… start a vegetable weekly subscription and make Mongolian-style sauce (lots and lots of it!)
I certainly grow more than we can eat – and we eat lots of veggies! Yet I don’t grow enough for selling at a Farmer’s Market or to a restaurant. But even with all the preserving I do, it’s too much just for us. And let’s face it: some things don’t preserve that well anyway (lettuce sauerkraut, anyone?). Or I have no need to preserve them, because I’ll be growing them through the cold months. Why preserve when you can eat fresh? You know: the mâche, arugula, mustards, lettuces, onions, kale, turnips, spinach, Swiss Chard, and other greens.
So, what’s a girl to do?
Find a few people who don’t have a garden, are interested in super fresh food, and are willing to receive whatever I grow. That’s what a girl does.
So my mini (or rather “nano”) subscription scheme started last year. I am not a professional grower, so I do not want to commit for the entire “growing” season, and I want to give myself, and my clients, a way out if I can’t sustain it – or if they don’t like it. So I offer the subscription in 7 to 8 weeks increment (Spring, early summer, high summer, fall) and only to a handful of clients. A chef’s CSA.
So far so good. We are in week 2 of spring, and that’s what my Thursday subscriber got today:
I simply love this time of the year when the days are clear, the nights are cool, the maples are blooming, the buds are swelling on the trees, and so many green things – good to eat too – are poking out of the ground, or just starting to grow for real.
- The acid green of sorrel. Lemony flavor in our salads and tart soups and sauces. Lovely with potatoes.
There is somebody in the house who’s not so fond of radishes, especially radish leaf soup or stir-fried radish pods, but I’ve just hit the jackpot!
I made something with radishes where the reaction was: “I can eat radish like that all day long!” I am sure that was an exaggeration, and I won’t serve this at every meal. But I must admit it was good.
In fact, the current crop of French Breakfast style radishes has peaked: they are gathering strengths to make seeds, and you can tell because the root is starting to a be little hollow. Still… I can’t throw them out.
Thanks to VeggieBelly, I’ve had fresh pickles on my mind – hers was mango, but hey, I don’t have mangoes, I have radishes – and what else do I have growing now? let’s see spring onions and cilantro – lots of cilantro as a matter of fact, and it’s starting to bolt because it did not like the few days above 90F (32C) that we had – so I need to use it.Voila, Quick Pickled Radish Salsa was born! We’ve tried it with several dishes, and we like it best with stir-fry beef, simple pork stew, hamburger steak and served with rice. Definitively need the rice to make up for the saltiness (and heat) of the pickle. And inspired by Marisa of Food In Jars who puts everything in jar, I jarred it. (if the radish salsa is not consumed right away, the radishes will start to turn pink throughout, continue to exude some juice and the texture will change somewhat – still very good – just not the same).
Quick Pickled Radish Salsa Read more
Among the pleasure of the early spring garden is the hunt for the wanted volunteers: dill pokes its elongated slim first leaves among the sowed arugula while cilantro is coming up now in the pea bed – both bright green, brightly flavored, their unmistakable pungency released when you crush or brush them. Both are volunteers that I strongly encourage by scattering the ripe seeds in the fall: I find the plants are much stronger when they come up when they want and not when I want.
And if you think dill and cilantro look similar now, you are right, and they should: they both belong to the carrot (Umbelliferae) family. And if there is a question of what they are, touching them and then smelling my fingers would, without a doubt, tell me. Or I can wait and, then, the true leaves would announce their name as true dill leaves and cilantro leaves look not at all the same… except for dill-leafed cilantro that looks like dill and tastes like cilantro (yep there is such a beast ! – you know there must be an exception that confirms the rule…)
Do you encourage volunteers in your kitchen garden?
Note: the photos were taken mid-march, 10 days ago. True leaves are now showing.