Peter's Weekly Walkthrough
September 8, 2023
It is that time of year again, the time that I reflect on how fortunate I am having grown up with great siblings. To this day, I don’t know how Mom was able to handle all of six boys and one girl, and you know my sister was our ringleader! Why this time of year? For the past 35 plus years, John and Bob have been going to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in northern Minnesota up by the Canadian border. They like to go the second week in September as there are less mosquitos and crowds. Various other brothers have joined them thru the years when able. This year, the five remaining siblings will be going. There is Johnny, who is in sales and an extrovert that likes the finer things in life. Bobby is a homebody and the most conservative one in the bunch. He loves to garden and is a mechanical wiz, having been known to replace a VW engine in 45 minutes- start to finish! Ken is an adrenaline junkie who worked hard at not working. His trade was a master stair builder. He would take jobs only when he needed money to support his adrenaline seeking habits such as kayaking class 5 plus rapids, rock climbing or back country snowboarding. Mike is the other chef that ended up in El Paso. He loves the water and once told me that he never wanted to live more than a mile from the ocean. None of us can figure out how he ended up in El Paso. He got the nickname, Bebe because Ken could not say baby and it just stuck. Mike and I will paddle in the canoe together. Him in front and I in back steering. This will be my view as we paddle. The times we are together is far too short.
Now let’s head on down to the farm. Those with children may recognize the Entrance sign which leads to the Market at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. Started in 1967, The Pumpkin Patch is the most visible part of the operation but there is more going on beyond the Corn Maze, animal barn, food cart and pumpkin patch. This 3rd generation family farm has two different focuses. Along with their daughter, Kari Egger focuses on the retail part of the operation and constantly offering new items like the Pumpkin Patch Hard Cider. Bob Egger takes care of running the farm side of things. That’s them standing next to a pallet of fresh picked corn. I think he mentioned it was going to one of the grocery stores in our area.
That is the fun part. Bob went on to explain how the farm grew from a couple acres to over a thousand acres of fields today. Beyond the pumpkins and hard squashes, they grow summer squashes, beans, field and sweet corn, berries, grass seed and most interesting, dry wheat farming. Wheat is planted in the fall, over wintered, and harvested about now. It is not irrigated and once the wheat heads are harvested the stalks are tilled back into the soil for organic matter. They rotate the fields to mitigate diseases and pests. Interesting thing, squashes are only planted in the same field every five years to control diseases in the crop.
Jairus, one of our expert buyers, and Bob Egger are sharing a quintessential farm scene- talking crops, the weather and how to bet rid of the weeds. “Ah, Shucks!”
While there they were harvesting sweet corn while we were there. It was a much more hands on than one would think. This wagon of just picked corn pulled up and was rolled into the shed. Workers came in from all directions and swarmed the wagon. Work commenced to clean the ears of excess leaves and stalks, then hand packing each 48 ct case of sweet corn. Others would be in the background building boxes or staking the pallets of finished cases. Below is the final scene of the farm. The Red Barn painted with an America Flag with their logo on the side of the truck.
Occasionally I am fortunate enough to participate in a Farmers Market at one of the Retirement Living Communities. This was an opportunity to bring something I never had- Gold Plumcot (32555- 72 ct) That is them in the foreground with dark plums on one side and Gunkle Peaches in the back. A Plumcot is, now let me get this straight, “an interspecific hybrids of plums and apricots”. Now doesn’t that sound kind of funny? They come with all sorts of names like Red Velvet, Flavorgator, Plapple, Dapple, Eagle Eye and Amigo. This one is plain jane- Gold. They are a firm fruit that never really softens up. Juicy and light in flavor, they are a refreshing eating fruit.
Coming down the stairs above the receiving area, Quentin, the lead QA, was looking over Boston (Bibb) Lettuce (21368-24 ct). They looked so nice all in a row. Quentin gave them the green light and then asked, “You know why the cuts turn brown? Its from the latex in the stems.” He proceeded to make a new cut to show the milky sap that will brown once it hits the air. Boston Lettuce has that buttery goodness. Boston Lettuce used to be all the rage, so we are taking a que from that time and doing a Wilted Lettuce Salad. Clean the lettuce and arrange on a salad plate. Meanwhile, heat a pan and add some chorizo in the pan. While enjoying that spicy aroma, throw in some sliced apples and a smidge of dice red onion. Cook this up till the onions soften up. Deglaze with apple cider and cider vinegar. Give a taste, if the mixture is too vinegary sharp add some honey. Pour this mixture over the Lettuce and top with some toasted almond slivers. To me this still needs one more thing, a good garlicy crouton on the side. Enjoy.