Harmony Valley Farm

Harmony Valley Farm

October 15, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Cauliflower!

14 Oct 2020 20:41

Cooking With This Week's Box

Red Onions:  Fiery Grilled Beef SaladWilted Spinach Salad with Butternut Squash 

Red-Gold  or Peter Wilcox Potatoes:  Roasted Poblano Pepper Potato SoupThe Best Potato Salad 

Red Jalapeño Peppers:  Fiery Grilled Beef Salad

Korean Chili Peppers: 2020 Korean Pepper Vegetable FeatureHVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce—Updated;  Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang MeatballsSpicy Gochujang Butter PopcornThai-Style Chicken Soup  

Broccoli Romanesco or Cauliflower:  Leek & Cauliflower Puree (see below);  Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto (see below)

Broccoli:  Broccoli Cheese SoupBroccoli Cheese Casserole 

Poblano Peppers OR Mini Sweet Peppers:  Chile Rellenos Grilled Chicken TacosRoasted Poblano Pepper Potato Soup 

Spinach:  Tangy Spinach & Apple Salad50 Spinach Salad Recipes You’ll Love to EatWilted Spinach Salad with Butternut Squash

Lemongrass:  2020 Lemongrass Feature ArticleFiery Grilled Beef SaladThai-Style Chicken Soup

Orange Carrots: Asian Turnip & Carrot Salad10 Healthy and Easy Carrot Recipes for KidsCreamy Carrot RiceBroccoli Cheese Soup

Mini Romaine/Little Gem Lettuce or Magenta Red Summercrisp Lettuce:  Fiery Grilled Beef SaladGreen Salad with Radishes and Creamy Mustard Dressing  

French Breakfast Radishes:  Green Salad with Radishes and Creamy Mustard DressingTangy Spinach & Apple Salad

Baby Violet Turnips:  Roasted Turnips with Wilted GreensAsian Turnip & Carrot Salad

Green Salad with Radishes
photo from epicurious.com
Here we are, halfway through another month!  The bounty of fall is flooding our coolers and some days we’re busting at the seams trying to find a place for everything!  It leaves us with no option other than to pack it in a CSA box and send it your way!  Lets dive into this week’s box, starting with cauliflower.  Check out this week’s Cauliflower Vegetable Feature article (See Below) which includes 10 links to additional recipes as well as 2 links to extensive cauliflower recipe collections.  We’re also featuring two recipes this week.  The first is very fitting for this time of year and is super simple, Leek and Cauliflower Puree (see below).  Serve this simple dish alongside roasted meats for a simple dinner.  The second recipe for Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto (see below) is an interesting recipe that actually uses cauliflower in its raw form to make a pesto like mixture to toss with hot pasta.  Serve this light pasta dish with a salad for a simple dinner.  If you’re looking for salad ideas, consider trying this Green Salad with Radishes and Creamy Mustard Dressing or perhaps this Tangy Spinach & Apple Salad.  This spinach salad does call for pomegranate molasses which may be found in the international section of your grocery store.  If you can’t find it, you could substitute honey instead.
Wilted Spinach Salad
with Butternut Squash
Photo from tasteofhome.com
After a summer-time hiatus from lettuce and salad greens, it’s nice to have both head lettuce and baby spinach to work with this week.  Last week we featured this recipe for Fiery Grilled Beef Salad which utilizes lemongrass and fresh chile peppers.  You could use either the red jalapeños or Korean Chili peppers for the heat.  I also found this recipe collection for 50 Spinach Salad Recipes You’ll Love to Eat which includes this tasty recipe for Wilted Spinach Salad with Butternut Squash, a nice fall salad option.
If you didn’t see last week’s 2020 Lemongrass Feature Article,  I encourage you to go check it out and learn more about how to use lemongrass.  We also included a fragrant recipe for Thai-Style Chicken Soup that utilizes fresh lemongrass.  Now that the chill of fall has set in, I’m feeling the need to make more warming soups.  This week I recommend sticking with some more traditional soup recipes, with a few little twists of course.  Jazz up the traditional potato soup concept by adding roasted poblano peppers.  Here’s a recipe for Roasted Poblano Pepper Potato Soup.  This week’s broccoli could become a comforting Broccoli Cheese Soup
This week we’re also finishing up the last of our Korean chili peppers.  If you’re not sure what to do with them, check out our blog post with our 2020 Korean Chili Pepper Vegetable Feature;  In this article you’ll find a simple recipe for HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce—Updated which may be used in a wide variety of ways including this recipe for Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs.  Serve these tasty meatballs with The Best Potato Salad or Broccoli Cheese Casserole for a nice dinner option.  If you didn’t try the Spicy Gochujang Butter Popcorn recipe a few weeks ago, I encourage you to do so this week.  It’s so delicious!
Carrots are a pretty common vegetable, so are often well accepted by children, especially when they are so sweet and tasty!  Check out this collection of 10 Healthy and Easy Carrot Recipes for Kids which includes a recipe for Creamy Carrot Rice (Recipe #2).  You could also pair carrots with this week’s violet turnips to make this Asian Turnip & Carrot Salad.  This would be another good accompaniment for the Spicy Korean-style Gochujang Meatball recipe.  If you’re looking for an alternative use for this week’s pretty little violet turnips, consider keeping it simple and following this recipe for Roasted Turnips with Wilted Greens
Chili Rellenos Grilled Chicken
Tacos photo from tasteofhome.com
Lastly, I want to share this recipe for Chile Rellenos Grilled Chicken Tacos.  We’ve had a great poblano pepper harvest this year, but sadly the season is coming to an end.
We still have 6 weeks of deliveries remaining and one of my missions for this week is to lay out a tentative plan for the vegetables we want to pack in these final 6 deliveries.  There is strategy in this plan as we try to balance packing nice boxes with good variety in addition to matching our plans to our labor resources all while dancing around the weather!  Thanks for joining us for the 2020 CSA season, now lets finish strong!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Cauliflower

By Chef Andrea Yoder
Purple and Cheddar Cauliflower
This week the harvest crew will bring in an estimated 2,000 heads of cauliflower, possibly more!  While we grow cauliflower in the spring and fall, fall is the time of the year when cauliflower thrives, tastes the best and is in its prime.  The heat of summer can stress cauliflower and significantly impact its flavor, appearance and how it grows.  In the fall, however, the plants are less stressed so they produce better and the flavor is more balanced.  As with other brassicas, there is a bit of sweetness in the flavor once the plant has gone through a bit of a cold snap.  So while we’ve been delivering cauliflower for a few weeks, we wanted to feature it this week while it’s in its prime!
White is the traditional cauliflower color most individuals are familiar with, however you may realize by now that we have a tendency to go beyond tradition in favor of growing something a bit more unique.  In the world of cauliflower, this means we also grow purple and yellow varieties.  A common question we are often asked at the farmers’ market is if there is a difference in flavor.  The basic answer is that they all do still taste like cauliflower, however remember that different color pigments in vegetables indicate the presence of different nutrient compounds.  So, if you pay close attention you may notice subtle flavor differences between the different colors.  The yellow variety we used to grow was named “Cheddar.”  We’ve since switched to a different variety called “Flamestar,”  however another common question we get is whether or not the yellow cauliflower tastes like cheese.  While that would be pretty cool to have a built in cheese flavor, the answer to that question is “no.”  If you want your cauliflower to taste like cheese you’ll have to put the cheese on it!
You may not realize it, but all parts of the cauliflower plant are edible, even the outer wrapper leaves!  If you want to truly maximize the value of a head of cauliflower, save the leaves and put them to use.  Check out this article on theKitchn.com that talks about the different ways you can use the leaves including roasting and grilling.  In addition to the actual florets, you can also use the stems that connect the florets to the core, just cut them into smaller pieces.
White Cauliflower
I think it’s also important to mention the health benefits of cauliflower.  You likely already know that any vegetable in the family of brassicas (eg broccoli, turnips, bok choi, mustard greens, kohlrabi, cabbage, etc) is going to be packed with valuable nutrients.  Cauliflower in particular contains glucosinates which are plant compounds that help protect our bodies from cellular damage by free radicals and have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral effects.  
Cauliflower may be eaten raw or cooked and there are so many different ways to use it!  It can be roasted, grilled, baked, stir-fried, boiled and sautéed.  It’s delicious in soups, gratins, salads, pickled, and the list goes on!  To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of 10 cauliflower recipes and links to two pretty extensive collections of cauliflower recipes.  If you try something new, be sure to post in our Facebook Group and let us know how it turned out!

Leek & Cauliflower Puree

Yield:  4 to 6 servings
2 medium leeks, dark green parts removed
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
1 head cauliflower (about 1 ¾ pounds)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 ½ cups chicken stock, plus more if needed
  1. Slice the leeks lengthwise, and then into half-moons.  Wash them thoroughly and drain.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the leeks and season with 1 tsp salt.  Slowly cook the leeks for about 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid caramelization.
  3. While the leeks are cooking, core and cut the cauliflower into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Add the garlic and the cauliflower to the leeks and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, raise the heat to high, and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes.
  5. Place all the contents of the pot into a blender and puree on high speed.  If needed, add more chicken stock to thin the puree.  The consistency should be slightly looser than polenta.  Season with salt to taste, and serve.
Recipe borrowed from The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson.

Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

Yield:  6 to 8 servings
1 small head or ½ large head cauliflower (about 1 pound), trimmed of leaves, cored, and cut into large     chunks
1 garlic clove
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup almonds or pine nuts, toasted and cooled
2 ounce chunk Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for serving
4 sun-dried tomatoes (see note below)
1 Tbsp drained capers
Few tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
⅓ cup olive oil
½ to 1 tsp sherry vinegar (to taste)
1 pound linguine
  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Prepare the pesto:  Pulse half the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like mixed sizes of couscous.  Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, and repeat with the second batch, adding it to the same bowl when you are finished.  If your cauliflower looks like the perfect texture, but one large chunk insists upon escaping the steel blade’s grasp, pick it up and pulse it separately.  You’ll have about 3 ½ cups of fluffy, delightful cauliflower-couscous like crumbs.
  3. Pulse the garlic, pepper flakes, almonds, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and parsley in a food processor until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.  Transfer to the bowl with cauliflower, add the olive oil, the smaller amount of vinegar, and a few pinches of salt, and stir until combined (If you do this step in the food processor, it becomes and unseemly paste.  Best to do it by hand.)  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed—either adding more salt, pepper, or remainder of vinegar.  I start with about ½ teaspoon salt , but often go up to nearly a full teaspoon.
  4. Assemble Dish:  Once water is boiling, add the linguine and cook until it is al dente (cooked, but with a tiny bite left).  Reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain the rest.  Immediately toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower pesto and half of your reserved cooking water, until everything is nicely dispersed.  If the pesto still feels too thick, loosen it with the remaining reserved cooking water.  Divide among bowls, and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.
Note:  With regards to Sun-dried tomatoes, use the dry variety;  if oil-packed, be sure to drain them and mince them by hand separately, so the oil doesn’t gum up the food processor mixture, before you add them.
Additional Author’s Notes:  
  • Want to skip the pasta? This is also incredible as a tapenade on olive-oil-brushed toasts.  
  • To make this like an Italian grandmother, or without a food processor, simply chop everything by hand.
Recipe borrowed from Deb Perelman’s book, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

October 8, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Lemongrass!

7 Oct 2020 22:49

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: Fiery Grilled Beef Salad (see below); Thai Style Chicken Soup (see below);  Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken; Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Spicy Garlic Dressing
Leeks: Leek Vegetable Feature 2020; Apple & Leek Quiche; Thai Style Chicken Soup (see below); Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon
Variety of Large Tomatoes OR Orange Italian Frying Peppers: Fiery Grilled Beef Salad (see below); Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon; Thai-Style Slaw—with or without Chicken 
Cauliflower OR Butterscotch Butternut Squash: 47 Best Cauliflower Recipes; Roasted Cauliflower LarbCauliflower Melts
Asterix or Peter Wilcox Potatoes: Broccoli Raab, Potato and Rosemary Pizza; Homemade French Fries
Broccoli Raab: Broccoli Raab, Potato and Rosemary Pizza; Italian Panini with Broccoli Raab and Soppressata
Lemongrass: Fiery Grilled Beef Salad (see below); Thai Style Chicken Soup (see below); Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken; Lemongrass Mojito; Thai Chicken Lettuce WrapsRoasted Cauliflower Larb
Purple Napa Cabbage or Red/Purple Cabbage: Thai-Style Slaw—with or without Chicken; Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Spicy Garlic Dressing; Red/Purple Cabbage Slaw with Maple-Mustard Dressing
Broccoli: Best Broccoli Salad; Our 27 Best Broccoli Recipes; Broccoli & Feta Pasta Salad
Green Boston, Mini Green Romaine, Greenleaf or “Hornet” Redleaf Lettuce: Fiery Grilled Beef Salad (see below); Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Mini Sweet Peppers: Sweet Pepper PoppersMozzarella Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken
photo from gimmesomeoven.com
This week we’re featuring Lemongrass!  If you’ve never worked with fresh lemongrass, you’re in for a treat.  This is one of our tropical crops and is often used in cuisine from Southeast Asia including Vietnamese and Thai recipes.  So we’ll go to that part of the world for a little cooking inspiration, starting with this week’s featured recipes.  The first is for Fiery Grilled Beef Salad (see below).  This is a main dish salad that incorporates lemongrass into a sweet and spicy dressing that is used to dress the salad.  You can use some of this week’s lettuce as the base of the salad topped with grilled beef, slices of tomatoes, shredded carrots or even some diced sweet peppers.  The second recipe is for Thai Style Chicken Soup (see below).  This soup has a broth base that is enriched with coconut milk.  In addition to the aromatic lemongrass, this soup gets its flavor from leeks and ginger with a little heat from chili peppers.  If you have some Korean peppers or jalapenos from a previous week, either would work for this soup.  I also came across this recipe for Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken which uses lemongrass to infuse flavor into a marinade for the chicken which is grilled.  Bouncing back to Thailand for a moment, I also want to mention this recipe for Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps which were featured in our newsletter previously.  Lastly, if you have some lemongrass remaining use it to make a Lemongrass Mojito!
It looks like we’ll be able to harvest leeks for one more week, so keep collecting recipes to put them to use!  If you didn’t have a chance to read Last Week’s Leek Blog Post or see our featured recipes for leeks, we hope you’ll take a minute to do so.  I had forgotten about this recipe for Apple & Leek Quiche, a great weekend brunch item.  Another popular recipe from a past newsletter is this Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon.  If you have been following this blog for several years you have probably heard me recommend this recipe before, but only because it’s so delicious!
Thai-Style Slaw--with or without Chicken
When it comes to cabbage this week, we’re all about the purple!  This week’s boxes will contain either purple Napa Cabbage, a gorgeous addition to our veg lineup, or standard purple cabbage.  If you receive the purple napa cabbage, we hope you’ll let us know what you think about it.  We think it’s gorgeous and want to plant more next year, but we’d value your input.  Use it to make Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Spicy Garlic Dressing.  This is a good recipe to use your Korean chili peppers in if you still have some.  You could also make this Thai-Style Slaw—with or without Chicken.  We featured this recipe in a previous spring newsletter which used a different cabbage.  It’s an adaptable recipe though, so I think the purple napa would be a good choice.  The recipe does call for snow or snap peas, which are obviously not in season!  I would recommend substituting some sliced sweet peppers or shredded carrots instead.  If you receive the more familiar purple cabbage, use it to make this Red/Purple Cabbage Slaw with Maple-Mustard Dressing.  This is a tasty fall slaw.
While we’re talking fall salads and slaws, I’ll mention Ali’s recipe for Best Broccoli Salad.  I really like this recipe because it has a creamy, yet light dressing and she uses tamari, almonds and pumpkin seeds as well as dried cranberries to jazz it up.  If you’re at a loss with what to do with broccoli this week, head over to thekitchn.com and check out their article entitled “Our 27 Best Broccoli Recipes."  Surely you’ll find something there such as this simple Broccoli & Feta Pasta Salad.  This is a nice dish to build upon, so feel free to add some diced sweet peppers or tomatoes to jazz it up!
Italian Panini with Broccoli Raab and Soppressata
photo from applegate.com
Now that we’ve talked salads, lets shift gears to sandwiches such as this delicious Italian Panini with Broccoli Raab and Soppressata!  I was first introduced to Soppressata, a spicy, dry, Italian salami, when I lived in New York and took a trip to Little Italy.  I was hooked and it is one of my favorite salami-type meats.  Pair it with the sweet and flavorful broccoli raab to make a warm, toasted panini sandwich!  Serve it with a vegetable salad or go crazy and make some Homemade French Fries!  This link includes instructions for making baked or fried French fries and also has some delicious flavor variations to offer.
Sweet Pepper Poppers
photo from findingzest.com
If you aren’t into sandwiches this week, maybe pizza sounds better?  If so, use your broccoli raab to make this Broccoli Raab, Potato and Rosemary Pizza.  Turn it into an appetizer dinner and make some of these Sweet Pepper Poppers or Mozzarella Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers.
Now is the time of the season to fully embrace our brassica crops such as broccoli and cauliflower!  I came across a great collection of “47 Best Cauliflower Recipes” which includes Roasted Cauliflower Larb.  Larb is a Thai dish featuring a flavorful filling that is served in lettuce leaves.  This is a fitting recipe for this week as it uses lemongrass and lettuce leaves.  This is also a nice vegetarian alternative to the lettuce wrap recipes mentioned earlier.  I am also intrigued by this recipe for Cauliflower Melts.  These are tasty looking cheesy, open-faced sandwiches based on cauliflower!
I hope you enjoy another week of cooking these beautiful vegetables!  Before you know it we’ll be eating sweet potatoes and Brussels Sprouts!  Have a good week and I’ll see you next week! --Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Lemongrass

By Chef Andrea
Lemongrass in the field!
Lemongrass is on our list of unique crops that we do not grow every year, but cycle into our growing plan every few years.  It’s been awhile since we have grown it, but we’ve had some members asking for it so we added it to this year’s lineup!  Despite the fact that we are far from the tropics, we accept the challenge of growing tropical plants such as ginger, sweet potatoes and lemongrass.  We start lemongrass early in the spring using “seed” pieces of a lemongrass plant that we stick in potting soil.  The seed piece puts down roots and the plant starts to grow new leaves that emerge from the center of the seed piece.  Once we’re well past the last frost in the spring, we transplant lemongrass into the field.  We choose to plant it on beds covered with plastic mulch which helps trap heat and makes the plant feel like it’s growing in a tropical climate!  Since it is a tropical plant, it will not survive a frost.  So last week, before the temperatures dropped into the 30’s, we dug the whole crop and tucked it away in our cooler that is held at a warmer temperature so we could pack it for you this week!
Lemongrass is considered an herb by many, and you’ll find it is very fragrant and aromatic.  There are three parts to lemongrass and all parts of the plant can be used;  the leaves, the middle stalk and the bulb.  The bulb contains the most refreshing lemon essence and only needs to be used in small amounts.  The stalk has good flavor, but is not as intense as the bulb’s and the leaves have a good lemon flavor followed by more of a “greens” taste.  When using the leaves, it takes about three times more product to achieve the flavor intensity of a bulb.  You can make a bundle with the leaves and use it to flavor pasta or rice while it is cooking.  Remove and discard the bundle when finished cooking.  You can also steep the leaves in hot water to make tea.  The middle section can be cut into sections a few inches in length.  You’ll find this section to be tough but flavorful.  Add them to sautéed dishes, to marinades and to flavor soups;  discard before eating.  You can also use the stalk as a skewer for cooking kabobs or chicken satay or as a stirring stick for refreshing beverages.  The bulb is the most tender portion and can be sliced into thin pieces and added to soups, salads and other entrees where it can be eaten instead of discarded.  The secret to cooking with the bulb or the stem is to pound it with the back of a knife to release the oils before using.
Starting lemongrass in the greenhouse this spring. 
Lemongrass combines well with ginger, garlic, basil, chilies, coconut milk, cilantro, cinnamon and clove.  It is frequently used in Thai, Vietnamese, African, Indian and even Mexican cuisine.  Soups, curries, marinades and teas are more common uses, but don’t limit the use of lemongrass to just these.   You can use lemongrass anywhere a refreshing, crisp lemon taste is desired.  You could even get adventurous and use it to make your own homemade curry paste using fresh chiles, ginger, etc.  Lemongrass can be stored wrapped in plastic and put in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  You can also freeze it whole or cut it into smaller pieces and dry it for later use by hanging to air-dry or by using a food dehydrator.
While lemongrass provides great flavor, this grass also happens to be good for you!  Lemongrass is rich in a substance called citral, traditionally distilled from the leaves and stalks.  Citral has shown to be helpful in decreasing ailments such as muscle cramps and headaches.  It is also a digestive aid.  Studies have also shown that the components of the grass when boiled (in a tea for example) create multiple anti-oxidants that are believed to help prevent cancer.  We hope you enjoy this tropical treat, both for its flavor and its health benefits!

Fiery Grilled Beef Salad (Yam Neua)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
¼ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro stems
2 Tbsp chopped serrano or jalapeño peppers
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp coconut-palm sugar or golden brown sugar
1 ½ Tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
¼ tsp white pepper
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 lb beef steak (round eye, top sirloin, or flank steak)
1 large stalk lemon grass, tough outer leaves discarded, lower stalk trimmed to 4 inches and finely sliced
1 small red onion, cut in half and finely sliced
*½ lb small pickling cucumbers, peeled and finely sliced
1 tomato, cut in half and sliced into thin wedges
½ cup loosely packed fresh mint
A few leaves of lettuce to line the platter (optional)
  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or mixing bowl.  Blend well to dissolve the sugar.  Set aside.
  2. Build a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill or broiler.  Grill or broil the meat slowly, several inches from the fire, to keep it juicy.  Cook until medium-rare, turning occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes total.  Transfer to a cutting board.  Holding your knife at a 45-degree angle, cut the steak crosswise into very thin slices.
  3. Transfer the meat, with its juices, to a mixing bowl and toss with the remaining salad ingredients.  Add the dressing and toss to mix well.
  4. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter, if desired, and transfer the salad to the platter.  Serve warm, for best flavor, or at room temperature.
*For a seasonal substitution, use shredded carrots in place of cucumbers.  
Recipe borrowed from True Thai, The Modern Art of Thai Cooking, By Victor Sodsook with Theresa Volpe Laursen and Byron Laursen.  Yam neua is a Bangkok classic, served in homes as well as in cafés and restaurants all over the city.  

Thai-Style Chicken Soup

Yield: 4 servings
1 tsp oil
1-2 fresh red chilies, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large leek, finely sliced
2 ½ cups chicken stock
1 ¾ cups coconut milk
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, split
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar
4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the chilies and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the leek and cook for 2 minutes longer.
  2. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chicken, fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger, sugar, and lime leaves, if using.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the chicken is tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the peas and cook for 3 minutes longer.  Remover the lemongrass and stir in the cilantro just before serving.
Recipe borrowed from The Soup Bible, Consulting Editor: Debra Mayhew

October 1, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Leeks!

30 Sep 2020 22:06

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette; Tortilla De Patatas; Tomato Bread; Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos
Leeks: Braised Leeks with Pappardelle & Parmesan (see below); Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta (see below)
Variety of Large Tomatoes: Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette; Tomato Bread
Jalapeno Pepper: Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese
Purple, White or Cheddar Cauliflower: Silky Cauliflower Soup; Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos
German Butterball Potatoes: Tortilla De Patatas
Saute Mix OR Broccoli Romanesco OR Broccoli: Sheet Pan Salmon with Broccoli, Turnips and Turnip Greens Chimichurri
Green Top Baby Violet Turnips:Sheet Pan Salmon with Broccoli, Turnips and Turnip Greens Chimichurri
Sweet Peppers: Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps
Butterscotch Butternut Squash: Roasted Butternut Squash with Coconut Drizzle and Saigon Cinnamon; Baked Penne with Butternut Sage Sauce; Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos
Green Boston Lettuce: Carrot Ginger Dressing; Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette; Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps
Orange Carrots: Carrot Ginger Dressing
The colors of the valley are changing rapidly and we’re preparing for our first frost!  While we do cover some sensitive crops to protect them from frost damage, we don’t have time and resources to cover everything.  So, the crews are picking as many tomatoes and peppers as they possibly can so we can tuck them safely away in the cooler.  They are also going to dig the lemongrass which will not take a frost.  We’re planning to pack lemongrass in next week’s box, so you can look forward to a little taste of the tropics next week!  As we transition into fall, we are making a shift in our allium selections as well.  We’re taking a little break from storage onions so we can enjoy leeks which are in their prime right now!  This week I turn to two of my favorite bloggers/cookbook writers.  It’s true, I have many, however I gravitate towards these two ladies quite often when I’m looking for simple, healthy, vegetable focused recipes.  The first recipe, Braised Leeks with Pappardelle & Parmesan (see below), was featured by Alexandra Stafford on her blog, Alexandra Cooks, however it originated from Ronna Welsh’s book The Nimble Cook.  The rich creaminess of this dish doesn’t come from cream, but rather from the silky texture of the slow-cooked leeks and a bit of Parmesan cheese.    The second recipe comes from Sarah Britton’s blog, My New Roots.  This recipe for Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta (see below) makes a nice vegetarian main dish with light, simple flavors.
Carrot Ginger Dressing, photo from cookieandkate.com
The green Boston head lettuce in this week’s box is GORGEOUS!  This variety has soft, tender leaves and will make a beautiful base for a nice fall “tossed” salad with sliced sweet peppers, chunks of tomatoes and maybe even some little cauliflower florets.  While carrots are often included in tossed vegetable salads, you can also use the carrots to make a dressing to put on the salad!  This Carrot Ginger Dressing is light enough to not overpower the lettuce leaves and contributes a nice overall flavor to the salad.  If you prefer to shred the carrots and actually put them on your salad, you may choose to dress the salad with this Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette.  The leaves on this variety of lettuce are also great for things like these Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps!
The baby violet turnips in this week’s box are a new item we wanted to try this year.  They have a bit more of a turnip bite in comparison to the baby white salad turnips we grew earlier in the spring.  As I was considering what I might do with them, I got an email update from dishingupthedirt.com letting me know Andrea Bemis had just posted this recipe for Sheet Pan Salmon with Broccoli, Turnips and Turnip Greens Chimichurri.  Thanks for the suggestion Andrea, this recipe is perfect for this week’s box contents!  The chimichurri sauce is made with the turnip greens and parsley.  Speaking of parsley, it’s time to check your herb garden.  With the first frost potentially coming this week, you might want to harvest the remainder of your herbs or be prepared to cover the plants.  If you have extra herbs you can always dry them.  I also want to mention, for those of you who appreciate Andrea Bemis’ recipes, that she has another book coming out!  Local Dirt—Seasonal Recipes for Eating Close to Home.  It is being released on October 13, but is available for pre-ordering right now!
Roasted Butternut Squash with Coconut Drizzle and Saigon Cinnamon
photo by Katarina Jankov for food52.com
We’re continuing to work our way through our stores of winter squash and this week we’re sending the cutest little Butterscotch Butternut squash!  This variety is supposed to be small and may be served simply baked and topped with a  pat of butter.  If you want to try something a little different, you could also go for this Roasted Butternut Squash with Coconut Drizzle and Saigon Cinnamon.  This recipe calls for a touch of honey, which is only needed for a bit of flavor as this squash is already very sweet on its own!  I also want to try this recipe for Baked Penne with Butternut Sage Sauce, another recipe by Alexandra Stafford.  If you’re going to be harvesting your sage before the frost, you might as well use some fresh!
Silky Cauliflower Soup, photo from smittenkitchen.com
Any interest out there in recipes that have 10 ingredients or less?  Count me in!  We’re moving into soup season, so consider making this Silky Cauliflower Soup.  This recipe has seven ingredients including salt and pepper.  From a flavor perspective, this soup would be good made with any color of cauliflower.  From a presentation standpoint, I will be honest, I’m not sure how the color will turn out if you make this soup with purple cauliflower.  That being said, I want to try it!  If anyone else tries it, please share the results in our Facebook Group!  The other recipe I want to mention that has five ingredients only is this Tortilla De Patatas.  This is a traditional Spanish dish that is kind of like a potato frittata, but there’s a step in the recipe where you invert the whole thing onto a large plate and then return it to the pan to continue cooking on the other side.  Don’t worry, you can do it!  One day when the world opens up again, I really want to visit Spain.  Until then, a little exploration into Spanish cooking will have to suffice!  The author recommends serving this with Tomato Bread, another popular Spanish recipe originating in Catalonia.
Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos
photo from gimmesomeoven.com
Shifting gears, how about some tacos this week?!  Lets go vegetarian with these Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos, or maybe Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos!
Just when you think mac-and-cheese can’t get any better, you come across a recipe like this for Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese.  This recipe calls for quite a lot of jalapeno, but our peppers have been pretty hot this year, so I would suggest you error on the side of conservative.
Well, that brings us to the bottom of this week’s box.  We still have 8 more boxes after this week that will be filled with so many good things yet to come!  I mentioned earlier that we’re hoping to send lemongrass in next week’s boxes.  We’re also planning to dig sweet potatoes this weekend, so it will be just a few weeks until we start sending those in your box as well!  Before I close out this week’s conversation, I want to mention that I finally did it.  I bought an Instant Pot!  I’ve been resisting this purchase for a long time now, mostly because it seems to go against all the cooking techniques I learned in culinary school.  What do you mean I can’t shake the pot?  I lock the lid into place and walk away?  The next step will be taking it out of the box and actually using it!  So, if any of you have some tried and true recipes you like to make in your Instant Pot, please send them my way.  I’m ready to embrace this kitchen tool and let it help me put dinner on the table in short order!  The next 6-8 weeks are going to be very busy around here as we finish up our fall harvest, so I’m ready to implement any time saving hacks I have available!  Have a great week!---Chef Andrea 

Vegetable Feature: Leeks

By Chef Andrea
We continue our journey through the seasons with yet another selection from the allium family.  This week’s vegetable from the allium (onion) family is leeks!  In this region, leeks are grown for harvest in the fall.  We plant them from seed and transplant them early in the season, just after we transplant all of our storage onions.  They need more time to grow than onions, but we also need to harvest them before it gets too cold.  They can take some frost, but once the temperatures start to get into the twenty’s we risk damaging them.  In some more mild climates growers are able to actually overwinter leeks.  Our Midwestern winters are too harsh for overwintering them, so we’ll just have to enjoy them when they are in their prime!
Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon
If you’ve never cooked with leeks, it’s important to note that leeks are not “just another onion.”  While the flavor profiles are similar for all alliums, each one has its own distinct characteristics and qualities that set them apart.  Leeks are much different than the chives and ramps we delivered early in the season or the Sierra Blanca white Spanish onions we delivered in early summer.   Leeks are more mild and subtle in flavor.  They are best cooked using more gentle methods such as braising, lightly sautéing or cooking them into soups, sauces and broths.  When cooked using these more gentle methods, the texture of leeks becomes silky and tender.  Leeks have fewer sugars than onions, so they do not caramelize in the same way as an onion.  When you are sautéing leeks, do so at a low to medium temperature just until they are soft.  Do not try to brown them.
Leeks "hilled" in the field
Leeks have a long white shank that turns to more of a bluish green color as you reach the top of the leek.  The shank is made of many thin layers and is the portion of the leek most often used.  However, the green portion on top is equally edible and at the very least should be added to stock for flavor.  Throughout the growing process, dirt is hilled up on the leeks to cover the shank and block sunlight which keeps it white.  As a result, dirt may get between the layers.  While you need to take care to carefully clean the entire leek, the upper portion may have a bit more dirt between the layers and may need a little more attention.  I find it easiest to wash the exterior of the leek and then slice them.  Place the chopped leeks in a sink of clean, cold water and swish them around to remove any dirt.  Remove the leeks from the water and place in a colander to drain.  If there isn’t much dirt between the layers, you may also just place the sliced leeks in a colander and rinse them.
Leeks pair well with many fall vegetables including potatoes, celeriac, and other root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots.  They are often incorporated into cream soups, gratins and egg dishes such as quiche.  A traditional use for leeks is to make Leek & Potato Soup, of which there are many variations.  They also pair well with late season sweet peppers and tomatoes, bridging the gap between summer and fall.  Many recipes utilizing leeks also include complementary ingredients such as white wine, lemon, cream, cheese, apples, walnuts, chicken, bacon, fish and fresh herbs to name just a few ingredients.
Leeks will keep for several weeks if stored in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in plastic.  We hope you enjoy this delicate allium and appreciate the subtle way it adds flavor to your meals this week!  

Braised Leeks with Pappardelle & Parmesan

Yield:  4 servings
Braised Leeks:
3 large or 4 to 5 small to medium leeks, white and light green parts only
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp water
⅓ cup crisp white wine
4 Tbsp butter, cut into bits
A few sprigs thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
5 peppercorns, optional
10 coriander seeds, optional
For the Pasta:
12 oz pasta, such as pappardelle
Parmesan cheese, shaved, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Optional herbs:  finely copped parsley, or chives, to taste
Flaky sea salt, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.  Trim the leeks of any roots.  Slice each leek lengthwise through the bulb, then once more to make quarters—if you are only making the braised leeks, it’s OK to keep the leek end intact; if you are making the pasta, cut enough of the base off so that the leek does not stay intact.  Fill a large bowl with water and submerge the leeks in it.  Swish them around and carefully bend the pieces, using your fingers to release any dirt trapped between the layers of the bulbs.
  2. Once clean, lift out the leeks, drain, and place in a snugly fitting roasting pan or Dutch oven—ideally something that can go on both the stovetop and oven if you plan on making the pasta—no more than two layers deep.  If your leeks are extra long, cut them to fit.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients.  Cover and place in the oven.  Braise until the leeks have dulled in color and are quite tender to a knife, and bend and flex effortlessly, about 45-50 minutes.  Taste for salt.  Continue on to the next step if you are making this entire pasta dish, or cool to room temperature if you are making the braised leeks portion of the recipe and want to make the leeks portion of the recipe in advance.  Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months.
  4. Meanwhile, if making the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 2 Tbsp kosher salt.  Cook pasta al dente (times will vary according to package).  Reserve at least a cup of pasta cooking liquid. 
  5. Place the pan of braised leeks on the stovetop over low heat.  Transfer the cooked noodles to the pan with the leeks and toss with tongs to combine.  Add pasta cooking liquid as needed—approximately ½ cup.  Shave Parmesan to taste over top and season with fresh cracked pepper to taste as well.  If you seasoned your pasta cooking liquid as directed, you should barely need any salt here, but taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. If using herbs, add them, and toss to coat.  Serve, shaving more Parmesan and cracking more pepper over each serving if desired.
Recipe borrowed from Alexandra Stafford’s blog, AlexandraCooks.com

Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta

photo from mynewroots.org
Yield:  2-3 servings
3 large leeks
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup cooked chickpeas
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp liquid honey
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pinch of sea salt & Freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bunch fresh dill or parsley
  1. Slice off the root end of each leek, cut in half lengthwise, then cut the stalk into 1-inch chunks on the diagonal.  Use both the white and pale green portion of the stalk, discarding the dark green tops.  Submerge leek slices in a large bowl of water to remove dirt between the layers.
  2. In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat the vegetable broth until simmering.  Remove leeks slices from water and place in the broth.  Cover and let simmer for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. 
  3. While the leeks are cooking, make the dressing by combining all ingredients except for the lemon zest and dill or parsley.
  4. When leeks are just tender (do not overcook!), remove from pan with tongs and set on a serving platter, leaving the remaining broth.  Pour chickpeas into the pan and heat in the broth for about one minute, tossing to warm through.  Add half of the dill/parsley and toss.  
  5. Remove pan from heat and place chickpeas on top of the leeks.  Pour dressing over top, sprinkle with remaining dill/parsley, feta, lemon zest, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.  Serve immediately.
Recipe borrowed from Sarah Britton, www.mynewroots.org.

