Buttery English Peas with Fresh Mint

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Buttery English Peas with Mint by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I've been wanting to make these peas ever since I first read Kristin Kimball's book, The Dirty Life a few years back. The combination of the nutty, sweet peas cooked in milk and butter and tossed with a bright confetti of fresh mint and a liberal sprinkling of sea salt sounded very appealing.

So when I saw peas at the farmer's market last week, I filled a bag. Will really enjoyed helping me shell them - it was a perfect activity for him - they were easy to open and there was that little surprise of seeing how many peas were hiding inside each pod to spur him on. He LOVES math. Reading, not so much... In my saner, less judgmental/impatient/anxious moments, I'm hopeful that he'll get there eventually since he loves books.

Will helping to shell the peas by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Anyhoo, we got our peas shelled and we were both happy which is nothing short of a huge success in the realm of parenting.

Peas out of the shell by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

That done, I put a hunk of butter in a pan of milk and turned it on low.

Melting the butter in whole milk by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

While it heated, I ran outside to pick a little mint from the plants I planted above our tiny stream last summer. With all the rain we've had lately, the plants have grown so large that I only needed these three leaves to have enough.

Mint leaves from our plant by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

When I got back inside, the milk was hot but not boiling so I threw the peas in to cook for a few minutes. I kept testing them to see when they were just soft but not mushy. Then I removed them with a slotted spoon, tossed them with a couple spoonfuls of the milk and the chopped mint and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Verrrry tasty. We ate them as part of a hodgepodge lunch that included pesto pasta, pickled turnips, and a delicious green salad with roasted beet we just harvested from our garden (!) and goat cheese.

Buttery English Peas with Mint by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I saved the leftovers in the buttery milk I'd cooked them in and then turned it into a lovely little soup the next day by sauteing onion, adding a cubed potato, some vegetable stock, a bay leaf and letting it cook for a few minutes, then dumping in the leftover peas in milk towards the end and topping it with a splash of heavy cream and a handful of chopped basil and parsley from our garden. File that away under #LeftoverLove (or just roll your eyes if you think hashtags are asinine and sophomoric).

-- print recipe --Buttery English Peas with Fresh Mint from The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

* 2 cups milk
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 cups shelled green peas
* Salt and pepper to taste
* A few mint leaves, finely chopped

Directions

Heat the milk and butter over medium heat in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add peas, salt, and pepper, and gently simmer until the peas are bright green and soft but not mushy. Remove from heat, add the mint leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

You might also like:
For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Remembering Maggie - Her Life & Her Lesson

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I woke up this morning to the heavy, comforting sound of steady rain. After an unseasonably hot and painfully dry May, we've gotten a lot of rain here lately. The plants and, unfortunately, the ticks seem to love it... California is jealous.

My head is full of conversations and anecdotes from yesterday's beautiful memorial for aunt Maggie at an orchard she loved just a few minutes from her home in Putney, Vermont. Ever the preserver, she spent countless hours there, harvesting plums, blueberries and apples. Even when she was sick and tired quickly, you just could not keep her down for long, she'd get up off the couch and go out to harvest quinces and then turn them into a thick, golden membrillo or defy her doctors' orders and go yank weeds out of the dirt though she did wear her mask sometimes.


We've still got several jars of bright, Maggie-made jams and salsas on our pantry shelves because as her younger sister, Joanne said yesterday, "She never let you leave her house without taking something she'd made." In our case, this was usually raspberry jam, maple syrup, tomato sauce, salsa or some of her amazing maple truck cookies. I like having this way of hanging on to her a little longer and am loathe to use them up. I did the same thing after my dad died almost five years ago and actually still have a few venison steaks from a deer he'd killed wrapped in butcher paper and labeled in black sharpie in his characteristic blocky architect draftsman's handwriting in the chest freezer. Have you done this? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

But back to Maggie. It was quite a gathering - about 400 people from all walks of her life came together to remember her and celebrate her too-short but packed-full-of-living life. The event was held in the huge apple picking barn - a fitting spot since she spent so much time working her butt off to cultivate and harvest the Earth's bounty - one of her favorite activities.

