After months of gray skies and storage vegetables, the first spring crops are a welcome relief for the eyes and the palette. An often underappreciated crop is the humble, but delicious, spring radish. An edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family (it’s cousins are broccoli, kale, collards, and cabbage), radishes come in a variety of colors (yay for antioxidants!) and shapes.
Most people familiar with kimchi know it as a long-fermented, funky napa cabbage with almost bubbly effervescence. But kimchi is much broader than that. I love long-fermented napa cabbage kimchi in the winter, but when spring comes, I start longing for fresh and sprouty greens. In spring, I enjoy making gutjuri, a sort of fresher, quicker, not-so-fermented version of kimchi. My favorites are cilantro and watercress, but it works wonderfully with arugula, mustard greens, or young lettuce.
What is related to onions, leeks and lilies, keeps mythical creatures at bay, enhances the flavor of many dishes, and has antimicrobial properties? If you guessed Allium sativum (aka garlic), then you are correct!
Hailing from Central Asia and Northern Iran, records show garlic has been cultivated and used for culinary and medicinal purposes for nearly 5,000 years. There are two subspecies of garlic which all varieties can be categorized into: hardneck or softneck. Hardneck garlic produces a hard central stalk and scape (which can be harvested for a delicious vegetable side dish or pesto). Hardneck garlic tends to be a bit more flavorful and have larger, easier to peel cloves than softneck varieties. Softneck garlic has no hard central stalk, smaller cloves, and is the type we typically see in the grocery store (Note: nearly all garlic in US grocery stores is imported from China).
Long-time Milan, Michigan farmers, Vicki and Tom Zilke, know how to grow good food. Turns out, they also know how to cook. Since June 2018 when Zilke Farm Kitchen opened for business, Vicki has been creating simple home-cooked meal kits and prepared food in Milan’s new retail space.
Walking through one of the six Tom’s Food Markets locations in Northwest Michigan, you will find the produce section is piled high with best of the season. During the harvest season, displays are piled high with sweet corn, pints of sweet cherries, bushels of Bardenhagen Farms apples, and local squashes. However, Tom’s Food Markets is proudly dedicated to supporting local producers all year long, not just during the peak of summer.
Winter continues to drag on in its unforgiving way, but with each day spring is ever nearer. For you farmers and gardeners out there, now is the time to order your seeds for spring. Not all seeds are created equal, so learn why it’s important to opt for earth-enriching seeds here!
This year, consider what you should add into your daily diet rather than remove. Moving beyond restrictive diets is one of TLD’s top health goals for you in 2019.
This summer, I was the catering manager for Rock River Farm, a flower farm in the central U.P. They are focusing their efforts on flower production, so they don’t need my services in 2019. After being asked a few times if I’m sad they are done catering, here’s the truth: I’m stoked to see farms find their niche. This said, I will be going back next summer in the same way I got started there: as a volunteer who is in it for the beautiful drive, lack of cell service, the company and inspiration they provide.
For me, food has always been a source of connection, a tool to communicate love, and a way to pass on family traditions. Some of my most vivid memories involve shared meals and many dishes are connected to specific loved ones in my mind. For example, my mom is chicken, rice, and carrots, whereas my dad is graham crackers dipped in milk. Apple pie and sharp cheddar cheese bring to mind my grandmother. The foods we made on our first date, kimchi and sauerkraut are my partner. These dishes provide comfort and a reminder to slow down.
Food has always been an important part of my life; however, it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Italy that I really fell in love. We toured a Parmigiano Reggiano facility, learned about Balsamico di Modena on a small family farm, and tasted traditionally cured prosciutto. Specifically, all the foods we encountered were part of a movement to preserve culturally significant foods and their traditional production practices: Slow Food.
In the dead of winter, we long for the abundance of summer gardens and farmers markets. While their bounty is hard to outshine, it is amazing to take stock of, and appreciate, how much variety is still available this time of year. Season extending techniques like hoophouses (aka high tunnels) allow us to have fresh tender greens, spinach, and cold sweetened carrots. We’re also able to find a wide range of storage vegetables: cabbage, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, kohlrabi, and more! And don’t forget this month’s crop spotlight: the humble turnip.