September 24, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Winter Squash

23 Sep 2020 22:52

Cooking With This Week's Box

Calibra Yellow Onions: Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, and Miso (see below); Homemade Vegetarian Chili
Jalapeno Pepper: Easy Coconut Curry recipe (see below); Jalapeno Cornbread
Mini Sweet Peppers: Giardinera
Sugar Dumpling Squash or Kabocha Squash: Gochujang and Sesame Roasted Winter Squash (see below); Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, and Miso (see below); Easy Coconut Curry recipe (see below)
Saute Mix: Easy Coconut Curry recipe (see below); Skillet Potatoes and Greens
Cauliflower, Romanesco, Red Cabbage or Green Savoy Cabbage: Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, and Miso (see below); Easy Coconut Curry recipe (see below); Giardinera; Italian Orecchette Pasta with Broccoli Romanesco; Red Cabbage Slaw; Seriously Good Homemade Coleslaw
Happy first week of Autumn!! The trees are starting to change colors, the nights are getting a bit more chilly and the harvest crew is harvesting root vegetables faster than I can get them put away in the cooler!  As you can tell by the box this week, we’re at a transition point in the season.  We’re officially done picking melons and watermelons.  Our first planting of tomatoes is nearly finished and we’re doing our last harvest of basil later this week.  It’s time to start moving into fall crops and this week we’re giving the stage to winter squash!  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read this week’s “Weed Em’ and Reap” article all about Winter Squash.  In that article we’ve included a description and picture for every variety of squash we’ve grown this year, so this is an important resource you can use in future weeks.
HVF Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce
This week we’re starting by sending either sugar dumpling or orange kabocha squash your way.  The first recipe I included this week is for Gochujang and Sesame Roasted Winter Squash (see below).  If you made a batch of HVF Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce last week, you can use it in place of gochujang in this recipe.  You can make this recipe using either kabocha or sugar dumpling.  The recipe calls for butternut or kabocha squash, but you could also use the sugar dumpling.  I’d recommend leaving the skin on and cutting it into thin wedges.  The second recipe is for Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, and Miso (see below).  This is a warm, nourishing soup that is packed with so many nutrients to support your immune system.  This is a recipe you’ll want to hang onto and use throughout the winter with a variety of squash.  Lastly, we look to loveandlemons.com for an Easy Coconut Curry recipe (see below).  I love winter squash in simple curries and this recipe caught my eye as it’s perfect for this week’s box.  In addition to squash, garlic and onions, it also includes cauliflower and spinach.  While we don’t have spinach quite yet, you can substitute this week’s saute greens.  This is another recipe you may want to add to the monthly rotation this winter.  While kabocha squash is one of the best options, you can also substitute butternut squash with equally good results.
Homemade Vegetarian Chili
photo from cookieandkate.com
It’s chili weather!  Make a batch of Homemade Vegetarian Chili using this week’s sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes.  Many recipes call for canned tomatoes, but since you have fresh tomatoes right now you might as well use them!  Serve this with a piece of Jalapeno Cornbread.
Both of the varieties of potatoes we’re delivering this week are good choices for potato salad!  When I was in Sicily back in February, we ate lunch at a little restaurant on the coast that had just a few items to choose from.  We chose a salad similar to this Italian Style Potato and Roasted Red Pepper Salad.  You can use any of the sweet pepper varieties in this week’s box.  Make sure you choose a good quality, flavorful olive oil for this salad.  Serve this alongside a simple fish dish such as this Sicilian Cod with Tomatoes and Garlic.
Before we leave Italy, I have a few more recommendations for Italian inspired recipes you can make this week.  Actually, a member commenting on our Instagram post reminded me about Giardinera, which is Italian pickled vegetables.  If you received cauliflower this week, use it for this recipe along with some mini sweet peppers to make a jar of these.  They make a great addition to an antipasto platter complete with a few cheese selections, some salami or other cured meats and of course some good Italian bread or focaccia.  This could be a fun, relaxed weekend dinner!  If you received Broccoli Romanesco, use it to make this Italian Orecchette Pasta with Broccoli Romanesco.  You could substitute cauliflower in this recipe as well.  This recipe calls for a few anchovy fillets.  If you’ve never used these before, I encourage you to do so.  They have a strong flavor, but you only use a small amount in the dish.  They provide a nice background flavor without being overpowering.  You can buy a small jar in the grocery section near cans of tuna fish.
On Tuesday afternoon we started harvesting some of our fall cabbages and I have to say, they are gorgeous!  The first thing Richard’s going to ask for will be cabbage slaw, creamy of course.  Here’s a recipe for a creamy slaw, actually it’s called Seriously Good Homemade Coleslaw.  This is best made with the green savoy cabbage.  If you received the red cabbage, you may want to try this Red Cabbage Slaw with a simple vinaigrette.
White Beans with Broccoli Raab and Lemon
photo by Laura Murry for bonappetit.com
Lets talk greens for a minute.  This week you’ll receive either broccoli raab or baby bok choi.  If you receive the broccoli raab, consider making White Beans with Broccoli Raab and Lemon.  If you receive the baby bok choi, make one of my all-time favorite recipes for this Bok Choi Salad with Sesame Almond Crunch!  We all need simple, easy dishes to turn to sometimes, such as this recipe for Skillet Potatoes and Greens.  The recipe calls for Kale, but you could also use the saute mix as well as broccoli raab or bok choi.  Add a protein of your choosing to round out the meal.
That brings us to the bottom of this week’s box.  Next week we are hoping to have more cauliflower as well as broccoli.  We might also start harvesting leeks and we still need to bring in our lemongrass, although we may wait one more week on that item.  We also have some gorgeous head lettuce that will be ready very soon!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Winter Squash

By Chef Andrea
This week we’re featuring winter squash as we celebrate the first official week of autumn!  We encourage you to read our “Weed Em’ and Reap” article this week that offers an expanded look into this year’s winter squash varieties.  You’ll want to refer to this article throughout the season to remind you about the characteristics of each kind.  It is important that we talk about storage though, so I want to offer a little info on this topic in this space this week.
The optimal storage temperature for winter squash is 45-55°F.  This may be difficult to achieve in a home setting, so my recommendation is to choose a cool, dry place in your home if possible, even if it is a little warmer than 55°F.  Many people choose to store winter squash in the garage or basement, which is fine to do as long as these spaces don’t get too cold in the winter and if they aren’t too humid.  In the coldest part of the winter our garage temperature usually dips into the 30’s which is too cold for squash.  We also do not recommend storing winter squash in the refrigerator.  As I mentioned, storage at temperatures less than 45°F may cause chill injury which will shorten the storage potential of your squash.  Honestly, it’s fine to also store them at room temperature, beautifully displayed in your kitchen or living space.  They will add beauty to your space until you’re ready to eat them!  They’ll also be easy to keep your eye on them.  It’s important to check the squash periodically if you’re keeping it for extended time.  Look for any spots starting to form that may indicate the start of deterioration.  If you do see a problem spot, don’t automatically throw it out!  I repeat, do not throw it out!  If you catch it early, the problem may only affect a very small portion that may be cut away.  If that’s the case, don’t delay, it’s time to cook the squash before the issue gets bigger!  It will be easier for you to monitor a few squash than it will be for us to monitor bins and bins of squash.  Don’t feel like you have to eat it all right away.  If it’s a variety that will store, you can set it aside for later.  If you do have some that are starting to develop spots, you should still cook it even if you are not ready to eat or use them.  You can scoop out the flesh once it’s cooked and freeze it.  Better to do this so you can preserve the flesh than to surrender it to the compost bin!

Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, and Miso

Yield:  about 2 ½ quarts (6 servings)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tsp dried turmeric powder OR One 4-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped (about ¼ cup) 
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (about ¼ cup)
2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more to taste
4 pounds kabocha, butternut, or other winter squash, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
5 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup sweet white miso, mellow white miso, or chickpea miso
Tamari (optional)
  1. Warm the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Stir in the garlic, turmeric, ginger and salt and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the garlic is golden and fragrant.  
  2. Add the squash and water (the water should come almost to the top of the chopped squash), raise the heat, and bring to a boil;  then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the squash is tender.  Test by pressing a piece of squash against the side of the pot;  it should crush easily with a little pressure.  Remove from the heat, season with pepper to taste, and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Working in batches, scoop the soup into an upright blender (filling it no more than two-thirds full).  Add the miso and puree on high speed until smooth and velvety, then pour into a large bowl or another large pot.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper, and with tamari, if using, and serve warm.  Store leftover soup in jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Recipe borrowed from Amy Chaplin’s book, Whole Food Cooking Every Day.

Easy Coconut Curry

Yield:  4 servings
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups cubed butternut or kabocha squash
1-2 Korean chile peppers or ½-1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 can (13.5 oz) full-fat coconut milk 
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
 4 cups fresh spinach (may substitute sauté mix)
 ½ cup frozen peas (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For Serving:
2 cups cooked basmati rice
  1. A few big handfuls of fresh basil or cilantro
  2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and well-browned, about 10 minutes, reducing the heat to low halfway through.  
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and salt.  Set aside.
  4. Add the squash and chiles to the pot, stir, and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the cauliflower and then add the coconut milk and the spice mixture.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. 
  5. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, spinach or sauté mix, peas (if using) and stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding additional lime juice, salt, and pepper, as desired.
  6. Serve the curry over the rice with fresh basil or cilantro and lime wedges on the side.
Recipe borrowed from loveandlemons.com.

Gochujang and Sesame Roasted Winter Squash

photo by Danny Kim for bonappetit.com
Yield:  4 servings
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp gochujang or HVF Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 medium butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, sliced ¼ inch thick
Scallions, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt
  1. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven;  preheat to 425°F.  Whisk sesame seeds, oil, gochujang, and soy sauce in a large bowl.  Add squash to the bowl and toss to coat the squash with the gochujang mixture.  
  2. Divide squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets, arranging in a single layer.  Roast, rotating sheets once, until tender and browned on some edges, 25-30 minutes.  Serve topped with scallions and salt.
Recipe borrowed from bonappetit.com.

Welcome to Fall! It’s Time to Introduce This Year’s Winter Squash Selections!

23 Sep 2020 22:48

By Chef Andrea
Winter Squash Varieties
This week we officially make the transition into fall.  Many people think we start winding down farm operations in late September and October, but on our farm this is the time of year when we kick it into high gear and continue to harvest up until Thanksgiving!  While summer is a bountiful season, fall also has a lot to offer, both in fall crops that we eat fresh out of the fields as well as all of the storage crops we squirrel away so we (you included) have food to eat throughout the winter.  We completed our winter squash harvest several weeks ago, a bit ahead of schedule.  We’ve been “curing” it to concentrate the sugars and set the skins for longer storage.  Now it’s time to make the transition and start enjoying this unique group of vegetables.

I recently read a blog post about winter squash where the author made the following statement:  “One of my favorite farmers says that eating a winter squash is like eating a season’s worth of sun stored up in one neat sweet bundle.”  I love this description and it really is true!  “Winter Squash” is a pretty broad description that includes hundreds of different vegetable varieties that fall into this category.  Selecting varieties to grow can be a bit overwhelming when looking through the seed catalogs each year.  Over the years we’ve developed our own set of criteria for deciding which varieties we want to include in our lineup.  There are a few important criteria that are non-negotiable.  For starters, we try to select varieties that actually have good flavor and are enjoyable to eat!  We also need a variety to have good disease resistance.  We need a healthy plant in the field that will survive the long growing season needed to bring squash to maturity on the vine.  Disease resistance is also important because it impacts the storage of squash.  If there are problems with leaf disease or other similar issues on a crop, the squash may look perfect at the time of harvest but we find that their shelf life is shorter.  We have several months ahead of us where we’ll be eating winter squash as an important part of our diet, so we also try to select different types of squash to grow to keep it interesting for all of you!  Lastly, we choose smaller varieties that will actually fit in a CSA box!  There are some varieties of winter squash that can grow very large.  My grandmother used to grow a variety that was several feet long and yielded enough flesh to make 6-8 pies!  Every year we have some standard favorites we grow, such as butternut, but we also trial new varieties each year as we continue to look for ways to vary and improve the next year’s offerings.
Winter Squash curing in the greenhouse.
I’ve included descriptions of each variety we grew this year.  As we go through the upcoming CSA deliveries, please refer back to this article to help you identify the squash you are receiving and refresh your memory about each one.  Before we look at the specifics though, I want to talk a little bit about storage.  The optimal storage temperature for winter squash is 45-55°F.  This may be difficult to achieve in a home setting, so my recommendation is to choose a cool, dry place in your home if possible, even if it is a little warmer than 55°F.  Many people choose to store winter squash in the garage or basement, which is fine to do as long as these spaces don’t get too cold in the winter and if they aren’t too humid.  In the coldest part of the winter our garage temperature usually dips into the 30’s which is too cold for squash.  We also do not recommend storing winter squash in the refrigerator.  As I mentioned, storage at temperatures less than 45°F may cause chill injury which will shorten the storage potential of your squash.  Honestly, it’s fine to also store them at room temperature, beautifully displayed in your kitchen or living space.  They will add beauty to your space until you’re ready to eat them!  They’ll also be easy to keep your eye on them.  It’s important to check the squash periodically if you’re keeping it for extended time.  Look for any spots starting to form that may indicate the start of deterioration.  If you do see a problem spot, don’t automatically throw it out!  I repeat, do not throw it out!  If you catch it early, the problem may only affect a very small portion that may be cut away.  If that’s the case, don’t delay, it’s time to cook the squash before the issue gets bigger!  It will be easier for you to monitor a few squash than it will be for us to monitor bins and bins of squash.  Don’t feel like you have to eat it all right away.  If it’s a variety that will store, you can set it aside for later.  If you do have some that are starting to develop spots, you should still cook it even if you are not ready to eat or use them.  You can scoop out the flesh once it’s cooked and freeze it.  Better to do this so you can preserve the flesh than to surrender it to the compost bin!
Maple Sage Roasted Black Futsu Pumpkins
When it comes to using winter squash, you need to evaluate each variety and determine the best use for it.  Some varieties will be better for use as individual servings or may be good for stuffing with a filling (Sugar Dumpling, Jester, Heart of Gold, Festival).  Others may be well-suited for use in curries, stews, soups and braised dishes as well as baked goods such as cakes, pies, bread and muffins. (Kabocha, Butternut, Butterkin, Tetsukabuto)  Each week as we deliver the different varieties, refer to the “What’s In the Box” section of the newsletter/email for details on the varieties being delivered in that week.  I also want to mention that the seeds in most of our winter squash varieties are edible as well!  When you scoop the flesh out of the cavity of the squash, separate the seeds, given them a rinse and then roast them in the oven until they are crispy and golden.  They make a nice garnish for soups and salads or just eat them as a snack.  If you need a little more guidance on this process, check out the resources at TheKitchn.com.
Ok, lets dive in and take a look at the squash we grew for you this year!
Sugar Dumpling Squash: We only grew a small amount of this variety as it is not the best storage squash and sometimes we don’t have room for it in the box early in the fall when we have so many other things to eat!  The tradeoff for a short storage window is that this squash is one of the most sweet and flavorful ones we grow.  Sugar Dumpling squash have a thinner skin and a high sugar content which makes them vulnerable to deterioration.  This squash is described as “the perfect two-serving dumpling squash” because you can cut it in half, bake it and eat the flesh right out of the shell!  All it needs is a little butter, salt and pepper.  The seed for this squash is produced by our friends at High Mowing Seeds in Vermont.
Jester Squash: This is a new variety we grew as a trial this year, so we only have one bin.  Our neighbor at the farmers market grew this variety last year and gave us one to try.  We’ve only eaten a few, but so far we’ve been impressed by both the flavor and sweetness of this squash.  We were hoping this squash could fill an early season slot previously filled by delicata squash.  While we know delicata is a popular squash, we have not had good luck storing it and typically have to compost a lot before we are able to deliver it.  This squash does have a thicker skin, which may indicate it will store longer.  So far it’s looking pretty good, but we’ll need to give it a little more time in storage to truly evaluate its potential.  At this point it does look promising and we’ll likely choose to plant more next year.
Heart of Gold Squash: While acorn squash is one of the most common and familiar varieties of winter squash, we’ve never cared to grow it because we can’t find a variety that has any flavor!  Heart of Gold is classified as an acorn variety, but as you can see in the picture it does not look like a traditional green acorn.  It has a beautiful creamy background with green markings and the flesh is golden yellow.  We grew this as a trial last year and were impressed with both its flavor and ability to be stored for several months.  This year we increased production with the intention that we can deliver this one later in the season.  While many recipes for acorn squash call for copious amounts of brown sugar, please try this one without the added sugar first.  Trust me…it doesn’t need it!
Festival Squash: We’ve been growing this variety for many years and it’s one of Richard’s favorites because it’s a beautiful squash!   The exterior has cream, orange and green markings and the flesh is golden yellow. This is another variety known to have long storage potential, so we often wait until November or December to deliver this one.  Festival is another squash that is easy to prepare by simply cutting it in half, baking it and serving one half as a portion.  It’s also a good squash for baking with a filling.
Orange Kabocha Squash: This variety is actually called “Sunshine,” which is very fitting for this bright orange squash!  Kabocha squash has a very thin skin that is actually edible.  It’s up to you whether you want to eat the skin or if you prefer to peel it.  It also has a very thick, deep gold flesh that has a very sweet, rich flavor.  Because this squash has a thinner skin and sweet flesh, it doesn’t always store as well.  This is a big bummer because it’s such a delicious squash that is very versatile in its uses.  It is excellent used in soups, curries, stews, but is flavorful enough to be steamed and lightly seasoned or just baked and served with butter.  It also is a great choice to use for baked goods.  We have reduced our planting size of this variety in recent years, but I think we’ll always grow this squash despite its challenges.
Black Futsu Pumpkin: This is a Japanese heirloom we grew for the first time last year, simply because I fell victim to the description in the seed catalog describing this as a squash highly revered by chefs.  This is one of the most unique varieties we grow with its’ knobby exterior and charcoal exterior color that turns to buff as it continues to develop in storage.  This variety has a flavorful golden flesh and a thinner skin that is actually edible.  I found the skin is most enjoyable if the squash is cut into thinner wedges and roasted so the skin gets crispy.  Our experience with this squash from last year is that it does store pretty well.  I did notice that the ones I cooked in late December and January had a tougher skin.  It’s pretty hard to peel this squash given it’s exterior, but the alternative way to deal with it is to just cut it in half and bake it.  Then you can scrape the flesh out of the shell and discard the skin if it’s too coarse to eat.

Butternut Squash:
I don’t have any official stats on this, but if I had to guess, I’d say butternut squash probably ranks at the top of the list in this country for pounds produced and consumed.  It does have a lot to offer in its versatility as well as the flavorful, sweet flesh.  It’s delicious roasted, baked, steamed, pureed and can be used in a wide variety of preparations.  There are many different varieties of butternuts, so how do you choose?  We fall back on our criteria mentioned earlier in this article and have narrowed our selections to Butterboy and Butterscotch, while continuing to trial new ones every year.  Butterboy yields well, has disease resistance, is good in storage and produces larger squash that are appropriate for a CSA box.  Butterscotch is a smaller variety that produces cute little fruit with exceptional flavor.  They were bred for sweetness, richness and complex flavor…..and they live up to all these characteristics!  Some of them are small enough to be a personal-sized squash.

 This is a cousin to butternut squash and one we started growing a few years ago.  It has the flesh and exterior color of a butternut with the rounded appearance of a pumpkin!  It stores really well and can be used in any way you would use a butternut.  Plus, you could also prepare it in such a way that the shell could be used as a serving vessel!

Autumn Frost:
This is another cousin to butternut, and a new variety we’re trialing this year.  It has kind of a gourd-like, squatty shape, but has the buff color of a butternut as well as butternutesque flesh.  The description in the High Mowing Seed catalog was very convincing and lured us in. Here’s what they say:  “Don’t be fooled by the decorative gourd-level beauty of this productive squash.  The unique appearance houses a delicious flesh that is sweet, earthy, and reminiscent of your favorite butternut squash.  Perfect for roasting, pies and breads.  It is an excellent storage crop…..”  So far it has met all of the criteria we’re looking for!  I haven’t cooked one yet, so I’ll have to report on the flavor factor later.  If it proves to hold up in storage we may choose to plant more next year.

“The squash of choice for the apocalypse.”  This is the heading under this squash in the Johnny’s seed catalog!  This caught our attention last year and we had to try it.  This is a cross between a kabocha squash and a butternut squash.  It has good disease resistance and is very productive.  It also has an exceptionally long storage potential.  In fact, they recommend that you wait at least 6 weeks after harvest before you eat it for the best flavor.  One of the attributes that contributes to its storage potential is that it has a very hard skin to protect the sweet flesh.  We have quite a few of these this year, but we are saving them for the last deliveries in December.  This will likely be the last squash you eat before the return of spring!
One-Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry
Winter squash is a hearty, nourishing vegetable that will fuel our bodies and keep us strong and healthy throughout the long, cold winter.  The ways you can use it are endless, so we hope you will enjoy using the different varieties throughout the winter as you prepare your favorite recipes from the past and find new ones to try.  The possibilities for using squash are endless, but if you come up against a block and don’t know what to do with them, refer to our recipe archives on our website or head over to our Facebook Group and ask for help!  I guarantee we’ll be able to help you find something delicious to create!

September 17, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Korean Chili Peppers

16 Sep 2020 22:38

Cooking With This Week's Box

Korean Chili Peppers: HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce—Updated (see below); Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs (see below); Sweet and Spicy Gochujang Butter Popcorn (see below)
Red & Yellow Onions: Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs (see below); Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers; Korean Carrot Salad; Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Roasted Corn Salsa; Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Veggie Cream Cheese Spread; Borscht with Beets & Beet Greens
Porcelain Garlic: HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce—Updated (see below); Steamed Bok Choi; Korean Carrot Salad; Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Roasted Corn Salsa; Garlic Thyme Burgers with Grilled Tomatoes; Green Tomatillo Shakshuka
Variety of Large Tomatoes: Grilled Salmon Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch; Garlic Thyme Burgers with Grilled Tomatoes; Corn & Tomatillo Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil
Jalapeno Pepper: Grilled Salmon Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch; Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Roasted Corn Salsa; Green Tomatillo Shakshuka
Sweet Corn: Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Roasted Corn Salsa; Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Corn & Tomatillo Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil; Cashew Corn Chowder with Cilantro Cream
Green Top Red or Gold Beets: Borscht with Beets & Beet Greens; Golden Beet Soup with Carrot & Ginger
Mini Sweet Peppers: Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers; Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Roasted Corn Salsa
Baby Bok Choi: Steamed Bok Choi
Orange Carrots: Korean Carrot Salad; Veggie Cream Cheese Spread; Golden Beet Soup with Carrot & Ginger
Sweet Peppers: Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Veggie Cream Cheese Spread
Green Tomatillos: Tomatillo Vegetable Feature; Tomatillo Pizza with Cilantro Pesto; Corn & Tomatillo Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil; Green Tomatillo Shakshuka
Steamed Bok Choi, photo from steamykitchen.com
I’m excited to kick off this week’s Cooking With the Box discussion by introducing you to Korean Chili Peppers!  We’ve only been growing this pepper for several years, but I it quickly became one of my favorites and I have had fun learning more about it each year.  If you haven’t had a chance to read this week’s Vegetable feature article about this pepper, please do so.  My top suggestion for what you can make with these is HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce—Updated (see below).  I published a version of this sauce back in 2018, but I’ve updated it this year and think the results are quite tasty.  This is a homemade, quick version of gochujang, a fermented Korean chili paste.  No, it’s not the exact thing, but it can be used in any recipe that calls for gochujang.  Because this is a hot pepper, a little bit of this sauce will go a long way.  So if you make one recipe of this sauce you’ll have about one cup to work with.  You will be able to make several different recipes with this one batch.  Plus, there’s no rush to use it all right away.  Store it in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze it in smaller portions so you can use it throughout the winter.  I have two recipes to share with you that you can make using some of your HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce.  The first is this recipe for Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs (see below).  I made this recipe last winter and we loved them!  You can serve them for dinner with Steamed Bok Choi or Korean Carrot Salad, or both!  You could also make them into smaller meatballs and serve them more as an appetizer or like cocktail meatballs for the holidays or a Super Bowl party!  The other recipe I tried this week was for Sweet and Spicy Gochujang Butter Popcorn (see below).  If you like popcorn, you’re going to love this.  It’s up to you how spicy you want to make it.
Grilled Salmon Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch
photo from honestcooking.com
While we’re talking about peppers we might as well cover the other selections in this week’s box.  You’ll find one jalapeno in the same bag with your Korean peppers.  Earlier this week I saw this recipe for Grilled Salmon Tacos with Jalapeno Ranch.  Of course you’ll want to dice up some fresh tomatoes to serve with these tacos.  As for the sweet peppers, one of my favorite things to make with mini sweet peppers is Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers.  I love how the peppers get silky and sweet to contrast the crispy roasted potatoes and crispy chicken.  I also like to stuff mini sweet peppers, such as with these Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers with Roasted Corn Salsa.  Eat them as a snack or for dinner!  Your choice.
Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad, photo from ohmyveggies.com
There are also several other “sweet peppers” in the box this week.  This Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad looks simple and tasty.  Serve it with Garlic Thyme Burgers with Grilled Tomatoes.  You could also use them to make this Veggie Cream Cheese Spread along with red onions and carrots.  Spread this on a bagel for breakfast or lunch or use it as a spread for sandwiches or wraps!
We’ve had a pretty good year for tomatillos and couldn’t help but send them again this week.  We likely only have a few more weeks before we lose them to frost, so we might as well make the most of them while we can!  We’re whittling down the recipe list that we published earlier this year in our Tomatillo Vegetable Feature Article.  We haven’t had pizza for awhile, so maybe we’ll try this Tomatillo Pizza with Cilantro Pesto or if you want to include some sweet corn you can try my recipe for Corn & Tomatillo Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil.  We haven’t mentioned much about breakfast or brunch, but if you are looking for something to fill this meal slot consider making Green Tomatillo Shakshuka.  Shakshuka is a great one-pan meal that is good served at any meal of the day.  This version uses tomatillos as the base to cook the eggs in.
Borscht with Beet & Beet Green, photo from sharonpalmer.com
Several members mentioned Borscht in the Facebook Group recently.  They also said they used the beet greens in the soup.  I’ve never used the greens in this way, but what a great idea!  I’ve also never made borscht with golden beets, but why not?  Here’s a vegetarian version of Borscht with Beets & Beet Greens.  If you’re not into Borscht this week, perhaps you may prefer to make Golden Beet Soup with Carrot & Ginger.  Now that the evenings are a bit chilly, a bowl of warm soup with some crusty bread makes for a nourishing dinner.  Wait, I almost forgot to share this recipe for Cashew Corn Chowder with Cilantro Cream, courtesy of Sarah Britton.  I made this soup earlier this week using fresh corn.  It was so delicious and the soaked cashews gave it a nice body and creamy texture--no dairy!  This is the kind of soup that makes you feel alive and invigorated after eating it!
Despite the fact that summer is nearly officially over, we still have so many gorgeous vegetables to send your way!  Check out the picture of some of the things Richard brought in from the field earlier this week!  This is our first time growing Purple Napa Cabbage and it is absolutely GORGEOUS!  The purple cauliflower took us by surprise and some is ready to harvest.  There are a few red cabbage as well as green savoy cabbages that are ready to harvest.  We also have our eye on the return of baby arugula, spinach, salad mix and possibly saute mix.  We may start sending a few early winter squash next week and Richard and Rafael can’t seem to stop digging to check on the sweet potatoes!  While many farms start to wind down this time of the year, we rev up!  So don’t think it’s over, we still have so many delicious vegetables to enjoy!  Have a great week!--Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Korean Chili Peppers

By Chef Andrea
Two years ago this pepper caught our eye in the seed catalog for no reason other than it had an interesting name (Dang Jo Cheong Yang) and it was a purple hot pepper.  We were looking for a different hot pepper to grow so decided to give it a try.  One of the fun parts of growing a new crop is figuring out when to harvest it, how to use it, etc.  Once the peppers turned purple we thought they were ready to harvest, but when we tasted them it was pretty disappointing.  They really didn’t have much flavor.  They just tasted like a boring green pepper with heat.  We decided to leave them and see what would happen.  I’m glad we did because they started to turn from purple to brilliant red and when they did the flavor changed dramatically!  In that first year we had no idea that we had stumbled upon a unique Korean pepper.  I had to really search and dig to figure out where this pepper came from and it was through both research and using it that we have come to love this hot pepper both for its history and origin, but also for its complex flavor.
This pepper is referred to as gochu in Korean.  While not all Korean food is spicy, many of the traditional foods in Korean cuisine are spicy and this pepper is one of the most widely used ingredients.  One source claims this pepper is “Korea’s most consumed vegetable when measured by weight (200 to 250,000 metric tons per year).”   I’m not sure how common it is to use it in its fresh form in Korea, but most references I found demonstrate that it is most commonly dried and used as dry flakes or powdered.  These forms are the way this pepper is used in traditional Kimchi (fermented cabbage and vegetables) and Gochujang (fermented chili paste).  Both of these foods have been part of Korean cuisine for thousands of years and originated out of a need to preserve and extend the shelf life of food.    The capsaicin (the component that makes it hot) in the peppers is an important part of the preservation process coupled with fermentation which not only preserves the food but also develops complex flavors.
I found some interesting information in the Journal of Ethnic Foods in an article entitled “History of Korean gochu, gochujang, and kimchi.”  Some sources debate the origin of this Korean pepper arguing that peppers are a New World fruit that must’ve been brought to Korea through trade.  In this article they state the belief that this pepper is actually indigenous to Korea and references to its use and cultivation in Korea are documented in records over 2,000 years old.  They also stated that “Based on scientific evidence, gochu started to grow on the Korean peninsula a few billions of years ago, and it is safe to say that it is original to Korea.”
I mentioned earlier that one of the reasons we love this pepper is for its complex flavor.  Yes, it’s a hot pepper, but you taste more than just hot when you eat it.  It has a unique flavor and a bit of sweetness that balances the heat in such a way that the heat doesn’t just burn your mouth.  I should also mention that while it is hotter than a poblano pepper, they are a modest heat pepper that are often more mild in heat than jalapenos.  Of course the heat can vary depending on the season.  We have received feedback from members over the past two years that individuals who don’t typically enjoy hot peppers actually like this one!  Since this pepper is traditionally used in fermented foods, we decided to see what would happen if we used it to make a fermented hot sauce.  We worked with Faith at Fizzeology Foods in Viroqua.  She made the most delicious Fermented Korean Chili Hot Sauce that was very well received by some of the “hot sauce experts” within our membership.  One of the great things about fermented foods is that they just continue to get better with time.  We are going to make more this year, but we do have a limited amount of last year’s batch remaining.  Check out our “Produce Plus” offerings if you’re interested.
So what can you do with these fresh peppers?  You can use them anywhere you need a fresh hot pepper in salsas, sauces, curries, soups, etc. I also have several simple suggestions for preserving them so you don’t have to use them all right now.  For starters, you can follow Korean tradition and dry them.  After they are dried you can turn them into pepper flakes or grind them into a powder.  When we first featured them in 2018 we published a recipe for Salt-Cured Chiles which is available on our website.  You can do this with nearly any chili pepper, but I really like to do this with the Korean peppers.  It’s super simple and all you need is salt and the peppers.  Once you’ve salt-cured them they will store for quite awhile in the refrigerator.  In fact, I still have a jar that I made last year!  The beauty of salt-cured chili peppers is you can use them to add heat to anything you want and they still have a fresh chili flavor.  I use them throughout the winter for stir-fries, fried rice, soups, stews, sauces, etc.
Salt-Cured Chiles
You can also use the fresh chiles to make a quick version of gochujang.  Since this chili pepper is most often either dried or fermented, you likely won’t come up with many recipes calling for just the fresh peppers.  Now, if you search for recipes using gochujang, I guarantee you’ll come up with a hearty list!  Gochujang is a fermented chili paste traditionally made from dried chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt.  I found references recommending fermenting it for 4-6 months or years!  While it may be hard for any of us to make the traditional gochujang in our homes, you can make a quick version of gochujang that uses the fresh chiles.  The flavor may not be as complex and the consistency will be more like a sauce and less of a paste, but it will still be delicious and you can use it in any recipe that calls for gochujang.  In this week’s newsletter I have included a recipe for HVF Fresh Korean Chili Sauce (see below) which may be used in place of gochujang in recipes.  You can store this sauce in the refrigerator for about a month, or divide it into smaller portions and freeze it.  I shared a similar recipe in 2018, but have updated the recipe a bit this year.
Here are a few recipes I have in the queue that call for gochujang.  The recipe in this week’s newsletter yields about 1 cup, but many of these recipes only call for a small amount which means you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy these peppers in many different recipes over the next few months!  Have fun and enjoy!

HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce--Updated

Yield: 1 cup
4 oz fresh Korean chili peppers
4 cloves garlic
⅓ cup miso
2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
  1. Remove the stem and roughly chop Korean chili peppers (seeds included) into one inch pieces.  Put the peppers in a food processor or blender along with the garlic cloves and roughly chop them until they are a fine, yet chunky paste.
  2. Add the miso, honey, tamari and rice vinegar.  Blend together until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed to your liking.  Add tamari for more depth of flavor, honey for more sweetness, garlic to get more “zing” or salt if it just needs a little enhancement to wake up all the other flavors.
  4. Put the sauce in a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2-4 weeks.  Alternatively, you can freeze it in smaller portions as a means of preserving it for later use.  
Note:  You may use this in place of the Korean fermented chili paste called gochujang.  It’s pretty hot, so a little bit will go a long way!  
Recipe originally adapted from minimalistbaker.com.

Sweet and Spicy Gochujang Butter Popcorn

Yield: 2 Servings
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 tsp gochujang or HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see note)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
⅓ cup unpopped popcorn kernels
Fine sea salt, to taste
  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add gochujang, sesame oil, and honey.  Whisk together until well combined.  Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.  
  2. Pop popcorn by your method of choice.  If you are popping it on the stovetop, heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat.  When the oil shimmers on the bottom of the pan, add popcorn kernels.  Cover and shake intermittently until popping starts, then continue to shake the pan until popping stops or significantly slows.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour popcorn into a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk the butter mixture to ensure it is well-combined, then pour evenly over hot popcorn and toss to coat.  Season with salt to your liking.  Eat immediately!
NOTE: For milder gochujang butter, use only 1 tsp of gochujang.  If you like it spicier, use 2 tsp.
Recipe adapted from domesticdreamboat.com.

Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

Yield: 16-18 meatballs
½ cup finely minced onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 lb ground beef or pork
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1-2 Tbsp gochujang or HVF Fresh Korean Chili Garlic Sauce*
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
Gochujang Glaze:
⅓ cup apricot preserves
1-2 Tbsp gochujang or HVF Fresh Korean Chili Garlic Sauce*
1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Sliced green onions (when in season) and/or toasted sesame seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients.  Using your hands, mix all ingredients until everything is well mixed.  Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs and place on a cookie sheet.  You want to spread them out a bit so there is space in between them.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they are cooked through and firm.  
  2. While the meatballs are baking, make the glaze.  In a small saucepot, combine all glaze ingredients.  Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and slightly thickened.  Remove from heat.
  3. Once the meatballs are cooked through, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meatballs to an 8 x 8-inch baking dish or other small casserole.  Pour the glaze over the meatballs, making sure all are covered in the glaze.
  4. Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with green onions and toasted sesame seeds if desired.
*I made this recipe using 1 Tbsp of HVF Fresh Korean Chili Garlic Sauce in the meatballs and 1 Tbsp of the sauce in the glaze.  This will give you a spicy, but not over the top, meatball.  If you really like spice, increase the gochujang quantity.  
Recipe adapted from a recipe submitted to Food52 by foxeslovelemons.

September 10, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Peppers

9 Sep 2020 22:29

Cooking With This Week's Box

Sweet Peppers: Sweet Pepper and Cheddar Clafoutis (see below); Red Pepper, Tomato and Lentil Salad; Creamy Roasted Sweet Pepper Dressing; Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Salad
Poblano Peppers: Creamy Chicken & Greens with Roasted Poblano Peppers; Grilled Corn & Poblano Tacos; Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans; Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
“Fantastic” Sweet Corn: Grilled Corn & Poblano Tacos; Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Salad
Calibra Yellow Onions: Creamy Chicken & Greens with Roasted Poblano Peppers; Pan Grilled Salmon with Tomato Salsa; Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Salad; Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans; Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
Porcelain Garlic: Sweet Pepper and Cheddar Clafoutis (see below); Roasted Beets & Chickpeas with Jalapeno Yogurt; Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans; Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
Variety of Large Tomatoes: Red Pepper, Tomato and Lentil Salad; Grilled Corn & Poblano Tacos; Pan Grilled Salmon with Tomato Salsa
Jalapeno Pepper: Roasted Beets & Chickpeas with Jalapeno Yogurt; Watermelon Margarita; Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans
Red Seedless Watermelon AND/OR Melon: Watermelon Margarita
Green Top Red Beets: Roasted Beets & Chickpeas with Jalapeno Yogurt; Maple Roasted Beets and Carrots; Shredded Beet & Carrot Salad
Green Tomatillos: Tomatillo Feature Article; Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans; Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
Cilantro: Grilled Corn & Poblano Tacos; Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Salad; Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans; Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
Rainbow Chard: Creamy Chicken & Greens with Roasted Poblano Peppers; Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
Orange Carrots: Maple Roasted Beets and Carrots; Shredded Beet & Carrot Salad
Red Pepper, Tomato and Lentil Salad
Seasonal eating means waves of vegetables coming at you in the peak of their season and this week we’re riding a pepper wave with a focus on the sweet side of this crop!  There are so many different things you can do with sweet peppers, which makes it very hard to choose just one or two recipes to feature!  This week I settled on Melissa Clark’s Sweet Pepper and Cheddar Clafoutis (see below) recipe from her cookbook, Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France.  Clafoutis is traditionally a dessert made with sweet cherries, but Melissa turns the concept into a savory main dish and it’s excellent!  Clafoutis is kind of like a rich, French frittata.  It is essentially a baked custard made with eggs, milk and crème fraiche.  If you have access to crème fraiche, I encourage you to use it.  If not, you can substitute sour cream.  This dish works as a main dish for breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch and leftovers reheat well.  Before I move off of the topic of sweet peppers, I want to call your attention to a few recipe favorites from our archives including this Red Pepper, Tomato and Lentil Salad we featured last year and Creamy Roasted Sweet Pepper Dressing featured back in 2014.  This dressing is versatile, but this week I want to use it as a dip to eat with carrot sticks or drizzled over slices of fresh tomatoes!
Grilled Corn & Poblano Tacos
photo from loveandlemons.com
We’re not done talking peppers, but lets switch gears and talk about the hot peppers in this week’s box!  This is the perfect week to make Creamy Chicken & Greens with Roasted Poblano Peppers since we have both chard and poblano peppers.  You could also make these Grilled Corn & Poblano Tacos, garnished with fresh tomatoes and cilantro.  While I was poking around at loveandlemons.com, I found a few other interesting recipes that are appropriate for this week’s box contents.  I want to try this Roasted Beets & Chickpeas with Jalapeno Yogurt using this week’s beets.  This is a vegetarian main dish salad with spicy chickpeas and roasted beets drizzled with a sweet and spicy garlic, lime and jalapeno yogurt sauce.  And the last recipe suggestion from this site is a Watermelon Margarita that also makes use of some jalapeno for a spicy kick to this cocktail!
Before tomatoes are finished, we need to get our fill of fresh tomato salsa and you can eat it on more than just tacos and with tortilla chips!  Consider making this Pan Grilled Salmon with Tomato Salsa for dinner and serve it with Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Salad.
Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie
photo from littlespicejar.com
Remember back to the end of July when we had just started picking tomatillos and featured them in the newsletter?  You might want to revisit that Tomatillo Feature Article which included a list of twelve different recipes featuring tomatillos.  Now that the temperatures are cooling off, I think it’s time to make this Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans.  This recipe calls for jalapenos and canned green chilis.  You could use a mix of jalapeno and poblano peppers.  I think I’m going to go for this Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Pie which calls for poblano peppers as well as the tomatillos.  This recipe calls for spinach, but since we don’t have that this week I’ll substitute rainbow chard.  Round out this dish with onions, garlic and cilantro, also in this week’s box!
This week’s beets and carrots are like nature’s candy and they’re excellent candidates for these Maple Roasted Beets and Carrots, a delicious side dish for any simple dinner of roast chicken or grilled steak.  Of course you could also use both of these roots raw to make this simple Shredded Beet & Carrot Salad.
This brings us to the bottom of another bountiful box of produce!  Lets cross our fingers that we’ll get a few more weeks of warm weather to continue ripening and harvesting tomatoes and peppers.  Before you know it, we’ll be harvesting leeks and will be packing winter squash in your box!  Have a great week!---Chef Andrea  

Vegetable Feature: Sweet Peppers

By Chef Andrea
Orange Italian Frying Peppers
Late August and early September marks the peak of pepper season.  This is the time of year when the field changes from a sea of green to a colorful array of orange, red and yellow.  Several weeks ago we featured poblano peppers and we’ve been including a jalapeno in your boxes since mid-summer.  We still have one more tasty hot pepper to share with you, but that selection will need to remain a mystery as it’s not quite ready.  So this week we’ll turn our attention to the sweet side of our pepper crop.
It’s a shame that the family of sweet peppers are so poorly represented in many traditional grocery store produce departments.  While red and yellow bell peppers are lovely, there are so many other varieties of sweet peppers and many of them have better flavor!  Over the years we’ve grown to appreciate other varieties such as Italian frying peppers which are delicious eaten both raw and cooked.  Richard has also developed our own seed stock for orange Ukraine peppers which are not available commercially.  They are similar to a bell pepper, but have a pointy tip and a thick flesh.  They are an excellent pepper for roasting or stuffing.  And then there are the sweet Mini Sweet peppers.  Long before this became a mainstream pepper selection a CSA member encouraged us to try growing these snack peppers.  Seed wasn’t commercially available so we had to start by buying a pack of peppers from the store, picking all the seeds out of them and starting down the long road of producing our own seed.  Many years have passed and we continue to produce our own seed for this crop despite the fact that seed is now commercially available for snack peppers.  We continue to trial these varieties, but we continue to favor our own seed line as the peppers simply taste better!
Orange Ukraine Peppers
One of the reasons I like to eat and cook with peppers is because they are so versatile in the ways they may be used, but they also pair well with a wide variety of vegetables and ingredients.  They pair well with summer vegetables in dishes such as ratatouille, but they also pair well with root crops, winter squash and sweet potatoes.  You can use sweet peppers in salads, salsa, soups, curry dishes, stews, on pizza, in quesadillas and so much more!  They are also super easy to preserve, which is why I always make sure I have enough in the freezer to last me until the next crop comes in.  Freezing is the easiest way to preserve peppers.  All you have to do is wash them, remove the stem and the seeds and pop them in a freezer bag.  To conserve freezer space, you might want to dice, slice or chop them into smaller pieces. In the case of mini sweet peppers, however, I just freeze those whole.  Pull them out in the winter and add them to egg dishes, soups, stir-fry, casseroles, chili and so much more!
Roasting Red Peppers over a gas burner
The other thing I want to mention about sweet peppers is how they are transformed when roasted.  The natural sugars in the peppers are developed in the roasting process and the texture becomes silky.  If you’ve never roasted peppers, it’s quite easy.  It’s best done over an open flame such as a grill or a gas burner.  If you don’t have either of those, you can also roast them under the broiler in the oven.  I typically roast them whole, but you could cut them in half and remove the stem and seeds before roasting.  You want the skin side to be in direct contact with the flame or heat source so you can roast them until the skin is blackened and blistering.  Remove them from the heat, put them in a bowl and cover them so they steam as they cool.  Once cool enough to handle, use the back of a knife to scrape the skin off the pepper.  Once roasted, you can use the peppers in vegetable, grain, bean or pasta salads.  You can use them to make a creamy roasted red pepper sauce to serve with pasta or chicken.  You can add them to sandwiches or quesadillas.
It’s best to store fresh peppers at room temperature, although you can store them for several days in the refrigerator.  If they start to get a little soft or wrinkly, they are just starting to dehydrate a little bit but are still very usable.  If you do have more peppers than you can use this week, take a few extra minutes to pop them into the freezer.  You’ll be glad you have them this winter!

Sweet Pepper and Cheddar Clafoutis

Note:  Clafoutis is a custardy, baked dessert originating in France.  It is traditionally filled with sweet cherries.  This is Melissa Clark’s savory spinoff on this French dish and it’s delicious served as a main dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  If you don’t speak French, you can also refer to these as really good “cheesy eggs” as Farmer Richard refers to them.
Yield:  4 to 6 servings
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup crème fraiche (may substitute sour cream)
4 large eggs
2 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¾ tsp fine sea salt, divided, plus more as needed
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (4 oz) coarsely grated sharp white cheddar, cheese, divided
2 ounces sliced ham, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 sweet peppers, (red bell, orange or red Italian frying peppers or orange Ukraine peppers) OR ½ pound mini sweet peppers
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
1. Heat the oven to 375°F.  
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, crème fraiche, eggs, flour, basil, ½ tsp of the salt, and pepper.  Stir in ¾ cup of the cheddar and the ham (if using).
3. Prepare the peppers by removing the stem and seeds and slicing into ¼-inch slices.
4. In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Stir in the peppers and cook until they are softened and golden at the edges, 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and remaining ¼ tsp salt and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
5. Scrape the egg mixture into the skillet, and top it with the remaining ¼ cup cheddar and the Parmesan.  (Or for a more elegant presentation, scrape the vegetables into a gratin or casserole dish and add the egg mixture and cheese to that.) 
6. Bake until the eggs are set, 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool slightly, then top with lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
Thinking Ahead:  
You can cook the peppers and garlic up to 3 days in advance.  Store the mixture, covered, in the refrigerator.  Gently rewarm it in an ovenproof skillet before adding the egg mixture and baking.
Recipe borrowed (with minor adaptations) from Melissa Clark’s book, “Dinner in French:  My Recipes by Way of France”

September Farm Update!

9 Sep 2020 22:22

By Farmer Richard
Watermelons moving up the harvest belt to be washed!
As we near the end of summer and approach the official start of autumn on September 22, we acknowledge that this is a very unique and sometimes challenging time of the season.  Late summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, melons, watermelons and sweet corn can come on fast and furious in the heat of August leaving us scrambling just to keep up with harvest.  When September comes and we lift our heads to take a breath, it hardly seems possible that just around the next corner the danger of the first frost is looming!  The official first average frost date for our area is September 15!  Yikes!  Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll get frost, but the overnight temperatures have been getting cooler and we’ve had to grab an extra jacket for chilly mornings which reminds us the first frost will be coming soon.  We haven’t seen frost until October for many years as we experience the effects of climate change.  We can’t forget however that climate change can yield extremes on both ends of the spectrum.  Will we get an unseasonably warm fall or a cold one?  We can only guess!
Look at all the Mini Sweet Peppers on one plant!
The challenge of this time of year lies in both the amount of work we have to do as well as trying to work with and around the challenges of weather.  We are still harvesting the last of our summer crops including two plantings of tomatoes, lots of peppers, the last planting of sweet corn, and the last of the melons.  While we’re sad that zucchini and cucumbers are finished for the season, we did breathe a sigh of relief that we could mark those harvests off the production list for the week to free up crew time to do other things….like harvest winter squash!  As we try to finish off summer crops, fall crops are coming in already.  We’re nearly finished with winter squash harvest and started harvesting the first of this year’s celeriac crop last weekend.  The parsnips, carrots, black Spanish radishes, beauty heart radishes and daikon are all in the queue for harvest as soon as this rainy week passes and the fields dry out.  We’ll have a little overlap in time where summer and fall will be demanding our attention simultaneously!
Mountain Merit Red Slicer Tomatoes, a disease resistant
variety in our second planting.
During this time of the year we watch the weather, checking it multiple times per day to plan our work schedule.  We have to be ready to respond to the threat of frost, even if it’s only one cold night followed by a few more weeks of warm temperatures!  We have to make the difficult decisions about whether or not we can harvest the remainder of the most frost-sensitive crops or if we need to invest in covering them.  If the latter, we need time to put the covers in place along with sandbags to hold them down.  You can’t do this at the last minute because conditions are not always appropriate for laying out covers.  Please note, it is not advisable to try to put covers over crops with winds of 10-20 mph or the covers will likely end up in the trees!  If it looks like frost may be coming, peppers and tomatoes are, at present, our most vulnerable crops that would be our priority to cover.  Most other crops, such as lettuce, spinach, parsley, baby bok choi, etc, can take a light frost and recover with minimal to no damage.  Once we start seeing temperatures in the 20’s we’ll have to add more covers to protect our late season head lettuce, escarole, radicchio and tat soi.
Bins and bins of winter squash including
Black Futsu Pumpkins!
I mentioned that we’ll finish our winter squash harvest this week, and the next crop we typically get questioned about this time of the year is the beloved sweet potatoes!  They are sizing up nicely, but could use several more warm weeks of growth.  If this chilly weather looks like it’s going to stay around we’ll likely need to cover the sweet potatoes just for some heat gain to accelerate their growth rate.  We typically start harvesting the last of September of first of October, so it won’t be long!  Both winter squash and sweet potatoes need some time to “cure” before they are delectable, sweet and ready to pack in in your CSA boxes.  Curing helps to set their skins so they store better and develops their flavors and sweetness.  As tempting as it is to eat them as soon as they come out of the field, we know from experience it’s better to wait a few weeks.
Fields put "to bed" with a cover crop to hold the soil in
place over the winter and build fertility in the soil.
In addition to harvest, this is also the time of year when we are preparing to put fields “to bed” for the winter and preparing them for next year’s crops!  Once we’ve taken the final crop off a field for the current season, we need to consider what will be planted in that field next year.  This impacts our decisions about compost and mineral applications as well as figuring out the most appropriate cover crop to plant on the field.  Cover crops are an important part of managing our land, both for fertility but also to prevent erosion and loss of our precious topsoil over the winter.  This week we received four pallets of cover crop seeds from Albert Lea seeds, so as soon as the fields dry out this will become a top priority.
Beauty Heart Radishes as far as you can see!
Despite the challenges, we love this time of year!  The cool working conditions are a welcomed relief from the hot days we’ve worked through over the summer.  Weed seeds germinate more slowly which means our late planted crops can grow faster than the weeds and dominate.  We’re still cultivating and hand weeding, but very soon the weed pressure will lessen.  The cool to cold temperatures of fall also impact the crops in different ways.  The green color of kales, spinach and other greens intensifies and crops such as red lettuce and red mustard produce deep gorgeous leaves.  The cool weather also causes flavors to be more balanced and sweet.  Crops such as radishes and arugula mellow out and, in our opinion, taste much better than when grown in the heat of the summer.  Fall brassicas including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts will benefit from the cool temperatures and you’ll be able to taste the difference when you eat them!  While many farms start to wind down in late September or October, we’ll continue to go strong and our harvests won’t be done until the very end of November or possibly December!  For those of you who have been with us for years, you know there are still a lot of seasonal favorites remaining to experience this season.  For those of you who may be joining us for the first year, get ready for some hearty fall boxes!  Many longtime members dread the point in the year when they have to return to shopping for produce at the grocery store.  However, if you play your cards right this window of “grocery store shopping” can be pretty minimal.  Now is the time to be preserving things for winter.  We’ve had a great response this year to our “Produce Plus” offerings.  There is still time to freeze peppers and make some tomato sauce to stockpile for winter use!  As we move into fall, there will also be opportunities to stock up on root crops and other vegetables that can store well into winter, even after CSA deliveries are finished.
This year's leeks...coming soon! 
We hope you enjoy eating through this transition point in the season as well.  Tomato season isn’t over yet and peppers are in their peak.  Instead of pairing tomatoes and peppers with zucchini and cucumbers, we can transition to tasty dishes made with fall root crops, winter squash, leeks and potatoes.  It’s another transition in our seasonal eating journey as we follow Mother Nature’s lead.
This will be the first year in many that we will not be hosting our annual Fall Harvest Party.  Late September can be a magical, beautiful time to visit our valley.  However, due to the pandemic precautions we’ve implemented on our farm this year, we’re going to have to settle for connecting through social media and our weekly email connections.  Please know we miss seeing you in person and look forward to opening our farm to you again in a future season.

September 3, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Watermelon!

2 Sep 2020 22:31

Cooking With This Week's Box

Yellow Onions: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Sweet Corn & Zucchini Pie
Italian Garlic: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Tomato GaletteBaked Feta Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Garlic; Egyptian Spinach Soup
Green and Silver Slicer Cucumbers OR Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Sweet Corn & Zucchini Pie; Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies; Watermelon & Cucumber Salad with Feta
Chocolate Sprinkles, Valentine Red Grape, Mountain Honey Red Grape or “Glitter” Yellow Grape Tomatoes: Baked Feta Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Garlic
Variety of Large Tomatoes: Tomato Tart; Tomato Galette; Baked Feta Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Garlic
Jalapeno Pepper: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Mexican Corn Dip with Cream Cheese & Jalapenos
Melon: Prosciutto Wrapped Melon with Mint & White Balsamic Vinegar
Red Seedless Watermelon: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Watermelon & Cucumber Salad with Feta
Orange and/or Red Italian Frying Peppers: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Spanish Tortilla with Peppers; Mexican Corn Dip with Cream Cheese & Jalapenos
Green Bell Peppers: Mexican Corn Dip with Cream Cheese & Jalapenos
Sweet Corn: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below); Sweet Corn & Zucchini Pie; Sweet Corn Risotto; Mexican Corn Dip with Cream Cheese & Jalapenos
Edamame: Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below)
Egyptian Spinach: Egyptian Spinach Soup
Sliced watermelon rind
Was it just me or did August come and go like a flash of lightening?!  Despite the fact that nights and mornings are getting chilly, the celeriac and parsnips are almost ready to dig and we started harvesting winter squash last weekend, lets not forget we still have a few more weeks of summer remaining!   What better way to embrace this season than by featuring watermelon!  I never really thought about doing anything with watermelon other than cutting it up and eating it, but I found some interesting ways to use it when I did some research in preparation for this week’s feature article (see below).  This week I challenge you to try a recipe that may seem a bit “out there,” but is really quite tasty!  Our first recipe is for Sweet and Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry (see below).  This was my first time using watermelon rind and I was really surprised by its texture and flavor which are more like a vegetable than a fruit.  Plus, stir-fry is always a good way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into one meal.
Tomato Tart
photo from foodieinnewyork.com
This week I want to feature a few recipes that were posted in our Facebook Group.  For those of you who are not yet signed up for our private Facebook group, you are missing out!  There has been a lot of great interaction this year and some fabulous recipe ideas have been shared!  We have a few more weeks to embrace fresh tomato season before the first frost.  This recipe for a Tomato Tart was recommended by one member.  This tart has a custard-gruyere cheese filling under the tomatoes.  Another member recommended this Tomato Galette recipe that includes slices of garlic and cheese held together by a flaky galette pastry.  This recipe for Baked Feta Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Garlic also looks quite tasty.  The recipe calls for 2 pints of “cherry” tomatoes, but there is only one pint of small tomatoes in your box. I would recommend either halving the recipe (to yield 2 servings), or use one pint of small tomatoes and substitute diced larger tomatoes.  I’d recommend a variety that is more “fleshy” such as marsalato or black velvet.  In this recipe, the tomatoes are roasted or baked with a block of feta cheese so the sweet acidity of the tomatoes mingles with the salty cheese.
Before we bid farewell to zucchini for the season, consider this member-recommended recipe for a crustless Sweet Corn & Zucchini Pie.  Of course you could also go the sweet route with these Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies!  If you receive cucumbers instead of zucchini this week, consider making this refreshing Watermelon & Cucumber Salad with Feta.  This is a super easy salad to make with simple, bright flavors of mint, basil and lime to complement the fruity watermelon and cucumbers.  You could even serve this along with Sweet Corn Risotto for a light dinner.
Mexican Corn Dip with Cream Cheese & Jalapenos
photo from theanthonykitchen.com
Sweet peppers are one of my favorite crops, especially the red and orange Italian frying peppers included in this week’s box.  I’d like to recommend using them in this recipe for a Spanish Tortilla with Peppers.  This is an egg and potato dish made in a skillet, similar to a frittata.  Serve it for any meal of the day, either hot or at room temperature.  You could also use either the red or orange Italian Frying peppers and/or green bell peppers along with a jalapeno and corn to make this Mexican Corn Dip with Cream Cheese & Jalapenos to serve with tortilla chips.  
This week we’re picking our final crop of edamame.  If you don’t use it in this week’s Sweet & Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry recipe, consider making this simple recipe for Edamame and Sea Salt which we featured in a past newsletter.  The other recipe that comes from our archives and deserves mentioning is Egyptian Spinach Soup.  I mentioned this recipe several weeks ago, but it really is the recipe to make with Egyptian Spinach which is a pretty unique green.
Prosciutto Wrapped Melon with Mint & White Balsamic Vinegar
photo by Scott Phillips for finecooking.com
As we round out this week’s box, we’ve found a use for every item in the box aside from the melon!  Keep the flavors and prep simple this week, but enjoy these Prosciutto Wrapped Melon with Mint & White Balsamic Vinegar.  The salty prosciutto is a nice balance to the sweet, juicy melon and the vinegar serves to heighten your senses to all these flavors!
Have a great week, a Happy Labor Day and I’ll see you back here again next week for more summer recipes and a few glimpses of fall!—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable....I Mean Fruit: Seedless Watermelon

By Chef Andrea
This week we’re featuring one of the few fruits we grow at HVF—seedless, personal-sized watermelons.  This is a challenging crop to grow, but if you know Farmer Richard you know he likes a good challenge!  The burning question you may be asking is “How do you produce seeds to grow a seedless watermelon?”  The answer to this is more detailed than I can explain, but if you’re interested in learning more about the details of this process, you can find information at Watermelon.org.
The challenges of growing this crop start with sourcing seed.  Since we specifically want to grow smaller melons, the selection of untreated or organic seed for seedless watermelons is pretty limited.  We don’t have a lot of varieties to choose from and the seed is pretty expensive.  We also have to create a “perfect” environment for the seeds in order to get them to germinate.  We water and preheat the greenhouse flats a day before planting the seeds.  Once the seeds are planted, we cover the greenhouse table with a cover to keep the flats nice and warm.  Yes, we baby these seeds along because we want them to grow so we get a return on our investment in the seed!  If we’ve paid attention to these details, we can hope to see sprouts within a week. The other challenging aspect to growing seedless watermelons is pollinating them.  The plants themselves are sterile which means they cannot self-pollinate.  We plant “pollinator” watermelon plants in the rows of seedless watermelons.  These plants do produce watermelons, but they are seeded and are not delectable.  They are, however, excellent pollinators that take care of pollinating the plants we do want to produce fruit!
Watermelon Sushi, photo from watermelon.org
While it is most common to just cut the watermelon and eat it, there are many other ways you might use watermelons in a variety of ways in recipes.  I have to admit that up until this year my experience with other “non-traditional” recipes was limited to watermelon drinks and watermelon-tomato salad.  As I started my research I found an extensive collection of recipes at Watermelon.org.  There are recipes for drinks such as Watermelon Green Tea and a Watermelon Ice Cream Soda Float!  They also have recipes for salads such as a Watermelon Caprese Salad and Thai Watermelon Salad.  I was also intrigued to find recipes for Watermelon Barbecue Sauce and Watermelon Chutney.  They even have a recipe for Watermelon Sushi!  These are just a few of the hundreds of recipes on this site specifically dedicated to watermelons!
Watermelon Rind Kimchi, photo from watermelon.org
Lets talk about the watermelon rind for a minute.  I have never been excited about making Watermelon Rind Pickles and I really didn’t know you could do anything with it beyond pickling.  As I looked around at other recipes, I realized there are many other ways you could use the rind of watermelon in ways that treat it more like a vegetable than a fruit.  You can use it to make Watermelon Rind Coleslaw, Watermelon Rind Kimchi, Watermelon Relish and so much more!  I found a recipe for Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry and another for Watermelon Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce.  I liked portions of both, but didn’t like the entire recipe so I decided to create my own recipe for Sweet & Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry for this week’s featured recipe.  The end result--I actually really like stir-fried watermelon rind!  The rind is actually more like a vegetable and less like a fruit.  It has the texture of a carrot when cooked and is very mild in flavor.  To prepare watermelon rind for use, you first need to cut away the red flesh.  You also need to use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the thin outer green skin.  The part of the rind you want to use is the white portion.  It is important to note that each watermelon variety may have differing amounts of usable rind because some have a thick rind and others are very thin.  Nonetheless, in the spirit of embracing the concept of reducing food waste and maximizing your food dollars, I’d encourage you to try utilizing the rind!
Whether you choose to try something new or stick with the old method of just eating it as is, we hope you enjoy these sweet, little seedless watermelons.  

Sweet & Sour Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry

Yield:  6 servings
Sweet & Sour Sauce:
2-3 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 ½ Tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 ½-2 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Stir Fry:
1 pound ground pork (optional)
2 Tbsp sunflower oil or other high heat oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 medium onion, small diced
2 cups sliced watermelon rind
2 cups sliced zucchini
1-2 sweet peppers, sliced
¼-1 jalapeño, minced (amount to your tolerance)
1 cup raw sweet corn (from about 2 ears of corn)
½ cup shelled edamame
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
Steamed Rice, for serving
1 cup chopped cilantro, for serving
  1. First prepare the sauce.  Puree the seedless watermelon cubes in a blender.  Pour the puree into a small mixing bowl.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir to combine.  Set aside.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables for the stir-fry before you start cooking.  Once everything is prepared, heat a wok or medium to large skillet over medium-high to high heat.  Add the oil and once hot, add the ground pork (if using).  Cook the ground pork until thoroughly cooked through, then add garlic, ginger and onion.  If you choose not to include the pork, simply preheat the oil and then add the garlic, ginger and onion.  Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes more and then add the watermelon rind, zucchini and sweet peppers.  Continue to keep the vegetables moving as they cook and keep the heat on medium-high to high.  Stir fry for 5-6 minutes or until the zucchini and watermelon rind are tender but not fully cooked.
  3. Next, add the jalapeño, sweet corn, shelled edamame, white and black pepper, and sweet and sour sauce.  Stir to combine.  Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sauce thickens just a bit.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and soy sauce to your liking.  
  4. Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice and fresh cilantro.
Recipe developed by Chef Andrea

Our Health, Our Hope

26 Aug 2020 22:08

By Andrea Yoder

The beauty of Spring Creek at Harmony Valley Farm
As humans, we often see ourselves as removed from nature—as if we are looking down on it or walking amongst it yet separate.  We try to control it, but that seldom works out.  In reality, we are nature and our amazing bodies were designed to live in and work in synchronization with the natural world which was designed to work!  So when your mother told you to “Eat your vegetables,” did you ever wonder why?  Yes, the basic answer is “because they are good for you.”  But why are they good for you?  Vegetables and fruits are nature’s medicine, the building blocks and tools we need to detoxify, repair and build our body.  They contain valuable and important nutrients and compounds we need to keep our body functioning optimally.  It’s our job to care for our vessel and give it the fuel and resources it needs to achieve this state.  One way we do this is by consuming nutrient-dense foods.  When our physical state is optimized, we feel good.  We not only survive, but we thrive, have energy and vitality that allows us to fully live, experience and participate in our lives!  It impacts all aspects of our being including clear thinking, emotional stability, conscious living and an overall increased quality of life.  It helps us show up in a bigger way allowing us to contribute in positive ways in the world.  None of us knows our time on Earth, but we each have the choice every day to maximize our personal potential and impact while we’re here.
Doing our part to social distance and cover our faces!

It’s obvious our world is shifting, changing, and in many ways revealing the weaknesses in our society, food systems, political structures, etc.  COVID-19 has affected us all in major ways that go beyond having to wear a mask and social distance in public.  Our work lives have been disrupted and there may be some in our membership who have even lost their jobs.  School will look much different this fall for our students and despite the fact that we all long for COVID to make an exit, it’s clear the impact of this virus will continue.  For how long?  I’m not sure anyone knows the answer to this question.  How do we stop it?  Where do we find solutions?  There are many factors seemingly outside the realm of what we can control and impact.  This pandemic joins the ranks of so many other big issues of concern in our world today including topics like climate change, factory farming, the use of agrochemicals and the impact all these things have on human and ecological health as well as our economy.  Money seemingly buys power, but when that power is used in self-serving ways instead of for the greater good of our society we seem to move backwards, negatively impacting people and our planet.  To think about this can be pretty overwhelming and may at times leave us feeling helpless and anxious about our future.  But that’s not ok.  We are not helpless and we do have a future.  Unless we choose to give our power away, we all still have a say in all of this through the personal choices we make every day.  How do we choose to show up in the world?  From where do we draw our energy and where will we turn our attention?  What do our choices represent and support?  So lets start with something so very basic to our existence--our physical body and the strength we have as we exercise our right to make choices that positively impact our personal health and well-being.
And to think beautiful food like this Red Pepper, Lentil
and Tomato Salad can be our "medicine!"
COVID has brought forth a collection of public health messages encouraging everyone to maintain their distance, wear masks, wash your hands, etc.  On August 14, 2020 an article entitled “Why aren’t we promoting health to combat COVID-19?” was posted by Dr. Mercola.  In this article there are references to research from the scientific literature identifying lifestyle-related health conditions including obesity, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and hypertension as modifiable risk factors that make an individual more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 if exposed and may lead to more severe disease and higher risk for a more unfavorable outcome in individuals presenting with these disease conditions.  If you’re interested in reading more of the specifics about these studies, I encourage you to reference the original articles cited at the end of Dr. Mercola’s article.  While I like evidence to support practices, I think it’s already pretty well-established that our lifestyle choices are directly related to our health and wellness whether we’re in a pandemic or not!
Anthocyanins, carotenoids and so many other valuable
nutrients in vegetables such as these gorgeous beets!
For those of you who don’t know this already, my first career path was as a dietitian.  I remember sitting in one of my early nutrition classes listening to a lecture about magnesium that left me amazed that a simple mineral could impact the human body as a cofactor in literally hundreds of biochemical reactions in the human body.  Yes, we can take magnesium supplements, but we can also get magnesium from a wide variety of plant and animal foods including leafy greens.  I also remember learning about anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables that are the pigment that gives some foods red, blue and purple colors.  The fact that I can identify a nutrient compound in a food by its color was a pretty cool thing to learn, but the fact that they also protect our bodies in many ways through their role in scavenging free radicals that can damage our cells was even more impressive.  Yes, I was a bit of a nutrition science geek, and still to this day am completely amazed by the power of our food to impact our physical health by building our immunity, preventing the development of cancer, detoxifying our cells and so much more.  So when we say we strive to grow nutrient-dense food, this is why!  We need all of these nutrients to build our bodies up and when we eat a variety of plant foods every day the cumulative effects of all of these beneficial plant compounds become our health insurance policy!
The Nash Family, one of our awesome CSA families!
Read more about their experience here!
So in the midst of this pandemic, I applaud all of you for prioritizing organic vegetables as an important part of your diet.  When we take care of our body, our body will take care of us.  When we give our body the nutrients it needs to have a fully functioning immune system, we’ll have better outcomes should we be exposed to COVID-19, influenza or any other potentially pathogenic virus or bacteria in our environment.  Of course we also believe there are many ways we benefit our health by being connected to each other and the source of our food, spending time in nature, and participating in activities that nurture both our body and our souls such as gardening or preparing meals for ourselves.  We have many longtime members who have been eating from CSA boxes for 15-20 years, or in some cases more than 30 years!  They have experienced firsthand the health & lifestyle benefits of choosing to eat organic vegetables from a CSA box.  Many of these families also have adult children who grew up as “CSA kids,” a subset of our membership that I will forever be lovingly jealous of! These people are doing great things in this world as engaged members of our society.  This year we also have many members who are new to our farm.  Some of you have participated in CSA before while others are experiencing this way of sourcing your food for the first time.  We hope you are seeing, feeling and experiencing the positive benefits from something as simple as eating fresh food rich in nutrients.
Mother Nature never ceases to amaze us with her
expressions of beauty.
What does the future hold?  The answer to that question actually falls upon all of us starting with ourselves.  As the bounty of the summer harvest floods our kitchens, we can’t help but feel nurtured by Mother Nature who continues to feed us regardless of a pandemic or any other seemingly insurmountable life situations.  So keep eating your vegetables, cook, enjoy, be nourished and thrive.  Our society needs each one of us to contribute and be fully present to the unfolding hope of tomorrow.

August 27, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Poblano Peppers!

