F O R A G E R
Waterchokes 16 April 2014
After so much liquid drama, more water news may not be your cup of tea, so we won’t dwell so tediously on the well. It’s going to get fixed. We don’t own it. The county does, but they have no interest in seeing that it works again. Should they? I do pay them over three thousand dollars in property tax for land I don’t own-the Buttondown Gang owns it-and the dough just gets flung down that big bottomless hole on Victoria Street where the parasites have their nest. The older I get the more Limbaugh I sound. Oh, the horror. Our friends will help fix the well. I get tired of crabbing as much as anyone who has to hear it. Crisis and opposition make for useful content.
During the great desiccation symbolized by our well needing complete renovation, so many consoling fellow desert travelers offered their observations and shared their justifiable concerns. We all are pulling uncertain oars gamely across these shallows, united in hope, yet still wondering if we should put our homes on the market before the taps are closed.
I do harbor a twisted, somewhat depraved and precipitous quality of mind on occasion, but it does no one good, and entertains me only briefly. I have now stopped recommending that everyone go out and buy up the plywood necessary to board up the windows and doors of their homes when the lake runs dry and we are all obligated to shove off for Colombia, Indonesia or Sri Lanka. Plywood prices are bound to soar. But even these predictably soggy locales will and have suffered deprivations similar to ours. Their droughts are just not so dependable as Southern California’s. My Kona, Hawaii correspondent, Mr. Bong related today that the Big Island drought is now in its twelfth year.
All such latherless blather aside, today’s share features artichokes courtesy of that now dimly remembered week of pounding rain that yielded six inches on the farm, 17 insane inches in the Matilija watershed. I had abandoned the patch. The ‘chokes had been in there for four years, with the dirt getting more and more packed down with all our walking on it and tractor mowing once the crop was done. I stopped fertilizing them, pulled the irrigation out, but persist did the little devils. Then come the ballyhoo gullywasher of ’14 and back they surged like they had their roots in Castroville-national capital of the waterchoke, where it’s foggy and drizzly as the Netherlands, where first the human mouth became acquainted with that edible flower. Those Dutch must have been desperately hungry to have bit down on that once bitterly tough morsel, now hybridized for your tender tongue. The big red ones are heirlooms from Italy, La Violetta, with thorns sharp as yesteryear. Take hold of the stem and clip the spines off the leaves before cooking, thereby protecting the unsuspecting from unannounced ouch.
Today’s surprise offering renders plenty of roots, so you might consider baking everything together like Wes Jones did yesterday, sans leaves, with a slather of olive oil, a crush of thyme, and all those turnips and green garlic in the bottom of your crisper. Hey, Wednesday People, if those purple Kohl Rabis are still down in there too, haul them out and cut them in half. They are probably still OK. Peel back the garlic one level and chop it in. After baking for twenty, pull the pan and stir the stuff. You might cover it at first to guard the moisture, then leave the cover off for the final 20 minutes. Forty minutes should be enough. You can wrestle in some scrubbed potatoes, quartered if large. The fennel is also fit for this dish, just halve it or third it from top to bottom. The base (root area) of the fennel will hold the sudden sculptural affects of the bulb, which will be intricately painted by the juice of the red beet. And you know those artichokes can go in there, precooked, dechoked, spineless and halved. You may have a severe case of Yum headed your way.
I think adding the red cabbage may be going a bit too far with your casserole. A side slaw might be a better companion for this Rebel Stew. I would suggest whipping up some quick biscuits to accompany your feast. Butter is not obligatory when the olive oil is superior for you health. Simmered apples with cinnamon and honey over vanilla ice cream might be just the dessert to pound home the unspeakably edible character of this worthy repast you have made for you and those you adore.
The lettuce and the cilantro can wait until Friday, when you can roll out Crunchy Tempeh Tacos, chopping in any leftovers from The Rebel Stew, but chances are there won’t be any.