Somali Amaranth Greens
Bunch 'o' Beets
Bag 'o' Carrots
German Extra Hearty Garlic
New Red Fire Lettuce
Sweet Baby Bells
Red Bell Peppers
Notes from the Farm
Sometimes you just get lucky... I feel like I just get lucky... kind of a lot.
I could have chosen any line of work, but I chose farming. I could have picked any place to farm, but I picked western Maine. I could have chosen any marketing outlet, but I chose the Kennebunk Farmers' Market... and all those choices led me directly to the farmers of The New Roots Cooperative Farm.
New Roots is a cooperative farm run by Somali born farmers in Lewiston... and let me tell you, they are not kidding around... they farm hard. Their produce is beautiful, their farm is well organized and their ambition is inspiring... but I'm not really here to give you a point for point tour of their cooperative, I'm here to tell you about my friends Seynab and Batula.
Seynab Ali is one of the most comforting, loving, matriarchal figures I've ever met. She is a leader, a mentor, a friend, and from time to time a pretty tough (and welcomed) critic. Seynab's opinion clearly carries weight in her community. It doesn't take long to feel comfortable in her presence...
Batula Ismail is absolutely hilarious. She brings a smile and a laugh to almost any conversation... and she has a real talent of explaining culture and food in a way that I can understand. Batula has a natural disarming empathy for people around her, an enviable interpersonal generosity... not easily achieved.
There are two other primary farmers with The New Roots, Abdi and Mohammed, who I don't know all that well, but have always been extraordinarily generous with their time and thoughts.
Together, this group makes up an absolutely inspiring and dynamic farm force.
I've been fortunate to be in the position to learn a little bit about their food and culture. Last year they started sharing some of their native foods with us here at the farm. They brought us bunches of Amaranth Greens (the name of which in Somali I won't try and spell here, because I'd butcher it... I know I would, because whenever I say the word, Batula and Seynab laugh at me in the most lovingly way). These greens are by far my favorite cooking green I've ever eaten. They brought me bunch after bunch, and finally some seed for me to grow my own... the seeds were a greater gift than I could have ever imagined, a bridge of self, of culture, of friendship.
The Somalian Amaranth in the share this week is from those seeds... it was a gift so precious, I had to share it with you. These greens should be cooked almost any way you cook spinach. It's not great raw. I like it chopped (stems and all) and cooked with some vinegar, salt, mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook the garlic and onion first, then add the mushrooms and when they are cooked, add the chopped Amaranth leaves, and cook until they are wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.
These leaves are also delicious cooked hard like Collard Greens. Take any Collard Green recipe and substitute the Amaranth.
You could also access the world wide network of information and find some more traditional Somali recipes... there are some super fun ones out there...
But most importantly, I'd like to encourage all of you to take a look at The New Roots website, newrootscooperativefarm.com, and learn a little bit more about these folks. We are fortunate to have them in our communities, they are good neighbors, and they have taught me so much about farming, friendship and the remarkable capacity for love in the world.
I'm a better person, and my life is notably improved, because of The New Roots Cooperative Farmers.
Amaranth in Coconut Milk
1 pound Amaranth Leaves, chopped, stems and all.
2 cups water
¾ cup coconut milk
1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
Bring water and salt to the boil in a large pot. Add washed amaranth leaves and boil for 15 minutes or until tender.
In a separate pan, heat the oil and cook the chopped onion until golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the well drained amaranth leaves and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning or add lemon juice to taste.
Delicata Squash with Caramelized Seeds
2 delicata squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon packed dark-brown sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Halve squash, and scoop out seeds and stringy fibers; reserve seeds. Cut each squash half in half again, and slice into 1 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Place in a large saucepan, and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add seeds; cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sugar, and cook until seeds are browned and caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
3. Season reserved squash with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil. Add 1 cup water, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, and simmer until squash is fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; transfer to a serving platter. Serve immediately, garnished with seeds.