Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pickle Time! Garlic Scapes!

One of the VERY best things about having an "out of control garden (which is how I sometimes describe my 10 acres of insanity) is when I do get it together and pickle, can, dehydrate, freeze or in some way, preserve the amazing, overwhelming, bounty of spring and summer.  Because there is just something primal, and squirrel-like, about surveying a full pantry of fresh healthy food ready for the cold and dreary days of winter.
I have learned (or at least I keep trying to tell myself) that it is best to tackle "preservation" projects bit by by through the summer, preserving the crops as they come on.  Otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming.  But the sooner I can start "putting up the bounty" the better.  And around here, one of the first major preservation projects I get into of the spring/summer is pickling garlic scapes.
 Garlic scapes, which we talk a lot about this time of year, are the seed scapes from hard neck garlic.  They are oddly (and interestingly) shaped with a mild garlic flavor and great texture.  Think asparagus, only garlicky and more curlique.  They are great chopped raw, grilled, baked and pickled.  I really, really like them pickled.  They are crunchy and garlicky and fabulous!  If you keep the scape whole (rather than cut into pieces, which you can also do when pickling) then the scape itself is a work of beauty, a perfect addition on an antipasto plate or, even better, topping off a Bloody Mary!
So how to pickle garlic scapes?  Well they are very easy and if you haven't pickled before they are a great project to start with - it's hard to mess them up really. encourage the pickler in us all, we are having a great deal on 1 lb bags of garlic scapes at the Coupeville and Bayview markets today - just $5 for one lb of scapes! 
 Of course, you need a few recipes so here goes...
A pickled scape posting from a blogger that goes into great detail about pickling scapes with a simple recipe -
Or...we are privileged to have received Chef Joe Scott's, of the Oystercatcher in Coupeville, recipe for pickling garlic scapes.

Oystercatcher’s Quick Pickled Garlic Scapes
Courtesy of Joe Scott, Chef at Oystercatcher in Coupeville, WA
·      Garlic scapes, 1 lb, chopped into 1 inch pieces, or left whole with ends trimmed. (If left whole the scapes should be left to pickle for a week before use).
·      Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
·      Rice Vinegar
·      Dash of salt
·      Sugar to taste
·      Pinch of whole fennel seed
You will need equal parts of the vinegar, how much depends on how much you are going to pickle.  Chop (or trim) scapes and pack clean mason jars.  Boil equal parts of both vinegars, add sugar and salt to taste.  Sugar should balance the acidity of the vinegar.  How sweet – versus tart – you make it is a personal preference depending on how you like your pickles.  When boiling, pour over scapes.  Add a pinch of whole fennel seed.  Seal lid.  These pickles are ready in 4 hours.  If you prefer to keep the scape whole (which gives you a very cool shape on a plate), you should plan to let the pickles sit for at least a week (or more) so they absorb the pickling juices.  By chopping the scapes you provide more surface area to absorb the pickling juices quickly.

So happy pickling!  And let me know how they turn out.
And of course...we have much much more to bring to the Coupeville and Bayview farmer's markets today including...
From Willowood Farm:
* Mesclun mix (aka spring mix)
* Head Lettuce
* Arugula bags
* Braising Green bunches
* Japanese Salad Turnips
* Baby Pac Choi
* Raab bunches
* French Breakfast radishes
* Fresh Garlic
* New Potatoes
* Walla Walla Salad Onions
* Peregion Dry Beans
* Kohlrabi
* Basil
* Peregion Dry Beans
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Lettuce Mix
* Spinach
* Baby Beet Bunches
* Chard Bunches
* Green Onions
* Endive
* Cress
* Baby Carrot bunches
From Emmer bags from Ebey Road Farm.
Lots of food today and a beautiful day to boot.  Hope to see you at market!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Photo essay on what's coming to market....

Because sometimes pictures are worth a 1000 words...Here is (a portion) of what we picked for market today.
Lauren picking mesclun mix (notice the Peanut-Wesley ultimate dog wresting match in the background?)

Jen striking a pose with the Walla Walla Salad Onions

Rows of raab

Sabrina and fresh garlic!

Kate looking sultry with the garlic scapes

And me and the new potatoes!

Yes...all these things (and more!) coming to markets in Coupeville and Bayview today!  Hope to see you there and don't forget to get your Prairie Pantry seasonal recipe journal (free w/ every $10 Willowood stand purchase!).
Coming to market (the complete list):
From Willowood:
* True new potatoes - like little nuggets of honey!
* Mesclun mix
* Arugula
* Baby Bibb Lettuce
* Walla Walla Salad Onions
* French Breakfast Radishes
* Raab bunches
* Japanese Turnips (Bayview market only)
* Fresh Garlic still on stalk
* Garlic scapes
* Rhubarb
* Peregion Beans
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Lettuce Mix
* Spinach
* Stir Fry Mix
Our Mikey at Whidbey Green Goods will be bringing kale and maybe (?) some peas to the Bayview market!
Hope to see you there!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's starting to get exciting....

