We will be cooking some food from the farm this Sunday 2-6pm at Wildflowers Solstice Party! http://www.wildflowersfarmsolstice.com It’s only $10 (advance tickets) and $15 at the door – chock full of fun music, local food and artisan vendors. Come say hi – and eat some black bean and roasted carrot salad, or an ancho chile pulled pork sando on a Houlette de Vie bun!

It’s been a busy month on the farm! I went to Italy for a week and a half – helping my old boss and friend teach a cooking class at a villa in Tuscany – a lovely place, an organic farm with olives, a vegetable garden and some livestock.  http://www.montecastelli.com/home/

IMG_9872The first day there we made coq au vin with 3 roosters that the grandmother deemed ‘no good’ (the younger generation still hasn’t worked out what exactly puts a rooster in this category). It was a lovely week and I came back refreshed and newly appreciative of the support that I have here to make it all possible. Maybe a little guilty, too, because it was a doozy of a week – the strawberries are ready, they baled hay in the first round of really hot weather, there were birthdays to celebrate, and the zucchini started! And of course, they got the second flat tire on the tractor in a week, the squash all had to be weeded and mulched and all the fall seeds were ready to go in the ground. But what a team! They did it! I am extremely grateful, too, that I have a husband that can wrangle a 10-kid 5 year old birthday party (and deal with the fall out the next day).

And when I came back – summer had sprung! It’s so inspiring to have a new ingredient to work with each week – when I was planning for this year, I thought a lot about what I would be excited about at the farmers market in Portland, and I was always excited to get the first zucchini – I know, I know – zucchini gets a bad rap because everyone gets sick of it by the end of the season – but I made an effort this year to have EARLY zucchini, because that’s when I’m the most excited to see it (a grill-able vegetable when it’s first time to grill! Something that tastes great smothered with the herbs that are just starting to come on – i.e. parsley and basil!). So we planted the zucchini in April in the hoophouse and after a rough start – it was overly mature when it first went in the ground because I thought we would move and plant the hoophouse even earlier, so it was flowering when we finally got it in there and then it frosted hard for two nights in a row! So they were hating it and I was kicking myself for making such a big production for zucchini….but now, after some fertilization and some TLC, they look great! The other thing about zucchini is that it often poops out (gets diseased/weird and we stop picking it) before the glut of the peppers and tomatoes and eggplant are ready, and so all of the ratatouille dreams I have shrivel up like the diseased plants. So this year there will be a late planting too – for ratatouille! Ha! We will now refer to this summer as ‘2017, the year Ellen went nuts with the zucchini’.

Recent favourite zucchini recipes –

  • blacken them on the grill to eat as is  – slice them thick – 3/4-1″ thick, brush with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, throw them on a hot grill until charred well – either on one side, or two.
  • pasta sauce/dip – blend up blackened slices in a food processor or blender with some garlic scapes (I know you have some of those), toasted nuts, salt, pepper, a handful of parsley and/or basil and then add olive oil slowly while it’s running. Toss with hot pasta, or chick peas for a fast, veggie dinner.

IMG_9917In other garden news – there are still strawberries out there to pick! Both varieties are ready now (Annapolis and Jewel). The winter squash plants look great – last year we had a tough season for the squash, but this year they’re off to a great start. We gave them a heavy dose of nutrients when we planted them, covered them with row cover to protect them from the cucumber beetles and now have uncovered them (they can handle some beetles when they get a little bigger and stronger), mulched them with hay from barn and now they’re growing like gangbusters. IMG_9921