All across rural America, midsummer means county fair season for lots of kids and their families. 4-H and FFA form the backbone to many rural communities because people see the value in supporting organizations that build positive habits in youth. Through showing livestock, exhibiting produce or taking on the technical tasks of sewing a dress or overhauling a tractor, parents know that their kids will learn how to work, plan, budget, care and speak. Sometimes kids win, but more often they don’t and both are huge learning opportunities.
County fair was the highlight of every summer for me during my youth. It was a chance to work with the things I love surrounded by like minded people. Looking back, I have to shake my head at my early projects. The terrarium full of weeds from the yard and the painted wooden calf in much need of a sand job both were full of good intentions yet not the most desirable products. Yet in 4-H, it is also about what you know, what you learned, and what your plans are for next year. My weed terrarium was actually a pretty good project and I did well because I knew the weeds, a little bit about them and they looked beautiful, or at least as beautiful as plantain, oxalis and chickweed can look. Little did I know that knowing those weeds would be handy later in life.
This week I got to take a peek at what kids did for their projects, especially the plant science exhibits. Planning a good vegetable exhibit is a lot like packing a CSA box. You need to have produce that looks good, is trimmed correctly, clean, and proper size. An added element is having a variety of types and colors to hit all the nutritional needs. While you might have a rocking assortment of greens and bean, people crave variety and each week I try to put together a mix that is appealing from first glance.
This week we have a nice variety. Beets and carrots are still in full swing. Carrots this week include a new white variety of carrot called White Satin. This white variety great raw while the darker ones, Purple Dragon are the better option for cooking. There are dragon tongue beans and green beans which would be great with the potatoes in the Vomachka Soup. Here is the recipe.
-1/4 cup butter
-1 cup chopped onions
-1 cup chopped carrots
-1 cup diced celery
-3 chopped cloves of garlic
-3 cup green beans
-3 cups diced potato
-1/4 cup flour
-50 oz chicken stock
-2 tbsp chicken base
-1 or 2 tbsp dill weed
-1 cup sour cream
-1 cup milk
-2+ tbsp cider vinegar
-Ground pepper and salt
1. Begin sauteing butter, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic
1.5. Mix together sour cream and milk in a sauce pan and begin tempering while you do other things
2. Add and mix together flour, chicken stock/base, dill weed, diced potatoes, green beans and ground pepper to a large stock pot. When ready, add the sauteed vegetables and tempered sour cream/milk in the pot as well.
3. Add cider vinegar and a little salt. Mix it all together and put the stock pot on the burner for a while.
Also in the box a fresh batch of arugula and some goat cheese. Try them all in a salad with some toasted wall nuts
Finally, there is corn, it is a wee bit immature, but I couldn’t resist.