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Dirtbox meets Sandbox

August 31, 2010

One of the challenges that we had this year, being such a cool spring and all… is that when the cool season crops (garlic, onions, peas, lettuce, etc…) finally were tapped out, the summer crops were nowhere near ready to be harvested. So that left us with a gap that had me worrying over how to fill. (Hence, all the bread and jam and other goodies in your box mid-summer).

Well, recently, I took a trip up to Vernonia to visit some good friends with a “small” hobby farm, and to visit with their adorable 17-month old, Henry. I say “small”, because these two, Rachel and Bill, are the most prolific and productive gardeners I’ve ever met. Rachel’s canned goods pantry looks like a bomb shelter… last year they planted 28 tomato plants for the family. (For context, we planted about 50 for our 20 person CSA). Rachel says she canned for days, and I think they’re probably now stocked up until the year 2020. 

I love going there and getting gardening tips, canning tips, nutrition tips, homesteading tips and life tips from these two. The place is affectionately dubbed  “Narnia” because of how other-worldly the farm feels, nestled in the forest, teeming with veggies and food… friendly dog bounding all around and now, the cutest little blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler running around trying to stuff as many peas as he can into his mouth. It’s pretty idyllic. Rachel and Bill have named their little outpost “Henry’s Sandbox”.

Because of how cool their woodland location is, they’re still harvesting peas and lettuce while we’re trying to find a million and one uses for summer squash and cucumbers. They’re perfectly set up to run a CSA of their own, except for a couple of things. 1-they live in the middle of nowhere. and 2- summer crops are hard for them to grow consistently year to year.

And so, we’re going to try something out. When WE’RE all craving fresh spring lettuces, radishes and peas in August and September, but our CSA boxes are full of cucumbers and squashes, we’ll do a little Dirtbox/Sandbox swapping to add a little variety to the mix. Last week’s peas and garlic came from the Sandbox. Bill says he’s got more snap peas and radishes in the ground for a late September harvest… and NEXT year, we’ll look to plan a strategic harvest calendar partnership… just to keep things interesting. Above all, we want to avoid questions like, “What do I do when my CSA box is full of cabbage for weeks on end?” Not us. Never.

Stay tuned for photos of “Henry’s Sandbox”. Especially photos of Henry. Can’t help it. Babies and veggies just seem to go together like wood-fired oven bread and homemade freezer jam.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cat permalink
    August 31, 2010 9:30 pm

    This isn’t really a comment on Henry’s Sandbox, although I want to go there immediately.
    I seem to have caused a Supertatta ruckus on facebook. So I decided to share what I told Rob to do…be inspired!

    So, for eggs, potatoes, chard (etc…any greens you got, beet, amaranth whatever), squash, beans, tomatoes, peppers whatever…

    -steam (or saute) your greens til they’re tender
    -saute your squash (yellow, zucc, whatever), and peppers (and tomatoes?) til they’re tender
    -if you’ve got calypso beans soak ’em then boil ’em til they’re tender (or cheat and open a can of black beans, rinse ’em and throw ’em in the saute pan while everything else is getting tender).
    -beat up some happy chicken eggs (about 8+ for a normal size pie plate), add a little milk.
    -butter or oil your pie plate (or casserole? or cast iron skillet?). put your veggies (all of ’em) in the pie plate (or two pie plates?) then pour the eggies over (it should look about like a fritatta or quiche…mostly submerged veggs). sprinkle cheedy cheeze on top for extra delishes. stick ‘er in the oven at 375 for about 20-25 mins…until the eggies in the middle are set. eat ‘er up. and you can freeze it…what!? you can! but it’s most delish when you just eat it…good for all meals. (oops, forgot potatoes, boil ’em, stick ’em in)

    NOW! for BEETS! here’s a good recipe for pickled beets (and you don’t have to can ’em, just eat ’em within about a week and a half:
    Cut up your beets into big hunks (don’t peel), steam them until tender. (DO NOT BOIL YOUR STEAMER DRY…trust me). Save the superpurple steaming liquid. Let your smooshy beets cool, then peel ’em and turn your fingers purple (FUN!). Cut the beets up into whatever size you want them as. thinly slice some sweet onions (walla walla or vidalia? or you could cheat like I did and go red onion). Take the superpurple steaming liquid and add 1/2 cup vinegar (apple cider is what I used), 1/4 sugar and heat on stove to a boil. Simmer liquid for about 15 mins until your house smells like vinegar:( Pour hot liquid over beets n onions (casserole? jar? NOT PLASTIC! or metal). Stick ‘er in the fridge and wait dammit. For as long as you can stand…1 day? 2 days? longer the better. Eat. maybe with mayo, salt pepper. maybe on salads. maybe in front of your open fridge with a fork in the middle of the nite. Just ideas.

    roast yer pertatoes…
    scrub ’em, cuz ’em up, roll ’em in a bunch of olive oil, sprinkle with herbage, maybe some mustard (plochmans is really really good). Put in oven at 425 for about 20 mins, stir ’em up, let ’em do their thang until tender…if they get too crispy, cover with tin foil for the finale. These dudes heat up way awesome.

    scallop your pertaters…
    butter dish, thinly slice tates, layer with sprinkle of chopped onions, sprinkle of flour, mucho salt and pepper, dot with butter, repeat til full. Pour milk in gently until it just peaks around tates. Oven at anywhere between 350 and 425 (what else is cooking at the same time). cover with tin foil if gets too toasty. poke ’em with a fork to see if tender. If its bubbly and delish looking it’s done.

    cucumber salad…
    thinly slice cukes, thinly slice red onions, slather with plain yogurt, lots of salt and pepper, and LOTS OF DILL!!!!, let sit in fridge overnight then eat and eat and eat.

    revolving door pickles…
    cut up cukes, stick in existing pickle juice…wait a week, eat.

    potimarron squash (if you got one)
    use hatchet or chainsaw to cut into big hunks, steam, or nuke, or put in pan with a little water and cover with tin foil in onion until it’s tender (about an hour in the oven, about 20mins in microwave or steaming—don’t boil dry!)
    Once tender, either scrape out and smoosh adding butter, brown sugar and salt-pepper into mashed potato texture, or cut up into chunks and butter, salt pepper, herbage. The mashed potato texture freezes really really well.

    an eggplant? do this:
    but with squash and eggplant and zucc (salt all veggs heavily, let sit before cooking for a half hour, pat dry, saute) add a spicy pepper and some garlic to the sauce…leave out the nutmeg (ISH!) you get anything else?

  2. Cat permalink
    August 31, 2010 9:33 pm

    that’s oven…not onion…

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