Harmony Valley Farm

Harmony Valley Farm

October 10, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Escarole!

9 Oct 2019 22:00

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below); Italian Wedding Soup (See below)

Cauliflower or Broccoli Romanesco: Hot Bacon VinaigretteCauliflower Pizza Bake
Broccoli or Broccoli Romanesco: Hot Bacon VinaigretteParmesan Roasted Broccoli
Orange Carrots: Italian Wedding Soup (see below); Carrot,Feta and Almond Salad
Purple Majesty Potatoes: Breakfast Potato Nachos
Yellow Onions: White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below); Italian Wedding Soup (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion
Escarole: White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below); Italian Wedding Soup (see below)
Our nights are getting colder and warm hats have become part of my daily attire again.  We haven’t had a frost yet, but we may see one before the end of the week.  These cool nights are great for sweetening crops, such as the escarole in this week’s box.  This is an interesting vegetable that is delicious both raw and cooked, however I think it’s at its best when cooked.  A traditional, simple way to cook escarole is to saute it in plenty of olive oil along with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes.  The Italian way is to cook it until it’s very soft, silky and tender. While this makes a delicious side dish on its own, you can also take this base preparation and put it on a pizza.  One of this week’s recipes is for a White Bean & Escarole Pizza (see below).  In this recipe you use a flavorful white bean puree as a base to spread on the crust and then top it off with the cooked escarole and parmesan cheese.  Of course, you can add meat if you like.  The second recipe featuring escarole this week is for Italian Wedding Soup (see below).  This is a classic way to use escarole and it’s a super simple soup.  Get the kids to help you form the meatballs and the rest will come together quickly.  The escarole will become silky and soft when cooked in the broth and is a nice complement to the fattiness of the pork.
Honey Lime Jalapeno Vinaigrette
photo from barefeetinthekitchen.com
Sadly, we’re nearly finished picking peppers and if we do get a frost this weekend that will officially mark the end of pepper season.  This week we’ve packed three more little jalapenos, which could be used to make this Honey Lime Jalapeno Vinaigrette.  Use it as a salad dressing or as a marinade for fish or chicken.
While we’re talking salad dressing, I want to share this recipe for Hot Bacon Vinaigrette.  You can use this vinaigrette to make a wilted spinach or chard salad, but it can also be tossed with roasted cauliflower/Romanesco, mini sweet peppers or potatoes right after you take them out of the oven.
Back in August we featured this recipe for Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion.  We received a lot of positive comments about this recipe.  If you didn’t have a chance to try it, consider making it this week using the last of our poblano peppers along with spinach or chard and turnip greens.  You could also use the poblano peppers to make the Squash and Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos and Chipotle Crema that was featured in a September newsletter.
photo from iwashyoudry.com
Fall is the time of year when brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc really thrive.  You don’t have to do anything fancy with them and sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.  Try this Parmesan Roasted Broccoli.  You can make this with broccoli and/or Romanesco.  As for the cauliflower this week, last week I found this recipe for Cauliflower Pizza Bake.  This is basically a combination of roasted cauliflower with pizza toppings!  I have a feeling this recipe might become a family favorite!
This week’s purple majesty potatoes are a great variety to use in this recipe for Breakfast Potato Nachos.  This is a recipe we featured in a previous newsletter.  In this recipe the potatoes are sliced and baked to make a chip that takes the place of a traditional nacho corn chip.  Top off the potatoes with beans, sour cream, jalapenos, and all the traditional nacho toppings!
While carrots can make their way into many dishes as a base flavoring ingredient, you can really make them shine when they are the main ingredient, such as in this recipe forCarrot, Feta and Almond Salad.  I love carrot salads because they are super easy, but also tasty and convenient to make.
Here we are at the bottom of another CSA box.  Wish us luck as we continue to dance around the weather and try to get root crops harvested in between the rains!  Even though we’re approaching the end of our season, we still have more delicious vegetables for you including Brussels sprouts, Black Futsu squash, tat soi and more!  Have a good week—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Escarole

By Chef Andrea

This week’s featured vegetable is escarole.  Many people mistake escarole for a head of green leaf lettuce.  While they do look very similar, they have some differences.  For starters, escarole is in the chicory family and is considered to be a bitter green.  Escarole is a frost tolerant green, which is why we plant them as a late season crop.  Cool temperatures result in a more balanced flavor in this vegetable.  If you eat a little bit of the leaf when raw, you will notice it has a mild bitterness.  While escarole may be eaten raw, I think this vegetable shines at its best when cooked.  When you cook escarole, the green wilts down into a smooth, silky green and the flavor mellows out  so it is more balanced, slightly sweet and less bitter.  The center leaves are sometimes light green or slightly yellow and the outer leaves are more broad and a bit more thick when compared to leaf lettuce.  If you are going to use escarole raw, I recommend using the center leaves for raw preparations as they are often more tender.

Escarole is a popular green in Italian cuisine.  There’s a classic preparation for escarole that some Italian cooks call Scarola Affogata, which means “smothered escarole.”  In this dish, garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, then chopped escarole, salt, red pepper flakes and seasoning are added to the pan.  The greens are cooked until they are soft and tender.  This is then served as side dish, or you can use the greens for another purpose, such as on top of a pizza as we’ve done in this week’s recipe, White Bean and Escarole Pizza.

Escarole is also often used in winter soups along with white beans and other vegetables.  This week one of our featured recipes is for a classic Italian Wedding Soup.  This soup actually has nothing to do with weddings.  It has its origins as a peasant soup made to make use of meat scraps, stale bread and basic vegetables all cooked in a flavorful broth.  One thing that makes this soup unique and kind of fun is that it includes mini meatballs which are traditionally made with pork, but you could also use ground chicken or turkey if you prefer. 

Escarole pairs well with other fall vegetables and fruits such as apples, pears, persimmons, lemons, oranges, garlic, onions, beets, potatoes and butternut squash.  It is also often included in dishes with white beans and lentils.  Additionally, it pairs well with hazelnuts and walnuts as well as butter, prosciutto, bacon, cheese (including blue cheese, Parmesan, and gruyere). 

Store escarole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will need to wash the leaves well in the same way you would wash head lettuce.  The heads we’re delivering this week weigh on average between 0.75-1.0 pounds each.

Italian Wedding Soup

Yield:  8 servings


1 small onion, finely chopped
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 large egg
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper


12 cups chicken broth
2 cups carrots, small dice
1 pound escarole, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. To make the meatballs:  Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend.  Stir in the cheese, pork and pepper.  Using 1 ½ tsp for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch diameter meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until lightly browned.  
  2. To make the soup:  Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the meatballs, carrots and escarole and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender, about 8-12 minutes.  
  3. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend.  Stir the soup in a circular motion.  Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute.  Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.  Finish soup with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe found at www.foodnetwork.com.

White Bean & Escarole Pizza

Yield:  4 servings

Bean Puree:
2-3 cloves garlic
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp lemon juice


1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
½ of a large head of escarole (8 oz)
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Pizza Dough, enough to make a 12-14 inch crust
Olive oil, additional as needed for the crust and finishing
2-3 oz pepperoni or salami (optional)
3 oz shredded Parmesan cheese

  1. While you make the toppings for the pizza, preheat the oven to 400°F.  
  2. First make the bean puree.  Place garlic cloves in a food processor and blend until the garlic is finely chopped.  Add the beans, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and lemon juice.  Blend until the beans are smooth and all the ingredients are well combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors develop, then taste the beans and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding salt, pepper, vinegar and/or lemon juice as needed.  The consistency of the beans should be smooth and spreadable. Thin with a few tablespoons of water or a little more olive oil if needed.
  3. Next, prepare the escarole.  Heat 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil in a medium sautè pan over medium heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the onions and garlic.  Sautè until the vegetables are softened, then add the escarole.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and continue to stir periodically as the escarole wilts down.  Once the escarole is wilted, add the red wine vinegar and continue to cook until nearly all the liquid is reduced. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Shape the dough and place it on a preheated pizza stone or pizza pan.  Brush the crust with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes.  
  5. Remove the par-baked crust from the oven.  Spread the bean puree evenly on the crust.  Depending on the size of your pizza, you may not need all of the bean puree.  Save any unused portion and use it elsewhere.  If you are using pepperoni or salami, lay it out on top of the bean puree.  Evenly distribute the escarole on top of the crust.  Top off the pizza by spreading shredded Parmesan over the whole pizza.
  6. Return the pizza to the oven and bake it an additional 15-20 minutes or until the crust and cheese are golden brown.
  7. Cut into 8 pieces and serve hot.

Recipe by Chef Andrea, Harmony Valley Farm.

Regenerative Agriculture & Cover Crops

9 Oct 2019 21:38

Whtie Dutch Clover sharing space with our melon crop.
Year after year we are reminded, and more so in recent years, just how important cover crops are to our farming and ecosystem.  Throughout the season, we’ve made reference to cover crops.  Earlier this year Richard gave us a glimpse into his new strategy of inter-seeding cover crops in the spaces between our raised beds for the purpose of keeping the soil in place should we get hard, fast, pounding rains that have washed our soil off fields in recent years.  We’ve learned some things about this strategy and will be evaluating improvements we can make next year.  Every year we are once again amazed at the benefits cover crops offer. Plants have a powerful ability to hold our fields together and offer many other benefits to our farming and ecosystems.  They have always been a priority at Harmony Valley Farm and we’ve known for a long time that they are beneficial.  Nonetheless, we continue to learn more about these amazing plants and what they can do for all of us.  So, for those of you who have been with our farm for many years, this week’s article is not totally new.  For those who are recently new to our farm, we want to give you an opportunity to gain insight into how we employ cover crops and why they are important.  Not all food is created equal and it’s up to you to make an informed decision as to what type of farming practices you want your food purchases to support. 

In recent years the term “Regenerative Agriculture” has been introduced in the context of finding solutions to mitigate climate change and steer our future in a more positive direction.  We’ve mentioned this term in previous articles, but here’s the specific definition of this term taken from the definition paper available in full text at regenerationinternational.org:

“ ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity—resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. 
Specifically, Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density.  Regenerative agriculture improves soil health, primarily through the practices that increase soil organic matter.  This not only aids in increasing soil biota diversity and health, but increases biodiversity both above and below the soil surface, while increasing both water holding capacity and sequestering carbon at greater depths, thus drawing down climate-damaging levels of atmospheric CO2, and improving soil structure to reverse civilization –threatening human-caused soil loss.”

