Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Dyers Eat a New Vegetable!

I'm sure you're all surprised, maybe even slightly shocked (ha ha!), knowing what a vegetable fan I am. Actually, the title is not quite accurate. I am sure we have eaten tomatillos before, likely even on several occasions, but somehow we have never grown them or even purchased them ourselves to use, so tonight was a notable night. :-)

We bought a quart of them from Living Stones Community Farm at Growing Hope's Ypsilanti-Downtown Farmers' Market last week. First my husband and I had to eat one raw, just to try it, so after peeling the dry husk away and giving it a quick wash, I just cut the tomatillo in half, and we each popped one in our mouth.  I tried to have no expectations, just anticipation of something brand new. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised at the slight crunch and the slight sweetness. My husband even thought it tasted slightly like a tangerine.

Then we roasted all those still remaining under the broiler, along with several large cloves of garlic for the following salsa recipe. Our tomatillo salsa recipe is different than others on the internet because (1) we used what we had on hand and (2) my husband is one of those people who strongly dislikes cilantro's taste (it is impossible to "sneak" any at all into a dish without him detecting that distinctive taste).

Recipe:  Garlic Tomatillo Salsa
  • 1 quart fresh tomatillos, husks removed, wash, some were purple but most were green
  • 5 large garlic cloves, separated from their bulbs but still in their peels 
  • 1 large peeled clove of fresh garlic (save to add to the blender raw at the end)
  • 1 small bunch fresh Italian arugula (probably about 1 cup of leaves) - or use cilantro if your family enjoys this herb
  • 1/2 cup water, or as needed (none was needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste (didn't add any)
  • ~ 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  1. Preheat the oven's broiler. Arrange the whole cloves of garlic (except for the one being held back to add raw at the end) and tomatillos on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler, and cook for a few minutes. Remove garlic cloves first, as soon as they are toasted, to avoid developing a bitter flavor, peel as soon as they are cool enough to do so. 
  2. Continue to roast tomatillos until evenly charred, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool. Don't remove the charred parts of the tomatillos or the peppers. They add a really nice flavor.
  3. Place tomatillos and any juice from the roasted tomatillos now on the tray used for roasting in a blender or food processor with the roasted and fresh garlic plus arugula. Add a little water to the mixture only if necessary to facilitate blending. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until serving. 
I may have over-processed this green salsa as it was not chunky but even so, my husband and I found we could not stop ourselves from sampling and sampling and sampling while our quesadillas heated up (frozen after a previous meal so we always have our own delicious fast food!).  
This recipe easily made 3-4 cups of salsa. I am not sure how much we actually ate prior to our supper or during our supper. It was great with our quesadillas.  It will be fun to see how we use the remaining salsa. I suppose we could even still add a spicy pepper!
My husband immediately felt that this salsa tasted "Caribbean", perhaps because of the lime paired with the slight sweetness of the tomatillos. He is also searching his food memory (which is amazing!) to try to remember everything we had to eat on our two trips to Cozumel many years ago in order to recall if we had something that combined these flavors. 
Have you eaten any new and completely different foods this summer? I'd love to hear about it and even try your recipes.  If you don't grow all your own produce, I hope you'll find your local Farmers' Markets to support your local farmers and food artisans. Since there are so many new markets each and every year, I highly recommend that you check out your city or neighborhood's possibilities at the website for RealTime Farms. 
Enjoy the tastes of the end of summer's beautiful vegetable bounty. There is nothing else like it! And it will be a full year before it all comes around again. :-)

PS - Morning Addendum! I added ~2 Tbsp. of this tomatillo salsa to 5 hard-boiled eggs, smashed to make egg salad (that's it) and spread it on bread for today's sandwiches at the farm. Oh wow! I was licking the bowl with my fingers - this easy combination is beyond delicious. I have used my favorite bread (Zingerman's black olive bread), reserved for special treats because it is so expensive, so I suspect it will be worth a double-wow after our simple farm lunch of sandwiches, carrots, dried fruit, and iced tea. After finishing our current big project of getting proper drainage finally installed around the house, we have to finally buy a refrigerator! Cleaning garlic and moving gravel - all in the day's work as we get this farm up and running and the house finally ready to move into (without any water in the basement!). :-)
"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row" 
Diana Dyer, MS, RD 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Wide View

It's been two full weeks since our son's wedding. Today I finally had time to look at a bundle of candid photos that a friend took. Other friends took photos, too. I did not. None, nada. I wanted to be free to simply soak in the entire day in its entirety without spending any mental energy choosing what to view through a tiny lens and then worrying how it came out, did I need to take a second photo, what had I missed, etc, etc.

