Bloody Mary shared amongst farm friends, photo by Perla Batalla
Aside from kids' affinity with ants on a log and mine with a home grown bloody mary, celery is one of those backstage vegetables (or rather, back of the bottom drawer). Is it because celery is ubiquitous- a staple food in the household, a knee jerk item in the grocery shop, easy to enjoy raw- that it is so often overlooked?
We've been celebrating celery for the past few months at Rio Gozo Farm, it's the first year we added celery to the expanding list of vegetables for Rio Gozo's Ventura CSA. Since Ventura County is the largest grower of celery in California, why haven't we grown it before?
Celery is a high value, high cost crop. Large scale celery production takes a lot of water, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides; and it requires hand harvesting and careful packing. See the link for a list of chemicals used on celery. http://www.pesticideinfo.org/DS.jsp?sk=29113#TopChems
Frankly, we were intimidated. Our celery is organically grown and John discovered if we hand pick the stalks- picking from the original plants for the season as opposed to cutting out the whole plant- hooray! we have celery for all of December, January, and February. Are you running out of ideas on what to do with your celery?
The first thing that comes to mind is stock. Celery is part of the holy trinity in mirepoix, a diced vegetable medley to start all stocks, soups, stews, and sauces. You can substitute ingredients such as fennel, leeks, and garlic. The ingredients are sauteéd in either butter or olive oil depending on if you're heritage is french or italian.
Here's a video on how to make it.
And of course don't forget those ants on a log and Bloody Mary.