I hope everyone in the States had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in town, but kept ourselves busy with lots of fun activities. The photo above is from the Littleton Museum, which maintains a historical pioneer farm, complete with farm animals like cows, chickens, turkeys, horses, and lots of sheep.
In the morning on Memorial Day, my dad and I took Nolan down to the Audubon bird banding station at Chatfield State Park. As with the farm animals, he didn’t pay too much attention to the birds, but I had a great time looking at willow flycatchers, gray catbirds, and lots of yellow warblers up close and personal. The warbler shown above is a male, as indicated by his very bright yellow coloration and maroon striping on the breast.
We also did tons of gardening over the long weekend. The most notable project was the completion of our herb garden. This little area was completely covered with stones and landscaping cloth and we spent at least a month laboriously transporting bucketloads of rock out of the way, digging out the compacted clay soil underneath, and bringing in good organic topsoil. This weekend it was finally ready to fill up—we now have English and lemon thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, parsley, regular and garlic chives, dill, tarragon, lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and three kinds of basil (Genovese, Thai, and purple ruffly); fennel, asparagus, and stevia; a sizable pepper patch; and a few short rows of chard, mesclun, and tatsoi.
The weather took a major turn and heated up in the past two days, almost like it was waiting for Memorial Day to signal the start of summer, so we have had to be particularly vigilant to keep the new transplants from wilting. Fortunately, the dill and sage seeds I saved from the SESNA community garden last year are springing up in my eggshell experiment, so I’ll have a few back-ups just in case.
Our backyard vegetable garden is finally starting to look like an actual garden! In the top photo, from left to right, we have scarlet runner beans, spinach, peas, one lonely chickpea, red onions, beets, and carrots, with cucumbers along the back. In the bottom photo, there are more peas, more red onions, more peas (my dad got over-enthusiastic there, I think), and some broccoli that has yet to come up; our rhubarb is at the back, grape vines are at right, and in the far right corner is a new little blueberry bush in a big pot. We also planted zucchini on the hill at the back of the yard. I haven’t gotten photos of our community garden plot yet, but corn, Rio Zape beans, cauliflower, leeks, chickpeas, Walla Walla onions, tomatoes, potatoes, purple carrots, and—yes—more peas are all coming up nicely there. We are considering renting a second plot to house more tomatoes, zucchini or pumpkins, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, or whatever else we can think of! I really wanted to grow dinosaur kale, but I have had a heck of a time trying to track down seeds or starts for it.
This weekend marked our first trip to Denver Urban Homesteading to pick up raw milk shares. The milk tasted great and we haven’t had any intestinal discomfort, although my mom keeps making slightly paranoid comments about not letting the milk jars sit on the counter for more than a minute at a time. I made my very first batch of raw milk yogurt last night with a half-gallon, heating it up to about 110F on the stove and then pouring it into my pre-warmed crockpot to wrap up overnight; I just used my last batch of yogurt to culture it. From what I understand, raw milk yogurt needs a refreshed culture every few batches, and often comes out runnier than pasteurized yogurt. Maybe it was thanks to all the spring cream (clearly visible as the yellowish color in the photo), but I was pleasantly surprised by the thickness of my yogurt; after draining, I ended up with less than a cup of whey!
Finally, our Memorial Day dinner: honey-lime salmon with corn on the cob, Israeli couscous, and a lime-butter sauce. I could tell when my mom reached the chapter on fish in Nina Planck’s Real Food book because she bought Copper River salmon at the grocery store without prompting and commented on how the assisted living facility where a friend of ours lives should be serving more fish, both in one day. Not that I am complaining—salmon made for a tasty and easy dinner after such a busy weekend.
Honey-Lime Salmon with Lime Butter Sauce
1 lime, juiced and zested
3 T honey
1/2 of a chipotle pepper in adobo, minced (more or less to taste!)
1/4 tsp chili powder
4 6-oz. salmon fillets, skin-on
In a shallow dish, combine the juice of 1 lime, honey, chipotle, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add the salmon fillets to the lime-honey mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Add the seasoned salmon to a hot non-stick skillet, skin-side down, and cook until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. (I cook mine longer on the skin side so that the delicate flesh doesn’t over-brown.)
For the sauce:
1-2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 C fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, melted
PurÃ©e garlic with lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add melted butter and blend until emulsified, about 30 seconds. This tastes great both over the salmon and slathered on fresh corn on the cob!
Israeli Couscous with Sweet Potato
I cut this recipe in half and it was more than enough for three. I also substituted onion and garlic for the shallots and omitted the sumac.
3 T olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp ground sumac, optional
2 C Israeli couscous
3 C chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook shallots until soft but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add sweet potato, sumac and couscous; cook, stirring, until couscous starts to toast, about 2 minutes. Add stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook the couscous for 10 to 12 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente. Remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. Serves 4 to 6.
Source: The Cookbook Store.