26 Aug 2020 21:58

Cooking With This Week's Box

Monastrell Red Onions: Quick Red Enchilada Sauce; Egg Tacos with Roasted Poblano, Onion, and Corn Salsa (see below); Rajas Con Crema (Creamy Roasted Poblano Peppers) (see below)
Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Lemon Thyme Zucchini Muffins; Roasted Ratatouille
Chocolate Sprinkles, Yellow Grape or SunOrange Tomatoes: Cucumber, Tomato Salad with Olives and Feta; Roasted Ratatouille
Jalapeño Pepper: Quick Red Enchilada Sauce
Sun Jewel Melon OR French Orange OR Sweet Sarah: Cucumber Melon Salad
Red Seedless Watermelon: Watermelon Frose
Poblano Peppers: Egg Tacos with Roasted Poblano, Onion, and Corn Salsa (see below); Rajas Con Crema (Creamy Roasted Poblano Peppers) (see below)
Green Bell Peppers: Roasted Ratatouille
Sweet Corn: Egg Tacos with Roasted Poblano, Onion, and Corn Salsa (see below); Rajas Con Crema (Creamy Roasted Poblano Peppers) (see below)
Orange Carrots: Simple Tomato Sauce
The peak of summer is an exciting time as those things we’ve been waiting for all year FINALLY come in!  Watermelons, melons, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn—the box is so full we have to plan strategically to make it all fit!  We’re coming up on that point in the season where summer and fall collide.  We’ll still be picking tomatoes and melons while we start harvesting butternut squash and leeks!  This is also the time of year when we can keep meals simple, and with that in mind, lets dive into this week’s box.  This week we’re featuring one of my favorite peppers—poblanos!  If you haven’t read this week’s vegetable feature article about this vegetable, check it out.  I included a short list of my favorite recipes utilizing poblanos that we have featured in past newsletters.  I also have two more very simple recipes to share with you this week.  The first is for Egg Tacos with Roasted Poblano, Onion, and Corn Salsa (see below).  You can make the salsa in advance and just cook the eggs and assemble when you’re ready to eat.  This could easily be breakfast, lunch or dinner!  The second recipe is for Rajas Con Crema which means Creamy Roasted Poblano Peppers (see below).  This is a traditional way people prepare poblano peppers in some parts of Mexico.  As I was looking at different recipes for this, each one had a little different twist, which leads me to believe the “right” way to make these is whatever way your grandmother prepares them!  I chose this version because it has corn and onions in it.  Serve this in tortillas as a taco or as a side dish to accompany rice and beans or grilled steak or chicken.
Quick Red Enchilada Sauce
photo from alexandracooks.com
As long as we’re keeping it simple, I want to suggest this recipe for Quick Red Enchilada Sauce.  This recipe is credited to Alexandra from alexandracooks.com.  She has many good recipes, so when I was looking for a simple enchilada sauce I turned to her.  This is the one step that I get hung up on with many enchilada recipes that look good.  The recipe calls for a jar of enchilada sauce, which I don’t have!  I do however have tomatoes, onions, garlic and a jalapeño which are the main ingredients needed for this sauce.  Once it’s made you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze it.  This is on my list of recipes to make now and freeze so I can pull together a pan of enchiladas quickly the next time they cross my radar!
Lets make the most of this year’s tomato season with another quick and easy recipe.  This recipe for Simple Tomato Sauce is very simple to make and consists of carrots, onions, garlic and tomatoes.  The carrots add a bit of depth and sweetness to the sauce which can help tone down the acidity of the tomatoes.  This recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but you can easily substitute fresh tomatoes.  Once it’s made, toss it with pasta for a quick dinner.
Roasted Ratatouille, photo from alexandracooks.com
Last year I made my version of this Roasted Ratatouille and put some in the freezer.  I really encourage you to make some this year as it is such a great way to preserve all these lovely summer flavors and I guarantee you’ll appreciate having it in the winter!  The traditional way to make ratatouille is on the stovetop using tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions and garlic.  This version is much more hands off and tastes just as good, or maybe even better!  Use this recipe as your guide, but don’t be afraid to vary the ingredients.  If you don’t have eggplant, add more zucchini, etc.  When you pull this out of the freezer to use it, there are many different things you can do with it.  I used it as the base “sauce” for pizza which made assembling pizza super easy.  I also heated it up and tossed it with pasta, mixed it into polenta, added it to scrambled eggs, and mixed it into rice.
Quick-Pickled Refrigerated Green Beans
photo from flavourandsavour.com
We’re getting close to the end of green bean season, so now’s the time to make your favorite green bean recipes.  My friend, Dawn, was the one who got me to try pickled green beans.  I have to admit, they are kind of addictive!  I don’t have plans to break out the canner to make a big batch of pickled green beans, but I can make a small batch of these Quick-Pickled Refrigerated Green Beans!  They are a nice accompaniment to sandwiches, salads, etc.
If you don’t use all your zucchini to make the Roasted Ratatouille, consider making these Lemon Thyme Zucchini Muffins.  I like adding herbs into baked goods like this and have never tried this combo.  If you make them before I get a chance to try this recipe, post in the Facebook group and let us all know how they turn out!
Cucumber season won’t last forever and I’m always sad when it’s finished.  Cucumbers and tomatoes are such a classic combo, as is this simple Cucumber, Tomato Salad with Olives and Feta.  Make sure you get good olives as that is a dominant flavor in this salad.  Cucumbers also pair nicely with melon, so don’t be afraid to put the two together in this Cucumber Melon Salad!
Watermelon is typically not something that needs a recipe as the vast majority of our membership simply cuts the watermelon up and eats it.  The end.  If you do want to turn it into something, consider making this Watermelon Frose!  Rose wine, watermelon, lime juice, and basil come together to make a refreshing, frosty adult beverage!
Well, I hope these recipes have sparked some simple, creative uses for this week’s box contents.  Honestly, you can make a very delicious and simple summer dinner without much hassle.  Simply slice a fresh tomato, steam some green beans, boil a few ears of corn, and slice up a melon.  Who needs anything else? –Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Poblano Peppers

By Chef Andrea
Poblano peppers are, in my opinion, a standout pepper when it comes to hot peppers for one simple reason—Flavor!  Some peppers are just hot, and then there are a few that balance their heat with flavor making the whole eating experience more enjoyable.  Poblano peppers are dark green with wide shoulders and a pointy bottom.  They have a thinner wall than bell peppers, but thick enough that they hold up to roasting very well.  In fact, roasting is the process that amplifies and develops the flavor of a poblano.  As I mentioned, poblanos are a hot pepper with a mild to medium level of heat.
Poblano peppers may be eaten raw, sautéed, grilled, or roasted.  Roasting peppers is very easy and can be done over a direct, open flame or in the oven.  If you have a gas stovetop, roast the poblanos directly on your burners over a high flame.  If you have a small rack, you can put that over the burner.  The other direct flame method is to roast them on a grill.  If you want to use an oven, it’s best to roast them under a broiler.  You want to roast them until most of the skin is blackened.  You’ll have to turn them periodically to blacken all sides evenly.  Stay close and don’t walk away because sometimes this happens quickly, especially under a broiler.  Once the skin is charred, put the peppers in a covered bowl or a paper bag so they can steam and cool slightly for about 10 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, use the back of a knife to scrape away the skin.  Remove the stem and scrape away all the seeds from the inside of the pepper.  Now you’re ready to add roasted poblano peppers to whatever dish you’re preparing!
Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos & Corn
Chiles Rellenos is a classic dish based on roasted poblano peppers that are filled with cheese, coated in a batter, and fried.  While the shape of poblano peppers makes them a good candidate for stuffing with a filling, there are many other ways to use them.  They pair well with summer & fall vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet corn, sweet peppers, potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, sweet potatoes and dried beans.  They also pair well with cream, cheese, sour cream and dairy in general which is a nice complement to their heat.  Creamy poblano sauce can be used to make potato gratin, pasta dishes, or as a sauce to top off enchiladas or grilled chicken or beef.  If you don’t have a recipe in mind already, I would recommend you take a look at the recipes we’ve included in past newsletters.  Many of the recipes in this list have received excellent member feedback and are probably the reason I love this pepper so much!

Egg Tacos with Roasted Poblano, Onions and Corn Salsa

Yield:  2-4 servings
For the Salsa:
2 to 3 poblano peppers, halved, cored, and chopped
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels stripped from cob
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 lime, halved
½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped, or more to taste
1 avocado, diced, optional
Hot sauce or red pepper flakes, optional

For the Egg Tacos (for 2 small tacos):
2 small tortillas
Dab of butter
2 eggs, well beaten
Queso fresco, crumbled, or other cheese, optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.  
  2. Place diced poblanos, red onions, and corn in a large bowl.  Drizzle in the tablespoon of olive oil.  Season generously with kosher salt.  Toss to combine then spread on a large sheet pan, lined with parchment for easy cleaning.  (Reserve the bowl.)  Roast until vegetables are beginning to char, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let the vegetables cool briefly, then transfer to the reserved bowl.
  3. Squeeze a little lime over the vegetables.  Add in the cilantro, and toss.  Taste.  Adjust with more lime, salt, and cilantro to taste.  Add the avocado, if using.  If you want some heat, add a splash of hot sauce or a pinch of pepper flakes.  Mix and taste again.  Set salsa aside
  4. Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  Add the dab of butter and immediately pour the eggs into it as it melts.  Season with a pinch of salt.  Let eggs set for 15 seconds or so, then turn heat to low, and, using a spatula, stir the eggs constantly till they’re done.  They will likely be cooked in less than a minute.  
  5. Warm tortillas, then divide the scrambled eggs between the two.  Spoon the salsa over the top.  Finish with cheese if desired.
Recipe borrowed from AlexandraCooks.com.

Rajas Con Crema (Creamy Roasted Poblanos)

photo from muydelish.com
Yield:  4 servings
3  large Roasted Poblano Peppers cut into strips
2 Tbsp butter
½ large onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
½ tsp black pepper
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1 cup shredded melting chesse (Mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
  1. In a medium saucepan or skillet, add the butter and onions over medum-high heat.  Sauté until onion starts to soften.  Add the garlic and roasted poblano strips.  Cook for two minutes, stirring often. 
  2. Add the corn and pepper, mix well.
  3. Lower the heat to medium, add the cream cheese and Mexican crema or sour cream.  Mix well.  
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the cream starts to bubble.  
  5. Finally, add the shredded cheese, cover the pot and turn off the heat.  Let it set covered until the cheese has melted.  Serve warm with tortillas, grilled steak, chicken or shrimp.  Alternatively, serve this dish as a side along with rice and beans.
Recipe adapted slightly from muydelish.com.

August 20, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tomatoes!

19 Aug 2020 22:17

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: Garlic Scented Tomato Salad (see below); Spiced Braised Lentils & Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut (see below); Fried Rice with Edamame & Corn
Red Thumb Fingerling Potatoes: Bombay Potatoes; The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes
Chocolate Sprinkles, Valentine Red Grape or SunOrange Tomatoes: Cucumber Tomato Salad
Mixed Variety of Tomatoes: Garlic Scented Tomato Salad (see below); Spiced Braised Lentils & Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut (see below)
Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini Cream Pie; Savory Italian Zucchini Pie
Cucumber Tomato Salad
photo from dinneratthezoo.com
This week we’re talking tomatoes!  August is definitely characterized by two of summer’s possibly most favored favored vegetables—Tomatoes and Sweet Corn!  While there are many different ways you can use tomatoes, I have two simple, tasty recipes to share with you this week.  Both of these are featured in Food52’s cookbook, Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore.  The first recipe is Garlic Scented Tomato Salad (see below) that originated with Marcella Hazan, an Italian-born food writer and recipe creator.  This recipe is so simple that when I read it I was like “Ok, drizzle vinegar on tomatoes with oil and basil, what’s the big deal?”  Well, I don’t know but something magical must happen when you steep crushed garlic cloves in red wine vinegar with salt and drizzle the seasoned vinegar over fresh, juicy tomatoes and basil.  This salad is seriously delicious.  The second recipe was created by food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark.  Her recipe for Spiced Braised Lentils & Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut (see below) is so fragrant and delicious.  Aside from the time it takes to simmer the lentils, it really doesn’t take much time to bring this dish together.  Whatever you do, don’t skip the simple step of toasting coconut with mustard seeds. This is a key component to the dish along with that last pat of butter you put on top of the hot lentils.  Before we move on from the topic of tomatoes, lets talk about that little pint of tomatoes in this week’s box.  This week I want to use them to make this simple Cucumber Tomato Salad featuring the small tomatoes in your box along with cucumbers, red onion, green bell peppers and fresh herbs.  So simple, but perfect for this week’s box!
Sweet Corn Scramble
photo from spinachtiger.com
This week’s sweet corn variety is Awesome (as in that is really the name as well as the adjective we can use to describe the flavor!).  I’ve never put sweet corn in my scrambled eggs before, but I started doing it last week and it is so delicious!  Here’s a basic recipe for Sweet Corn Scramble, but feel free to improvise by adding sautéed onion, garlic, green bell peppers and/or fresh herbs.  I also like to stir in a few dollops of cream cheese just as the egg starts to set up.  Richard likes a little browned, crumbled breakfast sausage in his sweet corn scramble as well.  The other thing I like to make every year when edamame and sweet corn overlap is Fried Rice with Edamame & Corn.  Fried rice is a great way to pack a lot of vegetables into one pan.  You can vary the vegetables depending on what you have available, but this version includes garlic, onion, corn, edamame and carrots.  Before we move on from edamame, I thought I’d highlight this recipe for Sushi Salad with Brown Rice, Edamame, Nori and Miso Dressing that was featured in a past newsletter.  It’s simple, refreshing and nourishing!
The zucchini challenge continues!  Why didn’t I think of pie before?  Sweet, savory, or both—we have options!  If you want to go the sweet route, try this Zucchini Cream Pie.  If you want to go with more of a main dish option, try this recipe for Savory Italian Zucchini Pie.
Bombay Potatoes
photo from myfoodstory.com
I am no expert on Indian food, but I think I can handle this recipe for Bombay Potatoes which should work great with this week’s Red Thumb fingerlings.  This is a spicy dish and the recipe calls for a green chile, for which this week’s jalapeno will work perfectly.  Serve these spicy potatoes with a cooling Cucumber Indian Raita.  If you don’t use this week’s potatoes for Bombay Potatoes, then consider using them to make The Best Pan-Roasted Potatoes!  I tried this recipe last year and these simple potatoes are excellent!  The only thing you need aside from oil, potatoes and salt is a little patience.  Aside from that, follow the recipe!
Looking for something spicy to enjoy on the side of tacos, rice & beans, sandwiches, etc?  Why not use this week’s carrots and jalapenos to make Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots?  While we’re talking spicy, check out this recipe for Spicy Jalapeno Gimlets!  Using jalapenos to make a cocktail has never crossed my mind before, but this might be fun to try.  If you’re interested in a non-alcoholic drink option, you could also try this recipe for Jalapeno-Cucumber Fizz Mocktail
We’re down to nearly the bottom of the box.  What about the melon?!  One option is to use melon in more of a savory way such as in this recipe for Grilled Salmon with Spicy Melon Salsa.  The other recipe I would like to try is Melon Ice Cream.  You don’t have to have an ice cream maker for this recipe, so anyone can make it!
Ok, that’s a wrap for this week.  I think Richard’s going to pull the trigger on picking watermelons this weekend, so we’ll have to make some room in next week’s box for a sweet, juicy seedless watermelon!  Our preliminary taste tests have been quite tasty and we’re excited to share them with you!  Have a great week and I’ll see you next time!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Tomatoes

By Chef Andrea
While technically a fruit, tomatoes are likely one of the most well-known “vegetables.”  They find their way into so many different uses ranging from condiments such as ketchup, salsa and chili sauce to salads, soups, sauces and as a base flavor in meat dishes, stocks and more.  One sentence is not enough room to describe the vast array of ways tomatoes can be used, so even if you aren’t a tomato lover, I’m sure there are a few ways you can put these to use in your kitchen!
There are literally hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, so deciding which ones to plant can be pretty overwhelming!  Over the years we’ve trialed many different varieties of tomatoes, which are not exactly the easiest crop to grow in our valley.  One of the most important characteristics we look for is disease resistance.  If we have a wet year, leaf disease can be a very big problem and if the plant dies due to disease, it doesn’t matter how good the tomato may have been—we’ll never be able to harvest them!  We use a stake-and-tie method for our tomatoes where we weave twine around the main stem and vines as the plants grow in order to keep the tomato plant upright and the fruit off the ground.  It’s a pretty labor intensive system, but it helps the foliage dry out faster to help with disease prevention.
Tomato field before the tomatoes ripened
The next important characteristic we look for is flavor.  We look for varieties that have a good balance of acidity and sweetness as well as good tomato flavor.  If you’re wondering what “good tomato flavor” is, consider those tomatoes you get on sandwiches and salads in the middle of winter that are shipped in from the other side of the country.  Those tomatoes are bred to withstand shipping, but if you really evaluate their flavor you’ll find they really don’t have any flavor!  So yes, we look for tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes!  Many people are drawn to heirloom tomato varieties, however many of the heirlooms we’ve trialed just don’t have the disease resistance we need.  We do appreciate the flavor of many heirlooms, so we’ve sought out improved heirloom varieties as well as more disease resistant hybrids that feature the heirloom flavor with more modern hybrid characteristics which make them more appropriate for our growing situation.
It’s important to store tomatoes properly and keep a watchful eye on them.  If they are a little on the green side and need time to fully ripen, it’s best to store them at room temperature.  Check them daily and, if you see any spots or other signs of deterioration, eat them sooner than later taking care to remove the affected area of the tomato.  Once fully ripe, it’s best to eat them or store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.  The flavor of a tomato will be at its best eaten at room temperature.  While a day or two in a cold environment will likely not impact the tomato, longer storage in the refrigerator at temperatures less than 45-50°F may negatively impact both flavor and texture.
Young tomato plants staked and tied to prevent disease
Aside from eating them fresh, there are many ways to preserve tomatoes for later use.  One of the easiest things you can do is freeze them in their raw state.  Just wash them, remove the stem, then either freeze them whole, diced, or pureed.  If you freeze them with the skin on, the skin will separate from the flesh of the tomato once thawed.  You can either remove the skin at that time, or puree the skin and the flesh in a blender so you capture all the nutritive value of the tomato.  You can also turn tomatoes into tomato sauce or salsa and can them.  These are just a few of the many suggestions for preserving tomatoes.
This year we have two very nice crops of tomatoes, perhaps the best we’ve seen in recent years. In the information that follows we’ve included some pictures and descriptions of the tomatoes we’ll be picking this year.  We hope you’ll use this as a resource to help you identify which tomatoes you receive in your share and to understand their different attributes.  
Keep your fingers crossed that we have a plentiful tomato harvest this year, and if we do, get ready as we’ll fit as many in your box as we can!  If you’re interested in tackling a larger tomato preservation project, watch for our Produce Plus offer for 25# boxes of Roma tomatoes which will be coming very soon!  Do the work now to preserve the summer’s bounty and you’ll reap the benefits this winter!
SunOrange: If you know and love the Sungold tomato, you just might love this one even more!  SunOrange is an improved sungold featuring an intense, sweet, fruity flavor that is really unlike any other tomato we’ve tasted.  This variety has been bred to have a little thicker skin so it doesn’t crack and split as easily.  You’ll find it is hard to stop eating SunOrange tomatoes, but if you can practice some restraint, use them either fresh or cook them.  Their flavor and sweetness intensifies when cooked, especially when roasted.
Chocolate Sprinkles: This is a large tear-dropped shaped grape tomato with dark red skin that has green stripes.  You know they are ripe when the red color deepens.  We like this variety because it is sweet, flavorful and juicy.
Valentine Red Grape: This tomato “marries the best of wild-type tomato genetics with flavorful high-performing strains.”  It was actually bred for its high lycopene content which is a powerful antioxidant that gives this tomato its intense red color.  We actually participated in trialing this tomato before seed was available commercially and were impressed by its sweet flavor, intense color and disease resistance.
Romas: Roma tomatoes are also referred to as “plum” or “paste” tomatoes.  This type of tomato is more fleshy and less juicy which makes them a good choice for making sauce or other preparations where you’ll be cooking them.  They are also good for fresh use in salsas and salads.
Black Velvet: The seed catalog describes this tomato as “sleek rosy-mahogany colored fruit with a sweet and tangy flavor.”  You’ll notice this tomato has green shoulders (meaning green on the stem end of the tomato).  Even when fully ripe, this green coloring will remain, so use the lower portion of the tomato as an indicator of ripeness.  As it ripens it will turn more of that rosy-mahogany color.  The other thing to note about this tomato is that it is very fleshy and will always feel more firm to the touch, even when fully ripe.  So squeezing this tomato is not a good indicator of ripeness.  This is an excellent tomato to use in salads and on sandwiches.  It has excellent flavor and texture, but is not quite as juicy which means it won’t make the bread on your sandwich soggy!
Marmalade Orange: We selected this variety for its deep golden color and excellent flavor.  Orange tomatoes often have less acidity which can sometimes mean they have a bland flavor.  This variety has been developed to have good flavor and sweetness.  While you can cook this tomato, it’s also an excellent choice for using raw in salads, sandwiches, etc.
Japanese Pink: We’ve long been a fan of Japanese pink tomatoes which have a reputation for being juicy, flavorful tomatoes.  If you want to do a little experiment, carefully remove a piece of the skin from one of these tomatoes and hold it up to the light.  You’ll see the skin is actually transparent, which means the color of this tomato is the actual color of the flesh.  Now do the same thing with a red tomato.  You’ll find the skin on a red tomato has pigment, but if you look at the flesh color in many cases it will look similar to the pink tomato.  Red tomatoes look red because of the pigments in the skin!  Just a little fun science observation.  This is best used for fresh eating, but may also be cooked.
Marsalato: We trialed this tomato for the first time last year and it has quickly become one of our favorites!  It is a “Marmande-type” tomato.  Marmande is a region in France, and this type of tomato descends from a French heirloom variety.  We love this tomato for several reasons.  First, it has a beautiful color and attractive ruffled shape.  The other reason we like this tomato is for its excellent flavor, sweetness and smooth texture that is both more firm and juicy at the same time.  This is our top choice for a tomato to use for sliced tomato salads such as a Caprese Salad.  This tomato is also an excellent choice for using to make sauce because of its texture and flavor.
Cherokee Carbon: This is a trial variety this year.  It caught our eye both because it has a unique appearance, but also because this variety was developed by crossing two of the tastiest heirlooms, Cherokee Purple and Carbon.  The seed catalog says “….this tomato provides for the greatest tomato sandwich you have ever had.”
Red Slicers: We have several different varieties in both our first and second plantings that fall into this category.  These tomatoes offer a nice balance of acidity, sweetness and flavor making them versatile in their use.  They are tasty eaten raw, but may also be used in cooking.

Spiced Braised Lentils & Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced OR 1 medium onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp good-quality Madras curry powder
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups green or brown lentils
12 oz ripe, juicy tomatoes, chopped (2 medium) OR 2 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained 
1 ¾ tsp salt, plus additional to taste
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 ½ Tbsp black or brown mustard seeds
Salty butter, for serving
Plain whole milk yogurt, for serving (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
  1. Melt the unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the scallions or onions, garlic and curry powder.  Cook until the mixture is golden and soft, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and lentils and cook until slightly caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and 1 ¾ tsp salt.  Add enough water to cover the mixture by ½ inch.  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 40 minutes.  If the lentils begin to look dry while cooking, add more water as needed.
  2. In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the coconut flakes, mustard seeds, and a large pinch of salt until the coconut is golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. To serve, spoon the lentils into individual bowls.  Drop about 2 tsp salted butter into each dish.  Top with yogurt, cilantro, and the coconut mixture.  Serve immediately.
This recipe was created by Melissa Clark and was featured in FOOD52’s book Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore.

Garlic-Scented Tomato Salad

“Steeping alliums in vinegar is a good trick for improving any salad dressing, but here is one variation you shouldn’t miss when tomatoes are in season.  Of this stripped down salad, Marcella Hazan wrote on her Facebook page in 2012, ‘It has the potential to eclipse every other experience of tomatoes you may have had.’”
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1 to 2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 pounds round or plum tomatoes
12 basil leaves
Olive oil, for serving
  1. Peel and smash garlic cloves. Steep them with 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar in a bowl for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Slice tomatoes with a serrated knife, skinning them beforehand if you wish.  Spread them in a deep serving platter.
  3. Just before serving, tear the basil leaves and scatter them on the tomatoes.  Holding back the garlic, pour the vinegar over the tomatoes and dress with good, fruity olive oil.  Taste and correct, if needed, with additional salt and vinegar.
This recipe is Kristen Miglore’s adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s original recipe, as featured in FOOD52’s book Genius Recipes.

August 13, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Edamame!

12 Aug 2020 23:40

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: Chinese Spice-Infused Fresh Soybeans (see below): Edamame Sesame Quinoa Salad (see below); Spaghetti with Collard Greens and TomatoesGolden Beet GazpachoOven Roasted Potatoes and MushroomsCucumber & Tomato Salsa
Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Sweet & Spicy Zucchini RelishZucchini Spice Cake
Peter Wilcox or Molli Gold Potatoes: Oven Roasted Potatoes and Mushrooms
SunOrange, Chocolate Sprinkles or Red Valentine TomatoesSpaghetti with Collard Greens and TomatoesCaprese SkewersCaprese Breakfast Casserole
Sun Jewel Melons and/or Sweet Sarah and/or French Orange Melons: Wine Punch with Melon Ice Cubes Cantaloupe and Cucumber SaladPork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad
Edamame: Chinese Spice-Infused Fresh Soybeans (see below); Edamame Sesame Quinoa Salad (see below)
Welcome back to another week of cooking out of your CSA box!  This week marks the halfway point in our CSA season and fall will be here before we know it!  But for this week, lets continue to embrace summer and all of its goodness including this week’s featured vegetable—Edamame!  Edamame, also known as fresh soybeans, makes a great snack.  Take a little culinary trip to the Sichuan region of China this week by making Chinese Spice-Infused Fresh Soybeans (see below).  Make sure you take time to cut the tips off of the edamame pods with kitchen shears before cooking them.  This step ensures the spice-infused liquid will fully flavor the beans.  The second recipe we’re featuring this week is a simple Edamame Sesame Quinoa Salad(see below).  The beauty of this salad is its simplicity and it makes a great portable salad to take to work for lunch or on a picnic!
Sweet & Spicy Zucchini Relish
photo from cravesomethinghealthy.com
This week both the zucchini and cucumbers are really producing!  We’re packing over two pounds of each in your boxes, so it’s time to get creative!  This week you have enough zucchini to make Sweet & Spicy Zucchini Relish.  This is a great condiment to use on hamburgers and hot dogs.  You can also add it to deviled eggs, potato salad, tuna salad or sloppy joes.  This recipe not only uses zucchini from your box, but also the onions and jalapeno.  It yields 8 cups of relish, but doesn’t call for canning.  Thus, it should be stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for several weeks.  While you’re extending the shelf life of your vegetables with short-term preservation methods, you might as well make these Quick & Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles.  The recipe calls for 2 pounds of cucumbers to yield 2 quart jars of pickles.  Store them in the refrigerator and use them within about a month.
Tomatoes and basil are a natural combination, so you can’t go wrong with something as simple as an Open-Faced Bagel with Cream Cheese, Tomato, Onion and Fresh Basil to start off your day.  You could also make these simple Caprese Skewers using the pint of small tomatoes in this week’s box.  These are a great item to serve as an appetizer at a party, but since there aren’t too many gatherings taking place perhaps you could turn dinner into your own cocktail hour.  In addition to these skewers, serve Beet Bruschetta with Goat Cheese or Golden Beet Gazpacho.  Add a bowl of Cucumber & Tomato Salsa to serve with tortilla chips and wash it all down with Wine Punch with Melon Ice Cubes using this week’s Sun Jewel melons!
Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad
photo by Alex Lau for epicurious.com
Speaking of melons, I can’t say that I’ve used melons in a savory way very much.  This week I challenged myself to find some savory ways to use melons and came upon this recipe for Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad.  This salad utilizes not only the melons in this week’s box, but also cucumbers and a little heat from a jalapeno.  The fruit is drizzled with a light, spicy vinaigrette and is garnished with cilantro, mint and pumpkin seeds.  The other savory recipe I found is for Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad.  This recipe has kind of a Vietnamese influence and uses the melon in a marinade for the pork as well as in a salad to serve with the pork.  The salad has lime juice, chiles, cilantro, fish sauce and is garnished with crushed peanuts.
Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Tomatoes
photo from theironyou.com

Farmer Richard says “Eat Your Greens,” so this week we’re sending collard greens your way!  While collards are typically prepared with some kind of a pork product, there are many other non-pork ways to prepare collards.  Check out this simple recipe for Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Tomatoes which uses garlic and small tomatoes to make a delicious, simple pasta dish.
Before we reach the bottom of the box, lets figure out what we’re going to make for Sunday brunch!  I vote for Oven Roasted Potatoes and Mushrooms served with Caprese Breakfast Casserole.  I know I’ve already suggested several other recipes using basil, but that’s because it’s summer and we should be using fresh basil in season!  And lastly, to finish off this week’s Sunday brunch, why not make this Zucchini Spice Cake?  Breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner….this cake is perfect for any time of the day.
That’s it!  We’ve reached the bottom of another box.  Next week we should have more sweet corn and hopefully watermelons!  Of course there will also be more tomatoes and hopefully we’ll have more peppers to send your way as well.  Take care and have an awesome week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Edamame

By Chef Andrea
Fresh edamame pods
This week we’re featuring edamame, also known as fresh soybeans.  If you’ve been in the midwest for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve seen a soybean field or two along your travels.  While our soybean plants resemble the plants in those huge fields you may have passed by, our soybeans are much different.  Fresh edamame are a special summer treat and, while they may be found in the frozen vegetable section at the grocery store, it is rare to find them in the fresh produce section.  So consider yourself part of the lucky few who get to enjoy this special treat as part of your HVF CSA experience!  
Edamame have been part of Japanese and Chinese cuisine for a long time, but have only recently become more popular in this country.  True edamame intended for fresh eating is quite different than oil-seed soybeans and tofu beans most often grown to make tofu and other processed soy products.  Richard specifically searched for the preferred edamame varieties grown for fresh eating in Japan and China because they produce a sweet bean that doesn’t have a “beany” aftertaste.  Seed varieties for tofu beans are typically much less expensive than varieties for fresh eating, thus in this country the edamame found in the frozen section, either in the pod or shelled, is likely a tofu bean with that “beany” aftertaste.  We actually save our own seed, which still comes at a cost, but allows us to grow our preferred, clean tasting varieties.  
Shelled Edamame
Edamame resembles a small lima bean encased in a pod.  The beans are sweet and tender and best eaten lightly cooked. Unlike sugar snap peas, edamame pods are not edible and should be discarded.  Edamame is hard to shell when it’s raw.  It is easiest to cook edamame in its pod first and then you can pop the beans from the pod.   To cook edamame, rinse the pods thoroughly with cold water. Bring a pot of heavily salted water (salty like the sea) to a boil.  Add the edamame and boil for about 3-4 minutes.  You should see the pods change to a bright green color.  Remove the edamame from the boiling water and immediately put them in ice water or run cold water over them to quickly cool them.   After the beans are cooked you can easily squeeze the pod to pop the beans out, either into a bowl or directly into your mouth!  Once you’ve removed them from the pods, they are ready to incorporate into a recipe or eat as a snack.
You can also roast edamame in their pods.  There’s a basic recipe on our website, but basically you toss the edamame pods with oil and seasonings of your choice.  Serve the beans whole with their pods still on.  While you won’t eat the pod, you can use your teeth to pull the edamame out of the pod and in the process you’ll pick up the seasoning on the outside of the pod!
Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn (top) &
Roasted Edamame with Salt (bottom)
From year to year, the basic information about vegetables that needs to be included in a feature article doesn’t really change (ie what part is edible, to peel or not to peel, etc), but each year I push myself to dig a little deeper to learn something new about many vegetables I now consider familiar.  This year through my research about edamame I learned an interesting tidbit that I had never come across.  “Edamame” is actually the name for fresh soy beans in Japan.  In Japanese culture edamame are typically prepared very simply by either boiling or steaming them and then serving them in the pod with a little salt.  This year I learned that in China fresh soybeans are called “Mao Dou” and are prepared a little differently.  The fresh soybeans are boiled in a spice-infused liquid and a small amount of the pods are trimmed off of each end of the soybean to allow the cooking liquid to bathe the beans while they are cooking.  One source, thewoksoflife.com, encouraged readers to get creative with the ingredients used in the cooking liquid.  You may choose to use dried chili peppers, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, white or black peppercorns, cumin seeds, scallions or star anise.
Cole Peanut-Sesame Noodles with Edamame and Cucumber
You can store fresh or cooked edamame for up to a week in the refrigerator, but it is best to eat them soon for the sweetest flavor and best texture.  If you are want to preserve edamame for later use, simply follow the cooking procedure above, then freeze the beans either in their pods or remove them and freeze just the bean. It’s fun to pull something green out of the freezer in the winter to enjoy as a snack or incorporate into a winter stir-fry or pan of fried rice.
Edamame is often eaten as a simple snack, but you can also incorporate it into vegetable or grain salads, stir-fry, fried rice, steamed dumplings or pot stickers to name just a few suggestions.  They pair well with any combination of traditional Asian ingredients such as sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger.  They are also a nice, bright addition to brothy soups such as a miso soup.  If you follow the suggested method for boiling edamame before shelling them, the bean will already be fully cooked, so if you are adding edamame to a hot dish or recipe, do so at the end of the cooking. 

Edamame Sesame Quinoa Salad

Photo from veggiechick.com
Yield:  6 servings (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup chopped onions
2 cups shelled edamame
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
¼ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp Sriracha
  1. In a medium pot, add sesame seeds over medium high heat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sesame seeds are starting to toast and become fragrant.  Add quinoa and stir for 2-3 minutes until toasted.  Then, carefully add 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all moisture and is tender, about 20 minutes.  (Note:  if the quinoa is not tender when all the moisture has been absorbed, you may need to add a little more water to the pan) Remove from heat immediately, and spread over a baking sheet evenly to cool.      
  2. Next, to a large bowl, add shredded carrots, onions and edamame.
  3. In a small bowl, add garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, ginger and Sriracha.  Stir with a whisk and transfer to the large bowl with vegetables.  Add the cooled quinoa and stir.  Serve.
Recipe borrowed from Christin McKamey at www.veggiechick.com.

Chinese Spice Infused Fresh Soybeans--"Edamame Beans, Our Way"

Yield:  4 servings
1 pound fresh or frozen edamame
3-4 cups water or enough to fully cover edamame in the cooking pot
1-½ Tbsp salt (to taste)
3 pieces star anise
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp whole peppercorns
3 cloves garlic
  1. Prepare the edamame by trimming away both ends with kitchen shears.  Take care not to cut the beans themselves.  This step will allow the flavor to get inside the pods.
  2. In a small pot, boil 3-4 cups water along with the salt, star anise, soy sauce, peppercorns and garlic.  Once the water boils, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, turn up the heat, adding the edamame into the pot.  Boil for 5-6 minutes without the lid.  Drain and serve!  These will keep well in the fridge in a Ziploc bag or covered bowl for about a week.
Recipe sourced from www.thewoksoflife.com.  Don’t be afraid to customize the ingredients you use to infuse the cooking liquid.  You may choose to add fresh ginger, dried chilies, cumin seeds, or any other spice of your choosing!

