You’ll hear home gardeners say that July is the height of the harvest season—when those juicy local tomatoes start to flow. Others—or possibly those same gardeners—will then say that August is the zenith, replete with hot-weather crops like peppers, eggplant and squash. Now that it’s September we’re really in the thick of it all with second plantings of cooler-weather crops like spinach, arugula, lettuces and radishes on the scene, combined with all the goodies that have been maturing throughout the season like apples, cantaloupe, pears and water melon. The fall raspberries are coming in and some pumpkins are ready to be devoured.
To a gardener and home canner like me, it’s overwhelming. Do I stay up late pickling cucumbers, cooking up tomato sauce or perfecting my peach salsa? My refrigerator is full of juice waiting to be made into jelly.
I need a break from the overwhelming fecundity, so I’m off to the Rhinebeck for a well-deserved vacay. I’m heading to the Hudson Valley Food & Wine Fest (September 6 and 7) to see what’s on offer just north of New York City. I’ll be sure to report back on my findings.
Recently I went out to dinner with some local farmers. It lent a new perspective. I met Bette Lacina and Dale Haubrich, from Dale & Bette’s Farm in Sag Harbor, at Fresh Hamptons in Bridgehampton. Fresh is just down the Sag-Bridge Turnpike from Dale and Bette’s organic farm, and the farm provides a lot of the “local” on the restaurant’s menu—“about 90 percent,” they said.
This week that bounty included collard greens, potatoes, kale, five kinds of summer squash (zucchini, green and yellow patty pan, Zephyr and crookneck), leeks, tomatoes (cherry, heirloom, plum and slicing), garlic, thyme, fennel, beans (string and fava), carrots, chard, corn, peppers, scallions, lambs quarters, cilantro, purslane, amaranth, edamame and epazote. Dale noted “We just delivered the last 40 pounds of fava beans to the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.” I’ve long been amazed by the amount of produce these farmers bring to the Sag Harbor Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Now I’m completely overwhelmed by how much they wring from their small property! Dale and Bette also supply Dockside Bar & Grill in Sag Harbor Village.
I had the Vegan Coconut Corn Chowder with peppers, scallions and cilantro and the Pan-Seared Local Day Boat Porgie with epazote and chili lime beurre blanc with wild spinach (lamb’s quarters) and crisp corn polenta. I adore Dale and Bette’s corn—it’s so sweet and delicate AND it’s the rare corn that is raised organically. The corn chowder did not disappoint and the fish was a tender, tasty delight. Epazote is overtaking my herb bed right now but I doubt that I could work magic like Chef Todd Jacobs does with his local porgie. I didn’t really pay much attention to what my farmer friends were eating. There was a whole chicken and a bunch of vegetable sides. They shared their food around. An interesting concept.
Dale and Bette were accompanied by their friend and farmhand Edwin. He’s a small guy but can really pack the food away—as well he should. He’s a hard worker. This put me in mind of a phenomenon that I recently read about in a farm cookbook—eating five meals a day. It made me wonder—briefly—if I’d like to work that hard.
I asked Dale what the meals were called when he was growing up on a farm out West. He said there was breakfast at 6 a.m., dinner at noon, supper at 6 p.m. In between those meals was “just a sandwich or a snack.” But did those smaller meals have a name? “Morning lunch and afternoon lunch.” I love it!