Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday (and the proverbial Asparagus)

So, it's Tuesday night and I'm down to the last few spinach leaves, and scrounging for any radishes that might have rolled under the produce drawer.   Every week I load up on produce, thinking that I never could possibly eat half of what I can't stop myself from buying, and end up getting so excited about it that I use most of it in the first meal.  Spring is the best because I feel like I have been starving myself for the past four months- scraping by on potatoes and frozen and canned goods from the summer before.  (of course this winter I spent eating avocados and mangoes in a tropical paradise, but that market story is another tale altogether).  So when the time comes I try to eat as much greenery as a grass-fed cow.  Lacking the extra stomachs, I end up eating about half the greenery.  But I make sure those morning grits or fried egg are topped with kale, or collards, or something that tastes like it's been alive in the past few days.

The Main Street Farmer's Market is officially opening (I think) this Wednesday, but it has been going on all winter.  I have been living from lamb chop to lamb chop, duck eggs to overwintered collards, and finally to glory be!- all the produce my heart desires.  Arugula, spinach, asparagus (to supplement my own growing in my yard- don't tell Suzanna, or she won't sell me any), kale, sausages, radishes, beets, carrots, lettuce, herbs, grits and cornmeal,  shittake, and even bamboo shoots have been blessing my every meal for the past few weeks.  I feel like I have come out of a desert and fallen into an oasis.  I no longer look longingly at the various produce on the grocery shelf, knowing that even if I buy it it won't have the same wonderful taste as in-season, locally grown stuff will.    I HAVE the in-season locally grown stuff all the time now, right at the edge of my knife and the tip of my tongue.  And I could not be more content, not even if I were a pig in a waller....

 Lamb Chops with Grits and Greens

for two- four people

I like this meal because it is what any busy home-cook wants.  It is quick, easy, and impressively delicious.

  • 1 cup Riverview Farm grits
  • 1 large handful chopped or torn kale, collards, chard, or any other green thing you like- from any or all farms that have them
  • 1 bunch chopped scallions, or other herb of your choice
  • 4 cups water, or chicken broth made with River Ridge Farms chicken
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 1 packet Williams Island Farm lamb chops (there are usually four to a pack- they are so tiny that I like to give one person two apiece)
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • 1/2 cup red wine or dark beer
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled but whole- optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Start the grits first- they should take about twenty minutes.  Bring the water to a boil, then whisk grits in gradually.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Add salt and cook, stirring now and then, til thickly bubbling.  Add the greens and stir til wilted.  Stir in half the herbs and pepper to taste, and serve topped with remaining half herbs.

Start lamb chops when grits are about 10 minutes from finished.   Heat a cast iron skillet til very hot.  Sprinkle chops generously with salt and pepper.  Sear lamb chops briefly on either side and set aside on a plate.  Pour wine or beer into skillet to "deglaze", or take off any bits sticking to the pan and to get the yummy lamb juices up and mingling with the wine or beer.   Add the chops back to the skillet, throw in the garlic, and cook in oven for about seven minutes.  If they are firm-ish when poked with a brave finger, the chops are done.  The katahdin lamb that Williams Island Farm raises is almost impossible to mess up- it seems to be tender and moist even if well-done.  But I would recommend medium-rare (which is when the meat is still has a little give when poked, but not too soft).  

Serve with warm grits and a fresh lettuce, arugula, spinach, or combination of all, salad.

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