Thursday, June 26, 2008


Yeah, Spike Spinach back. Frog Lady says I should write sumthin' about strawberries cuz all the food blogs is oohing and aahing about them these days. Well, she ain't so creative, I guess, but I s'pose I'll have to join the chorus...in my own way.

Yeah, I'm happy to set the record straight on strawberries! Someone asked why they were so hard to grow. I'll tell you why - cuz the berries make it hard! Sheez - talk about prima donnas. They can't grow the same year you plant them - oh no, they have to be planted the year before. AND you have to feed them just right and at just the right time. If they don't like what you serve, they won't make much berries. But, right, you don't find that out til the next year. Talk about holdin' a grudge!

And even though they make you plant them one year early, they don't like to go through the winter, I guess, cuz they demand to be covered! Sheez, talk about mixed messages. So the frog farmers get out the bales of straw and tuck the precious darlings in for the long cold winter. Um, excuse me, that could be avoided by bein' willing to fruit it up the same year you're planted. Oh well, they're kinda dense, I guess. (BTW, spinach is 45 days MAX - seed to table. Just a little comparison there.)

Of course after the berries get all snuggly in the cozy little straw blankets, it finally warms up and they start complainin' again. So the straw comes off and they start showin' off their little white flowers. Big deal. Then we get a cold snap and they're all whiny again. I saw what those frog folks had to do this year -- set up a full irrigation system, (not like they didn't have anything else to do that day) and water those big crybabies for two whole nights. And believe me, nobody else got that special treatment!

So I guess it worked cuz there's a bunch a berries out there. But them berries is still not satisfied. First it was rainy and they gets all sulky and refuse to taste like anything. Then it gets hot and they got huffy and started self-destructin' or sumthin. I mean I watched them pickin' the patch and I swear they was throwin' out as many as they was pickin'. See what I mean about bein' spiteful if things ain't just right? Sheez..

And pickin' looks like no picnic! They look like they is in slo-mo or sumthin' - nobody moves! I didn't have much else to do yesterday so I checked them out - like for five hours crawling down a stupid strawberry row. Come on! (BTW - you could pick five ACRES of spinach in that time. But I don't say nothin'.)

So yeah, strawberries make it hard, but they can get away with it. Specially now cuz I gotta admit, they are finally satisfied with all their demands and they is behavin' mighty tasty.

But I think I might start a Spike Spinach Finishin' School for Finicky Vegetables. Teach these manners around here -- how to go out and get the job done. And it's not just the picky berries. I saw some zucchini get on the market truck. Now there's a clueless veggie if I ever saw one -- talk about wearin' out your welcome! I think I could really set some things straight.

But I don't know if I'll be stickin' around. Me and my buddies don't like it so hot and I only see one more patch of spinach out there. 'Course we don't whine, we don't complain, we don't demand a special bubble over the farm - we just curl up our leaves and bolt!

hasta la vista baby!

Spike

p.s. don't let my buddies see me givin' a recipe, but I googled around and came up with a great way to have them berries -- with spinach, of course!

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Busted



Yeah, Spinach back. You can call me Spike. We might as well be on a first name basis cuz it's lookin' like I'm gonna be around for a while. Frog Lady and me had a little talk after she found out I'd been postin' on her precious frog log. She don't make it here much so I figgered I could set the record straight on a thing or two. So whaddya know she actually shows up a coupla days ago and she sat there for hours - like she was writin' War and Peas or sumthin'. I thought I was in the clear but she got to the end and saw what I been up to -- guess that last picture of the spinach patch I posted was way bigger than the usual size. And hey, why not, the spinach has been awesome!

Oops, I'm goofin' on our agreement. Seems the Frog Lady realized she could use a little help around here, so I'm gonna hang around - check some things out and report back. Only deal is I had to promise not to write so much about SPINACH! Sheez - alright alright. Even though me and my pals are really the story of the Spring garden (IMHO), I been checkin' out some other patches and what do I find but lettuce, the pampered darlings of the greenhouse set. Well, they been out in the field for a while, and thanks to all that coddling, they seem to have, um, grown. They always were showoffs. Frog lady and crew been getting too busy to hold their little lettucey hands at night so here's how they're hoggin' the show now. Check it out -- kinda over the top (IMHO) but there it is. Some folks'll do anything for attention!