In honor of her lifelong love of pie, people brought scores of 'em and the tables in the back were laden with slices both sweet and savory which people ate throughout the gathering. Big, beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers from local gardens added splashes of color in the dark barn. Pictures of Maggie throughout her life had been blown up and were hung from clotheslines strung at the sides of the little stage that was set up for the speakers and the musicians. There was a slideshow of pictures that I could not really watch because I'm too shy to sob openly in public and I also did not want to freak my kids out.

I kept thinking how great it would be if she was there. Though I do believe that she was there, of course. I'm sure she was hovering over it all, laughing at the stories people shared, giving imperceptible kisses and hugs and pinching people's butts.


My husband and I each missed roughly half of the event because our little guys can't hack sitting still and quiet for very long so we took turns taking them outside to be loud and messy and to go pee repeatedly. When we were all inside, Will laughed loudly every time people laughed at something funny someone shared in an effort to participate, adding a slightly discordant laugh track that I tried and failed not to be embarassed by.

I came away from the parts I did hear with some wonderful stories about this little firecracker of a woman we all loved. She burned so brightly and touched so many lives - the patients she cared for as a nurse practitioner, the artists and craftspeople she worked with, the people she made hundreds of gallons of maple syrup with, the farmers she pitched in to help, the family she loved. She was such a special being.

Despite being funny and wild and energetic and no-nonsense, Maggie struggled mightily throughout her life with the need to please everyone around her - at a great cost to herself. Rather ironically, her last year - the worst year of her life on a physical level and truly hellish by anyone's standards, was the best year of her life because she felt that she was finally being herself and living her own truth for the very first time in her life.

The quote on the back of the program was what Maggie came to call her new motto the last year of her life. I think it's pretty powerful.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

Here's a little excerpt from the short but wonderful speech my mom-in-law, Liz, Maggie's older sister, gave yesterday and you can read the rest here if you're curious,

"I think Maggie wants all of us to stop trying so hard to be perfect little humans, and instead just to be ALIVE. To relax, and to trust ourselves and to trust LIFE. When I communicate with Maggie, this is what I think she is telling me: don’t contract your energy out of fear of what others want from you. Don’t dim your light; don’t live small. Just BE who you are; tell the truth; and then go out into this beautiful world and love and live with all your heart."

My parents were not religious and I've never felt even the teeny tiniest bit drawn to organized religion of any kind so I don't have much of a framework for answering the big questions in life - things like "What happens when we die?" and "Why are we here?"

I'm still very much in the process of figuring out what I believe and cobbling together some sort of faith. After my dad died unexpectedly about five years ago, I was forced to think about it quite a bit more seriously. Here's the Cliff's notes version of my fledgling spiritual belief system - a work in progress that will undoubtedly shift as a result of future experiences and influences:
  • I think that although our bodies are clearly mortal, our spirits are infinite and that birth and death are merely our spirits passing between planes/realms/worlds/who-knows-exactly-what-they-are.
  • I think we keep being reborn until we've somehow graduated though I have no idea what we graduate to...
  • I think we go around and around with the same cast of characters (some people call this your "soul group") in various configurations - someone might be your mom in one life and your best friend or maybe even your worst enemy in another.
  • I think that we probably have a hand in planning our lifetimes before we are born and that we arrrive with a primary lesson we need to learn as well as a set of roles we need to play / agreements we need to honor with the the people who will play major parts in our lives. 
  • I think we leave (die) once we've completed those agreements and learned (or failed to learn - I'm sure there's plenty of failure) our lesson.
Maybe Maggie was a faster learner than most of us. I'm just glad I knew her. And I miss her.

You might also like:
For more musings, recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Mulberries Are NOT Just For The Birds

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mulberries by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Mulberries are wildly underrated, in my opinion. The trees grow more or less like weeds, the berries are sweet, tasty and loaded with Vitamin C and iron. They're also very easy to pick -- no thorns, no poison ivy and they fall right into your hand -- but I rarely see anyone else eating them. I assume that this is simply because they don't know what they're missing...

