I figured I should update you on our dire kitten situation since many of you seem so genuinely concerned! I was truly touched that so many people approached me at market with worried faces asking, "How is the kitty?!" I am happy to inform you that Smokey is doing just fine - in fact more than fine. He is fully recovered, eating like a hog and growing like a weed. After a few days of feeding him with an eyedropper and then finally reuniting him with Bandit and a third kitten that Mark found trapped in a wood pile, he is right as rain.
So now, the front porch is full of parsley, cilantro, mint and basil going bananas and a pack of wild and crazy kittens. In addition, "Sammy's Petting Zoo" as my brothers so fondly call the situation, is now home to two honeybee colonies. The bees, however, were intentionally obtained. We purchased the two colonies last Saturday and installed them in boxes near our young fruit trees. I have been watching the outside of the hives everyday and almost squealed when I saw some of the little gals with pockets full of pollen filing into the hives one by one. I'm looking forward to my first inspection since installation and seeing how many more frames have been drawn out.
All this new life is so uplifting; it eases the burden of more challenging days on the farm. Even though last weekend wasn't much of a restful one for us, it was a taste of the joys of summer. I ate the first peas and broccoli crown of the year this week! Shelling those first peas early in the morning before the sun rose, muck boots damp with dew, standing next to Mark amongst the tangle of vines and white blossoms, my heart was so happy. The peas were like cold pearls of sugar and earth as I ate them. Those little moments that I now get to share with my husband feel almost magical.
In my mind, it is officially potato salad season, so that is what I'd like to share with you today: humble potato salad elevated by the bounty of spring and free from mayonnaise. I have absolutely nothing against mayonnaise - it is my favorite condiment. But this salad from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is such a perfect way to celebrate the produce in season right now that mayonnaise would do more harm than good. I didn't change this recipe at all, except for the fact that I am using cold storage potatoes. New potatoes won't be around until late July or early August. But they kept so well that upon first glance, you would never know that they have been hibernating in a barn.
You can pick up so many of these ingredients from local farms and businesses in Centre County! The potatoes, spring onions, peas and radishes are from our farm, the beautiful asparagus spears are from Tait Farm and the smooth, Dijon-style mustard is from Garden Secrets. This dish was certainly a team effort.
Deb's Spring Potato Salad
Makes about 2 quarts
Adapted from Deb Perelman
For the Pickled Onions
3 spring onions (white or red)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
For the Salad
2 pounds small potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed
1/4 pound peas (sugar snap, shell or even green beans)
4 radishes, leaves and stems removed
For the Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by pickling the spring onions. Remove the roots of the onions, then slice the white and light green parts into thin coins. Reserve the dark green parts to slice later for garnish.
In a jar or container that has a lid, combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Stir or put the lid on the jar and shake until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the sliced onions to the pickling liquid, put the lid on and let them pickle for at least an hour, or even overnight, in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, place all of the potatoes in a pot and cover with about 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a strong simmer. Simmer the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with the tip of a knife . Drain and let them cool to room temperature.
Prepare to blanche the asparagus and peas. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Line a sheet tray with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Refill the pot you used to cook the potatoes with water and bring it to a rapid boil. Salt the water well and then submerge the trimmed asparagus. About a minute later, add the peas. Two minute later, drain both the asparagus and peas, or fish them out with a slotted spoon and submerge them into the ice bath. Let the blanched vegetables sit in an ice bath for a couple of minutes, then drain them on the sheet tray.
Slice the radishes very thinly. Cut the asparagus into bite-sized chunks and if you are using sugar snap peas or green beans, cut them the same size as the asparagus. Toss the radishes together with the potatoes, asparagus and peas.
In a jar or measuring cup, combine the olive oil, both mustards and white wine vinegar and whisk or shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing. Season the salad with salt and pepper, then add half of the dressing to the bowl. Remove the onions from their pickling liquid and toss gently to combine. If you want more dressing, add more. Slice the reserved green onion tops and sprinkle on the salad. Let the salad marinate for an hour or two, or serve it immediately.