Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CSA Week Three and Using Bitter Lettuce

I planted a whole lot of lettuce this year.
The problem with planting a whole lot of lettuce at once is that some of it gets bitter before it can be used or sold. 
How do you know when your lettuce is bitter? Well, there is the obvious harsher taste, but also the leaves lose their glossy shine and when you cut it there is lots of sticky white milk oozing from the cut. It's also tough. It doesn't have that beautiful crunch that good lettuce should have.
Some lettuce going too far is just fine with me. I left some plants of my favourite variety, Bronze Arrowhead, in the garden to grow on for seed. 
Any day now the seed stalk will shoot up, it will develop small yellow dandelion-like flowers and then the whole stem will dry up, the flowers developing into seed.
Without a doubt, some will drop when I snip off the stems to collect the seed and I'll have more lettuce growing in that spot soon.

I don't want to save more than one variety at a time though, so what to do with the rest of that "too far gone" lettuce?

As I thought about this, it made sense to me that cooked, this bitter lettuce was probably pretty good. People like escarole and endive, typically pretty bitter greens. You see, cooking eliminates a lot of the bitterness. So why not lettuce?
So I cut some off my bitter lettuces, snapped off some garlic scapes and I was ready to go.
I used a good olive oil, heating it in a pan before adding my minced garlic scapes and the chopped lettuce. Quite a bit of lettuce in fact because I knew it would shrink down quite a bit, which it did.
After a brief saute, I tossed on a bit of sea salt and some hot pepper flakes...and voila!

Pretty darn good!
Sorry chickens and Joey...mama got those lettuces instead of you!

The baskets today did not have bitter lettuces in them. But by all means if you are in my CSA and you want bitter lettuce, I'll throw it in next week. Just say the word.

We're on the second big planting of lettuce now and one kind-Amish Deer Tongue dominated in the baskets today. It's a nice little personal size lettuce, with a nice crunchy sweet stalk.
Baskets also had more garlic scapes, peas, herbs, with multiple basils, a bunch of greens (chards, sorrel, mustards), onions, some walnuts from last fall and some dried hot chilis. 
There is also a neat little cluster of onions (pictured below) that you can use in a few ways. You can eat them...but I wouldn't! If you have a little spot in a garden, or a big pot, carefully separate them out and plant them. These are "walking onions" and will grow beautiful onions for you, developing the same bulbils on the tops that you see in your baskets. They are called "walking" because the weight of the bulbils will bend the onions over and they will root in the ground...and grow even more onions!

My thought certainly was that there would have been zucchini and tomatoes from the front hoophouse, but alas, that will be on next week's menu.
It's hard to know what to think of this weather. The rain earlier this spring has made it pretty tough on my clay soil. Despite years of amending, ultimately it is still clay. We're not completely dried up yet, so I am really hoping that the forecasted rain doesn't arrive.
I've replanted carrots, beans and beets that were lost, and will do a whole bunch more planting of these for the fall. The large hoophouse at the back was pressed into action last week, with more eggplants, tomatoes, summer squash and peppers going in.
Are you tired of hearing the saying "it is what it is?" Maybe...but that's what it is.


Karen said...

LOL. I laughed when I got the part where you apologized to the chickens and the pig for eating their lettuce because me immediate thought for the bolted lettuce was to give it to the chickens! This is the BEST time of year to be a chicken. Well ... not in your house I guess. Hah! ~ karen

p.s. Used the beautiful Lee Valley basket today to gather my cauliflower, beets, etc. Everyone on Facebook asked where I got the basket!

Linda said...

Well Karen, the chickens are pretty darn happy because they are being delivered wheelbarrows full of weeds on a daily basis. So many in fact that they are developing their own compost heap of weeds. They just can't keep up..nor can I for that matter!
(glad you like the trug!)