DELICIOUS POTAGER

Gardening, Cooking, Eating and Enjoying

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Good people and good food

They say there are two types of people: those that wake up thinking about what they’ll eat that day, and everyone else.

I think there’s no doubt I fall into the former.

I mark celebrations of life with food–birthdays, holidays, get-togethers with friends. I experience culture through food. It reminds me of where I came from, and is tied deeply to memories. It is the perspective through which I see the world. It’s not just sustenance for me. I suspect many of you feel the same way.

It’s been a particularly difficult past few weeks.

June started out under a dark cloud with an all-too-real possibility of a state government shut down. I don’t talk a lot about my professional life on this blog on purpose, but the Hubs and I are both state employees. Having an interruption in our paychecks and insurance coverage was stressful enough to deal with. But in my professional life, many of the reperucussions of a shut-down reverberated through the agency I work for. I was worried for the retirees who get by on very little. And other state employees who were just getting by. Would people miss mortgage payments? Skip getting a necessary prescription filled? Not to mention the headache that would come after the shut down on the legal front. More than one day during those couple weeks I holed up in my office and played out the doomsday scenarios in my head. It was awful. But alas, the state avoided a shut down with a couple weeks to spare.

On the heels of the resolution of a possible shut down, a third of the Hubs’s coworkers got lay-off notices a couple weeks ago.  I am heartbroken. We are friends with many of his coworkers and their families. I bought Girl Scout Cookies from their daughters, we went to their weddings, I share recipes with their wives, and we watch football games at each others’ houses. I worry what will happen to their kids. I of all people know what it’s like to be laid off from a job you enjoy. However, this particular job is part of who they are. God knows none of them are doing it to get rich. I don’t know of a group who give more than these guys and get so little in return. Sometimes these things work out for the best. But it’s a lot of stress and worry about where you’ll be in a year–or in two months. There’s a lot of unknown.

And they say when it rains it pours. Literally in this case. In case you’ve missed the (all too brief) news coverage, West Virginia experienced a “thousand year” flood last weekend.

Some people lost their lives. Twenty-five-ish at the last count. Some are still missing, and may never be recovered. Thousands lost their homes. Total loss. Their homes were washed off foundations down the creek, pulled apart in the rushing and rising waters, contents strewn up the holler. Thousands more were lucky enough to have their homes left in tact, but with several inches of mud left behind. The clean-up will take months.

The community I grew up in sustained probably the worst damage in Clay County, which was one of the hardest hit areas. I’m not sure which had it the worst–White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County or Clendenin in northern Kanawha County. Not that it’s a contest. The Elk River from Procious to Clendenin pretty much left nothing but destruction behind. And all the little creeks and tributaries that flow into it were just as bad, if not worse. At any rate, luckily my mom lives on a hill, and her house escaped damage, but many of her neighbors weren’t so lucky. My in-laws live right on the creek, and miraculously, the water didn’t breach the creek banks along their property.

I made some trout for dinner last week that I had in the freezer. As I was cooking, I was thinking about all this bad news. The trout was actually caught by one of the guys getting laid off. He doesn’t like to eat them, but loves to fish, so he gave us all he caught back in the spring. He didn’t just give us the fish whole and uncleaned, which would have been easy, and what I probably would have done. He cleaned them, scaled them and fileted them for us. Because that’s the kind of person he is. A lot of those guys are those kind of people.

The trout was delicious; sauted in some butter and white wine, by the way.

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I realized that it wasn’t just the trout that we enjoyed for dinner, but what it represented. Good people doing good things for their friends and neighbors.