Why Onions?

12 Aug 2020 20:17

 By Farmer Richard with Gwen Anderson

Red Cipollini Onions drying in the Greenhouse
Onions were one of the first vegetables that came to Richard’s attention as having significant health benefits.  Four years ago, we published an article called Alliums to Fight Cancer that delved into some of the health benefits of onions and garlic specifically regarding their cancer fighting properties. Onions also boast the ability to help prevent osteoporosis, lower blood pressure, lower the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, have anti-clotting benefits, as well as being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral. This is due largely to the organosulfur compounds that onions contain.  Organosulfur compounds contain some powerful antioxidants, including quercetin and other flavonoids that encourage glutathione production.  Quercetin is known to slow tumor growth, especially in colon cancer, promote prostate health, and is an antihistamine.  Flavonoids may reduce the risk of stroke as well as Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease.  One study done by the Journal of Hypertension in 2017 reported that participants that consistently ate more alliums (onions and garlic, to name a few) reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 64%.  Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and protects the heart as well as removing toxins.  Sulfur, found in organosulfur compounds, is also the main component that assists with protein synthesis and creating cell structures.

Onion field from June this year
The organosulfur compounds are most beneficial when raw, but you can maximize the benefit of cooked onions (and garlic, too!) by allowing them to set for 10 minutes after cutting them before cooking them.  This process allows the enzymes released by the onions while being cut to fully react with the sulfur-containing molecules, converting them into their beneficial forms.  Aside from the organosulfur compounds, onions are also an excellent source of vitamin C and phytonutrients.  Phytonutrients help overall in maintaining good health and contain anticancer and antimicrobial properties.  Onions also contain fiber and folic acid, a B vitamin that helps make healthy new cells.  They are low calorie, very low in sodium, and have no fat or cholesterol.
Egyptian Walking Onion
It was over 40 years ago when Richard first learned about the health benefits of onions.  Since then, he has persisted in finding varieties of onion that can be available year round locally, allowing us to eat some form of onion every day.  Besides the huge health benefits, onions add flavor to almost every meal.  Our goal is to have one or more members of the onion/garlic family in every box of our 30 box season.  We start the season with perennial chives and two multiplying heirloom onions, potato onions and Egyptian Walking Onions, as well as the wild ramps harvested from our woods.  These meet our onion needs until our grown-from-seed transplants are ready.  We grow about 379,000 onion plants in our greenhouses, starting in late February, and transplant them to the field in early April when they are ready for the move
We are presently delivering the very fast growing sweet Spanish type called Zoey in this week’s CSA boxes.  The very fast growing Spanish varieties, including Sierra Blanca which we delivered previously, are very mild, even when raw.  The later, slower growing varieties allow us to store onions for six months or more!  These storage onions have a stronger flavor than the earlier varieties when raw, due to the higher amount of sulfur compounds, which also aid in storage.  When cooked, much of the sulfur volatilizes and leaves us with a sweet caramelizedonion flavor.  This is because onions also contain a high amount of sugar, which becomes more pronounced when the sulfur compounds break down.
Green Scallions planted on raised beds with reflective plastic mulch.
Onions are sometimes challenging to grow because they grow slowly and are poor weed competitors.  They also have a tiny insect pest called the onion thrip that lives in the growth point of the onion.  The thrips pierce tiny holes in the young leaves, which allows bacteria to enter the plant.  That bacteria can later cause a soft rot in the top of a mature dry onion.  To solve these problems we plant our tiny greenhouse onion plants into a raised bed covered with a reflective plastic mulch that prevents the thrips from finding the onions.  It works!  Without the thrips, we have almost no neck rot, even in a wet, stormy year.
Onions require regular water to thrive.  Our onions received water with fertilizer that includes sea weeds, micro and macro nutrients and beneficial bacteria through the line buried under each row at least once a week.  Our irrigation/fertigation crew did a great job this year.  Alejandro also did regular foliar applications to provide additional nutrients and for disease prevention.  The result: a record yield with excellent quality that should supply all boxes through December and still allow produce plus for your winter stash!  This year’s crop appears to be our best ever!
Red Onions and Shallots safely drying in the greenhouse
Last week, we did a big onion and shallot harvest.  Of our 1.8 acres of onions, two-thirds are safely stored in the greenhouse and cooler right now.  We hope to finish the harvest later this week or early next week.  We estimate the total yield form this crop will equate to about 9 onions in each box for the remainder of the season!  The harvest so far has been abundant, as it was earlier this season with the early purple and green scallions and then purple Cipollini onions we delivered.  We bring onions in from the field when there is still some green in the top.  To leave them in the field longer risks sun burn on hot days and bacteria entering the neck.  We hand pull all of our onions when ready for harvest, then leave them to dry briefly in the field.  After a day or two, the onions are crated, hauled back to the farm and organized onto our greenhouse benches to finish drying.  The greenhouse roof is now covered with an 85% opaque cloth, which helps shade the onions from direct sunlight and reduces the temperature in the greenhouse.  After 1-2 weeks of drying, we top and clean the onions before transferring them to a cold, dry cooler for storage.
Shallots drying in the greenhouse
Our production system involves a great deal of manual labor!  Conventional onion production involves nasty neonicotinoidsystemic insecticides to control the thrips.  Neonicotinoids are an insecticide that has been linked to many adverse human health and ecological effects, including decimating the honey bee and bird populations.  Conventional producers also use a mechanical topper to top and clean onions.  We have a mechanical topper, but find that it causes damage to the onion, so we chose to top them by hand instead.
While growing onions is challenging and labor intensive, we firmly believe the benefits of providing them year round makes the challenge well worth the effort.  We hope you have gained a greater appreciation for the health powerhouse that is the onion.

August 6, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Eggplant!

5 Aug 2020 22:30

Cooking With This Week's Box

Sierra Blanca OR Zoey Onions: Creamy Garlic & Onion SpaghettiPotato and Bell Pepper Breakfast Hash

Missouri Garlic: Creamy Garlic & Onion SpaghettiZucchini Noodles with Lemon “Ricotta”

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: How To Make Zucchini Noodles by LoveandLemons.comZucchini Noodles with Lemon “Ricotta”

Green and Silver Slicer Cucumbers: 50+ Cool As A Cucumber RecipesBahn Mi PizzaTuna Quinoa TossCucumber Lime Lavender SpritzerHoisin Glazed Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumbers

Green Beans: Green Beans with Sesame SauceItalian Potato Salad with Green Beans

Egyptian Spinach: Egyptian Spinach Vegetable FeatureEgyptian Spinach Soup

Gold Potatoes: Italian Potato Salad with Green Beans

Sweet Corn: Sweet Corn Vegetable FeatureSweet Corn PancakesGrilled Corn & Kale Salad

“Valentine” Red Grape, Chocolate Sprinkles or SunOrange Tomatoes: Zucchini Noodles with Lemon “Ricotta"Tuna Quinoa TossItalian Potato Salad with Green BeansGrilled Corn & Kale Salad

Sun Jewel Melons OR A Bag of Mixed Variety TomatoesCucumber and Melon Salad with Feta Cheese

Green Bell Pepper: Fried Eggs in Green Pepper RingsPotato and Bell Pepper Breakfast Hash

Jalapeno Pepper: Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with Creamy Jalapeno SauceBacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs

Broccoli: Healthy Broccoli CasseroleOne-Pan Wild Rice and Cheesy BroccoliCasserole

Eggplant: Chocolate Eggplant Torte (see below); Salerno-Style Grilled Eggplant (see below)

Hello and welcome to August!  We’ve had a very cool week, which means some things are ripening a bit more slowly.  Nonetheless, we have a lot of delicious summer vegetables in this week’s box!  Lets start with eggplant, this week’s featured vegetable!  In recent years I’ve really come to like and enjoy eggplant much more than when I was first introduced to it.  Last winter, before COVID-19 took over the world, I had the opportunity to take a trip to Italy.  I enjoyed eggplant with several different meals, but one dish in particular lingered in my memory.  We were heading to Rome after visiting the island of Sicily and had spent the night traveling on a ferry.  The boat was delayed coming into dock in Salerno on the Amalfi coast and by the time we got off it was lunch time and we hadn’t had breakfast.  We were starving and our first mission was to find a place to eat lunch.  We managed to find a place to park and from there went to the closest restaurant which happened to be a cafeteria, which I must say is much nicer than cafeteria style restaurants in the US!  We figured it must be good though because it seemed that this is where the working class locals were going for lunch.  We each got a slice of pizza and some vegetable sides including a marinated eggplant served at room temperature.  It was so simple, but so delicious and thus, I’ve attempted to recreate the recipe for you here.  In this recipe for Salerno-Style Grilled Eggplant (see below), the eggplant is grilled, then you slide the pieces into a marinade that you essentially make by putting all the ingredients on the plate/bowl you’ll serve it in.  When the hot eggplant hits the oil laced with garlic, onions and parsley, the flavors and scents start to unfold.  Yes, the eggplant soaks up the olive oil, which adds richness to this otherwise very mild, lean vegetable.  I like to eat this with grilled bread a slice of simple pizza or a simple pasta dish.  You can also use this same application for grilled zucchini.  The other recipe this week is for Chocolate Eggplant Torte (see below).  That’s right—eggplant in a baked dessert!  I had to try it and I must admit—it’s quite good!  In this application, you take full advantage of the silky, smooth texture of the eggplant to add body and texture to the cake.  This recipe is vegan and gluten free.  It is a bit more dense and fudgy in texture, which is quite delicious.  Give it a try and see what you think!
Egyptian Spinach
Before we go too much further into the box I want to talk about this week’s bunched green Egyptian Spinach.  This is a unique green that grows best during the heat of the summer.  It is rich in nutrients and is most often eaten cooked.  It contains a soluble fiber that gives it a viscous texture when cooked and it’s so delicious!  If you’d like to learn more about this vegetable, I encourage you to read the Vegetable Feature article we published in our newsletter back in 2013.  My top recommendation for using this vegetable is to make Egyptian Spinach Soup.  This soup is simple, but it is so delicious.  It’s also such a nourishing soup I guarantee you will feel so good after you eat it!
We’re into our second planting of zucchini right now and this week I’m inspired to talk about Zoodles!  That’s right, zucchini noodles.  Don’t think you have to have a spiralizer to make these, although if you do you can certainly use it!  Visit this blog post at LoveandLemons.com where you can learn about other tools and ways you can make your own Zoodles.  You’ll also find a list of recipes using zoodles including this vegetarian recipe for Zucchini Noodles with Lemon “Ricotta.”  This recipe includes a vegan “ricotta” that is made from nuts and seeds and the dish gets a splash of color and flavor from grape tomatoes.  It’s a simple, light and refreshing alternative to pasta salad!
I decided I need to get more creative with using cucumbers before the season is over and to help achieve that I found this article for 50+ Cool As A Cucumber Recipes!  This collection has some traditional, common versions of cucumber recipes, but it also has a lot of really off-the-beaten path ways to enjoy cucumbers including a Cucumber Lime Lavender Spritzer, Hoisin Glazed Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumbers, and Bahn Mi Pizza featuring quick-pickled cucumbers, radish and carrots served on top of a cheesy pizza with all the flavors of a traditional Bahn Mi Sandwich!  There is also a recipe for Tuna Quinoa Toss which is a nice one-bowl, complete protein lunch option.
Creamy Garlic and Onion Spaghetti
photo by *~Lissa~* for allrecipes.com
While onions go in so many dishes as a background flavor, you can also use them as a main feature item as well!  Check out this recipe for Creamy Garlic & Onion Spaghetti.  You could easily add chicken, shrimp and/or broccoli to this recipe as a variation as well.  Jalapenos are seldom the star of the show either, but they can be!  Check out this recipe for Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with Creamy Jalapeno Sauce or try Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs.  This recipe makes quite a lot so you might want to cut it in half.If you missed last week’s Sweet Corn Vegetable Feature I’d encourage you to go check it out.  We featured two recipes featuring sweet corn last week.  The first was for Sweet Corn Pancakes, which are served with maple syrup.  The second is for a Grilled Corn & Kale Salad which I think is quite tasty!  After we published the recipe I realized cilantro would also be a good flavor to add to this salad.  Why didn’t I think of that sooner?!  Give it a try!
While Richard always prefers mayonnaise based vegetable salads, I want to try this Italian Potato Salad with Green Beans.   This salad has a red wine vinaigrette with fresh herbs as the dressing and includes green beans and tomatoes.  Very fitting for this time of year!
Fried Eggs in Green Pepper Rings
photo from reluctantentertainer.com
I typically keep it simple when I prepare green beans, and this recipe for Green Beans with Sesame Sauce appears to be quite simple, yet flavorful!  Speaking of simple, we have one simple, humble green bell pepper in this week’s boxes.  If you don’t know what to do with one pepper, consider eating it for breakfast!  Try these Fried Eggs in Green Pepper Rings or Potato and Bell Pepper Breakfast Hash.
The broccoli continues, although it tapered off a bit this week.  I don’t make casseroles very often, but why not make a good old broccoli casserole this week!  I found two interesting recipes, the first is a Healthy Broccoli Casserole that also has a base of mushrooms.  The second one is a  One-Pan Wild Rice and Cheesy Broccoli Casserole.
Last, but not least, the melons and tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and you’ll likely receive one or the other in your box this week.  This week we’re picking Sun Jewel melons which are a unique, early season Korean melon with sweet, crispy white flesh.  If you’re looking for something interesting to do with this melon, try Chef Tory’s recipe for Cucumber and Melon Salad with Feta Cheese.  Chef Tory has several restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin.  We participated in a dinner last year sponsored by The Isthums for a video series they produced entitled “Food for Thought.”  Click the link for the recipe and you’ll also find the video!  Trust me, this salad is so delicious!
Ok, we’ve reached the bottom of the box.  Whoa, that was a haul!  Get ready though, we have a lot more coming up for the next few boxes including edamame, cantaloupe, watermelons, more sweet corn and purple beans!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Flashy, Silky, Classy--That's Eggplant

By Chef Andrea
Listada Eggplant

We didn’t eat a lot of eggplant where I grew up in central Indiana.  In fact, the first time I ate eggplant might have been when I was in culinary school.  As beautiful and eye-catching as it was, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated by it because it was unlike any other vegetable I had ever seen.  Eggplant is a unique crop in a class all its own, but I also think it may be one of the most beautiful crops we grow!  Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate eggplant, its characteristics and the traditional ways eggplant shows up in cuisines all around the world.
Eggplant grows on plants that are several feet tall.  There are many varieties of eggplant ranging in size from small round ones the size of a golf ball to large globe eggplant weighing over a pound.  They come in a variety of colors ranging from various shades of purple to black, green, white and orange.  We have narrowed our line-up of eggplant to four including Lilac Bride, Purple Dancer, Listada and the traditional Black eggplant.  Please refer to our previous blog post which includes pictures and profiles of each eggplant and highlights the characteristics of each in further detail.  Each variety is best for different uses, so it’s helpful to visualize which variety you have before you decide how you want to use it.
Black Eggplant
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and must be cooked.  Many resources will tell you to salt eggplant before cooking it to remove bitterness.  While some older varieties were bitter, the new varieties we grow have been selected because they are not bitter, thus you can skip the salting step for that reason.  You may still choose to salt eggplant to soften the flesh so it doesn’t absorb too much oil.  Most of our varieties of eggplant have skin that is tender enough to eat, thus depending upon how you are using it, you do not always need to peel them either.
Eggplant has a soft, silky texture when cooked, which is one of its most unique attributes.  While its flavor is very mild, the texture is what allows it to absorb other flavors.  When you cut into eggplant, you might even describe its raw texture as being kind of “spongy,” and in many ways it is kind of like a flavor sponge!  When pairing eggplant with other ingredients in dishes, make sure you’re using good quality ingredients.  For example if a recipe calls for olive oil, make sure you use a good olive oil as the eggplant will absorb that flavor.  Eggplant is often paired with other summer vegetables including tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers.  It also goes well with flavorful olive oil, tahini, herbs such as basil and parsley and spices including cumin, coriander, sumac, and cinnamon.  Depending on the part of the world a recipe is coming from, you’ll also find eggplant served with dairy products including yogurt, cheese (feta, Parmesan and mozzarella), and cream and fruits including lemons and pomegranate.
Eggplant & Chickpea Patties, HVF Newsletter 
July 28-29, 2017
When cooking eggplant, you definitely want to cook it to the soft and tender point.  This is not a vegetable that you want to be “al dente” or to have any “crunch” left in it.  Soft and smooshy is good, but you can have soft, tender eggplant that also holds its shape.  Some varieties will do this better than others.  Eggplant may be grilled, fried, sautéed, baked, steamed, stewed and roasted.  In addition to the classic dishes mentioned above, I was surprised to learn that eggplant can also be used in baking!  I was so intrigued I had to give it a try, but it also makes sense so why not?!  Eggplant functions in ways similar to applesauce or bananas in baked goods by adding moisture and a silky, smooth texture.
Eggplant does not store terribly well, so it is best to use it soon after getting it.  It is best stored at a temperature of about 45-50°F, but your home refrigerator should be colder than this which can cause chill injury.  Thus, we recommend storing your eggplant on the kitchen counter and use it within 2-4 days.  If it does start to get a little soft, don’t worry, just cook it.  It will get soft with cooking anyway!

Chocolate Eggplant Torte

Yield:  6 servings or 12 cupcakes
1 eggplant, approximately 1 pound
1 cup 70% dark chocolate chips 
1 banana
⅓ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup good quality raw  cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup almond flour 
Coconut oil, for greasing pan
Optional Ingredients for Garnishing
Dark chocolate
Sliced almonds
Powdered Sugar
  1. Grease a loaf pan and line with a sheet of parchment paper or prepare a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a cookie sheet, then slice the eggplant lengthwise. Place on the cookie sheet, cut side down.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through and very soft. Remove the eggplant and cool enough to handle.  Scrape the flesh away from the skin and puree it in a food processor or blender.  You will need 1 cup of eggplant puree.  If you have extra, reserve it for another use.
  3. Melt chocolate chips over boiling water in a double boiler.
  4. Once the chocolate is melted, add to a food processor or blender along with the eggplant puree, banana, maple syrup and vanilla. Puree until smooth.  The mixture will look like a thick pudding at this point.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, sift the cacao powder, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the almond flour and salt. Stir to combine the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. The batter will be pretty thick at this point.  
  6. Spread the batter into the greased loaf pan or portion the batter into muffin cups.  Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes (if using a loaf pan), or 25 minutes if making cupcakes.
  7. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly in the pan, then grasp the parchment paper lining and use it to transfer the cake to a plate.  If you are making cupcakes, carefully remove the cupcakes in their paper liners and allow to fully cool on a cooling rack.
  8. Once fully cooled, garnish to your liking.  You may dust the cake/cupcakes with powdered sugar or you may choose to melt some additional chocolate to drizzle on top along with sliced almonds.  Serve at room temperature and store any extras in the refrigerator.

This recipe was adapted from FreshPlanetFlavor.com.

Salerno-Style Marinated Grilled Eggplant

Yield:  3-4 servings (as an appetizer or side dish)
3 Tbsp sunflower oil or other neutral oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound eggplant
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1 Tbsp finely minced onion
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
Flaky salt (such as Maldon), for serving (optional)
  1. Prepare the eggplant by slicing it in either direction (your choice), ¼  to ½ inch thick.  Lay the slices out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Using a pastry brush, brush sunflower oil on the eggplant.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, then turn all the slices over.  Repeat on the other side.  Set aside for 10-15 minutes
  2. Preheat a grill to medium heat.  Alternatively, you may use a grill pan on the stovetop.  
  3. While you are preheating the grill, prepare the marinade.  Select a serving plate or flat, shallow bowl that is 10-11 inches in diameter.  Pour the extra-virgin olive oil on the plate, then add the red wine vinegar by drizzling it on top of the oil.
  4. Next, sprinkle the minced garlic & onions, chopped parsley and red pepper flakes over the surface of the oil.  Set aside in a location near where you will be cooking the eggplant.
  5. When the grill is ready, add the slices of eggplant.  Grill for several minutes on the first side, or until there are nice grill marks and the eggplant is starting to soften.  Turn all the pieces over and repeat on the other side.  Be careful to monitor the heat.  You need it hot enough to get good grill marks, but you don’t want the eggplant to cook too quickly.  Once you have nice grill marks on both sides, test a piece to see if it’s fully cooked (tender and soft).  If it is not, move the slices of eggplant to a cooler part of the grill and continue to cook for a few more minutes or until it is tender.  Alternatively, you can transfer the slices to a cookie sheet and bake them in a 350°F oven until they are tender (5-15 minutes depending on the degree of doneness and thickness of the slices).
  6. When the eggplant is fully cooked, transfer the slices, while still hot, to the platter containing the oil mixture.  Slide the pieces of eggplant into the seasoned oil so that the oil, garlic, etc is on the top and bottom of each piece.  Allow the eggplant to cool in the oil to room temperature.  If desired, or if it needs to be seasoned a little more to your liking, sprinkle with additional salt prior to serving.
  7. Serve at room temperature along with crusty bread if you wish.  After all, you need something to sop up the extra olive oil!
Recipe developed by Andrea Yoder.  
Variation: This recipe is also applicable to zucchini.  If you prefer, you could use a mix of zucchini and eggplant.

Culture of Cleanliness….Developing Our Food Safety Eyes

29 Jul 2020 22:50

By:  Andrea Yoder
Why do we do food safety training every year?

Why is attention to food safety an important element on our farm?

Who is responsible for following food safety practices on our farm?

These are a few of the introductory questions I ask our crew members every year when we do our annual food safety training, both for new employees and for those who have worked here for many years.  We’ve had a food safety program for our farm for well over twenty years, even before our wholesale buyers started requesting it and before the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed making it a legal requirement for farms.  Every year we make improvements to our food safety program, so obviously we have to communicate any changes to protocols, expectations, etc with our crew members, but we also still go back and review the basics…every year.  This week we wanted to give you a little insight into just what it means to have a food safety program as well as some of the protocols we practice and implement on a daily basis.

Moises cleaning a wash tank in
preparation for sanitizing harvest totes
Lets go back to those three introductory questions.  We do food safety training every year because we want to ensure the food we are producing is wholesome and safe for you, our customers!  It’s also our legal responsibility and it’s a requirement in order to do business with many of our wholesale buyers.  “Why is attention to food safety an important element on our farm?”  First and foremost, we do not want anyone to ever fall ill from eating our food.  We also want our customers to be able to trust us and we want to maintain a good reputation in our community! And lastly, “Who is responsible for following food safety practices on our farm?” EVERYONE!  This includes all crew members, regardless of work responsibilities, but also any contractors or visitors to our farm. 
This is the point in our training where we talk about a “Culture of Cleanliness.”  This is a term we learned from our food safety inspector many years ago and since then we’ve worked very hard to establish and improve upon the “Culture of Cleanliness” we’ve created on our farm.  What is a “Culture of Cleanliness” and why is it important?  Have you ever seen one of those children’s books or picture games where you have to look at the picture and identify what doesn’t fit or what is wrong?  That’s kind of the way we operate every day.  The reason we have food safety rules and best practices is to reduce and minimize the risk of our food becoming contaminated or someone getting sick.  We don’t live in a sterile world and things are going to happen.  The reason we have a food safety program, rules, procedures and talk about these things every year is because we want to be able to identify situations that may cause a problem with food safety so we can intervene proactively in an effort to prevent problems. 
Cleaning the salad cutter before it goes to the field to harvest
Salad Mix!
We learn to see our work environment and our farm with a new set of eyes—our food safety eyes.  There are a lot of details, a lot of space and a lot of moving parts to our farm.  It’s more than Richard, Rafael and I can keep our eyes on by ourselves!  We need everyone who’s working with us to develop their special set of food safety eyes so they can see potential problems or identify when something is not right with a scenario.  We also need them to develop their food safety eyes so they see the food safety practices as the “normal,” expected way things are done.  Then, when someone isn’t doing the right thing or something is askew, it stands out as that thing that is not right with the picture! 
Red bucket labeled for cleaning only

So what are some of those practices we employ?  Well, for starters, we clean…A Lot!  We don’t just wash vegetables, we also clean equipment, trucks, facilities, harvest containers and more.  Part of our annual training is reviewing the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, as they are two different steps and need to be done in the correct order to be effective!  We clean a surface using soap to remove dirt and debris, then follow that with a fresh water rinse.  Once the surface is clean, we come back and spray on a sanitizer solution to take care of any microscopic pathogen.  This concept is applied in many scenarios throughout the farm.  Whether we’re setting up an area in the packing shed to wash and pack vegetables or we are preparing to use a harvest belt to pick zucchini and cucumbers, we always clean and sanitize!  We have even devised a system and set of tools so we can take the appropriate brushes, sanitizing agent, buckets of soapy water and clean water to the field --everything the crew needs to properly clean and sanitize the belt in the field prior to every use. 
Color-coded brushes and bilingual signs in our
packing shed
We have a colorful farm, if for no other reason than our color-coded tools!  One way we prevent potential cross-contamination is by designating specific colors of tools for specific uses.  When cleaning packing shed equipment, we use red brushes.  If we need to clean a harvest container, we use a green brush.  “What if I need to scrub a wall or a floor?”  Please use the white brush hanging in the packing shed.  We also have yellow tools that we use for cleaning bathrooms.  Despite their bright, cheery color, they never leave the bathrooms for any other use.  And there’s one last brush color we see about one time a year.  We need orange brushes for washing the pumpkins and winter squash when we harvest them!

Cheery yellow cleaning supplies,
for bathroom use only!
We also have color-coded buckets, because buckets are a great tool for many different uses.  White buckets are for use in harvesting many different vegetables, except for baby greens.  When we need to hand cut baby greens we use special green buckets that are only used for these products.  Red buckets are used for cleaning projects, white buckets with red paint on them are used for non-food uses such as carrying tools to the field or carrying rocks out of the field!  Blue buckets are used to feed and water animals and orange buckets are located on the harvest wagons and in field vehicles for collecting trash.  Whew…that’s a lot to remember!  Don’t worry, we have lots of signs in both Spanish & English to help us remember what to do and we review this information every year so we don’t forget!

Many tools we use have many different potential applications.  For example, knives are good for cutting vegetables, but they are also a good tool to use if you need to clean mud off of your shoes or a cultivator shank!  “STOP!  Please tell me you weren’t thinking about using the same knife for all of these uses?”  Don’t worry, we have separate knives!  Field crew members have wooden handled knives that are stored in leather sheaths.  These knives may be used for anything they want to use them for except for two things.  They may not be used to harvest vegetables and they may not be used as a weapon.  Aside from that they can use them to cut weeds, cut row cover, clean their shoes, etc.  When it comes time for harvest, they use their yellow handled harvest knife that is stored in a black plastic sheath that has a small hole in the bottom.  This knife and sheath are much easier to clean and sanitize in between uses than the knife that gets stored in the dirty leather holder.  Where do they clean and sanitize their knife?  We’ve got that covered too!  There are two knife cleaning stations set up every morning.  Leonardo comes early to set up fresh containers for the stations which consist of three trays to facilitate a three-step process.  The first tray contains soap and water to clean the knife, the second tray contains water only for a rinse step and the third tray contains water with sanitizer to sanitize the knife.  Done!
Freshly cleaned and sanitized barrel washer
set up.  We're ready to wash vegetables!

Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites are not the only things that may potentially contaminate food.  We’re also careful to make sure we’re removing excess grease from bearings on equipment and check all connections for implements, hydraulic hoses, etc. to make sure we catch and repair any leaks.  We’ve even implemented a system for outfitting our tractors that are used by harvest crews with “tractor diapers!”  To my knowledge this is not an industry standard, but it’s a practice Richard devised and it’s become standard protocol on our farm.  We secure a heavy duty tarp under the belly of a tractor and place absorbent pads in the tarp.  If there should be any kind of a fluid or oil leak, we can easily see it, catch it and repair it thereby removing the potential for product to be contaminated in production areas or around a field!  Of course, tractor diapers don’t replace the need for observation, so all crew members are trained to be very attentive at all times, whether they are operating a piece of machinery or just working in the area.  If they see anything that doesn’t look right, it’s their responsibility to speak up and say “Wait, we need to check this out!”  Ok, so what do we do if there is a problem?  First, STOP!  Notify those in the area that there may be a problem and contact a supervisor/owner.  Fully assess the situation and then devise a plan to prevent any further issues and clean up anything that needs to be cleaned, etc.  One important point here is that we are a team.  We all may see things differently and we all may play a slightly different role in resolving the situation and being part of the solution.  Remember, food safety is everyone’s responsibility!

Ascencion harvesting black radishes, note his
yellow handled harvest knife!
Of course there is one tool we all use every day and we consider this our most important tool.  Can you guess what it might be?  Here’s a hint—it’s likely the tool you use the most every day as well regardless of your job!  Hands!!  Our hands are the tool we use the most every single day, which is why one of the most fundamental food safety training topics is “When do you need to wash your hands” and “What is the proper procedure for effective handwashing.”  COVID-19 messaging has brought handwashing to the forefront as a public health issue this year, but we’ve been preaching and practicing proper handwashing for many, many years! 
Every year we continue to make improvements to our practices and every year we undergo at least one third party inspection.  Typically we have a voluntary third-party inspection, as we’ve elected to do for many years.  This inspection looks at our farm both Pre-Farm Gate (Field operations) and Post-Farm Gate (Packing shed operations) and evaluates us according to the Harmonized Standards.  Last year we also had our first food safety inspection by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture (DATCP), the agency enforcing FSMA requirements in Wisconsin.
Crew training session with Richard, Andrea and our Spanish
interpreter, Michelle. Andrea is modeling the proper
attire to wear when working in animal areas--the only
place on the farm where you'll find bright yellow boots!

Whew---this is a lot of information, and we’ve only just touched the surface of the practices we employ on our farm.  We haven’t even discussed clutter control, first-in/first-out procedures, wearing yellow boots when working in animal areas, or what to do if it rains so much and river water washes through crop land!  Food safety is a part of our lives every single day and we hope you can see how integral it is to our farm and how we operate.  Of course we like having a neat, clean and organized farm.  It makes our work spaces more pleasant to work in and allows us to work more efficiently.  We do a lot of record keeping related to food safety as well, but that’s ok because it also helps us be better managers of our time and resources.  Is it worth it to invest this much thought, time and energy into a food safety program?  Absolutely!  Regardless of the law or requirements imposed on us by our buyers, we go back to our top priority which is always to ensure you and your family have safe, wholesome food to eat.  Thank you for your support of our farm.

July 30, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Corn!

29 Jul 2020 22:22

Cooking With This Week's Box

Sierra Blanca Onions: Beer Battered Onion RingsChopped Tomato, Onion & Cucumber SaladOne-Pan Chicken with Potatoes & Tarragon

Missouri Garlic: Roasted Garlic ButterChinese “Dry-Fried” Green BeansCrispy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Yogurt

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Grilled Corn Kale Salad (see below); Crustless Quiche with Summer VegetablesSummertime Beer-Battered Fried Zucchini with Honey Mustard Ranch Dipping Sauce

Green and Silver Slicer Cucumbers (included in some boxes this week): Chopped Tomato, Onion & Cucumber SaladThai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Green Beans: Chinese “Dry-Fried” Green Beans

Green Curly Kale: Grilled Corn Kale Salad (see below); Vegetarian Kale Taco Salad

Red Prairie or Gold Carola Potatoes: Crispy Smashed Potatoeswith Herbed YogurtOne-Pan Chicken with Potatoes & Tarragon

Sweet Corn: Sweet Corn Pancakes (see below); Grilled Corn Kale Salad (see below); Cornbread with Fresh Sweet Corn

Sunorange, Chocolate Sprinkles or Red Grape Tomatoes: Chopped Tomato, Onion & Cucumber SaladTomato Basil Scrambled Eggs

Tomatillos: Grilled Tomatillo & Pineapple SalsaRoasted Tomatillo and Black Bean Chili

Cauliflower OR Broccoli: Chicken Broccoli QuesadillaGrilled Cauliflower Hummus SandwichRoasted Cauliflower and Carrot Pizza

Orange Carrots: Ranch Fun DipRoasted Cauliflower and Carrot Pizza

Black Eggplant (included in some boxes this week): Eggplant & Chickpea PattiesBaked Eggplant Parmesan Penne

This week’s box is full of summer!  Rays of sunshine all soaked up and transformed into deliciousness by these beautiful vegetables!  Lets dive in and get cooking…and eating!  We’re talking sweet corn in this week’s vegetable feature, and what is summer without sweet corn!  Sweet corn is one of those vegetables you just can’t rush.  Even though we want a crop to be ready by a certain harvest date, it just doesn’t work that way.  Every crop matures on its own time and there’s nothing we can do except wait for the point of perfection and pick it!  This means sometimes we have a lot and sometimes we have a little. Regardless of how much you have, there are so many ways to use sweet corn that go beyond just corn on the cob.  You know I love to start the day off with vegetables in my breakfast, so why not kick off your morning with Sweet Corn Pancakes (see below)!  Top them off with some fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup and I guarantee you’ll have a good day.  If you’re looking to stay in the category of savory, consider this week’s other featured recipe for Grilled Corn and Kale Salad (see below).  Summer is the time to get creative with making and enjoying non-lettuce based vegetable salads.  This Grilled Corn and Kale Salad is a substantial salad that can serve as a meal all its own.  Massaged kale with grilled zucchini, corn and slices of fresh onions piled high.  If there’s room in your bowl, feel free to add some avocado, grilled chicken or poached fish as well!
Vegetarian Kale Taco Salad
photo from thealmondeater.com
Before we move on to other topics, I have a few more summer salad options to mention.  If the Grilled Corn and Kale Salad isn’t on your list for this week, you might want to use the kale to make this Vegetarian Kale Taco Salad.  I also want to mention this Chopped Tomato, Onion & Cucumber Salad.  This is a simple salad, but if you use good ingredients you don’t need to do much to make it delicious!  Add parsley from your herb garden, dress it with a simple basic vinaigrette of honey, Dijon mustard and lemon juice or vinegar.  Eat it just as it is, or serve it spooned over grilled bread for bruschetta or with hummus and pita chips.  I also have my eye on this Thai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts.  The thing I like about salads with Thai influence is how they utilize fresh, simple and clean ingredient combinations.

Did you notice how beautiful the dark, shiny beans are this week?  If you aren’t afraid of a little spice, try these Chinese “Dry-Fried”Green Beans.  This utilizes a stir-fry method from the Szechuan region of China where the food is spicy and flavorful!  On the other end of the spectrum, did you notice the brilliant white Sierra Blanca onions!  So beautiful, mild, tasty, and perfect for Beer Battered Onion Rings!  I know, we just talked about healthy kale salads and now I’m suggesting deep fried food?  Yes, at least once a summer we need to put a pot of oil on the stove and make fresh onion rings.  While you’re at it, you might as well make some Summertime Beer-Battered Fried Zucchini with Honey Mustard Ranch Dipping Sauce as well!

