Volunteering makes me feel guilty. The term volunteer implies unpaid, but I always go home with boatloads of fresh-picked veggie goodness. During my first week farming I got to do “fun stuff”- that is harvesting!
In picture number 1 (on the left) we have the Jerusalem Artichoke, commonly known as a Sunchoke (it’s related to the sunflower.) The high school farm where I volunteer had at least 100 plants, which grew around 4 feet high. I was taught to shovel up the massive root, then treasure hunt for the big sunchokes buried deeper in the soil. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. Three of us worked in a 4x4 area and literally squealed like schoolgirls each time we unearthed another sunchoke. (Side note: I was the only girl in the group.)
In picture number 2 (on the right) we have Swiss Chard. It was relatively easy to harvest, just cut at the stem. The hard part was that the plants grow low to the ground so crouching down was quite tough on my lower back. Overall, well worth the trouble because it was divine for dinner.
Finished product was a recipe from a cookbook that American Express Publishing sent me last week (Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook.) The chicken drumsticks were cooked in butter, garlic and onions - slow and low. The Swiss chard was then cooked in the same pan to soak up the depth of flavor developed from cooking the chicken. The sunchokes were cooked with red potatoes and slightly mashed with some chicken broth, butter and milk. ‘Twas a great way to begin the work week after Thanksgiving.