Our seed garlic farm has been busy this last few weeks & Henry's crew have been working hard. Dawn to dusk he has had his main employee (Dad) hard at work weeding the garlic, making drying racks for the upcoming harvest, tilling in the first cover crop on next year's soil, and preparing the high tunnel site. Dad is a disabled veteran, and Henry knows that even though he likes this sort of work, it does take a toll on his body. The solitude is good for him, but there are days Henry thinks he works too hard. Dad's back is stooped a little more than usual, and his limp is more pronounced. Henry knows that Dad wouldn't have it any other way, but still he wishes he could give him a day off. But at this time of year it is simply out of the question. The garlic is in the early throes of dying back and setting its bulbs, and that means there is so much do. The sun is climbing in the sky, and Henry is lying in the field scanning everyone's progress. It is the weekend, so he has Mom at work, and actually Susie has stopped by for a visit. Henry, after licking her senseless, sent her to the fields to earn her keep. "Ah the burden of leadership is tough" he thought. The breeze is making his shaggy mane move ever so slighty, and it delivers to his well tuned sniffer an aroma that he hasn't smelled for quite sometime; garlic. Not the pungent garlic smell of well cured bulbs that have been chopped and prepared for roasting, or to be added to one of Mom and Dad's favorite dishes, but the mellow, teasing, seductive and gentle aroma of garlic that reminds Henry a little of the shallots that Dad grows. Henry turns his attention to the field and discovers why. Amidst the sea of bluish green garlic plants, he sees the work crew quietly going about a new task. He sees their hands work in harmony with shears in their hands; clip, plunk, clip, plunk, clip, plunk were the sounds coming from their labor. "They are clipping off garlic scapes!" Henry thought. It was finally time. The garlic plants were stiff neck varieties, so they always put out false seed heads that need to be cut off before the garlic can truly size up to meet Henry's tough seed garlic standards. "This means it is just a few weeks until we harvest" he said to himself. "It also means that Mom & Dad are going to start cooking and preparing some of their yummy scape recipes." One of Henry's favorites was simplicity itself. It consists of:
Three or four scapes
Four or more cups of greens/chard
A pat of butter
Coarse sea salt sprinkled over the dish to taste
Dad chops up the scapes and greens/chard, removing the center stem on the greens.
After preheating his cast iron skillet, the heat is turned to medium, butter is added and clarified. Scapes are added, sautéed for a minute, then the greens are added, tossed, and wilted to a brilliant green hue. This all takes just a couple of minutes. They are removed from the heat, plated, and salted to suit each diner's taste. Serves four. Henry had drifted off and was day dreaming about garlic scapes. "Roasted, stir fried, used to make a soup base......" Henry snaps back to reality as he has the sensation of soiling himself. He looks down and realizes he is lying in a pool of his own drool due to his dreaming of scapes. Not being adverse or concerning himself with his apparent excessive salivating, his mind continues to race. "Mmmmmm, when Dad and Mom make this, they also make mashed potatoes and steak. The best part is they always have leftovers for Sis and I." Henry proceeds to look around for his sister Stella, and to no one's surprise he sees her at the end of the field, nose down, tail up, scanning for any earthy tic tacs she may have missed. For once Henry could care less. He turned tail, headed for the house, bolted through his doggie door, and proceeded to lie next to his dog dish on the cool hardwood floors. He knew it would be several hours before Mom, Dad and Susie finished their work and came inside. "A dog can't be too careful or too early when it comes to waiting for their next meal" he thought. His mouth was already starting to water again thinking about the potatoes and steak he was sure to have tonight. He hoped the floors were waterproof. There very well might be a small body of water where he was lying before the crew arrived. "It sure is lovely living on a farm" he thought as he closed his eyes to dream of meals soon to come. Enjoy the summer season everyone. May you eat what you like and like what you eat. Here at Snaggletooth Farm it will be garlic infused recipes for many months to come. Scapes and chard from our farm are picked, and chopped, and ready for wilting. Potatoes are on boil. Now where did we put the lighter for the grill?????
