We all have those books, articles, quotes, or speeches that seem to speak directly to us and impact our lives from that point forward. For me as a blossoming foodie, working at a farm-to-table restaurant and studying nutritional sciences in the mid 2000s, I fell in with groups both at the restaurant and university who were politically charged regarding their food choices, and I was devouring literature by Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Francis Moore -Lappe, Eric Schlosser, etc. and falling in love with the cooking and thoughtful food sourcing of the likes of Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, Deborah Madison, Judy Rodgers, Suzanne Goin and a whole long list of chefs who were reinventing the way America ate and experienced food with the ingredient-driven, chef-driven California cuisine. About this time, I read that "game-changer" book for me, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. To simplify, Kingsolver, her husband, and two daughters move cross country from Tucson to Appalachia and, as part of this new beginning, decide to eat only locally grown foods for a year.
I thought of this book over the weekend as we ate our first potatoes of the year. We don't take our seasonal restrictiveness quite to the degree that Kingsolver and her family do, but we try to fill our plates with as much food as possible that we personally raise or that is raised locally. Admittedly, we are no saints, and this rule must be bent at times; however, we rarely, RARELY compromise this rule when it comes to vegetables. So, this means that with the exception of our St. Patrick's Day corned beef feast, we have not had potatoes to eat since December. When you read about my excitement in harvesting and eating potatoes, this is why! The Dark Red Norlands were the first for us to pick (and we had a couple of Yukon Gems and Banana Fingerlings that were mishaps from weeding the potato bed last week), and, oh my goodness, there is just nothing like eating new potatoes. On Thursday night, I pan roasted them with some fresh garlic that we had pulled up that day, and they were creamy, buttery, sweet, and just perfect. There is something so very satisfying to taste what is in season, when it is in season. Ahhh, how fantastic it is to be entering into harvest season, re-introducing all of these new flavors onto our palettes. As a chef I used to work for repeatedly said, "When you use good, quality ingredients, cooking is simple. It requires very little manipulation and lets the integrity of the ingredients speak for themselves". Thursday night's potatoes were the perfect illustration of Chef Tyler's words.
In our garden, this week, I think we are on the tail end of our spring crops and will have many new products available over the next week or two. Due to limited and unpredictable harvest quantities, we will be harvesting our first summer squash, eggplant, and shishito peppers (double yay!!!) for market and CSA this week, but please look forward to having these available next week online (not knowing exactly what we're going to have makes it difficult to make available online). We are battling the dreaded tomato hornworm which after a season of not seeing one last year has made its' return with a vengeance. Even so, I've been snacking on the cherry tomatoes and would expect them in another week or two. The sunflowers, Bachelors buttons, gomphrena, and calendula are starting to bloom, dotting our field with highlights of color, and the garlic is going to be harvested this week! It's hard to believe, but we will be seeding our fall crops this week and transplanting our fall kale and cabbages into the field as well. Where is the season going?!