So here's some BIG pictures of some BIG lettuce (I always did say they had BIG HEADS.)

signin' off,
Spike


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day-o


What is wrong with this picture? Yes, one bowl contains bananas, the other morel mushrooms. The bowls are sitting next to each other on the same kitchen counter. So what's wrong with that?

I'll let Barbara Kingsolver answer the question. Ms. Kingsolver, long a beloved fiction writer, has written a surprising bestseller titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which depicts her decision, along with her husband and two daughters, to eat for one full year only food that is organically grown and locally produced, either nearby or from their own labor on their Appalachian farm. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Barbara Kingsolver, that appeared in the magazine, Shambala Sun, in July 2007.

(Interviewer): What was the most difficult thing about eating locally for a year?

Barbara Kingsolver: Everyone asks that, and I think the answer people expect is that it was really hard to give up some particular food, but it really wasn't. Our undertaking was to focus on what was new, what was good, what was fresh in every season, and every month there was something to celebrate. By concentrating on that, we really forgot about what we were missing. It didn't cross my mind when I was hunting morels that I was giving up bananas. I mean, who needs them?

Uh-oh. The bananas and morels sitting side by side are actually sitting on my kitchen counter -- the picture was taken about a month ago when I happened to re-read that interview. As far as Morel mushrooms go, there may be some rather staid strains that reliably show up in the same place each year, but the morels on our farm seem to be coyote tricksters, whose appearance and disappearance are totally unpredictable. Now you see 'em one year under the old apple tree, next year you definitely don't! This particular batch of morels popped out as my son was looking for a chain in some metal junk next to our garage. Never been there before! No mushroom guides suggesting a perusal of automotive junk!

So my son brought his prize to the house, I plunked them in a bowl next to their Caribbean visitors, and went Hmmm. Muted earthy brown next to bright fluorescent yellow. Point of origin: fifty feet vs five thousand miles. Historical baggage: A native North American wild food vs pillaging of land and native South American populations by some of the prototype multinational corporations at the turn of the the century. The term, "banana republic", was penned by O. Henry to refer to a dictatorship servile to the controlling moneyed interests in that land. Nope, not just a hip and outdoorsy clothing brand. Ouch.

So now the ubiquitous banana has a prime place in every supermarket produce section, and on most kitchen counters, I'll warrant. And I understand that the bananas we get are the "Red Delicious" of the banana world. I heard a fellow who had visited Costa Rica describe the incredible variety of this tropical fruit in its native country, with creamy, pudding-like textures and complex flavors that are almost unrecognizable from the same fruit that lands on our distant shores, and that everybody knows is picked green and gassed to ripen. How could that taste good?

Yet the banana boats keep landing and Chiquita Banana has convinced the majority of our population that she is a key player in a healthy diet. Barbara Kingsolver got along without them for a year, and I could too. They never really rocked my boat. But the hard-working, fast-moving farmer on this land seems to find the banana's portability and ease of preparation a ready answer for what to eat when there is really no time to eat! I have pulled off the tomato moratorium (Frog Log, 2/08/08) but that's seasonal and I don't know if I could say yes we have no bananas quite yet. But I'm thinking about it.

Although I never made a smoothie or muffins from Morel mushrooms -- and hope I never have to! The comparison of the two food items is not really parallel, but does give, to use a cliche, food for thought.

So my book club, along with every other book club in the country, read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and agreed that everyone would bring locally produced food to share at the meeting. This was in May so there was a lot of rhubarb and a several uses for hard-boiled eggs! I was feeling pretty smug as, thanks to being "professionals", we already had vegetables to pick from the garden. I decided to make a spinach salad. Spinach is so hardy that we can plant it very early and have a good crop by mid-May. And despite minimal attention, this particular patch had grown vigorously since the first planting that had been immediately followed by a snowstorm. The leaves were so crisp and dark green, they almost looked like they were dressed up to go to town! I actually don't think my description can do justice to this hard-working harbinger of Spring in the garden, so I'll add another photo to the blog to show the lush leaves that practically look like they're ready jump in the truck!

Hey, wait a minute -- how did that picture of the spinach patch already get in the Frog Log???





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