Fleur-de-CountryCapers

These 90-degree days have been wearing, so last weekend I needed a treat. First, I stocked the shop cooler with fresh-picked berries and veggies, and left the shop door open for customers to help themselves. Then I took a stream stroll down Mill Creek.

Stream strolling is simple living at it’s best. All that is needed is an old pair of sneakers and clothes you don’t mind getting wet and slimy. Then, you just climb down a stream bank and wander, from shallow pebbled bottom to deep, chilling pool, to steppingstones made smooth by the waters of time. On this stream stroll I discovered a quirk of nature that created a throne made for the king (or queen) of the creek.
A towering American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) was growing at water’s edge, sending its trunk and branches of mottled, peeling bark in grays, greens and whites 100 feet into the sky. But to anchor itself, the tree’s roots shot out to one side below and above ground, creating a bed of moss-covered bark, smoothly flowing and turning to create crevices and pockets — a platform above the water. I lifted myself up from the deep pool of the creek with my arms, plopped onto the sprawling wooden throne and took a meditative snooze, gazing at the leaf mosaic of my quiet sanctuary.
I finished the afternoon with Mujah’s Fiori de Zucca (last week’s recipe). If you lay out all the ingredients assembly-style, there’s nothing to it – although I did feel a little ridiculous stuffing zucchini blossoms with bits of cheese, anchovy and capers. But oh, the end result … melt-in-your-mouth decadence, topped off with a glass of wine.
Speaking of capers. I’ve been reading “Wild Fermenation, The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” by Sandor Ellix Katz. The book covers everything from kimchis and krauts to beers, wines, and meads, to yogurt, cheese, and sourdough bread, and even miso and tempeh. Well, there is a section on making Milkweed/Nasturtium seedpod “capers”. Capers are the edible buds from the Mediterranean shrub Capparis spinosa. Not a local food, for sure. Years ago I read about pickling homegrown nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) seedpods as an alternative to capers. Now, I’ve read, you can also brine tiny milkweed pods as an alternative to distant capers. Just after the big milkweed flowers fall away (which is happening now), you will find clusters of tear-shaped pods, about the size of capers, perfect for pickling. Wait a few hours, and they may be too big! As I write, I’m hoarding the petite pods of a patch of milkweed in a jar in my refrigerator, waiting for a large enough stash to brine.
This week at Fleur-de-Lys Farm Market: Just in time for the Fourth of July! Red, white and blue potatoes (Early Rose, Adirondack Red, Lehigh, and All-Blue), dill and basil, zucchini and cucumbers, black raspberries and currants, eggs, kale, rainbow chard, carrots, luffa sponges, lavender wands, country bouquets, and honey.
Shop Details: Fleur-de-Lys Farm Market, 440 Hottenstein Road, Kutztown, is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or any time the blue door is open! Our phone number is (610) 683-6418. 
Sayings on Slate: The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.  ~ George Elliot


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