Last week, in all the devastation from the flood, food, water and supplies poured into the damaged areas in waves. It was overwhelming to those who were organizing the donations at times–the sheer volume of help that came in. After the initial supplies started pouring in, the next wave were folks who were showing up with shovels and boots and gloves offering their backs to help in the clean-up. It’s not an easy or pleasant task by any stretch. Last week, local restaurants set up at the flood supply distribution centers feeding hot meals to folks who have lost everything and have been living off non-perishable packaged food for the past week. Everybody knows that many locally-owned restaurants are just getting by on a shoestring. It’s not like they have a lot of profit margin to work with in donating their time (many closed for the day or greatly scaled back their operations) and their stock to come and cook free hot meals for people who need them. I know that Dem 2 Brothers pulled their smoker up to Clendenin and fed ribs and chicken to those who showed up to get cleaning supplies. And Sam’s Uptown was at Clendenin and in Clay grilling for folks. These are just two of the many examples of local restaurants that stepped up. I saw on social media that some places even donated “to go” boxes so the folks who came to get a hot meal could take one to a neighbor that hadn’t been able to get out. For a few minutes, I’m sure those recipients were able to just sit down and rest and enjoy some really delicious good food (trust me, Dem 2 Brothers is no joke when it comes to BBQ).

It’s things like this that help all of us live with the bad news. Knowing that this state is full of good people and good food. Whether it’s free BBQ or sausages that someone is making for flood victims, or trout (or asparagus or locally pastured raised beef–shout out to the Castos and Jared) from a coworker who knows that your wife will cook anything from a stream or the woods. The recovery process will be a long one for the flood victims, and I only hope that the guys I know that work with the Hubs find great places to land and it all works out in the end.

Fun with Fermentation

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My twitter bio says “I might have to reevaluate our relationship if you don’t like kimchi.”

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I do feel pretty strongly about it.

Once I figured out how easy it is to make at home, there’s no stoppin my kimchi fanaticism now.  As a matter of fact, every time I make a batch, I double it for a jar for my father-in-law. I’ve converted him now, too. It’s traditionally a condiment, of course. But it’s wonderful with rich and gooey dishes because the spicy and acidic crunch is a needed contrast. Think quesadillas or grilled cheese. Of course, you can eat it right out the jar like I do sometimes for a snack.

You  don’t need special ingredients to make it besides what you can probably find at your regular grocery store. I made it that way for a while. You really only need napa cabbage, ginger,cayenne pepper, a little sugar, salt and fish sauce. But if you have access to a well-stocked Asian grocery store, you can up your kimchi game substantially. Traditionally, it might have fermented shrimp or chopped daikon radishes. To this batch, I added gochujang paste for extra heat, and it definitely delivered. All you have to do is pack the mixture into a jar, or whatever vessel you might have) and sit it in a dark-ish, cool place for a couple days. Once it starts fermenting, you’ll see some bubbles forming. You can open the lid to let the gas out, which will make a little gasp when you open the lid. Once you see a lot of bubbles, put it in the fridge. It will slow the fermentation down, but not totally stop it. Now, it will be good for around a month.

It’s nice because, although it’s delicious, it’s also really good for you, too. All those fermented vegetables are alive with pre-biotics. Those are what feed your good gut bacteria.

At any rate, it’s way to easy (and kinda fun) to make at home to buy it. And it’s so delicious, you’ll be sneaking it into all kinds of dishes. Or eating it out of the jar like me.

 

 

 

My favorite kale salad

Oh, I love kale.

It’s my favorite vegetable. And vegetables are my favorite foods. One of my favorite ways to eat it is in what I call a “rubbed” kale salad. I dunno. Maybe “massaged” kale salad sounds fancier. You can probably find both on pinterest that are essentially the same recipe. But I didn’t get this from pinterest. I just kinda made it up. And it’s amazing.

This is perfect for cookout because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. As a matter of fact, it’s better if you let it sit out at room temperature. So, there ya go.

It’s so easy, too! You can make it in about 10 minutes, but it’s really a lot better if you leave it sit for 30 or 45 minutes. The flavors just get better.