The following is an excerpt from a newsletter article Richard wrote in 2017 along with a few updates that he has added (in italics).  While we utilize and plant cover crops throughout the season, we are currently in the height of cover crop planting time as we race to get crops off the fields and plant cover crops so they can put down roots and maximize their growth potential before winter sets in.  This will continue to be a topic we keep at the forefront and it’s an important one for all of us to continue to learn about.  It’s going to take both more farmers adopting these practices as well as consumers who support these practices to drive positive change in our current climate predicament.

Cover Crops 101: Keep It Covered!

By Richard deWilde

A well-established cover crop planting in late fall
We’ve been using cover crops for over 40 years, mainly as a means of enhancing soil quality.  Only recently have we learned that cover crops are an important tool we can use to help mitigate climate change, both by reducing excessive atmospheric carbon as well as their role in making our soils more resilient to erratic weather conditions.  We know that soils with high organic matter hold water better in drought conditions and are able to drain better in times of excess moisture.  There are many benefits to including cover crops in farming systems and, from a farmer’s perspective, I can’t understand why every farmer wouldn’t want to plant them!Cover crops are crops we plant in our fields before and after our vegetable cash crops.  While we plant vegetable crops with the intention of harvesting them for sale, we seldom ever sell a cover crop.  There are other reasons why we plant cover crops.  Our farming system developed from the work of Rudolf Steiner, JI Rodale, and William Albrecht, early advocates of using cover crops in organic systems as a means of keeping the ground covered at all times. In theory, this is a basic principle of nature that allows us to use plants to capture solar energy from the sun to enrich the soil and prevent erosion.  We don’t like to have bare ground over the winter as it is very vulnerable to winter winds, etc and we don’t want to lose our precious topsoil!  Cover crops, in certain locations, also help to filter and purify water to keep our waterways clean, and enhance and encourage biodiversity of soil microorganisms that help us increase the organic matter in our soil as well as hold nutrients in place so they are available for the next vegetable crop that will go in that field.  While this all makes sense in theory, in practice it all comes down to management! 
Side by side cover crops planted one week apart

Many of our long term crew members understand our goals with regards to planting cover crops, but in the heat of the busy late summer and fall harvest season when we need all available hands on deck to harvest, it’s easy to put planting cover crops on the backburner to plant another day when harvest is done.  However, our crew members understand planting cover crops is a priority and work diligently to make sure they get planted as soon as possible.  As soon as we finish harvesting a crop and are done with it for the season, we prepare the ground and plant the cover crop even if it’s just two beds out of the entire field!  Time is of the essence in the fall and our goal is to give the cover crop as many growing days as possible to get established before the temperatures drop and winter sets in.  Cover crops may also be planted into a standing vegetable crop at the time of last cultivation.  This allows us to have a soil-improving cover crop already growing in the shade of a cash crop, ready to take over as soon as the cash crop is done and any remaining portion of the plants are chopped!  We use this method in crops such as asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb.  We have also expanded this practice to include our fall broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.  All of these already have an established cover of small clovers and grass. In these scenarios, the cover crop not only enhances the soil by increasing organic matter, but the cover crop also helps to compete with weeds and forms a mulch of sorts when the cover crop plant “winter kills.” 

Crimson clover cover crop
We have two main cover crop mixes we plant.  One mix includes plants that will “winter kill.”  Even though we may get some frosty nights and cold temperatures late in the fall, the plants in this mix continue to grow, albeit slowly.  Once the ground freezes solid their growth stops.  This mix includes Japanese millet, oats, field peas, crimson clover and a few other clover varieties. The benefit to planting a cover crop that winter kills is that the plants will not grow again in the spring and we can prepare that ground early in the spring to plant vegetable crops since the cover crop residue will work into the soil very easy without a lot of green crop plant matter to get in the way. 

Richard evaluating biodiversity in this multi-species planting
Our second mix consists of plants that can go dormant during the winter, and then resume growing again in the spring.  We plant this mix in fields that we won’t need to plant very early in the spring.  This allows us to leave the cover crop in the spring so it can grow and we can maximize its benefits.  We usually cut or chop the cover crop just before it goes to seed.  This mix consists of cereal rye, rye grass, mammoth red clover, hairy vetch as well as Alice clover and red clover.  In addition to serving as a sponge to take up available nutrients and hold them in place for next year’s crop, the rye also makes a good mulch that we cut and bale.  We take the bales off of one field and put them on another field to mulch in between beds of vegetable crops such as strawberries, tomatoes and garlic.  The clovers and vetch are able to take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, which means we don’t have to apply fertilizer!  If we have excess rye grass beyond our needs for mulch, we may choose to bale some to use as feed for our cattle and goats through the winter or sometimes we just chop the crop back onto the field and work it into the soil.  This is referred to as a “green manure” crop.
Onions on raised beds with inter-seeded cover crops
We have embraced this practice and are always looking for ways to improve the system.  Over the past few years we’ve increased the diversity of plants in our cover crop mixes.  While it is more complicated to make these mixes, we appreciate the plant diversity and the different beneficial attributes each plant brings to the mix.  Each variety also supports its own unique microbes that interact with the plant at the root level.  We are also learning that there is also a synergy between organisms that multiplies the benefits exponentially.  Little is known about this interaction, but it is believed that the microbes communicate and function as a larger, very complex organism that can move water and nutrients across the field to plants in need.  How cool is that!  We will continue to invest both time and resources into planting cover crops as the benefits of doing so far outweigh any management challenges we may juggle.  Maintaining and improving the health and resilience of our soils is crucial to our ability to continue to produce vegetables with maximum nutrient quality.  We also want to do our part to maintain clean waterways, prevent soil erosion and maximize CO2 capture through our practices to do our part to mitigate climate change. 
Australian peas, with nitrogen capturing nodes on their roots.
As we continue our conversation about the future of our food system and what we want it to be, we feel it is important for you, the eater, to understand the growing system and practices we employ.  Not all food is created equal and it’s up to you to make an informed decision as to what type of farming practices you want your food purchases to support.  There are some conventional, chemical farmers who are trying to improve their soil quality with cover crops and are taking advantage of the assistance and incentives offered by the NRCS (Natural Resources and Conservation Services).  While this is good, it’s hard to make much positive headway when the cash crops being planted require chemical inputs that damage and degrade soil as well as cause other problems to the ecosystem and environment around them. 
We hope you too can appreciate the benefits of cover crops in an organic farming system and will continue to learn along with us as we learn more about their role in our future.  We also hope you will choose to support local producers who prioritize integrating cover crops into their agricultural systems.  We’ll do our part, but we need the support of consumers to turn the tide and shape our food system into the future. 
Closing Note:  If you’re interested in learning more about Regenerative Agriculture and the work being done worldwide to promote these practices, visit www.regenerationinternational.org.

October 3, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Black Nebula Carrots!

2 Oct 2019 21:26

Cooking With This Week's Box

Broccoli Romanesco: One-Pot Vegetable Curry
Black Nebula Carrots: Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils (see below); Carrot and Parsley Salad (see below)
Red & Yellow Onions: Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils (see below); Carrot and Parsley Salad (see below); One-Pot Vegetable Curry
This week we have a fun, new vegetable to cook with!  Yes, I know
Black Nebula Carrots
carrots are not a new vegetable, but the Black Nebula Carrots are a new type of carrot and they are super-cool!  I’ve never cooked with a carrot that has this much intense color.  I’m not usually a fan of carrot soup as I find it to be kind of boring and it isn’t a very filling soup.  When I started researching this purple carrot, I was in awe at the beautiful purple color I was seeing in pictures of purple carrot soup.  Would the color really be that vibrant?  I have never eaten purple soup, so I had to give it a try.  This week’s recipe for Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils  (see below) is not your typical, boring carrot soup.  This is a simple soup, but it has a lot of flavor.  When I tested the recipe, I took my first bite and said out loud to myself (I was the only one in the kitchen), “Wow! That is delicious!”  I spiced up the lentils with one finely chopped Korean pepper that gave it just the right amount of heat without being too hot.  I really like coconut milk, so I added a little more instead of water.  This soup is sweet, flavorful, smooth and just downright beautiful!
The second recipe is for a very simple Carrot and Parsley Salad (see below).  I’ve made this before with orange carrots, but I have to say it is quite striking with the black nebula carrots.  When you look at the recipe you might think, “there’s not much happening in this salad.”  I thought the same thing the first time I made it.  I can’t explain it, but the simplicity of this salad is what makes it so delicious.  Of course that is assuming you have delicious carrots and fresh parsley!  Serve this as a side dish with a sandwich, roasted or grilled meat, fish, etc.  Leftovers are also good for a few days.
One-Pot Vegetable Curry
This week we’re finishing off the last of our jicama.  Use it to make this light, creamy Jicama Apple Slaw that we featured in our newsletter several years ago, or check out last week’s vegetable feature article and the recipe for Baked Jicama Chips.  When the jicama is gone, we’ll finish off the packing by substituting potatoes.  Use them to make this One-Pot Vegetable Curry.  I love this recipe because you can vary the ingredients depending on what you have available.  In addition to a little potato, I’d recommend including either broccoli Romanesco and/or cauliflower along with sweet peppers!
We’re in the midst of salad season and have a lot of options to choose from with salad greens this week.  I want to try this version of a creamy Greek vinaigrette.  The creaminess comes from including Greek yogurt.  Use it to make a Tossed Salad with Greek Vinaigrette.  You can choose what to put in/on the salad.  My recommendation is to use either the head lettuce or salad mix as the base of the salad.  Top it off with slices of sweet peppers, thinly sliced red onions, olives, and feta cheese.  Before we’re finished with sweet peppers, make this recipe for Creamy Roasted Sweet Pepper Dressing.  This would be another good dressing to use on salads this week!
Squash & Poblano Quesadilla
with Pickled Jaoapenos and Chipotle Creama
A few weeks ago I made pickled jalapenos to go along with this tasty recipe for Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos and Chipotle Crema.  I had some left and pulled them out earlier this week to use some on our breakfast burritos.  I forgot how much I like pickled jalapenos, but now that I’m reminded I want to make another little jar.  Even two jalapenos makes a decent amount since you don’t need much to get the flavor!  This time I want to try this recipe for Quick, 10-Minute Pickled Jalapenos.
I’m going to wrap up this week’s chat with a few of my favorites from past newsletters.  Every year I make this Spaghetti Squash and Leek Skillet Gratin.  If you have a few leeks still hanging out in your refrigerator, put them to use in this simple yet hearty gratin.  I like this recipe because it’s another one of those transition recipes featuring sweet peppers as the last of the summer veg paired with leeks and spaghetti squash representing fall.  My other two favorites will make use of the baby white turnips.  If you want to use them in a cooked dish, consider this recipe for Creamy Turnip Grits and Greens that we featured earlier this year.  The finishing touch on this dish that brings it altogether is the hot sauce vinaigrette at the very end.  Don’t skip this step—it’s what brings it altogether!  Lastly, I wrote this recipe for White Turnip Salad with Miso Ginger Vinaigrette several years ago and I still like to make it.  It’s simple, fresh, light and flavorful.
Ok, that wraps up this week’s box.  Before I go I’d like to thank everyone who came to our Harvest Party last weekend.  Even though the crowd was small, we all had a good time and I had a lot of fun making the 20 Vegetable Harvest Chili!  Several of you asked for the recipe.  I need a little time to scale down my adaptation to a reasonable batch size.  In the meantime, here’s the original recipe for Chili Con Carne that I fashioned my recipe off of.  It’s a recipe I used as a basis to make chili for the crew when I was cooking as the Seasonal Farm Chef back in 2007!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Black Nebula Carrots