So...after a long and cold winter and even a LONGER and (it seemed like) COLDER spring it appears that crops are finally starting to turn the corner.
And boy, does that make this farmer happy!  I was talking recently to a young, beginning farmer who was lamenting on how all her early crops were bolting (going to seed) or simply not growing.  She said "I just started doing this so I keep thinking, what am I doing wrong?"  I assured her that for even those of us that have been doing it a lot longer have been singing the same sad story! 
Nonetheless...spring DOES come!  Even if it has taking it's own sweet time showing up this year.
This past week we started pulling up fresh garlic.  If there is anything that makes me happy, it's pulling garlic.  It's like Christmas with every single tug. Only better, cuz you can get dirty at the same time!

And then, we started harvesting some early Walla Walla scallions.  Mild sweet onions with gorgeous big and juicy sweet greens.  So nice on the grill.
And...we finally are coming into a nice (not bolting!) crop of Baby Pac Choi (it took 3 tries this year!).  And lovely new crop of arugula!  And garlic scapes, and kohlrabi by next week, and soon new potatoes, and broccoli, and, and, and....
Who needs mood-altering drugs when you've got all these exciting things happening?  Lengthening days and growing veggies - that's all I need.  I'm on my springtime high! 
So on that note, I hope we see you at the Bayview and Coupeville markets today.  To celebrate the spring and all it's bounty...
Coming Freshly Picked to the markets today:
From Willowood:
* Fresh garlic!  Very green garlic.  Still on it's stalks.  But so tender and sweet and juicy.  You can eat it raw like candy! (really!).
* Walla Walla scallions.  Big, lush greens and nice fat scallion bulbs.  Very sweet. 
* Baby Pac Choi.  So lovely to stir fry and braise.  Yum!
* Arugula.  Gorgeous new crop.
* Braising Greens
* Garlic Scapes
* Spinach
* Peregion dry beans
* Head Lettuce
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Green Garlic
* Spinach
* Lettuce Mix
* Baby Beets
* Dry Beans
And Emmer from Lauren at Ebey Road Farm!
See you at market...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Garlic scapes! Garlic scapes! Garlic scapes!

DON'T FORGET TO GET YOUR SLOW FOOD WHIDBEY TICKETS!  Today is the last day to pick up tickets for this great event coming up tomorrow, Sunday June 5th.  A great selection of Whidbey chefs paired with Whidbey farms cooking up a fabulous selection of "tastings" of the best of Whidbey.  Local beer and wine tasting as well!  $30 a person.  We will tickets available for sale at our booths at the Bayview and Coupeville farmer's markets...

And now back to our scheduled topic...
Garlic Scapes!

So, why do we love you, oh garlic scapes?  Let me list the ways:
1.  Because you taste like garlic!
2.  Because you go so well with abundance of greens, greens and more greens which mostly dominate our spring veggie selection and while we love our greens, it's also nice to have something that is not leaf-like.
3.  Because you are great to barbeque!
4.  Because you are a silly, funny shape that we like to wear as jewelry on our wrists and hang from our earlobes (okay, that is a bit dopey.  But hey, when you work in a veggie field all day things can get a bit goofy).
5. Because you are good raw (chopped in salads!), good pureed (garlic scape pesto!), good barbequed, good braised, good pickled!!!
Great teething ring for babies too!
6.  Because the arrival of garlic scapes means soon...garlic!
Really, as far as veggies go there isn't anything NOT to love about garlic scapes.  I suppose, if you aren't fond of garlic perhaps...but really, if you aren't fond of garlic seriously WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?  (Just kidding, mostly...).
In China, my brother (who has spent lots of time living over there, enough to marry a lovely Chinese girl!) says that garlic scapes are considered a seasonal specialty and are one of the few veggies that, relatively speaking, are almost "expensive" in Chinese markets.  That's because the Chinese realize what most American's are just starting to figure out - not only are garlic scapes super-awesome, but...they only get them once a year.  One hard-necked garlic plant makes just one precious garlic scape, and it takes about a year to grow garlic so...get the scapes while they can!
Farmer Georgie, taking a "Scape Break" (notice the dirty fingers...)

Luckily, we grow a nice range of early and later-maturing garlic plants. so our season is as extended as possible on them.  We start picking them in late May (we had a few last weekend) and then we will usually be finished picking them by the first of July.  The other nice thing about garlic scapes is they are one of those veggies (like cabbage) which will store in great shape in your fridge for weeks.  So if you don't eat them right away - don't worry, you've got plenty of time.
We do try and pickle up a batch of them every year because there is nothing as cool as having a winter Anti-pasto plate with a curly, tasty garlic scape on it!  (Or, my husband is rather fond of Bloody Mary's with a pickled garlic scape stirrer!).
 So...hope to see you today at the farmer's markets and we will show you some of our lovely, wonderful, precious garlic scapes!
 Along with scapes, we will be bringing to market today:
From Willowood Farm:
* Garlic Scapes
* Garlic Greens (immature garlic plants, like scallions only garlicky)
* Head Lettuce
* Arugula
* Radishes
* Dry Beans
* Kale
From Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Red Spinach
* Green Spinach
* Herbs
* Stir-fry mix
* Lettuce Mix
From Ebey Road Farm:
* Emmer
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm