New Red Fire Head Lettuce
French Breakfast Radishes
Notes from the Farm
In the waiting moments before the full beginning of the heart of the season, I sometimes wonder if I still have it in me...
Farming is not a particularly hard job... for a couple of months we have some long days, the markets can be finicky, the crops can be stubborn or outright failures... but ultimately it's a pretty good deal, and a heck of a way to spend a life.
But still, there is some getup to it. I can order the seeds in December, I can fire up the greenhouse in February, I can prep the fields in April, and start getting planted in May... but come late June, I look around, see the seasonal house I've built around myself, and wonder if I can still do it...
Can I get up early enough? Put in the hours cultivating the weeds? Manage the disease and pests? Can I balance the needs of the CSA with the needs of the Farmstand? Can I motivate a crew?
Do I still have it in me?
You see, every year I get myself into a situation (a farm) that I need to get myself out of (fulfilling the needs of the farm by farming). It's not that it's hard, it's that I'm perpetually putting myself directly into an inevitable disaster. And knowing that disaster is inevitable can be hard to stare down.
But I'm addicted to that predictable unpredictability... I love it... I love the evolved symbiont circle of farm and myself... I'm not sure you could get me out of this farm or the farm out of me... it's become an essential mutualism of self and situation.
And that's what happens, when I'm deep in spring/early summer, I'm doubting my heart, when my energy is questioned... I picture myself removed, the farm removed, and it becomes an unimaginable void... and I look up, and I see the corn... I see the crew... my family... all you all... and it feels very doable, necessary, joyful...
It doesn't mean the doubt isn't there, but the sense of purpose outmuscles the doubt, and I suppose that's more than I could ever ask for...
Radicchio-Cabbage Slaw with Honey
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 medium head napa cabbage (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 small head radicchio, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
Whisk together honey, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until well blended. Season with pepper. Toss together cabbage and radicchio in a large bowl. Add dressing; toss to combine. Cover, and refrigerate at least 5 minutes. Just before serving, toss again.
Slaw can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 day.
Fennel with Parmigiano and Lemon
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved
¼ cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
Place all in ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving.
Fennel, Apple, and Kohlrabi Salad
3 ribs celery, strings removed
1 medium bulb kohlrabi (about 10 ounces) peeled
Juice of 2 lemons, strained
1 green apple
1 medium bulb fennel, greens cut off and reserved for garnish
1 cup white Concord grapes or other green grapes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup celery leaves
Using a mandoline (or just cut things super thin), thinly shave the celery and kohlrabi into a medium bowl. Pour juice of lemons over, and toss to combine. Core apple; thinly shave crosswise on mandoline into bowl with celery. Toss to coat with lemon juice. Thinly shave fennel bulb, and add to bowl along with the grapes. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Toss in celery leaves, and garnish with a few of the fennel fronds. Serve.
This salad is sliced with a Japanese mandoline; if you don't have one, cut vegetables as thin as possible with a sharp knife.