The Emperor and Us

I have been reading an interesting book called The Well-Filled Cupboard: A collection of seasonal recipes, gardening hints, country lore and domestic pleasures by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson. In it I learned that after Roman Emperor Diocletian abdicated in 305 CE, his co-emperor urged him to reconsider. He is said to have responded, “If you saw what beautiful lettuces I am raising, you would not urge me to take up that burden again.” A man after our own hearts (in this way, at least!).

We no longer have a surplus of lettuce, but with a few seedings maturing at various rates, we should have lovely lettuce for at least a few more weeks, with more to come after that, perhaps with a brief gap in between. This has been the best spinach year within memory, and we are delighted to be able to send generous quantities (of Bloomsdale and Lorelei) again this week. Enjoy it now, though, as the plants are bolting. We most likely only have one week left.

Our more durable greens are just coming into their own, and this week you received a mixture of kale, perpetual spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens. The perpetual spinach and Swiss chard look very similar, but the spinach has a milder flavour and green stems, whereas we only planted rainbow chard this year, so it has the colourful stems.

As for herbs, the arugula and cress are starting to bolt, but still delicious. We could have sent more, but feared overwhelming you. Our first seeded coriander/cilantro is at the peak of perfection, as is the second round of volunteer dill. The basil (both purple and green) is gaining strength and the volunteer summer savory is lovely (good thing, since the plants we started in the greenhouse did not fare well at all). Parsley is coming in thick and bushy, and the mint is still hanging in there. If you’re unsure of what to do with the herbs, our favourite way is to chop them all up finely (except maybe the mint, that goes in tea) and toss them into a salad.

This year’s onions are the finest crop we have ever had, so we hope you are enjoying them too. This week included more multipliers (with the stems docked, as they are no longer nice and tender, but the bulbs are the first cooking onions of the season), as well as some onion thinnings.

But I expect the highlight of the week’s order is the peas. There are six different varieties of peas included in your orders: Knight and Homesteader shelling peas (included in a bag with broad beans and leafy greens), Sugar Ann and Cascadia sugar snap peas (in the bottom of your cloth bag), Oregon Giant (somewhere in between sugar snap and snow peas, found mixed with the sugar snaps), and Chinese Giant snow peas (in with your lettuce). All except the Chinese Giant taste great raw or lightly cooked. The Chinese Giant are best cooked, either in a soup or a stir fry. There will be more to come next week, most likely along with some other early summer treats of beets, summer turnips, and maybe even zucchini and beans.

In the meantime, enjoy those early summer veggies. Last night I tried this recipe from The Well-Filled Cupboard:

Peas with Lettuce

1/4 cup butter

5 green onoins, cut in 2 inch pieces

8 oz shelled peas

salt and pepper

1/4 head lettuce

1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp chervil

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the green onions. Cook 2 minutes. Add the peas and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, parsley, and chervil and cook an additional 5 minutes.

I forgot the parsley and don’t have chervil, but it was an interesting dish. Better than we would have imagined cooked lettuce to be!

A link for another recipe (that I hope to try tomorrow) came from Jessica in Saskatoon.

Sounds delicious!



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