Well, summer did finally arrive and in the garden the squash vines have stopped shivering and the eggplants are growing almost as fast as the weeds. It’s been a while since I posted mostly because we’ve been trying to focus on the garden.
This week we harvested some of the first vegetables: turnips, zucchini, some beans, and one fat little cucumber. The collards and chard are ready for the first picking and there are a few blushing little tomatoes. It’s the first gathering, lughnasa (or lammas if you prefer).
In honor of that tradition I’m baking a special ancient grain bread using spelt and quinoa. I’ve been experimenting with spelt because it’s higher in protein than modern wheat and lower in gluten, for those of you who have a problem with gluten sensitivity. It’s also very tasty with a warm nuttiness but not too dense. I used my basic recipe as follows:
Easiest Bread in the World
In a large bowl start your yeast.
- 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
- ½ cup applesauce (you could use strained prunes in a pinch or honey)
- 1 tablespoon yeast (or just throw in the whole package – I hate leftovers)
Mix and let stand for 10 minutes. Then add:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
Stir together. In the same bowl you mixed it in, knead well (8-10 minutes), add all purpose flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a greased loaf pan, cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap and let rise to double in size. Brush with milk or half and half, sprinkle quinoa over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
No messy floured boards, no extra rising time, and I’ve never had it turn out less than perfect. I know you’re going to hold me to that.
While the bread is baking, it’s time for first fruits. The little zucchini is just perfectly creamy so I’m making a mixed salad with vinaigrette.
Zucchini, Apple and Green Pepper Salad
Chop about 4 small zucchini, add 1 chopped apples, a small green pepper, chopped, and a handful of diced red onion. The secret with red onion is to drop the diced pieces into a bowl of ice water and let it soak for about 10 minutes before you add it to the salad. The vinaigrette is very simple:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped basil (dried works too).
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Combine in a glass jar and shake well. Pour over the salad, toss and refrigerate.
But, there more bounty to enjoy. The turnips were great and came early even with the rain. I planted a variety called White Lady and they are beautiful.
Creamed Turnips with Dill
Peel and cube the turnips and in a saucepan in just enough water to cover. Simmer until the turnips are just fork tender (don’t overcook). Drain. Add enough vegetable stock to cover and add teaspoon chopped fresh dill and a tablespoon of butter. Stir a tablespoon of flour into a cup of cold milk until smooth. Add to the stock and turnips and simmer until well blended and creamy. Yum.