One-Pan Chicken with Potatoes & Tarragon
photo from alexandracooks.com
We are so grateful for this year’s potato crop!  This really is the time to indulge in potatoes, when they are fresh and so delicious.  I still think it’s wise to keep the preparations simple, such as Andrea Bemis’ recipe for Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Yogurt.  We featured her recipe in a previous newsletter.  This recipe actually employs a combo cooking method.  First you boil the potatoes, then smash them and roast them so they get crispy.  Then you serve them with a creamy yogurt based sauce laced with fresh parsley, dill, lemon and garlic.  Of course you could just boil them and slather them with some homemade Roasted Garlic Butter!  I also found this recipe for One-Pan Chicken with Potatoes & Tarragon.  You could substitute chervil from your herb garden in place of the tarragon, or really any other fresh herb of your choosing.  In this recipe, you roast the potatoes alongside the chicken which has a marinade made of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise—so odd I have to try it!

I like quiche any time of the year, so this recipe for Crustless Quiche with Summer Vegetables caught my eye.  I also like recipes that are intended to be versatile, as this one is.  Use whatever summer vegetables are speaking to you.  Potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, or peppers are all great selections.  We’ll have many more tomatoes yet to come, but even if you only have a few you can still make Tomato Basil Scrambled Eggs for breakfast!

Roasted Tomatillo and Black Bean Chili
photo from recipewisdom.com
We weren’t sure we’d be able to harvest tomatillos again this week, but the plants pulled through for us and we have enough to send another pound your way this week!  This was our featured vegetable last week, so if you didn’t have a chance to read the feature article, check out our blog and you’ll find twelve delicious recipes using tomatillos!  This week I want to try this Grilled Tomatillo & Pineapple Salsa.  You could just eat it with chips, or serve it over grilled fish or chicken.  Of course, you could also make this tasty Roasted Tomatillo and Black Bean Chili and serve it with Cornbread with Fresh Sweet Corn!

Quesadillas are on our dinner rotation pretty frequently, mainly because they are quick and easy to make and you can put nearly anything in them.  So, lets give these Chicken Broccoli Quesadillas a try!  I also want to try this Grilled Cauliflower Hummus Sandwich.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten cauliflower on a sandwich, but why not?  While we’re trying new things, I’ll also mention this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Pizza.  That’s right, cauliflower and carrots on pizza!

Ranch Fun Dip
photo by Kristin Miglore for food52.com
So, over the weekend I watched the most recent Genius Recipe video on Food52.com.  It caught my eye because it was described as a recipe that will get you eating more vegetables.  Ok, I need to know how this recipe will do that and I have to admit, this is a pretty genius idea.  In fact, I wish I had come up with it myself!  So the original idea behind this concept was to create a healthy snack that could travel well without having to be refrigerated.  Vegetables and dip is a great snack, but most dip options need to be refrigerated.  That’s where the genius part of this recipe comes in—this dip is totally dry and shelf stable!  Remember Fun Dip candy where you dip the stick into candy powder?  That was the inspiration for this concept.  All the flavor is packed into a dry mix that you dip fresh vegetables in.  The vegetables need to have a little water on them which will make the dry seasoning mix stick to them!  The recipe on Food52.com is for Ranch Fun Dip, but feel free to get creative and make up your own flavor combinations and pair them with any vegetables you want to starting with this week’s fresh carrots!
Baked Eggplant Parmesan Penne
We’re nearly at the bottom of the box, but before we finish we need to talk about the glossy, elegant black eggplant.  I was taking a look at our recipe archives and wanted to mention a few delicious recipes from the past featuring eggplant.  The first is Eggplant & Chickpea Patties.  These are so tasty and make a great main dish item for a vegetarian dinner.  The second is for Baked Eggplant Parmesan Penne, which was a hit in previous years even amongst the crowd of individuals who are a hard sell when it comes to eggplant!

Ok, that’s a wrap for this week.  Next week we’ll likely have some delicious sun jewel melons for you and hopefully a few peppers and more tomatoes…and corn!  Enjoy the last week of July and I’ll see you back here next week for more summer recipes!---Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Sweet Corn

By Chef Andrea
Summer isn’t summer without sweet corn and we work really hard to grow the sweetest, best tasting corn we can!  Sweet corn is not always the easiest crop to grow.  Variety selection is a big part of the picture and there’s also the issue of pest control because, unfortunately, we are not the only creatures who like to eat sweet corn in the summer!  If you’re interested in learning more about what it takes to grow sweet corn, I’d encourage you to read the article we published on our blog last year entitled “The Journey of Sweet Corn:  From Seed to Table.”
Icing corn after harvest
Sweet corn is a crop you can’t rush, it’s ready when it’s ready and you just have to do your best to determine when it’s at its optimal maturity.  Sometimes you’ll have a lot and sometimes there will only be a small amount to pick.  Regardless of the quantity, I want to encourage you to think about ways you might enjoy and use corn that go beyond the classic Corn on the Cob.  Before we jump into preparation, I need to mention one very important thing about sweet corn that you need to remember.  Keep It Cold!!!  When you get your sweet corn home, please put it directly into the refrigerator and keep it there until you’re ready to cook it.  If refrigerator space is an issue, remove the husk and put the ears of corn in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Keeping sweet corn cold is important for maintaining the sugar content.  Time and warm temperatures will cause sugars to convert to starch which will negatively impact both flavor and texture.
Corn cut from the husk after cooking
As for using corn, you may choose to cook it in the husk or without the husk and you also have the option of cooking it on the cob or cutting it off the cob before cooking.  Often people will choose to cook corn on the cob and in its husk if they’re cooking it on a grill or open fire.  If you do this, you should soak the ears of corn in their husks for a bit before putting them on the grill, otherwise the husks will dry out and burn more quickly.  If you choose to remove the husks first, you have several options for cooking the corn if left on the cob.  You can roast it in the oven or place it directly on the grill.  You can also boil ears of corn in salted water.  Once cooked, you can either eat it directly off the cob or cut the kernels off the cob using a paring knife. Whether cooked or raw, cutting kernels off the cob can sometimes get a little messy.  I like to prop my ear of corn up on end in a shallow bowl when I cut the kernels off the cob.  This way the kernels will fall into the bowl instead of all over the cutting board.
photo by Marcus Nilson for epicurious.com
Once corn is cooked you have many options for how to use it.  You can incorporate it into pasta dishes, risotto, vegetable salads, soup, chowder, quesadillas, tacos and salsa!  You can also use fresh corn kernels in cornbread, muffins, waffles, pancakes or even to make desserts such as ice cream or a blueberry sweet corn crumble!  A little fresh corn can really brighten up any dish with its sweetness, color and tender texture.  If you need a little help finding recipes or ideas, check out this article from Epicurious that includes 79 recipes using corn!
We always focus on the kernels of corn, but if you really want to maximize each ear of corn we really should look at how to use the entire ear!  For starters, don’t discard the cobs!  Corn cobs have a lot of flavor and can be used to make a flavorful Corn Cob Broth or stock.  Corn cob broth can be used when making risotto, poaching fish or chicken, or as the base for sauces and soups.   There are many ways you can do this, but here are a couple versions to get you started.  
Corn Stock by Martha Stewart
Corn Stock by Saveur Magazine
I also learned that corn silk has health benefits and can be made into tea using either fresh or dried silks!  If you’re interested in learning more about these health benefits or how to make corn silk tea, here are a few articles to consult:  www.stylecraze.com/articles/health-benefits-of-corn-silk-tea and www.healthline.com/nutrition/corn-silk#bottom-line.
Lastly, I want to mention that sweet corn is very easy to freeze so you can savor it during the winter.  I recommend cooking it on the cob and then removing the kernels after cooking.  Simply put it in a freezer bag and pop it into the freezer.  It’s that easy!  Use the corn cobs to make corn stock and you can freeze that as well!

Grilled Corn & Kale Salad

Yield:  2-3 servings
4 cups green curly or lacinato kale, torn into bite-sized pieces (½ bunch)
1 Tbsp olive oil (for massaging the kale)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (for grilled vegetables)
1 medium zucchini
½ of a medium white or red onion, thinly sliced
2 ears fresh corn, husked
½ cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 avocado, diced (optional)
½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
3 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup lime juice
2 cloves garlic 
¼ to ½ of a jalapeño, seeds removed
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cumin
Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. First, preheat your grill or prepare a grill pan if you’re using the stovetop.
  2. While the grill is preheating, prepare the kale.  Strip the leaves off the main stem and tear them into bite-sized pieces.  Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Using your hands, massage the kale to ensure all pieces are thoroughly and lightly coated with oil.  Set aside.
  3. Make the dressing.  Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse until everything is combined.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Pour about half the dressing over the kale and toss to combine.
  4. Prepare the zucchini and corn for grilling.  Slice zucchini into ¼ inch slices.  Brush each side with a little vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.  Brush the ears of corn with vegetable oil as well, and season with salt and pepper.  Lay both vegetables on the grill and grill for 5-7 minutes on each side, or as needed to get nice grill marks and cook the vegetables until tender.  Remove from grill and set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Once the vegetables are cooled enough to handle, cut the zucchini into small diced pieces.  Using a paring knife, cut the corn kernels off the cob of corn.  Add both zucchini and corn kernels to the kale along with the onion and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  Add more dressing as needed to nicely coat all the vegetables.  You may choose not to use all the dressing.
  6. Allow the salad to rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.  This salad is durable enough to be made in advance and served the next day, in fact the flavors and texture are actually a bit improved!  Top each portion with toasted pumpkin seeds and avocado if desired.
This recipe was adapted slightly from an original recipe published on www.thealmondeater.com.  This is a great “make in advance” salad to take with you on a picnic or pack for a portable lunch!

Sweet Corn Pancakes

Yield:  About 9-10 4-inch pancakes
2 Tbsp butter, plus additional for the pan or griddle
1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 1-2 ears of corn)
⅛ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal (finely ground)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet or on a griddle pan over medium heat.  Add the corn and saute for 4-5 minutes, until it begins to brown ever-so-slightly.  Season with salt and transfer to another bowl to cool slightly.  Wipe out the skillet so you can use it to make the pancakes.
  2. Lightly beat the egg in a large mixing bowl, then whisk in buttermilk, vanilla and sugar.  In a smaller bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir dry ingredients into the egg and buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined but still a little lumpy in appearance.  Fold in the sweet corn.
  3. Reheat your skillet or griddle pan over medium heat.  Brush the pan with butter and ladle ¼ cup batter at a time, keeping pancakes spaced so they don’t run together.  When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip them over and cook them until golden brown on the other side.  If they seem to be cooking too quickly (dark on the outside, but still raw in the center), turn the heat down slightly for the next batch.  Brush the pan with butter in between each patch and continue until all the batter is gone.  If you aren’t serving and eating them right out of the pan, place the cooked pancakes on a baking rack on a sheet tray and hold them in the oven turned on to low (150-180°F) until you’re ready to serve them.
  4. Serve warm with butter, fresh fruit and warm maple syrup.
Recipe sourced from www.smittenkitchen.com, with slight adaptations made by Chef Andrea.

July 23, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tomatillos!

22 Jul 2020 22:00

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini-Corn FrittersPizza Bianca
Tomatillos: Mexican Eggs In Purgatory (see below); Pork & Tomatillo Stew (see below)
Small Tomatoes OR Black Eggplant OR Broccoli OR Cauliflower:   One Pot Vegetable Thai Red Curry
Spicy Pork & Tomatillo Stew on the cover of
Food & Wine Magazine, October 2007
This week we’re just starting to harvest some of the mid-summer vegetables including corn, tomatoes, eggplant and tomatillos!  Tomatillos are our featured item for the week and I have quite a few recipes to share with you!  One of the nice things about tomatillos is that they have a relatively long harvest window, especially because we do two plantings.  So this week’s portion is one to get you started, but we hope to include tomatillos in more boxes throughout the summer and early fall so keep these recipes handy and refer back to them in future weeks.  First of all, if you haven’t read this week’s vegetable feature article, please do so (see below).  In that article I mention 14 more recipes and include links to all of them.  In addition to these suggestions, we’re also featuring two tasty recipes.  The first is for Mexican Eggs In Purgatory (see below).  This is a twist on a traditional Southern Italian dish, Eggs in Purgatory, that has a tomato base and uses red pepper flakes to add heat.  This version uses tomatillos as the base for the sauce and the heat comes from either jalapeno or poblano peppers.  This dish is delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  The other recipe is one that is very familiar to me and I’ve been making for over ten years.  If you’ve read this article in past seasons you may remember me mentioning this Pork & Tomatillo Stew (see below), although I don’t think we’ve ever featured it in the newsletter!  This is a simple, yet tasty stew and the tomatillos add richness and thicken the broth.  I first made this for our crew when I was the summer farm chef back in 2007 and saw this recipe featured on the cover of Food & Wine magazine in October 2007.  I still have that issue of the magazine and am still making this stew!  In fact, every year I intentionally freeze some tomatillos so I can make this recipe during the winter months.
Zucchini-Corn Fritter, photo from foodnetwork.com
We just started harvesting our second crop of zucchini, so there are a couple pounds in this week’s box, and just in time to overlap with the first sweet corn of the season!  There will be more corn coming in the near future, but for this week these few ears will provide just enough corn to make these Zucchini-Corn Fritters!  The other recipe I’d like to mention utilizing zucchini this week is this simple recipe for Pizza Bianca.  This is more of a white pizza built off of slices of fresh fennel and thinly sliced zucchini.  This is the final week of fennel, so if you want to try something a bit more unusual, you could also use the fennel to make this Fennel Upside Down Cake!
Corn, Chard and Ricotta Galette, photo from finecooking.com
Lets go back to sweet corn for a moment.  I know everyone’s anxious for corn on the cob, dripping with butter.  Unless there are only two people in your household, this may not be the week for corn on the cob.  We’ll get there, but this first planting is just starting to mature so the harvest is a little light right now.  The fun thing about fresh sweet corn though is that a little bit added into a recipe can make everything so much tastier!  If you don’t go for the zucchini-corn fritters mentioned above, consider trying this Corn, Chard and Ricotta Galette.  If you receive the amaranth instead of chard this week, you could substitute the amaranth for chard in the galette recipe or you could make Amaranth and Corn Stewed in Coconut Milk.  This is a recipe from a past newsletter that also includes green beans.  Corn, amaranth and green beans are a tasty vegetable combo!
Green Bean Crisps
photo from ohsodelicioso.com
We’re happy to have another hearty harvest of beans for this week!  We’re just finishing harvesting our second planting and the third one already has little beans set on.  I’m not sure if they’ll be ready to pick next week, but we have our fingers crossed!  If you’re looking for something healthy to snack on this week, try these Green Bean Crisps!  The other recipe I want to mention with green beans in mind is this One Pot Vegetable Thai Red Curry.  This has become part of my frequently referenced summer recipes because it’s very versatile and you can use any summer vegetables you have available.  I often use potatoes, green beans and eggplant, but you could also include zucchini, sweet peppers and carrots.  As long as the volume of vegetables matches what the recipe calls for, you can use pretty much anything you have.
If you missed last week’s vegetable feature article about New Potatoes, go check it out and read more about why we think new potatoes are unique and different from any other potatoes we’ll deliver this year!  You’ll also find three tasty recipes that highlight new potatoes, or you might want to try my favorite way to eat new potatoes, New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter.
Easy Grilled Onions, photo from slenderkitchen.com
We’re almost ready to start bringing in more onions.  The tops are starting to die down and we’re making space in the greenhouse so we can dry them.  We’re finished with scallions and moving on to our next fresh onion selections, the beautiful Desert Sunrise Purple Cipollini Onions and Sierra Blanca White Onions.  Both are more mild and sweet onion varieties and are good ones for grilling and roasting.  Check out this recipe for Easy Grilled Onions.Did you know you can cook cucumbers?  If you want to give this a try, consider making Roasted Cucumbers with Onions and Fresh Herbs.  If you want to stick with eating cucumbers raw, then consider making this Spicy Cucumber Salsa.  This is a nice, fresh alternative to a traditional tomato salsa and is excellent on fish tacos, grilled fish or chicken, or just eat it with tortilla chips.  It’s also very pretty made with the purple cippollini onions!
Spicy Cucumber Salsa, photo from thesmallthingsblog.com
That concludes this week’s box contents.  We’re hoping to dig the first of our green top carrots next week and we’re crossing our fingers that the next variety of sweet corn will be ready to pick!  We should also see more tomatoes ripening and hopefully we’ll see more eggplant sizing up.  Richard brought in the cutest little Lilac Bride Eggplant that was only about four inches long!  It obviously needs a little more time.  We’re also keeping our eye on the peppers and hoping we’ll be able to start harvesting green bell peppers within the next week or two.  Our second planting of cucumbers will be kicking in here pretty soon and lets not forget about melons!  The early Sun Jewel melons will likely be the first and unless they surprise us, we will likely start harvesting them in about 10-14 days.  Have fun cooking this week’s vegetables and I’ll see you back here next week!---Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Tomatillos

By Chef Andrea
The view looking down the row of our "Tomatillo Jungle!"
Tomatillos…what are they?!  Tomatillos are one of those confusing vegetables that are actually a fruit although most often used in more vegetable fashion.  Tomatillos are classified as a nightshade, which means they are a relative to tomatoes.  However, they are not just a green tomato.  They are a completely different fruit.  They are actually in the same family with ground cherries, both of which are characterized by their papery lantern-like husks that surround the fruit.  Tomatillos grow on plants that are similar to tomato plants, but they are usually larger and have more of a wild, jungle-like appearance.  Their main stem is thick and sometimes resembles a small tree!  The plants can grow to over seven feet tall, so we put stakes in between the plants and tie them up progressively with string to keep the plants upright and the fruit off the ground.  You know a tomatillo is ready to pick when it fills its husk completely and may even start to split the bottom of the husk.  While most tomatillos are green, we also grow two varieties that turn purple when fully ripe!  These typically take longer to mature, so we won’t be harvesting these for awhile.  Hopefully we’ll be able to send these your way later in summer or early fall.
Green tomatillos (in the bowl) and
Purple tomatillos (on the board)
So what do you do with them?  Lets talk storage first.  In the home setting, I recommend you just store your tomatillos at room temperature, either in a paper bag or just on the counter.  They’ll store like this for a week or more!   Before you use them, you do need to peel away the papery husk and you’ll find the fruit inside may be a little sticky.  Once you remove the husk and stem, the remainder of the tomatillo is completely edible, no need for further peeling and don’t even try to remove the seeds.

Tomatillos have a tangy, fruity  flavor and you’ll find purple tomatillos to be more sweet than green ones typically.  Tomatillos may be eaten either raw or cooked.  One of the most familiar ways to use tomatillos is in making salsa, salsa verde that is! Tomatillo salsa may be prepared with all raw vegetables which will give you a fresh, chunky salsa.  The alternative is to cook the tomatillos on the stovetop with a little water before blending the softened, cooked tomatillos with the other salsa ingredients.  If you cook the tomatillos, you’ll get a more smooth, thick salsa due to the natural pectin in tomatillos.  Salsa verde is a good place to start if you’ve never worked with tomatillos before.  You can eat it with chips, use it to jazz up scrambled eggs, put it on tacos, or use it as a base ingredient in other preparations.  The natural pectin in tomatillos does lend itself favorably to being used as a thickener for enchilada sauce, soups, stews, chili etc.
Purple Tomatillo Salsa! 
Cooked (bowl on left) and Fresh (bowl on right)
Tomatillos are very easy to preserve for use in the off-season.  One option is to make salsa now and either can or freeze it.  If you don’t have time to make salsa or just want to have tomatillos available in the off-season for other uses, you can freeze tomatillos whole and raw.  Simply remove the outer husk, wash and dry the fruit.  Put them in a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  They don’t retain their firm texture after freezing, so don’t be surprised if they are soft when you thaw them.  If you are using them to make a cooked salsa, soup, etc, the texture issue isn’t an issue.
Vegetable Enchilads with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce
Ok, so lets talk recipes!  My top two favorite things to make with tomatillos are Spicy Pork and Tomatillo Stew (see below) and Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce.  I’ve been making the Spicy Pork and Tomatillo Stew (see below) since 2007 and I know I must’ve mentioned it in past blog articles but it looks like I’ve never shared the recipe in a newsletter!  I first made this stew for our farm crew back in 2007.  In fact, it was on the cover of Food & Wine magazine in October 2007 and I still have that issue of the magazine hanging out in the magazine rack near the kitchen in the office!   The cover is faded and tattered, but it was a good issue and I still reference it periodically.  My notes for this recipe are in the margin indicating I multiplied the recipe times five to feed the crew!  This is a good stew to make in early fall when the weather starts to change and the chill sets in.  I also like to freeze tomatillos and pull them out in the middle of winter to make a pot of this stew.  My second favorite recipe for Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce was featured back in 2018.  This is a great recipe to make all summer and you can vary the vegetable ingredients depending on what you have available.  Ok, I lied.  I have a third favorite recipe. 
Roasted Tomatillo and Chickpea Curry
Back in 2017 I uncovered this recipe for Roasted Tomatillo and Chickpea Curry.  This is a bit of a non-traditional way to use tomatillos, which is exactly why I tried the recipe and it was delicious!
So, if you’re not sure where to start, I’d encourage you to consider a simple batch of salsa verde or reference the recipes in this week’s newsletter as well as the other two I mentioned that are on our website in our recipe archives.  Beyond these suggestions, I’ve compiled a list of 12 more recipes that are in my queue to make, hopefully this year!  If you try them first, be sure to post the results and your commentary on the recipe in our Facebook group…especially the Tomatillo Strawberry Pie!  Have fun and enjoy this unique vegetable/fruit selection!
Mexican Eggs in Purgatory
Yield:  4 portions (2 eggs each)
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 poblano or jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded (if you wish)
1 ½ cups chopped cilantro leaves and stems, plus ¼-½ cup for serving
1 medium onion or 3 scallions, coarsely chopped, plus ½ cup for serving
¾ cup chicken broth
3 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or as needed)
1 garlic clove, minced
8 large eggs
2 Tbsp grated Cojita or crumbled feta cheese, plus more for serving
2-3 ounces shredded Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Lime wedges, for serving
Corn Tortillas, for serving
1. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat source.  
2. In a blender, add the husked tomatillos, poblano or jalapeño pepper, chopped cilantro, onion, ½ tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper and chicken broth.  Puree until smooth.

3. In a large, shallow ovenproof skillet, cook the bacon over high heat until brown and slightly crispy.  If the bacon is lean, you may want to add the olive oil.  Once the bacon is cooked, add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.  Carefully add the tomatillo puree and cook over moderate heat until the sauce is thickened and dull green, about 10-12 minutes.

4. Using the back of a spoon, make 8 depressions in the tomatillo sauce.  Remove the pan from the heat and carefully crack the eggs into the depressions.  Sprinkle the eggs and tomatillo sauce with the 2 tablespoons of Cotija cheese and the shredded Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese.  Broil the dish until the egg whites are set but the egg yolks are still runny, about 3-4 minutes.  
5. Remove from the oven and garnish with more Cotija cheese, chopped onion and cilantro.  Serve right away with warm corn tortillas and lime wedges. 
Chef Notes:  

The tomatillo sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Bring the sauce to room temperature before adding the eggs. 

If you are serving less than four people, you can use a smaller ovenproof skillet and only half the sauce to cook four eggs instead of eight.  Reserve the second half of the sauce for a second meal. 

Variation:  If you want to add more vegetables to this dish, consider adding small diced potatoes and fresh corn kernels cut from 1-2 ears of corn.  Cook the potatoes and corn in the saute pan in a bit of oil before you cook the bacon.  Remove the potatoes and corn, cook the bacon and then add the vegetables back to the pan along with the tomatillo sauce.

This recipe was adapted slightly from Grace Parisi’s recipe featured at foodandwine.com

photo from Food & Wine magazine, October 2007

Spicy Pork and Tomatillo Stew

Yield:  4 servings
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 Anaheim or poblano chile, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp mild chile powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Pinch of dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup  ½ –inch diced carrots
Two 6-ounce potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into 1-inch dice
Hot Sauce, for serving
Chopped Cilantro, for garnish
Corn Tortilla Chips, for serving
1. In a medium casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 2 minutes per side.  
2. Add the celery and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the diced chile, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through and tender, about 30-40 minutes.
3. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a few tortilla chips.  
Recipe adapted slightly from Food & Wine magazine, October 2007

July 16, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring New Potatoes!

15 Jul 2020 22:40

Cooking With This Week's Box

Sweetheart Cabbage or White Cauliflower or Broccoli: Spicy Pickled Cauliflower; Broccoli Cauliflower Soup; Summer Farmer Skillet
New Potatoes: Smashed New Potatoes with Lemon and Lots of Olive Oil (see below); Butter-Steamed New Potatoes (see below); New Potatoes Cooked in Their Jackets with Spices (see below); Summer Farmer Skillet
Hello Everyone!
I hope you’re enjoying your summer activities and meals. We have some tasty ingredients awaiting you in this week’s box and more summer goodness yet to come! This week’s featured vegetable is new potatoes. These aren’t just any old potato—new potatoes are different. They are creamy and delicious with tender delicate skins and a fresh potato flavor that can’t be matched any other time of the year. I’ve included three simple recipes for you to consider trying this week, and all of them are centered around the concept of simplicity because in my opinion, these potatoes shine best with simple flavors and preparations. The first recipe for Smashed New Potatoes with Lemon and Lots of Olive Oil (see below) comes from Joshua McFadden’s book, Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables. Serve these as a side along with grilled chicken or fish or enjoy it as more of a main meal item with a vegetable salad to accompany. The second recipe for Butter-Steamed New Potatoes (see below) comes from Darra Goldstein’s book, Fire & Ice, Classic Nordic Cooking. This recipe represents some northern European influences and uses a combination cooking method of baking and steaming…in butter! The third recipe for New Potatoes Cooked in Their Jackets with Spices (see below) comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, An Invitation to Indian Cooking. The cooking method is simple and the flavor of the new potatoes is complemented by spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. What I like about all of these recipes is the fact that all three, regardless of the origin, acknowledge that the best way to prepare a new potato is to keep the flavors and method simple!
Beef Taco Hot Dish, photo from therealfoodrds.com
Our summer of zucchini recipes continues and I have to say there were several great recipe suggestions posted in the Facebook Group recently. This recipe for Zucchini Pizza Casserole looks like a family-friendly recipe and so easy to put together! For all you native mid-Westerners who like a good hot dish, check out this recipe for Beef Taco Hot Dish. This is a great summer recipe that can be adapted throughout the summer to include peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos or really any summer vegetable you have that needs a home! Now that I’ve mentioned two main dish suggestions, I’m going to balance it out a bit with something sweet. This sweet treat comes completely guilt free, and does not require you to heat up an oven! Try these No-Bake Zucchini Bread Granola Bites and enjoy them as a little afternoon snack!
Before I go any further, I want to mention this recipe for Summer Farmer Skillet. This recipe is not new to those of you who have been following along with this blog over the past few years. This is a recipe we eat a lot in the summer and it’s great because it’s adaptable, it only requires one pan, and you can include a lot of different vegetables in it! This week I made it with potatoes, onions, green beans and zucchini. The “green” that I used as the topping was cabbage, but you could also use amaranth or rainbow chard as well!
Basil Cucumber Salad
photo from wholeandheavenlyoven.com
The cucumbers have been so refreshing and I just can’t get enough fresh cucumber salads! This week I’m going to try this simple recipe for a Basil Cucumber Salad. I also want to make some Quick Refrigerator Pickles. You can store these in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks on average (sometimes a little longer). They are a nice little accompaniment to sandwiches, snacks, etc. While you’re pickling, you might want to make a jar of Spicy Pickled Cauliflower too! This would go well with that Beef Taco Hot Dish!
Growing up, green beans were one of my least favorite vegetables. That could be because my mom always overcooked them, or possibly because I had to pick them from the garden and snap them for winter preservation. In my adult life, I’ve come to appreciate just how delicious fresh green beans can taste. Since we have some basil in this week’s box, I thought this recipe for Crispy Green Beans with Pesto would be fitting. It’s been awhile since I have roasted green beans, but I want to make these Roasted Garlic Green Beans this week using the fresh garlic!
Cucumber Basil Aqua Fresca, photo by David A. Land for epicurious.com
Have you eaten the beets from the last two weeks? If not, you are missing out! They are so sweet and delicious! While I typically just eat them cooked with butter and salt, I think I’m going to have to try making this Beet Lemonade, a recipe mentioned in our Facebook Group. While we’re talking about drinks with vegetables, perhaps this recipe for Cucumber Basil Agua Fresca is of interest to you!
Vegan Beet Salad with Basil
photo from hellyeahitsvegan.com
Back on beets….I also have this simple recipe for Vegan Beet Salad with Basil on the list for later this week. Before I finish up with beets, I have to put in my plug to encourage you to eat the beet greens because it would be a shame to waste them and they taste so delicious! If you have more greens or vegetables than you can eat this week, consider preserving them. Here’s a link to this blog post that will show you How To Preserve Beet Greens & Chard. Chard and beets are in the same family and they both resemble each other in both appearance and texture, thus you can use them interchangeably in many recipes. Frozen greens such as this can be used throughout the winter in soups, smoothies, casseroles, hot dishes, etc. This is actually a really good blog with some useful information about preserving many other things. If you are interested in freezing some of your green beans for later use, check out the article “How To Blanch and Freeze Fresh Green Beans.”
Sesame Noodles with Swiss Chard & Chicken
photo by Alexandra Stafford for food52.com
Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens, partly because it’s beautiful but also because it’s so versatile to use. Check out this recipe for Sesame Noodles with Swiss Chard & Chicken. Chard seems to go very well in any pasta dish. I also have to mention this Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Breadcrumbs. We featured this recipe in our newsletter several years ago and I mention it every year because it is so delicious! This would be a great salad to serve with a simple bowl of Broccoli Cauliflower Soup for a light dinner or lunch.
Scallion Beef Stir Fry
photo from thewoksoflife.com
Lastly, this is our final week for scallions. We’ve had a really strong run on scallions, but next week it will be time to move on to Desert Sunrise Cipollini Onions and the delicious, mild Sierra Blanca onions. Before they’re gone, perhaps we should feature them in a stir-fry! I have several options for you. You can go with Scallion Beef Stir-Fry or Pork and Chinese Scallion Stir-Fry if you eat meat. If you’d prefer a vegetarian alternative, consider this Mushroom and Green Onion Stir-Fry.
Ok, I think we’ve covered every item in this week’s box! Looking ahead to next week, it looks like there’s a chance we might have some tomatoes to pick! We’ll be digging more new potatoes over the weekend, so you can expect to receive more of those next week. Tomatillos are on my radar….we’ll have to see if they fill out in time for next week. Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: New Potatoes

By Chef Andrea

“Everyone has eaten a potato, but not everyone has eaten a truly new potato, freshly dug from the soil just days before serving. Once you do, your life is forever changed, because a new potato is everything good about a potato but more delicate, sweeter, and refined.”—An excerpt from Chef Joshua McFadden’s, Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables.
Potatoes are a vegetable everyone’s familiar with, but not all are created equally and this week’s potatoes are, in our opinion, very special. There is a short period of time early in the summer when we have the opportunity to eat “New Potatoes.” New potatoes are not a variety, but rather a term used to describe potatoes that are harvested off of a plant that still has green leaves on it. Our usual practice is to mow down the potato vines about a week in advance of harvest. In the week between mowing down the vines and actually harvesting the potatoes, changes take place in the plant that help to set the skins and make them easier to handle without damaging the skin. It also gives them a more durable skin to protect the flesh and make them better for storage. These potatoes were dug last Saturday from plants with green vines. Freshly dug new potatoes have a flavor and texture unlike other potatoes throughout the season. It is a fresh, pure potato flavor and the skin is tender and delicate. Once cooked, the flesh is moist, creamy and smooth. Simply delicious!
The new potatoes in your box this week are a variety called Red Norland. They are an early red-skinned potato with creamy white flesh. They need to be handled with care so as not to disturb the skin and expose the flesh. We’ve given them the “white glove treatment” through the harvest and washing processes, but we encourage you to handle them with care as well. Wash them just before use and just give them a gentle scrub if needed.
Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place, but not in the refrigerator. We store our potatoes in a warmer cooler at about 48-50°F which is most ideal. If potatoes are stored in colder temperatures (such as your home refrigerator), the starches will convert to sugars which is not what we want in a potato (save that characteristic for sweet potatoes!) So in a home setting, it’s best to store them in a cool, dry location outside of the refrigerator where they will not be exposed to light which can cause the potatoes to turn green and bitter. If the potatoes have set their skins, in general they will store for a few weeks at room temperature in a brown paper bag (never in a plastic bag). However, this week’s new potatoes will not store as well and are best eaten within one week.
New Potatoes with Garlic and Butter
(Recipe in the HVF archives)
I encourage you to slow down and really savor the flavor of these new potatoes as this is the only time during the season you’ll be able to have this taste experience of freshly dug potatoes. You really don’t need to do much to them and, in fact, I’d encourage you to do as little as possible! I am in agreement with Chef Joshua McFadden who recommends the following when using new potatoes:
"Simple cooking methods are best for these early-season potatoes—think boiling, steaming, and pan-roasting—and delicately flavor with fresh herbs……One of the beauties of a new potato is its undeveloped skin. That means no peeling, folks."
So save your complicated potato recipes for another time and just focus on simple recipes and preparations that allow the flavor of the new potatoes to come to the forefront. All they really need is a little cooking time, a little butter or oil and light seasoning. In searching different cookbooks for references to new potatoes, this seems to be the general consensus in cultures around the world. I thought it was interesting to note a special reverence and emphasis on simplicity was given to “new potatoes” in recipes from all around the world including northern Europe, France, and India to name just a few. I’ve featured several of these recipes for you this week. Give one of them a try and pay particular attention to how delicious and creamy these potatoes are this week!
As we progress through the season, you will be receiving more varieties of potatoes. It’s important to know that some potatoes are classified as “waxy” while others are classified as “starchy,” or possibly a mix of the two classifications which we label “all-purpose.” These classifications are assigned based on the type of starch that comprises the flesh of the potato and it’s important to choose the appropriate cooking method for each type. Waxy potatoes are generally more moist and hold together better. They are best used for roasting, boiling or steaming, and are a good choice for soups and potato salad. I do not recommend mashing them because they usually become sticky and pasty. This week’s variety is a waxy potato. Starchy potatoes tend to be more dry and fluffy. This is a variety of potato appropriate for mashing as well as for making roasted potatoes, pan frying, etc. Starchy potatoes are also useful in soups, but they’ll likely fall apart which is actually good for thickening. As we progress throughout the season, make sure you read the “What’s In the Box” portion of the newsletter each week as we’ll give you information about the specific potato varieties as we deliver them so you’ll know the best ways to prepare and enjoy them. In the meantime, enjoy the fresh flavor and creamy texture of these freshly dug new potatoes!