By Chef Andrea
We have a fun vegetable to feature this week—Black Nebula Carrots!  They are such a dark purple color they really do look almost black! This is the first year we’ve grown this variety.  Many purple carrots are disappointing because the purple color is only on the skin and once peeled, the purple is gone and you basically have a yellow or orange carrot.  When we saw this variety, we were enticed because it was touted to have really good color.  Little did we know we had stumbled on a really fun and interesting carrot!
While black carrots are new to us, they are actually the original type of carrot first recorded and thought to have originated in the middle East, specifically Afghanistan.  Orange carrots are actually a newer carrot that is the result of horticulturists’ efforts to hybridize older varieties.  The original carrots were actually purple/black and yellow.  When I first saw this carrot come off the wash line, I have to admit my first thought was “oohh, these are not so beautiful.”  We’re accustomed to seeing more refined carrots with uniform shapes, smoother skin, etc.  This carrot has a different look that I would describe as being similar to how I would describe an old turtle.  This carrot looks ancient and weathered.  These carrots are less refined with some odd twists and bumps that make every carrot unique.  They also have more root hairs that grow in clumps and don’t come off with washing, giving them kind of a crusty, old look.  As I started working with this carrot though, I came to realize its natural beauty and I couldn’t help but think that it also contains an ancient wisdom that will benefit all of us.
There are some things you should understand about this carrot before you use it.  For starters, I’d recommend you peel it.  This isn’t my typical line, but I do think the finished carrot product benefits from peeling first.  You’ll notice the color permeates throughout, right down to the core!  The deep, rich color comes from a group of plant compounds called anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins give fruits and vegetables purple, blue and dark red colors and are found in foods such as beets and blueberries.  They are powerful plant compounds that benefit our bodies in a variety of ways.  They help prevent cancer, are cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory, and may even benefit our neurological health.  The previous sentence doesn’t do justice to the health benefits we reap from eating anthocyanins, which is why it’s so important to include a variety of plants in your diet!  The color compounds in these carrots are so rich, some people actually use them as a natural dye for textiles, Easter eggs, etc.  Yes, they will stain your hands, possibly your cutting board, and your clothes.  I can tell you that the discoloration on your hands will go away in a day or two, especially if you hand wash a few dishes.  The stain on my cutting board also faded quickly.
Salgam, photo from thespruceeats.com
You can eat these carrots both raw and cooked.  The purple coloring will spread to other ingredients, just as when making things with red beets.  They are delicious roasted, but will also retain their color nicely when stir-fried, boiled and steamed.  They also make a beautiful and nutrient dense juice.  I didn’t try this myself, but I found several references that say adding an acidic ingredient to the juice, such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, will turn the juice bright pink!  There are a few traditional preparations from the Middle East that utilize black carrots.  The first is called Carrot Kanji.  This is a fermented black carrot juice drink that is part of northern Indian culture.  It also includes mustard powder and chili powder with the purpose of keeping the body warm in the winter.  In Turkey they make Salgam which is another fermented vegetable drink.
As I’m still learning how to use and appreciate this carrot, I decided to start with some simple preparations that would highlight the innate beauty of this unique carrot.  So this week’s featured recipes include one simple soup and a salad.  Don’t be fooled by their simplicity, they really have a lot of delicious flavor in them and you just feel good knowing you are giving your body such a powerhouse of nutrients!  Let me know how you use your carrots and have fun!

Carrot Parsley Salad

Yield:  3-4 cups
4 cups peeled and shredded purple
   or orange carrots (1-1.25#)
1 cup chopped parsley
1 medium red onion, small diced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 to 4 Tbsp cold pressed flax oil or extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbsp toasted unhulled sesame seeds, optional
  1. Place shredded carrots in a medium bowl and add the parsley and onion.  
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, oil and ¼ tsp salt.  Whisk to combine and then pour the dressing over the vegetables.
  3. Mix well and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Take a little taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, lemon juice and/or apple cider vinegar.  If using, stir in the toasted sesame seeds.
  4. The salad tastes best when served immediately, but any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Recipe adapted from Amy Chaplins’ book:  At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen.

Roasted Purple Carrot Soup with Curried Lentils

Yield:  3-4 servings as a main or 4-6 servings as a side dish
1.25# purple carrots (3-4 carrots), peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp coconut oil or vegetable oil (divided)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 medium onion, small dice
2-4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 to 1 ⅔ cups coconut milk
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp minced fresh Korean chili or ¼ tsp dried cayenne pepper
¾ cup brown or green lentils
1 ½-2 ½ cups water
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Cilantro, chopped, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Put the carrot pieces in a medium bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or vegetable oil and sprinkle in 1 tsp salt.  Toss to combine and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  
  2. Roast the carrots for 30-40 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking.  You want the carrots to be tender and just starting to get crispy.  Once done, remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. While the carrots are roasting, prepare the remainder of the soup and the lentils.  In a medium saucepot, melt 2 tsp coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add ginger and onion and saute until the onions are translucent.  Add 2 cups water or vegetable stock and 1 cup coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Cover to keep it warm.
  4. To prepare the lentils, first melt 1 Tbsp oil in a small saucepot.  When the oil is hot, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and fresh or dried chili.  Stir to combine and cook briefly until the spices are aromatic.  
  5. Stir in the lentils along with 1 ½ cups water.  Bring the lentils to a simmer, then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.  Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes.  You may need to add additional water and cook the lentils for an additional 10-20 minutes.  You want them to be soft and tender with just a small amount of liquid remaining in the pan.  As they start to soften, stir in ½ tsp salt.  Once finished, remove from heat and keep warm.
  6. Now it’s time to assemble the soup.  Put the roasted carrots in a blender along with the gingered coconut milk mixture.  Blend until well combined and very smooth.  Taste a little bit.  At this point you will likely need to add more liquid to get the soup to the consistency you desire.  You can add either more coconut milk, water, or stock.  If you add coconut milk the soup will be a little more rich and sweet.  Adjust the seasoning to your liking with salt and freshly ground black pepper as well.
  7. Return the soup to the pan and bring it to an appropriate serving temperature.
  8. Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with the curried lentils and fresh cilantro.
Recipe adapted from www.nourishdeliciously.com.

September 26, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Jicama!

