Mushrooms from the Salt Lake Farmer’s Market

In addike tion to the garlic scapes I got at the Salt Lake Farmer’s Market, I also bought some Hen of the Woods mushrooms.  I’ve been meaning to try some wild mushrooms for some time now and since I have zero expertise at finding and identifying them, I jumped at the chance to buy them.  I decided to put them in an omelet.  I started by sauteing them in some butter and olive oil with a chopped scallion.

 Mushroom Saute

Once they were cooked I set them aside, wiped out the pan, and cooked the omelet.  I must admit that the omelet was not my best, but the mushrooms (along with the Emmenthaler cheese) made up the difference.

 Omelete

Sneak a peek

 Mushrooms exposed

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I love my garden

Garden Salad

Here we have mixed greens and radishes from the garden garnished with Gorgonzola cheese, pecans, and ranch dressing.  Click on the photo for a better view.

Garlic Scapes from the Salt Lake Farmers’ Market

Garlic Scapes

Last Saturday I want to the Salt Lake Farmers’ Market for their season opener.  There were all kinds of great spring produce as well as artisanal cheeses, organic and grass-fed meats, soaps, arts and crafts, and a wide variety of prepared foods.  It was quite the treat and I hope to get up there often.  I just wish that we had this kind of variety and quality at the Provo Farmers’ Market.  Ah well, let’s keep supporting them and hope that it grows.

I had only heard of them, but never tasted them, so when I saw garlic scapes (pictured above) for sale at $2 a bunch I pounced.  When garlic grows it shoots up its green leaves (like a scallion) as well as the scape, which is the flowering stem of the plant.  Farmers cut off the scape as this prompts the bulb to grow bigger and gives them the added bonus of a delicious spring treat. 

Garlic scapes have a somewhat tamer flavor than garlic (especially when cooked) with an added grassy flavor that I find quite pleasant.  When eaten raw they are very spicy.

A Google search revealed that most folks writing about scapes recommended making pesto or stir fry, so I did both.  For the pesto I combined in the food processor:

  • 1 cup of scapes cut to 1″ segments
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff though)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (don’t be stingy with the salt)

The pesto was overpoweringly spicy with the raw scapes and it occurred to me that some lemon would help to balance this, so I added some leftover lemon vinaigrette that had zest, juice, and olive oil.  It helped.  What really would have helped would have been blanching the scapes for a minute or so in boiling water and then putting them in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  With the raw scape pesto my wife and I were tasting garlic for the rest of the night, even after several brushings of the teeth.  The next morning I was still tasting it, but some aggressive Listerine therapy finally did the trick.  When we had leftovers I nuked the pesto on my pasta and the cooking seemed to tame it sufficiently.  I wish that my Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes were ready because they would have been the perfect balance to this dish.

 Garlic Scape Pesto

With my leftover scapes I decided to make a stir fry.  I fired up the cast iron skillet on medium heat and chopped up the scapes in 1 1/2″ pieces along with broccoli florets, chopped scallions, and sliced chicken breast.  I cooked them in high heat with neutral oil and then added grated ginger about a minute before cooking was finished (2-3 teaspoons).  Once cooked, I dressed the stir fry with soy sauce and dark sesame oil and served over rice.  It tasted phenomenal, but I could hardly taste any garlicky flavor from the scapes.  In texture and appearance they were very much like green beans.  How is that for two extremes of flavor?

 Garlic Scape Stir Fry

Sorry this photo is a bit blurry.  I really need a tripod.  The scapes are those green bean looking things.

Garden report and more on the Earth Machine

Earth Machine

So (by request) here’s a shot of my Earth Machine compost bin.  As you can see, it is fairly large for an apartment dweller, but it fits quite nicely right next to my flower bed garden.  The ideal would be to have it closer to the door to my apartment (making it easy to dump compostable material), but this is good enough.  I’ve been turning the compost with a hoe, which has been sufficient, but I want to get a compost aerator.  Earth Machine sells one, but my particular municipality does not carry it.  I do find that I regularly need to add water to keep the pile sufficiently moist.

 Earth Machine

The garden is coming along quite nicely.  Our radishes are about ready to harvest and we’ve been enjoying an abundance of fresh lettuce, spinach, and arugula for our salads.

 Garden mid-June

The heat of the last few days has done great things for my tomatoes and peppers which are taking off (finally!).  Our beets and swiss chard are progressing nicely and I expect that we’ll be seeing some beans in the next week or so.  I was a bit late starting my basil and a few other plants, but I hope to get them in the ground soon.

