by Maria Faust
Out into the yard I go, to shake plump mulberries from their branches, to see the black raspberries nearly ripe for picking and apples already the size of jawbreakers on the trees in the orchard next door. A myriad of songbirds have been with us for weeks, feasting and competing with each other. Here at the base of the bluffs in Homer, even the din of the highway and trains can’t drown out their riot of song. With all this activity, it’s hard to believe that we just now passed the solstice, for it seems like summer has been with us for quite awhile.
As we take our daily walk, neighbors’ gardens look to be burgeoning. Fresh, local produce is in ample supply at markets and farm stands, and if the weight of my grocery bags are any indication, there’s a wealth to savor for oneself or to share. How exciting to empty theses bags upon arriving home, this time they hold: baby beets, spinach, snap and shell peas, a variety of lettuces and a box of little gems, fingerling potatoes.
I marvel at the array of items before me and remember how my recently- departed dear friend, Eunice Rihs, would fondly refer to her early years in Homer as “living in a child’s Eden”. Indeed, her recollections were accurate and descriptive of the natural world’s abundance. Even now, some 90 plus years later, the county of Winona, from river, to bluff tops and beyond, remains an Eden of sorts, a paradise of plenty.
It’s all grown here, for all of us to enjoy. So why not head out your door and bring home food that is truly fresh!
Fingerling Potato Salad
Fingerlings are a special buttery treat, don’t let them sit too long or the skins become slightly bitter
-Boil 2 pounds halved fingerling potatoes in a large pot of salted water over high heat until tender, 10-20 minutes. Drain.
-Transfer to a bowl and add 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 minced peeled shallot, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon*, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix gently, let cool, then mix in 3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise.
Saveur Magazine Jul/Aug. 2001
Lettuce and Tarragon Soup
- this is a surprisingly delicious soup!
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks (about 1 pound), white and tender green parts only, halved lengthwise
and sliced crosswise
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 head romaine lettuce (1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut crosswise 1 inch thick
1/4 cup packed tarragon* leaves
Freshly ground pepper
1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the leeks and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, season with salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the lettuce and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the tarragon. Puree half of the soup at a time in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and gently reheat.
Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve in warmed bowls.
Food and Wine Magazine June 2003
* *Tarragon can be found/ordered at Midtown or Hyvee or sometimes at farmers markets. Or, see if a friend could spare some! Try for the fresh herb, the dried falls flat in flavor.
Fresh Green Peas and Sugar Snap Peas in Sesame Dressing
3 cups fresh shelled peas (from 3 pounds peas in pods)
12 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook shelled peas in large saucepan of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas to same pan and continue boiling 30 seconds. Drain; rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer to large bowl.
Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend. (Peas and dressing can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand separately at room temperature.) Pour dressing over peas in large bowl; toss to coat. Season salad to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Bon Appetit July 2004
This column of good eating is brought to you by members and friends of the Winona County EDA Local Foods Committee and UM Master Gardeners. Questions or comments? Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.