Of Local Burgers and Strawberry Dreams

So for the first time I think, a local meal was prepared in the restaurant’s kitchen yesterday.  By yours truly.  A yummy, juicy and flavorful buffalo burger (from the Missoula market,) homemade gluten-free bread, carrot thinnings from the garden and a Swiss chard saute with cranberries and walnuts (the last 2 ingredients admittedly were not local :)  It was simple, satisfying, local and nourishing.

In addition to making that lunch for Paul (the hired gardener) and myself, I’ve finally had some kitchen time; when the chef’s aren’t busy roasting garlic, preparing marinara sauce, marinading all sorts of meats and fixins, baking tarts, pies, cakes and bars galore and generally using every inch of counter and oven space I could try to squeeze a cutting board or cookie sheet onto. 

Baking therapy! I had started a sourdough culture a week before so that was ready to get mixed and rise, and a loaf of banana-cherry bread with walnuts and chocolate chips sprang into my mind and wouldn’t leave til it had manifested itself on my plate.  It was an especially nice breakfast treat.

To pair with the sourdough bread (one loaf of which found itself at a potluck last night) we had some extra cilantro and spinach from the garden and voila! Pesto it was! Funny enough, I think this was the first pesto I’ve actually used pine nuts (the traditional pesto nut) for; granted, cilantro-spinach isn’t exactly ‘traditional pesto,’ but I’m all about innovation and substitution and general creativity anyway.  Coriander and a pinch of cumin rounded out the flavor and made for a great addition to today’s lunch of balck beans, salsa, tortilla chips and garden greens.

Cilantro-Spinach Pesto:
2c cilantro
4c spinach
3-4 garlic cloves
some salt
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c olive oil
a quarter of a lime (peeled, but the wedge itself thrown in)
about a teaspoon and a half of coriander
a pinch of cumin

Blend everything in a food processor, maybe adding some water depending on the consistency you like.  Enjoy!

It seems like we’ve been waiting ages for crops to reach maturity in the garden and greenhouse, the peppers seem stunted, the eggplants are having a slow-go at it and keeping lots of rows under Remay cover outside kept us waiting on kale, chard, broccoli and cabbage.  Though the cabbage is still in the process of forming solid heads, we harvested today from the garden:

Zucchini and squash
Basil tops
Broccoli! (This is one crop, along with carrots,that just tastes so incredibly different when grown yourself as opposed to buying at the store)
Green Onions
Swiss chard

So I’m left wondering if even one strawberry will be ripe by the time I leave in a couple days (it’s their second season in the ground – typically means a smaller harvest.)  But I’ve seen some starting to turn rosy now that the sun has decided to show itself more! (I even dreamed of picking strawberries on Flying Cloud Farm, where I interned last year.)  Hopefully this will NOT be the Year Without Strawberries! Back home, they’ve had them for a good month now!

Pea trellises; we even got to munch on some early snow peas!

Cukes, tomatoes, peppers, basil, green onions, eggplant, squash, chard and kale!


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