25 Sep 2019 21:49

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: Honey Fermented Garlic

Green Boston OR Red Batavia Head Lettuce: Black Bean Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
Jalapeno Peppers: Jicama and Carrot Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing (see below); Jalapeno Popper Deviled Eggs
Broccoli Romanesco or Cauliflower: Cauliflower Slaw
Purple or Orange Carrots: Jicama and Carrot Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing (see below)
Jicama: Baked Jicama Chips (see below); Jicama and Carrot Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing (see below)
Cilantro:  Jicama and Carrot Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing (see below)
Black Bean Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
photo from acouplecooks.com
Welcome to another week of CSA eating!  This week’s vegetable treasure is a bit less flashy than most vegetables.  Jicama is a humble vegetable, but one we’ve come to love and appreciate—both because we like to eat it and because we like the challenge of growing it!  It’s often eaten raw as a snack or used in raw salads and slaws.  One of this week’s featured recipes is for Jicama and Carrot Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing (see below).  Eat this on its own as an accompaniment to a sandwich or bowl of soup, or use it as a topping on tacos or even a lettuce wrap.  This recipe for Black Bean Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps calls for serving them with a mango salsa, but they’d also be good with the Jicama Carrot Slaw!  The second featured recipe is a simple one, Baked Jicama Chips (see below).  Everyone loves a good vegetable chip and of course every chip needs a dip.  My suggestion is to turn the poblanos in this week’s box into Caramelized Onion & Roasted Poblano Dip.   I’ve mentioned this recipe in previous years because it’s a good one and is on my favorites list!  It’s a good dip for chips, but it’s also good on baked potatoes, spread on sandwiches, and stirred into scrambled eggs.
We’re moving into fall greens and that means leafy green salads are back on the menu!  This week’s boxes will contain either spinach or baby arugula.  Fall greens go very nicely with fall fruit such as pears and apples.  This week I have two suggestions for fruity greens salads.  The first is an Apple Cranberry Spinach Salad.  This salad features fresh apple, dried cranberries, walnuts, feta  and a honey-dijon dressing that is more of a vinaigrette than a creamy dressing.  You can eat this as a side salad or add some cooked chicken and turn it into a main dish salad.  The second recipe is an Arugula Salad with Pears, Prosciutto and Aged Gouda.  This is a slightly different take on a dijon based vinaigrette, which is a nice contrast to the fattiness of the prosciutto and gouda as well as the sweet pears.  Of course, you can mix and match your greens in these two salads.
Balsamic Vinaigrette, photo from barefeetinthekitchen.com
We also have salad mix this week!  I like to keep a jar of one of my favorite, basic salad dressings handy for quick salads on the fly.  One of my favorite go-to recipes is for Balsamic Vinaigrette.  If you have a jar of this in the refrigerator, you can build a quick salad in no time at all!  Toss it with some fresh salad mix and then start adding toppings as you wish.  You might include some thinly sliced red onion, sweet peppers, shredded carrots, dried or fresh fruit, toasted almonds, and the list could go on!
Last week we featured broccoli raab along with a recipe for Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs.  This is a baked pasta dish that is more on the lean side, not cream based.  If you prefer cream based, try this recipe for Baked Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Sausage.
Sadly, this is our last week for leeks.  One of our members used her leeks last week to make this classic leek dish, Leeks Vinaigrette.  I have to mention it because it is not only a simple, classic way to prepare leeks, but also because she said it’s kid-approved and accepted!  Of course, I can’t resist a good quiche and I love the way the silky leeks mix with the creamy custard of a quiche.  So, perhaps you’ll join me in making Leek & Mushroom Quiche.  Serve it for breakfast, dinner or brunch alongside this Cauliflower Slaw.  Of course you can substitute broccoli Romanesco for the cauliflower in this recipe.  This dish also includes some sweet, dried currants, toasted almonds, and a light vinegar based dressing.
Sausage & Egg Stuffed Sugar Dumpling Squash
photo from eatingwell.com
I do like eating vegetables for breakfast, especially winter squash.  Check out this recipe for Sausage & Egg Stuffed Sugar Dumpling Squash.  Of course, this dish could also be lunch or dinner as well.
Eggs are typically in abundance around here and Richard always loves a good deviled egg.  How about making these Jalapeno Popper Deviled Eggs!  Eat them as a snack, add them to a dinner menu, or pack them and take them for lunch!
Lastly, while food is our medicine on a day to day basis, sometimes during the winter cold and flu season we need a little extra immunity protection.  Start now and make this Honey Fermented Garlic.  Keep a jar of this in your kitchen and use it as your own homemade way to prevent and ward off colds, flu, etc this weekend.
That brings us to the bottom of the box.  Before I close, I want to extend one final invitation to you to join us at our Harvest Party this coming Sunday.  We’ll have lots of good food, games, activities and more.  We hope you’ll join us for the day and come prepared to reap the benefits of being immersed in nature!

Vegetable Feature: Jicama

Jicama is the odd-shaped vegetable with brown skin occupying one corner of this week’s CSA box.  It is also known as yam bean, Mexican yam or Mexican turnip and is native to Mexico.  The name of this vegetable is pronounced [HICK-uh-mah] or [HEE-kuh-mah].  It is a tropical plant that resembles a bean plant with bean-like vines and seed pods.  The jicama grows underground and is a tuber that can produce multiple tubers off the one main stem.
On the outside jicama is not the most attractive or flashy vegetable.  Peel away the brown, leathery skin and you’ll find a solid white flesh inside that is mild in flavor, crunchy with a slight sweetness and slightly starchy.  You can eat jicama both raw and cooked.  One of the most basic ways to eat jicama is to slice it into sticks and give it a squeeze of lime juice and a light sprinkling of chili powder and salt.  Jicama also pairs well with fruit including citrus (oranges, grapefruit, limes), pineapple, mango, and apples.  It is common to see jicama slaws, salads and salsas that also include fruit.  It also pairs well with avocado, hot and sweet peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, seafood, onions, and garlic to name just a few complementary ingredients.  In Asian cuisine you may find jicama used in stir-fry type preparations.  When stir-fried, jicama should be added towards the end of cooking to retain the crisp texture.  If you let it get just slightly soft, it has almost a potato-like flavor and texture.
When we first started growing jicama, we realized by accident just how important post-harvest handling is to the overall quality of the vegetable.  Jicama needs to be “cured,” similar to how we cure sweet potatoes after they are harvested.  We held the jicama in one of our greenhouses for a week after harvest at a temperature of 68-77°F with high humidity of about 95%.  This process helped to set the delicate skins so they will store better.  Jicama is very sensitive to chill injury, so it is best to store it on your kitchen counter until you are ready to use it.  If you store it in the refrigerator, you’ll notice the quality will deteriorate quite quickly.  Once you cut into it, store any cut jicama in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days.
JAC washing jicama
We can’t deliver jicama without giving credit to one of our crew members, Jose Antonio Cervantes Gutierrez (aka JAC).  JAC is responsible for introducing jicama to Harmony Valley Farm.  Without his influence, we likely wouldn’t be growing this vegetable!  One day we were working in the greenhouse and he presented me with a handful of seeds in a small packet.  He asked if I thought we could grow it here?  Well, I had no idea how to grow jicama and had only eaten it several times.  We decided to give it a try and after several years of learning we are finally getting good results!  I asked him why he brought those seeds with him when he came to work here that year.  There is a large farm not far from where he lives that grows large amounts of jicama.  He would pass by their fields, see the jicama and was intrigued by it.  He said he brought them because he had tried planting them at home, but couldn’t ever watch them grow because he had to leave to come here to work!  So, he brought the seeds with him so we could plant them here and he could watch them develop!  JAC’s favorite way to eat jicama is to eat it raw with a squeeze of lime juice and salt or lime juice and a sprinkling of Tajin, a seasoning mix made from salt and a specific type of chile.
We don’t grow jicama every year, but it has a permanent spot on our list of “vegetables we grow every 2-3 years.”  We’re grateful to JAC for introducing us to something new and we’re glad you, our members, have grown to appreciate it too!

Jicama and Carrot Slaw with Honey-Lime Dressing

picture from cookincanuck.com

Yield:  8 servings
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp fresh lime juice
¾ tsp honey
¼ tsp ground cumin
⅛ tsp salt
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound jicama peeled & thinly sliced (1 small or half of a large)
2 large or 4 small carrots, grated
3 Tbsp minced cilantro
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded & minced
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, cumin and salt.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the jicama, carrot, cilantro and jalapeño pepper.
  3. Add the dressing and toss to coat.  
Recipe borrowed from www.cookincanuck.com.

Baked Jicama Chips

Yield:  4 servings
2 medium or 1 large jicama, peeled
2 tsp olive oil
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking racks if you have them.
  2. Cut the jicama into super thin slices.  Try to achieve similar thickness with all the pieces.  You can cut the jicama using a mandolin or just a sharp knife.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, lime juice and zest, chili powder and salt.  Add the jicama slices, and mix well so that all the slices are fully coated.
  4. Place the slices of jicama in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, or until they begin to brown and get crispy.
Recipe borrowed from onegreenplanet.org.

Fall Farm Update: Reflections on the 2019 Growing Season

25 Sep 2019 16:00

By Farmer Richard

Harvest crews working to gather harvest before the storms hit
Recently we came up on the one year anniversary of the 2018 fall floods.  While we are thankful we have not experienced another major weather event like that in this growing season, the weather patterns of 2019 have made this season another extremely challenging year to be farming.  We started out with a cold and wet spring which made planting seeds and transplanting plants from the greenhouse very challenging!  We are all avid weather map and forecast watchers and our crew is 110% with us.  We made good planning decisions and when a hint of dry weather looked imminent, we pulled out all the stops to prepare ground, plant and transplant.  On those days, we worked until it was too dark to see and if the forecasted rain missed us we continued the next morning.  We pushed the limits, we transplanted in the rain, we harvested in the rain.  We had to take some time off when the storms were severe.  When we did get some fast, heavy rains, the extensive repair work we did to creek bottoms and berms last fall proved to be effective and mostly held and protected fields!

Black Futsu Pumpkin plants starting to
flower earlier this season
Despite the challenges, we did manage to plant all our crops fairly timely, even when it was wet and cold.   In late May and early June the weather shifted to the other end of the spectrum and became extremely hot and humid!  The heat loving plants took off and made up for lost time!  Unfortunately, so did the weeds.  We had to play our cards right to make weed control a priority when it was dry enough and pushed the limits at times to complete some critical cultivation.  Hot and wet weather also brings its own problems with disease, poor pollination and even nutrient problems.  In early summer we were seeing some disease and fertility problems in some of our crops.  We collected leaves from some of the affected plants and sent them off to a laboratory for a sap analysis (kind of like a blood test for plants) to diagnose the problems.  With results in hand, we set out to correct some nutrient and microbial deficiencies likely caused by the excess water.  We applied copious amounts of beneficial organisms, soluble nutrients and trace minerals that the plants needed and saw some dramatic responses in our pepper, eggplant and squash crops.  We also had several weeks of growth during that hot period where plants that should have been setting fruit were not doing so (tomatoes, melons, squash and watermelons), which resulted in low yields.  Despite our best efforts, only one of our five sweet corn plantings was the quality we had hoped for.  Sadly, the cold wet conditions followed by the hot and wet weather not only took a toll on our crops, but our native pollinators as well.  We rely on their services and were concerned that many of our native pollinator creatures were very late to show up.  Thankfully the populations seem to have recovered.  While we all would’ve liked to have seen more tomatoes and sweet corn in the box, we have been able to include most items we had planned for in the CSA boxes.  So, while you may have been just minimally affected by our crop deficits, our bottom line has taken a hit with some of our crops that we plan to have in quantities that allow us to supply CSA boxes and then have extra to sell to wholesale buyers.  The good news is, we did have some better weather in August and our fall crops actually look quite nice!  Time and again, Mother Nature continues to provide for us, even when she’s at times a bit cantankerous.

Farmer Richard inspecting cover crop
As we head into fall, we’re happy to report our cover crop plantings have been timely and some fields have well-established cover crops that we’ll reap the benefits of next year.  Some of our fall crops are coming in ahead of schedule, including celeriac, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips and winter storage radishes.  We’ve already started harvesting many of our root crops and will continue doing so until they’re all in.  The sweet potatoes look promising, but need a couple more weeks of growth.  Fall greens, such as escarole, look very nice, but the recent 80°F weather has them coming in earlier than we had hoped for.  Sadly, we did lose 50% of our spinach stand last week when we had 4.5 inch or rain, but we have more plantings coming and they look promising.  In the midst of vegetable farming, we’ve also managed to get sufficient hay put away for our animals despite forecasts of hay shortages in the rest of the farming community.  If Mother Nature will afford us just get a couple of dry weeks to get our roots harvested and plant garlic, sunchokes and horseradish for next year, we would be most grateful.

