I know I sound a bit cranky right now, please overlook it. I AM cranky. Pretend I’m 4 and am having a tantrum but this time a cookie isn’t going to fix it.
It’s been raining for days, and that’s on top of the 4 inches of rain we had last week over a span of 4 days. By the time all is said and done, we’ll have had 8-inches in the last 8 days. The veggies can’t take it, and honestly, the people are starting to have a hard time with it as well.
When I hear customers talk about drought and “boy, we really need some rain” I smile and nod politely. We can deal with drought. We can water the plants; they have hardy root systems that reach deep into the ground to suck up any ground water they can find. We employ many methods to keep the ground moisture below the surface – plastic mulch, cover crops that we plant, cover crops that we DON’T plant (weeds), no-tilling.
What we CAN’T do is UN-water. We can’t lay out giant rolls of paper towels and soak up the water that’s pooling up all around the broccoli. We can’t stop the tomatoes from taking in too much water and bursting their skins. They’re just going to rot now and there’s nothing we can do. We can’t harvest everything and store it because 1) the produce just isn’t always ready 2) it doesn’t store THAT long when it’s in a stressed state 3) we don’t have huge storage facilities even if we COULD pick it all in between the raindrops and 4) driving and walking through mud-soaked black dirt makes a gigantic mess that can be detrimental in the long run.
A plant takes up water through its roots. When those beautiful delicate white roots are surrounded by water for any length of time, they become completely saturated, suffocate, and die. Once those roots are dead it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the plant follows suit. The plant quickly wilts, turns yellow and rots.
We’re crossing our fingers that the weather forecasters are wrong yet again and that it WILL NOT RAIN today. But since, according to Farmer Sonny, these guys are “paid to be wrong!”, I’m not holding out much hope. For most of our workers today is an unusual mid-week morning off and I’m sure they’re headed to the diner for a hearty breakfast.
Yesterday I was working in the greenhouse with Mom. We have most of our cherry tomato plants in there and many of them are reaching the end of their productive life. We were tearing out the old plants and planting ‘suckers’ from the SunGold cherry tomatoes that mom had snipped and rooted a few weeks ago. They’ll start to produce in about 4-6 weeks and we’ll continue to have them (knock on wood, please, ALL OF YOU!) until our CSA ends in January.
Last winter, everyone enjoyed tramping through the snow on a dark winter afternoon, then opening up the door of the greenhouse, the moist heat smacking them in the face. There against the dark sky and snow-covered base of the greenhouse were dozens of grape tomato plants stretching 7-9 feet in the air, clinging to their stakes, the oblong, deep red fruits dangling there waiting to be snatched off by hungry CSAers, their eyes as big as saucers.
We have to begin making those winter crop plans now, because it’s getting to the time of year when the days are getting shorter and the sun is at a different angle and plants aren’t going to grow as quickly as they do in the middle of summer. Good thing about the greenhouse is we don’t have to worry so much about TOO MUCH water unless we have major flooding. We must make sure, though, that the greenhouses are checked twice a day and watered when necessary. Hence the Post-It note on Gerry’s front door. ; )
Back to the greenhouse: I was snipping seed heads off the sorrel and that (in addition to the crappy rainy afternoon) inspired me to MAKE SOUP.
I can’t believe it myself, and yet it was so.
Sorrel plants look like rhubarb but lack the thick, stringy red stems. Sorrel contains oxalic acid, contributing to its tart, lemony flavor. You cannot smell it like other herbs, but one bite will make you pucker. This green is a wonderful bright addition to salads, especially those comprised of arugula and other bitter leaves. Sorrel is also a nice compliment to the typical spinach in spanikopita.
But the nice thing about making this soup in the middle of summer is that you CAN eat it cold! I don’t. I’m a hot soup only kind of girl, and even gazpacho is iffy for me. Reminds me too much of the tomato juice my father drank appreciatively when I was young and I just cannot choke it down.
Also note, please, that this is a smooth, drinkable soup. Farmer Sonny will eat anything I bring him, but he prefers a bit of heft to his food (“I haven’t had meat in days,” he said to me today. “I really need a steak – maybe a good ribeye.”) so he added some crumbled saltine crackers. My choice to add ‘bite’ to the soup and make a lovely color contrast? Cooked wild rice. Give this soup a try even if you only have half an hour. I easily whipped this up in under 30 minutes.
Creamy Sorrel Soup
2 t Olive Oil
2 t Butter
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced coarsely
2 fist-size Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
6-7 cups Stock (or water with your favorite bouillon), plus or minus
2 bunches Sorrel, about 3/4 lb cleaned of large stems
Salt and Pepper to taste
Half and half or Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup or so, to taste
Add sliced potatoes and stock to pan. Season well with salt and pepper, then cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, leave lid ajar, and continue to cook until potatoes are tender and easily mashable.
Remove pan from heat and stir in sorrel.
Puree soup with a stick blender. Stir in cream, taste for seasoning and serve hot or chilled.
Interested in another sorrel recipe? Check out Pasta with Sorrel Sauce here. Another quick ‘n’ easy mid-week winner!