Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is it Spring Yet?

As February draws to a close, thoughts of playing in the dirt and working with fresh, home grown produce start to consume me. Yes, it is still a month away before I can actually plant some of the early greens, but the time to prepare is upon me. Once the snow melts, I will begin turning the ground and adding some all natural fertilizer (i.e. manure). Before any of the hard work begins, we have to decide what to grow this year. Picking out seeds might be the most exciting part of winter...except for the holidays...and my daughter's penguin birthday party, but it is a close call.
This year we are going to focus on salad greens on a larger scale and more extended season. Last year we supplied the Inn with its salad greens for about three weeks. Not a crop to retire on, but a good start from which to learn. Greens we will try to grow include arugula, purple mustard, kale, cress, sorrel, radicchio and several lettuces. We have decided to focus on greens since they can be started much sooner than most other crops we grow such as tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins. This will help extend our growing season and keep us busy until it is time to plant summer crops.
We are making a conscious effort this year to use only organic seeds and plants in the Evins Mill garden. All our salad green seeds are from Seeds of Change, a company with which we are proud to partner. They supply all organic seeds and plants but also give a lot back. They sponsor a seed donation program that helps dozens of community, school and outreach programs all over the world. Visit their website if you are interested in growing organic. An online application for their seed donation program is also available if you know of a gardening project that it would benefit.
The seeds are here! Now we just need a little Spring.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Writing It Down

I have always been the type of chef that never really follows recipes. Creatively, this is great because it encourages me to make things new and better, but guess what - no one else can make it. So, after being politely asked, in some cases for years, I am slowly beginning to spoon these out onto paper. It is gratifying to share these recipes with guests as well as with the other chefs at Evins Mill, for when I am too old to stand for twelve hours a day, I can rest in my lawn chair knowing that the dish was prepared properly and tasted good. Just kidding!

Soup is what brought me here this week. A regular patron of the Inn recently asked me about our butternut squash bisque. He enjoyed it on a prior visit and requested the recipe, but somehow I've yet to respond. Hmmm....Well, the new me will make that bisque today - and will write it down!

I am especially excited about the butternut squash, because they are of excellent quality and come from our friends Brent and Mary Bain, who own and operate their family farm in Warren County and who can be found at the Warren County Farmer's Market just about anytime it is operating. They grow an abundance of fresh produce practically year round and also specialize in annual flowers. Their dedication and expertise are evident in the quality of their products. We started working with them this winter, procuring from them our winter squash, turnips and mustard greens, and look forward to spring and more tasty veggies from the Bain family farm!

Well, it is time to make the soup! Keep an eye out on the recipe blog next week for Butternut Squash Bisque. And if you find yourself in McMinnville, I invite you to visit Brent and Mary at the Farmer's Market - and tell them we sent you.