How to go Organic.

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I imagine my little kitchen garden. And I work with nature. I want lots of bees smothered in pollen, drunk on it. Yee-haw!

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How to go organic…….there are lot of ways……….start with compost and earthworms. And thank busy soil organisms hard at work for you in your space.

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Take care of your seed. Bless it when you sow. Observe the weather. Keep a garden journal. Know the cycles of the moon.

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Weed early and often. Enjoy the gifts of the season. Save your seeds.

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And while you are doing all of that and more besides, try to learn how to make polenta. Four Star Farms are on my blogroll. Give them a turn.

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Polenta is the widow-maker of northern Italian cooking. Organically speaking, who feels it, knows it.

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Most of all, going organic is the right thing to do. And everything that you grow always tastes better anyway

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And everything you make and cook will taste better.

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From my little space…….cauliflower, pole beans and garlic.

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Going organic means celebrating the seasons. I love striped bass caught in New England. For me, it is the best of summer with lots of vegetables. Credit to RedsBest Seafood at Dewey Square Farmers Market in Boston for this immaculate striped bass. I braised the fish in a version of Ratattouille with Poblano peppers and ate it with lots of basil from my garden. Eat like a peasant.

The Monsanto Anti-Garden.

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At last, the big day is here. Picking pole beans. There is never a lot at the beginning. You have to pick them to encourage more growth. But soon there will be lots of these “Marvel of Venice” heirloom pole beans.

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This is a mystery squash plant that I did not start. It came from the compost heap. I would really like it to be a pumpkin or something, but not a zucchini. It looks like a zucchini but it is still early.

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Gathering fennel pollen. I like to use this as a seasoning for southern Italian and Sicilian fish ideas.

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It looks like the bee has the same idea as me.

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I will have to pick through the fennel pollen. It is the yellow flecks I am interested in. I heard of an interesting term recently for the style of gardening I do. Micro gardening. It would appear that more and more urban dwellers would like to exercise more control over their food and this is one of the reactions. This trend can also be witnessed at farmers markets. People want to see more transparency with food production and especially food labeling. And speaking for myself, I would like to see no genetically modified foods in use anywhere. Micro gardening in the city is anything from a window box to a container to a small plot. And you get to grow whatever you want in your available space.

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The fractal sunflower. It is interesting to say the least about watching or tracking the development of a sunflower. I’m already a hit with the neighborhood birds after my blueberry crash. They got them all. I bet they cannot wait for fresh sunflower seeds next. I had an interesting visitor this week, an American goldfinch. I hope he likes sunflower.

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These are black mustard seed pods getting organised to go snap, crackle and pop. Usually, I let them fall to the ground to re-seed for the Autumn so that it can be included as part of a salad bowl.

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On the larger tomatoes, I have flowers but not really a lot of fruit dropping yet. Soon, barring mold, blight, rot, worm, beetle, fungus, mite or vitamin deficiency, I might see a big tomato. This one is doing well and is another compost heap gift which happened to sprout and grow in a location that would not be a hindrance. I do not know what variety of tomato it is but it is heirloom and indeterminate. At it’s current rate of growth it will need more support than it already has. Hopefully, I can identify it at a later stage.

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On the other hand, the smaller grape and cherry tomatoes are doing fine……so far.

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Happy nasturtium blossoms.Thanks for reading. Garden like a peasant and eat like a peasant while you are at it.

Bad Ass Mother……..

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This is mother-of-vinegar. And this is homemade slow made apple cider vinegar. The apple juice is from last Autumn.

 

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Cherries and Goats Milk Feta from the Greek market is the starting point of this flatbread. I wanted a Middle Eastern accent so I just picked the thyme as is and added some green coriander seeds. Then I remembered unsalted pistachio nuts in my freezer.

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I received this bottle of extra virgin olive oil for Fathers Day from my son, Eoin. I like his exquisite good taste.

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Pre-oven…….I had some Tallegio that needed to be used up.

 

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I pressed cumin seed into the stretched out dough where it would meet the baking stone. The cumin toasted and roasted and added a layer of mystery. And teased me. So much potential for this little plate. Spiced game bird of some kind like quail or squab. Perhaps trade in the cherries for another in season stone fruit. I like plums. Or nectarines. And work on the spice a little too. You get the idea. Eat like a peasant. Thanks for reading.

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After the Heatwave.

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I don’t know if it is a first for Boston, but it is for me in Boston…..experiencing five days of back-to-back ninety degree weather. These peas took a beating. Their cool weather days are over. If they stop producing, I will dismantle the trellis support and make a new bed for Autumn vegetables. Despite the cold start to Spring, I’m happy with my yield. Six pounds of peas does not sound like a lot. I was also very satisfied at how tall they grew…….seven foot tall. “Alto Telefono” was the name of this heirloom varietal.  It looks like it will be a roll of the dice for Napoli carrots, Chioggia beets and  purple top turnips next. Roots, so that means radishes too. I have two weeks to fix the bed. On my gardening schedule, I plant roots after the Full Moon.

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This coriander plant is standing over four foot tall. It is flowering and producing little, fresh green coriander seeds. I will eat what I can and save the rest. I like to toss the whole green seeds into summer salads or crush them to make a paste or rub for that peasant style of seafood cooking I enjoy. Coriander tea is good for you too. And if my black cumin ever grows, I have the foundation for a spice blend for the winter time. This coriander will be pulled out the ground right before the Full Moon.

