Thursday, June 30, 2011

Visas and Veggies

ONE MAJOR STEP CLOSER TO SPAIN
We hopped in our rental car this morning and drove over to the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles.  We have passports imprinted with residency visas for Spain!  It was sadly anti-climactic.  We had, afterall, worked several months to get everything in order just to submit our applications.  We then waited two months to be notified that we were approved, and then nearly another month before we got back to LA to pick up the documents.  The woman at the consulate who gave us our visas this morning (the same one who accepted our applications in April) was once again professional, warm, and charming.  So, no complaints.  It just seemed that, after the build-up we've given this, there should have been a parade or at least applause, hand-shakes, and Spanish-flag stickers for our lapels.  I guess a picture of Jerry standing outside the door to the consulate and holding his visa-imprinted passport will have to suffice.  Oh, yeah, and the fact that we can now go live in Spain.  Less than two weeks to go!

LINDY, REPRESENTING, AT CAPITAL CITY FARMERS MARKET.
STILL EARLY IN THE GROWING SEASON.

KEEPING THEM DOWN ON THE FARM
Before we left Pierre, South Dakota, on Sunday we had the pleasure of spending quality time with Linda and Tom, as well as with our nephew Matt and his wife Lindy.  We can never spend enough time with our loving, kind, funny, enlightened, generous, and admirable family in Pierre.

SOMETHING EDIBLE (I THINK IT'S ITALIAN PARSLEY) IN FOREGROUND.
GREENHOUSE FILLED WITH SEEDLINGS IN BACKGROUND.

In recent years, Matt and Lindy, among their many interests and talents, began an organic farm business (B&G Produce) with Lindy's parents on the family farm outside Pierre.

MATT (THE HAT, BACKGROUND CENTER) PICKING SOMETHING FOR US TO TASTE.

Matt and Lindy then co-founded Capital City Farmers' Market, which they operate downtown Saturday mornings along with a variety of vendors.  B&G Produce not only offers the expected farm-fresh, organically grown staples like radishes, spinach, and potatoes, but they include in their repertoire beautiful fresh flowers as well as unusual specialty produce that isn't traditionally grown in South Dakota.

I THINK I'VE GOT THE THYME.

Eating Stinging Nettles
Matt is a trained and very talented chef (he feeds us well whenever we visit) and he provides recipes and cooking guidelines for whatever he and Lindy sell, which is especially helpful when you buy a bunch of stinging nettles and wonder how to prepare them.  Apparently, they stop stinging shortly after they're picked and can be cooked up to be similar to spinach.  (This reminds me of our great-nephew, Bennett, who sat with us at dinner one night digging into a salad his father — Matt's brother, Ryan — had prepared.  It was one of those gourmet lettuce mixes.  Bennett shoveled some greens into his mouth and then quickly spit them onto his plate as he howled, "I'm eating thistle!")

MATT.  SHOWING US AROUND.

Jerry, Linda, and I drove out to the farm last Thursday afternoon to see all that B&G has going on.  We couldn't have found it without Linda — even if her directions were a bit creative.  We drove out of town and then were to turn past the water tower at some point (if we went over the ridge we would have gone too far) before turning right on a dirt road (just past a sign for something) and then right on another dirt road and then left down yet another dirt road at the end of which we would find the farm.  And we did it all on the first try.  The day was glorious and we passed wild pheasant, pronghorns, and deer along the way.

"GREEN MANURE."
LOCAL PRAIRIE GRASSES AND MORE, GROWING SIMPLY TO ENRICH THE SOIL.

All In The Family
Seeing Matt so blissful on the farm warmed our hearts and is especially meaningful for Jerry.  There were many farmers in Jerry's (and Matt's) ancestry.  Jerry's father and grandfather began farming again outside Sioux Falls for a short time after Jerry's grandfather retired.  When he was a boy, Jerry spent summer breaks at the farm of one of his great-uncles outside of town.  And Jerry's fantasy (well, one of Jerry's many fantasies) was to have a "gentleman's farm" — no relying on it to make a living for Jerry, just a place to grow good tomatoes and sweet corn and to enjoy some chickens, pigs, black swans, and the like.

NEPHEW AND UNCLE SHARING THE BLISS.

We were overwhelmed by the size of the B&G operation, which includes vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even fruit trees.  We got to breathe in the fragrance of chocolate mint and other herbs the names of which I can't remember because that's too much like cooking for me (remember, I consider it cooking when I open a package of microwave oatmeal).

MATT DISPLAYING SOME FRESHLY PICKED (AND RINSED) POTATOES.

And, if you've never tasted a South Dakota potato freshly picked, you don't know what you're missing.  It was like eating an apple.  (And that may be news to nobody but city boys like me.)

I COULDN'T RESIST (BECAUSE MATT WASHED IT FOR ME).

11 comments:

  1. Hello Mitch:
    Congratulations! All set to go although we are certain, if our experiences are anything to go by, that these will not be the last documents you will require. Just wait until you actually set foot on Spanish soil!!

    We once had stinging nettle soup in France - delicious, we think, but it was a long time ago!

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  2. Congratulations to you both! I'm looking forward to hearing all about your new life!
    That potato looks amazing - it looks more like a radish than a potato. The farm is very impressive. All the best for the next 2 weeks. I'll be thinking of you guys!

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  3. No turning back now, eh? (At least in practical terms.)
    Like Craig above I'm really looking forward to your first blogs from Espana - and, boy, are you going to have one hell of a lot to tell! - though I should imagine that the problem will be finding time to write about it all. Continuing good wishes to you from this (approximately) upper-left corner of Europe.

    Btw; The sight of all that veggie food above has set off my tummy-rumbles!

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  4. You'da thunk that Miss Calm'n'Professional coulda tossed a little confetti your way.
    Sheesh!

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  5. J&L: Yes. The process begins again once we get to Spain. Argh! Stinging nettle soup; I'll have to ask Matt if he's ever tried that!

    Craig: Thanks so much! I'll definitely be keeping you posted.

    Raybeard: Thanks a million. There's never any turning back really, is there? Can't wait to share stories from Spain. I just had my first protein bar of the day (wonder what I'll find in Spain to replace those), but some fresh veg would sure be nice.

    Bob: My sentiments exactly!!!

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  6. Oh, so what you're saying is that vegetables come from these "farms"? I thought they came from Wal-Mart. Who knew!
    Your Friend, m.

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  7. Mark: And milk comes from cows... if you can believe THAT.

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  8. Love the pics of the farm!

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  9. Congratulations Mitch,
    Half the battle is won. By the way, I love vegetables. This is what I do for a real living.

    www.ams-exotic.com

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  10. Scott: Wow! Thanks for the link; the company sounds fascinating. I wondered what it was that kept you on the road and in the air so much. I'll explore some more.

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