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Rubbed Kale Salad (makes enough for 2, doubles easily)

  • half a bunch of kale. I like using red or blue (regular) kale. I’ve never tried it with Tuscan.
  • 1 Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tb lemon juice
  • pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • a few dashes of sesame oil (probably about like 1 tsp)
  • sesame seeds
  • 2 Tb shredded parmesan

Cut the stems out of the kale, and slice it into 1-inch pieces. Add the lemon juice to the bottom of a big bowl, and whisk in the olive oil to emulsify the  mixture. Add the pinch of salt and pepper and sesame seeds. Add all the chopped kale. Use your hands and mix the kale, rubbing and squeezing it lightly. Do this for a couple minutes to really get the oil worked into the leaves. Add the dashes of sesame oil and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.

This a quick and easy side dish for weeknights. The sesame oil and parmesan give it a bit of nuttiness that works well with the the lemon juice. It’s a nice combo. It’s great with a steak. And if you make something on the grill, and you won’t even have to heat up the kitchen stove. It’s so tasty, you forget it’s healthy. Kale is like a super food, or whatever. And, they say if you eat it raw, it’s even better for you. While kale can be pretty tough raw, the more you rub the oil into the leaves, and the longer you leave it sit before serving, the more tender the leaves become. Of course, they still have a little bite to them, but I like it. It’s my favorite kale salad.

 

 

#TacoTuesday Breakfast Tacos

I actually observed Taco Tuesday over the weekend this week. I’ve got a vacation coming up, and I’ve been trying to scale it back a little bit… literally. On the scale. Usually on the weekend, I like to have a decadent breakfast–usually some pastry that I make or full-blown bacon, eggs, fried potatoes. Or biscuits and sausage. It’s obvious I love breakfast.

But, I digress… Back to a bit healthier breakfast. Eggs and vegetables good. Baked, sugary pastries bad. What better a vehicle for eggs and vegetables than tortillas? Okay, obviously besides eggs. Like in an omlette. But, seriously, breakfast tacos are really like the next best thing to an omlette.

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These were so good. And satisfying. I would eat them not for breakfast. Like for dinner. On a weeknight.

They were pretty straight-up, too. I used 3 egg whites and one whole egg. Here’s a little secret to make your eggs stretch farther. Add a pinch of baking powder and milk. And whisk like the dickens. If you don’t whisk, that baking powder will just clump up. But once you whisk it well and then cook it, you’ll have these really fluffy eggs.

Besides the eggs, I added a couple spoonfuls of salsa, shredded cheddar and sliced avocado. I really wanted to add sour cream, but I was out–a #TacoTuesday fail that I’ve already committed once this year, and that I vowed would never happen again. Double #TacoTuesday fail. I’m acting like an amerture at this. I need to get my taco game face on. Clearly.

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The only problem with these is that they pretty much fell apart as soon as you pick them up. I really like corn tortillas a lot better than flour (and they’re better for you), but man, they do not hold up as well. So, here’s a pro tip I read on the internet: eat tacos over an empty tortilla. When all the stuff falls out of them, Boom! You have another taco.

I think that makes up for my sour cream fail.

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Birthday Brunch

Last week was my birthday. And once you get past a certain age, on your birthday, you’re just pretty “dern” happy with the simple things. Like bacon.

Earlier this spring, I decided I needed more brunch in my life. Why not? It’s luxurious. It’s relaxing. You eat bacon.

That’s exactly what I wanted for my birthday: Brunch.

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I was so proud of this eggs benedict. Until I lost a yolk. I knew I was rushing poaching these eggs too much. I was just so anxious to eat this beautiful plate.

This is the second time I’ve ever made hollandaise, and this time was the charm. I’ve always heard that it requires a great amount of care and attention, but this time, I was busy. I was making all the other components, and only gave it some passing attention every couple minutes. Maybe that was the trick.

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On the bottom of this eggs benedict is some fancy crumpets. I figured since it was my birthday, I would splurge. I bought the fancy crumpets and the fancy orange mango juice at the fancy Kroger. But I did only spring for the $6 bottle of sparkling dry wine.

