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Archive for May, 2008

As you can imagine, a bean that has been around since 6000 bc, has a rich folklore attached to it. The Italians have a tradition of planting on All Souls Day, November 2nd. They are carried for good luck, and in ancient Greece and Rome were used to cast a vote.

They are also said to contain high levels of L-dopa, which is good for your brain. Good for you, no doubt! Delicious and filled with a sense of preparation pageantry, for sure! They do take a little bit of extra prep…they are giant pods first of all. You must shell them, then blanch for 1 minute, and peel them out of the skins. After all the work I wanted my recipe to showcase the fava. There are several listed in the recipe section, but here is my favorite.

Fava, Feta & Olio

2-3 pounds fresh fava beans
medium slices of a good feta cheese (that Israeli feta from Trader Joes is fabulous)
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil

shell and blanch favas for about 1 minute
place in to ice bath
pop out of skins

Toss everything together and let marinate for a few minutes. Serve with a yummy nutty bread or olive loaf.

You’ll need to ask for them at the farmers market right away, because the season is coming to an end.

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Swiss Chard “Bright Lights” has been a pleasure to grow! First time, from seed and they are fabulous. Here is a close up of the beautiful yellow…there is also orange, hot pink, bright red and white. I have 4 rows about 4′ long and now that they have really taken off, I could pick enough for 4 sides daily.

My new favorite chard dish is Garden Quiche. I have made it 5 times in the last 6 days and do believe I have perfected it! The recipe and method is combined from several I read and solely based on what I had in the cupboard.

Garden Quiche

2 – 2 ½ slices of sourdough bread
T butter

Soften butter and prepare dish. Make breadcrumbs and pat in to the dish as crust.

½ large leek, or
2 large shallots, or
1 medium onion

4 – 6 C greens – use chard, broccoli, spinach, collards…
4 eggs
1 C Cream
1 C Milk
8 oz Cheese (quattro formagio is nice)
Salt and pepper

Sweat onion in butter, add greens and let wilt. Whisk up the egg, cream and milk. Sprinkle with cheese, spread with veggies, and pour in the cream mixture.

If you put the cheese on top, it browns and makes a little crust…that’s nice too! The sky is the limit with combinations. Here are a few on my list:

Use goat cheese and gruyere and grate some fresh nutmeg over.

Use green chilies, pepper jack, cilantro and a little fresh cumin.

Bake at 350˚ – 400˚ for about 25 minutes, or until set.

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The closest I’ll get to farm living any time soon, is my community garden plot. I have plenty of garden beds in the backyard…but farms have full sun all day (sun, sun, sunny sun). The back yard garden is wonderfully convenient…but the farm environment affords me the chance to get a clearer picture of what the agri-business plant cycle is like. Because of the harshness of the wide open space…things grow faster, bigger and then it’s over! I just planted in February, and it’s time to replant most of the beds now.

In the past couple of days the broccoli, celery, peas and carrots… are done. Today, in went the corn, Genovese basil, purple basil, cucumbers and some nectar flowers for the friendly bees! The other day I planted “trail of tears” black beans. I am looking forward to that harvest!

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The last of the sugar snap peas came out of the garden this week. Planting these in the early winter might afford two crops! A very small basket of pods produced almost a quart of fresh & sweet peas! I threw them into a pan of pasta, chicken and pancetta…at the very last minute and the pea flavor (pea-ness) really shines!

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Scarlet Runner Beans from seed in a space of 2 inches by 2 feet. These eventually climb to the roof and provide shade for the kitchen window, nectar for the bees, butterflies and my favorite humming birds. The red flowers turn in to large bean pods, vigorous and beautiful!

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