Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Salads, Garden is finally in, and more piggies arriving

The cold, very wet spring kept us from getting our garden in until just last week. Our garden soil has a lot of clay, so it hangs on to water and you can't till it until it's dried out or nearly so. In previous years, we felt we were "late" with our garden if it didn't get finished up until Memorial Day weekend - this year, in spite of numerous "starts", we didn't get it in until the first weekend in June - yikes! Wonder how many of the tomatoes we'll lose to frost this year? Last year, I had the garden in by mid-May and still lost a bunch of tomatoes to an early frost - rats!

Besides tomatoes, we've got corn, red and white potatoes, two types of peas (yes, it's late, but I bought the seeds back in early April!), carrots, beets, two types of hot peppers, broccoli, cabbages, acorn and butternut squash, pumpkins, lettuces, radishes, kale, and spinach. It's going to be awhile before we start harvesting anything, but at least everything is in! We also replaced some semi-annuals and annuals in the herb garden - the perennials are doing great and trying to take over, so we had to do some digging and hack them back to make them share the space with their less-hardy brethren.

We are trying to shift our eating habits somewhat from the "big" meal being in the evening. Problem is, time during the day to fix that "big" meal is often lacking. We are trying to prep ahead for lunch foods we can both get into during the week, when I'm doing client work and he's working on the farm. So, some of our favorite salads come in handy:

  • potato salad, loaded with other veggies (carrots, celery, onion, radishes) and chopped egg, dressed with homemade mayo and prepared mustard, seasoned with some salt, pepper, and chopped fresh dill . . . goes with so many things!
  • lentil salad, with chopped fresh tomatoes, green onions, and a lovely dressing made with wine vinegar, chopped parsley, chopped thyme, salt or soy sauce, a little prepared mustard or Dijon.
  • lovely kale or spinach salad, made with pineapple chunks, bacon, sliced water chestnuts and green onion -  the recipe I got from a friend doesn't call for mushrooms, but I use them, and there are likely other goodies you could toss in here that would be very friendly - dried cranberries, toasted walnuts or pecans - you could really load it up as a "meal" salad with plenty of proteins. I felt like I wanted some sort of cheese in it - feta sounded right, but I didn't have any in the house when we ate this yesterday. Kale is so crispy/crunchy as a salad base - I really like it better than spinach. The dressing for this salad is quite simple and very tasty - almost like a sweet French, but with more kick. (note: this recipe makes WAY more dressing than a big bowl of salad needs, in my opinion - I mixed it up, we dressed our individual salad bowls and added cracked black pepper, and half the dressing was still left. I put that in a jar in the fridge for future use. 
    • 2/3 cup oil
    • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
    • 1/3 cup ketchup
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/4 tsp curry
    • 2 tbs worchestershire sauce
    • mix and toss with greens, or serve on the side
  • Tabouli and salads made with wheat berries - we just got some cracked wheat and wheat berries at the Country Life store, so I'm researching recipes. There are so many ways you can combine these tasty little morsels into salads and main dishes!
  • Quinoa makes a tasty base for a grain salad, too! It's also a great rice substitute for a hot side dish like pilaf. 
Darrell is off to pick up another small batch of feeder pigs, and perhaps two bred sows - we'll see what arrives home with him. We set up the temporary small pen for the little feeders this morning - we let them get acclimated before opening the temporary pen to the larger area they will continue to grow up in. The grass is so deep in the pasture that the older batch of feeders and the sheep can get completely lost from view in their moveable pens - sometimes Darrell has to stand up on the Bobcat to watch for moving waves in the grass to tell him a pig or a sheep is moving around.