Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What I have learned.....

For years I have been the guide through markets around the country helping food enthusiasts negotiate their local farmer’s markets. Never go with a shopping list or any expectations apart from being in the moment has always been my mantra while surveying the jewels laid out. Never really sure what went into the production of the treasures I would find, taking for granted that a seed is dropped into the soil, and watered, and presto.

If it was only that simple – if you are trying to grow organically there are plagues of weeds and insects you are constantly battling. Are the conditions right for the plant to take root, sprout and deliver the part we are looking to eat? While one tomato seed may produce enough fruit for numerous meals from a carrot seed comes a carrot. Have many seeds do farmer’s plant to be able to give me the selection of that subterranean, nutrient packed vegetable? Herbs are definitely from the other end of the spectrum pretty easy to maintain as long as you don’t overwater or underwater; making sure the sun is ample enough or not, and you snip those budding flower heads as they develop in order to take the plant at it maximum fragrance.  If you succeed some of these plants will voluntarily return the following year, a bit stronger, for our embrace. My loveage for example, I thought it was given the right conditions for a strong life but never really took-ff. I wrote chalked it up as an experience, and assumed it was going to be brought into the house by the bunch. A few weeks ago in the spot where it limped through last year it erupted and stands bushy and tall radiating celery-like perfumed leaves – does my favorite herb farmer plant a year or two in advance? Tending my own plot of earth has given my great pleasure, and an appreciation for the planning and work that goes into a working farm and the delight I get upon receiving the bounty of their efforts. Never again will I consider the price too expense considering the labor involved, just perhaps out of my budget. 

Lamb Burgers – yields 8 burgers
¼-cup amaranth
1 small onion – minced
1-pound ground lamb
2-tablespoons Italian parsley leaves – chopped
1-tablespoon tarragon leaves – chopped
1-tablespoon loveage leaves – chopped
2-garlic cloves – finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 2-cup saucepan over a high flame, and add the amaranth. Toast the amaranth, stirring occasionally, until it starts to pop. Be careful not to burn it. Lower the heat to medium-low and add ½-cup water. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the flame and allow the amaranth to cool completely.

In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients to thoroughly combine. Divide the lamb mixture into eighths and form into patties.

Cook on the grill or a sauté pan for about 5 minutes on each side. 

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