When I posted my recipe for pasta sauce a few days ago, I didn’t include one of the most essential ingredients: garlic.
We grow garlic in our garden every year, planting it in mid-November and letting it “do its thing” over the winter months, till the bright green stalks emerge in April, one of the first signs of Spring. We grew about 50 bulbs this year, which won’t be enough to last till next summer, so this fall we’re going to plant at least twice that many, maybe even more.
In spring, about the same time the garlic begins to grow in earnest, I go off to my special private spot in the woods to seek out the earliest spring vegetable of all: wild leeks, or ramps. Our good friend Andrea Stander, who is the executive director of Rural Vermont (an important advocacy non-profit that fights for the rights of farmers) was kind enough to share the spot where ramps grow, just a few miles down the road from our farm. Harvesting ramps has to be done in a mindful manner as they are becoming an endangered species, even in the wilds of the Green Mountain State.
Farmer extraordinaire, Alan LePage, of Barre, sells ramps at his Capital City Farmers market stand in spring. He discovered a bumper crop growing on some vacant land that is in the process of being developed into housing. It’s a sad case of urban sprawl, but in the meantime the ramps are there for Alan’s harvesting.
Ramps are only available to eat for a few weeks in early spring, but they are a must on our table during that time and I’ve also been known to put some into the dehydrator in order to preserve their pungent flavors well into the year. Ramps impart a garlic-like taste to almost any dish. I particularly like them in omelets along with home-cured no nitrate bacon, derived from the bellies of our certified organic Burelli Farm pigs.
Anyway, back to garlic.
When I was a kid, we didn’t use garlic very much. It was considered “vulgar,” and my Dad, his ancestry from northern Europe and the British Isles, didn’t care for it. If we did find it in my mother’s cooking it was in the form of “garlic salt,” a strange synthetic mixture that you really don’t hear about very much these days.
I find it interesting that a penchant for highly seasoned foods seemed to have skipped a generation in my family. My maternal grandmother cooked with lots of garlic and other seasonings. But my mother’s cooking, while often tasty, was very bland. Perhaps that was a nod to what can best be described as “American food.” (I would probably better characterize it as “non-food,” but of course that’s just my enlightened prejudice.)
Grandpa Sam always planted garlic in our garden each spring and when he visited he would pull one of the plants and eat it immediately, savoring every burst on his tongue. Back in those days I was never tempted to indulge.
Now garlic has become respectable. It’s rare to eat in a fine restaurant where a touch of garlic isn’t part of the savory flavoring of gourmet fare. And it’s not because the chef is sprinkling garlic salt on top of whatever they have been preparing. No, most probably the garlic is of the fresh variety, actual cloves that are finely chopped, sautéed, and then added to the dish you ordered.
Why do I feel it is important to dedicate an entire blog to garlic?
Well, I’ve been struggling with my omission of this vital ingredient in my pasta sauce recipe that I posted a few days ago. So if you’re going to attempt to make Peter’s Pasta Sauce, don’t neglect to include at least three or more cloves of garlic per batch. I like to coarsely mince the garlic so that every once in a while I get a nice chunk bursting with flavor in my mouth along with the pasta, the veggies, and the Burelli Farm ground meats. Choose what suits you best and enjoy!
At this time of year we have lots of fresh and frozen certified organic chickens available. We will stop processing chickens toward the end of next month, so after that we’ll only have frozen ones, till our stockpiles are all depleted, probably around the end of the year.
Also . . . next month we will have a limited supply of certified organic USDA inspected beef as well as chickens and we are currently taking orders for our certified organic USDA inspected pork that will be available in November. Contact Katherine if you want to reserve any of the above, we expect to sell out quickly: Katherine@burellifarm.com.