Friday, July 6, 2012

June Harvest Update + a recipe!

Much as we love our garden, it doesn't seem that Mother Nature has been too interested in helping us out with it. It has been phenomenally hot and dry all through June and thus far into July without much relief in sight. According to the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, we received 2.08 inches of water in June, versus the average of 4.94. So we've been busy watering our plants, making sure to do so away from peak hours so it has some chance of soaking in.

We were concerned that the dry spring, coupled with the excessive heat, would limit our harvests of spring crops but thankfully that hasn't been the case. June was the month of broccoli, with nearly every plant we started producing a full-sized head plus several side shoots. Plus we continued to harvest our baby spinach and began picking snow peas and kale.

In June we harvested:

14.3 ounces of the lovely kale shown above
1 lb, 0.4 ounces of spinach, the end of the spring crop
2 lb 15.4 ounces of snow or sugar snap peas
a whopping 7 lb 3.0 ounces more broccoli!

We love broccoli, but that's a lot of steamed broccoli, even for us. So, on a day where you walk into the backyard and realize, we need to pick those three heads of broccoli right now or else they will bolt, what do you do?

You make broccoli-raisin salad, of course! Odds are you've had broccoli salad a time or two, at a picnic, a salad bar or a potluck get-together. Well, we just love the stuff, so it was a no-brainer way to use a bunch of broccoli fresh out of the garden. But we make ours just a touch differently from the standard recipe. Here's how we do it.

Naturally, we start with that broccoli, chopped up into florets. Since the size of the heads varies, we use 2-3, or until it nearly fills our big 8 cup measuring cup. Some people aren't fond of using the stalks, but if it's fresh they're not usually too woody. So, while Greg chopped them up, Stacia...

Whipped up a quick dressing made of 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons sugar. This is often done with regular white vinegar but using balsamic really adds a little more depth of flavor. 

And now, brace yourselves for the blasphemous part. We don't add any bacon. Don't worry - we, along with the rest of the country, do enjoy bacon, but in this dish it can be a bit overpowering. The upside is that means no frying, so this is truly a no-cook salad. All you have to do now is toss the rest of the ingredients with the dressing.

Those ingredients are: the chopped broccoli, 1/2 cup raisins, some chopped onion if you have it (we didn't so we left it out; no big deal), and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds get you the protein part of the meal that's traditionally done with bacon, but this is a much less assertive flavor. Toss it all together, and let it marinade for about 4 hours, or at least as many as you can resist eating it!

So there you have it! Next time you're faced with the wonderful quandary of how to use seven pounds of homegrown broccoli, try making this salad. It can go with almost anything, but we usually end up just munching on it as a snack and it's gone before we know it.

Hopefully we get a little bit of rain to help our plants out in the next month. It should be an exciting time, as we may start to harvest tomatoes and peppers, among other things. Using up a glut of either of those is just as fun, so we'll keep our fingers crossed that we get one!


  1. Have you ever made kale chips? I'm thinking about growing kale next year so I can make some. What variety of kale did you grow and did you like it?

    1. We're growing the Dwarf Blue Curled variety. We've grown it for the past several years and we like it quite a bit. We tried to make kale chips once, but underestimated how much they would shrink up, and ended up using way too much seasoning. Maybe we should try it again sometime, but we're using most of our kale in soups and fruit smoothies for now.

  2. We grew chard to freeze and add to our soups this fall and winter, I'll definitely have to try some kale next year.