Garlic Scapes GO OUT for Pizza!

It seems ubiquitous that when one has copious quantities of garlic scapes – or even ten – that they be turned into pesto! I’m just never sure what to do with so much of the stuff, but today, pizza seemed to be a great idea. It’s the Fourth of July Weekend, not too hot and the perfect time to practice my pizza making skills! The great thing about making pizza is to leave the toppings out and have everybody make their own. This allows for a long relaxing meal on the deck because we can only do one pizza at a time. They each take about 8 minutes in a 500 degree oven, so just enough time for salad and conversations with guests as some are in the kitchen and others on the deck. It’s my secret weapon for really making entertaining relaxed!

Some of you are probably wondering why I am doing the pizzas in the oven. Well, we sold our property where we built our last pizza oven and have yet to make our wood-burner at the farm. That project is in queue!

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Last year I left a few onion sets in the ground over winter to go to seed this year. We have these very architectural beauties decorating the garden beds, and the seed heads, like garlic scapes, carry the flavor of their parent plant. Onion flowers have a mild onion flavor that is great on salads, pizza or enchiladas. Here you can see the little white flowers along with a few of the green onions chopped up and tossed on top of the pie.

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This is the same crust recipe that I have used in the past, however I was out of the sprouted wheat, so used only white flour. This crust was good, but didn’t have the chewy texture I get with the sprouted variety. I am no expert, but flour really makes a difference to a good pizza dough. In five years of making dough, I don’t think the dough was ever the same twice. There is something about humidity and water flour ratio that can really have an impact. The most important thing to remember with this cold fermentation dough is to leave it just a tad bit stickier than bread dough. Here’s the recipe with the sprouted wheat.

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As for the pesto, garlic scapes make it simple. No peeling garlic needed. You just toss a bunch of the scapes in a food processor with all of your other pesto ingredients and voila! This spread can not only add flavor to pizza, but is a great sandwich spread or veggie dip. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 garlic scapes
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup almonds, walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil to bring together
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
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Mint, Lemon and Garlic Scape Dressing

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Garlic scapes are the delightful necessity of the garlic plant. In order to transfer energy to storage in the bulb, we humans stop the reproductive process of the plant. The garlic is making seed in the scapes, and if we steal these delicacies, we also benefit from a generous garlic bulb. I only know this because I am the dwarf in the garden, “standing the shoulders of giants!” Some smart grower discovered this manipulation of nature, and now we all benefit! After cutting the scapes, growers let the garlic bulbs bulk up for about two weeks before digging. Once the garlic is out of the garden, I will hang it to cure in the barn for a few weeks, sort by size to keep the biggest for next year’s crop, and begin to the cloves it into my other summer favorite garlic recipe: Chimichurri!

 

Most people who try garlic scapes love them. In terms of texture, they are a solid juicy vegetable that even veggie haters can enjoy. And, yes, they taste like garlic, only more mild in flavor. There is no prick of heat that raw garlic bulbs give off. These can be munched raw, roasted or turned into any variety of pesto or salad dressing without any intense garlic off-putting. It’s unlikely that garlic scapes will function as well as garlic bulbs for a vampire deterrent.

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Since our garden is not only giving generous quantities of garlic scapes but lettuce and mint as well, I decided salad dressing would be the next scape recipe. As you all know by now, I am the jazz musician in the kitchen riffing on this, mixing in a little Doo Wah Diddy and throwing in a little Ella Scat for my final notes. In other words, I will give you the approximations for ingredients and then expect you to build your own composition. The key to salad dressing is the balance between acidity, salt, sweet and oil. You want it to zip and glide to give a full-mouth pleasurable sense. Jazz it up until that is achieved!

Ingredients:

  • 6 garlic scapes
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spearmint leaves – (Idea: add other herbs like dill, fennel, arugula, basil, oregano)
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic (or any white wine or champagne) vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Use a blender. Put all of these ingredients into the blender and zing on high until the dressing begins to look creamy. Taste. Adjust. Enjoy.

Daisies in the Driveway

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I went traipsing through the property looking for tell-tale signs of Spring. Muck boots are an obvious give away as are snow-speckles dotting the grass, water dripping from the metal roof and puddles forming underneath the eaves. It’s such a wonder to me that we ever smile in a place like this let alone laugh or dance or celebrate. This land is sometimes so cold and unforgiving. Grays, whites, and browns dominate the landscape and are reflected in our wardrobes – gray jackets and black pants rarely meet up with a color more vibrant than navy blue or beige, yet many a Midwesterner can muster a joke and smile here and there. In photographs, Midwesterners force a toothy grin, yet Mother Nature says, “Be serene and calm and quiet in expression now.” Spring days like this remind us that we must practice patience and humility. Although, it appears our moles are quite unsettled and sophomoric!

