June is winding down. Another thunderstorm is rumbling through, ending of a week of storms, after a spring of heavy rains. The gardens are too wet to work in; our lawn resembles an abandoned field. The perennials are lush, verdant, and as overgrown as the gardens of Portland, Oregon. The slow start to the growing season delayed the strawberries and the rainy weeks of June are producing a dismal yield. I wait and wait for a good day to go out to the fields, as the season is passing by. The hard green fruits of the black-capped raspberries are swelling on the canes. With a week of sun ahead of us, I am assured of raspberry jam to come.
Meanwhile, in the gardens, the beans and snap peas are blooming, the chard and lettuces are ready for picking, and the collard greens are fanning their big blue green leaves like elephant ears. Small green beads are taking shape on my first-year low-bush blueberries. Colorado potato beetles attacked the parched fingerings but when the rains came, the beetles departed. I’ve been feeling disappointed that my quinoa hadn’t survived the draught days, the plot is a mass of weeds. Today when I finally searched for images of quinoa seedlings, I discovered that what I thought were lambs quarters are in fact my quinoa plants, thriving in the relative cool and the certain damp.
My work as a textbook editor is also thriving and it has kept me from writing, though not from cooking, nor from weekly visits to the small Greenwich Farmer’s market. On Wednesdays I walk to the community garden to do a little weeding and back by the market on the way home for early vegetables from Crandall’s Corners Farm, Joint Venture’s farm fresh eggs, Spoonful Catering’s prepared dinners, and this past week, a pound of incredible ground beef from the Butler Farm in Schuylerville. The Butler’s are a small family farm, they know their animals as individuals, and feed them grain as well as grass, making for a pretty amazing ground meat product.
Of course, I’ve been cooking. Rhubarb was my obsession and I had many failures trying to come up with a savory rhubarb presentation until salsa presented itself as an idea. I’ve made two big batches of old-fashioned baked beans, the latest with smoked ham hocks and loads of ginger. We had the Butler beef in kibbeh-style burgers, tucked into pitas with slivered cucumbers and a smear of hummus. We’ve had many meals with early leeks; yesterday I used the trimmings for a stock that will be the base for tomorrow’s dinner: a sun and shadow risotto (2:1 Arborio and faro) to be served with saffron butter poached lobster, in celebration of David’s birthday.
I’ll get to my backlog of recipes soon, but I’ve been missing the time I spend thinking about the season and what the process of acquiring, growing and cooking our meals means to me. The writing is part of my reflecting and an expression of gratitude for the abundance of joy in my life. As the rains pass, we will all get back to our summer activities. For me that means more foraging, more growing, cooking for visitors, for bbqs and picnics. Just ahead are 4th of July parties and the long evenings of lingering light. I’m helping plan the pot luck portion of a casual Cape Cod wedding and thinking about entering some recipes in the Washington County Fair.
Meet me on the porch some evening around 6 for whatever cocktail recipe using the latest harvest is in the works, some strangely delicious cold concoction, sipped while swinging to the evening birdsongs.