In your box:
–Lettuce, “Red Romaine”
–Strawberries or Sugar Snap Peas
A funny thing happened this week—it didn’t rain every single day! With the much-needed respite from flooding, we’ve finally been able to start catching up on weeding. We’ve also seen a lot of growth, as some warmer weather and good sunshine have provided a real jump-start to a lot of plants that have been downright soggy for so many weeks.
We’ve got lots of flowers on our cucumbers and zucchini, and already some tiny green tomatoes starting to form. For all of my belly-aching about the weather, it looks like we might have a growing season after all!
Strawberries have kept up at a good pace, though it does look like their days are numbered. Some of you will receive Sugar Snap Peas instead. Snap peas should be eaten with the pod. Simply snap off the end and the stringy spine, and enjoy them plain.
The curly, green/white beaked snakes are Garlic Scapes. These are a backup reproductive option of garlic plants, producing seeds (very rarely, and not in most varieties) and bulbils, which are essentially miniature cloves that would achieve full garlic size in a few seasons of planting. Cultivated garlic has been bred to emphasize strong growth of the lower cloves, which are eaten with delight and also replanted for the next season’s crop. As a result, garlic no longer reliably reproduces with the seeds formed in the scape and these long beaks only take away from the energy. They have much of the same taste as the cloves themselves, and can be substituted into any recipe calling for garlic. One scape is basically the equivalent of one clove. They will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, preferably in a bag or a humidifier drawer.
Garlic scapes can also be nibbled raw. I really enjoy this zingy treat, but afterward no one enjoys standing near me. By the way, if you happen to be a lover of garlic or small-town festivals, mark your calendars for the Minnesota Garlic Festival, held annually in Hutchinson on the 2nd Saturday in August. If you enjoy wine that tastes terrible, you can sample the wine there made with garlic scapes. Better: garlic ice cream and garlic-chip cookies.
This week we introduce one of the prettiest crops that we grow—Chard. While there are several different colors of chard leaves and stems on the market, this year we’ve simplified to just yellow and pink (with a few oddballs too) for a great color contrast. Chard is a very close relative of beets and spinach, with a similar taste. To try it, you’ll first want to separate the broad stems from the leaves. Unlike kale, chard stems are quite tasty. They need to cook or steam for 8-10 minutes, while the leaves require only 4-5 minutes.
Chard is divine in an egg dish like quiche or an omelet, and is also a good fit in a lasagna or any recipe calling for a cooking green like kale or collards. Keep chard in the hydrator drawer and try to use it within a week.