New Potatoes Cooked in Their Jackets with Spices

Yield: 4-6 servings
1 ½ pounds new potatoes
A piece of fresh ginger, about 1 ½ inches square, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ tsp ground turmeric
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp whole cumin seeds
½ fresh hot green chili, finely sliced (optional), or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp lemon juice

  1. Wash the potatoes well, but do not peel. Quarter them lengthwise, then dice them. Set aside in a bowl of cold water.
  2. Put the ginger in the electric blender with the turmeric and 3 Tbsp water. Blend at high speed until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil in a 10-12 inch heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the whole cumin seeds, and after about 10 or 20 seconds, when they change color, add the paste from the blender and cook for about 1 minute. Put in the sliced green chili if you are using it, and cook another 30 seconds.
  4. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pot. Fry them, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir. Put in the cilantro, lower heat a bit, and fry another 5 minutes, stirring gently. Add the salt, garam masala, coriander, lemon juice, cayenne pepper if you are using it, and 3 Tbsp warm water. Stir, scrape bottom gently, and cover. Reduce flame to very low and let the potatoes cook about 25 minutes, until done. Stir very gently every 10 minutes or so.
  5. To serve: Lift out carefully and serve in warm shallow dish or platter. Try these potatoes with roast pork or lamb. They are very versatile in an Indian meal and can be served in an all-vegetarian lunch…—or they can be served with almost any meat or poultry dish.
Recipe borrowed from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, An Invitation to Indian Cooking.

Smashed Potatoes with Lemon and Lots of Olive Oil

Yield: 4 serving
Kosher salt, to taste
1 ½ pounds new potatoes, rinsed and just lightly scrubbed if they need it
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
Put the potatoes in a pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add salt until the water tastes like the sea. Bring to a gentle boil and boil the potatoes until they are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
With a ladle or a measuring cup, scoop out about ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the potatoes well. Put them back in the pot and crush them using a potato masher or a big fork or a wooden spoon. Squeeze on the lemon juice, season with ½ tsp salt and many twists of pepper, and add ¼ cup olive oil. Sprinkle on a Tbsp or so of the cooking water and crush a few more times and then taste. Adjust with more lemon, salt, pepper, or olive oil until the flavor is irresistible. Add a bit more cooking water if you like in order to make the texture chunky but a bit creamy.
Recipe from Joshua McFadden’s book with Martha Holmberg, Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables.
Author’s Note: “This side dish is so perfect on its own that I hesitate to suggest any additions, but if you must, a handful of freshly picked herbs—especially chives and dill—is fantastic.”

Butter-Steamed New Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings
1 pound new potatoes, unpeeled
4 Tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Gently wash the potatoes and drain them in a colander. Leave whole or cut into pieces 1-inch diameter or smaller.
Place the butter in a small gratin dish just large enough to hold the potatoes. Set the dish in the oven for the butter to melt, then add the potatoes and salt, and toss with the butter. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour.
Sprinkle the potatoes with the dill and serve immediately, right from the gratin dish.
Recipe adapted slightly from Darra Goldstein’s book, Fire & Ice, Classic Nordic Cooking. In the introduction to this recipe she shares: 
“I first encountered butter-steamed potatoes as a newlywed living in Stockholm. I had carried James Beard’s Delights and Prejudices across the ocean to serve as my kitchen bible. There I discovered a recipe for pommes fondantes, tiny, peeled potatoes steamed in nothing but butter over low heat. That year in Sweden I spent a lot of time standing over the stove, shaking the pot to make sure the potatoes didn’t burn. Now, though, I make these darlings in a much more carefree manner, one I discovered in Norway. For all their ease, they are just as delectable.”

July Farm Update

15 Jul 2020 20:59

By Farmer Richard

Tomatillo fruit hanging heavy on the vines
and filling out their husks!
Despite the fact that we just did a farm and field update last month, a lot has changed and happened since then and we want to let you know what’s happening at the farm! We are at the apex of the season, halfway through the calendar year and one-third of the way through our CSA delivery season. The spring crops and weather were quite moderate and we were able to pack quite nice boxes for the early part of the season. But we know you can only eat so many radishes and lettuce and many of us look forward to all the delicious vegetables of summer! We’ve been delivering cucumbers and zucchini for several weeks and we’re in our second week of beans, but there are more summer favorites coming up very soon! If you don’t have time to read all the details of this week’s update, at least take a look at the pictures! Our hope is that we can connect you with our farm virtually so you know where your food is coming from and can have those images in your mind when you unpack your box each week!

The start of this year's garlic harvest, drying in the greenhouse.
Summer did not enter gently this year. The past two weeks have been a new challenge of very hot and humid days. We had a stretch of days reaching 88-90°F every day with high humidity that left us all with beads of sweat running down our brows early in the day. We started off the summer in a bit of a dry spell, but that has quickly changed as we’ve had frequent rains totaling about 9 inches in the past two weeks. If our more normal spring was a result of the extreme cutback in emissions related to COVID-19 changes in travel, etc, then it leaves us wondering if the sudden and recent switch to extreme weather is connected to “opening up.” Hmm….maybe we don’t want to “go back to normal!” Well, normal or not, we are looking forward to the second half of the season and we have a job to do. So here’s a glimpse of what is yet to come.

Rows of tomatoes in our 1st planting--staked,
tied and setting on fruit!
Spring days are highlighted by lots of planting and weed control. While we’re trying to get everything in the ground and keep up with flame weeding, mechanical cultivation and hand weeding spring crops, we are also planting and caring for the summer crops that will follow. Our efforts to control weeds are directly related to the hand of weather conditions we are dealt. While our crew members have done a good job keeping up with timely cultivations, rainy, wet conditions limit what we can do mechanically. Unfortunately, the weeds thrive in these hot, wet conditions which adds salt to our wound and leaves us with some big hand weeding jobs! We’re doing the best we can, but hand weeding requires a lot of crew time that we just don’t have many days. We’ve had a dedicated crew of four people who were hired specifically for focusing on hand weeding missions, but the weeds are growing faster than they can pull them! While the majority of our experienced H2A crew members arrived back in April, we did have several who received “administrative hold” and were not issued visas. Due to pandemic-related changes with the consulate’s office in Mexico, these members had to return home and wait for the call to return for further evaluation. They were also restricting visas to only those who had had a visa previously and were not considering any new applicants. Finally, the
A hillside sweet corn field....look carefully and
you'll see the deer fence surrounding the
field to help deter the critters.
first week in July we received notice letting us know the consulate’s office was ready to look at their cases. We are happy to report that four more crew members received their visas and made the long journey to Viroqua arriving last Thursday! We have only seen them from a distance as they will remain quarantined for 14 days, separate from the rest of our crew and with no contact with others in the community. They arrived healthy and well, going directly to the house we prepared for them complete with a fully stocked kitchen! They’ll reside in this location until the end of their quarantine and will stay busy during the day tackling their own weeding missions in fields we’ve assigned to them safely distanced from any other people. Thankfully, that is the beauty of being in the country where there are wide open spaces! We look forward to integrating Alvaro, Silvestre, Samuel and Joel into our crew in the near future. They all have special skills and contribute greatly to our farm. We’ve really missed them and are thankful to have them here!

An upcoming crop of green beans,
nicely cultivated and setting on blossoms!
That’s enough about weeds though, lets look at some crops! Our first two crops of beans have yielded very nicely and after this week we still have three more crops coming up. They are all looking good and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to keep the bags of beans coming your way! We also have three crops of edamame coming up. The deer population in our area is fully informed that we grow edamame, so we have to be proactive and make sure we keep these crops surrounded by a tall deer fence to keep them from eating the plants! So far, so good and we hope to deliver the sweet, tasty fresh edamame in the near future.

An early crop of sweet corn, notice the small ears of corn.
Summer isn’t summer without sweet corn! While sweet corn isn’t a big money maker for our farm, I’ve always said it’s a crop worth growing because it earns us friends! Every year we have the goal of growing “the best sweet corn ever!” We’ve had many successful years doing so and hope we can pull it off again this year! We have planted five crops and they’re looking pretty good! The first crop suffered some loss from red-winged blackbirds that dug up about 50% of the seed. The remaining crops fared much better, but we still need to be diligent about keeping the critters out of the field! If the raccoons, deer and birds get a taste of the sweet ears of corn, they can really do some damage. These fields are also fenced and we’ll be monitoring them very closely as the corn matures and reaches the point of harvest. We’re also monitoring for the corn earworm moth which migrates from the south. With the reduced bat populations we have a larger challenge to produce sweet corn without these worms. The researchers and experts say it can’t be done organically, but with careful monitoring and a high level of management we have pulled it off many times before! So, we know it can be done and we’re going to do our best. Please know this is quite challenging to achieve, so if you do find a worm, please be forgiving.

The beloved SunOrange tomatoes--so sweet they're like candy!

The cutest little watermelon!
Tomatoes are another beloved summer crop we know you are all looking forward to. We actually had our first sweet taste of SunOrange tomatoes this week! I only found enough to pick a small handful and between Andrea and Amy, they didn’t last long. We have two crops of tomatoes planted, mulched, staked and tied and looking great! The first crop has a lot of fruit set on and we’re hoping we can start picking some of the early varieties within the next few weeks. The eggplant field is also looking quite nice. The plants have blossoms and the start of some small fruit setting on. Things could happen fast at this point, so we anticipate we’ll start harvesting eggplant within the next few weeks.

Our melons and watermelons are not far from the eggplant field, so it seems fitting to report their status now as well! After a few low yielding, disappointing years, this year’s melon and watermelon fields are looking good and setting fruit.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this continues and we’ll all be eating some of those “juice dripping down my chin” melons very soon! Lastly, I want to mention the peppers. We’re finally starting to see some fruit set on. The ½-inch jalapenos are quite cute and we’re hoping some of the other varieties will be ready to pick very soon.

While we’re in the midst of summer, we’re already looking to fall crops! The sweet potato vines are spreading nicely and the winter squash fields look great! On our field tour last Sunday we even spotted a nice-sized festival squash! It will be awhile before it’s mature and ready to harvest, but seeing that fruit made us realize how quickly this year is going! We’ve also started planting our fall root crops and within the next couple of weeks we need to plant beauty heart radishes, black Spanish radishes, daikon, turnips, etc.

A view of the sweet potato (left) and winter squash (right)
fields with blue skies overhead!
We also have to look ahead to the next growing season. We are already selecting and reserving fields for a new crop of strawberries knowing we need to plant a new field in 2021. We are also in the midst of garlic harvest which means we’re selecting and saving garlic for next year’s crop. We have had an unexpected increase in CSA members this year, more than double from last year. We welcome this increase and are hope you will all join us again next year as well! CSA is our preferred market to grow for and benefits our farm in many ways. We’ll see what the next year holds. Later in the fall we will be asking you to commit to the 2021 growing season so we may better plan for next year. We hope you will end this season with an increased appreciation for local and high quality organic produce along with a desire to make a commitment for next year. But for now, enjoy the rest of the season!

July 9, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Amaranth!

8 Jul 2020 21:17

Cooking With This Week's Box

Amaranth: Chinese Amaranth & Garlic Soup (see below); Summer Amaranth & Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas (see below)
Green Scallions: Summer Amaranth & Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas (see below); Creamy Charred Scallion Dip; Skillet Chicken and Zucchini with Charred Onion Salsa
Fresh Porcelain Garlic: Chinese Amaranth & Garlic Soup (see below); Summer Amaranth & Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas (see below); Beet Green Pesto
Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Cucumber WaterCucumber Mint & Basil Soda
Green and/or Yellow Beans: Summer Amaranth & Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas (see below); Stove Top Green Bean “Casserole”
Beautiful amaranth greens on their way to becoming dinner!
I don’t know what it is about amaranth that makes me so happy, but I have to admit—I love this vegetable!  Maybe it’s the stunning color or perhaps it’s the nutrition nerd coming out in me.  There’s just something about eating a beautiful vegetable that I know is benefiting my health.  To all the naysayers who think “healthy” food doesn’t taste good—quite the opposite.  So lets jump into this week’s box starting with amaranth.  This week I’m sharing two simple recipes with you.  The first is a Chinese Amaranth & Garlic Soup (see below).  You might be thinking, “Seriously Andrea, soup in July?”  I couldn’t help it—it’s such a simple recipe I had to see if it was good.  When I first tasted it, I actually said out load “Wow, this is really good!”  The key is making sure you have good quality vegetables (check—you do) and a good quality stock or broth.  If you have these things along with about 15 minutes you can make this simple, nourishing soup.  Serve it with steamed rice or perhaps the Soy-Pickled Eggs that were part of the recipe for Spicy Pork & Turnip Soup featured back in May.  Don’t be afraid to eat this soup for breakfast too.  I know this might seem odd to some of you, but I actually do like to eat soup for breakfast, especially nourishing ones like this.  It is a good way to get a nutrient boost to start your day without weighing you down.  The second recipe is for Summer Amaranth & Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas (see below).  The ingredient list is a little long, but don’t let that intimidate you.  There are several components to this recipe, but once you have everything prepped it comes together quickly.  The point of this recipe is to let the simple flavor of the vegetables come out.  If you want more flavor, you could add some ground cumin or coriander or serve it with a bit of hot sauce.  The quinoa and chickpeas contribute additional protein, so this can be served alone as a main dish salad or you could serve a smaller portion as a side dish.  This is also a good “prep in advance” salad that you can make on the weekend and then pull out during the week for a quick dinner.  You could also make it in advance and portion it into containers that will make a quick “grab-n-go” lunch option to take with you to work (if you’re going to work) or for a picnic!
Creamy Charred Scallion Dip
photo from kitchenstories.com
We’re nearing the end of our spring-planted scallions, maybe just one more week before we move into the next onion selection.  While scallions are often used in smaller quantities to accent a dish, you can also use them as more of a main, featured item.  Check out this recipe for Creamy Charred Scallion Dip.  This would be another good item to take on a picnic or enjoy on the patio for an evening snack with a cold beverage I also want to try this recipe for Skillet Chicken and Zucchini with Charred Onion Salsa.
Since I mentioned zucchini, we might as well check out a few more zucchini recipes such as Fudgy Zucchini Brownies or Flourless Almond Butter Zucchini Bars.  Life is too short to not indulge in dessert now and again. 
Spiralized Zucchini with Beet Balls
photo from veggiedesserts.com
What shall we do with this week’s beets?  How about Spiralized Zucchini with Beet Balls.  This is a vegan recipe utilizing zucchini as a “noodle” tossed with pesto and served with little baked beet balls on top.  The recipe just calls for pesto, so you could go with a standard basil pesto or consider using the beet greens to make this Beet Green Pesto, which is also vegan.  If you’re looking for another use for beet greens, check out this Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens.  If you’re not into pesto and beet balls this week, refer back to Last Week’s Vegetable Feature Article about beets for more recipe suggestions!
The first cauliflower of the season is finally ready!  I have to admit, I’ve never made Cauliflower Rice, so this might be the week to give it a try!  So here’s a new use for cauliflower I never would’ve dreamed up on my own.  Cauliflower Buns!  That’s right, this recipe uses cauliflower as one of the main ingredients to make gluten free buns, or bagels if you want to shape them differently.  This is one of those “Really, does this work” kind of recipes that I just have to try.  If you beat me to it, post your results in our Facebook Group!
Cucumber Mint & Basil Soda
photo from bonappetit.com
Moving on, lets talk about cucumbers….which are coming out of our ears this week (figuratively)!  Cucumbers are nature’s hydration vegetable.  Check out this article featuring Cucumber Water.  The article talks about the health benefits of adding cucumbers to your water, especially in the heat of the summer.  There’s also a recipe at the end of the article.  You can jazz up a basic recipe by adding other ingredients such as herbs or fruit.  I also want to try this refreshing recipe for Cucumber Mint & Basil Soda.  This might just be the “cold beverage” to enjoy on the patio with a bowl of that Creamy Charred Scallion Dip!
We’re nearing the end of this week’s box, but we have a few more items to play with!  Last week in the Facebook Group there were quite a few good recipe suggestions including Fennel Orange Muffins.  This recipe comes from the Fairshare CSA coalition’s cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini.  If you’re looking for more fennel recipes, I’ll refer you to last year’s Fennel Vegetable Feature Article on our blog.  Go to the end of the article and you’ll find a long list of suggestions for utilizing all parts of the fennel!
Summer isn’t summer without fresh green beans!  Here’s a recipe for Stove Top Green Bean “Casserole,” a riff on a classic American recipe minus the canned onions and cream of mushroom soup.  Please note this recipe calls for 2 pounds of beans, but there is only 1 pound in your box so you’ll need to cut the recipe in half.
Ok, I think that’s a wrap for this week.  In case you’re wondering what’s coming next, I have my eyes on fresh, green top carrots and Richard’s been doing some test digs to decide when we can dig new potatoes!  I don’t know when we’ll be able to start picking, but tomatillos are almost ready and some of the tomatoes have set on fruit!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Amaranth Greens

By Chef Andrea

This week’s featured vegetable is not only gorgeous, but it’s also packed with nutrition!  We’re talking about Amaranth Greens!  While this is a “green” type vegetable, the leaves on this beauty are actually a dark burgundy red color.  When you’re driving by the fields, the bed of bright red amaranth greens is a site to behold, and it makes it easy to find in the field!
Amaranth is thought to have originated in Central and/or South America, but has made its way around the globe.  It can be found in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, which means there are many options for finding ways to use this vegetable.  Amaranth is used in Indian cuisine, paired with a variety of lentil and curry dishes.  It’s also used in the Carribean where it’s known as callaloo and is used in soups laced with coconut and chiles.  You’ll also find amaranth in Chinese cuisine, either lightly stir-fried with garlic, etc or incorporated into a simple soup such as the one featured in this week’s newsletter!  As I mentioned, amaranth is thought to have originated in Central and/or South America, so it also pairs well with flavor combinations from the cuisine of these regions.  One of the reasons we choose to include amaranth in our line-up of “CSA Vegetables” is because it thrives in the heat of the summer when other greens and lettuce really struggle.  As such, it goes well with all those other summer vegetables including zucchini, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, onions and garlic.

Amaranth greens could be called one of our own “superfoods.”  While I’ve never sent a sample to the lab to test nutrient levels, we know “greens” in general are packed with nutrients and foods with vibrant colors are such because of antioxidants and phytochemicals in them.  Amaranth is thought to have high levels of iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E…to name just a few of its nutrient attributes.  Do yourself a favor and eat this vegetable if for no other reason than that it’s good for you!
The variety of amaranth we grow is referred to as “Polish Amaranth.”  We purchased the seed from Wild Garden Seeds (WGS), which is kind of funny because our own Farmer Richard is the one who actually gave them the seed originally!  For those of you who haven’t heard the story, it goes like this: One day Richard was driving to LaCrosse, WI and saw this beautiful red amaranth growing in a garden along the way.  He stopped and asked the people who lived there about this plant.  They said their Aunt May brought the seed with her from Poland and they were happy to share it with Richard.  So Richard collected some seed and started growing it, mostly as a baby green to mix into his gourmet salad mix.  It didn’t do so well as a salad mix ingredient, but in later years we found success growing it as a mid-summer bunching green used for cooking.  Since we aren’t in the business of seed production, Richard passed the seed onto Frank Morton at WGS and he has been maintaining this variety of amaranth.   Thanks Frank!
Spicy Amaranth with Zucchini & Black-eyed Peas
While amaranth may be eaten raw, at this stage where it is more mature we recommend enjoying it as a cooking green for optimal flavor.  The stems are often tender enough to be eaten as well. The stems will need just a little extra cooking time so I like to separate the stems and leaves.  Cut off about one inch of the lower portion of the stem and then finely chop them.  When cooking, add the stems to the pan a few minutes ahead of the leaves.  Amaranth can be simply boiled, steamed or sautéed with garlic and onions for a super-simple preparation.  You can also wilt it into soups, grain dishes, curries, and bean dishes.  Many of the nutrients in amaranth, including the phytochemical that gives it its pink color, are water soluble.  Thus, you’ll notice when you cook amaranth the leaves will often turn green and the cooking liquid or other ingredients you’re cooking with the amaranth will turn pink!  Always try to use any cooking liquid (eg if you choose to simmer or boil amaranth) so you retain the nutrients.  I almost forgot to tell you what it tastes like!  Amaranth is similar in flavor to spinach, except it’s even better!
Store amaranth greens in the refrigerator loosely wrapped in a plastic bag or a storage container with a lid.  If you want to enjoy their beauty before you eat them, you can also put them in a vase and leave them at room temperature where you can see them!  Be sure to change the water daily.  Enjoy!

Chinese Amaranth & Garlic Soup

Yield:  4-6 servings
1 bunch amaranth greens
3 small or 1-2 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
32 oz chicken stock
16 oz water (optional)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste (optional)
1. Separate the amaranth leaves from the stems.  Cut the amaranth leaves into thin strips.  Cut the bottom one inch off the stems and then chop finely.
2. Heat a wok or 2-3 quart saucepot over medium heat.  Add the oil and once it shimmers, add the garlic.  Stir carefully and cook until the garlic is very fragrant and even turning just a little golden brown.  Add the amaranth stems and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.  
3. Stir in the amaranth greens and continue to stir-fry just until the greens have wilted.
4. Add the chicken stock and additional water if needed (if the stock or broth you are using is concentrated, you may want to use additional water).  Season with a bit of salt, black pepper and white pepper (optional).  Bring the soup to a simmer.  
5. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, just until the broth is pink and the amaranth is tender.
6. Remove from heat and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Serve hot.
Recipe adapted from www.thehongkongcookery.com.

Summer Amaranth & Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas

Yield:  5-6 servings
1 ½ cups quinoa
3 cups water
1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
¼ cup raisins
2 cups cut fresh green beans
1 bunch amaranth, leaves and stems separated
1 Tbsp sunflower or olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas
1 cup finely sliced scallions (green tops and bottoms)
1. In a medium sized pot, combine quinoa, water, 1 tsp salt, turmeric and ¼ tsp black pepper.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the temperature to medium, enough to maintain a gentle simmer.  Cover the pan and simmer for 13-15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the raisins and gently stir the quinoa with a fork to release some of the steam.  Place a clean dish towel over the pan and put the lid back on.  Set aside for 8-10 minutes.  The towel will absorb excess steam as the quinoa begins to cool.
2. Place the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the green beans and amaranth.  Remove the stem end from the green beans and cut into ½-inch pieces.  Separate the stems and leaves of amaranth.  Roughly chop the amaranth leaves into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.  Cut the lower 1 inch of stem off and discard it.  Finely chop the remaining stem.
4. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 Tbsp sunflower or olive oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the cut green beans and ½ tsp salt to the pan.  Stir to combine, then continue to sauté just until the green beans turn bright green.  Add the amaranth stems and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes, then add the leaves to the pan, cover and allow the leaves to wilt.  This will take 3-4 minutes.
5. Once the greens are wilted, remove the lid and continue to cook until all the moisture is gone and the leaves are fully wilted and tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.
6. In a small mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, honey and Dijon mustard.  Drizzle in ¼ cup olive oil while continuing to stir.  
7. Now it’s time to compile all the salad ingredients.  To the bowl containing quinoa, add the chickpeas, amaranth and green bean mixture and scallions.  Drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over everything and stir gently to combine.  Let set for 5-10 minutes and then taste it.  Adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon juice as needed.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled if you prefer.
Additional Notes: Don’t be afraid to add to this recipe if you are inclined to do so.  Serve it with a little hot sauce or stir in a large handful of coarsely chopped fresh herbs (mint, basil, parsley, or cilantro) if you wish.
Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder

July 2, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Green Top Beets!

1 Jul 2020 22:56

Cooking With This Week's Box

Purple & Green Scallions: Skillet ScallionsScallion Pancakes
Red Batavia Head Lettuce: Cobb Salad
Snow or Sugar Snap Peas OR Strawberries: Gingered Stir-Fry with Shrimp and Peas
Green Top Red Beets: Beet Recipe Collection from DishingUptheDirt.com; Roasted Beet Frittata (see below); Beet & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Yogurt & Lime (see below);  Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza
Welcome to the month of July!  We’ve reached the halfway mark for 2020—how is this possible!  Summer vegetables are coming on fast!  The peppers and tomatoes have set on blossoms.  The tomatillo plants are already loaded with little lantern-like tomatillo husks and we may be able to start picking them within a few weeks!  But before I get ahead of myself, lets get back to this week’s box and our featured vegetable—BEETS!  This week I will again refer you to Andrea Bemis’s collection of beet recipes on DishingUptheDirt.com.  Andrea has over 60 recipes with beets and this week we’re featuring two of them.  Andrea and I share the same love of beet greens, so many of her recipes make use of the top and the bottom of the beet!  Her Roasted Beet Frittata(see below) is on the menu for Sunday brunch and her Beet & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Yogurt & Lime (see below) will make for a light lunch of dinner.
Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza
Beets and fennel usually come in together in early summer and that’s a good thing because they pair nicely together in recipes!  Fennel can be an intimidating vegetable for some individuals, so to get started I am going to refer you to the Fennel Vegetable Feature Article I wrote last summer.  You’ll learn which part of the plant you can eat (there’s more than just the bulb) and I included 25 recipes for you to choose from including some tasty things like Lemony Fennel Cupcakes!  You can also find tasty recipes on our website that we’ve featured in past newsletters.  Two of the most well-received recipes have been Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza and Pasta with Golden Fennel.  These two recipes have even been accepted by people who didn’t care for fennel but decided to give it a try......and now they’re converts to the “I eat fennel” club.  Lastly, I came across this recipe for Shaved Fennel, Dill & Cucumber Salad and have it on the menu to serve with grilled halibut later this week.  It’s the perfect summer salad, light and refreshing!
Homemade Gingerale with Cucumber, photo from food52.com
This week the cucumbers are kicking in and I’ve already made my first batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!  Cucumbers are nature’s thirst quencher, so don’t be afraid to use them in refreshing drinks this summer.  I came across this recipe for Homemade Gingerale with Cucumber or try this Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie!
In our world, cucumbers and zucchini go together as they are planted and harvested at the same time, so before we move on we’ll cover zucchini.  If you missed last week’s Vegetable Feature Article about zucchini, you should check it out.  I compiled a list of 20 recipes using zucchini, but what I really want to do is grow that list to 100 recipes!  So, please send your favorite zucchini recipes my way and we’ll see if we can collectively grow that list!  In the meantime, here are a few ideas for how to utilize this week’s zucchini.  Check out this Zucchini Pizza Casserole, surely the kids will like this one!  They might also like this Cheesy, Garlic Zucchini Rice.
Scallion Pancakes
Photo by Kelli Foster for thekitchn.com
Last week I watched one of Food52.com’s “Genius” recipe videos for Skillet Scallions.  This recipe caught my attention because it only has 2 ingredients!  I made these earlier this week and they are not only super-simple to make, but they taste so good and made a great accompaniment to the steak I served with it.  The scallions are cooked by a combination of sautéing in butter and steaming.  They turn out very silky, slightly sweet and tender.  You really should try them!  The other recipe I want to use while we’re in the height of scallions is Scallion Pancakes.  I’ve never made this Chinese item, but I want to learn more about Chinese food, ingredients and cooking so I might as well give them a try!
We call it Sweetheart Cabbage, but I recently learned some people refer to this pointy head cabbage as Cone Cabbage.  This cabbage shines at its best in raw salads such as this Chopped Thai Chicken Salad that was suggested by a member in our Facebook Group.  I was also reminded of my own recipe for Summer Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad that also uses this cabbage.  Both of these salads are great options for a light dinner or lunch item that you can put on the table in very little time.
This is our final week for garlic scapes and then we’ll transition to fresh garlic.  If you haven’t yet made a batch of Garlic Scape & Cilantro Pesto, I’d encourage you to do so.  I made a batch last week and we’ve been enjoying it on burgers, scrambled into eggs, on toast with a little wedge of cheese, etc.  The flavor is good the first day and even better the second!
Cobb Salad, photo by Joe Lingemen for thekitchn.com
We’re nearing the bottom of the box, but we do still have a few more items to cover!  We’ve been waiting with anticipation to harvest these beautiful heads of Red Batavia lettuce for you!  This is one of our favorite head lettuce varieties and it’s the perfect, crunchy, refreshing lettuce to layer up on burgers and sandwiches.  The leaves are also thick enough and large enough to use them a as a wrap around whatever filling you’d like to put inside!  This variety would also be a good choice for making a Cobb Salad.  While this is a recipe built on traditions, I’d encourage you to create your own version of this salad utilizing the vegetables you do have available!
I’m not sure why I saved collard greens towards the end when in fact they were on the top of your box?!  The collard field looks so nice right now that we couldn’t help but send these your way while everything looks so nice.  Use them in traditional preparations such as the traditional Collard Greens with Bacon or use them to make Collard Greens Spring Rolls.
Lastly, I’d like to say a few words about strawberries and peas.  This week marks the official end of strawberry picking for HVF.  Now that we aren’t having strawberries to tend to, we’re spending our time picking peas!  I admit, I seldom ever do more than just eat these, pod and all, but I just might try this recipe for Gingered Stir-Fry with Shrimp and Peas!
Ok, that’s it, we’ve conquered another box!  I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!
Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Green Top Beets

By Chef Andrea

Beets are a crop we have available starting in mid to late June with availability extending through December and sometimes even into January and February with storage beets.  There are some beet varieties better suited to harvest for storage and others that are intended to be harvested with the green tops still attached.  The green tops are not only a sign of freshness, they are also another vegetable that is intended to be eaten and are packed with flavor and nutrients!  This is another one of those “2-for-1” vegetables where you eat the entire plant!
Most people are familiar with the traditional red beets, but did you know there are different colors of beets?  We grow three different colors including the traditional red beet as well as chioggia beets (candy striped inside) and golden beets.  In general, all beets, regardless of color, taste like beets.  Red beets have more of that traditional earthy beet flavor whereas chioggia and golden beets are generally more mild in flavor.  Golden and Chioggia beets are typically as sweet or sweeter than the red beets.  Individuals who think they don’t care for beets generally like and will eat golden beets.  If this is you, I hope you’ll give them a try.
Shaved Fennel & Beet Greens Salad
I mentioned earlier that both the beet root as well as the green tops are edible.  Beets are actually in the same family with chard and you’ll notice beet greens resemble chard in both their appearance as well as the texture of the stems and leaves.  Beet greens may be eaten raw or cooked and are a comparable substitute in any recipe that calls for Swiss chard.  They are also a delicious and nutritious addition to smoothies and could be substituted for other greens, such as spinach, chard or kale in a smoothie or green drink.
Beet roots are usually cooked, but may be eaten raw.  Thinly sliced or grated beets are a nice addition to salads and slaws.  As for cooking, beets are generally either boiled or steamed on the stove top or roasted in the oven.  The cooking time will vary depending upon the size of the beet.  The general recommendation is to cook beets with their skins on and the root tail intact.  For red beets in particular, this minimizes the leaching of the water-soluble color compounds from the beet.  Once the beets are cooked, cool them so you can handle them and the peel should be easy to remove.  You know a beet is fully cooked when the beet easily slides off a skewer, fork or cake tester stuck into the middle of the beet.
Balsamic Glazed Beets & Greens
Red beets do contain a water-soluble nutrient called anthocyanin.  This is an antioxidant that also gives red beets their color.  It will stain your hands (temporarily) and the color will bleed onto other ingredients if you’re using them in a salad, soup, or otherwise.  Golden beets and chioggia beets don’t lose their color or bleed color onto other ingredients.  If you are looking to preserve the beautiful candy-striped interior of a chioggia beet, it is best to roast them.  
Once cooked, beets may be used in salads or just simply reheated with a pat of butter and some salt.  You can also blend beets into hummus or other dips.  Beets pair well with a lot of other ingredients including vegetables such as fennel, celery, carrots, red onions, shallots, arugula and other salad greens as well as other root vegetables.  They also go well with fruits including apples, oranges, lemons, pears, avocadoes and pomegranates.  Additionally, beets pair nicely with goat cheese, feta cheese, blue cheese, butter, nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds to name just a few ingredients.
It is best to store beets in the refrigerator.  When you get beets with the green tops still on, remove the tops and store them separately in a plastic bag.  Try to use them within 5-7 days.  Store the beets in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.  They will last longer than the greens.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and nutritional benefits of having beets in your diet, check out www.justbeetit.com which is entirely dedicated to beets!  I’ve also included a list below of several recipes using beets that we have featured in previous newsletters and are available in our recipe archives on our website.  Enjoy!

Beet & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Lime & Yogurt

Yield:  2 servings
2-3 medium to large beets, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 bunch of beet greens or swiss chard (about 3-4 cups worth of greens)
Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup goat cheese
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt & black pepper, to taste
4 whole wheat tortillas
¼ cup Greek-style plain yogurt or sour cream
Juice from 1 lime
½ cup chopped parsley

1.  Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.  Add beets and cook until fork tender.  About 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a little olive oil.  Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and stir in beet greens.  Turn heat to low and cook until greens are slightly wilted.  remove from the pan and set them aside.

3.  In a food processor or blender, combine the cooked beets with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth. 

4.  Spread the beet mixture on two of the tortillas, then divide the sauteed beet greens between the two tortillas and top each one with half the cheese.  Place second tortilla on top.

5.  Return the skillet you cooked the beet greens in to the stove over medium to medium high heat.  Cook for aabout 3-5 minutes per side or until the tortilla is lightly browned.  Flip them over and cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned.

6.  Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley.

Recipe from Andrea Bemis's collection featured on her website/blog, www.dishingupthedirt.com.

Roasted Beet Frittata

Yield:  4-6 servings
4 medium sized beets with their greens
1 small red or yellow onion, chopped
Olive oil, as needed
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 ½ tsp dried sage
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Hefty pinch of salt
6 large eggs
½ cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces goat cheese
Flaky sea salt, as needed

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Separate the beets from their greens and wash both well to remove any dirt.  Cut the beet roots into 1/4-inch thick wedges (peeling is optional) and roughly chop the greens.  Toss the beets and onion with a little olive oil to coat and place them on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and give them a good toss.  Roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes, tossing the veggies halfway through cooking.  Remove them from the oven and set aside.  Turn the oven temperature up to broil and move the rack so that it's 5 inches below the heat.

2.  In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the ground pork with the sage, pepper flakes, nutmeg and a hefty pinch of salt.  Use your hands to mix well.

4.  Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a little olive oil to the pan, and then the pork.  cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat a bit, until the pork is no longer pink and cooked through.  Add the cooked beets and chopped beet greens to the pork and give the mixture a good stir.  Add the egg mixture and cook the frittata, lifting up the cooked eggs around the edges with a rubber spatula to let the under cooked eggs flow underneath, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, giving the pan a shake now and again until the eggs are mostly set, but the center is still slightly jiggly, 5-7 minutes more.

5.  Dollop the top of the frittata with the goat cheese and sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt.  Place the pan under the broiler until the frittata is set and golden brown.  About 2-3 minutes.

Recipe from Andrea Bemis’s collection featured on her website/blog, www.dishingupthedirt.com.

