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June, 2009:

On the menu this week . . . June 22, 2009

Kentucky Wonder pole beans in our garden

'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans in our garden

On the menu this week . . . June 22, 2009

Tomatoes – the very first!

Cherry Tomatoes – yes, they are orange

Lettuce ‘Oak Leaf’ – the very last . . .

Summer Squash

Peaches ‘Harken’

Sweet Corn ‘G-90’

Green Beans ‘Kentucky Wonder’

Cucumber

Garlic

Farm fresh eggs

What to do with Green Beans . . .

Green beans are suited to a variety of preparations, from elegant to country style.

Begin by giving them a good rinse in cool running water.  Snap off each end from the bean – and if a “string” happens to be attached, just pull down the bean until it comes off.  I haven’t encounter many strings with this Kentucky Wonder pole bean – but some green beans are very stringy and called “string beans”.  Leave them long for an elegant presentation or snap into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long if you prefer.  Now they are ready to cook.

There are two approaches to cooking the beans.  One is to keep them crisp and bright green, the other is to cook until very tender.

I like both ways, but the way I most often prepare green beans is a very Southern, country style.  Fry a few pieces of good bacon in a large cast iron skillet.  When crispy, add the snapped green beans to the pan with a little water, maybe a cup. And let cook, covered, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  As the water cooks off, the beans will start to brown a little.  This is the effect I am looking for – the beans have a lot of natural sugar and they will caramelize a bit and have a rich flavor, and it looks beautiful.  Keep adding a little water if the pan is getting too hot, and keep stirring.  Add salt.  When the tenderness is to your liking, turn it off and serve hot.  The leftovers are even good cold with a little vinaigrette, like a green bean salad.

Other popular variations are to cook the snapped beans in a pot with new potatoes until all are tender.  Serve with salt and pepper and butter.  Also, cooking in plenty of salted water and serving the tender beans with fresh cornbread is an old fashioned hearty meal.

To achieve the crisp bright beans, it is necessary to either steam or simmer the beans briefly – maybe 10 minutes or so.  If you are serving hot, do so promptly or the color will fade.  To serve cold, like on a vegetable tray for dipping, you must stop the cooking by “shocking” the beans, plunging them into icy cold water.  They should stay green and crispy.

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On the menu this week . . .June 15, 2009

Blackberries

Summer Squash – yellow crookneck and straightneck, gray and green zucchini,  yellow zucchini ‘Gold Rush’

Carrots

Lettuce ‘Buttercrunch‘ and ‘Jericho‘–  washed whole leaves

Sweet corn

Sweet Onions

Garlic

Farm fresh eggs

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Carrots

Cecily eating from the garden

Cecily eating fresh from the garden

Carrots

Our son, Max (not pictured . . .), is five years old, and at the age when kids say a lot of funny things.  He has cracked me up a couple of times lately with his comments about carrots.

When we first started pulling a few carrots to eat at the baby stage, he enjoyed them, but one day he asked me, “Mom, can’t we have some carrots that don’t have these plants growing out of the top?”

Evidently the leafy tops didn’t deter him, because one day he came in the house with damp dirt all around his mouth.  I asked him if he had been eating dirt.  He replied, “No, I’ve been eating dirty carrots!”

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On the menu this week . . . June 1, 2009

rows of garlic in the winter garden

rows of garlic in the winter garden

Sweet Onions

Baby Summer Squash – yellow crookneck and straightneck, gray and green  zucchini, yellow zucchini ‘Gold Rush’

Carrots

Lettuce – mixed, washed whole leaves – red leaf, buttercrunch, oak leaf, and romaine

Radishes

Spring garlic

Farm fresh eggs

Blackberries and peaches??????

Normally by this time we would be full on into blackberry season.  My daughter’s birthday is this week and I know that for eight birthdays there have been blackberries and here is the ninth birthday, and no blackberries.  These early berries were damaged at the flower stage in a frost.  There will be berries soon when the later varieties come on.

The report at the farmer’s market is that there is a half peach crop this year – they aren’t in season yet, of course.  Half is better than none!  In 2007 there was a total loss, in 2008, a great crop, this year, 2009, half.  The life of a peach farmer is one of uncertainty.

Onions

The onions in Fouke took a beating in the hail storm a few weeks ago.  These onions are delicious, but some have a soft core as a result of damage to the stem.  Keep them refrigerated and discard any soft parts.  If we were in pioneer days and growing onions to keep for our families through the year, we would be going without this year.  These soft cored onions will not keep.  I can imagine folks including onions in every meal to get them all eaten up before they went bad, then going months with no onions – an important seasoning ingredient for the bland pioneer diet.  No California or Georgia onions for them.

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