Despite the challenges of this season, we are proud of the CSA boxes we have delivered this year.  The boxes have been plentiful, colorful and delicious.  If you’ve been pleased with your shares this year, we’d appreciate your help in spreading the good word about our CSA to your friends, family members, work associates, etc. We’re hopeful that our membership numbers will grow for the 2020 season, but we need your help to make that happen!  Yes, we’re already laying out plans for next year!

As I reflect on the past few months, I realize we have learned a lot from this season!  As we’ve dealt with crop challenges due to fertility, etc, we have all became more aware of the very subtle differences in the many shades of green of our plants which will help us care for our plants better in the future.  We watched for blossoms, pollinators and fruit set as we learned to observe and listen to our plants more closely.  As we learn more about the value of our microbial communities in the soil, we have gained a new appreciation for the role they play in our environment and still have trouble fathoming the billions of micro-organisms that surround us!   We realize we are all part of a living organism.  There is a life force that emanates from the soil, the plants, the animals and people.  The many families that depend on our farm and the many that we provide nourishing food for are all a part of our farm and community.  I want to close with a quote from an interview with Michael Phillips, an organic orchardist growing in New Hampshire.  He wrote a book entitled Mycorrhizal Planet and was featured in an interview in a recent issue of Acres magazine.  He says “The plants and fungi have always sung what I think of as a soil redemption song—and they’ll continue to sing it—and that is what makes life possible on earth.  Our job is to emulate all these good teachings and to make it part of our agriculture, part of our communities, part of our innate understanding of what it is to be a caring human on this blessed planet.”

September 19, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Broccoli Raab!

18 Sep 2019 20:46

Cooking With This Week's Box

Italian Garlic: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry; HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce; Potato Leek Pizza; Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab; Cauliflower Patties; Garlic and Lemon Roasted Broccoli Romanesco

Yellow Onions: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below)

Tomatoes: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry
Sweet Peppers: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry; Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon and Bacon; Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab
Broccoli Raab: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab
Welcome back to another week of cooking!  We are officially two-thirds of the way through the 2019 CSA season.  Can you believe it?!  Things are happening fast here at the farm.  Summer crops are winding down and as they do, fields are cleaned up, cover crops are seeded and we’re getting ready to put them to bed for the winter.  Root crop harvest is underway and we continue the transition to fall vegetables and dishes.  This week we’re featuring broccoli raab, a vegetable we started growing because customers were asking for it!  We’ve found fall is the best tasting time of year to grow this vegetable.  This week’s recipe is a main dish Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below).  While many gratins are rich and creamy, this is a lighter gratin.  Imagine you’re sitting on the coast of Italy when you eat it, sipping a glass of red wine.  This gratin features sweet peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic that are then combined with broccoli raab and either beans or ground pork.  The acidity of the vegetables mellows out the broccoli raab and the crunchy topping helps bring it altogether.  I also want to mention this recipe we featured last year for Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab.  It’s easy and delicious and you might just find it can be a family favorite.
Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramelized Pecans
Last week we featured kabocha squash along with a recipe for Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramelized Pecans.  If you didn’t have a chance to try this yet, I’d recommend you add it to this week’s list.  It’s super easy to make and very tasty.  If you prefer to use the kabocha squash in something more savory, consider this dish for One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry.
I’ve been waiting for our Korean peppers to ripen to red, as that is when I believe they have the best flavor.  Thankfully they’re ready to send to you this week!  If this looks like a lot of hot peppers, don’t worry, I’m going to tell you what to do with them!  Last year when we featured this vegetable I shared two simple recipes.  The first is for a HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce.  This is very similar to gouchujang, a traditional Korean chili paste that is used extensively in Korean inspired cuisine.  Last year I made a batch of this and then divided it into small jars and put it in the freezer.  I thawed them one at a time and used little bits at a time when I needed some heat in a dish.  I also used it to make these Spicy Korean Style Gochujang Meatballs.  They were so delicious!  Tuck this recipe away and make these meatballs for your 2020 Super Bowl Party!  The other recipe you can make with the Korean chili peppers is for Salt-Cured Chiles.  I kept a jar of these in my refrigerator all winter long and just pulled from it little by little whenever I needed a little heat in a stir-fry, taco meat, etc.  Even if you aren’t into hot peppers, I encourage you to make one or both of these recipes and use the peppers throughout the fall and winter.  While these are hot peppers, they are very flavorful and you can get the effect of the flavor without burning your tongue off!  Adjust how much you use to your liking.
Jalapeno Popper Dip
photo from delish.com
While we’re talking hot peppers, lets deal with jalapenos too!  How about this recipe for Jalapeno Popper Dip?!  This would be another good Super Bowl party recipe.  Freeze the jalapenos and you can make it this winter!
I always think about using leeks in a traditional potato leek soup, but I probably wouldn’t have thought to make Potato Leek Pizza!  One of our members posted her version of Potato Leek Pizza which included bacon.  What a great idea!  I also remembered this recipe for Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon and Bacon.  This was a popular recipe when we posted it several years and it’s perfect for this week because it also includes corn and sweet peppers!
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to eat baby arugula.  I like the flavor of arugula better once we start to have more mild temperatures and the pungency and bite of arugula pairs well with fall fruit such as apples, cranberries and pears.  This week I’m going to use the baby arugula to make this Arugula Salad with Walnuts, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries.  This would be delicious as a side along with a pasta or pizza dinner.
It’s nice to have lettuce back as an option for salads as well.  The Green Boston Lettuce this week has tender, more delicate leaves, thus is best used with a light vinaigrette instead of a heavy creamy dressing.  Use it to make this Boston Lettuce Salad with Citrus Honey Vinaigrette.
Cauliflower Patties
photo by Mark Weinberg, from food52.com
Last, but not least, we’re happy to have cauliflower and broccoli Romanesco coming in!  I came across this recipe for Cauliflower Patties.  I’ve never used cauliflower for anything like this, but they look cheesy, garlicky and delicious.  Paired with one of the aforementioned salads, they would be a great dinner option.  I also like just a simple roasted broccoli Romanesco, so might just have to do this recipe for Garlic and Lemon Roasted Broccoli Romanesco.
That’s a wrap folks.  If you haven’t done so already, be sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, September 29 and plan to join us for a fun day at the farm as we celebrate fall with our annual Harvest Party!  I’m planning to make a delicious vegetable chili featuring 20 different vegetables!  Think I can pull that off?  Come find out and see if you can guess all 20 vegetables!  
Have a great week—Andrea 

Vegetable Feature: Broccoli Raab

In this week’s box you’ll find a big bunch of green leaves.  Wondering what it is?  It’s broccoli raab!  While its name would lead you to believe it’s a type of broccoli, it actually is in the mustard family.  It is considered to be a slightly spicy bitter green, although this effect is minimized by growing it in cooler  temperatures.  We find the flavor of this green to be more balanced and pleasing when we grow it in the fall compared to when we grew it in the spring and summer.  If you look closely near the base of the stem, you just might see a little broccoli-like head starting to push up through the center of the plant.
While this green may be found all over the world, it’s typically associated with Italian food, a region of the world where this green is quite popular.  Broccoli Raab pairs well with ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, almonds, olives, white beans, sausage or pork cuts and red pepper flakes.  When you’re looking at recipes that use broccoli raab, you’ll typically find many of these ingredients.  In many traditional Italian recipes, broccoli raab is prepared very simply by cooking it along with garlic in olive oil until it is very soft and tender and then is finished with a splash of vinegar.  Fatty olive oil and tangy vinegar help to tone down the bitterness.  While you can eat broccoli raab raw, it is most always cooked. It’s tender enough that it doesn’t require a very long cooking time, unless you prefer to have it super soft!  It can be boiled, steamed or sautéed. Broccoli raab is often used in pasta and bean dishes, but it can also be incorporated into toasted vegetable sandwiches, pizza, soups, etc.
Store this green in a bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  Wash it well in a sink of cold water, then shake off extra water before using.  Nearly all of the plant is usable.  I generally just trim off the lower portion of the thicker stems.  

Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs

Yield:  6-8 servings

12 oz penne or other similar pasta
1 pound ground pork OR 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced sweet peppers
1 ½ cups diced tomatoes
½ cup pitted black olives, chopped (optional)
¼ cup fresh or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 cup dried bread crumbs or panko
½ cup toasted raw almonds, finely chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 bunch broccoli raab
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. While you assemble the components for the gratin, preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Once boiling, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes.  You want the noodles to be starting to soften, but you do not want them fully cooked.  Once they are cooked to this point, drain the pasta.  Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. If you choose to use ground pork, preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the ground pork, then remove it from the pan and set aside.  Clean out the pan and then return it to the heat to proceed with cooking the onions.  If you are not using the pork, just skip this step and move on to step 3.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the preheated skillet.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions.  Saute the onions for 10-14 minutes, or until softened and starting to caramelize.  You may need to reduce the heat to medium low to keep the onions from frying and browning.  Once the onions are softened, add the garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, olives, parsley, 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to the pan.  Saute the vegetables for another 8-10 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables are simmering, you can prepare the topping.  In a small mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, finely chopped almonds, Parmesan Cheese, ½ tsp salt and 1-2 Tbsp olive oil.  Stir to combine.  
  5. Next, add the red wine, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar to the pan with the vegetables.  Continue to simmer for another 10-12 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft and the liquid has reduced by about half to two-thirds.  
  6. Chop the broccoli raab into bite sized pieces and add to the pan.  Stir to combine.  As the greens wilt down, continue to stir them into the vegetable mixture.  Add the pork or beans, then simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.  Taste a little bit of the mixture and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more vinegar, salt and pepper as needed.  At this point you want there to be some liquid in the pan, but it shouldn’t be soupy.  If it looks like there’s too much liquid, simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  
  7. Put the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl.  Add the hot vegetable mixture.  Stir to combine well and then spread it in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Spread the bread crumb and almond mixture evenly over the top of the pasta mixture.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the base is bubbly.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve while warm.
Recipe adapted from one in Mark Bittman’s book Dinner for Everyone.

