Thursday, June 17, 2010

and sometimes things just work out

Tom offered me the farm. Not as a gift, of course, like "i know you love Rapini, Tiffany, and you are getting quite good at weeding, so why dont you just take over?" No, not like that at all, but also not like Tom's usual goofy form of conversation. His serious offer came after i mentioned that once i completed my Red Seal (or rather, got it over and done with so my ma could be proud and happy that i completed something for once), and i could leave cooking for awhile, i wanted to go WOOFING in Italy for a year. Stopping howing, he asked/said that i really enjoyed this farming thing hey, cause y'know, i could take over this place when he was done (which, please not, is very, very soon, as Tom is 60 and this is his "retirement project"). What? was my in-head response, out loud i said, thats sweet Tom, but i think i need to live by the ocean. To that he offered to dig me a hole and fill it with water; to that I asked if we could plant a sailboat in it; hence thinking it was just another goofy conversation with Tom. Not so. It was a few days ago now, but the reality of it is finally sinking in: Tom was serious; he has leased the land for five years, after that he wans someone to take over, and he would love if that someone was me. We talked seriously for about three minutes today before a mechanic interrupted, in which time i had to sit down, and teared up a little. i mean, i want this, i have wanted this: to be a part of something that i love and am proud of, to work for it, learn it and live it and then have it be mine, entrusted by me from those i learned from and lived for. I just didnt expect it to be so soon.
And so the thinking and debating and nail biting and hair pulling begins. I am twenty three: am i ready for a farm, a comittment, a responsibility five acres large? vs I am twenty three and already, a dream is falling in place.
(forgive me my deep Hallmark-ism) This just goes to show, you cannot plan your life, but you can seize the opportunities it gives you to love it. (less hallmark-y) And sometimes, no matter how clumsy life feels, how un-pathed you are, it throws you a goal, a gift, something to work with and towards and to find happiness and sweet relief in. kinda like tonights dinner...
Today was my day off and all i had planned for eating was a stack of cornmeal rye pancakes with rhubarb syrup (lovely, but the way). Usually though, i have dinner planned too, excited for time consuming meal prep like homemade pasta, risotto or gnocchi, or a thought out meal featuring fresh fish. No, all i had was pancakes. And not enough for dinner too.
Never mind because in came life. Dave brought me two and a half foot tall stalks of the spiciest oregano i d ever tried (and coughed on at doing so) from his garden; the drive to the farm revealed a sign that first of the season peas were finally available at an off road farmers market. Slam on the breaks and pull in and spend the time in the field dreaming up dinner...and what it would be like to call this place my own.
Lastly, cooking dinner turned into a series of distractions: a lengthy chat on the phone, harvesting in my own garden, checking emails, drinking wine, and i nearly seared my dinner to the pot of the pan, and then cooked my lovely fresh peas into a deceptively off-green color. i say deceptively because all was definately not lost, or mushy for that matter. In fact, perfect. Thanks again Life.

Risotto Style Brown Rice with Peas, Spot Prawns, and Oregano Oil
makes enough for two, the only other thing i would love Life to have fall into place for me

In a large, deep pan, slowly soften:
1 clove garlic, minced
4 scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens chopped and reserved
1/2 tsp crushed cumin seed

Add in and cook to translucent
1 cup short grain brown rice

Increase heat, and splash in some white wine, decreasing heat again and allowing rice to absorb before ladling in some stock (i used a simple broth of prawn shells, parsely stems and bay leaf). Each ladleful of stock should be allowed to be absorbed before adding in the next, as you would risotto, until just under aldente (about 30 minutes for brown rice, 17 if you went for white). At this point, add in and cover to cook through:
2 cups uncooked sweet peas (left in the shell)
1/2 cup cherry tomatos (the last of which were in my freezer, they will be back, fresh, soon enough)

Now comes your last three minutes of cooking, typically when you would toss in cheese and let the risotto rest into gooey comfort food. Instead, add in and cover, turning heat as low as possible:
14-20 peeled BC spot prawns (seasons almost over)
Chopped mint, oregano, and reserved scallion greens

Dont worry if you let this go for four instead of three minutes while fetching some of that wine to drink with dinner, itll all work out...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saved by a rainy day

i have a little secret...i love the rain. Well, i should rephrase that: i love the sound of heavy droplets, running the morning after downpour, the smell and the crispness of the air. i'll always choose sunshine over the grey that rain usually means, but a coastal gal at heart, i dont mind the drizzle. Just dont tell the folks here in the sunny okanagan.

We have had so much rain lately, the lion coming out of the beatifully early and sunny spring, and it is starting to wear thin on most everyone (especially the farmers i work with). But quite frankly, life is starting to wear thin on me these days, and the off on rain provides the perfect chance (more like a legitimate excuse) to not spend my hours weeding, but doing laundry...

Because like the farmers and foodies i work with, this is the season of "dont stop," and more things than clean clothes get neglected. A clean self, for one, and sleep. But we live for this season, spend all winter waiting for itand greatly resent things like lousy weather for slowing us down in our glory time. In truth, my first reaction to the rain is anger: i cant bike, garden, the restaurant will be slow and everyone will be grumpy, and i am virtually stuck inside all day. So why do i secretly love the rain. Because sometimes, like today, there are things, relaxing, sit-down, inside things i really want to do, and now i have an excuse.

Today, that is baking bread (it s been awhile) and writing here (its been even longer), taking pictures in perfect natural lighting, and then later, when it stops raining, going for a run through the leftover calm freshness of it.

Oh, and folding my laundry.