Moles Running From Orchard

The only colors here are the occasional red of the highbush cranberry, the pig barn or the neighbors hay barn. If I am lucky, I will catch a glimpse of a male ring-necked pheasant dashing across the white snow, his red eye patches blinding bright red in a sea of white. A fleeting reminder of the debauchery and festivities to come when the riots of summer colors flood our senses.

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Above Lake Pepin, are BIG SKIES, big views and often high winds. Today, quiet gray serenity hangs low over the horizon and blocks out all remembrances of our summer spirit. Mother Nature holds her breath – the air does not move. Not even birds flutter about but instead wait quietly in their nests for the sun to dazzle us into sensual pleasures. Days like today remind us to sit and reflect and be still.

The Old Pig Barn

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But, in the driveway, I find one vestige of summer, of the party that will come; of the laughs and celebrations and smiles, of the life that will give food and festivity, the sign that spring is upon us and Mother Nature will grant us permission to walk not with serenity and peace and humility, but with boisterous celebration and bombastic glee! A daisy grows green today.

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Spring at the Farm 2015

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I’m here again for another summer – finally! Spring came early this year, so it almost feels as if I’ve crammed a summer’s worth of work into the March, April and May weekends. Projects are plentiful to say the least! … Continue reading

Fall Farm Projects 2014

Where to begin! The vegetable garden was my pride and joy this year, so the first killing frost was a sad day for me. Even though, there is something so wonderful about putting much of it to bed. The opportunity to really shine the light on what is left is incredible. The kale, Swiss chard, cabbage and many herbs are still in full form, so food from the kitchen is plentiful. Our Brussels sprouts gave us nothing but gigantic leaves this year…oh well. Yesterday I planted four beds of garlic – over 250 bulbs! Last year we planted 80 and only 40 survived. I realized with all the salsa and sauce making, I need way more garlic. Ours from this year was gone by August.

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This bed of tomatoes has been taken into storage and they are ripening faster than I can give them away – the last of the yellows.

 

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So, besides putting the veggies to bed, we have been busy, with the help of a neighbor and his machinery, building a circle drive with center berm garden.

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Jeff is working to lay a limestone barrier around the edge, and we actually have much of it planted, but not all the gravel is in. I’ll have to post pictures next weekend of a more finished project. We’ve also been building a perennial garden around the deck, and Jeff and Max laid a new concrete sidewalk between drive and back door. It was a big weekend of work!

 

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We did have a little fun with the neighbors picking apples and making cider!

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Poppin’ Up Around the Farm

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Quite a few little projects have been popping up around the place the last couple of weeks. I fell in love with some herbal tea my dad brought from Ithaca last summer, so have set to making my own. Jeff devised this great drying system so I can keep the herbs drying as they come in throughout the summer. I’ve already dried bunches of clover, camomile, catmint, peppermint, roses, angelica, and nettles.

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Last week the garden gate got updated with a sheet metal “roof” as well as one of the many old rusted garden implements found on the property. As Jeff finds the old tools, machine pieces and junk, he’s been stacking them in a perennial garden. The junk is taking on a bit of an artistic bend!

I might end up planting some sort of flowering vine around the gate to soften the entrance and welcome the bees. The garden fencing is semi-temporary as we are not sure whether the garden will live forever in this site, but I love the idea of creating espaliered fruit fencing or a vined structure of some sort. To appease my dreams this year, the tomatoes will grow in the espalier form against the fence.

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Another of our projects was to create a nice container for compost. Last year I just mounded all compost material which worked out fine, but didn’t have such a nice tidy look to it. With my sweeper attachment for the mower, I went crazy filling the new composter with grass. It’s so nice to have all the grass to cover the kitchen scraps as they come out, and I find it so convenient to have the grass on hand for quick mulch needs. The bottom foot of the compost is burdock leaves! I have a feeling the compost will consist largely of burdock leaves for many years as I work to eradicate (or at least slightly tame) the beast from our property. I have read that it can be used in tea, so some day may be kicking myself if the herbal tea business starts to boom!

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Talk about booming! Yesterday I pulled one radish out of the bed, but the others still looked a little small. For fourteen hours yesterday lightning filled the sky, rain poured down in buckets and thunder rippled through the atmophere. This morning the radishes had literally jumped out of the soil! I don’t know if they were electrocuted or what, but bursting is an understatement!