Mulberry off our tree by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Mulberries have a mild, sweet flavor and are best eaten raw right off the tree during their short season. But you have to hurry because once the birds, squirrels and chipmunks figure out that they're ripe, it's all over. Some people put a sheet down on the ground (one you do not care about as it is going to get VERY stained) and then shake the tree - the ripe berries will fall right off the branches.

The berries start out a whiteish green then progress from pink to red to black when ripe. There are also white mulberry trees but I've never met one so I can't tell you much about them. The leaves of the red mulberry tree that's native to the north east of the U.S. vary in shape -- some of them look rather like fig leaves and some are more or less just round. They're very pretty, regardless.

Mulberry leaves by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

The berries ripen remarkably quickly. For example, you might pick all the ripe ones off a given branch, go inside for a couple of hours and when you come back out again, there'll be a whole new crop of ripe berries on that same branch. Magic!

In addition to eating them right off the tree, we've been freezing a bunch of them for later although our older son has been eating the frozen berries by the handful so I'm not sure how much "later" we'll get.

Frozen mulberries by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Just give the mulberries a quick rinse and let them dry, scatter them on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour or two. Then scoop them off the tray into a freezer bag and suck the air out with a straw (one of my favorite tricks!)

Frozen mulberries by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

You can also make mulberry pie, crisp, ice cream, sorbet, smoothies and more. So get out there and start looking for the tree whose branches are a hotbed of avian activity. The tree could be anywhere from the size of a bush to 20 feet tall or so. If you're not sure, check the ground - if it's covered with dark stains and smushed berries, it's probably a mulberry tree.

For those of you in my neck of the woods - New York's Hudson Valley - there's a great mulberry tree on the dock at the end of the Saugerties Lighthouse trail that hangs down above the picnic tables.

Happy eating!

You might also like:
For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Buttery English Peas with Fresh Mint

Buttery English Peas with Mint by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I've been wanting to make these peas ever since I first read Kristin Kimball's book, The Dirty Life a few years back. The combination of the nutty, sweet peas cooked in milk and butter and tossed with a bright confetti of fresh mint and a liberal sprinkling of sea salt sounded very appealing.

So when I saw peas at the farmer's market last week, I filled a bag. Will really enjoyed helping me shell them - it was a perfect activity for him - they were easy to open and there was that little surprise of seeing how many peas were hiding inside each pod to spur him on. He LOVES math. Reading, not so much... In my saner, less judgmental/impatient/anxious moments, I'm hopeful that he'll get there eventually since he loves books.

Will helping to shell the peas by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Anyhoo, we got our peas shelled and we were both happy which is nothing short of a huge success in the realm of parenting.

Peas out of the shell by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

That done, I put a hunk of butter in a pan of milk and turned it on low.

Melting the butter in whole milk by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

While it heated, I ran outside to pick a little mint from the plants I planted above our tiny stream last summer. With all the rain we've had lately, the plants have grown so large that I only needed these three leaves to have enough.

Mint leaves from our plant by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

When I got back inside, the milk was hot but not boiling so I threw the peas in to cook for a few minutes. I kept testing them to see when they were just soft but not mushy. Then I removed them with a slotted spoon, tossed them with a couple spoonfuls of the milk and the chopped mint and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Verrrry tasty. We ate them as part of a hodgepodge lunch that included pesto pasta, pickled turnips, and a delicious green salad with roasted beet we just harvested from our garden (!) and goat cheese.

Buttery English Peas with Mint by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I saved the leftovers in the buttery milk I'd cooked them in and then turned it into a lovely little soup the next day by sauteing onion, adding a cubed potato, some vegetable stock, a bay leaf and letting it cook for a few minutes, then dumping in the leftover peas in milk towards the end and topping it with a splash of heavy cream and a handful of chopped basil and parsley from our garden. File that away under #LeftoverLove (or just roll your eyes if you think hashtags are asinine and sophomoric).

