Reminiscences from Camp Joy Apprentice Leifin Nelson

In From the Garden

What Your Basket Bears

week 6: June 30 & July 3, 2001

One day on his morning walk, the little prince came upon his bush, her fresh newly opened blossom prettily arranging her petals in the emerging sunlight. The little prince could not contain his admiration. Oh, how beautiful you are!

Am I not? the flower responded sweetly. And I was born at the same moment as the sun…

The little prince could guess easily enough that she was not any too modest – but how moving, and exciting she was!

I think it is time for breakfast, she added an instant later. If you would have the kindness to think of my needs….

And the little prince, completely abashed, went to look for a sprinkling-can of fresh water. So he tended the flower.

Good morning, by now you’re all getting used to the routine. Big baskets brimming with greens. You see from afar the glowing tops of chard and spring onion. Usually, some variety of lettuces and a bouquet of herbs is the next to greet your eyes. As you get closer, you begin to wonder what sort of jewels are to be found in the bottom. Bright carrots or striking beets, is it possible to eat this whole basket in one week?

It’s so exciting; every week changes the list. Kind of makes me feel like Santa Claus and his elves in the off-season, as we rush around in the early morning light collecting the bounty of Camp Joy. The fruits of our labor we give to you wit love and joy. All we ask is that you enjoy them and raise our kids with the same kind of adoration we all have for Camp Joy. Healthy food feeds us with the positive energy that went into it. We hope y’all know just how much we appreciate your interest and respect for our work!

Thank you for joining us this summer season. The hot weather we have experienced this year is wonderful for the sun loving crops and it’s a good reason to spend time running through the sprinklers. Some of you do that here, others have their own way of staying cool. Last week Mother Nature showed us how patient and forgiving she is by sprinkling us gently. As the mists gently watered our young charges, our small valley received the tender care that summer rains always bring. I have noticed this week that the greens are greener and the plants are standing a little taller. They know when they are loved! Don’t you?

We are expecting a new group of baby goats this weekend; keep your eyes and ears open as you meander through the glory of the summer garden. Like all new babes, they require tenderness and a quiet calm. Please enjoy this gift; as Her creatures, we are all imbued with the most precious present anywhere. Our Lives.

The garden has a certain new feel these days. The period of cool we’ve just experienced has coincided well with the transplanting of many new crops like flowers and squash. We are well on our way towards the bounty of summer. Soon to come are zany zucchini of all shapes. The fruit trees are beginning to groan under the load of their ripening gifts. Plums, nectarines and peaches are on their way, not to mention apples of many types, and pears!

In your Basket:

  • lettuce
  • carrots
  • kale
  • chard
  • new garlic
  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • yellow finn potatoes

You will find in your basket these days a crop of new potatoes by the name of Yellow Finn. Rich and tasty, these specimens cook quickly and are a wonderful base for any kind of flavor. Dill, rosemary, garlic, onions and even sage can jump start a dish of new potatoes. I like to make a root roast I learned from Mr. Ed Muniak. We all know him, he’s currently in Ireland with Erin and we look forward to welcoming them home.

We take a mix of roots: potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips in any combination you like. Add enough oil to coat the roots, throw in some combination of herbs, maybe rosemary and thyme, and mix around. I like to chop onions in big pieces and toss that in. One head of garlic, cloves intact, and then, just because, a big spoonful of honey. Mix this around and then put in a baking dish. I bake kinda slow (325 deg.) stirring occasionally until the whole mixture is a little caramelized and the beets are mostly soft. The potatoes cook more quickly than you’d think, so make the pieces of a size that equalizes cooking times. They usually take 35 minutes or so and I love to serve them with a fresh basil pesto.

I also wanted to say that greens while tasty sauteed with ginger, garlic and soy sauce can be enjoyed other ways as well. They cook down significantly and can be a  main ingredient in a quiche or fritatta. These can be eaten both warm and cool, which is a plus for a hot day. Of course everybody loves a picnic during the summer.

Another new item is the freshly picked garlic you’ll find this week. Planted last fall at the end of the season, it represents the connection between this year and last, and also proves that something does happen here in the winter besides rain. This garlic was picked last week, isn’t cured, and would love to be used quickly. Garlic goes fast around here, so enjoy some in a stir-fry or the above mentioned root roast.

Here’s another dish to try with the new potatoes (from The Gardener’s Table by Merrill and Ortiz)

Vinaigrette Potato Salad

serves 8-10

12 new potatoes (3 pounds)

1 cup basic vinaigrette(see below)

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

3 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

2 hard cooked eggs, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes in salted water until tender. Let cool slightly. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and dress with the vinaigrette while still warm.

Mix in the remaining ingredients, season to taste.

You can cut down on the Parmesan, and leave out the hard-boiled eggs for a lower fat version.


1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp kosher salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 Tbsp freshly squoze lemon juice

1 Tbsp red wine vinaiger

½ to ½ cup olive oil

Crush the garlic and salt with a fork in a small bowl. Add the pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Whisk in the oil.

One last tasty idea comes straight from our doggy friend. If you haven’t met here, Nutmeg is the little shepherd who patrols the paths and alerts the masses. She is the Camp Joy dog. She loves people, biscuits and, most of all, big sticks. She leaves us with this aptly named treat.

Nutmeg Pie

nut crust or pie crust

2 cups small-curd cottage cheese

½ cup sour cream or yogurt

3 eggs

1 tsp. grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp. Salt

1/3 cup light honey or sugar

Line a 9 inch pie pan with dough and freeze until hardened. Preheat the oven to 425. Set the frozen shell on a sheet pan and bake till the crust is set and lightly colored, about 15 minutes. Remove and lower temperature to 350.

Whisk the remaining ingredients together until smooth. Pour the filling into the shell and bake in the center of the oven until puffed, barely firm and starting to color in places. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Have a wonderful week and we look forward to sharing our summer with you. Take sunscreen and a towel and head on down to the beach with a picnic. You will thank your luck stars to be living in such a wonderful place.

Leif (Nelson)

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