Garlic Week

My kitchen smells like garlic. No, actually, my entire house smells like garlic. I have been harvesting, cleaning and braiding garlic all week. That's what happens around here the second week of July. Lots of garlic.

The pretty garlic back in May.

The pretty garlic back in May.

The garlic bulbs come in the house covered in dirt and the pine needles we use for mulch, with long stringy roots. I lay them out on the table, trim off the roots and rub as much of the clumpy dirt off as I can. Then I very gently try to peel the very thinnest outer layer of skin off the bulb to make it look nice. When I'm done I, the table, and the floor are all covered in dirt, garlic skin and roots, and the strong smell of garlic.

The peeling part is really hard. Fresh garlic isn't papery like dried garlic is. The skins are more like, well, skin. The layers stick together. But no one wants dirty garlic, so I do the best that I can. It would be easier if I could just wash them off, but that can cause the garlic to mold instead of dry out, and no one wants moldy garlic either.

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Then I force the long leaves and hard middle stem of about 8 garlic bulbs into a braid and tag the braid for the variety. I braid them so it's easier to hang all the garlic bulbs to dry. It's MUCH easier to find room for one group of 8 than 8 individual bulbs.

This year we planted about 240 bulbs to use as seed for a bigger garlic patch next year. Each bulb divides into about 5 usable cloves to plant for seed, and maybe 5 more to use in food this season. This gives us a potential for a really huge garlic plot next year... if we get the planting area ready in time. If we do, maybe you'll see us at the Farmer's Market next year!

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In other farm news, our queen bee has disappeared. I suppose that she has died and the worker bees, being very tidy, got rid of her body. That's just what they do.

There were about a dozen queen cells about the hive and no eggs or uncapped larva to be seen. A queen cell is the colony's attempt to produce its own queen from the eggs the last queen laid. The problem with that is that I only have one hive. Which means the queen would have a higher probability of mating with her brother and producing weak, disease prone workers. That doesn't make for a healthy colony. The bees are continuing to fill the combs with honey and pollen which is good. They haven't given up hope yet.

Next week, via UPS, a new young queen will arrive with her servants, ready to be the mother to all the bees in my hive. I ordered her from a company that breeds honey bee queens and sends them out by mail to people who need them. Like ME! I still continue to be fascinated by bees and bee culture. 

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This week's recipe is adapted from my new favorite cookbook, The Harvest Eating Cookbook by Kieth Snow. I recommend everyone pick up their own copy. This recipe makes 2 servings of a side dish featuring snap peas and garlic that are featured in the CSA share this week!

Curried Sweet Pea Saute

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh shelled peas  OR
  • 1 1/2 cups whole, dressed (chop off the ends!) snap peas
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 TBSP heavy cream
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Blanch the peas in salted boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and dunk in ice cold water briefly.

2. Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium hear. Add the shallot, garlic, curry and cream and cook for 2 minutes.

3.Add the blanched peas and cook for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.