my plate is full

this meal, so much went into this meal. we all think about food to some degree, some of us more than others. my livelihood is food based, so perhaps i think about it more than others. every so often, likely in the midst of a food preservation project or in a deep conversation with one of our CSA members about the core issues of sustainably grown food,  i really think deeply about the process of raising and preparing one’s own nourishment. today was one of those days: so many tales flowed from our plate this day, i had to tell just a few. to keep things interesting i will work backwards from desert (i am married to a man that truly believes desert should be eaten first at the least, optimally at an all together separate sitting).

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we finally have a crop of blueberries. we planted these bushes 7 years ago. for most of those years we were tempted to let the patch go, the bushes didn’t seem to be doing much despite our greatest efforts and so often the area was a mess of weeds. we stuck with it though and lost quite a few of our original plants, but those that remained started to look good. recently i met a local blueberry expert who described this common behavior to a tee ” blueberries, once transplanted, like to sit around a sulk for a while”. finally, in the past 2 years we have gathered handfuls of berries, just enough to motivate us and now, true abundance dangles from our bushes.

i remember planting these bushes. it was 2006 and we had just closed on this property ( the final piece of the hill and hollow farm puzzle, the middle acreage between the “old place” and grandma’s). the previous owners were still here along with their maniacally barking rottweilers and array of paraniod fencing. we were, despite the looming fears of the past,  making our own history and planting on our new land.  i remember asking megan, our apprentice at the time, could we defend ourselves with a spade and a hoe?  not a fun planting day. 

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this morning, sunday, madeline and paul went on a fishing trip. paul loves fishing and sasha was his companion for years and years. our teenage boy has shifted his interest and no longer heads to the river at every opportunity with dad. for a while paul went solo, a restorative time for a stay at home, work at home farmer dad.  recently, with the empty seat in the vehicle, madeline asked to go, to be taught, to join him. today, it happened. they caught minnows and worms, loaded the van with all the gear and headed out quite early. when they returned the verdict was clear, madeline is a natural, she caught bass and blue gill and came home with 5: one for each of us.  father and daughter are out there cleaning them right now. baked simply in butter and fresh garlic, this fish will be delightful and represent a right of passage for the family.

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there are two green items on our plates: broccoli and basil, each with a story. if we ever eat broccoli, it feels like something of a miracle. it is not easy to grow here, especially in spring, with temperature fluctuations so extreme, this sensitive plant doesn’t usually thrive. (most claim the fall broccoli is easier,  but that  means starting those transplants around now!) this year, the spring has been long and mild and the flowering heads of this most favored brassica are making their way into our CSA baskets (doled out like gold) and our bellies. the second green treat is fresh pesto.  our first picking of basil was this week and with a few extra bunches, i can’t see them go to waste. basil is always in overabundance as summer heats up but right now, these first leaves plucked on summer’s first full day feel and smell like a treasure,  blended with olive oil, freshly dug garlic, toasted nuts, it’s a taste of what summer will bring.

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i enjoy the tales along with the tastes on my plate each day.  some are better than others, some full of joy, others sorrow. i wouldn’t have it any other way.  i encourage you all to know your food. know the story behind each bite. know the farmer and the fishergirl. know the shepherd and the milker: their stories will enhance the nourishment, i guarantee!

11 thoughts on “my plate is full

  1. I too am growing blueberries but this is my 1st year. I have 6 bushes which I planted up into pots last summer. I hope I don’t have to wait 7 yrs for a crop:(. Bro chilli is easy to grow here but my basil struggles. I always grow from seed but they never thrive. This year I have planted my seedlings under the tomato plants. I love pesto but rarely have enough. Great blog.

    • i hope you don’t have to wait either, but it is nice to know that if you do, you are not alone! wondering where you are that broccoli is easy. i think i want to move there!

  2. I made the pesto yesterday, too, from my CSA allottment. What are your favorite ways to eat it? This was my first time making any pesto. I’m thinking to use it on fish. Would it work in a salad? I am also tempted to roast some almonds with it. I dunno… trying to use my imagination as I learn to cook with seasonal produce.

    • we use pesto first in the most traditional way tossed with pasta or grain.. just the other weekend we had guests that showed me something delightful: toss it in your massaged kale salad! wow, i loved it. we make the raw kale salad often but i never thought of blending the pesto with it, new twist. try that.

      • Speaking of kale and pesto, in the winter I make kale pesto, just swapping out wilted kale for the basil. It’s a nice way to bring back some flavors of summer just when you think you can’t possibly eat any more kale. Love your blog btw. 🙂

  3. We adore knowing our food stories as well. We still find ourselves in wal-mart’s food aisles occasionally, but those visits are becoming less and less frequent, and when made, the basket is emptier and emptier. A little soymilk, some onions, an out of season eggplant (the addiction for which I am most ashamed) But food independence is growing closer, and we relish the tales along with the food!

    • just back from wal mart and proudly our only items were ice, a headlamp and bananas. the final item only because my toddler shouted “nanananananananananananananana” all the way there, so i guess i had to accomodate.

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