Tall sunny days turning short

A blooming sunflower in our front yard is over eight feet tall and has a sibling that is still climbing! Hundreds of sunflowers providing a windbreak for the hazelnut trees are beginning to bloom. The flower show, west of our solar panels, can be seen from Highway 60. Oooooeeee it is beaUtiful!

We are ready for the Mountain Lake Sunflower Days to be held next week, August 27. There will be sunny happenings at Jubilee Farm Market along with all the other events in town.

Late last night we added 7 more chickens and a couple of ducks that were homeless. Our chuck house is now crowded with feathered to-be friends? Wings will need to be clipped since the newcomers are used to flight. We shall see if this was a wise idea…..

New munches this week are sweet peppers, brusselini (the top of Brussel sprouts), kohlrabi and maybe melons. Joining these newcomers should be summer savory, genovese basil, summer squash, fennel, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks and onions. Get out the cutting board and prepare to feast!

I made Fennel Raisin Bread on Saturday as a trial run and am looking forward to the same wonderful smells on Wednesday.

Days are getting shorter and the farm work ….well…..it has not diminished in stature or duration.


Glorious fennel

My recollection of world history class consists of wars and rumors of wars….not an inspiring session. I would have remembered if history had been taught from the perspective of carrots and choke cherries. I just learned that fennel was a key ingredient to the rise of western civilization! The war between Persia, the superpower of the day, and the upshot Athenians & Greeks was held in fields of fennel or translated into Greek: the plains of Marathon!

HaHa! Steve is training for the Twin Cities Marathon this fall. The word ‘marathon’ attached itself to long runs since Phidippides, the best runner at that time, in 490 BCE, ran to the next town to request aid against the Persian invasion. Perhaps all the horses were occupied with pulling disks to rid the marathon (fennel) fields of pig-weed thus no other mode of transport?

Marathon history makes for an interesting read of a tasty, aromatic vegetable that has flavors of licorice and anise. Store fennel fresh in the refrigerator and plan to eat it soon after harvest for the best flavor. All parts, bulb, stems and fronds are eatable. I dry the fronds for lovely cups of tea to enjoy during those cold winter nights…..I have oodles of recipes but an easy one is:

Fennel Carrot Salad

1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
4 large carrots, grated
1 T parsley, chopped
¼ C lemon juice
1 garlic, minced
6 T olive oil

Harvesting after such a wonderful gift of rain is inspiring! We plan to have market boxes brimming once again with fennel, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, tomatoes of all kinds, kale, leeks, cucumbers, a variety of summer squash, onions, herbs and maybe a choice of wax beans or eggplant.  We will have green peppers & potatoes for sale along with fresh herb bread, jams and pickles. A few of Farmer Lynn’s eggs are available but she will be at the fair this week.

Growing old gracefully

Our fennel, that is full of feathery fronds, decided not to develop a bulb this year but to go to seed! A disappointment after hours watching over its infancy, weeding out bad influences in its adolescence and keeping it content… until its midlife crises led it astray! There are two kinds of fennel, florence fennel is suppose to form a bulb.. and ours didn’t. The Greek name for “fennel” is “marathon” which is a field where a famous battle took place and Pheidippides ran till he dropped dead to carry the news to the next city.

All is not lost for us since fennel fronds are also edible; they give a hint of licorice. Experiment by adding them to salads, try a fennel pesto, add stalks and fronds to seafood especially salmon, juice them, freeze them for a later use in stock, or substitute fennel in place of dill for a different take such as with new potatoes.

There will be several fennel recipe samples to try in Wednesday’s market. We have a hedge of them so think creatively!

I’ve been pondering how to grow up – not to go to seed before my time. In my elder years I want to talk about future dreams and aspirations with those around me, not be repeating dusty stories from my ancient past. I want to use a walker in order to “pick up my heels” around the track while out walking my own marathon. Yes, and I want to remain a positive, flavorful addition to all gatherings.

Market boxes should be filled with: beets, fennel fronds, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, Swiss chard, kale, cabbage and herbs. In addition, raspberries, beans, broccoli, carrots, new pickles and jams, bread and aprons will be for sale.

Enjoy the flavor of local goodness – whooeee! We sure are!