Notes from the Farm
In the growing seasons of my life I end up with a lot of bruises on my legs. I tend to throw my body around a bit and have little grace and take little care when legging up onto a wagon or truck bed. Last week I fell off a new transplanter we were using to put in the 5th planting of brassicas. I have a pretty epic bruise on my left calf. It doesn’t keep me up at night, but it does hurt to put on socks, or pants, and I can’t cross my left leg over my right. I am not trying to impress anyone out at the farm, or anywhere really, so I’m still wearing shorts and skirts. Why hide?
Last week I went to see some UMD students perform Much Ado About Nothing on the grounds of Glensheen. It was a lovely evening for it –I get such a kick out of that play. The little song in the middle of the play is cute and has a simple ring of truth that Shakespeare lends to words: “Sigh no more ladies, sigh no more. Men were deceivers ever. One foot in sea and one on shore, to one thing constant never. But sigh not so and let them go and be you blithe and bonny, converting all your songs of woe into hey nonny, nonny!” Take the role of gender with a grain of late 16th century salt.
And Benedick, having found love after swearing to never marry, has a couple of lines “Serve God love me and mend” and “live unbruised”. I love those lines. They’re also lines set to music in Mumford and Sons first album. A great song.
So, my leg is bruised.
Other parts of me are bruised in a different way.
And I think parts of our country are bruised. It hurts, and it’s ugly and we can’t pull up our socks or turn on the radio or drive down the street without being reminded of the bruises.
I don’t know what it means to “live unbruised” but I long for that. It is not necessarily that the bruises aren’t there anymore –one just doesn’t have to let them dictate one’s path. I can still love my legs and my brain and my country even if it hurts and is dark and unnaturally yellow somehow.
Whatever bruises you might find yourself noticing or acquiring this week, I hope you live out of that place well and that the good food in your belly sustains you through all of it.
For the farm crew,
In your share this week:
- Pac Choi
- Greens mix
- Green onions
Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.
Kale-Dusted Popcorn If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!
Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast (For one)
1 large egg
1 slice of your favorite hearty bread
2 ounces spinach
1 pat butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon crumbled cheese, such as goat cheese or feta
Bring small pot of water to boil. Lower egg into it and boil for five (for a runnier egg) to six (for a less-runny but still loose egg) minutes.* Rinse egg briefly under cool water and set aside.
Wash your spinach but no need to dry it. Put a small puddle of water in the bottom of a skillet and heat it over medium-high. Once the water is simmering, add the spinach and cook it until it is just wilted, and not a moment longer. Transfer it to a colander and press as much of the excess water out with the back of a fork as possible. No need to wring it out here; we’re hoping to those lovely wilted leaves intact. Keep that fork; you’ll use it again in a moment.
Put your bread in to toast.
Dry your skillet if it is still wet. Heat a pat of butter in it over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook them for a few minutes, until translucent and a little sweet. Return spinach to skillet and add cream. Simmer them together for one minute, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put your toast on your plate and spread it thinly with Dijon mustard. Heap the spinach-and-shallot mixture on top, then add the crumbled cheese. Peel your egg; doing so under running water can make this easier. Once peeled, place it on your spinach toast, smash it open with the back of that fork you used a minute ago, and sprinkle it with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Eat immediately.
* When you’re eating a soft-boiled egg right away, six minutes is the way to go. But here, since we boil the egg and then prepare the rest of the toast, it continues to cook and firm up a bit in its shell, so I’ve found that a 5 to 5 1/2 minute egg will give you the equivalent in the end.