Friday, July 20, 2012

Favas, Celery, and Eleanor Roosevelt

I have read rhapsodic blog entries about fava beans over the years.  This might not be the best year for me to experiment with a new crop, but I figured the nitrogen value alone would make the experiment worth it.  So when I returned to two rows of bulging pods and fallen plants, I dutifully took them from the vine and brought them in to try them.

I was guided in my culinary questions by Nigel Slater in his book, Tender: A cook and his vegetable patch. Slater devotes a chapter to the mystery bean.  I settled into the rocker on the back deck and eagerly read about stunning flowers (which I missed) and autumn plantings (which I assumed was a UK anomaly).  I decided that my beans were past the "cook them in their pods" stage, so I opted for a shelled bean recipe.

I had about a pound of pods.  A good pod yielded three beans.  But wait ... the uncovering continues.  You have to now peel the outer shell off of the bean.  Boiling salted water for 5 minutes followed by an ice bath.  Now the beans are both tender and easily removed from their jackets.  In the end I had about 4 ounces of edible bean.   Hmmmm.

But Slater proposed this lovely pairing of the beans in a sherry vinegar vinaigrette on thin slices of Spanish ham.  Prosciutto would have to do with a side offering of cheddar and fresh feta it made a perfect lunch.

So having relied on Slater's Fava Bean chapter, I turned now to the chapter on Celery.  You have to love a Table of Contents that reads like a seed catalog.  I knew celery was challenging so I was hoping to enjoy special tips on how to have a successful crop.  Once again, iced tea in hand, I settled into my outdoor perch and opened to CELERY.  Under the heading celery in the garden I read.  "I have never grown celery, and what is more I probably never will.  Celery is a crop only for the most committed of gardeners."

I was crestfallen.  Not that I have a prayer of getting a crop in THIS year, but I was hoping for some measure of encouragement.  I ate fresh celery once.  It was at a Farmer's Market in Pennsylvania and the experience was like eating a new vegetable for the first time.  It was sweet, crisp and bursting with flavor.  I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."


small farms matter big said...

Fava beans aside, I just spied a Mennonite woman in one of your photos. Two Mennonite women, actually. Just so you know, I have a real eye for Mennonites. If they can be seen I see them. Especially the Pennsylvania type. The Lancaster/Franklin County type. My type, see. My blood long ago, long lost, but part of me still. It (Mennonite blood) keeps me standing upright and tending my garden and writing posts like this one and signing off now with a good bye and may your life be going swimmingly now, tomorrow and so on and on.

Leslie said...

Will, the picture was taken in the Hanover Market in York, PA. The quality of the produce they put out each week is humbling. Glad to find the link to YOUR blog.