Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Coming In, Moving Out

Up to this point, the harvest has been an ever swelling abundance: nothing has truly passed out of season except asparagus (which we don't grow yet, anyway) and our bok choy (which I can live without). With the summer solstice fast approaching, however, I feel as though I'm on board one of those flying spaceship rides so popular at amusement parks and carnivals, swinging incrementally higher and higher as the sun sets later and later. The apex of the year's arc seems simultaneously endless and instantaneous before the rushing plunge back to earth; we're at an summit of the season, raking in spring from every corner of Serenbe. But the farm year operates like an extended swap meet, or maybe a game of poker. At the moment, we consumers are in the lead, reveling in a bounty so fulsome that it makes me want to cook ALL THE TIME. It will pass; the house will win, and eventually winter will send me scrounging in the pantry when nothing but the collards survive the cold. Given that we are yet to hit the dog days of summer, I'm sure this seems a rather long perspective, but the knowledge that the days will soon be growing shorter rather than longer naturally sends my mind racing ahead to winter. Not to mention, we're about the lose a crop I'll sorely miss.

Our peas are dying! For the longest time our pea plants lounged near the base of their trellising, thin tendrils tugging gently at the air above. When we weren't looking, they staged a rapid accent before exploding in a profusion of white and purple pea flowers. This was our cue to start watching for pods, and within a week the sweet crunch of sugar snaps was gracing our plates. Bolstered by abundant rain and biodynamic love, our pea crop grew beyond anyone's expectations. Before long, vines heavy with peas were falling off of the trellis and nearly blocking the path with a wall of leaves and pods.

So we harvested and harvested--munching as we went and dreaming of stir fries. It was this harvesting that ultimately did the peas in. Friday, as we gathered the peas for market, the threatening clouds opened and drenched us in minutes. Pea-picking in the rain was actually surprisingly tranquil, so we continued our slow movement down the path as raindrops slid down our noses and our shoes squelched in the mud. Alas, the rain, in addition to our inadequately strong trellising, fostered some sort of downy mildrew, which we in our wet picking passed on to the bulk of the crop. The leaves are turning white; the vines are growing limp, and slowly our pea pods are succumbing to the blight.

So I'm having to come to terms with flux and change and the fact that I can't have all my veggies and eat them too. I tell myself that I am trading in the peas for a bumper crop of eggplants, and in the meantime savoring this last lot as much as I can.

I'm also getting excited about a funny little cabbage relative called kohlrabi. In my internet sleuthing I have learned that a great many people think kohlrabis look like the Russian satellite Sputnik. Not having grown up during the Cold War, I prefer the description that one of our market-goers coined: kohlrabi as a "predatory turnip." It certainly makes an interesting addition to our beds with its vivid purple skin and sprouting, antenna-like leaves. Despite its exotic appearance, kohlrabi has a relatively mild flavor, akin to a sweet turnip, and the texture of a broccoli stem or water chestnut. This lovely recipe celebrates the things that are coming in (kohlrabi, potatoes, onions) while still rejoicing in the last of what is going out (goodbye, dear sweetpeas!) My unending gratitude to the wonderful Athena for sending me three fantastic Mennonite cookbooks (does she read my mind?) one of which (Simply In Season) is the source of this delicious curry.

Kohlrabi with Peas and Potatoes
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup kholrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped
1 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped (sigh...I had to use a can)
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
kholrabi leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup peas (I used sugarsnaps and chopped them into 2 or 3 pieces)

Saute the garlic and onion in some oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add the spices and stirfry for 30 seconds, until aromatic. Add the kholrabi and potatoes and stir briefly. Next, add the tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar; bring to a boil and simmer until the veggies are tender-crisp, about 15 minutes). Add the leaves and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes. At this point, taste and determine if you want to spice it up with more mustard, cumin, etc. Throw the peas in last, and cook for a few moments, until peas are done. Serve over rice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there is a fabulous Mennonite cookbook called "Extending the Table" (which follows on a book called "More-with-Less") - great worldwide recipes and stories and such. highly recommended! (I thin it's abut $20 on Amazon.)