“Little Gem” Romaine – One of My Favorites

“Little Gem” Romaine – One of My Favorites

My wife, Catherine, is still very much a cooking magazine enthusiast.  Every month we receive issues of “bon appetit”, “Food and Wine” and “Saveur”.  I know, it seems like overkill.  We can’t possibly try all of the recipes that come our way.  However, I noticed that one of my favorite lettuces, “Little Gem” romaine, was mentioned in consecutive issues of “bon appitit” magazine.

The April issue included a recipe for Pea and Little Gem Salad with farro and pecorino cheese.  The May issue featured two recipes:  Hand Salad with Buttermilk, Grapefruit and Mixed Seeds which recommended “Little Gem” lettuce; and “Little Gem” lettuce with Green Goddess Dressing by chef Renee Erickson of Seattle, Washington.

All this magazine love for “Little Gem” makes me happy.  We have been enjoying “Little Gem” romaine here at “Greg’s Garden Party”  for about five years.  In the past, we have had mixed results growing other romaine varieties.  “Little Gem” has become one of the most reliable lettuces I have ever grown.

Why do I LOVE “Little Gem”?   It is easy to grow; simple as that.  It germinates at a high rate, grows well in the garden and has that wonderful romaine crunch.  “Little Gem” is just that; little and very special.  If you like to have fun with your food, try using “Little Gem” leaves as a vessel for rice and sauteed bite sized chunks of meat.

"LITTLE GEM" IS JUST THAT - LITTLE.

“LITTLE GEM” IS JUST THAT – LITTLE.

A head of “Little Gem” is just enough for two people with little to no waste.  Because of it’s small size, you can grow a lot in a small space.  Territorial Seed Company is where I purchase my seeds.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

 

Asparagus Season is Finally Here

Asparagus Season is Finally Here

Here in Northeastern Massachusetts, Winter has a tendency to linger longer than we would like.  Although this year’s addition was on the mild side, cold and clammy weather has persisted into May.  Thankfully, the asparagus season is upon us, just in time to add some Spring cheer to our Mother’s Day dinner.

I cook on Mother’s Day.  It’s what I do.  Preparing a tasty meal for my Mom, my wife Catherine and my daughter-in-law Lauren is something that I look forward to every year.  This year, we are going to have roast leg of lamb with beans. The beans are from last season’s dried bean harvest.  I will be making a salad consisting of the following ingredients fresh from the garden: spinach, lettuce, mache and asparagus.  I’m up early, making my to do list and creating a time line to make sure that everything comes together for a one o’clock meal.

A WELCOME SIGHT - ASPARAGUS PUSHING OUT OF THE GROUND

A WELCOME SIGHT – ASPARAGUS PUSHING OUT OF THE GROUND

Our asparagus season will last approximately two months which will take us into pea season.  I love these vegetable seasons, each in turn, contributing to the rhythm of life.  I started my 12′ x 12′ asparagus patch nearly twenty years ago.  Over the years, the start of asparagus season has taken on special meaning for us.  If you have been thinking about starting your own asparagus patch I encourage you to go for it.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

“Red Kitten” Spinach – Five Reasons Why I Love it

“Red Kitten” Spinach – Five Reasons Why I Love it

1.  IT IS EASY TO GROW.

 I start my seeds in late October by broadcast seeding a 2′ x 4′ band and covering the seeds with a 1/2″ of compost.  I grow the seeds in a low plastic tunnel through the Winter months.

2.  IT IS VERY PRODUCTIVE.

I start picking at the beginning of March and continue every other day until mid-May.  It’s amazing.  A 2′ x 4′ patch provides my wife and I with enough spinach to have every day for two and a half months. I am careful to harvest just the largest leaves; about a colander full every other day.

OUR 2' X 4' "RED KITTEN" SPINACH PATCH

OUR 2′ X 4′ “RED KITTEN” SPINACH PATCH

3.  IT HANDLES WINTER TEMPERATURES VERY WELL.

Like Mache, “Red Kitten” spinach does well under plastic during the Winter months and begins to take off in late February.  I picked my first crop on March 7, this year.  Believe me, it is a gift to be able to eat from the garden this early.  By the time the “Red Kitten” spinach is in decline, it’s asparagus season.  Life is good.

4. IT PRODUCES OVER A LONG SEASON.

Yeah.  Like two and a half months.  As I mentioned before, I pick only the largest leaves every other day.  This method works quite well.  I do water and fertilize once a week, beginning in February.

5.  IT HAS GREAT TEXTURE WITH A MILD FLAVOR.

Red Kitten spinach has become one of my favorite greens.  It is great in salads, wilted as a side dish, added to soups, even paired with poached eggs for breakfast.  In addition, it is very nutritious; right behind kale.  It is high in vitamin K, Lutein, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.  I purchase my seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

A DELICIOUS BREAKFAST CONSISTING OF "RED KITTEN" SPINACH, LEFTOVER MUSHROOM RISOTTO AND POACHED EGGS FROM OUR OWN CHICKENS

A DELICIOUS BREAKFAST CONSISTING OF “RED KITTEN” SPINACH, LEFTOVER MUSHROOM RISOTTO AND POACHED EGGS FROM OUR OWN CHICKENS