Kitchen Garden Writing

Summer Thunderstorm

Red Crust Pizza
Red Crust Pizza

LAKE MACBRIDE— Rain was brewing when I went outside early this morning. One could sense it in the warm, electrified air. It came and poured two inches in the garden cart left outside to get washed out. The storm winked the power a couple of times, although not long enough to stop my work on a newspaper article. In all, it was a decent, if unneeded rain.

Temperatures in June averaged 70.3° or 0.6°above normal, while precipitation totaled 9.94 inches or 4.92 inches above normal, according to state climatologist Harry Hillaker. This ranks as the 55th warmest and third wettest June among 141 years of records. The only calendar months with greater statewide precipitation averages were July 1993 (10.50”), June 2010 (10.39) and June 1947 (10.33). The rainfall isn’t done for today.

I’m taking a break between two news articles due this weekend. Cleansing the writer’s palate with new words in a different frame. The first story is filed, and the second will be before going to the orchard to confirm my work during the apple season that starts today.

It is an unusual Saturday off from the warehouse. I cancelled outdoor work because of the forecast for more rain, so besides at-home work on the newspaper and two other gigs, the day is mine. My spouse is working this afternoon, so I’ll have the house to myself much of the day.

Yesterday I was invited to luncheon at the CSA. As a part time worker, I get included in special events and attend when my schedule permits. Eleven farm workers dined on pizza, coleslaw, steamed broccoli, zucchini cake and watermelon. Only a few ingredients came from off the farm. I opined that the watermelon was from Florida, but was guessing.

The pizza dough was turned red by adding beet puree. Topped with a tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced beets, onions, sliced hard-cooked eggs and basil, not only was it delicious, it was beautiful. The rest of the meal was standard, in-season local food fare, simply prepared.

I am working on a piece about Alice Waters and asked each farm worker individually if they knew who she was. Six of eleven (55 percent) did not recognize the name. On a farm where the major effort is organic, locally grown ingredients, and using them to create a specific type of cuisine, I was surprised more people had not heard of her. Waters is not as well known as some foodies might think.

A discussion of breaking vegetarianism led us down a weird conversational path. Someone said so many vegans and vegetarians break their eating habits with bacon. Most everyone at the table had some type of hog slaughtering experience, so for about 20 minutes that became our conversation.

When people live close to the means of production, the conversation seems reasonable. We covered home slaughtering of a market animal that died unexpectedly the day before shipping, working in a slaughter house, visits to confinement hog operations, a story about consumption of male hog gonads, chitterlings, lard rendering, using bacon grease in cooking, and many more topics. A porcine version of Moby Dick, if you will, told by people who know their subject.

I’m willing to bet fewer people would eat bacon if they knew where it came from.

Yesterday I transplanted celery and snipped off the leaves from the extra seedlings. It was the best tasting celery ever. We’ll see how much it produces. This morning’s rain should help.