On small feasts

Five year old greenhouse globe artichokes actually produce flowers of a decent size

Interesting:  I hadn’t intended for two weeks to pass between postings.  Could it be a long weekend, a new greenhouse, the end of school or something else life-changing and/or burdensome that I can blame for the radio silence?  Eh, well, check off “all of the above.”  Ahem.

I am appreciating the garden just now.  Surely, if you home-grow, you work mainly from famine to feast on any one vegetable, and no matter how you try to time it, those famines/feasts between vegetables seem to work in concert with each other.  Everything must somehow ripen jointly.  (Must work on this, says the Machiavelli in me.  Where are my garden puppet strings.)

But the other wonderment that has occurred to me as a gardener is that almost every vegetable can be eaten at any point of its growth.  Why wait for the proper harvest?  My gluttonous binges on perfectly-ripe vegetables are tempered by the not-insignificant fact that I am Impatient.  (Yes, capital-I.)  So when I first see the (first of the garden to ripen) English (or shell) peas, I am eager to pull off a few to eat as mange-touts, or snow peas.  Why not.  My labor, my benefit.

And so it is that these young peas are joined with the everbearing asparagus (maybe a month left to go for my daily raids), some fresh favas (greenhouse-grown, pulled from the spots of the first “done” October-planted lettuces), the newest spring onions, and the current representative of the garlic crop (the scapes).  Everything is really flipping seasonal here.  Why not a pilaf, with some (effing) garden mint and thyme and a pinch of pantry cardamom and cinnamon, thank you Nigel Slater for the inspiration (a pilaf of asparagus, fava beans and mint from his inimitable Tender).

I think often of capturing these meals.  But they are a dime a dozen here, frankly; why brag.  My point in all of it is to get it to be de rigeur for YOU.  (Tell me:  is it working?)

11 responses to “On small feasts

  1. That is an inspirational tableau of veg, indeed. Perhaps I have mentioned our paradoxical situation at the new place–lots of land but no gardens, so we’re starting from scratch one bed at a time. I particularly envy you your favas. Do you think I could still plant them, now or in the fall?


    • Loves me some favas, too, Brett. I think it’s best to wait for a fall harvest. They’re easily the first things in the garden (along with the peas and potatoes) but I have had some success with late July plantings. That’s about where I would suggest for you: I have a feeling frosts come earlier where you are now than they do in the Twin Cities.

  2. Patsy and David

    I love reading your blog. We are in Seattle for a few days from our wonderful trip to
    Morocco. Nigel Slater has a new book on fruit… I think. I love “Tender” and I rarely cook:) Love to all

  3. This sort of thinking is *starting* to become the norm for me…recently, I didn’t have quite enough parsley for my falafel, so I included a lot of (seedling…microgreen) borage and the tops of the radishes I had just pulled. The borage really echoed the cucumber flavor in the yogurt sauce, and the radish greens gave the whole thing a real kick. I’ve also started planting everything way too thick on the ground, with the thought that eating thinnings beats pulling weeds any day.

    I haven’t quite gotten to the point of eating popcorn as sweet corn.


    Brett, maybe consider planting lima beans for the summer, and harvesting a lot of them early, potentially also growing soybeans to mix with the more mature harvests of them. Favas are something I sometimes cut for salad greens if I can’t wait for them to develop.

  4. I find that I have to start harvesting/eating on the “first see”, since I can quickly get behind when it warms up and the garden goes wild. Your pilaf sounds delicious! I don’t have asparagus or favas, but have been enjoying green garlic, greens and herbs.

  5. Did you say you have clay soil? I made some new beds and the soil seems to be clay, but I mixed in finished compost. I was wondering what the trick to watering in clay soil is? I don’t seem to be getting it right. The soil seems moist enough when feel around the plant, but maybe the water is not getting to the plants, as I see some drooping?

    • Hoo yeah I have clay soil, Elizabeth. I would bet yours is clay if it dries out and is hard as a rock…or, alternatively, if you get a chunk of it from a place where you didn’t put your compost, get it wet, and see if it turns into a clay ball that does not crumble. My trick is to always have the soil covered with mulch. Mulch helps the soil neither compact in the rain nor dry out to be rock-hard afterward. The only areas I have NO mulch are seed beds, and these I water like mad (and have usually added a ton of compost to the year before so the soil is not unworkable). So I barely water, and I barely weed; I am simply a huge mulch-slinger. (Grass clippings are my choice in the summer; leaves, compost, and the goat shed’s contents are winter mulch.)

  6. Beautiful post! I just came across Nigel Slater’s *Tender* at the library this week. Happy find! Sad that I’ll need to return it in 3 weeks. I’ll likely buy it used in a year or two, but in the meantime will copy a bunch of recipes into a tatty notebook. Lots of yummy things in there!

  7. Brett, hope the fava advice was helpful. My experience with them is the earlier you plant them in spring, the better…but some damp years leave them to fall prey to aphids. This hot, dry year (or else greenhouse-grown any time) is perfect. So I start on 3/17 and succession-plant every 2 weeks through April so I have them from 6/1 through 7/15 or so.

    Pats! I just read Gracie’s first Moroccan post. Oh boy the Osers in N. Africa. What an eye-opener for her..and now is the time as she’s still young and impressionable (and not old like me and set in my ways). Indeed, the fruit book is on my wish list…

    Joel, haven’t tried the fava leaves as salad fare…that could be interesting. But you’re right, it becomes quite a mind-shift. I try to tell people it’s like looking in your fridge trying to scrounge a meal out of what’s just in there but the rewards are so much tastier. We love borage, as do our bees. I think my very first post on this blog was about borage.

    That is the hardest lesson to learn at first, Elizabeth, to harvest it when you see it. There’s something really ingrained in you to leave it until it gets big…because bigger is better. Not necessarily! Right now I could make a complete salad of baby carrots and be none the happier. And why not.

    Amanda, indeed. Can’t hardly think his garden could fill out that book of his, though; he’s fairly profilgate with his veg and there is just no way he could produce enough cauliflower (say) for the 12 or so recipes he features. But who cares, the book is great…and a good inspiration too. My god, did you see the beet/meatball recipe with bulgur?

  8. I love the of-the-moment mixtures; they make cooking so easy.

  9. I was just nominated for an award. I don’t usually participate in that sort of thing but I realised that it was actually a vehicle to give kudos to blogs that were very important to me so I nominated your blog for “The Illuminating Blogger” award. If you want to participate you can, if you don’t feel free not to. I just wanted you to know that you have made a difference out here in the worldly ether and that someone waits for your posts with anticipation and truly appreciates your efforts to enlighten us . Here’s the link if you want to check it out but its not really about the award (which I suspect is to increase blog traffic to the awarders site to be honest…) its about being able to give you some kudos for your efforts

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