Green and purple snow peas enjoying a cool water rinse.
Earlier this week, Farmer Lee Jones of Chef’s Garden, sent me a box the size of a MINI Cooper packed with their glorious produce. I have never met Farmer Jones, nor have I ever made it out to Huron, Ohio to visit the gardens that supply many of the world’s top chefs with peerless specialty produce. I was, however, planning on attending their 2009 Food and Wine Celebration this July 18th that benefits their children’s program, Veggie U.
“The mission of Veggie U is to promote the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle. Veggie U is dedicated to the creation and distribution of curricula nationally, with a focus on making wise food choices, combating adolescent and juvenile disease, and attaining an understanding of sustainable agriculture.”
Tissue-wrapped stalks of purple, white and green asparagus.
The mission of Veggie U is a mission I am overjoyed to support and was looking forward to the July event. But as things happened, I booked a catering job for a dear client for the same night. With a hefty dose of disappointment, I needed to pass on what I understand to be one of the most deliciously festive events around – one featuring chefs from all over the nation preparing their signature dishes, fine wines, music, cooking demos and an exclusive auction.
A handful of sweet peas.
The 2009 Food and Wine Celebration also features a star chef cook-off judged by Michael Ruhlman, Alexa Guarnaschelli, Fred Griffith, Food Network’s Bruce Seidel, and more. This is truly a summer event that is not to be missed!
Like a tumble of jewels are multi-hued little golfball sized beets.
Farmer Jones and I became”friends” on Facebook. I let him know how cool I thought it was that Medical Mutual collaborated with their Culinary Vegetable Institute’s Earth-to Table program which enable subscribers to take advantage of the choice seasonal produce offerings at a manageable price.
A sweet and crisp bundle of baby carrots.
Farmer Jones mentioned that he enjoyed my blog and was hoping I would make it out to the July event. Letting him know I regretfully was no longer able to attend, he asked for my address saying he wanted to send out some info about the various programs offered at Chef’s Garden.
Tiny yellow and red new potatoes.
So to say I was shocked when the giant box arrived, is an understatement. I mean, I must have stared, mouth agape for a good five minutes before I next texted friend Karen, “You MUST come over right now!”. She came, and we knelt on the floor gently pulling out bundle after bundle of greens in every hue and texture, kales, mustards, flowering stalks, lettuces. Carrots, beets, radishes, potatoes, rhubarb, all manner of brassica, asparagus, peas…..seemingly endless abundance. I said “This must be what it’s like for most women to receive a big box of shoes from Barney’s – designer floor, not co-op!”.
Vive le difference.
Keeping what I knew what I could reasonably cook and eat, I then shared the rest of the windfall with friends. These photographs reflect just a smattering of the goods. Meanwhile, I’ve been putting together some beautiful dishes hoping to do humble justice to these nutrition-packed, delectable gems from the earth. The next several posts will feature creations composed from the vegetables and there will be a contest with a SUPERFANTASTIC PRIZE GIVEAWAY in conjunction with Farmer Jones and Veggie U.
As Farmer Lee Jones writes in his boisterous m.o. of caps-only, “THE YELLOW STALK IS BOK CHOY AT THE FLOWERING STAGE”. Wonderful mildly fresh and spicy flavor. Eating flowers, sigh, so beautiful.
So, keep your eye on the prize. And don’t forget to eat your veggies!
Thank you, thank you, Farmer Jones – I am overwhelmed with gratitude and your generous spirit.