The bacon and eggs are from Monroe Farm Market. There isn’t a smokehouse in the vicinity, so all the bacon you buy from the producers that sell there is unsmoked. It’s still delicious, and I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking it. I give it copious amounts of kosher salt, garlic, some liquid smoke and a lil’ brown sugar. It cooks up real nice.

So, my friend Tiff asked me what was on the bottom of the eggs benedict. It was hard to make out in the smaller picture. She thought it might’ve been a fried green tomato. Which gave me an idea.

That’s going to be my next brunch. I’ll be sure and take pictures.

 

Getting Ready to Restock

The last month or so, I’ve been making a concerted effort to use up what I have in my deep freezer and in my larder. It’s almost time to start restocking when summer vegetables come in waves that require dedicating a chunk of your weekend to stay ahead of. Those summer vegetables turn into fall vegetables, which are arguably even more prolific, then there’s beef slaughter season, and finally hunting season.

What I mean is, I’m about to need a lot of room in my freezer.

I recently bought this, and I’m so proud of it! It’s the ultimate height of satisfaction for someone as type-A as me.

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The Hubs just said I was a nerd. Haha. Either way, I’m staying on top of what is left in my freezer. Aside from making room, stuff kept in a deep freezer, and the larder for that matter, needs used in a year or so. So, this will also help me not waste anything.

When you starting getting down to the bitter ends of what’s left in the freezer, dinners definitely become a lot more interesting. But delicious, nonetheless.

Last night, I made beef tongue sliders with pesto pasta salad. It was an amazing dinner, BTW. The recipe was from Andrew Zimmern, so you know it was delicious. And I just so happen to have beef tongue. One down, three to go…

Tonight, I used the last of the beer-braised pork carnitas that I made last month. (I stretched 4 meals out of those!), some pickled hot peppers I canned last year, and a bottle of half-empty BBQ sauce to make the best BBQ pork nachos I’ve had in a while.

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Seriously, who doesn’t love BBQ pork nachos?

Now, to figure out how to use some of those packages of beef liver, pumpkin puree, and pretzel rolls.

Turkey Eggs From My Father-In-Law

A couple weekends ago, my father-in-law gave me two turkey eggs.

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Aren’t they pretty?

My sister-in-law is a nurse, and gives a shot to a local lady who pays her in fresh eggs. Usually only chicken, but the last time she gave her some turkey eggs. My sister-in-law passes the eggs onto my father-in-law because he enjoys fresh eggs so much.

He probably passed them onto me, sorta as a trade for the kimchi I made him a couple weeks ago. Now, every time I make a batch of kimchi for myself, I half it and send the rest to him. He loves it. Who wouldn’t love that? Homemade kimchi on a regular delivery schedule?

At any rate, I was thrilled that he shared some of the turkey eggs. He hadn’t tried them yet. We’re both adventurous eaters, I suppose.

I’ve never even heard of anyone eating turkey eggs, actually. But why not? They just aren’t raised for eggs, I guess, since there is more of a market for the meat. But this lady has some that she treats more as pets, I think, and she eats their eggs.

I used them to make omlettes for breakfast with a little (volunteer) baby kale, sweet onions and cheddar cheese.

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The eggs were pretty much indistinguishable from chicken eggs based on taste. But they are bigger, with thicker shells, much like duck eggs. The yolks were really, really thick. Like a soft-boiled egg yolk, almost. You could cut them, for sure. I whipped the eggs with a little half and half for the omlette, and I really had to use some elbow grease to get the yolks incorporated.

