One of the big items on my garden to-do lists is working horse manure into the soil as fertilizer and soil amendment. The new garden beds that I'm double digging on the south lawn are sadly, quite sandy, which is something I hope a good dose of horse poo will fix. I tested my soil ph levels today: a solid 6.5 and veggies need to be in the 6 to 6.8 range...yay! As with many of adventures, the first step is finding the needed materials.
Serindepidously, I found a woman, M. on Craigslist who was giving away horse manure AND her horses happen to live less than one mile away AND she was gracious enough to help me both load and unload not one, but three loads of manure. Three loads of manure in my front yard look like this:
Minnow (my Geo Metro hatchback) was an amazing trouper, and even though I put a big tarp down in the back of the car it got a bit messy. This was nothing that a good vacuuming couldn't fix. Most people think that manure smells like an outhouse. But, this was fairly old, mostly composted manure. If it smelled like anything, it had the rich musky smell of dirt.
On our last trip unloading manure, M. met the chickens, and I gave her a dozen eggs for her kind help.
On our last trip to the pasture, M. pointed out that there were some suspiciously onion-like plants growing in the pasture that the horses wouldn't eat. I took my trowel and dug them up: wild green onions!
Although they look just like a supermarket green onion, wild onions are incredibly spicy. In fact, they are almost closer to garlic in taste than onion, yet they have undertones of leek and shallot as well. Perhaps wild onions are the bastard children of the allium family. Flavorwise, they are a bit rowdy. But that makes them all the more fresh and cheeky, and for that, I love them. The flavor is complex and exhilarating, but not overwhelming. So for dinner tonight, I riffed on Heidi's asparagus with tobasco butter from 101 Cookbooks blog. And here's the quick and staisfying dish I came up with.
Peas and Barley with Siracha Butter
Most people avoid cooking with whole grains and beans because of the long cooking times. While this is true, with a little advance planning, you can take the hands-on time out of the equation. For the barley, I simply brought 1 cup of barley and 2 cups of water to boil. I boiled it for 10 minutes, turned off the heat, covered the pan, and let the barley stand overnight. In the morning, I had steamed barley that just takes a quick 5-10 minute reheat with a splash of water before it's ready to serve. And, if you don't want to cook it right away for a delicious alternative to oatmeal, refrigerate it for later.
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 t. siracha (or to taste)
2 t. dijon mustard
2t. lemon juice
1/4 t. salt
1 cup barley, cooked
5 oz. frozen peas (1/2 a bag)
15 oz. cannellini beans (1 can)
1/4 cup wild onions minced
1 cup toasted almond slivers
Using a food processor, blend together butter, siracha, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt. I do not reccoment using a stick blender here--as I tried to use my Cuisinart and the butter simply stuck and them molded to the blade in a melted mess. Set aside.
Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pre-cooked barley and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 5 mins and then add the peas. Cover and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes until the peas are cooked. Add beans and continue to cook until heated through.
Drain any excess water from the barley and peas and stir in 3 T. siracha butter until melted. (There will be extra butter, which is fine becasue the leftover butter works great on fried or scrambled eggs.)
Stir in onions and top with almonds.