As I was preparing my menu for this week, I found myself reminiscing about the experiences which led to me having the main ingredients. I realized that many of my locavore recipes have had stories behind them. It’s yet another unexpected pleasure discovered as I continue to transition toward eating only locally grown foods.
Today’s vegetable dish began several days ago with a visit to my friend Nancy Simmerman at Gude Erth Farm here on Lummi Island. Nancy spins and knits natural fibers, and has a studio near her home where she sells the clothing she designs and constructs (call 758-2489 for an appointment). I stopped by to talk with her about a project we’re working on together. While we were visiting, another mutual friend dropped in and we all enjoyed a nice cup of tea while catching up on our latest summer travels and visitors.
Much of the conversation centered on gardening, and Nancy invited me to pick some snap peas in her garden before I left. I happily accepted and spent a few minutes in the warm sun peeking through the vines for round, ripe pods. While I was pea picking, Nancy went through her strawberry patch and sent some ruby-colored beauties home with me as well. Finally, my daughter had recently helped her with a technical problem, so Nancy chose some perfect early tomatoes from the greenhouse to harvest especially for Joan. All in all, it was a delightful morning spent with good friends, and I looked forward to eating the good food which became part of the whole experience.
A few days later, I saw a notice on Facebook that a produce stand just up the hill from where I live was open and had lots of produce available. I loaded up my grandson into the stroller and we headed over. Full Bloom Farm (www.fullbloomfarmpeonies.com) is owned by my friends Mark and Lis Marshall. Besides growing an amazing array of peony varieties for sale, Lis and Mark operate a bed and breakfast. Lis also raises chickens and a healthy vegetable garden. A “serve yourself” farm stand is set up near the garden where Islanders can drop by and see what kinds of vegetable goodies are available in the refrigerator. Lis and Mark also grow some fruit trees. I’m almost out of the luscious Asian plum jelly I made from some of their fruit last year and am already looking forward to some from this year’s crop.
On this particular day, my attention was attracted to a giant bag of fresh spinach and some lovely mixed lettuces. Other customers had arrived as we were browsing, and I had a quick conversation with a woman who recognized me from a visit to my home during a Lummi Island Artists Studio Tour last year. I was treated to a nice “artist’s moment” when she mentioned she remembered some of my paintings. Serendipity!
After loading up our vegetables, my grandson and I wandered over to talk to the chickens (very exciting when you’re not yet two years old) and spotted Lis on her back deck with one of her friends. She invited us to join her and we had an enjoyable conversation until the rain started and sent my grandson and me dashing down the hill toward home.
Later, as I was deciding what flavors to combine in this recipe, I added a few more ingredients–basil from a pot on my deck which recalls the day I finally happened to meet Charlene Boxx, who grows the beautiful flowers available at Boxx Berry Farm; garlic from a braid I purchased the day we toured the apple orchards at BelleWood Acres near Lynden; and spring onions from Alm Hill Garden, one of my favorite vendors at the Bellingham Farmers Market.
As I recollected the stories while preparing this recipe for my family, I reflected on how eating local foods has changed my life. None of these memories in and of themselves are dramatic or even remarkable, but they have added pleasure to my days. I love how my food has become more meaningful and personal. I love the enjoyment and gratitude I feel with every meal.
Grocery shopping in a big box store just never gave me all that.
Today’s recipe may seem like an odd combination of flavors, but I think you’ll find it tastes wonderful. Trust me on this one!
- 1 Tbsp bacon drippings (bacon from Farmer Ben’s, Lynden)
- ¼ cup spring onions, chopped (Alm Hill Gardens, Everson)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (Joe’s Gardens, Bellingham)
- ¾ lb sugar snap peas, strings and ends removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces (friend’s garden, Lummi Island)
- ¾ lb spinach, washed and coarsely chopped (Full Bloom Farm, Lummi Island)
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (home garden, Lummi Island)
- Salt to taste
- 1 recipe of Strawberry Dressing*
- Heat the bacon drippings in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
- Add the snap peas and cook for two to three minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spinach, basil, and salt, and continue to cook until the spinach is just wilted.
- Serve immediately, drizzled lightly with Strawberry Dressing*.
Try serving with Bellingham Pasta Fettucine with Locavore Basil Pesto.
BelleWood Acres, 231 Ten Mile Rd., Lynden
Bellingham Farmers Market, Railroad at Chestnut, Bellingham
Community Food Co-operative, Westerly and Cordata, Bellingham
Farmer Ben’s, 1461 Van Dyk Road, Lynden
Friend’s garden, Lummi Island
Full Bloom Farm, top of Centerview, Lummi Island
Terra Organica, Flora and Cornwall, Bellingham