Saturday, June 4, 2011

The news from When Pigs Fly Farm

Warning: This is a long post. I have a lot to say. And will now proceed to say it.

Creating a Slug-free Zone

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I can pretty much guarantee you will sooner or later come to fervently, perhaps fanatically, hate slugs. They are truly one of the most disgusting creatures on earth (particularly when stepped on with bare feet) whose sole purpose on earth appears to be a) wreaking havoc on hostas and b) systematically consuming my tiny romaine lettuce sprouts and carrot tops.

Fortunately, in Bermtopia, slugs run on the small side and usually can be dispatched with a flick of a finger. But the slugs of my childhood in Portland -- whoa, Nelly, that's a whole other story. Those slugs, I swear to you, approached the size of miniature dachshunds. Seriously.

Over the years, I've accumulated a lot of knowledge about the disposal of slugs, which of course, I'm happy to share with you right now.

First, I've never used slug bait. Too many kids, cats, dogs and soccer balls have traversed my flower beds over the years, and I just didn't want to deal with the possibility of someone getting a snootful and going all rogue on me.

Second, I have a friend who pours a mixture of two parts water to one part ammonia over each of her hostas to ward off slugs. I helped her with that process one year while she was recovering from heart surgery. Maybe it was the fact that she has about 1,056 hostas, but it did seem a LITTLE labor intensive.

Another friend recommends putting out shallow bowls of beer. The slugs are attracted to the scent (?), crawl into the bowls and drown. Say whaa-aaa-tt??!! The little wankers decimate my lettuce and and carrot tops and I'm going to BUY THEM A BEER? I think not.

And, of course, there is the time-honored, and totally satisfying, tradition of pouring salt on slugs and watching them melt, imagining them shrieking out in their reedy little Wicked Witch of the West slug voices, "I'm melltttttiinnnggg!" Oh yes. I like this one a lot. But. It's also kind of time-consuming and I do worry about soil salinity.

So here's my tried-and-true recommendation: Diatomaceous earth. It's a soft rock powder. Nontoxic. Organic. And is also used to stabilize dynamite. The perfect garden accessory.

Here's how DE works: Create a slug-free zone by sprinkling this compound around your plants. (Note: Best done on a non-windy day otherwise you'll be creating slug-free zones in gardens about two states over.) When slugs attempt to pillage your plants, DE scratches their little slug tummies and they move on toe greener pastures. Really.

So if you come across a flotilla of slugs in your garden with stomach abrasions, they probably used to be mine. And now they're yours.

You're quite welcome.

From farm to table: WPFF White Pizza

I harvested the first of my arugula yesterday, and as predicted, there was a white pizza with arugula on the table for dinner last night. Delish!

I've been kind of a slacker in the food blogging department these days. I'm about to remedy that, however, and share my recipe for white pizza with arugula as adapted from The Barefoot Contessa. It's really quite good!

1. Pizza dough: Now you can go all domestic god/goddess on me and make your own dough or you can do what I did and buy it already made from my local Italian deli. (A lot of artisan pizza joints also sell dough.) Don't use the stuff that comes in a tube in the grocery store. Disgusting.

If you buy, and the dough comes frozen, let it thaw out in a bowl rubbed with a little olive oil. Cover it with plastic wrap, keep in a warm place, and it will thaw and rise at the same time. Sa-weet! I let mine do its thing overnight and then just kept in the fridge. I took it out 30 minutes before baking so it could reach some semblance of room temperature.

2. Make garlic oil: I've never made this before and let me tell you it takes pizza to whole new level. All you need is

1/2 c olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
A liberal dash of red pepper flakes (The Wonderfully Patient Spouse and I are of the "liberal dash" persuasion, but it's ok to go light if pepper heat isn't your thing.)

Simmer in a small saucepan for about 10 minutes till flavors have blended.

3. Preheat over to 500 degrees.

4. Assemble pizza: You'll need

3 c grated fontina cheese
1 1/2 c grated mozzarella
11 oz goat cheese (I opted out on the goat cheese. Two people in their late 50s DO NOT need to eat pizza with 3 cheeses. Instead, I substituted prosciutto. We probably don't need to be eating prosciutto either. Oh, screw it.)

Line a baking sheet with parchement paper. (I also sprinkle a little cornmeal on the paper. I like the crackle it gives pizza). Shape into circle, square, whatever. Brush liberally with the garlic oil and top with the cheese. If using prosciutto, tear it up in bite-size pieces and dot liberally. I added a little fresh ground pepper as well.

Toss in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or till crust is golden and cheese is all bubbly and gorgeous.

5. The arugula: While the pizza is baking, take the remaining garlic oil and whisk in some fresh lemon juice. The BCF says 1/4 cup, I say that's too much. I did it to taste. (And, don't tell the BCF, but I added a pinch of sugar too. I LOVE to walk on the wild side!) Season with a little salt and pepper.

Scatter the arugula over the pizza once it's out of the oven and ENJOY!

P.S You can now watch the daily drama (ahem) of When Pigs Fly Farm unfold 24/7/365 -- and pick up some handy gardening insights from Farmer Jim -- on WPFFCam. Happy weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Haven't seen slugs lately, or snails (but we have them in our area). When I was little in NC, I'd find slugs the size of short cigars and my father ALWAYS put salt on them. Thinking back on it, it was fun in a really sick way. :) I hope the slugs leave your garden alone.

    That pizza looks and sounds divine! The Hubby loves to make homemade pizza, and I'd love for him to try this! (Yay for prosciutto!!!!)