Fleur-de-Mooncake

There’s something fortuitous about a sharp-eyed editor who lives in a time zone six hours ahead of most of my readers. Errors can be caught and fixed before many of my blogsters log into their computers.

That’s what happened with my last blog entry. I was writing about Susan Werner’s lyrics of the moon hitching up Jupiter and Mars…and instead of Jupiter, the planet, I wrote Juniper, the plant. It passed by my multiple readings but was caught immediately by daughter Marina in Belgium. Considering I’m a horticulturist not an astronomer, it’s not a slip of the typing fingers to beat myself up about. I actually got a kick out of it.Image

Another of Werner’s memorable descriptions is when she sings about the “soybean moon.” It’s a farm friendly way of describing the Earth’s natural satellite and one that returned to me when I went to a recent Penn State Extension workshop on growing edamame.

I grew and sold edamame at Fleur-de-Lys many years back. The food-grade soybean (Glycine max), popular in Asia where it has been eaten as a vegetable since 200 B.C., was just breaking into U.S. markets. To most Americans, soybeans were feed for cattle, until they tasted the larger, sweeter edamame, often served as an appetizer in the pod at Japanese restaurants.

For those of you who can find fresh edamame at your local farmers market, they couldn’t be easier to prepare. First, soak the pods to get rid of any soil. Then, bring a pot of water to boil, stir in a half-cup of salt, and then add the washed edamame pods. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and let cool. Either serve immediately or freeze to eat later.

Besides being tasty, edamame are a healthy source of protein, vitamins B6 and E, and oleic acid. They are thought to protect against breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease.For almost 10 years, Penn State researchers have been trialing Chinese soybean varieties with U.S. experimental varieties at the university research farms at Rock Springs. This is close to where the Master Gardener “teaching tunnel” is located. Penn State researchers and extension staff are trying to develop the infrastructure to make edamame a locally grown and processed vegetable for American eaters rather than having the U.S. rely on edamame imported from China, Taiwan and Japan.

Unlike the low-growing Chinese edamame I’ve harvested in the past, our Central PA favorite is “Mooncake” edamame, a giant reaching 5 to 6 feet tall with two or three large white soybeans in every pod. (The leftover leaves and stems can be used as forage for livestock.) “Mooncake” is being distributed through T.A. Seeds, Jersey Shore (PA). Just outside our “teaching tunnel” is a wire children’s playhouse (fund-raiser for State College Area High School) where we are growing “Mooncake” soybeans for an Ag Progress Days (Aug. 12-14) display. I’m also trialing “Mooncake” at my mom’s home, between the rows of asparagus. Soybean moon, indeed.

In case you are wondering, I did ask Marina what her editing fees were. Simple: A BLT when she comes back to the States for a visit later this summer. That, and a bowl of “Mooncake” edamame. Laurie Lynch

Blog Bingo: Seems like every time I write a new blog entry WordPress changes the game—but hey, it’s free, so who am I to complain? I’m having trouble inserting photos and writing captions. So, I will explain here that the photo accompanying this blog has NOTHING to do with soybeans, it’s just a footloose and fancy arrangement I spotted at Shakespeare’s Garden in CT. Thought it would be inspiring to you shoe fanatics.

Small World: Marina went to visit her au pair family last week. Two things amazed her. First, she was asked to pick up 8-year-old Jeanne and her friend at school. Marina walked into the school and was able to leave with the girls—no note, permission slip, or phone call necessary Nothing. On the way out of school, Jeanne wanted Marina to meet her teacher. They were introduced and the teacher asked Marina where she was from—“Pennsylvania” Long story short, the teacher is also from Pennsylvania—Mertztown of all places! She married a Belgian professional wrestler and they eventually moved to Belgium.

Mertz World: Just after Marina related that story, she forwarded a Channel 69 piece on a Kutztown Area High School classmate of hers—Alec Mertz. Alec, born with Down syndrome, is raising free-range eggs on the family farm in Kutztown and selling them to Blue Sky Café in Bethlehem. News traveling from the Lehigh Valley PA to Ghent, Belgium, and back to State College, PA.

Written on Slate: “My garden will never make me famous, I’m a horticultural ignoramus. I can’t tell a string-bean from a soy-bean, or even a girl-bean from a boy-bean.” –Ogden Nash

 

 

 

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