Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chocolate's cousin and eat your greens!

Here's a sweet little flower that's in the chocolate family. It's called Mexican Mallow (Hermannia texana) although it's not really a mallow at all. It's an endemic, meaning it's found only in my part of the Hill Country. Actually, I've not seen it anywhere other than my own property. I love the bright orange petals, which never unfurl any farther than pictured, and the way they hang. The seed pod is very sculptural, too.

The flower seems to like the drought, and has proliferated in the short grass prairie, even sending some scouts across the creek into the oak-mesquite savanna. It's very interesting to observe our property divided in half by a creek, where each side has an almost entirely different collection of forbs. A visiting geologist once put forth the theory that the creek is actually a fault line.

We have been reworking our drip irrigation system to even out the pressure between the various gardens. The San Marzano paste and Chadwick cherry tomatoes are laden with green fruit, peanuts are up, and eleven kinds of melons and winter squash have a nice start. We have our first head of cauliflower and the blackberries are starting to ripen. The bok choy has taken a hit in the heat and will soon become salad for our sheep and chickens, but the amazing chard just keeps on keeping on.

I made a delectable dinner the other night for some friends of chard, raisins, and walnuts sauteed in brown butter tossed onto whole wheat linguine, and topped with Parmesan. I think chard has become tied with kale as my favorite vegetable. I am amazed at how few people (or restaurants, for that matter) cook greens which provide so many nutrients. Most people tell me they just don't know how to cook greens. The secret? Wilt them with garlic sauteed in some olive oil.

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