I suspect these turkeys that laid the eggs eat the same things as chickens do. Probably she gives them feed, and they get whatever bugs and worms they find in the yard, I imagine. But who knows. I’ve never been there, and never asked my sister-in-law. I think that’s why they taste the same as chicken eggs. It’s crazy how much what a chicken (or turkey) eats affects the taste of the eggs they lay. I can always tell a “farm egg” meaning one that the chicken who laid it has in their diet bugs and worms. They are so much richer than store-bought, chicken feed-fed eggs. It kills me the marketing on some of the brands of eggs. I like the one that says “vegetarian-fed hens”. All that means is that they were probably fed corn. Chickens aren’t supposed to be vegetarians. Their natural diet includes bugs and worms. I would be looking for the one that says “insect-fed hens”. It’s not as appetizing, maybe, but I know those will be better eggs. One of the class presentations someone in my Master Gardener course gave was about raising herbs to feed chickens. She experimented with a number of herbs to feed them, and they had definite favorites, she said. I asked if she could tell a difference in the taste of the eggs, and she said she couldn’t, but I wonder if she fed them more she could? It would be like seasoning your eggs with herbs before they are even laid.

It could be the next big food trend.

Axes and Venezuela

A couple weeks ago, on a random weeknight, the Hubs and I were talking about what we were going to do over the weekend. Neither of us had any ideas outside our normal boring weekend. A couple hours later, he says “I know what we can do this weekend. It’s a surprise. I’ll give you a hint: Axe and Venezuela.”

I was like “body spray and OPEC???”

I’m such a nerd. Let’s just say, I would be an outlier in one of those studies on word association.

The surprise was a road trip to Elkins to visit Big Timber Brewing, and then later dinner at El Gran Sabor, the Venezuelan restaurant.

We’ve heard really good things about both. We have had Big Timber beer here in Charleston. The craft beer scene in West Virginia just keeps exploding. Changes to the laws the past few years have made it easier to brew beer here and make it a serious business venture. West Virginians are brewing some great beers these days, and drinkers are thirsty for more.

Big Timber Brewing has been operating for a couple years. Slowly, their beers started to trickle into the Charleston market, and we tried the porter last winter. When we visited a couple weeks ago, they were just trying to finish off some of the winter beers, so we got to try quite a few over a range of styles. I always like to try a flight so I can taste as many as possible.

Big Timber

They didn’t have any typical spring or summer beers, but I love dark beer, so that didn’t bother me. Plus, it was a little cool and rainy for May that day, so the dark beers felt like they were “in season” anyway. It was nice to taste their offerings that aren’t available in Charleston. The Hubs fell in love with the Double Bit IPA, a double IPA, and my favorite was the Sluice Dry Stout. I love stouts and porters, and this dry stout was delicious!

The ambiance of the place is so warm and cozy. The bar was a big slab of timber, and the bar stool seats were polished slices of logs. There was a steady stream of butts on bar stools because the ramp festival was also going on in town that weekend.  The bar tenders were young, and seemed like they really loved hanging out there. The Hubs thought it was cool that they had so many framed Smokey Bear posters hung around the tap room. He is Smokey sometimes for work (he’ll tell you all about it sometime if you ask…) so that made him even more of a fan of the brewery.

There was a pale ale that I really liked, and the winter ale, Fasnacht, was really, really good. But I am kinda over winter ales now that it’s spring. I’ll look forward to drinking that in front of  fireplace next winter on a snowy evening.

We killed a couple hours there, because El Gran Sabor didn’t open until 4 pm. By the time that rolled around we were really hungry, having skipped lunch. So we paid our tab and took 2 growlers to-go of our favorite beers.

Legit cappuccino machine.

Legit cappuccino machine.

