The Small Leap! -a note from Mirra
We wandered into the forest this past Thursday; Susana, Kayla, Jacob Mudd, and myself, seeking out Sassafras root and Richard’s legendary cave. The walk led us along the rocky ridge to pass over boulders and tree roots. Between two boulders on our way sat a deep crevice. Jacob and Susana passed from rock to rock with ease. Fear would have me walk around the situation, so I began that way. Kayla was also going around but she saw me afraid. She caught a glint in her eye, walked back to the crevice, and jumped over twice.
“Really, Mirra?” Kayla teased, nudging me gently toward the challenge. I felt my stomach drop then because there was no going around this time. “If you are there to help me, I will.” I peered down into the deep dark lined with jagged edges. All that I could see was the hole. All I could feel was the hole. My friend stood smiling on the other side, feet planted, strong arm reaching out toward me. I made the leap!
I make the leap every day through fears and challenges. My dear friends at the farm help by giving me something bright to focus on, or something delicious to work toward. A positive focus helps me through the worries that come up. Many of them turn back to what all I might let go of to truly turn toward a local economy. When I am face to face with my own fear, there is a gentle friend to guide my focus (or in some cases to smack me upside the head!), so that I can return to the beautiful possibilities at my fingertips, including the savory experience of taking the leap.
At Salamander Springs we grow most of the food we eat, and we grow enough to share! The season of big fall harvests for our staple food crops is upon us. This includes corn, squash, and dry beans of many varieties.This autumn I find myself standing at the other side of the rocky ledge, ready to extend my arm toward you who want to leap. In this week’s CSA box we have dried Whippoorwill Peas from the field. To shell them requires a bit of time and energy. Savor the experience! The bean is good sustenance for the belly and the soul.
Whippoorwill Peas! an heirloom cowpea, originally from Africa, like black-eyed peas only smaller, beige and creamy when cooked. These are dried but still in their pods, ready to shell like other dried beans. You don't have to shell them by hand if you don’t have a bean sheller--a traditional method used by families across the Americas is to put them in a strong bag (feed sack or pillow case), fold it over, and bang it one side and then another against a firm, sturdy surface like a bench: The dry beans or peas break out of their shell and fall to the bottom of the bag. Open the bag & remove most of the shells off the top. Any remaining chaff or shells will float to the top to easily skim off when you soak them in water to cook. See our recipe below!
Sweet Potatoes! both bigger ones & tender shoots – We grow 2 tasty & sweet heirloom varieties, O'Henry (white) and Bradshaw (pink). Their skin is tender and nutritious. The smaller side shoots are excellent chopped for stir-fries or oven-roasted. They also make a nice addition to soups or the Whippoorwill Pea recipe below. Freshly harvested sweet potatoes want to be WARM (about 90 degrees) for about a week after harvest to cure their skin for longer storage. A sunny window (in a paper bag or in a basket covered with a cloth) or the top of a refrigerator is often warmer than the rest of the room. After that they will keep best at room temperature in your kitchen. Never refrigerate sweet potatoes=these sub-tropical beauties hate cold!
Salad is back! the cool weather has brought back the tender crisp greens, to be savored with those homemade salad dressing recipes we posted back in May!
Tomatoes – (quart boxes) Enjoy the last of the crop of our sweet tomatoes to the fullest...they are winding down for the season. These tomatoes are just the right size for dehydrating for sun-dried tomatoes in the winter.
Yellow Storage Onions – store up to 6 months because they have more sulfur than the sweet onions you received earlier in the season. Sulfur can make you cry, but it is good for you!
Bok Choy – Raw in a salad or stir fried
in a skillet; stem to leaf is edible! See past blogs for nutritional
value of these beautiful greens.
Sweet Potato Greens - eat them while you can, those deep green nutrients, in your sweet potato stir fry or Whippoorwill soup...
Sweet Peppers – We have some really sweet and flavorful Italian varieties of peppers--like Jimmy Nardello's Roasting, Carmen or Corno di Toro. You can select sweet Bell peppers, too, if you prefer.
Hot Peppers - Take a selection to warm up with on these chilly fall evenings, and put some flavor in your bean pot or Whippoorwill Peas. We have Límon, Thai, Habanero, Paprika, Jalapeno, and Cayenne. If you are not into hot peppers, we have sweet bananas, too, or we can give you an extra sweet pepper!
Basil – while there are still tomatoes, basil is a must...
Parsley or Cilantro ..while there are still tomatoes, salsa is a must! Both are so good for you...look back at our May blog for the nutritionl goodness they provide!
Old Timey Heirloom Apples - sweet, crisp, and delicious! Last week of the season.
Summer Squash & Zucchini - Scallopini/Patty Pan & yellow straight neck are still here!
Clementine Bakery's Bread & goodies so yummy!
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Southern Whippoorwill Peas (or Black-Eyed Peas)
All dry beans, peas,
lentils, etc. benefit from soaking in water several hours or overnight
to make them softer, quicker to cook and less gaseous! Just change the water
if you end up soaking them longer than overnight, and rinse and add new
water when you are ready to cook them.
Cook these whippoorwill peas in several cups of water or use chicken stock. (about an inch or more over the top in your pot) Cook about an hour or 25 minutes in pressure cooker...or in slow cooker all day...
Southern tradition is to use few slices of bacon--fry and throw the bacon in the cooking peas. Then use the bacon fat to saute the other ingredients (If you prefer, use oil instead):
a medium onion, chopped
a few cloves garlic minced
fresh (minced) hot peppers, like green chilis or jalapenos, as you like
chili powder (we like cumin, too)
plenty of salt & pepper to season
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped (or quart jar of canned)
Don't add salt to dry beans or peas until they're cooked--salt prevents their starches from breaking down and toughens the skins so they don’t get soft. For the same reason, tomatoes or other acidic ingredients should also go in toward the end of cooking.
Cook another 10-15 minutes. Enjoy (on New Year's Day for good luck)!