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A sneak-in preview of a baby cauliflower. In some parts of the globe, this is quite the treasure. I’m just glad it has not been assaulted by cauliflower worm, moth, fly, rot, mold, beetle or blight. And a heatwave too. I just want to eat the cauliflower raw dipped in some good olive oil. Maybe some coriander seeds alongside to complete the moment.

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Little tiny inch long cucumbers. In another few days, they will be ready. And, in this heat, I’m ready for Tabbouleh.

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I hope the red oak leaf lettuce will not bolt during this heat. Not all of my lettuces survived. The lesson for me is if New England summers are going to be hotter, I need to find another variety or two of lettuce that can endure summer heat and still produce good looking heads of lettuce. Iceberg lettuce sounds great right around now.

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Just picked and peeled Spanish Rioja garlic. Eat this now while the sugars are still running and you will never look at garlic the same way ever again. I pulled two dozen of these and still have another later developing variety in the ground. The beds where I had the garlic and onions have had fresh compost laid down. They are ready for planting on this New Moon starting Monday. I want to plant more Tuscan kale, brocolli rabe, swiss chard, fennel, spinach and fava beans. Thats my a-list. Now pick three. Choose wisely. The real politic of the real estate does not permit me to plant everything. But nature loves a chancer.

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This guy made me laugh. He wallowed in the pollen for a good twenty minutes and got his face all dirty. I think he is taking the day off from all that bee stress. Between the expression on his insect face and the geometry of his antennae, you know he is having a wicked good time. I hope he tells all his friends about that cool garden he was in…….if he can remember his way back.

 

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This is “Napolitano” basil. This is the one to use for Caprese salads, pizza and tomato sauce. You can use it make pesto too but technically and classically, basil pesto is traditionally made in Liguria and the basil employed to make this sauce is a “Genovese” style. And if you are going to make pesto this summer, make sure to buy the Italian pine-nuts, not the Chinese ones, nor the Spanish ones. There is a difference. In taste and price. It’s okay to make the pesto without nuts too. I do it all the time and I have no nut allergies. Remember, eat like a peasant. And stay close to your food chain.

Full Contact Independence Day Cooking.

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Tonight’s mis-en-place or plan of work……….just picked garden peas, little onions, beautiful garlic and a handful of herbs. My flavah!

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If you taste this garlic raw right now, you will never ever look at garlic quite the same way ever again. In its just picked raw state all of the sugars are still running so that when you taste it like that, it is not at all what you expect garlic to be. I think that is like…….wicked awesome! Plus I get braggers rights about its color. As well as a notable abscence of any psychic vampires.

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Let’s see………..garden pea risotto. I prefer to use carnarioli rice for my risotti. This is a classic Spring dish in some locations and a great way for me to celebrate Independence Day here in New England. I used my own garden onions, those little ones as well as a spray of parsley and basil to accent the peas. I could have picked the peas a day earlier. C’est la vie>

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I had a couple of kohl rabes. I peeled them, grated them, added olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs from my little garden. At 94 degrees, you really do not want your stove on for too long or at all. Risotto takes less than twenty minutes. The rest of the cooking is outside.

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I am certainly a subscriber to the notion that great grill/roast cooks are borne, not made. All of dinner is made and is waiting for grilled chicken parts. How American is that.That’s all I have to do…..not screw up the chicken. I marinated these legs and thighs with garden rosemary and garlic. I was lazy in the heat, I marinated them for an hour or so. But still, no matter what you do, the point of the exercise is not to burn the meat. Have fun grilling. Thanks for reading. Eat like a peasant.

The Way of the Gardener

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From a cook’s viewpoint, gardening has taught me the virtue of being patient. So I have learned to cook with the rhythm and flow of the garden I have planted. My garden is inspired by the cooking of southern France, northern and southern Italy to a larger extent. Photoed above are just transplanted golden raspberries. If all goes well, it might be a year or two before I see fruit. Patience.

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Another exercise in patience. Just picked Spanish Rioja garlic which was planted at the end of last November. Seven months later………I have this. But beyond patience is low-maintenance. It lived under an embankment of snow during the winter so there is nothing to do. Then in the spring, keep it weeded if you have a minute. The low maintenance factor is very important for me.

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Gardening has given me an appreciation of how our food happens. These miniscule one inch long pole beans will end up being larger than my finger. All this energy or chi is fascinating to me.

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Gardening in New England is challenging. New England just recorded its coldest spring in 18 years and Boston has just posted its third wettest June. However, this baby red Romaine lettuce is looking promising. Hopefully it wont bolt in the next few days when we are to have another heatwave in Boston.

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Fava beans…..I have never had any luck with them but they can and will grow in New England. This year I planted later……..which is what the gardening books say not to do…….and so far they look great. This is the first seeding of a series that will extend into fall. The cool thing about gardening is that you can never know it all so there is lots of knowledge to absorb, if you are into it.

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These leeks have good chi or energy. Chickweed is growing wild around them. It is an edible weed that is good for you.

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Squash blossom season is here and this plant looks like it cannot get out of the ground fast enough. For the record, I use no chemicals at all. H2O, yo! I have an organic seaweed fertilizer somewhere but I never remember to use it. I do make my own compost, however.

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Making ones own compost……….people have written books. I have still to read one. I save kitchen scraps and yard waste and let them stew or cure until it turns black. Thats it. I have 4 different compost heaps at different stages of ripeness. In the photo above, I hope it will be a cauliflower.

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Having good compost is the key. This parsley stem can tell you that.

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One year old fig tree. Maybe next year, I’ll get a fig. Thanks for reading. Eat like a peasant.