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In fact, the entire garden burst after last night’s rain. Tomato suckers that I picked on Friday had grown back two inches today, and everything seemed to have doubled in size overnight.

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Last night’s storm took down a very old apple tree and coincidentally, my parents gave Jeff a Honeycrisp for his birthday. Out with the old, in with the new!

First Year Garden

Maiden Rock, Wisconsin the second week of May… Trees were barely open, the grass was short but bright green and sleet-snow fell from the sky.

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The following day was bright and clear. Our farmer neighbor brought in the tractor to plow under the winter rye in our new garden and implement composted manure from his steer. We let that rest for one week. We chose this site in front of the barn for our first garden as it had been the paddock. Our hope was that the soil would already be fairly fertile with nearly thirty years of horses on the area. The soil in the part of the world is a silty loam that drains quickly.

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The following week we dug and moved a MILLION pounds of soil to form our “no-till” garden beds. These will be added to each year with layers of mulch, compost, leaves and grass clippings. The first layer was straw and grass clippings to hold in the moisture and allow the beds to rest again.

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The following week, “Superman,” as one of my friends refers to my husband, installed the fence while I planted all the seedlings started in March as well as all the seeds from the seed box in the farm office. We’ll see if my intensive tomato trellising plan for the fence works!

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In just a couple of weeks, this land went from barely Spring to FULL-BLOWN Summer complete with 90 degree days and weeds popping up left and right! My work for the summer is clearly defined – weed eradication will be the name of the game! My tools: one pair of gloves, a strong back, and the dream of a goat, some chickens or a duck! Fortunately, my seeds and seedlings are a bit ahead of the weeds, and I’m ready with mulch! The garden was entirely planted by May 25th this year.

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The picture above was taken the first week of June. As you can see there are two beehives behind the garden. We’re taking a dive into beekeeping as well. We refer to the bees as “The BEE!” If we don’t use the singular, my dad, the beekeeper, might end up bringing 25 hives to our land!

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Our Father’s Day garden popped with radishes, collard greens, green onions and mustard greens. Tonight’s salad will include a bit of arugula!

By the end of June, it was jammin’ all of the above with the addition of baby bok choy, basil, peas and lots of green tomatoes!

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Lagging Spring

Spring in Town

The country ever has a lagging Spring,
Waiting for May to call its violets forth,
And June its roses–showers and sunshine bring,
Slowly, the deepening verdure o’er the earth;
To put their foliage out, the woods are slack,
And one by one the singing-birds come back…

William Cullen Bryant

 

This is yesterday’s deepening verdure. The winter rye is greening in front of the barn, tree buds are beginning to push forward and it is not only Juncos to the feeder.

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BUT, Mother Nature has halted the verdant splendor and given us a more muted palate. Somehow, more quiet and composed.

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Spring is most surely lagging in this northern state.

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Farmhouse Revised

To make sure the full impact is felt, make sure you look at yesterday’s post about buying  a farm. In that post you will find the “Before” pictures. We began this project nine months ago, and while much of the house project is “done” there is quite  a bit of fine-tuning left to work on. Of course, the acreage and outbuildings will keep us very busy for years to come!

We’ve lived in the city for many years with turn-of-the-century oak woodwork, and while beautiful, it is very dark. I’ve been craving light for years, so am thrilled to have been able to highlight the incredible light of the farm. We added windows to both enhance the view as well as to open the house even more to light.

For the interior I chose a monochromatic white color scheme to keep it fresh and clean feeling. Walls, ceilings, floors and trim are all the same white. For dimension, I was strongly influenced by the concept of “farmhouse coastal.” I added beachy splashes with a sea-foam marble for the wood stove heat wall, painted the office ceiling, crown molding and stairs a turquoise blue and have lots of sand colors resonating throughout the fabrics and fixtures.

I also wanted to add a bit of “farmhouse” especially as the house has two large barn wood beams to remind us of the old-timers who hand-sawed the huge timbers that once covered this land. My darling husband was commissioned to create beds, fridge panels, a stove hood and farm table to help the house celebrate its roots! Our laundry, bathroom and mudroom will eventually look like a tack room complete with a sliding barn door. That will be our next project. To complete, in fact, will be a screen porch, a covered porch that will become a solarium and the renovation of the bathrooms.

In terms of interior design, the space is minimally filled. I have yet to decide about window treatments, additional furniture and other objects of interest. I figure I have lots of time to find interesting pieces to fill the space. I’d rather have things I love and that are “perfect” than just fill the space for the sake of it.

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