The weather has been cold and foul and the tomatoes and peppers are patiently waiting indoors for their opportunity, but what is already in the garden (the cold weather crops) are absolutely loving this weather. The lettuces, escarole, endive, choi, chard, kale, collards and spinach are enjoying the moist, cool weather and are growing rapidly.
I was worried about the spinach bolting, but it has instead exploded with growth after the rain. Above are three of the five squares planted to spinach. These are in a bed destined to house a summer squash (the uncovered square above), but that won’t happen until June. Meanwhile I hope to get a few more cuttings from the spinach.
This is the first cutting of spinach, 9 ounces. Most of this went into creamed spinach to go with the steaks we had on Saturday night. I had some strip sirloin steaks but because of the weather had to use the gas grill instead of firing up the barbie and using some mesquite chips. Normally I would be barbequing up a storm on the first holiday weekend of the summer, sitting on the deck with a brewski and carefully monitoring temperatures and smoke, but that is unpleasant to do when it’s cold and rainy.
The creamed spinach is a standard steakhouse offering. Basically, the spinach is steamed until it wilts, chopped, then squeezed to release any juices, and mixed with a thick béchamel sauce flavored with a little bay and nutmeg. If you want to be fancy like the steakhouses, you can put it in a casserole, cover with Parmesan cheese, and bake. Using frozen spinach is possible but is considered heresy. Most if the time I simply steam the spinach until it wilts and serve it with butter, salt and pepper, but some occasions call for a dish that is a bit fancier.
I clipped a pound of mixed salad greens in the rain on Saturday morning (the weight is of course dripping wet, not toweled dry). Some of this went into a salad to go with our steaks and creamed spinach Saturday night. The vinaigrette was made with olive oil and a fig-infused balsamic vinegar, which gave a nice fruity, almost banana-like flavor to the dressing. The rest were washed, spun-dried and refrigerated for salads later this week.
My newly-planted kale is still immature and has been plagued by flea beetles. The kale above is from volunteers from my seed collecting effort last year. They are sprouting and growing in the wood chips around the raised beds (and bolting, since they sprouted last fall from seeds and wintered over). Since they are “weeds” I figured I would harvest what I could before pulling them. I also recently learned from reading other blogs that kale flowers are edible and tasty. Last year they just went in the compost.
To see what other gardener’s are harvesting, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions, out host for Harvest Monday.