Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spring porcinis

One of the really lovely things about living in the pacific northwest is the great range of the foraging opportunities we have. We can walk out into natural areas and collect mushrooms, berries of all kinds, fiddle heads, clams, oysters, and the list goes on.
The other day a friend found good spring porcinis in the Cle Elum area, and was kind enough to share the harvest. Yes, this is a good kind of friend to have.

 Porcinis are nutty, and earthy, and delicious. Their fat stems are tender and meaty.

I've learned to brown the sliced mushrooms in small batches. Mushrooms contain so much water, that if you cover the pan, they will end up boiling in their own juices, rather than browning. The difference in flavor and texture is huge.

I ended up eating most of the porcinis hot out of the pan (I couldn't help myself). The rest I tossed with pasta and a white wine and butter sauce. The dish needed something more, so I went out to the garden and picked some arugula. Then threw it in the hot pasta with mushrooms. The peppery greens wilted a bit under the heat, which was really nice. The arugula added a nice dimension to the dish. Dinner was good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Isn't She Lovely

I wish they would bloom throughout the summer, but alas, these pink peonies only grace our yard for a few weeks in the beginning of each summer. I am thoroughly enjoying their loveliness.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Warming up

Western Washington is finally warming up. We can now put in our warm weather garden crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, basil, and green beans. With the exception of the green beans, the other crops should be planted as transplants... started from seed weeks or months ago.
If you haven't done it already, put these plants in the ground quick! Our warm weather crop growing season is short.

As we transition to this warmer weather, the cool season greens have a tendency to bolt or flower.  Once these short-lived annual crops bolt it's time to take them out and make room for something else. The greens of a bolted plant tend to get tough and slightly bitter. This may make them unsuitable for salads, but they can still taste delicious sauteed or wilted.

So far this year I have sauteed the greens and raab (flowering parts) from arugula, tatsoi, komatsuna, spinach, chard, beet greens, and kale. Where these greens were growing, is where we put in the tomatoes, squash, and other warm season crops.

Jacob picks tender lettuce for a salad.

My favorite way to eat these bolted greens is not very creative, but completely delicious. I like to slice garlic thin and brown it in a generous amount of olive oil. Once the garlic is a bit brown and bitter I add the greens, wilting them down in the oil and garlic. I add good salt. Adding a knob of butter never hurt anything.
At this point I either eat the greens on their own, as a side dish, or add them to something else.
Last week I added sauteed arugula to a farro salad, topped with poached eggs. It was delicious.

Spinach sauteed with garlic, spring onions, and butter.

I cooked the farro (aka emmer) in lots of salty water for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Then I drained the farro, and tossed it with a simple vinaigrette and the sauteed arugula. I topped with two poached eggs. We have basil growing on the kitchen window sill, so I added some of that too. Dinner was good, hearty, and healthy. We were happy.

Farro salad with wilted arugula and poached eggs

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chicken or the egg?

Our next door neighbors have 7 laying hens, and we're pet sitting this week. It's been several years since Jacob and I have had chickens, and we miss the eggs. We want hens again, and soon.

We had some family visiting from Portland last weekend, and we had a good time feeding our bolting kale to the chickens.

Maybe one of the chickens got more kale (and associated aphids) than the others... or else she's taking performance enhancing drugs. Today's egg was twice the size of her sisters'!

Oh lordy it was twins!!! I had to take a picture.