As a child I thought herbs were grayish green powder that came in small glass jars with green lids. Need an herb? Read the label, open and add dried powder to dish. Little did I know: herbs were a plant and can be found tucked in kitchen window boxes, flourishing gardens, farms and even growing wildly as an auspicious ‘weed.’
Oxbow Farm invited me to participate in the Oxbow Farm Project—an awareness campaign for Oxbow Farm specifically and CSA’s in general. I happily accepted…. a box of farm-grown yumminess. CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) represent a relationship between eaters and farmers, where folks like you and I buy weekly produce directly from a nearby farmer. This gives people just-harvested, peak season produce and gives the farmer assurance of income to support his/her farm.
Oxbow Farm is also an education center, offering field trips to schools so they can share with children the value of farms and of quality food. Thanks to Oxbow Farm: kids everywhere will learn that herbs aren’t synonymous with dry powder and tiny little jars.
I personally find opening farm boxes as exciting as opening my Christmas stocking. This particular box was full of beans and carrots, lettuce and potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, an onion and some herbs. Specifically and much to my happiness, this meant fresh dill.
In my humble little garden in Seattle—which feeds our family and not a whole community—I grow herbs. My herb garden includes parsley, thyme, rosemary (a weed in the PNW it grows like crazy!), oregano, tarragon and sage. This year, I was determined to bring dill into the fold. I am increasingly fond of dill’s flavor: perfect for fish of all kinds, necessary for perfect pickles and key to my green goddess dressing.
I bought a packet of dill seeds and planted them. They didn’t grow. A few weeks later I planted another batch—they too failed to sprout little green feathers of goodness. Finally I bought two starts and shoved them into my herb bed: grow! They sputtered and bolted, browned and died. Ready to give up, I tossed a few final seeds in bed with the cauliflower and am happy to say a few tiny starts have made an appearance. So of course I am ignoring them. Not because I don’t want to inhale them, but because I want them to bolt and seed themselves, then give me an impressive dill patch next year. Just watch: in 3 years time I will be swearing at the dill plants that are taking over one garden box after another.
But until I have the delight of an herb that is pushing for weed status, I will have to buy or source fresh dill from farmers. Thanks to Oxbow Farm: that night we had salmon with dill buerre blanc and lemon dill quinoa, with mixed roasted vegetables (including beans, zucchini and carrots from the farm box).
When I plan on making a lovely sauce for fish, I often cook the fish by simply drizzling with olive oil plus S&P and tucking it into the oven to bake. Salmon can be baked too hot or quickly (have you ever seen the white ‘residue’ after baking? Means it was too hot or cooked too long); I usually tuck it into the oven at 375 then keep an eye on it. If thin, it will cook in a matter of minutes. Thicker takes a little longer. Just poke it to determine if it feels mushy/uncooked still or if it flakes. You don’t want it too hard: no fish bricks.
Lemon Dill Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1/2 walla walla onion (sweet)
1 T olive oil
2 cups water
2 tsp grated lemon zest
3 T minced fresh dill
Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion until transluscent. Stir in quinoa and cook a few minutes, then add water. Bring to boil then reduce to low simmer and cover/cook until water has been absorbed—about 10-15 minutes. Fluff, add lemon juice, zest, dill and S&P to taste.
Dill Buerre Blanc
makes approx. 3/4 cup
3 T shallots
1 tsp peppercorns (white or black)
1/3 cup white wine or white vinegar
8-10 T COLD butter, cut into approx. 1 T size chunks
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
Dice shallots, put in skillet with peppercorns and wine. Simmer to reduce to approx. 3 T. Strain and return reduced wine to pan. Maintain heat just above low; whisk in butter one chunk at a time, one after another until they are all incorporated. Stir in dill, season with a little salt and serve warm with salmon.