The horrible, hot humid weather lasted so long this year. Still, it was startling to see how quickly Autumn took over, greying the skies and laying the tall grasses of summer flat against the ground overnight.
The bright early fall wildflowers are replaced by pale late blooming ones, and the honeysuckle vines are empty and brown. The butter is changing to white winter butter, silver compared to the summer’s gold, but we are spreading lime on the pastures and have seeds for winter forage ready to plant.
All around the acorn drop is hitting heavily, making strange and spooky rustling noises in the dead leaves at night when we walk up under the stars in the absence of even a shaving of a moon to close the door of the chicken coop against the claws of wild animals.
It makes us pause and listen a moment at the top of the driveway, just a short way from the haunted ruin of an ancient homestead in the woods. Even in the daylight once I felt the presence of unseen eyes watching as I set up fence for the goats along there.
The wild turkeys are everywhere in the early mornings and evenings, sauntering causally through the empty pastures. One evening as i sat by myself enjoying the late golden light and watching how the winds of a cold front blew in through just the tops of the yellow trees, i found myself suddenly surrounded by five beautiful wild turkeys, making curious noises and staring at me from side to side with their large bright eyes.
They looked so green, like sleek emerald birds reflecting the green of the dying grass, and their red waddles so red and pretty against the sunset. I sat very still as they looked me over from an arm’s length away. First one, than another stepped forward to inquire, and then led by a handsome tom with a long tail they retreated beyond the bushes.
I thought it was the last of them when i turned around a minute later hearing a rustle behind me, and was surprised to find an enormous flock, perhaps thirty in all, of shining hens and toms all clucking at me and staring in a little crowd of huge dark eyes. There is something so bright and intelligent in their gaze that made me feel surrounded by human beings, different than myself, like otherworldly visitors passing through the crossroads between space and time.
I watched them and they watched me, and on an inspiration i began to sing a song, as a mark of friendship so they would know I was not trying to conceal myself.
This surprised them, but they stayed and listened for a long while, long enough I thought I couldn’t sit still any longer, when one by one they vanished over the top of the hill and were gone.
The garden is growing and growing, and at last looks enough like a garden that i am glad to walk through it with friends (instead of the off- handed wave and, “you can’t really tell, but that’s the garden”). The cool weather has made the broad-leafed mustard crisp and sweet.
The best mustard leaves for this recipe are the wide ones, Komatsuna on the left, Bekana on the right, and at the top is the delicious and historic Feaster Family mustard I got from the Southern Heritage Seed Collective.
I am not generally fond of raw mustard greens, but the komatsuna and bekana are so mild they could be lettuce, and the Feaster mustard has worked its way into my heart and future fall garden plans with it’s unusual sweet yet savory flavor, mild and crunchy leaf midribs and hint of nose-tingling wasabi. I am finding myself nibbling leaves off of it every day like any common rabbit.
If you have very strong mustard greens, they would work as well, as the goat cheese helps to temper any natural spiciness of the mustard greens.
I always wash lettuce or greens by submerging them in cool water and then removing them from the water, leaving any sand or dirt behind.
Cheese and Mustard Wraps
A bunch of broad mustard green leaves
1 garlic chive, white bulb and all
1 cup home made goat cheese
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon onion powder
1. Season the goat cheese with salt, onion powder, and chopped garlic chives.
I’ve changed the way I make goat cheese lately. I’ve been using a mesophilic cheese culture with natural organic calf rennet. I culture cold milk from the fridge and let it sit out until curdled. It ends up in three thick layers inside the jar, smelling like yogurt and cheesecake when I pour off the whey and strain it. This seems to yield with the best flavor and consistency.
2. Begin with the mustard leaf before you, the stem pointing towards you (the opposite of the picture, I’m afraid). Place a spoonful of cheese on the leaf and gently fold over the stem end while tucking in the sides of the leaf and roll it up firmly.
3. You can slice them in half to show off the cheese filling. They are easy enough to make as a quick snack, or pretty enough for a party.