 Garden mid-June

All the weeds in the pictures are gone now, but by the time they were gone, so was the sunlight.  So you get the pictures with the weeds.  I also planted my squash plant and replaced two peppers, two eggplants, and one tomatoes with plants that I had kept in containers.  The old ones were struggling and so my backups came in handy.  By the end of this week I should have my cucumbers, cantaloupe, parsley, dill, and basil in the ground.

Great deal on a compost bin

Earth Machine Composter

I recently discovered that in addition to offering compost for sale, the Southern Utah Valley Solid Waste District also sells the Earth Machine, a great compost bin at a great price.  Most comparable compost bins I have found usually go for at least $100, but we got ours for $30 (by living within their district and getting my brother to buy one with us for the bulk discount).  I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I’m very pleased with it.

You can buy them from the SUVSWD’s Springville location at 2450 West 400 South (in Springville).  They are only open between 7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and accept cash or check.  The facility mostly processes individuals’ deliveries to the dump there, so you may know more about the compost bin than the person you talk to.  Be sure to insist on the price posted on their website—the woman I dealt with was ready to charge me $10 more than she should have.

I’ve been surprised by how much we have been able to put in our compost bin that would have otherwise gone to the landfill.  Not only is this friendlier to the earth, but it is also quite friendly to our garden. 

I highly recommend the earth machine.  It is only sold through local municipalities, so it is quite likely that you can get one at a comparable price even if you don’t live in south Utah Valley.

Please don’t call me a “foodie”

For that matter, please don’t call yourself or anyone else you know a foodie.  I am really intrigued with why we think we need to define some subset of people for taking an interest in their food.  It seems to me that simply being interested in food isn’t that interesting and doesn’t necessarily mean that ones interest in food leads to good ends.  “Foodie” not only falls far short of telling me much about a person and their relationship with food, but it also seems to suggest some kind of status that comes with eating out a lot or watching the Food Network.

I mean, we all eat.  All of us.  Every single one of us.  Most of us in western culture struggle in varying degrees with our relationship with food.  Michael Pollan has documented this well in his books In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  The fact that we take interest in our relationship with food and perhaps even toward improving it should not make us a clique, it should make us human in the best senses of the word.

The other day I was talking with my mom after a weekend when we had gone to both Pizzeria 712 in Orem and Settebello in SLC for phenomenal pizza.  I was telling her how I had almost involuntarily grunted with disgust when someone at church suggested Papa John’s as an ideal choice for an upcoming activity.  My mom cautioned me about being a food snob and thinking that I am better than others.  My response was that I want everyone to know what good pizza is.  I think that everyone should get to eat good pizza and good food in general.  I don’t look down on people who eat Papa John’s, but I just don’t want them to miss out.

Why should we have a good relationship with food?  Well that’s a broader question than I can adequately address here.  However, I’ll give some superficial bullet points:

  • Our food connects (or can connect) us to the land, to our community, and to the life that we are a part of
  • Food plays an essential role in how we define ourselves culturally–we eat this, not that
  • Food and eating are part of traditions of community.  They define religious rituals, festivals, family gatherings, etc.
  • Knowing how dependent our food is upon the earth, the sun, and those around us provokes an appropriate humility and invites us away from individualism toward community

There is a lot more to say than I’ve said here.  The point is that having a healthy relationship with food is not and shouldn’t be anywhere near as fashionable as the word “foodie” seems to indicate.  I say, let’s eat delicious food that promotes our health and the health of the place we live because we are humans and that is good human living.

I really want to hear your comments

The Community Food Co-op of Utah Delivers!

Coop Share

So Saturday was co-op pickup day and check out what I got.  I couldn’t be bothered to arrange it beautifully, so all you get is a photo in the box, but check out my friend Jen’s blog for a more aesthetically pleasing experience.  As you can see, we got lots of great food.  The produce was quite impressive.  We cooked the pork spareribs on Sunday and they were phenomenal (I’ll take some credit for that).

Picking up the order was great.  I showed up at Centro Hispano in Provo and they had some tables set up with boxes of each food item.  They gave me a box and a list of what I was to take, based on my order.

 Coop pickup

I HIGHLY recommend that you try the co-op.  You won’t be disappointed.  June promises to be even better because now, in addition to the other shares, you can buy a Farmer’s Market share!  Apparently the co-op has a contract with a local farm that grows vegetables to organic standards (I don’t believe it is certified though).  A little bird told me that the farm is East Farms, which runs a CSA, but does not have a pickup in Utah County.  What a great way to get fresh local food.  These shares are limited so don’t put off ordering.  In fact, I’d probably better place my own order before I publish this post.