The seed garlic field was an iridescent green sea of upturned leaves, sighing softly in the the breeze at Snaggletooth Farm this fine spring day. Henry and Stella were nosing around the lower field just below it. Stella, true to form was not too close to Henry, but not too far. Her head was lowered, sniffer in full sensory mode. She was looking for tic tacs of the deer digestive tract leftover variety, and nothing would please her until her belly had a few of those smelly, yet tasty treats inside of it. She knew that they must be close by, as the deer loved what dad planted in the fields for cover crops. She didn't know what they were, but she sure liked the fact that it attracted visitors of the cloven hoof variety! While Stella was lost in thought, Henry was scanning the cover crops; he could get just a hint of a smell that he thought was familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. "It smells a little like tic tacs, but not as strong" he said to himself. So as Stella continued in her questionable culinary pursuits, Henry stealthily went upwind of the field, gingerly laid down, and fixed his eyes on the swaying grasses. He could hear the wind quiet melody in the oak and ash leaves that ringed the field and stone walls. It had been breezy lately, and it kept those pesky black flies away (thank god, for he didn't want to end up like Uncle Leonard after all), and freshened the air with the scent of rose blossoms that were just beginning to open. The birds were quietly singing away in the field and the woods around him. Henry, though not an old dog, certainly did appreciate this time of year. Everything was so fresh and new! The greens of the fields and leaves was breathtaking in its rich, verdant colors. Henry suddenly thought he saw movement in the field. He sniffed intently, but all he could smell was garlic from the Garlic patch. It was coming along nicely, and would start sending up scapes any day now. There it was again! The grasses were swaying in a direction opposite of the way the wind was blowing. "Something is there" Henry thought, and fixed his eyes and sniffer in the strange moving grasses direction. "Why can't I smell anything?" Henry thought. "My nose is one of my best features, if I do say so myself. It has kept me out of harm's way more times than I can remember." As he kept staring, suddenly he could make out two eyes, a little brown nose and small pointed ears turned in his direction. Now Henry could make it out. It was curled in a ball, lying down, facing both he and Stella. Well, actually not Stella, for she as usual wasn't paying attention, and had wandered quite a ways away. Stella was gulping down a sizable pile of tic tacs Henry realized when he looked to see if she had his back. "She won't be any help, and I am sure she won't save me any", he regretfully thought. Turning his attention back on the invader he could see it more clearly. It had not moved, but he could make out it was colored reddish brown, and flecked with white spots. It was happily munching away as it had its eyes locked on him. Henry, always a coward was beside himself with what to do. "Dad would want me to get this animal out of there, but what if it eats me before I can ask it nicely to leave? This may be my farm, but I didn't sign up for any violence. I am a lover (and eater of tic tacs), not a fighter." He thought. Well, there was nothing for it. He had a responsibility to the farm. With a nervous gulp, Henry got up, craned his neck toward the creature, and lifted his right foot to take a step. Without a doubt, it was the bravest thing he had ever done. Before he could move, he heard a voice in his ear. "If you take one step toward my fawn, I will make you wish you never got out of bed this morning. I watch you from the woods every day, and am not afraid of you. You and your sister would do well to enjoy the tic tacs we leave for you and let us be." Henry just about came out of his skin. He didn't think he soiled himself, but not daring to check he couldn't be sure. Not moving a muscle, Henry said "Did you say you leave us tic tacs?" "Yes she replied. We are both deer, and our droppings are your tic tacs. We have to eat something, or else we wouldn't be able to make them." Henry was quickly processing what he had just heard. So these were deer, and the reason he couldn't smell the baby fawn in the field was because they are born practically without scent. This protects them from predators when they are very young. Henry had learned this by listening to his Dad talking with Mom. Henry was without a doubt a coward, but he was also a pig when it came to food; not a Stella sized pig, but not too far behind. Hopefully you will forgive him for what he did next. He put on his best crooked, Snaggle grin, and without daring to look at the mother deer he responded "You don't say. Well now that is something altogether different. My apologies. I would not want to get in your way of manufacturing one of my favorite treats. By all means help yourself to whatever you need, my sister and I are here to help. Now, could you point me to a fresh warm pile of tic tacs?" Henry might be a loyal dog, but he as also a hungry one. Surely Dad wouldn't miss a little grass he thought as he hungrily awaited the deer pointing out where he would get his next meal.
I hope you all enjoyed our story today. Henry as you all know is a coward, but when we see deer, he does bark at them, so this story of course is fiction. And if I ever catch him giving away our grass, while generous on his part, it may be his undoing......