Many years ago in the early 90's I had the good fortune to make my first trip to Alaska for two weeks. I was so excited (over the top!) and with the trip being in early July when daylight is nearly 24 hours, I honestly don't think I slept much during that entire trip (not even on the airplane there and home again). We purchased our first video camera for that trip so my family could see everything I was seeing when I returned home. I took hours and hours and hours and hours of video during my trip, I'm serious, plus 100's of photographs, too (before the digital camera age). I enjoyed doing that and then sorting, editing, and compiling everything into photo albums (all labeled, too!) along with one single video, complete with voice description, when I got home so I will always have those memories.

However, the one single memory I have from that trip that has stayed with me all these years (and did not need a photo/video to lock into my brain) was a conversation I had with a man who had just returned from an airplane trip that flew him around Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park. I did not have a chance to do that and quickly asked if he took any photos or a video of the views, which must have been breath-taking and spectacular. He quietly responded "no" then slowly followed up his comment by telling me that he knew this trip was a one-time event in his life, that it would never happen again, and that no camera could ever do justice to all he was seeing and feeling while looking at that mountain. Oh, what wise words..............I have remembered them all these years.

So I have this stranger (however, I found that no one is really a stranger in Alaska - at least at that time) who helped make my decision very easy to take no photos during the day of my younger son's wedding. For me, being present at our family's first wedding was even better than having an opportunity to fly around Mt. McKinley in Denali. I've climbed many mountains to get to this day. I knew I would never see everything at the wedding along with what all happened both before and afterward, but I knew I did not want a camera in my hand distracting me from soaking in the wide view, meaning everything I could see at this one-time event along with everything I was feeling at each magical moment in time.

Yes, it was magical. I know I am the luckiest mom alive. I have teared up over and over again during these past two weeks when I think about my good fortune. AND I get to do it all over again next June when our older son is getting married, too. I won't be carrying a camera then either!
Here is just one photo sent by a friend of my husband and me relaxing after the ceremony and prior to dinner being served. It is not a professional shot, it is cropped drastically, but it is one of my favorites. Too bad you can't see my cute shoes and nail polish in this photo - as farmers we had to work really really hard to clean up for this day. I think we did pretty good. :-)
"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wedding Venue

The barn is built, all 6,000+ garlic bulbs are dug out of the ground and hung to dry in the new barn, and a million other details wrapped up to arrive at the wedding venue where we had the rehearsal last night with not a minute to spare. Whew..............., for the first morning in many, many months, we were able to actually wake up, breathe, and wonder "what shall we do today?" instead of wondering which of the 50+ things that didn't get finished yesterday should be at the top of the priority pile. The rehearsal dinner is tonight but all is set for that as we dropped off a tub-full of flowers from our home and farm plus 2# of mixed freshly-harvested garlic bulbs to the chef yesterday afternoon.

I don't know how many photos I'll actually post, but I'll let you see where the wedding of my younger son is being held. It is beautiful and to say we are thrilled is the understatement of the day. :-)

Photo: Outdoor wedding on a farm - there will be many more chairs set up and the photo does not do justice to the gorgeous flowers that are everywhere. August is the best month in Michigan for outdoor weddings, especially this year when the rain and heat have allowed all gardens and flowers to reach their peak in beauty early!

 Photo: Perfect wedding day forecast with a high of 82, less humid, and clear, clear skies!

I'll repeat - we are thrilled beyond words to have reached this milestone with our family. I already have a special hankie in my purse that won't disintegrate with tears of happiness, indeed bliss. :-) :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD