There is a brief lull in the action coming my way soon. Most of our first plantings are in. Round two for the beans, summer squash, and corn will start in another week. Also, we are seeing blossoms on some of the early sugar snap peas! I am thinking that probably next week we will have a lighter load before we start harvesting lettuce, weeding everywhere, and more plantings.
A few years ago, I planted a new blackberry variety called Black Diamond. This season is its first fruiting and it is way earlier than I expected. I also grow some Doyle blackberries and they come on considerably later than the raspberries, but I am thinking that the Black Diamonds may be earlier than the raspberries—time will tell.
Why did I plant blackberries? Because I like them! And I also like not having to fight with the wild blackberries that engulf a mile of my property line. The Black Diamond is a “thorn less” variety that I can contain, farm, and harvest much more reliably. Harvest is an important consideration. It is hard enough trying to find farm help and it is even harder to find farm help to pick wild blackberries!
Blackberries and raspberries also grow upright and this older 6’ 2” frame of mind appreciates harvesting while standing up. This provides a nice break because practically everything else we grow on our farm is grown and harvested at ground level (e.g., lettuce, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, etc.)
The local season is upon us and local food will be finding its way into your boxes of good food from now on!
Recipe: Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
1 bunch baby spinach, trimmed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable stock)
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes with juice
2 cups whole wheat couscous, cooked (substitute with rice for gluten free option)
1. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add the olive oil and heat.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the chicken and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove the chicken and set aside.
5. To the same pan, add the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Remove from the pan and set aside.
7. Lower the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.
8. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes.
9. Place the couscous in a serving bowl.
10. Top with the spinach, chicken and balsamic-tomato sauce.
Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s recipe from foodnetwork.com
Know Your Produce: Bartlett Pears
Did you know that Bartlett Pears contain probiotic benefits that support your gut health? New research has found that pears can balance beneficial gut bacteria. Check our blog this week for more info on the benefits of pears!
Ripened pears can be used at once or put under refrigeration (35º to 45º F) until you want to use them. Refrigeration will delay further ripening but will not stop it altogether, giving you adequate time to include fresh pears in your menu planning. Remember, pears need to ripen at room temperature, so don’t refrigerate an unripe pear!
A ripe pear is a sweet pear. A little known fact about the pear is that it is one of the few fruits that does not ripen on the tree. The pear is harvested when it is mature, but not yet ripe, and, if left at room temperature, it slowly reaches a sweet and succulent maturity as it ripens from the inside out.
Store: Place under ripe pears in a fruit bowl at room temperature near other ripening fruit like bananas, which naturally give off ethylene and will help speed up the ripening process. And if you find yourself with a few too many overripe pears, blend them into smoothies, soups, sauces and purees!