The Endless Salad…

Making salad

Lunch has turned into a collaborative cooking affair, built around the near-infinite possibilities of the Endless SALAD. Everyone who’s around pitches in: here, Lynn and Melissa chop. We build it from what’s available in the field, plus supplies from the farmers’ market and from the supermarket (with mixed feelings, I’m now buying mostly organic), a variety of raw nuts, and sometimes meat (turkey, chicken, fish, so far). We pick the ingredients, and there can be MANY, by whatever sounds good together. It always works! The salads started last month, when I asked to join Shannon in her vegetarian lunches, and Lynn and Raechelle would fill out the table on the days they were here. This direct connection between growing and cooking and eating and people started last season, with Friday evening dinners after harvest, and the first, occasional all-local-food mini-barbecues, and now it’s become part of everything…

Tasting the dressing

Thinking about it now, this deepening food awareness is happening over what seems like a curiously loooong time, this being Year 6 in the garden. For the first couple of years, I was out in the field alone, spending 10-12 hour days at least six days a week during the main growing season. At the end of the day, I ate TONS of veggies. It was normal to harvest several types of greens for a salad, plus whatever was around for a sauteed side dish, and every three-four days, I’d roast a bunch of root crops. Meat was definitely in there, regular supermarket fare, but almost as a garnish, a small steak or a big pork chop or a chicken breast, on top of a mountain of veggies. I relished dinner every day, partly from the novelty of having grown the better part of my meal, a lot because I has HUNGRY, and mostly, as I remember it, because it simply attracted me: the taste, the super-simple preparation, but also the physical feeling of satisfaction these meals brought. Then, I wasn’t giving much personal thought to nutrition or “local food” or anything like that, it wasn’t a calculated, conscious enjoyment, it seemed simpler, more common sense. During the winters, in between gardens, my old eating habits didn’t change: not much junk food, no instant microwave meals, still, the regular parade of meat-and-starch industrial food type eating, straight from the convenience of the supermarket aisles. It seems a little odd now that this didn’t concern me. Then again, I wasn’t tiny farming to save my health or save the planet, this wasn’t any sort of cause, instead, something I had wandered into, seemingly by chance, that took hold: there was no agenda, only an unfolding path to somewhere cool…hopefully! And then came last year’s people in the field transition. While the garden stayed tiny in size, the intensity increased as really relying on others became a part of it all. Along with that, the food we’re growing has become linked to…daily living, plain and simple, whether it’s sharing meals from the field, or people stocking up on things to take home at the end of the day (not so different from the farmers’ market or CSA, but even more…personal). And this increasingly deeper connection to FOOD, not based on concepts or conscious direction but just on what’s happening, is surprisingly new to me, yet another part of the tiny farm experience, where what should be obvious to us all is revealed in unexpected ways… (Guest photo: Lynn laughing, me tasting, by Raechelle.)

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7 thoughts on “The Endless Salad…”

  1. We had tomato and cucumber salad, a beet melange, and zucchini with fried okra for dinner tonight ( along with some bbq’ed chicken)…it was all from our garden and I understand exactly how you feel about that wonderful connection to growing your own!  Despite a brutal hailstorm in April and temps in the 90’s for the last 5 weeks we’re still managing to get some good stuff out of the vegie garden down here in Tejas.

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