It is finally Spring! Happy Spring!
Spring is for seeds, chickens, eggs, plants, gardens, blossoms, and fun.
Seeds are in the ground, seeds and plants are in the greenhouse, and baby chickens huddle under a warm light in the coop. They look as if they are under a grow light; each day they grow bigger and eat more.
The new baby girls are a Barnvelder, a Barred Rock, an Egyptian Fayoumi, a couple of Golden Hens, a white Delaware and a couple of Bantams with feathered feet. They are sooo little and look like they are walking on fuzz and shavings. Keeping them hydrated and fed is a three times a day job. The little girls need so much food at this time of their little life.
The new yellow portable chicken coop is almost built and now the older girls can go out into the grove to bug and scratch. It has a sign that says “Last One in is a Rotten Egg”! They have warm nest boxes and a lot of room to scratch in the grass. It will be a fun addition to the Farm. You will be able to meet them when you book a Farm Tour!
The older girls give us white, brown, and blue eggs. These are well used by our Sous Chef Darren in Kitchen in the Grove. The frittatas are marvelous, let alone the French omelets and pickled eggs.
Executive Chef Gloria will teach a Spring Brunch class on April 9 and use eggs in almost every dish; Hollandaise, Sabayon, egg white frittata. I will provide a “surprise egg” for the class that everyone will enjoy. It will be an egg-cellent day!
We have two organic gardens at our Farm. The herb garden is located in the back of the Visitors Center, while the main garden is located near the mill and groves.
The herb garden is used for edible flowers and herbs for the Kitchen in the Grove. Yesterday I planted Johnny jump ups, marigolds, parsley, and thyme. Seeds for bush beans and wax beans went in just before the rain. Nasturtiums in many colors will pop up very soon and will be delicious on our tasting plates. The delightful color and taste of edible flowers make everything in life better. The oregano, upright pine rosemary, borage and lemon grass have overwintered very well and love their spots. Basil, sorrel, chives, and chervil will be going in very soon. The mint surprisingly needs replanting, but this is after 5 years. The mint at our other farm grew right through the asphalt driveway! Hint: always plant mint by itself in its very own box to prevent it from growing over the house!
Many of our plants come from Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville. It is a great resource for really healthy and diverse herbs and plants. We will partner with them in June for the Vacaville Lavender Days. Save the Date for June 3. Il Fiorello will host an all Lavender Dinner in the Pavilion, presented by our Executive Chef, Culinary Curator, Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls.
We planted Fava Beans in December; they are now 4 feet tall and full of blossoms. We will be serving different Fava dishes until next year! Fava puree, Fava beans with oil, Parmesan cheese & salt, Fava bean with fresh pasta, Favas with oil and crostini… the list goes on!
(Read further for one of our favorite Fava Recipes)
Aphids love the fava beans, so we have little red lady bugs doing their job to combat the problem. Tiny red finches are also having a great time cleaning the beans.
Down in the main organic garden, the artichoke plants are HUGE. Our friend Denis from Italy said this would not be an Italian garden without artichokes, so now we are “official’. We also have red and yellow onions, garlic, and leeks. The potatoes are loving the rain- we will have great yellow, red and blue ones! Two very small but healthy caper bushes are growing slowly, and hopefully will reward us with capers to pickle for charcuterie plates. Zucchini is in abundance, especially the delicious ones with yellow stripes. Pumpkins and melons will come later this summer, but watch out- we have 10 varieties of each!
Nick has gone wild in the greenhouse with melons, squash, cucumbers, beans, and lots more. We even have a Desi and Delicata squash popping up. We started small, white, flavorful French beans called Tarbias for next winter’s French cassoulet. At 5 days the beans are sprouting and healthy. I am looking forward to that spectacular presentation. The scarlet runner beans and borlotti beans are growing well. They have been a consistent winner on our tasting plates. We even have Chinese long beans this year! Our beans come from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Look in their Whole Seed catalog for many great varieties.
We are also growing watermelon cucumbers. These tiny round cucumbers look like miniature watermelons. They are so cute and very delicious when fresh, but even better when pickled. Kuri Squash is an easy grower that produces a deep red-orange teardrop-like squash. My friend Colleen and I use this squash instead of pumpkin in a chocolate Bundt cake recipe. It produces an extra moist and deep dark delicious flavor. We make this over and over for all our guests. Colleen made this cake for dessert at Thanksgiving. A spectacular and delicious presentation!
Sunflowers are growing, preparing to grace our tables for dinners and luncheons, and also to help feed the birds. We have 7 different varieties: short, tall, yellow, red, and crimson. So beautiful!
The tomatoes will go in the ground in two weeks. We have 30 different varieties, including red current, and blue cherries for our tasting plates. We will coordinate with the Downtown Fairfield Tomato Festival with an onsite tomato demonstration and tastings. So much fun to look forward to!
Our Farm wouldn’t be complete without our olives beginning to set blossoms. It is looking like a great year so far!
Come visit and see for yourself and see how we are growing.
Recipe: Oil Drenched Fava Beans with Parmesan
Prepare Fava beans:
- Hull the beans from their large furry pod (the pods are good for our compost)
- Cook the beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes
- Rinse in cool water until you are able to touch them
- Pop out the beans from their jackets (the jackets go into compost also)
- Dress in a robust oil, I prefer Frantoio, add salt, pepper to taste
- Dress with thin shavings of Parmesan cheese
Serve with fresh bread and a glass of crisp, dry white wine. We are currently pouring a lovely 2016 Albarino from Turkovich Family Wines- come by for a taste.