We’ve got snow peas!! We don’t grow these for sale, they are for our own enjoyment, but two evenings in a row we’ve had plenty for dinner. They came on just as the asparagus panned out and are a welcome change of pace.
While we can and freeze a lot of the vegetables we grow, we haven’t been happy with either method for asparagus. Canned, they become rather bland and useful only in soups. If you’ve eaten canned asparagus from the grocery, you know what I’m talking about– although home-canning does away with the metallic taste. Frozen blanched asparagus takes on a sometimes bitter taste, not the sweetness of the fresh, but in a pinch is acceptable in a Quiche. By far, the asparagus eaters we know prefer it pickled. It retains some of its fresh flavor and crispness and the vinegar brine adds a unique flavor. This online recipe isn’t bad, although we do not include the onions: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/pickled-asparagus/Detail.aspx Funny how the bright green color after pickling changes when the jar is opened and the brine takes on a reddish hue. Still, there is nothing like the fresh picked spears, which eaten raw have a sort of peanut flavor, a great addition to a fresh salad. We also use them (almost daily while in season) in recipes from grilled to steamed to soups to Quiche.
The snow peas, however, are primarily stir-fried with a bit of fresh green onion from the garden (they are ready now too) and soy sauce. We like them as a side dish to our grilled meat. We also like them frozen and they do well that way, losing only a touch of their crispness. They too are great fresh in salads. We haven’t staked the plants, since the rows are short and they are close to the house, but I believe the Florida Weave (like we use with tomatoes) would work well for them too. I’ll have to check with Mike and see if it is worth doing. Catching him in a spare moment now might be a miracle, though.
An elderly farmer came by yesterday evening, just before we settled down to dinner, to pick up tomato plants. He wanted to hire Mike to hay his 200 acres, since he doesn’t have a hay baler. By the time he left, I think they had a deal: he would pay to fix Mike’s broken hay baler in exchange for being able to borrow it. Mike is having second thoughts though, realizing the man in his mid-eighties, and will talk to the man again today about him fixing the machine ($200) and letting Mike have a share of the hay in exchange for baling it. Looks like in addition to the 350 acres here and at the other farm, he’ll be helping on another 200. Where does that man get the energy?!
But that brings up something else I’m learning about farming. Farm couples don’t seem to share the same amount of time as “a couple” as city people. They lead independent lives, unless they are working together on a particular project. I think that is one of the hardest things I have to adjust to. It’s just not “normal,” to me. It’s particularly difficult on weekends, where the city-girl in me wants to celebrate the weekend by going places, while the farmer has no weekend, just more work. No wonder dinners and evenings are special family times and the old Rockwell image of the clan gathering around the table at Thanksgiving became iconic. Little wonder too that farm families traditionally held the pews in the local church. It was the one time the entire family came together as a group outside their work or school-related activities. I’m thinking that long-held prohibitions against work on the sabbath, historically forced farmers into actually taking a day off!
Ah, but as I wax philosophical at 4 am, I am also thinking about all the things I could/should be doing, if Mike wasn’t sound asleep. Sometimes, the thought of all of it is overwhelming and I remind myself that things are never done on a farm. All I can do is treat the work-load as though each task was a snow pea vine: pick the pods one by one and if you miss few…they’ll still be there tomorrow, and the day after that, until you reach the end of your row.