There are certainly times of year when we have more sweet things in our fields — late summer is a cornucopia of sweet fruits: sweet corn, sweet peppers, apples, cherry tomatoes, melons, plums, blackberries. But, spring is sweet too, in its own way. As I noted last week, it is simply a gorgeous time of year. I love that we get these breathtaking glimpses of the warm season for a few days followed by rumbling days of chilly storms. The combination makes it hard to take anything for granted.
But there are literal sweet foods in our fields now too. As you have probably noticed in our vegetable selections of late, spring is the season for greens. Many of these greens will grow in our fields year-round but are at their peak of perfection right now.
Our little growing baby Dottie still has a rough hour before bed, when she is too tired to be settled but not tired enough to fall asleep. Being outside is very calming for her, so she and I have been making a nightly ritual of walking to an overwintered kale patch, where I pick us both tender stalks of kale rapini and we eat them as we walk around. Each time, I am amazed at the sweetness in the stem — and I remember so many springs before. I ate loads of kale rapini in the fields when I was newly pregnant with Rusty, because I discovered it was one of the only green foods I could stomach at the time. Every year is different.
Spring is, of course, often a challenging season here on the farm. So much change, growth, and unpredictability inevitably bring surprises. There are days when work just piles up, because calves are born, ground needs to be worked, etc. And, then we have days when the routine is simply routine. The quickly changing weather and landscape also means that we need to pay careful attention to what we are harvesting — a crop that was perfect last week may already have gone past that point this week. We are constantly recalibrating everything, especially with the knowledge that every subsequent day just speeds it all up — longer days equal more growth. Seeds sowed three weeks apart in March may produce plants that are ready to pick just two days apart in May. Weeds pick up their pace. Grass needs to be mowed or grazed. It is a fleeting, at times maddening, but beautiful season.
And, I can’t help but think of this season in our life as similar — the season of having these two very young kids in our family. At three, Rusty reminds me so much of spring weather — he can fluctuate between stormy and sunny “weather” in just a few minutes (or the opposite!), leaving me constantly adjusting my own responses. And Dottie is simply growing and changing so quickly. She is seven months old now, and already has seven teeth to show for her age! She has discovered the fun of games with Mama — repeatedly throwing an object off the table at dinner (the fun being watching Mama pick it up), knocking down towers as quickly as we can build them, and pulling up her shirt to play peek-a-boo. Where did this child come from?
I know that in a blink of an eye, it will be summer here on the farm, and I have a feeling this summer will find us with a toddling baby racing as quickly as possible after her older brother. I know many mothers who want to hit a ‘pause’ button at stages of their children’s growth, and I sometimes appreciate this sentiment. But mostly I enjoy the growth, the constant surprise, the feeling that we are all working toward something both here on the farm and in our family.
There’s a paradox in all of this — I strive to enjoy each day and yet so love the motion and change too. I think this is why I deeply appreciate the cycles in life — spring is gorgeous while it lasts, but I’m happy for summer dryness to arrive so we can ride our bikes whenever we want and watch fruit ripen on the trees. But I embrace the arrival of each new season with the full knowledge that we’ll be back here again. This weekend, the four of us walked to the newest orchard to see the apple blossoms opening, and oh how perfect they were in that moment. There’s nothing quite so delicate as the pink of an apple blossom. I probably won’t have time to get over there again before they are finishing blooming, but if the universe is willing to give me more seasons, I look forward to seeing those blossoms again and again.
And, with the children, these stages may be passing for the older child, but the younger one will be there soon too (although I can’t say I’m excited about revisiting mercurial three, but we are surviving it now and will do so again). And perhaps our life will have more children in it in the future. And, if not, we are part of a larger community of family and friends, and beautiful babies and children will continue to be a part of our life.
Plus, if those apple blossoms never faded, we would never get to enjoy the sweetness of their fruit. And, as we finish the very last of last year’s crop (only a handful left!), Rusty and I are already looking forward to this year’s.
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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We’re not moving! You may have heard that the Public Market (where we currently host the pick-up) is closing shop temporarily, starting this next weekend. You may have wondered whether this affects our CSA pick-up — it does not! We are continuing our relationship with the Granary District but working directly with the manager now. He sees no reason why we cannot continue hosting veggie pick-up there for the foreseeable future — hoorah! No changes, for now!
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How we eat loads of greens: I can’t remember whether or not I’ve shared this bit of information this spring, but it certainly can’t hurt to repeat it. Casey and I have — amazingly — upped our greens consumption over the last six months. I say amazing, because I thought we ate a lot before. But we have a new favorite cooking method that works well for all kinds of greens, from cabbage to rapini, and it’s fast, easy, reliable, delicious and highly nutritious.
Start by chopping the greens and putting them in a large open pan with a bit of fat (butter, coconut oil, lard). Then add broth so that the bottom of the pan has about half to one inch of liquid. (We try to make some broth every time we eat meat with bones — you could do this with water too, but it would be much less tasty and nutritious. Leftover soup or tomato sauce work too.) Turn the heat up to high so that the broth starts to boil and simmer. Stir a few times to immerse the greens in the broth and then cover with a lid and let the greens steam and wilt (this usually takes just a few minutes). Remove the lid, and then let the pan continue to simmer until it is almost dry of liquid, stirring occasionally. Watch it at the end, because if all the liquid boils off, you could burn the greens. At this point, we also like to add a lot of fat (because we have enjoyed eating low carb high fat) — I will stir an entire stick of butter for Casey and me into a full pan of greens, and we will eat it at one meal. Cream is nice too. But if you are on a lower fat plan, the greens are tasty without (especially if good broth was used, the reduced liquid will be incredibly savory and nourishing). These easy cooked greens are the base of almost every meal we eat — we eat them at breakfast with scrambled eggs; at lunch with meat stirred in; or at dinner as a side dish. Using this method, we eat a lot of greens of every kind every week. When we go away for a day or two, greens are what I miss the most from our diet, because they are so rare to find elsewhere (especially cooked this way). If you’ve been at a loss with cooking greens, give this a try!
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Salad greens
- Asian greens
- Kale rapini