And we begin again

The garage floor has been mopped and swept clean of winter debris; the metamorphosis into Jubilee Farm Market is nearly complete. Wooden market boxes have been oiled and are ready to be filled for the 2014 season that begins this Wednesday.

What to expect? Woodland greens include Solomon’s seal and nettles along with some dock – NOT burdock. Solomon’s seal is similar to asparagus in flavor. I like it best lightly sauteed in olive oil. It can also be added to a stir-fry dish at the very end of the cooking process. Nettles have gotten a prickly rap but the trick is not to roll around in them. They can be harvested with gloves and then tongs used to move them in the cooking process. Once slightly cooked or hot water poured over them, they lose their itch. Nettles can be used anywhere cooked spinach is called for, in a soup they keep their vibrant green color.

Dock, as in curly dock or one of its cousins, is in the same family as sorrel. This was noted in my June 10, 2013 snippet if you would like to read more. I like it cooked with beef and served with a grain.

I have been munching on all the spinach cast-offs and my-oh they are sweet! CSA market boxes will get a salad mix of Tyee and Space spinach with several kinds of lettuce. The first round of radishes will be ready to harvest. They are intercropped in the tomatoes and the pac choi and need to come out so their neighbors can continue to grow.

We started the celery a bit early – well, the spring went longer than usual, and celery doesn’t like weather below 55°F. Nathan had to upgrade all the medium soil blocks to the largest ones for the celery since their toes were sticking out! An upgrade means mixing up the special recipe and pushing out cookies the size of a half loaf of bread with a big hole chewed out of the middle. Into that hole goes the medium soil block with the celery plant. A LOT of work and the trays need plenty of space, which is in short supply. The plants without the upgrade will be harvested for market boxes. Fresh celery for chicken soup!

Sour observations

Steve is not a chatty person and can often eat a full meal without making a remark as to its flavor, thumbs up or down. A typical evening on Friday, we sat down for a supper of  wild greens and meat stir-fry with millet. I asked for a comment and he said it was much more sour than usual. I assumed it was all chopped dock with onions and beef until a few days later when harvesting sorrel I noticed the similarity between dock and sorrel. Haha! Yep, we ate stir-fried sorrel! Not recommended.

The docks and sorrels (or süaromp in Low German) genus Rumex, consist of about 200 species in the buckwheat Polygonaceae family. Imagine! They grow all over the world. After a long winter, all things green are a welcome addition to any meal, especially when learning to eat from the land surrounding us.

The sour taste is due to the content of oxalic acid, sorrel having a healthier dose than dock. Rhubarb, another cousin in the Polygonaceae tribe, has the same attributes, but in this case only the stalk is eaten and the leaf portion is thrown away due to its higher content of oxalic acid.

The folks in Turkey have many unique dishes with sorrel and dock and a host of other greens that I am going to serve to Steve for a dress rehearsal. Check out the vegetable dishes at  First on the list for me are Stuffed Dock Leaves (

Steve and I are taking an agriforestry class next week in western Wisconsin which means that Loida and Nathan will be in charge!

Market boxes should include: radishes from a new bed, salad mix inlcuding new spinach, asparagus, mizuna, pac choi, rhubarb, and herbs.

Some members expressed interest in buying a bread share. I will have bread punch cards for sale; you choose which market days and how much bread you want to take home that day. Cards for 15 bread punches will be $57, otherwise bread is $4 each. We plan to have bread in some shape for sale most market days when I am around.

My observations this past week were the various shades of sour and how to harvest accordingly. Please share your new insights with us when you come to market or on facebook  There are daily postings with pictures; one showing me hard at work while leaning on my hoe!





Heavenly, divinely dock

The good news is that there should be a larger assortment of greens harvested this week: Tokyo Bekana, salad greens with spinach and pea shoots, parsley, head lettuce for full share members, curly dock, and Solomon’s seal. I’m not sure if 30 more loaves of bread are the way to fill your market box but it could come to pass. I did find a bread recipe using frozen pesto and birch sap – haha, it was one I devised. A slice is superb with grilled thinly sliced tenderloin steak having been marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.

Did anyone like the curly dock? We’ve been eating it everyday in place of lettuce in a sandwich, stir-fried with onions and hamburger (1/2 Cup sauteed onions, add in and fry until done 1/2# ground beef, 1 tsp coriander and/or 1 tsp cumin, salt, about 4 cups of dock, finely sliced across the midrib. Fry until just past limp. Add 1/2 cup water if it is too dry.) or in a bean soup. It can be used in recipes instead of kale, spinach, cabbage and gives each bite a brief sensation of lemon.

I found a huge vale of Solomon’s seal – my secret, sorry. If you recall last May was mighty hot and Solomon passed us by. This green is similar to asparagus which is handy since true asparagus is still sleeping. Lao cooks steam Solomon’s seal ever so slightly and munch on it with sticky rice. There are many tales and names for this woodland green down through the ages. One needs to know its form and structure so as not to mistake it for a malcontent.

I mentioned birch sap earlier. I’ve not boiled it down to make syrup; a gas stove uses a non renewable resource. Someday, we will have an outdoor wood-fired oven and that will be the green light to go! Our river birch lost one of its branches in the storm and continues to weep almost 5 gallons a day! I’ve collected it and am drinking it instead of water. Why? I’m not sure, though it is an intriging thought to follow each drop back down the trunk, to the tip of some distant root, and through the mycorrhizas into the soil. Amazing at best! No chlorine. It has been filtered just for me.