September 12, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Orange Kabocha Squash!

11 Sep 2019 21:41

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green Top Red or Gold Beets: Beet Pesto & Greens Pasta
Porcelain Garlic: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Tomato Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas; Restorative Rainbow Chard & Leek Soup; Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes; Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn; Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce; Beet Pesto & Greens Pasta
Red & Yellow Onions: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes; Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn; 15 Minute Lo Mein
Orange Ukraine Peppers: Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes; Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad
Red or Orange Italian Frying Peppers: Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; 15 Minute Lo Mein
Tomatoes: Tomato Rice Pilaf with ChickpeasCod with Leeks and Tomatoes
Purple Viking Potatoes:  Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes
Jalapeno Peppers: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below)
Poblano Peppers: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza
Carrots: Carrot Coconut Bread; Easy Carrot Coffee Cake; 15 Minute Lo Mein
Leeks: Restorative Rainbow Chard & Leek Soup; Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks; Cod with Leeks and Tomatoes; 15 Minute Lo Mein
Rainbow or Red Chard: Restorative Rainbow Chard & Leek Soup; Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn
Orange Kabocha Squash: Deborah Madison’s Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans (see below); Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza
Delicata Squash: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below)
Sweet Corn: Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn; 15 Minute Lo Mein
Cilantro: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce; Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza
Lets kick off this week’s Cooking With the Box discussion with two simple recipes that just might have a chance at being family favorites.  Lets start with dessert first.  Last year I found Deborah Madison’s recipe for Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans (see below).  It was actually a sweet potato flan recipe, but it is just as delicious with winter squash as it is with sweet potatoes!  I adapted the name to “Fall Flan” and here you go.  I really like this recipe because it’s very simple and streamlined.  Basically all the flan ingredients go into the blender to be mixed, then you pour it directly into custard cups or ramekins and bake it in the oven.  Once it’s baked and cooled, you can serve it with a dollop of maple yogurt (simply stir maple syrup into plain yogurt) and, if you want to go all out, make the caramelized pecans to put on top.  If you’re short on time you could also just do a spoonful of premade vanilla yogurt and some simple chopped nuts.  Besides being simple to make, I like this recipe because it relies on the sweetness of the vegetable along with a little maple syrup to give it its sweetness.  Aside from the touch of sugar on the nuts, there is no refined sugar in the recipe!  I also like it because it can be dessert, an after-school snack, or you could even have it in the morning for breakfast.  It’s delicious eaten warm, at room temperature, or chilled.  You could even bake it in short pint jars so you can put a lid on it and take it to go for lunch!
The second recipe we’re featuring this week is a Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below).  Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe.  There are multiple steps to get all of the quesadilla components prepped, but once you have the components it takes no time to make the quesadilla.  This is a good recipe to prep on the weekends so you can pull off a simple, hot dinner in 15 minutes or less during the week!  This recipe calls for delicate squash, but you could also use sugar dumpling, butternut or even kabocha squash in its place. The key is to keep the slices of squash thin.
If you aren’t feeling like quesadillas this week, how about pizza?  This recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza also caught my eye and is a great recipe for this week’s vegetables.  It calls for butternut squash, but you could use roasted kabocha squash or even the delicate in its place.  Top it off with some crumbles of queso fresco and fresh cilantro for a tasty vegetable pizza!
Tomato  Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas
Photo from naturallyella.com
I have to admit, tomatoes have been a challenge this year and we haven’t been able to offer you the variety and quantity we had planned for.  Nonetheless, we’re thankful for what we have and still can enjoy a few old favorite recipes as well as a few new ones!  This past week I came across this simple, yet flavorful, recipe for Tomato Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas.  While the rice is cooking, you mix fresh garlic with lemon, chopped walnuts, basil and olive oil.  That makes a dressing of sorts that is tossed with tomatoes, cooked rice and chickpeas.  This makes a delicious vegetarian main dish, or you could serve a smaller portion as a side dish along with chicken, fish or steak.  Any kind of tomato can work in this dish.
While we’re talking about tomatoes, I should mention this recipe for Cod with Leeks and Tomatoes.  This is a light dinner option featuring the lean cod with tangy tomatoes and silky leeks.  A nice, light simple meal to mark the final days of summer.
What do you do when you only have a few ears of corn to work with?  Use the corn as an accent ingredient instead of the main attraction!  I love adding a small amount of fresh corn to dishes because it lends a little pop of sweetness, color and a little texture contrast.  Here is a simple recipe for Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn.  This is a pretty quick and easy recipe to assemble.  If you have some leftover chicken or steak you could toss it in for a little extra protein, or even stir in a can of tuna.  Here’s another take on corn with pasta in this Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad.  This is a colorful salad featuring sweet peppers, red onions, corn and fresh herbs.  The recipe calls for basil and parsley, but if you could also use some of the cilantro in this week’s box if you like.  Take this for lunch along with a deli meat sandwich or serve it for dinner with a grilled burger. 
Restorative Rainbow Chard and Leek Soup
photo from quitegoodfood.co.nz
I love chard because it can be used in so many different ways, both raw and cooked.  If you haven’t yet found a use for it this week, consider making this Restorative Rainbow Chard & Leek Soup.  I like to balance some rich meals with some lighter meals and this soup works for that purpose.  Silky leeks mingle with the chard leaves which soften in the hot broth.  Arborio rice adds some starch and body to the soup and it’s finished with fresh herbs.
It must be a pasta kind of week!  I have two more recipes based on pasta.  Check out this colorful Beet Pesto & Greens Pasta!  This recipe uses both the beet roots and the green tops!  While we typically make pesto from green leafy vegetables, this recipe turns the root into a “pesto” type sauce that is tossed with the pasta and the greens are wilted in with the hot sauce and pasta.  This will definitely be an attention getter!
And the final pasta recipe of the week, 15 Minute Lo Mein.  I like vegetable lo mein because you can eat it hot or at room temperature and you can toss in any vegetables you want!  Carrots, sweet peppers, onions, etc are excellent options for the week, but you could also include the leeks.  Kids will love this recipe too, I mean who doesn’t love a bowl of noodles!
Ok, we’re rolling into the home stretch.  If pasta wasn’t comforting enough, read on for a few more  comfort food ideas!  Mashed potatoes anyone?  I had forgotten about this recipe for Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes that I developed several years ago.  Purple Viking potatoes are a great choice for this recipe.  You can use either the Ukraine or Italian Frying peppers to make this recipe.  These potatoes are light and fluffy and full of flavor!  Serve these with Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce for a complete meal option.
Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks
photo from shewearsmanyhats.com
I grew up in a meat and potatoes Mennonite community.  At nearly every celebration dinner or potluck they would serve either mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes.  So, if you don’t make the mashed potatoes this week, consider Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks!
Ok, we started this week’s chat with something sweet, so lets end it on a sweet note as well!  Lets turn those carrots into some kind of a baked treat this week.  Perhaps a loaf of this Carrot Coconut Bread or this Easy Carrot Coffee Cake.  Both would be a great option to enjoy as you sip your Sunday morning coffee, read the newspaper and embark on a day of relaxation.
And that officially brings us to the bottom of another box.  I’ll see you back again next week!  Cross your fingers for a little more corn and get ready for the Korean chili peppers!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Orange Kabocha Squash

By Andrea Yoder
This week we’re packing one of our longtime favorite squash varieties, orange kabocha.  You’ll recognize this squash by its bright orange skin and rounded, disc-like shape.  This variety is also sometimes called a Japanese Pumpkin and is similar to other squash varieties such as orange kuri and buttercup.  The flesh is dark orange in color and has a silky, custard-like texture when cooked.
This is a versatile squash and may be used for a variety of preparations including soup, puree, baked goods, curries, stews or simply roasted.  Most of the time this variety may be used in recipes that call for buttercup, butternut, or orange kuri as well as any recipe calling for pumpkin.  The flavor of this squash is excellent and surpasses even the best tasting pumpkin.
There are several ways you can cook this squash. My easy, low maintenance method is to just cut the squash in half, remove the seed cavity and put the squash halves, cut side down, in a baking dish.  Add a little bit of water to the pan and bake the squash at 350°F until the squash is soft and tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and turn the halves over so they can cool.  Once cool enough to handle, scoop the cooked flesh out of the shell and either mash or puree the flesh.  You can use it to make a simple squash puree seasoned with spices of your choosing and a pat of butter.  Orange kabocha puree can also be used in baked goods and desserts.  This rich, sweet flesh makes a delicious pie filling and yields rich, moist, flavorful quickbreads, muffins, pudding and soufflé.

One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry
Aside from baking, kabocha squash may also be roasted or simply steamed.  In Japanese cuisine, kabocha squash are also referred to as Japanese pumpkins.  Known for their simple, clean preparations, you’ll find Japanese recipes for kabocha squash to be equally as simple with just a few ingredients.  Slices or chunks of kabocha squash are often steamed or simmered in a simple dashi broth with kombu seaweed and sometimes miso, soy sauce and sometimes sake.  This is a classic and common way to prepare kabocha squash in Japan.  It is often a component in Japanese bento boxes (healthy Japanese take out) and is often served as a side dish.  You can also roast kabocha squash as you would prepare any other root vegetable or potato for roasting.  When prepared this way the exterior of the squash gets nice and crispy while the flesh inside stays moist and sweet.
While this squash can usually be held for longer storage, I would encourage you to eat this week’s selection sooner than later.  We’ve already seen some of them starting to deteriorate, so watch them carefully and if you notice any spots starting to form on the exterior, cut that area out of the squash and cook the remainder immediately.  

Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans

Yield:  6 servings
The Flan:
1 cup cooked, mashed winter squash (kabocha or butternut) or sweet potatoes
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground ginger
¼ cup maple syrup
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Sea salt
Caramel Pecans & Maple Yogurt:
1 tsp butter
½ cup pecans
1 tsp sugar
Sea salt
1 cup yogurt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F.  In a blender, combine the squash or sweet potato, spices, maple syrup, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt and puree until smooth.  Divide the puree among six custard dishes.
  2. Put the custard dishes in a baking pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches at least an inch up the sides of the dishes.  Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes.  The flans should be set and barely quiver when shaken.  Remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. While the flans are cooling, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat.  Add the pecans, dust them with the sugar, and turn to coat evenly.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has melted, caramelized, and coats the nuts.  Turn the nuts out onto a plate, add a pinch or two of salt, and let cool.  Chop finely or coarsely, as you like.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and the yogurt.  Taste, and add more maple syrup if you wish.  Serve the flan topped with a spoonful of maple yogurt and a little heap of chopped crisped pecans.  