 El Gran Sabor is on a quiet street in a huge, old Victorian house. I had no idea what Venezuelan food even was, but I checked out Yelp before we got there to see what was recommended. Since we were starving, we opted for an appetizer. I can’t remember the name, but it was the best thing we ate. It was a fried plantain sliced long-ways on the bottom, covered with a pile of chopped grilled and seasoned chicken, lettuce, sour cream and a white cheese sauce. The plantain is just a little sweet, which plays nice with the spicy chicken and creamy cheese sauce. For our entrees, the Hubs got the cachapas–sorta like a pan-fried quesadilla but with thin corn pancake instead of a tortilla, which were highly recommended by Yelpers, and I got the dinner combo that included one beef arepa and one beef empanada. The arepa is a grilled pouch made from cornmeal with meat filling, and the empanada is basically the same thing, except fried. The Hubs and I concluded that fried food won the day, although the grilled arepas were pretty good.

The appetizer I cannot remember the name of.

The appetizer I cannot remember the name of.

Arepa and Empanada.

Arepa and Empanada.

I don’t know what those two sauces are they served with the entrees, but both were good. Unusual, but really good. The pink one must’ve had ketchup in it? But I couldn’t identify it. And the green one definitely had cilantro.  Of course, the served Big Timber beer.

Did I mention this place is crazy-cheap? With beers, appetizer and entrees, our dinner was around $40. It was well worth it!

At any rate, we are ready to go back for another road trip to try more Venezuelan dishes and get a couple more growlers filled. It’s a beautiful part of the state, so the scenery on the two-hour trip, ain’t bad either.

I can’t wait for more of Big Timber’s beer to work their way into the market here in Charleston. They are making some really delicious beers. And having known nothing about Venezuelan food before I went, I can say I’m a fan now. It was a great road trip to kill a Saturday afternoon and evening.

Growing Hope at Paradise Farm

This week was my last Master Gardener class.

I passed the course, by the way. Our exam was last week. Yes, there was an exam. It was really hard.

This class was to make up the first week, when it was cancelled for snow, back in February. Our instructor, Kanawha County Extension Agent John Porter, teased us with a field trip all spring. A tour of Paradise Farm, only a few miles outside of Charleston, in Institute, was a perfect way to finish up the class.

Paradise Farm is a part of KISRA (Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action, Inc.). KISRA sprung from Ferguson Memorial Baptist Church in 1993 as an after school program, helping local youth with homework. The volunteers noticed that a literacy problem plagued the children, and upon digging further, also plagued many of the children’s parents, in the low-income neighborhood. In 2006, the program expanded its focus to fathers who had been incarcerated. Almost universally, the fathers in the community that had a criminal record could not find work. KISRA began offering job training and resume workshops for these fathers to give them a boost in landing gainful employment. The idea for the farm took shape. The area was considered a “food desert”, and the need to put healthy fresh vegetables in the hands of low income families was a concern. Why not give the fathers in the program (and by now, many other individuals) real work experience and training in agriculture while raising fresh vegetables for the community? Paradise Farm was born. Now, KISRA has farming operations in three counties in West Virginia: Wood, Putnam and Kanawha.

Actually, three people involved with Paradise Farm took the Master Gardener class, including Ture Johnson, the Farm Supervisor, who gave us the tour. Part of the final exam was a class presentation, and naturally, they teamed up to do their presentation on the hydroponic farming operation at Paradise Farm. I was familiar with KISRA’s farming program from my days staffing the Agriculture Committee in the Legislature, but I had no idea they were doing hydroponics, and the capacity which they have. It’s incredible.

Paradise has two 30 X 96 “cadilliac” greenhouses, set up for shallow-rooted crops right now–lettuce, spinach and kale. The entire system is surprisingly high-tech. It’s all monitored by sophisticated computers that track the temperature of the water, nutrient level, temperature inside the greenhouse. The water starts in a giant tank in the end of the greenhouse, where the nutrients are added, then it’s circulated throughout the 5,000 heads of lettuce, before being collected in a tank beside the one it started in. It’s then adjusted as needed, and reused.

Paradise Farm Lettuce

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I mean, is there anything more gorgeous? Paradise Farm had 5 kinds of lettuce in the greenhouse on this evening. I just wanted to drizzle some balsamic vinegar over them and take a bite.

