Thursday, May 27, 2010

tomatoes in may

Yes indeed, we went to the Exeter farmers' market this afternoon, and Heron Pond Farm had greenhouse-grown tomatoes! They also had strawberries, which we didn't get since we have some of our own growing outside (though ours aren't red yet) - but it was nice to see such treats this early in the Spring!

We did bring home more than just tomatoes - we got chicken, baby bok choy, cucumbers (another amazing sight this early in the season!), duck eggs (which I've never tried before - so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how they are!), and Brookford Farm yogurt.

Then when we got home, we harvested another big bowl of kale from the garden - so tonight's dinner will be a stir fry of kale, bok choy, onion, garlic, and chicken - with a cucumber salad on the side. I'm hungry already!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

kale, kale, everywhere kale!

We spent lots of time in the garden this weekend, as the 10-day forecast gives us no chance of cold temperatures, so it was time to get the tomatoes planted! For tomato seedlings, we planted Juliet, 4th of July, and a grape tomato variety whose name I can't recall right now. We also planted (from seed) green beans, zucchini, pattypan squash, 2 different varieties of cucumbers, and crookneck squash... plus 2 pattypan squash seedlings.

But the most fun of the weekend was harvesting a bowl full of our own grown-from-seed curly kale, to add to a stir-fry dinner Sunday night. The full dinner consisted of almost all local ingredients - the chicken, garlic, and onion were all from the farmers' markets. The kale from our own garden. And the rice, salt, and soy sauce were from afar.

This was our kale, pre-harvest - there's still plenty of it outside - we picked the outer leaves, and so more leaves will keep growing (and we'll keep adding them to stir-fries!!).

As for the rest of the garden, we have lettuce growing bigger every day (we've been harvesting the outer leaves of the lettuce plants for salads, and leaving the inner leaves to grow larger) -

The peas are growing taller (though I wonder how the very hot weather predicted for the next 2 days is going to affect them)...

And the garlic is the happiest garlic I've seen this early in the season -

And now we eagerly await the emergence of the beans, cucumbers, and squashes that we seeded. So far this year, life in the garden is super good!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

photos from the festival

We had a great time at the Sheep and Wool Festival - even though it's extremely windy and rather chilly in NH today, there were plenty of folks bundled up in hats, coats, and even mittens, checking out the sheep, alpacas, vendor booths (such amazingly beautiful yarn and fiber for sale!!), and other exhibits out at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds today. Thought I'd share a few photos - it was so windy I was having trouble holding my camera still, so please pardon the blurry alpacas!!

A bunch of friends, hanging out together -

So cute!

Having a little hay-snack -

The sheep and angora goat displays were fun too -

It was definitely a fun day - I'm looking forward to next year's festival already!

Friday, May 7, 2010

luke meets mo-pug

It's a beautiful sunny day in NH today, so we spent the morning outside working in the gardens. We seeded another round of spinach and lettuce, weeded the snap peas, and built another trellis out of fallen sticks for the second round of snap peas which were seeded a couple weeks ago and are already about 2" tall. This warm May weather has been great for the gardens, for sure!

While we were outside, Mo-Pug was running around the yard, and Luke was running around in an x-pen (yet another Freecycle treasure!). When Mo noticed Luke, she went over to check him out -

Mo was very curious about Luke - but Luke was even more curious about Mo -he jumped right over to the edge of the pen to get an extra-good look (or maybe sniff...)!

Once everyone's curiosity was satisfied, it was time for a nap in the sunshine!

sheep and wool (and alpaca!) festival

The NH Sheep and Wool Festival is coming up this weekend at the Hopkinton State Fairgrounds. The NEAOBA Alpaca Fest will be running on the same days, same place. I like sheep - but I seriously love alpacas. They're adorable, curious, adorable, friendly, adorable, useful fiber animals. Did I mention they're adorable?? Whenever I'm around them, I can't stop smiling!! And, like llamas, they hum when they're happy. Happy humming farm animals - really, how could that not make a person smile? Anyway, although the weather this weekend in NH isn't looking like it's going to be the best, I'm hoping the rain showers will let up long enough to allow for a good time at the festival. Sheep, alpacas, sheep-herding demonstrations, weaving and spinning demonstrations, craft projects/"make and takes," educational workshops... lots of fun to be had! We'll be there - how about you?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

our own baby spinach

We planted spinach seeds outside in a homemade cold frame on April 1 - and today, we harvested enough baby spinach leaves for a salad (we cut the outer leaves from the plants, leaving the smaller center leaves to continue growing - according to what I've read, this method should allow us to harvest from these same plants until mid-June, if all goes well). This is the first time we've grown spinach here in our garden, so we're quite happy with our success so far.

We also planted seeds from the same seed packet in another garden bed, but didn't use a cold frame. Those plants are much smaller and probably won't be ready for harvesting for at least another week or two, from the way things look -if they even make it that long. They're not particularly strong plants, and keep toppling over under the weight of their own leaves. I'd never gardened with cold frames before, but this year we built 2. Under 1, we have spinach, kale, and lettuce - and under the other, we're planted broccoli seeds. Next year, we'll plant all our early Spring greens in cold frames, as it's pretty remarkable the difference not only in size but also in strength that the seedlings in the cold frames are showing. All good!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

a new (to us) veggie

Yes, I have never tried a parsnip before. And I am not a big fan of carrots, to which the parsnip is closely related. But one of our commitments this farmers' market season is to try more "new to us" foods - and when we stopped by Brookford Farm's stand today at the Portsmouth Farmers' Market to buy potatoes, they mentioned that they had Spring-dug parsnips - so we decided to get a couple to try.

Several people stopped us as we walked around the market to give us parsnip cooking hints (you have to love how friendly folks are at the markets - I can't remember the last time someone stopped me in the grocery store to talk all excitedly about what was in my cart!!). Anyway, some folks said parsnips are best when roasted as part of a "meat and potatoes" dish - others said boiled and mashed is the way to go - and someone else mentioned parsnip "fries."

We decided to go with oven-baked fries, and followed this recipe from the Green Earth Institute website:

Parsnip Crisps
Cut parsnips into French fry shape. Toss with olive oil and sea salt. Spread on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 40 minutes or until crispy outside and tender inside.

The verdict? Parsnips might not be my favorite veggie find ever - but they're pretty tasty! An excellent kick-off to farmers' market season - and I'm already looking forward to seeing what "new" food I can bring home next week!

Speaking of next week, the Exeter farmers' market opens this coming Thursday (May 6) - check out Seacoast Eat Local for farmers' market schedules and more opening dates!