Shannon

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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
933 articles written by Shannon

socca-collards-water
Deep summer means saying good-bye to certain vegetables in the garden. The collard greens, while heat tolerant to some degree, were bug-ridden early on and never really grew to full size this spring. We’ve been eating off of them for some time now but it was clear that they just weren’t going to grow much more than they already had.

So we picked them all and covered their bed with manure and hay in preparation for a root or greens crop in the fall garden. Simultaneously we have pickles… lots and lots of fermented cucumber pickles. These fermented cukes don’t keep too long this time of year outside of cold storage so we try to eat through what we have and store away the rest. I generally don’t ferment a lot in the hottest months – and write about that in Traditionally Fermented Foods – but our first year of plentiful cucumbers has me making an exception.

soccacollardspan

With a bowl full of collards and a gallon of pickles, I needed something substantial to pull the two together. The gluten-free garbanzo flatbread known as Socca was just the thing. It is high in protein and crisp and delicious when topped with meaty collards and tangy pickles. And I would imagine it would be just the same in the winter, topped with kraut and kale.

soccabatter

Socca

Ingredients

  • 2 cups garbanzo flour
  • scant 2 cups near-boiling hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons lard or coconut oil + more for cooking
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a 12″ cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat. Add the garbanzo flour to a glass mixing bowl and pour the near boiling water over the flour and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper and allow to sit while oven and pan preheat. The batter should look like heavy cream in consistency.

Once the oven and pan are preheated, pour 3 Tablespoons of lard or coconut oil into the very hot pan (carefully!) and swirl to coat. Then pour 1/3 of the batter into the pan and tilt and roll the pan around as you would for crepes to spread the batter. It may not go all the way to the edge of the pan and that is fine.

Return pan and batter to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm in the center and brown and crisp around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and slip a spatula underneath the pan to remove the socca. If it sticks, let it sit a few minutes before removing.

Repeat with remaining socca batter.

soccacollardspan2

Pan-Fried Collard Greens

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lard or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • Large bowl full or the equivalent of two bunches of collard greens

Directions

Add the lard or coconut oil to a 10″ cast-iron skillet and add the sliced onion. Fry for a few minutes or until it begins to soften. Meanwhile, wash and shake dry your collard greens and chop roughly. Add the collards to the pan with the onion and season with salt and pepper. Pan fry for approximately ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and collards are soft and just beginning to brown up.

soccaplated

To serve:

Divide the three socca flatbreads into six equal pieces and distribute onto six plates. Top with collard greens and fermented pickles and serve with a big glass of raw goat milk.

squashbed

This week we started putting the garden to bed for the summer. Back in the Midwest, July through September were the pinnacle of the garden, market, and food preservation period. It has literally taken me years to get out of that rhythm and swing into a rhythm that takes into account the impact the heat has on crops here. You can take the girl out of Minnesota and all that…

green-beans

So we are now at the end of what I call the early summer gardening season. This is when we do things like squash and tomatoes and many of the summer crops we would have grown June through September up north. But once July and the general trend towards mid-90 to triple digit temperatures hits, these guys struggle. Add to that the fact that some years we see very little rain during July and August and it really doesn’t make sense to push hard for a garden during these months.

So this week we chop-and-dropped the squash plants and covered them in a thick layer of hay and somewhat composted manure. The green beans and collard greens are on the chopping block for the same treatment next week. All of this is in preparation for a season that is generally cooler and generally sees more rain – the fall garden.

cukes

These cucumbers are still producing despite the heat, though I do think their flower production has slowed down. We are watering regularly using the solar-powered pump in our pond. That combined with the bits of rain we are getting have really helped.

But I imagine it won’t be long before these guys give out too and we’ll put this area to bed for the summer.

okraplant

That leaves us with what I call the deep summer crops. These guys are the ones who stand tall on a 100-degree afternoon and tend to use less water. Sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, and okra are what we generally grow during this period and I’ve just started to see the first okra blossoms forming this week. Pumpkins and pole beans are being experimented with this summer as well.

onions

So right now we are eating cucumbers, green beans, collard greens, garlic, and onions from our garden. This is the first year we’ve planted a larger number of onions and I am sold on it being a yearly happening. Stewart planted a few bags of bulbs last fall – maybe one to two hundred?

Well, I made the mistake of probably picking way too many green onions over the winter so many of them went to seed. Still, for a family that can eat 3-5 pounds of onions per week, I haven’t had to purchase onions for several months. I think we’ve probably eaten through at least 60% of them and the rest we’ll harvest over the next week or two since the tops are dying back.

I remember the day that the seeds from which this food came went into the ground. I remember the bags of onions Stewart meticulously planted in the pallet garden… and the bunches and bunches the girls planted haphazardly in the chicken field. I remember Stewart and Abram planting those 16 squash plants… and the squash hill he gave Annabelle. I remember the sunny spring day Ruthie carefully squatted next to Stewart to put the cucumber seeds in the ground. I remember the evening she knelt beside Stewart and I for bean planting. And I remember the night Annabelle, Stewart, and I planted okra just hours after the 2017 garlic harvest. We finished just as it began to rain.

There was also the day the boys helped me plant potatoes and the pots of eggplant and peppers they stood beside me to start. As has been the case every season, at least a portion of the crops we planted failed. It has been a part of every gardening season, though as the soil has been fed and enriched, the complete garden failures have lessened.

I’m not sure how to convey my gratitude for this process – the food yes, but mostly the process – and the way it has nourished our family in ways that can’t be seen at the dinner table.