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The hydroponic operation at Paradise Farm has been underway since January 2015. The lettuces are supposed to take 4-5 weeks from seed to harvest. But that is with a lot of sunshine. Even though the greenhouse is climate controlled, the plants still need light. Because there hasn’t been as much sunlight this spring with a lot of cloudy and overcast days, these are taking a little longer.

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The seeds are started in Oasis root cubes. Once they’re big enough to transplant into the hydroponic system, they’re plopped down into the trays. As the water circulates, they eventually dissolve. Paradise Farm isn’t certified organic, although everything they give the plants is organic. The Oasis seed starting medium isn’t certified organic, and that’s what keeps Paradise from reaching the certification. Actually, there aren’t any seed starting mediums available for hydroponic farms that are organic. Oasis is as close as they can get.

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What struck me about our tour and visiting the farm was there was all this beautiful lettuce. And they have trouble moving it. It’s sad. The company that helped them get set up for hydroponics said they could sell the lettuce–these fancy artisan lettuces–for $3 per head. But nobody wanted to buy them at that price point. So they lowered to $2 per head. And still, they were having trouble moving them. So, now at $1.50 per head, they are taking a loss, and not moving many more of them. The lettuce is available at The Wild Ramp in Huntington, a local produce market. Recently, though, they entered a contract with Charleston Area Medical Center to sell them for the employee cafeteria. They are also going to be selling them at the pop-up farmers market this summer at Davis Square in downtown Charleston. They do sell the lettuces at the farm, too.

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The farm is completely outfitted for seamless processing for sale. Right behind the greenhouses is a packaging facility set up for triple washing and packaging right into a huge walk-in cooler. All of the lettuces are tracked by number from seed to packaging, which is required for USDA Good Agricultural Practices Certification. The number tracking system makes it easy to find out where the lettuces are in the event of a recall. As a matter of fact, every year, they have to do a mock recall as part of the certification.

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Paradise Farm is a bright spot in the surrounding community, and in the Kanawha Valley. It’s only producing positive results–job training for individuals interested in agriculture, community support, healthy and delicious food. It has a first class facility, and it’s a shame that it’s not used fully. But I think, after seeing the tour and hearing from Ture Johnson about the operation, it’s only a matter of time before this place takes off.

Rice and Ramps

This time of year is the best! After a long winter, fresh things are finding their way onto the table. Tender greens, morels, ramps, and even wild turkeys.

The Hubs brought two turkey breasts home after a morning hunting trip last week. I usually like for him to bring home the whole turkey, but it was 80 degrees that day, and he didn’t think he could fit a whole turkey in the cooler, and didn’t want to risk it spoiling.

Turkey is my absolute favorite game meat. Many say it’s the most challenging to hunt, too. Which makes me really appreciate when the Hubs gets one himself, or someone gives us some. The best way to make fresh turkey breast is to pound it out, dust it in flour and pan fry it. I think frozen turkey gets tough, and it is great for slow-cooked stews or sausage, actually.

The best thing to go with fresh turkey breast, (if you don’t have morels, of course) is ramps.

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But, I’ve made a lot of ramps this spring, and I was ready for something different. I love wild rice, and I thought some caramelized roasted ramps would be great with the nutty flavor of wild rice. I’ve never roasted ramps, but roasted onions are great, and ramps are just a distant cousin to onions, so why not?

Turkey and Ramps (3) I just cleaned them, and drizzled them with some olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, and just shoved it under the broiler on low for about 10 minutes. Ramps have such a strong flavor, and roasting them mellows them down a bit, and gives them this deep onion-y flavor.

I chopped them up, put them right in the sauce pan, and made them right with the rice. I just made the rice according to the package directions.

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I served it with the fried turkey breast and topped it all with a few shavings of pecorino. It was delicious! A perfect West Virginia spring meal.

Check out my other posts about spring wild turkey here and here.

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