This recipe is an adaptation of one originally published by Deborah Madison in her book, Vegetable Literacy.

Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapeños & Chipotle Crema

Yield:  4-6 servings

2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1-2 delicata or sugar dumpling squash, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 poblano peppers, deseeded and sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
3-4 Tbsp sunflower oil, divided
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can (16 oz) refried black beans
⅓ cup water
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
8-12 small corn or flour tortillas
Pickled Jalapeños (optional):
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup white vinegar
Chipotle Crema:
½ cup sour cream
¼ tsp chipotle powder
Juice of ½ a lime
Salsa, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. If making the pickled jalapeño, put salt and vinegar in a bowl, stir to dissolve the salt.  Add the jalapeño slices and let set until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare the spice mixture by combining garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, brown sugar and salt in a small bowl.  Note:  Half of the spice mixture will be used for roasting the squash and onions.  The remainder will be used for the refried beans.
  4. Place squash slices in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with sunflower oil and sprinkle with about ¼ of the spice mixture.  Toss to combine and coat the squash pieces evenly, then spread in an even layer on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat the process with the sliced onions and poblano peppers, spreading them in an even layer on the second baking sheet.
  5. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and cooked through.  Once the vegetables are done, remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  6. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the refried beans.  Add 1 Tbsp oil to a small pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and sautè for 1-2 minutes.  Add the remaining spice mixture and the beans.  Stir for a minute.  Add water and bring to a simmer.  Let the beans simmer over low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.  Remove from heat and set aside.  
  7. While the beans are simmering, make the crema.  Combine sour cream, chipotle powder and lime in a bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.
  8. Prepare the quesadillas:  Spread a thin layer of refried beans on each of four-six tortillas (depending on the size).  Divide and evenly spread the squash, onions and peppers on each tortilla.  Top each with shredded cheese, then press another tortilla on top, gently. 
  9. Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Add just enough oil to lightly coat the pan.  Once the oil shimmers, carefully place the quesadilla in the pan, cheese side down.  Cook until the bottom side is golden brown, then carefully turn the quesadilla and repeat on the other side.  Repeat the process until all quesadillas are toasted.
  10. Cut each quesadilla into halves or quarters and serve, hot, with the crema, pickled jalapeño slices, cilantro and salsa of your choosing.
Recipe adapted from tuttalavita.ca

Winter Squash 101

11 Sep 2019 21:41

By Chef Andrea

Butternut Squash
Winter squash…where do I start!?  Growing up we ate squash in basically one of two ways—pie or a simple puree with butter.  It really wasn’t one of my favored foods and I had no idea winter squash could be used in so many ways!  I also had no idea there were so many different kinds of winter squash!  In my world, I only knew buttercup (my mom’s favorite), crookneck (the giant ones my grandma grew to make pies), butternut and acorn (likely the two most well-known).  Now that I’ve expanded my culinary and agricultural boundaries, I realize the world of winter squash has so much more to offer, both in variety and culinary experiences.  So, if you’re in the group of folks who are yet to embrace winter squash, I encourage you to keep reading.  Trust me, there are so many ways to prepare squash, there have to be at least a few keepers for your recipe collection!

Black Futsu Pumpkin
Last week we officially finished our 2019 winter squash harvest!  Winter squash can easily be damaged by a frost, especially if the vines have started to die back, exposing the squash.  This year the squash were ready well ahead of the first frost and are now safely tucked away in one of our greenhouses for storage.  Over the next few months we’ll be packing a variety of different squash varieties in your boxes, each with different characteristics and attributes.  While there are hundreds of different types of winter squash, we have narrowed the selection to less than 10 categories.  We’re starting off the season with Delicata or Sugar Dumpling and Kabocha squash.  Over the next few months you’ll also receive several different types of butternut squash, spaghetti squash, festival, and the newest kid on the block, black futsu.

Spaghetti Squash
When the seed catalogs come in December, it’s easy to be wooed by all the different varieties.  As we make our selections we have several different criteria in mind.  First of all, we’ve trialed a lot of squash over the years so we tend to stick with some of our historically strong producers, ones that have disease resistance and are high yielding.  But those aren’t the only two qualities we look at.  Of course, it has to taste good!  We are looking for varieties that are both sweet and flavorful.  Spaghetti squash is really the only squash we grow that is not intended to be sweet, but we have chosen the variety we believe has the best flavor!  We also want to keep things interesting for you over the course of the final few months of our CSA season, so we try to grow squash that have different colors, shapes, textures and uses.  While we intend for you to (eventually) eat the winter squash, they can also add beauty to your home in the meantime!

Festival Squash
As we journey through the season, watch your What’s In the Box newsletter for more detailed information about the individual varieties of squash.  For now, I’m going to cover some basic information applicable to most varieties.  First, the ideal temperature for storing squash is between 45° and 55°F. This is a bit more chilly than most of your homes, so know that it’s ok to store them on your kitchen counter at a warmer temperature as long as you keep your eye on them. You do not want to store squash in the refrigerator or in an uninsulated garage where the temperatures could dip below 45°F once winter sets in. At temperatures less than 45°F squash is vulnerable to chill injury. You need to check in on your squash periodically.  If you notice any sort of a spot starting to form or any signs of deterioration, you need to intervene immediately. A small spot doesn’t mean the squash is bad or needs to be composted, rather it means you need to eat it right away! Just cut away the bad spot and use the rest. If you leave it unattended, the spot will continue to grow and consume your squash….which is what we do not want to happen! Even if you are not quite ready to eat the squash, I encourage you to cook it anyway. Winter squash is a great vegetable to cook in advance and freeze. It’s super quick and easy to pull precooked squash out of the freezer in the middle of the winter and heat it up to eat as a side dish or incorporate it into baked goods or other dishes. The main thing is, don’t let it go to waste! If I have a pile of squash on my counter, I like to bake a lot at one time…the oven is already hot, and if you’re going to make a mess it’s better to clean up just once!

Butterkin Squash
Before we officially move on from the topic of storage, it’s important to understand that not all winter squash are intended for long term storage.  There are some squash varieties that naturally have a thinner skin and/or higher sugar content.  Typically, these are the squash that will taste the best right out of the field.  However, these are not the varieties of squash we would expect to store well into the winter.  The thicker the skin, the greater protection for the squash.  We handle squash very carefully when we’re harvesting and packing it, taking care not to damage the skin which can become an entry point for bacteria and cause the squash to deteriorate.  But life happens and chances are your squash may get a bump along the way, which is why we encourage you to stay in tune with your squash!  Squash that are high in natural sugars are great, but typically don’t have as long of a life.  So that’s another consideration to keep in mind when storing squash.  Finally, the storage potential of squash is directly related to field conditions.  If we’ve had a wet, cold season and there is leaf disease in the field, the squash are generally more vulnerable to decay in storage and won’t last as long.  In other years that are more dry and we see less disease pressure, we see very little decay in storage and can often store squash until the next spring!

Orange Kabocha Squash
Now that you know how to store squash, lets talk about eating it!  Winter squash is easy to cook and you have several options. The method I employ most frequently is to simply cut the squash in half, scrape out the seed cavity, and bake it.  I place it, cut side down, in a baking dish and add a little bit of water to the pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and come up about ¼-½ an inch on the squash. I bake it in the oven at about 350°F until it is tender when poked with a fork. Once tender, I remove them from the oven and flip them over so the cut side is up. I allow them to rest until they are cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh. I usually puree the flesh in a food processor so it is smooth.  Now it’s ready for use in soups, desserts, etc.  This is the easiest method, but you don’t always want puree, sometimes you want chunks or pieces to work with.  Most winter squash needs to be peeled, but there are some varieties with thinner skin that can be eaten.  The Delicata and kabocha squash we’re delivering this week are two varieties that have thinner skin and many people choose not to peel them.  It’s totally up to you! Where I’m going is that squash can be cut into chunks or smaller pieces to be roasted, boiled, steamed, baked or otherwise incorporated into dishes, etc.  I also want to mention that the seeds of many varieties are also edible!  Typically the smaller squash have more tender seeds, whereas kabocha seeds generally have a thicker skin and are not as tasty.   Once you scoop them out, rinse them to remove any flesh, then dry them in a dehydrator or just air dry.  After they are dried, you can toast them as you would toast any other nut or seed either in a hot pan on the stove top or in the oven.

Tetsukabuto Squash
As with many different vegetables, I always like to look around the world to see how different cultures use squash.  Squash is one of those vegetables that is found worldwide, so there are a lot of different possibilities to explore!  I’m fascinated by Japanese culture and was interested to find out that two of our new squash trials this year are actually varieties originating in Japan.  The Black Futsu Pumpkin is a Japanese heirloom variety and Tetsukabuto means “steele helmet” in Japanese.  It was touted as the “squash to survive the apocalypse” by the seed catalog, which is another way of indicating that it has the potential to be stored for a really long time!  In Japan, kabocha squash in particular is a common food and is often eaten as a side dish.  It is also prepared with tempura.  You’ll also find winter squash in Asian cuisine such as Thai curries and stir-fries.  It’s also a part of the diets of different European countries where it is used to make gratins, silky soups, souffles, desserts and more.  Winter squash is also part of Middle Eastern cultures, showing up in Arabic stews and preparations alongside ingredients such as lamb, tahini, and pomegranate.

Heart of Gold Squash
Winter squash can be incorporated into any meal of the day!  Use it to make frittatas, quiche and breakfast casseroles or stir squash puree into oatmeal or even a breakfast smoothie! You can incorporate winter squash into desserts such as the flan recipe featured in our vegetable feature about kabocha squash.  Some varieties are also delicious to use for making cheesecake, breads, cookies, cakes, pies and more.  Roasted squash can become a topping for pizza, or use it to make quesadillas and pasta dishes.  Don’t be afraid to incorporate squash into preparations like risotto, croquettes, fritters and dumplings.

