Have You Ever Tried to Spell the Word “Connoisseur”?

It’s Thursday again, and what a nice, cool, cloudy Thursday so far! This is the kind of day that was a sad foreshadowing of fall and school time when we were younger;  now it just seems like a lovely reprieve. Heat and sun create totally different experiences depending on whether you’re playing or working in them.
We’ve got some great stuff for you this week – no matter how we feel about it, most of the garden just loves the heat. So we’ve got baby mustards, radishes, summer squash, parsley, salad mix, baby carrots, and garlic.
Baby mustards: OK, so not everything loves the heat. The mustards, for instance, are decidedly unfond of the heat. At least, if you think about them from the perspective of being a food plant, the heat is bad for them. But maybe from their point of view the heat is just fine, because it makes them feel really sexy and also like it’s time to start settling down and having a family – by which I mean, all the plants are getting ready to bolt (send up a flower stalk, bloom, and make seed). Once they do this, the parts we’d like to eat don’t taste as good. So even though the plants in our bed of mustards are still pretty young, they seem headed inevitably toward teen motherhood. We may not think it’s the best choice on their part, but it’s a decision they’ve made so we’re going to support it. And by support it, I mean harvest them all right now and eat them before they have a chance to bolt. So follow that metaphor to its logical conclusion, if you dare!
Radishes: The radishes are small this week, and very cute.
Summer squash: We’ve got an assortment, including zucchini and pattypan – we’ll just have you weigh out the right amount for yourselves so you can pick the ones you want. They’re good cut into chunks, tossed with olive oil, roasted in the oven, then salted and peppered. Here’s a recipe that was recommended to us by someone who knows food:
Creamy Squash Soup with Chives (makes about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups thinly sliced summer squash
3 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons finely minced chives
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
sunflower seeds
Melt the butter in a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until onion is limp. Add squash and stock or broth; bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 5 minutes or just until squash is fork-tender.
Whirl half the mixture at a time in a blender until smooth. Stir in chives, pepper, enough milk to create desired consistency, and salt to taste. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Garnish with sunflower seeds and serve.
Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle contains a recipe for zucchini chocolate chip cookies that, according to the book, are good enough to satisfy a birthday party’s worth of under-twelves. I’d say that’s  a pretty good recommendation. Here’s a link to the recipe: http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/Zucchini%20Cookies.pdf
Parsley: We’ve got both curly and flatleaf, your choice (unless we run out of one or the other).
Salad Mix: yummy.
Baby Carrots: These are actual baby carrots, not the things you buy in the store which used to be grownup carrots and got put through a lathe and whittled down, and incidentally don’t taste like much. There are two varieties, and one (called Purple Haze) has beautiful red and purple tinges to it.
Garlic: As you may or may not know, garlic is an over-wintering crop. We planted our garlic bed last fall, and just harvested a couple weeks ago. Once garlic is harvested, it needs to cure for couple of weeks, which lets it dry down a little (so that it stores better) and mellows out the flavor a little.  The variety we’re giving you this week is called Siberian. Here’s an excerpt from its description, at http://www.territorialseed.com:
“The cloves are protected by an attractive light pink skin that becomes even redder when grown in high-iron soils. This clean, medium-to-strong flavored garlic will warm your soul on the coldest winter evening. Best of all, it is prized for having a very high allicin content, possibly the highest of any garlic. Allicin supports normal cholesterol levels, boosts the immune system, and enhances circulation.”
We’ve got three or four other varieties of garlic to try out this year, and we’re excited to discover the differences. People who grow their own garlic tend to become connoisseurs and can distinguish all sorts of flavor notes and such in the different varieties, much as wine connoisseurs do. It makes you wonder if people with highly developed garlic palates consider garlic’s terroir (the sum of a place’s characteristics – soil, climate, water – that combine to impart a specific flavor to wine grapes, or in this case, garlic, unique to that spot).
We’ll see you later today!

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