Weeknight Roadtrip

One of the more memorable books we’ve read with our daughter is Blueberries for Sal, so I’ve had “kerplink! kerplank! kerplunk!” in my head since yesterday afternoon when we decided to head 100 miles east to Uncle Buck’s Berry Farm.

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I was a little unsure about dragging my family on weeknight road trip, but all my self-doubt was assuaged once we arrived at the farm. We saw killdeer and wildflowers and holes in the ground that house eggs, as my daughter explained. The birdsong and our giddy outbursts (“This is so fun!” “What a good idea!” “Yummy!” “Is that a bird?!”) were the soundtrack as we picked from plants loaded with blueberries, just as as Uncle Buck had promised. It was somewhat chilly (!!!) and so overcast that we didn’t need to bother with sunscreen or hats, all things that increased the enjoyment of my hot-natured daughter and husband.

Buck’s family has farmed this acreage along Lavender Street for almost 100 years. The land the orchard occupies once was part of a larger soybean and peanut farm, but now the 5.5-acre berry patch is in its fourth year as a pick-your-own operation with 7,000 blueberry and blackberry plants. You can also find Uncle Buck and his berries at the Okmulgee Farmers’ Market.

After we got our fill of blueberries (both in our bellies and bowls), we had a picnic supper nestled between rows of blackberries and wildflowers.

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A Fixture

Creamed greens, vinegar and greens, leftover bacon and greens, greens and caramelized onions. Any which way, and topped with an egg, this is my go-to dish for a quick meal, since I always have eggs, thanks to Rose Ranch‘s egg CSA, and I almost always have greens, be it spinach, kale, chard, or henbit in the yard.

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Incidentally, Rose Ranch’s happy hens have been laying like crazy. If you want to try a carton ($4/dozen), get in touch with Vicki at vicrose (at) roseranchjones (dot) com.

Purple Polenta

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Polenta is one of my favorite comfort foods. And I’m sick. And tonight was supposed to be Snowmageddon 2013 (although that remains to be seen). So, it seemed only natural… It’s just that, well, purple polenta doesn’t look natural. But that’s what you get when you make polenta with blue cornmeal, which is all I had tonight when I got my craving. I’m not sure it was any good. My taste buds can’t be trusted right now.

Gleanings

It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything, it took me a while to remember my password. So, hello, there. It’s been a while. Here’s some of the stuff that’s been keeping me busy: making ginger soda, killing roosters at Hill Farm, harvesting arrowroot and Jerusalem artichokes at Rose Ranch, fermenting kimchi and sauerkraut, picking persimmons, scarfing down homemade turkey pastrami and corned beef, picking pecans, exploring Oklahoma’s fall color, enjoying many potlucks with my dear friends and family, and pondering the point of this site. I haven’t come up with any answers about the latter, but I will elaborate on some of the former in the coming days. How about I start with the persimmons?

Pickin' persimmonsI’m enamored with the persimmon:
its brittle leaves like clover, its skin a wintery sunset

My generous neighbor, Anthony, shares his persimmons with me. After I noticed the trees in his yard last year, I included his house was on my walking route until I finally caught him outside. It’s a tricky thing, asking for permission to glean. It might be perceived as invasive and aggressive, but when well received, it can be an opportunity to create community. Anthony is the only person I’ve approached and luckily it went well. He has no interest in his persimmons, and was slightly amused by my enthusiasm.

Persimmons are still novel to me: I’m not sure I was aware of their existence before I moved to Oklahoma. Or maybe I was, but thought they were from some exotic land. (That land turned out to be Oklahoma and one of my goals from 2009 was to see a persimmon tree in person. Check!) Also, limited accessibility contributes to the persimmon’s novelty. They don’t ripen very well on the counter; ideally they are harvested at their peak, which means they are so soft they completely give under slight pressure, and they are so heavy and tender, they are barely hanging on to the tree.

The skin is edible and has a crystalline texture on the tongue. You can use it as a bowl to scoop out the creamy meat, which is best described as pudding. I made an actual pudding with persimmon purée, but I think the unadulterated form is better. If you have a good recipe, please share.

Bright Bites

green and white
Coop DNR, curry pickles, apples from Jones (picked by my pals at Rose Ranch, Peak Oil Hausfrau, and Hill Farm), Rose Ranch egg, smoked cheddar (amazing stuff!) from Swan Bros. Dairy via Urban Agrarian

yummy orbs
Tomatoes from a co-worker’s garden, Rose Ranch egg, yuca bread, coffee

bright supper
More smoked cheddar, fermented beets, curry pickles, some sort of tequila cocktail

I ♥ Okra

A lot of this came from my garden. All of it is from Oklahoma (except for the beer; shame on me). width=
Tomatoes, okra and onions from the garden

My garden is a late bloomer. I think this is because it doesn’t get full sun. But my okra plants are finally consistently producing, and I accumulated enough pods to make this okra dish recommended by my friend Marcy.

I am usually so late in sharing seasonal recipes/experiments that their usefulness isn’t realized until the following year. But not this time! You probably have okra in your garden, or have seen heaps of it at the farmers’ market. Here’s an easy recipe you can use tonight. (And there’s more where this came from.) And if you’re growing okra, let a few pods get really big and dry out. You can save the seeds and the dry pods look pretty cool in vases.

Okra Stir Fry
1 pound okra
1 T veg oil
1 t cumin seed
1/4 c dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t cayenne
1/4 t turmeric

1. Heat oil in wok* over med heat. Add cumin seed, sizzle 10-15 seconds.
2. Add remaining ingredients, stir fry 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until okra is tender.

*I don’t have a wok, so I used an 8-inch cast iron skillet and lid. Worked like a charm.

Grecian Lunch

I’ve been daydreaming about visiting Greece. (Yes, even with all the negative news. No matter. It’s calling to me. Maybe it has something to do with the handsome Greek men at the Mediterranean Deli?) For now I’ll have to be content with dining on this Greek-inspired meal at a picnic table in Oklahoma City.

Last night I cooked two of my few remaining frozen Popeye pies: one for supper and another for today’s lunch. I must admit, I probably wouldn’t be so eager to eat the greens on their own, but encased in a lard-based pastry dough fried in suet (that I initially thought to be tallow) — that’s something to get excited about!
Greek pie
Greek hand pie
cucumbers from my neighbor’s garden
Wagon Creek Creamery Greek yogurt mixed with feta crumbles