I’m sure I’ve mentioned it times before, but I LOVE pick-your-own. The act of picking, searching, and being silent amongst the bugs, birds, and dirt is like meditation for me. A few weeks ago, I ventured out of downtown Durham, NC and headed towards Falls Lake State Recreational Area. GPS turned off, I cruised the back roads with the windows down and bluegrass music blasting. I came upon a perfect picnic spot, a good trail run, and some decent sunbathing. Falls Lake was amazing, but coming across a hand drawn pick-your-own (PYO) sign at the cross road of two country roads, catapulted my adventure over the edge. A familiar farmers’ market stand, I was surprised to find Lyons Farm in such an idyllic setting and so close to town. I thought, “12 minutes from home, why am I not out here every chance I can get!?”. I didn’t have much cash on me, so I went for some free crop info. and a strawberry cider. They ensured my return by mentioning their upcoming crops: peaches, blueberries, and raspberries!
Happy June! Welcome to the latest version of “Friends Putting up with Erin”. This past Friday, a fellow yogini graciously suggested that we pickle at her house. Little did I know, her house meant a little, old farmhouse! Clearly a sucker for old, tiny, somewhat impractical things, Morgan’s abode presented a magical pickling experience for me. Working with bellies full of wine, pouring rain, lots of laughter, and limited surface space, we crafted these sweet and spicy zucchini pickles. Morgan was not only prepared for a vinegar filled night of fun, but also for habanero slicing. Unlike myself… idiot, Morgan didn’t even think to NOT wear gloves while slicing hot peppers. Her medical grade bright blue gloves really added a cute touch.
Mojitos… what do mojitos make you think of? Summer, bathing suits, rum? For me, it’s a standard mojito that I once ordered at an overpriced Cuban’eqsue bar in Baltimore. A spot where I recall years back hanging with my good friend John sipping minting sugary drinks from a pitcher. Located in a more “bro-dude” part of town, I remember my tom-boy ways, always comparing myself to all the tanned, tiny, sorority type of girls adorned in pastel dresses and beige high heals. Running my fingers through my short pixie hair and looking down at my cutoffs and chucks, I say to John, “compared to all of these pretty girls, guys like “that” would never go for a girl like me.” “Erin (!!), you’d never go for guys like that.” Bam, I knew he was absolutely correct, but my self doubt and body consciousness was still at question. Things have changed, I now realize that I too am and always have been a “pretty” girl. I highlight this quick memory for Body Positivity Week. OK, onto this super sexy jelly…
I’m not exactly sure why, probably the strawberries…, but it seems only appropriate that I drink a glass of home-brew strawberry mango kombucha while I write this strawberry mustard blog post. Sensing a theme here? STRAWBERRIES!!! I am up to my ears in strawberries. A little over a week ago the wild strawberries on my property started to ripen. My initial thoughts were “this is amazing, I am going to have fresh strawberries everyday.” A week later… “god damnit, I have to get home so I can pick them before the nasty roly polys beat me to it!” Honestly, I feel like I’m at war with the little strawberry buggers. Don’t get me wrong, and I’m definitely not complaining, I’m having tons of fun with it. Everyday is like Easter for fruits: I get to hunt for the ripest, juiciest, reddest berries amongst the bugs and weeds. Oh man, now I can’t wait till cherry tomato season.
Thinking of ways to mix it up and get creative, I decided for this initial bloom (boom?) that I’d play with some savory ideas. Initially planning on doing a strawberry relish (not sure if that’ll actually work), I came up with this whole grain strawberry mustard instead. A super easy mustard recipe and depending on your desired taste you can modify by adding more or less strawberries. Enjoy this sweet and tangy mustard with cheese, crackers, and perhaps another savory jam or jelly. The strawberries featured in this recipe were picked locally at Lyon Farms.
Wondering what to do with those pretty purple blossoms that you’re seeing atop your chive plants? I spent the majority of my morning running around the Durham Farmers’ Market shopping for herbs for my new garden. After careful planning, mental designing, and avoiding plant conflicts, I finally settled on chives, dill (duh?), basil, thyme, and oregano. When I got home this afternoon, I was routinely picking the the wild strawberries from the property, when all of a sudden I came across an herb garden… a decorative herb garden that my previous landlord Emily-Kate so smart-fully and generously planted with tons of the same herbs that I just purchased… damnit. Nonetheless, I still plan on planting my own crops as practice makes perfect (right?) for this kill happy (of plants) California gardener. In full bloom, the chives were running rampant with these beautiful purple…rain… chive blossoms. A few quick thoughts… “what can I do with those purple blossoms?” and I decided to go for infused chive blossom vinegar.
Super easy: (1) wash the little buggers out of 2 cups of chive blossoms and pack in quart jar, (2) bring 3 cups white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar to just a boil, (3) pour hot vinegar over blossoms, (4) cap and let set for ~ 2 weeks, (5) strain and enjoy!
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