moment.  Deeply.

My argument for seasonal eating, aside from any social-economic-political-environmental reasons is that this will be the side effect either way.  And that this may just teach you, if you listen closely, how to eat as you need to in order to feel alive and joyful.

Because chicory is truly and amazingly healthy to eat; but that is not the reason I came to endear it.