Reflections of a South Dakota Farm Boy….Lifting the Veil of Ignorance On Racism

1 Jul 2020 22:32

By Richard de Wilde
Richard's high school senior year photo...
before he became a hippie!
I grew up in a remote South Dakota community that was all white, immigrant family descendants.  There was no racism evident to me at the time, but then why would there be when everyone around me looked the same.  There were, however, plenty of “judgments” made by my father.  For example, “if you work hard and work smart, anyone can succeed in America.   If people are poor, it is because they are lazy.”  Also, in retrospect I wonder about the “Indians” from the Sisseton Reservation?  My father had a contact there and would make the one hour drive to the reservation on Monday to pick-up four or five guys to pick rock on our farm.  They stayed at our farm for the week and slept in the barn.  I am sure my mother fed them and Dad would return them to the “Res” on Friday or Saturday.  He would always tell us they would not be available to work again for at least a week, “until they drank up their week’s pay!”  I didn’t think much about it at the time, but in retrospect I understand my father’s attitude towards these people was such that they were a lesser group of people compared to us.  Prejudice?  Racism?  Only later, after I spent some time with a group of Native Americans in the Badlands of South Dakota during college, did I realize these “Indians” were wonderful people and I shared their love and connection with nature and “Mother Earth.”
I didn’t come face-to-face with full blown racism and discrimination until I spent the summer between my junior and senior year in college working in a coal mine in Bluefield, on the border of West Virginia and Virginia.  I was studying mining engineering and that summer I was assigned to a small electrical crew at the mine.  We traveled the underground passageways through the mines on a low electric “scooter” powered by a pole riding on an electric cable near the ceiling.  As I was the youngest and newest man on the crew, I was designated “Pole Man.”  The spring-loaded pole would frequently bounce off the wire and hit the ceiling.  As “Pole Man,” I would quickly and gracefully put the pole back on the electric wire in a matter of seconds.  One day I was in the scooter with several other guys including our crew leader and a black co-worker everyone called “Boots.”  Our scooter pole jumped off the cable and we were stalled.  Tiny flakes of shale started raining down on us.  In a matter of just a few seconds I saw Boots jump out of the scooter and run back in the direction we had come from.  I looked at the crew leader as he jammed his hand down putting the scooter on full throttle while looking at me with a look in his eyes that immediately told me I needed to get the pole back on the wire.  I did, and with the lightening speed and pride of a Midwest farm boy.  The scooter shot forward as the pole connected and just behind us a foot thick slab of shale roof fell onto the tracks we had just vacated.  Boots was on the other side of the roof fall, safe from the falling debris and thankfully, no one was hurt that day.  The next day we returned to this spot to clear the debris from the tracks.  My brother, Dennis, was also a mining engineering student and was working in the same mine that summer.  The white foreman looked at us, and with an air of contempt in his voice, said “What do you kids want?  Blood?”  This was the same time in history as the Kent State protests against the Vietnam War when protesters had just been shot by National Guard troops.  I had started to grow a beard and my hair was probably one inch over my ears.  The foreman looked at me and thought I was one of the “hippies” protesting the war.  When questioned about my appearance, I told them it was a college senior tradition.  This foreman informed me that he thought I might be OK, “but if he thought I was one of those X!#*!X damn hippies, I just might have myself an ‘accident’ and would not leave the mine alive.”  He went on to explain that there was a new young engineer on the mine staff and it was clear he despised this young, inexperienced “kid” telling him what to do.  Periodically the engineer would go down in the mine in an elevator to inspect the tunnels, etc.  During the winter ice sometimes formed at the top of the elevator shaft.  The foreman described his plan to cause a chunk of ice to fall on the elevator, which it was clear to me could be a fatal accident.  Well, this was quite a shocking revelation for this Midwest farm boy!  I had no idea a difference of opinions and points of view could cut so deep as to motivate someone to harm another person, let alone to create an “accident” that could cause fatal harm to another human.  I had never seen such hate before!
On my last day of work for that summer, I was sent to the bottom of the mine to shovel wet coal that had fallen off the conveyor belt.  My sole companion on that job was Boots.  We shoveled wet coal for a time and then Boots suggested we take a break.  We sat down and turned our headlamps off.  It was so dark that even two hours later you could not see your hand in front of your face!  Boots explained to me that this clean-up job was only done once per year and it was the worst job in the mine.  He was there because he was a black man who sometimes “spoke up.”  He told me I was there because I was suspected of being a hippie.  You know, if he hadn’t told me that I don’t think I ever would have realized that either of us were the subject of discrimination.  We spent the rest of that shift sitting and talking, becoming friends.  Boots pointed out that of all the black miners at the mine, not one held any position of leadership as a foreman.  I hadn’t thought about it, but it was true.  Boots also told me he felt very bad about the earlier “roof fall” event when he had seen the shale flakes, knew it was a sign that meant a roof fall was coming, and chose to save his own life knowing I did not know what was coming.  My quick action on the pole saved the scooter, my life and the lives of others with me that day, but it could’ve also been a fatal accident that may have killed us.  Boots felt really bad about what happened. 
In the ensuing hours sitting in total darkness, I came to feel that this was the first “older man” that I could totally respect.  The way he talked about his family, his children made me wish I could have had a warm, loving father like him.  Before I left to go back to school, Boots invited me to visit his family.  So I drove my ’55 Chevy Coup to his little town near Tazewell, Virginia.  I was greeted by a dozen barefoot children who obviously knew I was coming and they took me to Boots’ house, or maybe you would call it a shack.  It wasn’t much, but everyone was super warm and friendly and then the truth was told that I was the first “white boy” anyone could remember ever visiting their town.  Hmm, a separate town for blacks only?
While living in West Virginia that summer, my experiences in the mine were not the only life changing events that I experienced.  One night that summer my brother Dennis and I went to a disco club.  We were standing outside the entrance when three college-aged women approached.  Two of the women were white, one was black.  Dennis and I thought all three were attractive and seemed intelligent, so we couldn’t understand why they were denied entry and told it was because they didn’t have a “membership card.”  No one had asked us for a membership card when we entered.  I watched this happen and didn’t understand what was going on, so I approached the women as they were walking away and asked them what just happened.  They explained that they knew they would be denied entry because their friend was black!  What?!  Dennis and I decided to forego the disco club and hung out with these three girls instead.  We became friends over the course of the summer and never chose to return to “the private club.”  Dennis later married one of the girls, Carol Sue.  Needless to say, after that summer both of us declined good paying jobs in the underground coal industry.  I took a job with the Bureau of Mines at Fort Snelling, Minnesota and befriended the only black man on the staff there.  However, my tenure there was brief and I was soon looking for “more meaningful work.” 
I moved to a farm in Eagan, Minnesota and volunteered at the neighboring Dakota County Developmental Learning Center, a school for “special” children.  I came to learn that these children were in fact very special.  What these children lacked in intellect was more than made up for in their extreme loving nature.  The staff at that school were equally loving.  The school day was hard work, but fun and after the children left for the day, the staff stayed on to socialize and party!  This was a work environment like none I had ever known!  This was also the first time I had ever met gay people, who at that time were often considered outcasts.  As I got to know the staff members, some of which were gay, I realized they were all wonderful, accepting human beings.  Yet another stereo type to throw out the window! 
Ronnie, one of Richard's foster kids, playing in the bean field.
After working in special education for several years, including working with autistic children, I turned to farming with teenagers in foster care.  After multiple frustrations with the system returning them to abusive homes, when “my boys” turned 18 they were on their own, I left social work and turned to farming full-time. 
As a vegetable farmer in need of much manual labor, I have experienced a wide variety of people over the course of my career. High school and college kids on summer break do not work well for our longer season, so we have utilized Vernon County jail inmates on Huber program (day time work release), Laotian Hmong, workers from Mexico, both local year round residents and H2A visa seasonal workers.  This has given me a unique chance to experience several cultures, work with many individual personalities, and get to know many wonderful human beings.
An early crew picture from Richard's first farm,
Blue Gentian Farm in St. Paul, MN.
I feel blessed to have been exposed to a variety of people that have changed my narrow “Midwest farm Boy” perspective to a more worldwide view.  That is all human beings, worldwide, rich or poor, any color of skin, have certain unalienable rights such as being given basic respect as human beings, the right to healthy food, clean water, shelter, freedom from abuse, economic security, medical care and a safe environment free from chemical contaminants, corporate greed and monopolies.  The hatred, the racism, greed and militarism that has caused so much harm worldwide needs to be “reined in,” voted out.  Ok, it’s true I was and still am a “peace & love” hippie and proud of it!
We need a huge change in focus and redistribution of resources.  I still believe that if we all work together we can still save our planet, our human race and all the divine life that we depend on.  This pandemic and the events of this year have brought many long standing issues to the forefront.  Lets not just wish to get back to normal, but work to create stable, sustainable local food systems and just economies and communities.  This is a huge, but achievable, task if we all take the time to examine our own prejudices and misconceptions of others.  Change can happen when we do our best to show kindness and respect to our fellow human beings.  It is contagious and good things happen.  We change the world.

June 25, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Zucchini!

24 Jun 2020 22:48

Cooking With This Week's Box

Cilantro: Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto (see below); Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw
Green or Italian Zucchini: Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto (see below); Zucchini Butter (see below); A Summer Screaming Zucchini Schmear and 10 Ways It Will Save Your Weeknight Meals
Baby zucchini still with the blossom attached!
It’s official, summer is here and what better way to mark the onset of this season than the arrival of zucchini!  Summer isn’t summer without zucchini which just might be one of the most versatile vegetables we grow!  Zucchini will be with us for quite awhile, we hope, so we’ll be finding creative uses over it in the upcoming weeks.  To kick off the season, I have two recipes to share this week.  The first is for Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto (see below).  When I read this recipe, the flavor combinations and concepts confused me a little bit but also intrigued me.  Italian pasta with a pesto concept—that makes sense.  But the pesto made with cilantro and pumpkin seeds flavored with cumin and topped with cojita cheese—that didn’t seem to go with the Italian flavors theme.  You know what, this is fusion food and it works!  This turned out to be a quite tasty pasta dish.  I added some ground pork to it, but it would be good with or without.  The garnish of the cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds is a nice finishing touch and leftovers are good hot or cold!
The second recipe is for Zucchini Butter (see below).  Now, this isn’t butter in the sense of dairy butter, but rather more along the lines of “butter” as in a spread.  The beauty of this recipe is that it is a great way to utilize larger quantities of zucchini.  The other beauty of zucchini butter is that there are so many different ways to use it!  Spread it on toast or sandwiches, use it on pizza, put it on crackers with a piece of cheese…..etc.  Check out this Food52.com blog article, A Summer Screaming Zucchini Schmear and 10Ways It Will Save Your Weeknight Meals, that is all about this “genius” recipe and how you can put it to use for quick, flavorful meals!
Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw
This week we’re finishing up the rest of the kohlrabi and starting to harvest salad cabbage!  Salad cabbage differs from storage cabbage.  It is more tender and slightly sweet which makes it fitting for use in raw salads, slaws, etc.  It is still tasty cooked as well, but I generally use it raw.  This week I have to make these Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw.  We featured this recipe in a previous newsletter and if you are into fish tacos at all, it just might change your life when it comes to homemade fish tacos.
Boston Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk, Green Onion and Maple Dressing
photo from food52.com
We’re thankful to still have lettuce available, and while we have other vegetables available to use for salads, it’s still nice to enjoy a traditional lettuce salad.  This recipe for Boston Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk, Green Onion and Maple Dressing reminds me of the way my grandma used to prepare fresh lettuce from her garden.  This is a super simple method that will really let the tender, buttery lettuce leaves shine.  Ok, so the other thing we used to make a lot at home in the summer when we had fresh lettuce from the garden was cheese and lettuce sandwiches.  Back then we used processed cheese food slices—don’t judge, I didn’t know any better.  I’d encourage you to use real cheese, good bread and the spread of your choosing—I usually just use a good quality mayonnaise.  Slather it up with the spread, slap a piece or two of cheese on the bread and pile the fresh lettuce leaves as high as you can!  There’s the recipe, but if you need something a bit more formal or would like a visual, check out this YouTube video on how to make a Cheese and Lettuce Sandwich.  Even if you don’t need a tutorial or a recipe, you should check out this video.  It’s pretty funny!
Burger Lettuce Wraps with Special Sauce
photo from thegirlonbloor.com
I’ve been into grilling lately, mostly because it’s quick and easy and it’s so nice to be outside in the evening.  While we’ve been enjoying fresh lettuce on our burgers, you could also use the lettuce to make a Bunless Burger or a Cheeseburger Lettuce Wrap—whatever you want to call it.  Basically substitute the bread for layers of lettuce leaves wrapped around your burger!  There are many different versions, but I like this recipe for Burger Lettuce Wraps with Special Sauce.  My go-to summer salad to serve with burgers, ribs, etc is this recipe for The Simplest Cabbage Slaw.  It is seriously simple and turns out every time!
While you have the grill fired up, you might as well make the Garlic Scape Beef Satay with Garlic Scape Satay Sauce recipe featured in last week’s newsletter.  It’s quite tasty and would be good served with this Crunchy Bacon and Broccoli Salad with Creamy Orange Dressing.  If you’re looking for more ideas for what you can do with garlic scapes, check out this HuffPost article entitled Recipes that make the most of Garlic Scapes”.  They offer some tasty, creative suggestions!
20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli
photo from tablefortwoblog.com
Another option for using your broccoli is this 20-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli.  Serve it with steamed rice for a quick, yet satisfying, easy weeknight meal.  I am still a bit obsessed with putting vegetables in macaroni and cheese ever since I made mac and cheese with ramps and nettles earlier this year.  Mac and cheese with turnips and turnip greens was last week’s creation and this week it could be Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli!
The kale this week is so beautiful and there are many options for what you can do with it.  On Sunday evenings when we do our weekly field scouting tour it’s kind of fun to take along Baked Kale Chips!  Yes, you might get some green flecks in your teeth….who cares?!  The other recipe I want to make again is this Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried Rice that I tried for the first time last year.  It’s pretty tasty as are these Lemon Kale Muffins that I made last year as well.  Yes, kale in muffins—odd, but I tried them out on our farmers’ market crew last year and they (the muffins that is) all disappeared!
Rhubarb Almond Baked Oatmeal
Ok, we’re rolling into the home stretch and just have one more item remaining in this week’s box.  It’s our last week for rhubarb.  I was searching our recipe archives looking for another recipe and I’m glad I stumbled across this recipe we featured in a previous year for Rhubarb Almond Baked Oatmeal.  This is a great recipe to make in advance and then warm up in the morning for a quick, hot breakfast.  I also noticed several members in our Facebook Group are making tasty rhubarb beverages!  If you want to join this crowd, check out this recipe for Rhubarb Syrup.  This recipe is the base for making adult beverages such as Rhubarb Daiquiris, but you can also use it to make a non-alcoholic fizzy soda type drink.
We did it!  We made our way to the bottom of another glorious box of produce.  Before I sign off for the week, I want to thank the member who posted a link in our Facebook Group to this Vegetable Orchestra!!  Check it out—they’re making music by using all kinds of different vegetables!  I know we have some musical talent in our membership.  Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a Harmony Valley Farm Vegetable Orchestra!?  You provide the talent and I’ll provide the vegetables!  I’m serious.
Ok, Chef Andrea signing off for this week.  Enjoy your week of cooking and I’ll see you next time!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Zucchini

By Chef Andrea
Zucchini may just be the most versatile and prolific vegetable we grow!  We have two plantings and typically harvest three times a week from mid-June through August and sometimes into September.  Sometimes we have a little gap in between plantings one and two, but settle in folks…we’re in it for the long haul!
We grow two main types of zucchini including the traditional green zucchini and an Italian variety that is lighter green in color and has ribs and stripes on the skin.  Both varieties may be used interchangeably in any recipe calling for zucchini or summer squash.  There is a difference in the varieties though and we encourage you to take a moment to notice the differences throughout the season.  Italian zucchini has a more pronounced flavor and the texture is more firm making it a good option for grilling and other preparations where you need the zucchini to hold its shape.  Zucchini in general is a very mild-flavored vegetable which is part of why it is so versatile.  It pairs well with so many different flavors and is easily adaptable to combinations with other vegetables throughout the entire summer.  Zucchini is most often cooked, but it can be eaten raw as well.  I’ll offer a few suggestions below for how to use raw zucchini.
Zucchini Relish
photo from cravesomethinghealthy.com
The other nice thing about zucchini is there are ways to preserve it so you can enjoy it throughout the year.  One of the easiest things to do is grate or shred raw zucchini, squeeze out the excess moisture and then put the zucchini in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer.  When I do this I try to portion it into a quantity that is appropriate for making My Special Zucchini Bread or pancake recipes.  When you thaw it, you’ll need to squeeze out the excess moisture, but then it’s ready to use in baked goods, soups, smoothies, stir-fry, etc.  You can also preserve zucchini by making Zucchini Butter (see below), one of this week’s featured recipes.  Once you make a batch you can use it fresh or portion it into containers to freeze.  Zucchini Pickles or Zucchini Relish are other good ways to preserve zucchini.
Zucchini can be sautéed, roasted, grilled and stir-fried.  It may be used to make snack foods, casseroles and gratins, incorporated into lasagna and meatballs, dips, enchiladas, tacos, egg dishes, smoothies, desserts and more.  One day I want to compile a list of 100 ways to use zucchini.  I’m going to start with 20 recipes this week and maybe you can help me uncover 80 more ways/recipes to use zucchini over the course of this season!  Before we get to the list I just want to mention a few things about storage and use.  First of all, zucchini has pretty tender skin so rarely needs to be peeled.  Sometimes larger zucchini may need to be peeled, use your own judgement.  Zucchini is a warm weather vegetable and is best stored at temperatures between 45-55°F.  We have a dedicated cooler for that temperature range, but realize you may not have the perfect storage temperature situation in your home.  So, my recommendation is to keep your zucchini at room temperature and use them within a few days of receiving them.  If you put them in the refrigerator they’ll likely suffer chill injury which will compromise their quality and shorten shelf life.
Ok, lets move on to the list of 20 Different Recipes to use Zucchini!  Have fun and be sure to share your own recipes in our Facebook Group so we can build our list of 100 recipes this year!
20 Different Recipes Using Zucchini!

Pasta with Roasted Zucchini & Cilantro Pesto

Yield:  6 servings
1 ½ pounds zucchini
1 Tbsp plus ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz short, twisty shaped pasta
1 pound ground pork (optional)
½ cup white wine (use if you use the pork)
2 garlic scapes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
⅔ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided
2¼ cups tightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
3 Tbsp lime juice
¾ tsp crushed red chile flakes (or to taste)
¾ cup crumbled cojita or feta cheese, divided

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cut zucchini into ½ inch cubes.  You should have about 4 cups of cubed zucchini.  Put zucchini in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Season with salt and black pepper and stir to combine and evenly coat the zucchini with oil.  Add a little more oil if needed.  

  2. Roast zucchini for 25-35 minutes or until tender and lightly golden brown.  You’ll need to stir the zucchini about half way through the roasting time.  Once the zucchini is roasted, remove from the oven and hold in a warm place.

  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta;  cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.  Reserve ½ cup pasta water, then drain.  Set the cooked pasta aside.

  4. If you are using pork, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the ground pork until nearly cooked through.  Add the white wine and simmer until it has reduced by ¾ volume.  Remove from heat and set aside until you’re ready to finish the dish.

  5. Meanwhile, make the pesto.  Cut the garlic scapes into 1-2 inch pieces and place in a blender or food processor.  Blend briefly to coarsely chop the garlic scapes.  Add ¾ cup olive oil, cumin, lime zest, 1 tsp salt, and ½ cup pepitas.  Blend until smooth.  Add the cilantro and process just until smooth, about 15 seconds.  Pour into a bowl and stir in lime juice, chile flakes, and ½ cup of the cojita or feta cheese.

  6. Once all the components are prepared, put the pan with the pork in it back on the stove over medium heat.  If you are not using pork, just put a large saute pan on the stove over medium heat.  Add the zucchini, pasta and cilantro pesto along with a little bit of the pasta cooking liquid.  Stir to combine and fully heat the pasta.  Add additional pasta water as needed for the desired consistency.

  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, pepper or lime juice as needed.

  8. To serve, portion the pasta into bowls.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds/pepita.
Recipe adapted from www.sunset.com

Zucchini Butter

photo by James Ransom for food52.com
Yield:  about 2 cups
2 pounds zucchini
¼ cup olive oil or butter
½-¾ cup minced shallots, garlic cloves, scapes or any combination of onions and garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Coarsely grate the zucchini.  Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking.  To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.  

  2. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter.  Saute the onion/garlic briefly.  Add the zucchini and toss.  Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes.  If the bottom starts to brown, turn the flame down!  (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor—you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.)  The zucchini will slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.  

  3. Enjoy on toast, or as a side dish all summer long!
Recipe adapted slightly from Jennie Cook’s recipe featured as a “Genius Recipe” on Food52.com.

June 18, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Garlic Scapes!

17 Jun 2020 21:20

Cooking With This Week's Box

Garlic Scapes: Garlic Scape Beef Satay with Garlic Scape Peanut Sauce (see below); Grilled Naan with Garlic Scape Chutney (see below); Garlic Scape Herbed Cream Cheese

Pea Vine OR Baby Rainbow Chard: Pea Vine Cream CheeseSwiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

Chef Andrea roasting A LOT of garlic in the HVF kitchen
This week I want to kick off the Cooking With the Box Article with a huge “Welcome!” to all of our Peak Season vegetable share members who are joining us for the first time this year!  If you’re totally new to HVF and are looking for ways to use all of the items in your CSA box each week, you’re in the right place!  My name is Andrea and I am both a farmer and a professionally trained chef who has worked in restaurants, but also understand what it means to balance making healthy meals at home along with all the other responsibilities life may send our way.  Each week I share ideas for ways you might use the vegetables in your box, including links to recipes.  Sometimes I link to websites and blogs, while other times I share a recipe from our archives.  The goal of this space is to inspire you to find ways to make meals you and your family enjoy while maximizing the use of the vegetables you receive each week!
Lets jump into this week’s box and take a look at the crazy, curly garlic scapes!  If you’re encountering these for the first time, take a minute to read this week’s vegetable feature information below.  I’ve included several more links to recipes and ideas for putting this unique vegetable to use.  I also have two recipes to share with you, perhaps one of these may spark your interest.  The first recipe we’re featuring this week is for Garlic Scape Beef Satay with Garlic Scape Peanut Sauce (see below).  You need to plan ahead to marinate the beef, but aside from that and preheating a grill, this recipe comes together very fast and it’s full of flavor!  In fact, Richard went back for another serving….peanut sauce is also one of his favorites.  The second recipe is for Grilled Naan with Garlic Scape Chutney (see below).  This recipe does involve making a dough, but it’s very easy and fun to make.
Kohlrabi Slaw with Cilantro, Jalapeno & Lime
Photo from feastingathome.com
Last week we featured kohlrabi, another very unique vegetable with an “out of this world” appearance.  Check out last week’s vegetable feature article to learn more about how to use this vegetable.  If you haven’t tried the Kohlrabi Custard recipe featured last week, consider trying it this week.  Several members in our Facebook Group tried it and gave it positive reviews!  In my journey through food blogs over the past week I came across this recipe for Kohlrabi Slaw with Cilantro, Jalapeno & Lime.This is a refreshing salad using lime and orange zest along with the juice to make a light, refreshing citrus dressing.
Speaking of salads, a member in our Facebook Group made a salad using Rhubarb Poppyseed Dressing which led me not only to a recipe for this dressing, but also this Strawberry and Goat Cheese Fritter Salad with Poppyseed Dressing.  Just substitute the Rhubarb Poppyseed dressing for the regular dressing in the recipe.  This is a perfect salad to make with the Red Oak lettuce in this week’s box!
Strawberry Basil Foccacia
Photo from howsweeteats.com
There’s been a lot of activity in our Facebook Group with some awesome pictures, recipes and dialogue!  Another member shared this recipe for Strawberry Basil Foccacia.  I never would have thought to use strawberries to make focaccia, but this looks delicious!  This recipe for Rhubarb Yogurt Cake was also recommended in the group and I think I’m going to have to give it a try as well!  Since it has yogurt in it maybe I can pass it off as “breakfast cake!”
This week some boxes will receive pea vine and others will receive Swiss chard.  If you get the pea vine, I invite you to join me in my obsession with Pea Vine Cream Cheese. This year’s obsession actually struck me this past Sunday and I made a double batch.  I added some fresh dill which was quite nice.  You could also add parsley, basil or cilantro if you like.  We’ve been using it on tortillas stuffed with chopped lettuce, radishes, turnips and kohlrabi.  Richard likes a little meat, so we added some cooked bacon bits as well.  My next cream cheese recipe to try is Garlic Scape Herbed Cream Cheese using the garlic scapes and Italian parsley in this week’s box.  Of course you could also use dill if you have that remaining from last week or really any other fresh herb you have access to.  Put it on your morning bagel, use it to make a wrap, or spread it on crackers for a little afternoon snack.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette
Photo by Christina Holmes for bonappetit.com
If you receive the Swiss chard instead of the pea vine, check out this recipe for Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette.  I love galettes because they are easy to make and I like the rustic feel of them.  This recipe calls for lots of fresh parsley along with the chard, mushrooms and fresh ricotta.  This is a good brunch item or would be good for dinner along with a salad such as this Arugula and Nectarine Salad with Yogurt Dressing.
This is our last week for the sweet little baby white turnips.   I highly recommend trying the recipe for Creamy Turnips Grits & Greens that was featured in last year’s newsletter.  Even if you aren’t a hot sauce person, make the hot sauce vinaigrette that you drizzle on just before serving.  It’s so delicious!  If you want to go with a raw concept, check out this recipe for Fresh Turnip Salad with Curry Vinaigrette.  This recipe was created by Chef Boni who worked at the farm one summer.   There’s one more salad recipe I wanted to share here this week.  Actually a member shared this recipe for Icebox Salad in the Facebook Group last week.  Growing up back in Indiana we had a less healthy version of this type of salad called “7-Layer Salad” that was a frequent flyer at church potlucks.  All we had in Indiana was shipped in iceberg lettuce, so I trust that this recipe will be much better than anything I’ve ever had from the past!  If you don’t have the radishes, sugar snap peas and cucumbers the recipe calls for, substitute chunks of kohlrabi and diced baby white turnips instead.  This recipe calls for romaine lettuce as the base.  You can use the red oak or any other head lettuce you have.  In fact, you could also mix in some of the baby arugula.  Basically, use the recipe as the base and make it work for what you have in your refrigerator!
Smashed White Bean and Kale Quesadillas
with Creamy BBQ Dip
Photo from runningtothekitchen.com
We’re getting close to the bottom of the box, and I just realized I almost missed the lacinato kale!  This is my favorite kind of kale, which is part of why it’s the first kale we’re sending your way this year.  Actually the entire kale and collard field looks beautiful right now.  Last year a member shared this recipe for Smashed White Bean and Kale Quesadillas with Creamy BBQ Dip.  Quesadillas are one of those versatile things to make using whatever vegetables are in season.  On this same blog there is a simple recipe for Kale Feta Egg Bake that you can make in individual ramekins.  If you prep the kale portion of the recipe in advance, you can bake the egg into the dish in only 12-15 minutes.  Perfect for a vegetable-centric breakfast with little time commitment!
Ok, I think that’s a wrap for this week.  Have a great week and remember, have fun cooking and never be intimidated by a vegetable!---Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Garlic Scapes

By Chef Andrea

This week we’re featuring one of the craziest, curliest vegetables we grow…Garlic Scapes!  One thing I absolutely love about vegetables is how unique they can be, and garlic scapes are definitely unique.  So lets start with the basics like “What the heck is a garlic scape?!”  There are two main types of garlic—softneck and hardneck.  We grow hardneck garlic and the way this type propagates itself in nature is by producing this scape which grows up from the center of the garlic plant.  It starts out straight, but the more it emerges it starts to form a curl.  You’ll notice a little bulb that is lighter in color at the tapered end of the scape.  This is actually called a bulbil.  If you want to do something fun, cut it open and see what it looks like on the inside.  If our garlic were growing wild in nature, these bulbils would drop down to the ground and plant themselves thereby propagating a new plant.  We’re cultivating garlic, so we plant a clove of garlic from a full sized bulb and use that as a means of growing the plant.  Since we don’t need the scape to produce another crop, we go through the field and cut them off the plant so the plant can focus its energy into producing a nice sized bulb instead of a scape.  We used to throw them on the ground, but after a market customer asked us to save some for her so she could make garlic scape pickles, we realized we were losing something valuable!  Many years ago we did an experiment and planted the bubils.  The first year they formed a single ball of garlic.  We planted that and the next year we actually got bulbs with divided cloves of garlic!
Garlic Scape Herbed Cream Cheese
Photo from farmfreshfeasts.com
Ok, so what do you do with this crazy vegetable?  Well the basic answer is “Use chopped garlic scapes anywhere you would use a clove of garlic.”  Yes, you can do that, but you can also do so many other fun things with them.  The flavor of garlic scapes is very mild in comparison to green garlic or a clove of garlic.  They are very tender, so you don’t need to peel them.  You might see a milky, white residue on the scapes which is garlic juice the plant exudes when the scape is cut.  Just give them a quick washing and they’re ready to use.  Sometimes the tapered end can get a little tough, so you might want to cut that part beyond the bulbil off.  You should keep them in the refrigerator, although if you want to put the cut end in a vase or glass of water and enjoy their beauty as a centerpiece at room temperature for a day or two until you’re ready to use them, they’ll do just fine.
There are some basic go-to ways to use garlic scapes and if you’re not sure where to start, start with one of these ideas.  Pesto—you just can’t go wrong with making garlic scape pesto.  There are many different versions you can make, so take your pick and dive in.  Check out FarmFreshFeasts.com where you’ll find 28 Recipes Using Garlic Scapes, including NINE different links to recipes for versions of garlic scape pesto!
Pickled Garlic Scapes
Pickled Garlic Scapes is another popular way to use and preserve scapes.  You’ll find a simple recipe for these in our recipe archives on our website.  You can keep a jar of these in the refrigerator for up to 8 months and use them as a condiment with tacos or anywhere you need a pungent, tangy pickle to brighten up a meal.  Using garlic scapes in dressings and dips is another easy way to capture their flavor, such as a creamy Yogurt Garlic Scape Dressing that you can drizzle over a lettuce salad or use to make a creamy kohlrabi slaw.  Garlic Scape Herbed Cream Cheese is another delicious way to use this vegetable along with any herb you have, be it dill, cilantro, parsley, basil, etc.  Put it on your morning bagel, use it to make a wrap, or spread it on crackers for a little afternoon snack.
Garlic Scape Green Gazpacho
Photo from veggieobsession.com
I pushed myself to research a little further to see what else I could find and stumbled on a couple more ideas.  Check out this article entitled “Recipes That Make the Most of Garlic Scapes” at HuffPost.com.  The author includes links to 20 interesting recipes for garlic scapes including the two recipes we’re featuring this week!  There are some other good ones highlighted in this article such as Bacon Wrapped Garlic Scapes and Garlic Scape Green Gazpacho.  I also want to mention that you can also use garlic scapes as an actual vegetable as opposed to just a seasoning.  Garlic scapes are delicious tossed or brushed with oil and grilled or roasted, then served with a little sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon.  I also like to cut them into bite sized pieces and cook them any way you would cook a green bean or asparagus.  They also make a flavorful base for a creamy pureed soup and are a nice addition to pasta sauce.
Ok, I’ve done my best to convey to you how awesome and versatile this vegetable can be!  We’ll only have them for a few weeks so have fun and if you can’t eat them all right now, make an extra batch of pesto and freeze it or make a jar of garlic scape pickles so you can enjoy this fresh, delicious garlic flavor in the deep of winter!

Garlic Scape Beef Satay with Garlic Scape Satay Sauce

Yield:  6 skewers
16-20 ounces tender cut of beef, cut into evenly sized 1-1 ½ inch cubes (eg, tenderloin, Sirloin or Sirloin Tip) 
3 garlic scapes
½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 lime, juiced
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
10 mint leaves 
3 Thai basil or basil leaves (optional)
¼ cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp sesame oil
  1. Cut the scapes into smaller pieces and roughly chop the ginger.  Put both in a blender or food processor and coarsely chop.  Add the lime juice, cilantro, mint and basil leaves and the soy sauce.  Blend until a paste forms.  Scrape down the sides of the blender.  With the blender running, drizzle in the sesame oil and blend until smooth.  Pour the marinade into a zipper plastic bag or a glass container and add the beef cubes.  Mix the marinade and the beef well.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, heat the grill or a grill pan to high heat.  Thread the beef onto skewer sticks.  Grill the skewers until the beef is cooked to desired doneness.  Serve with the Garlic Scape Satay Sauce.
Garlic Scape Satay Sauce:
2 garlic scapes
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup coconut milk or cream
1-2 Tbsp water
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ tsp Tbsp fish sauce
1-2 tsp Hot sauce or chili garlic sauce, to taste
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  2. Cut the scapes into small pieces and place in a blender.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding more water to thin it if necessary.  Adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, lime juice, etc.  Serve at room temperature with garlic scape beef satay skewers.
Recipe adapted from www.Food52.com.

Grilled Naan with Garlic Scape Chutney

Yield:  10 pieces
5 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
½ cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
¼ cup olive oil and more for brushing
1 ½ cup water
Garlic Scape Chutney: 
¾ cup chopped garlic scapes
½ cup fresh mint, packed
½ cup roasted almonds
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ jalapeño pepper (optional if you want a little kick)
1 Tbsp lime juice 
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup melty cheese, such as mozzarella or queso fresco (optional) 
Olive oil or Melted butter for brushing
  1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, egg and 1 ½ cups of lukewarm water and the oil.  Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a soft, sticky dough starts to clump around the hook, about 5 minutes.  If the dough seems too wet, add more flour, 1 tsp at a time. (Note, if you do not have a stand mixer, just mix by hand.)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and dust lightly with flour.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 10 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball and arrange them on the baking sheet.  Lightly brush the dough with oil, cover with plastic, and let sit 1 hour before shaping.
  3. Make the chutney: Place all the chutney ingredients (garlic scapes through ⅓ cup olive oil) in a food processor and pulse until uniformly granular.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll a dough ball into a 5-inch circle.  Spread 1 Tbsp of the chutney in the center, leaving a ½-inch border.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of cheese over the chutney.  Gather the borders to form a pouch pinching it to seal in the filling.  Turn the pouch pinched side down and, using very light pressure, roll it into a 6-inch circle.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Layer rolled out naan with parchment until ready to grill.
  5. Prepare a medium charcoal or gas grill fire and wipe grates with a lightly oiled paper towel.  Grill the breads in batches pinched side down, covered, until they puff up and the undersides brown lightly in places, 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn over and cook the other side, covered, until grill marks form and the breads are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.  Just before taking them off the grill, turn the breads pinched side down and brush lightly with butter or olive oil.  Serve warm.
  6. These are best, right off the grill but leftovers can be refrigerated and saved for another time.  Just place them in a toaster or warm oven before serving.
Recipe sourced from www.feastingathome.com
S3442 Wire Hollow Road, Viroqua, WI, 54665, United States
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