Spring update!

So it’s spring. The spring peepers, robins, and blackflies have all made this abundantly clear here for some time now. It’s been a nice spring up here on the mountain. Rather cool but not overly wet. So long as there’s sunshine, the greenhouses and solar panels could hardly care less about the temperature.

And by gods, the greenhouses sure have been pumping out some badass greens lately:

SpinachSpinach and other greens

More salad greens

Salad greensRed oakleaf lettuce

Radish, too. But you’ll have to come to the Annapolis Royal Winter Market tomorrow to see (and hopefully buy) those brightly coloured jewels. Tomorrow is the last Winter Market of the season, as next week – the 21st – we return to our spot at the Summer Market!

The outside gardens are also growing quite happily, with many of our beds in cold frames. The garlic is all doing great, and we’ve got carrots, beets, parsnips, peas, beans, kale, chard, potatoes, and more salad greens, spinach, and radish planted.

Garlic in full swing

And thanks to Laire’s maniacal efforts last fall, he and I have lots of tulips and daffodils in bloom all around our front yard! Such a wicked landscaper, that one.

Tulips abloomDaffodils littering the paths

Daffodils abloom along brook

You might be wondering what we’ve been up to lately. Well, unfortunately, we didn’t end up getting any new baby goats that we were all counting on here. We basically built a new barn for them, perhaps you’ve seen it? But then the goat kids just decided to not exist. That is, our billygoat turned out to be shooting blanks. None of our goats had actually been bred, as much as we managed to convince ourselves otherwise over the winter. This was a bit of a disappointment, mostly because baby goats are super cute and we were all planning on spending all spring cuddling with them for days on end.

No, actually, because it would have been great to get all that extra milk to make some hard cheeses and such. I even spent the winter getting rather obsessed with a certain style of raw milk cheesemaking through a wonderful book, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking. I’ve been practicing over the winter and become rather good at making various styles of fresh chèvre using a kefir starter culture. We still have enough milk on the go for me to keep that up – Mocha and Notch continue to yield milk since they gave birth last year – but it’ll be harder to squeeze a wheel of alpine or cheddar out of those old girls.

But we did end up with surprise kittens! And who doesn’t like kittens? Well, apparently they don’t like us. The kittens were born in the barn loft by our new feral barn cat, Lucky. Hopefully one day soon Lucky will be away hunting and we can sneak in some playtime with her babies!

We went for our first picking of fiddleheads yesterday. ‘Tis the season to forage for fiddleheads on the forest floor. We’ll go back next week when more of them have emerged, but we still did quite well. It’s lovely little spot we like to go picking at. There’s bloodroot in bloom everywhere.

Foraging for fiddleheads in the forestBloodroot in bloom

We’ll have lots of fiddleheads at the market tomorrow!

So really, why wouldn’t you come to market tomorrow? I mean, besides the thunderstorms? See you tomorrow!

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione—or killer rainbow chard!

Laire and I are big fans of Jamie Oliver’s approach to cooking a side of greens, from his beautiful cookbook Jamie’s Italy. We do this with our gorgeous stalks of rainbow chard, kale, beet greens, and summer squash, and man! what a meal. We can’t get enough of the stuff, often finishing the greens before anything else on our plates.

It’s so simple, and I’m excited to share Jamie’s advice with you (in my own words).

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione
Dressed up, perfectly cooked greens

I like how Jamie prefaces the recipe: “… in Italy, huge amounts of vegetables and greens are served as an antipasto just to get the tastebuds going. It’s because of this that the Italians are a damn sight healthier than us. So listen up. Let’s be like them and big up the greens. Cook them nicely, dress them with care and you’ll be laughing.” That just gets my mouth watering…

What you’ll need:

  • large pot of salted water
  • a very healthy bunch of greens (chard, spinach, kale, baby summer squash, broccoli, asparagus – whatever’s local and in season!)
  • 2-3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3-6 tbsp. good quality vegetable oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, or a locally made alternative like Hillcreek Family Farm’s non-GMO canola or camelina oil (for sale at D’Aubin Family Meats in Bridgetown)
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic or garlic scapes, or one finely chopped chili pepper (optional)

Get the pot of water to a boil with the lid on. If you’re cooking chard or kale, chop up the stalks from the leaves first, then drop them into the boiling water. Then coarsely chop the leaves and after about a minute, drop them into the water, too. Boil them for 1-2 minutes. To tell if it’s done you can take a piece out and taste it, but the trick is to not overcook!

So cook them with your full attention (Jamie’s words), then drain them well into a colander and lay them on a clean kitchen towel to let the steam escape and soak up excess moisture. While still warm put them in a bowl and dress them with the vinegar or lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Add your garlic or chopped fresh chili for some heat and colour.

As Jamie recommends, try to get into the habit of this! It’s so delicious, good for you, a great way to use up what’s in season, and you won’t get tired of it.

Perfectly cooked greens

Growing greens never looked so good

It looks like we’ll have a sunny one for the third week at market! It’ll be a welcome change from last week, where we ended up having to leave early because of the wind, rain, and sleet. But after this muggy week of summerlike temperatures, last Saturday already seems like a distant memory! The black flies sure enjoyed the weather, I happened to notice.

Along with this welcome warmth, the greenhouses have been prolific, and we’re excited this week to bring to market loads of our first beet greens!

Beet greens

We also have lots of salad mix, spinach, arugula, radishes, and yet more fiddleheads (though you can be reasonably sure this will be the last week for those).

Bagging saladFreshly picked salad mix

RadishesArugula growing in the greenhouse

Plus, as always we have duck eggs, chicken eggs, hummus, and goat products.

If you’re in the area, stop by the farm today between 4 and 6pm for Farm-Gate Fridays to pick up your choices in advance of tomorrow’s market. Otherwise, see you at market tomorrow!