For the first time this year, I won’t be going on the Shuksan strawberry-picking trip that I mentioned in Sunday’s Pacific magazine piece on local berries. I planted my own patch of Shuksans and Hoods in the spring (I found the plants at Sky Nursery), and they’re already bearing fruit.
The berries are far from my first garden plantings influenced by local chefs and farmers. Many of my herbs came after cooking with Jerry Traunfeld’s The Herbal Kitchen and Herbfarm books and realizing I couldn’t buy all the ingredients I wanted in the store or even at the farmers markets. Lovage now goes with my halibut and shiso in my sorbet. I planted cinnamon basil for Traunfeld’s “cinnamon basil chicken” and added an anise hyssop plant after tasting his beet-anise salad. And other chefs and restaurants spur me to plant more in my small garden plot. I first came across sorrel in a CSA basket, and now I’ve got a patch in the yard for making this tart. A Montmorency cherry tree has been on my wish list since seeing these recipes from pastry chef (and then-Seattleite) Dana Cree.
For all the talk in our region about “farm to table” cooking, the garden makes me realize it’s gone beyond that. Now, for me, it’s farm to table and then — at least in a small backyard form — back again.
Do you grow any vegetables or fruits that are otherwise hard to find?
Photo of Jon Rowley’s Shuksan-picking trip by Rebekah Denn