by Greg Midgette
Well, the leaves can be quite bitter and may be an acquired taste for some but are extremely nutritious, being high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. They’re also low
in calories, fat and cholesterol, and are a natural diuretic. You can reduce some of the bitterness by first parboiling them in boiling water for a couple of minutes before making
your favorite recipe. One way we like to use dandelion greens is in the following recipe, it is rustic, country cooking at it’s best.
Sautéed Dandelion Greens with Garlicky Croutons and Parmesan Cheese
1 large bunch of Dandelion Greens
¼ cup good quality Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
1 small onion (chopped)
2 slices Stale Country style bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
3 Tbs. chopped Italian Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
1. In a heavy frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, one garlic clove minced, and the
2. Cook the croutons, stirring often until they are lightly browned and crisp.
3. Remove from the heat, set aside, refraining from eating all of these delicious cubes before
they hit the sautéed greens, which we will do next.
4. Rinse the greens well, remove any tough stems (if you purchased these greens from
someone other than Four Leaf Farm, we, of course, will never sell you old, overgrown
tough stems). Cut into 3 inch pieces. Dunk the greens in boiling water for just a couple
of minutes – NO more. Remove from the water, placing them in a colander to run cold
water over them to stop the cooking.
5. In that same heavy frying pan you used for the croutons, add the onion and remaining
olive oil and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions are just beginning to sweat
and take on some browning and then add the last 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped) and the
6. Sauté this mix for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat - salt & pepper to taste and add the
red pepper flakes to your desired level of heat.
7. Add the croutons and either shaved or shredded Parmesan Cheese, mix everything together and prepare to be swept away with this amazing dish.
by Greg Midgette
2 cups Greek Yogurt
1 cup Lemon or Lime Basil (from your garden plants sold by Four Leaf Farm)
½ cup sugar (more to preference)
1 cup whipping cream
1. Place basil and sugar in a blender and mix until the two are completely incorporated,
about a minute.
2. Add Greek yogurt and whipping cream and mix briefly, just a couple of
seconds to bring all ingredients together.
3. Pour mixture into an ice cream freezer and freeze according to freezer’s directions.
Serve immediately or freeze up to 1 month.
by Norm Budnitz
Red Thumb, Red Gold, Yukon Gold, French Fingerling, Purple Peruvian, Austrian Crescent, Kipfel. These are some of the potato varieties we are growing this year. And what a joy that is.
Each winter, Tim and Helga go through the seed potato catalogue and pick and choose the varieties we will grow. We have our standbys, but Tim almost always gets tempted by something new like Purple Majesty or Purple Viking.
Come spring, as soon as the soil is dry enough to till, we prepare the beds. The seed potatoes (actual potatoes, not seeds) are cut into pieces with one to several eyes in each piece. After the cut edge has had time to ‘heal’ for a day or so, these pieces are planted. Dig a hole, drop in a potato piece. Dig the next hole putting that dirt in the first hole, drop in the next piece. Again and again and again. This year we planted ten 100-foot rows.
After a couple of weeks, the first sprouts appear. These sprouts are a bit tender, so if frost is predicted, we go down the rows with a hoe and cover each sprout with dirt. Once the soil warms and days become springtime mild, the plants take off. They have coarse, dark green leaves, and they are pretty tough. Colorado potato beetles can wreak havoc, but that’s about it for insect pests in North Carolina. An organic insecticide called spinosad can keep them under control—harmless to humans, lethal to beetle grubs.
Sometime in late May or June, flowers start to appear on the plants. Flowering coincides with the growth of the tubers underground. The little baby potatoes form on and along special underground stems (not roots) called stolons. And now the fun begins.
First of all, Helga’s mouth begins to water. Helga is Danish, and potatoes and Danes go extremely well together. Next comes the exploratory digging. When the flowers have gone by and a plant looks big and bushy, it’s time to get out the digging fork to test the output. If the potatoes are still small, no harm. Helga will still be happy with these delicious morsels. But if they are big and full, it’s time to go at it. And here’s the surprise part of surprising spuds. Digging potatoes is like digging for treasure. There is simply nothing quite like loosening the soil, turning out a big healthy potato plant, and finding a veritable treasure trove of spuds.
White ones, red ones, gold ones, purple ones. Round ones, oblong ones, finger-shaped ones. Large, medium, and small. Oh, so good. Some will look ‘normal,’ but some will simply make us laugh. They will have ‘legs’ or ‘arms’ or ‘heads’ on bulbous bodies. Some will be long and skinny and some will be round and plump. Some will get pierced by the fork and will be greeted with cries of anguish followed by murmurs of inner joy. The staff gets to eat those.
Freshly dug spuds are a treat that grocery store shoppers rarely have access to. Their skins are papery thin and delicate—no need to peel them. Their flesh may be melt-in-your-mouth soft with a hint of sweetness or firm, waxy, buttery, even after cooking, perfect for potato salad. All will have that wonderful potato flavor that is just mouth-wateringly special. A surprising, special, springtime treasure, indeed.
by Norm Budnitz
To grow, or not to grow, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to accept volunteer tomatoes,
Or to take arms, and by opposing end them.
To grow; to kill.
To kill: to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural hopes
That flesh is heir to.
To grow: 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.
Would that we could consume
The succulent red flesh of that bulbous accidental nightshade.
To grow? Perchance to dream.
Ay, there's the rub.
With all due respect to Shakespeare, this is indeed a question to contend with. Last year we had so many different varieties of tomatoes—red, pink, yellow, round, oblong, heart-shaped, fleshy, juicy. So many, we couldn’t eat them all. Some were tasted by squirrels; some went on the compost; some simply fell to the garden floor. And now there are hordes of volunteer tomatoes coming up everywhere. Is this your conundrum? What is to be done?
To answer this question, you need to consider many factors. Let’s take a look:
Did you plant hybrid varieties last year? If so, think back to Gregor Mendel and what you learned (and promptly forgot) in high school. When hybrids reproduce, they may or may not produce offspring just like themselves.
Did you plant non-hybrid, heirloom varieties? A particular variety could breed true if it didn’t cross pollinate with another variety. Did you really gamble your whole investment in tomato culture to just one heirloom variety? Unlikely. If you planted multiple varieties, would they randomly cross pollinate? Likely. These hybrids could produce the newest, most succulent, flavorful tomatoes known to modern horticulturists. Or not.
What is your garden space like? If you’ve got lots of room to spare, volunteer tomatoes can usually be transplanted quite easily. Dig them up, maintaining a nice root ball, and move them to the spot where you want them. If space is limited, then you are faced with our false bard’s dilemma. Will the plant in your precious space produce rich, round, red, juicy fruit or wizened, tough-skinned, little orange prune-like objects best used for target practice.
Years ago, when I was on a meager student budget, I used to let the occasional volunteer tomato do its thing—particularly if it happened to come up in about the right part of the garden. Was I ever satisfied with the result? No. Not once. Nary a time. Never. But I only tried a few times, so it was a small sample size. I quickly decided that my space, time, and energy were in limited supply. I’ve never been much of a gambling man. I truly love a good, home-grown tomato. So each spring, I opened my wallet and sprung a few bucks for tomato plants that would give me the best odds of being able to bite into a luscious red fruit that would overwhelm my taste buds and leave me with juice dripping down my arm and running off my elbow.
So. To grow or not to grow. You Hamlet (or Hamlette) must choose for yourself.
Norm Budnitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer tomato plant among the planted savoy cabbage