Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien


I stared at the dusty jars lining the warped shelves in the basement.  They still feel like a blessing but at the moment were seeming more and more like a curse.  I swear if I have to eat one more jar of green beans…or peas…or corn…or beets…or…

I understand that hunger doesn’t care.  If I lived before grocery stores, out on an old homestead, or if I didn’t have a hundred bucks to spare, that food would be tasting real good right now.  But it is late February, too early for anything fresh, and my mind was dreaming of food that has not even been planted yet!

We have been fabulous at eating seasonally.  We ate almost all the potatoes, lots of carrots, onions, jar after jar of items I preserved, frozen vegetables and fruits.  I have been creative.  I have added fresh herbs from the windowsill.  We ate all but one pumpkin.  I need a radish.

radishes 2

We picked up Maryjane and Emily (You know your life has changed when going to the health food store in town is the highlight of the week.) and off we went to Vitamin Cottage.  The pretty rows of product lulled us into a sense of summer and freshness.  I caught sight of the Brussels sprouts, as large as two golf balls side by side, and giggled like Gollum finding his Precious as I loaded up a bag.  I did a little jig in front of the ruby red orbs of radishes.  Maryjane held a piece of broccoli she had snagged as her mother walked by the green trees (what my kids used to call broccoli).  Emily pointed out various mouthwatering vegetables as we told the baby how she is going to love vegetables.  Doug walked over with crisp apples.  We put kale in our basket, Roma tomatoes, boxes of salad.  Large grapes for fresh chicken salad.  Long, elegant leeks to go into humble potato soup.  We felt like royalty.  Everything was organic, but I do not know where it was grown.  Certainly not around here.

I woke up yesterday and cut up two radishes even before the coffee was made.  I sprinkled them with a bit of smoked sea salt and popped them in my mouth.  I smothered a few with butter.  They held the crisp edge I was looking for.  They are not near as good as the earthy, spicy radishes that will come out of my garden beds in a few month’s time, but they were very suitable for a long winter of mushy green beans.  (Which tasted amazing, by the way, all through the cold winter months.)  Last night we had salad with homemade croutons and the melt in your mouth giant Brussels spouts.

Soon we will be back to frozen eggplant, and gelatinous peas (which tasted amazing, by the way, all through the cold winter months.  I need to repeat that so y’all aren’t tempted to not start canning.  It is great, and it is really fun going to the grocery store in the basement.)  I just needed a taste of spring.  I’ll be saving up for a green house!

brussels sprouts

Melt in Your Mouth Brussels Sprouts

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in the “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by the great Bryant Terry.  He would be disappointed in me for the addition of bacon.

Fry up two slices of bacon, drain on paper towel and when cool, break into small pieces.

Drizzle pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of bacon drippings.

Trim off the end and cut in half a bunch of Brussels sprouts, enough to fill your skillet with a single layer of halves face down.  About a pound.

Sear for four minutes or so until nice and slightly blackened.

Add 1 cup of rich broth.

Cover tightly and braise over medium high heat for 12 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of white wine (I like Chardonnay) and a few tablespoons of lemon or regular thyme, fresh preferably.

Continue braising for five minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  Top with bacon.

I would show you a picture but we ate them too fast.  Sorry.

13 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking Fresh Vegetables (and a fine Brussels recipe)

  1. Ugh… I feel for you. Having a mix of fresh and preserved is always nice. Texture varieties are nice.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I do greatly desire a greenhouse attached to my kitchen!

  2. DOT says:

    i splurged and bought salad stuff this week too it tasted soooooooooooo good. my fingers are itching to get planting soon soon it will be time

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Amazing how we appreciate fresh produce so much more than before farming!

  3. debweeks says:

    My brother-in-law made Brussels sprouts for us last weekend. He cut them in half and put them face down in a skillet with olive oil. When they were almost tender, he shredded fresh parmesan cheese over them and let them continue cooking until the cheese was melted and gooey. They were very, very yummy.

    1. Barbara S. says:

      Yummo, Brussels and melted cheese….have to give that a try

  4. We love our brussel sprouts in a medley of potatoes, carrots and sprouts; steamed under butter. YUM!
    Do you have a friend/neighbor/family member that you could trade your can good with for theirs? Could at least be a change of pace!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Good idea! We’ll see.

  5. Barbara S. says:

    We love Brussels sprouts out here on the Indiana prairie. I plant them every year and they are the sweetest if you let light frost touch them. I often shred them and put them in stir-fries, cream sauces and casseroles. Or, they are good roasted (halves and wholes) with lots of garlic butter, cooked in beer with a bit of sugar or in chicken broth. One year I canned them. They were beautiful and held their shape perfectly but the canning process had exacerbated the strong part of their flavor and the texture was a bit squishy. Won’t do THAT again. Will freeze them, though. Like you all, I am salivating for the real sweet/tang of a home grown tomato. They are what I miss the most during winter. I already have all my seeds and planting supplies ready to start my seedlings. Need to wait a couple weeks though…..darn it. Enjoy your day and I love the posts and replies.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Your recipes sound great! I can imagine that canning doesn’t do them any favors. We will be planting soon enough, my friend!

  6. Good I am not the only one missing the fresh greens out of the garden. This morning I set up a mini green house in my bedroom out of an old fish tank to grow some greens.

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