Fun Fact: my very first job (besides dog sitting) was working as a summer camp counselor. I think I was 14 or 15, and I landed the dream job of a YMCA camp counselor with a $7.25 hourly wage. I loved it.
This week, for fun, I am working at a day camp here in Portsmouth, NH called Summer Rangers. The week is themed: World's Best Chef! John and Susan (the directors) are amazing and have created this week for the kids to tour an heirloom farm, visit restaurants in town and interview chefs, compete in a Cutthroat Kitchen competition, build their own restaurants, make and serve food, and so much more. Pretty awesome!
Anyway, we visited Tuckaway Farm in Lee, NH. We met the owner of the three generation family farm, Chuck, who is seriously right out of a fairy tale with his beard, hat, and outfit. He also happens to have graduated from an Ivy league school! The farm is also the new home to the Heirloom Harvest Project, which partners with Chef Evan Mallett (Black Trumpet) and aims to restore biodiversity to local foods, and educate the public about crops that were, before now, unheard of. Harvin is the guy running that project, and we were lucky enough to meet his two daughters, and his wife Andrea, who played guitar and sang for us during lunch under a tree! Plus, there were 3 dogs hanging around and keeping us all company. What a magical morning it was, and I felt lucky to be so welcomed by the farm.
I always find it so fascinating when typical garden weeds are edible, and nutrient-dense! Why don't we eat more of them? Or, why are they considered weeds versus something we plant and harvest? I didn't get that answered but while we were strolling through the rows of vegetables, including black tomatoes (really!), we were scanning for 2 types of edible weeds: purslane and lamb's quarters.
On the left: Purslane is a low-laying succulent weed with red stems and round leaves. It spreads across the ground, and its red stems and green leaves are enjoyable in salads, stir-frys, stews, pesto, or anywhere you would use greens.
On the right: Lamb's Quarters, another edible weed that we picked, identifiable by the "goosefoot shaped" leaves, which are green with a white underside. All parts of the plant are edible, and can be used in smoothies or juices, in salads, sauteed, or added to soups.
We ended up using our harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil, as well as the weeds we picked, to make a delicious panzanella salad. Both purslane and lamb's quarters are extremely common up here in the northeast, and once you have your eye out for them, you will notice them everywhere! If you find some that haven't been compromised with pesticide/herbicide treatments, bring them home for some (FREE) nutritious additions to your meals!