-- print recipe --Buttery English Peas with Fresh Mint from The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

* 2 cups milk
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 cups shelled green peas
* Salt and pepper to taste
* A few mint leaves, finely chopped

Directions

Heat the milk and butter over medium heat in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add peas, salt, and pepper, and gently simmer until the peas are bright green and soft but not mushy. Remove from heat, add the mint leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

You might also like:
For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Remembering Maggie - Her Life & Her Lesson

I woke up this morning to the heavy, comforting sound of steady rain. After an unseasonably hot and painfully dry May, we've gotten a lot of rain here lately. The plants and, unfortunately, the ticks seem to love it... California is jealous.

My head is full of conversations and anecdotes from yesterday's beautiful memorial for aunt Maggie at an orchard she loved just a few minutes from her home in Putney, Vermont. Ever the preserver, she spent countless hours there, harvesting plums, blueberries and apples. Even when she was sick and tired quickly, you just could not keep her down for long, she'd get up off the couch and go out to harvest quinces and then turn them into a thick, golden membrillo or defy her doctors' orders and go yank weeds out of the dirt though she did wear her mask sometimes.


We've still got several jars of bright, Maggie-made jams and salsas on our pantry shelves because as her younger sister, Joanne said yesterday, "She never let you leave her house without taking something she'd made." In our case, this was usually raspberry jam, maple syrup, tomato sauce, salsa or some of her amazing maple truck cookies. I like having this way of hanging on to her a little longer and am loathe to use them up. I did the same thing after my dad died almost five years ago and actually still have a few venison steaks from a deer he'd killed wrapped in butcher paper and labeled in black sharpie in his characteristic blocky architect draftsman's handwriting in the chest freezer. Have you done this? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

But back to Maggie. It was quite a gathering - about 400 people from all walks of her life came together to remember her and celebrate her too-short but packed-full-of-living life. The event was held in the huge apple picking barn - a fitting spot since she spent so much time working her butt off to cultivate and harvest the Earth's bounty - one of her favorite activities.

In honor of her lifelong love of pie, people brought scores of 'em and the tables in the back were laden with slices both sweet and savory which people ate throughout the gathering. Big, beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers from local gardens added splashes of color in the dark barn. Pictures of Maggie throughout her life had been blown up and were hung from clotheslines strung at the sides of the little stage that was set up for the speakers and the musicians. There was a slideshow of pictures that I could not really watch because I'm too shy to sob openly in public and I also did not want to freak my kids out.

I kept thinking how great it would be if she was there. Though I do believe that she was there, of course. I'm sure she was hovering over it all, laughing at the stories people shared, giving imperceptible kisses and hugs and pinching people's butts.


My husband and I each missed roughly half of the event because our little guys can't hack sitting still and quiet for very long so we took turns taking them outside to be loud and messy and to go pee repeatedly. When we were all inside, Will laughed loudly every time people laughed at something funny someone shared in an effort to participate, adding a slightly discordant laugh track that I tried and failed not to be embarassed by.

I came away from the parts I did hear with some wonderful stories about this little firecracker of a woman we all loved. She burned so brightly and touched so many lives - the patients she cared for as a nurse practitioner, the artists and craftspeople she worked with, the people she made hundreds of gallons of maple syrup with, the farmers she pitched in to help, the family she loved. She was such a special being.

Despite being funny and wild and energetic and no-nonsense, Maggie struggled mightily throughout her life with the need to please everyone around her - at a great cost to herself. Rather ironically, her last year - the worst year of her life on a physical level and truly hellish by anyone's standards, was the best year of her life because she felt that she was finally being herself and living her own truth for the very first time in her life.

