Andrea Bemis has almost no thyme to spare.
Every Tuesday she and her husband, Taylor, divide much of Tumbleweed Farm's latest harvest among boxes for the 90-minute drive to Migration Brewing in Northeast Portland.
That's where most subscribers to the Parkdale farm's CSA pick up their organic vegetables and herbs, including that thyme. "We start out as strangers, but they get to know the people who feed them, and we find out who's preparing what," says Bemis. The CSA serves 56 households with an equal number on the waiting list.
Bemis created her "Dishing Up the Dirt" blog to post simple recipes featuring what's in the CSA box each week. You might say the blog bootstrapped her debut book by the same name. And those recipes have to be quick and easy – Bemis leaves the fields an hour early to fix dinner from whatever's come out of the ground.
They grow about 60 vegetables, plus herbs, on Tumbleweed's six acres. "The farm is so alive in June," says Bemis. "We do one 10-hour day a week planting fall crops like kale, broccoli and cabbage." Meanwhile, they harvest beets, carrots, turnips, radishes and scallions.
"We're transplanting about 500 heads of quick-growing lettuce per week from the greenhouse," says Bemis. "A simple salad never tasted so good, after especially this winter."
Tumbleweed Farm sells produce at the Saturday Hood River Farmers' Market and to Hood River and Parkdale restaurants.
Bourbon Thyme Cocktail
"At Tumbleweed Farm, cocktail hour is a closely held ritual. The days can be long and hard, and if we didn’t set aside a short amount of time to indulge every once in a while, the work would destroy us. It’s the small moments, like clinking glasses at the end of a hard day, that bring us the most joy. These drinks are sweetened with a honey-and-thyme-infused simple syrup and topped with bubbly club soda, which makes them the perfect refreshment after a hot afternoon on the farm. For a delicious virgin cocktail, just leave the bourbon out." — Andrea Bemis
Prep time: A couple minutes plus 20 minutes for simple syrup | Easy
For honey-thyme simple syrup:
- 1/2 cup honey
- 5 or 6 fresh thyme sprigs
For the cocktail:
- 4 ounces good-quality bourbon
- 4 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 4 ounces club soda
- Thyme sprigs for garnish
- For the simple syrup, combine the honey and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the thyme sprigs, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and discard the thyme.
- Combine 2 ounces each of the bourbon and lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce of the simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a glass filled with ice and top it with 2 ounces of the club soda. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Repeat for the next cocktail.
This recipe makes enough simple syrup for about 6 cocktails. Store the extra simple syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Bemis suggests serving the cocktails with sliced fresh radishes (classic red Crunchy Royale or French breakfast) smeared with butter and sprinkled with sea salt.
Excerpted from "Dishing Up the Dirt," copyright 2017 by Andrea Bemis. Food photography by Andrea Bemis. Republished with permission from HarperCollins Publishers.