notes from maggies's farm
Rather not hear me prattle on about country life? Skip down to the bottom of the post for 'The Formula' for this happy, healthy farm harvest lunch. No, really. You won't hurt my feelings. Some days, and likely, readers, are just not built for prattle.
Mondays on the farm start early, as we play catch up from our less than vigorous farm duty schedule on Sunday.
We try to keep the Sabbath. We find it helps us keep our sanity if we spend a dedicated day not dedicated to duties we perform most every other day of the week. We're not always successful, but if we work at all, it is usually on projects other than gardening, if for no other reason but that when we make it home from church, and maybe lunch afterwards, it's in the heat of the day, and that's not the best time to find one's self in the garden. It's also lovely just to putter around the house together, or separately, together, sometimes, attending to the little and not so little things that don't really have a secure spot in the day-by-day weekly schedule. Change the oil in the car. Make out-of-town family phone calls. Wash the dogs. Or maybe we do nothing—take a drive, stop to hike a little, go window shopping around the square.
Just so happens that this week is rush week on the University of Texas campus, and while my husband usually can be found milling about, from task to task, keeping the house of Alpha Delta Pi ship-shape year-round, this week it's all party all the time, and all hands on deck for the feeding, clean up, and care of and after the thousands of girls that will stream through the beautiful old sorority house on West Campus. We spent all day Sunday, after church, listening to the unending chant: "I wanna go A-D-Pi, That's Alpha Delta Pi…….". Over and over and over at the top of their lungs. I don't know how they do it.
So, as I said, we play catch up on Monday. Usually one of us will get coffee, the other will soft boil an egg for each, just before hitting the chore list. Sometimes we discuss who will do what. Sometimes we just dive in, working with, and around each other, without really declaring the morning's to-dos. We've been doing this a little while, and really, no words are necessary. We just go about doing what needs to be done.
Feed the dogs and provide fresh water. Same for the cats, the bunnies, the chickens and ducks. Pump the duck pond into the melon bed, scrub out the 'pond', and refill with fresh water. Ducks go crazy for the fresh water. We'll take a minute to watch. We gather eggs, and refresh the hay in the nesting boxes. Rake out any muck in the poultry runs, and give a general straightening up to the housing for chickens, ducks, and rabbits. We lead the goats out to graze, while someone rakes out their housing, cleans and refreshes their stock pond, freshens the hay.
The plants that have hung on this long are watered. We lost a bit over the last few weeks, as we simply could not keep up with the watering demands of a heat-soaked, but rain-free climate. Still, there's quite a bit of watering to do. Usually takes a few hours, while we work in spurts between changing out sprinklers, swapping hoses, switching timers, etc. One day it will all be automatic. That day is not this day.
Besides the extra weekend clean up, this is pretty much like every morning goes. And then we're on to the gardens. We weed a little, revitalize an area whose crop is done with the spot, survey and plan, and harvest. Some months of the year, this, too, can take a few hours. Sometimes even a few hours, twice a day (Okra, why are you so labor intensive?).
But these are the days when the summer's harvest begins to dwindle, and some days, the harvest is small. Even when we've skipped a day of picking and pruning, we'll yield a small handbasket-full, rather than the bushels of early summer. Still, what a joy to simply go to the garden for the day's meals, which we so often do.
By about 11, we begin to get hungry, so I take that day's bounty (or less than bountiful bounty, like in August), escape to the cool kitchen, and plug our daily bread (and vegetables, and herbs, and eggs…..) into a surefire formula for a healthy and wholesome farmers' lunch.
Grain. Preferably whole grains like barley, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats, wheat berries—whatever you've got in your pantry. We make sure we've got ours stocked well. Other options include rice noodles, plain pasta, gluten-free options, even day old bread cubes. Sky's the limit, really.
Protein. Cheese, meat, seafood, shellfish, egg, tofu, tempeh, or beans
Vegetables. Fresh, preferably. Whatever you've got growing.
Herbs and Seasonings. Fresh or dried.
Saucy Things. Lemon Juice, Vinegars, Oils, Butters, Milk or Cream, Stocks-seafood, chicken, vegetable. Pesto.
We've gone meatless this Monday by tossing a handful of homemade ricotta with whole-grain penne pasta as it was strained. While still warm, we tossed that with chopped, fresh gold and red tomatoes, sliced yellow and green sweet bell peppers, a sprinkling of roasted lemon powder and cracked red pepper for a much needed little pep in our step, and a dollop or two of basil-mint pesto—equal small bunches of fresh mint and basil leaves, thrown together in the processor with another handful of whole almonds and parmesan cheese, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper, and as the motor runs, streaming in about a quarter cup of good quality olive oil. (You'll have plenty left for other meals. Refrigerate for no longer than a week, or freeze in ice cube trays for single-serving portions to use for as long as 6 months.) Tossed all together, add garnished with a little lemon zest, we had a wholesome, fresh-flavored lunch in little more than the time it took to boil the pasta.
Come by tomorrow when we learn more about whole grains, and their importance in a healthy diet, along with more fresh-fare ideas using this handy formula, on Tips for Tuesday, Notes From Maggie's Farm.
Now we've got to get back to catching up. Will this Monday ever be done?