The quote on the back of the program was what Maggie came to call her new motto the last year of her life. I think it's pretty powerful.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

Here's a little excerpt from the short but wonderful speech my mom-in-law, Liz, Maggie's older sister, gave yesterday and you can read the rest here if you're curious,

"I think Maggie wants all of us to stop trying so hard to be perfect little humans, and instead just to be ALIVE. To relax, and to trust ourselves and to trust LIFE. When I communicate with Maggie, this is what I think she is telling me: don’t contract your energy out of fear of what others want from you. Don’t dim your light; don’t live small. Just BE who you are; tell the truth; and then go out into this beautiful world and love and live with all your heart."

My parents were not religious and I've never felt even the teeny tiniest bit drawn to organized religion of any kind so I don't have much of a framework for answering the big questions in life - things like "What happens when we die?" and "Why are we here?"

I'm still very much in the process of figuring out what I believe and cobbling together some sort of faith. After my dad died unexpectedly about five years ago, I was forced to think about it quite a bit more seriously. Here's the Cliff's notes version of my fledgling spiritual belief system - a work in progress that will undoubtedly shift as a result of future experiences and influences:
  • I think that although our bodies are clearly mortal, our spirits are infinite and that birth and death are merely our spirits passing between planes/realms/worlds/who-knows-exactly-what-they-are.
  • I think we keep being reborn until we've somehow graduated though I have no idea what we graduate to...
  • I think we go around and around with the same cast of characters (some people call this your "soul group") in various configurations - someone might be your mom in one life and your best friend or maybe even your worst enemy in another.
  • I think that we probably have a hand in planning our lifetimes before we are born and that we arrrive with a primary lesson we need to learn as well as a set of roles we need to play / agreements we need to honor with the the people who will play major parts in our lives. 
  • I think we leave (die) once we've completed those agreements and learned (or failed to learn - I'm sure there's plenty of failure) our lesson.
Maybe Maggie was a faster learner than most of us. I'm just glad I knew her. And I miss her.

You might also like:
For more musings, recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mulberries Are NOT Just For The Birds

Mulberries by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Mulberries are wildly underrated, in my opinion. The trees grow more or less like weeds, the berries are sweet, tasty and loaded with Vitamin C and iron. They're also very easy to pick -- no thorns, no poison ivy and they fall right into your hand -- but I rarely see anyone else eating them. I assume that this is simply because they don't know what they're missing...

Mulberry off our tree by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Mulberries have a mild, sweet flavor and are best eaten raw right off the tree during their short season. But you have to hurry because once the birds, squirrels and chipmunks figure out that they're ripe, it's all over. Some people put a sheet down on the ground (one you do not care about as it is going to get VERY stained) and then shake the tree - the ripe berries will fall right off the branches.

The berries start out a whiteish green then progress from pink to red to black when ripe. There are also white mulberry trees but I've never met one so I can't tell you much about them. The leaves of the red mulberry tree that's native to the north east of the U.S. vary in shape -- some of them look rather like fig leaves and some are more or less just round. They're very pretty, regardless.

Mulberry leaves by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

The berries ripen remarkably quickly. For example, you might pick all the ripe ones off a given branch, go inside for a couple of hours and when you come back out again, there'll be a whole new crop of ripe berries on that same branch. Magic!

In addition to eating them right off the tree, we've been freezing a bunch of them for later although our older son has been eating the frozen berries by the handful so I'm not sure how much "later" we'll get.

Frozen mulberries by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Just give the mulberries a quick rinse and let them dry, scatter them on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour or two. Then scoop them off the tray into a freezer bag and suck the air out with a straw (one of my favorite tricks!)

Frozen mulberries by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

You can also make mulberry pie, crisp, ice cream, sorbet, smoothies and more. So get out there and start looking for the tree whose branches are a hotbed of avian activity. The tree could be anywhere from the size of a bush to 20 feet tall or so. If you're not sure, check the ground - if it's covered with dark stains and smushed berries, it's probably a mulberry tree.

For those of you in my neck of the woods - New York's Hudson Valley - there's a great mulberry tree on the dock at the end of the Saugerties Lighthouse trail that hangs down above the picnic tables.

Happy eating!

You might also like:
For more delicious recipes, gardening ideas, foraging tips, and food-related inspiration "like" the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.