If you ever find yourself wondering what to do with winter squash and can’t find ANYTHING to make with it, give me a call or send me an email.  I’m certain I can find something you can make with it!

September 5, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Leeks!

4 Sep 2019 20:50

Cooking With This Week's Box

Porcelain Garlic: Herbed Leek Tart (see below); Celeriac & Leek Soup (see below); Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin; Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Sweet Peppers (Orange Ukraine, Red Bell & Red Italian Frying peppers): Herbed Leek Tart (see below); Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad
Mini Sweet Peppers: Herbed Leek Tart (see below); Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad
Yellow/Red Grape Tomatoes OR Roma Tomatoes: Red Pepper, Lentil& Tomato Salad
Red Seedless Watermelon: 1-Ingredient Watermelon Slushie
Purple Viking Potatoes: Celeriac & Leek Soup (see below); Leek & Potato Soup
Mixed Variety of Melon: Chardonnay Cantaloupe Sangria
Celeriac: Celeriac & Leek Soup (see below); Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin
Leeks: Herbed Leek Tart (see below); Celeriac & Leek Soup (see below); Leek & Potato Soup
This week we move into late summer as we start the transition into fall.  Peppers are ripening like crazy, zucchini production is tapering off, melons and watermelons are nearly finished, and we’ve started winter squash and root crop harvest.  I enjoy cooking with vegetables coming in this time of year as most of them are very versatile and can play well with summer vegetables and fall vegetables.  A good example of this is this week’s featured vegetable, leeks.  Leeks are a late season allium, the last allium we’ll harvest this year.  There are classical preparations that pair leeks with summer vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, but they also complement fall vegetables like spaghetti squash and celeriac.  So this week we’re featuring two recipes.  The first is a Herbed Leek Tart (see below) that is very simple and in terms of tarts, it’s on the rustic end.  You don’t need a tart pan to make this one, it’s more of a crostata where the pastry is just laid out on a baking sheet and is folded around the filling.  This filling is a simple leek, herb and sweet pepper filling.  This could serve as dinner along with salad or a bowl of soup.  Leftovers reheat well and are good eaten either hot or at room temperature.
The second recipe this week pairs leeks with celeriac, more of a fall root vegetable.  This is a simple recipe for Celeriac & Leek Soup (see below), courtesy of Farmer Andrea Bemis.  It’s a lean soup based on leeks, celeriac and potato to thicken it.  At the end you stir in a dollop of crème fraiche or yogurt to add some richness to the soup and bring it together.  The combination of leeks and celeriac makes a nice silky, smooth soup.
If you don’t use celeriac to make the featured soup recipe, consider making this Wild Rice & Celeriac Gratin.  You can keep it vegetable based, or it’s also good with chunks of chicken or turkey mixed in.
Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad
photo from gimmesomeoven.com
This week in our Facebook Group a member shared this recipe for Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad, a recipe I’m anxious to try.  This salad is built off of a base of cabbage and is topped with toasted almonds and ramen noodles as well as mango and edamame.  The whole thing is dressed with a simple Asian vinaigrette that you make by shaking all the ingredients in a jar.  You can make this salad now, or save this recipe and squirrel away some edamame in the freezer so you can make it later in the fall or winter when cabbage is abundant.  This is a nice refreshing salad to liven up your winter mealscape.  I also think it would be nice to add some thinly sliced sweet peppers or shredded carrots for some extra flavor and crunch.
While tomatoes haven’t been as plentiful this summer, the tomatillos have been producing very well!  If you’re tomatillo-ed out for now, I encourage you to make another batch of tomatillo salsa and tuck it away in the freezer.  If you don’t want to make salsa right now, at least clean the tomatillos and freeze them so you can make salsa later!  Tomatillo salsa can be used for more than just dipping chips in it.  Here’s a few ways you can put it to use.  Check out this recipe for Avocado Tomatillo Breakfast Tacos which are topped with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.  These tacos call for spinach, but you could easily substitute this week’s beet greens in place of spinach.
Smoky Sweet Corn Tostadas
photo from loveandlemons.com
If you’re going to make a batch of tomatillo salsa, you might as well use it for multiple recipes.  Here’s another recipe, courtesy of the same blog (loveandlemons.com), for Smoky Sweet Corn Tostadas.  For this recipe, you make a creamy sweet corn hummus that gets spread on crispy tortillas and topped off with sliced jalapenos, onions and tomatillo salsa.
If you didn’t have a chance to make the Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad featured in last week’s newsletter, I encourage you to check it out this week.  It’s easy to make and can serve as a main dish or a side salad.  It’s also very colorful with sweet peppers and grape tomatoes in shades of red to orange!
This may be the last week for watermelon.  The easiest thing to do is cut it in half, grab a spoon, position yourself in a comfy chair on the patio and just eat it right out of the rind!  If you want to put forth a little more effort, but not too much, make this 1-Ingredient Watermelon Slushie!  While we’re making drinks, what better way to mark the end of melon season than Sangria!  Here’s a recipe for Chardonnay Cantaloupe Sangria.  While it calls for cantaloupe, I think this would be delicious made with any of the melon varieties in this week’s box.
Beet & Corn Salad
photo from lucismorsels.com
I don’t typically pair beets and corn together, but why not?!  This is a simple, refreshing recipe for a Beet & Corn Salad with cilantro and onions dressed with a light vinaigrette.  It would be a nice accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken or serve it alongside the Herbed Leek Tart for a full vegetarian dinner.
I think that concludes this week’s cooking adventure.  Pretty soon we’ll be picking the Korean chili peppers, which have become one of my favorites for making chili garlic sauce to stash away in the freezer.  I’m also excited to start experimenting with recipes for the new Black Futsu Pumpkin!  Jicama will be coming in, likely before the end of the month.  There are so many delicious things yet to come!  Have a great week!

Vegetable Feature: Leeks

By Andrea Yoder

We’ve been enjoying a variety of vegetables in the onion/allium family since our first box all the way back in May.  From ramps and chives to overwintered spring onions, scallions and most recently sweet onions.  This week we’ll add leeks to the list.  Leeks are a favorite fall allium that, as Chef Deborah Madison says, “add more of a whisper and less of a shout.”  Leeks have a more delicate, mild onion flavor and are cooked using more delicate cooking methods to yield a soft, silky finished product.  They have fewer sugars than onions, so they will not caramelize in the same way as an onion.  It’s best to sweat leeks, meaning you cook them at a lower, more moderate heat to soften them but don’t try to brown them.
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 fennel.  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.  In our opinion, Purple Viking potatoes are one of the best potatoes to use for Leek & Potato soup, which is why we included them in this week’s box!  It is best to take your time and cook leeks more gently and slowly over medium heat. Sauté them over low heat to just sweat them until softened. When cooked in this manner, leeks become creamy and have a silk-like texture.  They pair well with white wine, lemon, cream, cheese, apples, walnuts, chicken, bacon, fish and fresh herbs to name just a few ingredients.
Store leeks loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.  

Celeriac & Leek Soup

Yield:  4 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, diced 
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small or 1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium to large potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (plus more to thin as needed)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Crème Fraiche or plain yogurt, for serving
Minced parsley, for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, celeriac, potato and a hefty pinch of salt.  Stir well.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.  
  2. Remove from the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes before transferring the soup (you may need to do this in batches) to a high speed blender and pureeing until completely smooth and creamy.  
  3. Return the soup back to the pot, stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasonings.  If the soup seems too thick, add more stock or water.  Keep the soup on low heat until ready to serve.  Serve with a drizzle of crème fraiche or plain yogurt and minced parsley.
Recipe borrowed from DishingUpTheDirt.com, by Andrea Bemis.

Herbed Leek Tart

photo from tasteofhome.com

Yield:  2 tarts (8 servings each)

3 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 4 medium)
½ cup chopped sweet pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp herbes de Provence (or may substitute dried thyme)
1 package (15 ounces) refrigerated pie crust
1 tsp whole milk
2 Tbsp chopped almonds or walnuts, optional
  1. In a large skillet, sauté the leeks, red pepper and garlic in oil until tender.  Remove from the heat;  cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in the cheese, mustard and herbs;  set aside.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll each sheet of pastry into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer to parchment-lined backing sheets.  Spoon leek mixture over pastry to within 2 inches of edges.  Fold edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered.  Brush folded crust with milk;  sprinkle with nuts if desired.
  3. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.  Using parchment, slide tarts onto wire racks.  Cool for 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm.  Refrigerate leftovers.
Recipe borrowed from www.tasteofhome.com.

August 29, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Peppers!

28 Aug 2019 21:57

Cooking With This Week's Box

Poblano Peppers: Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblanos and Caramelized OnionsCheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

Sweet Peppers: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

Mini Sweet Peppers: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers
Yellow or Red Grape Tomatoes: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Sweet Corn Risotto
Red Seedless Watermelon: Chill & Eat!  No recipe needed!
Jalapeno Pepper: Jalapeno Cream Cheese
Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn
This week the box is filled with a lot of sweetness, starting with our featured vegetable, Sweet Peppers!  There are a lot of peppers in this week’s box.  If they are red, yellow or orange, they are sweet.  If they are dark green, those are poblano peppers which have a mild to medium heat.  Poblano peppers were our featured vegetable last week.  If you didn’t have a chance to try our featured recipes last week, I’d encourage you to consider both Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblanos and Caramelized Onions and Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn.  Both recipes call for about 2 medium poblano peppers and they are both recipes that appeal to a wide range of eaters.  But lets get back to the sweet peppers.  Ever since I picked up Yasmin Khan’s book Zaitoun, I’ve had my eye on this recipe for Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below).  Now that the sweet peppers are ripening, it’s time to actually make this!  This salad is substantial enough to serve as a main dish, or you can eat it as a side.  It’s packed with the flavors of summer, leftovers are good for a few days, and it’s pretty easy to make.  You can make this salad with any of the sweet pepper varieties in the box, including mini sweet peppers.

Before we leave peppers and move on to the other box items, I want to mention that it’s time to make a batch of Jalapeno Cream Cheese.  This recipe calls for several jalapenos, but for most individuals, one jalapeno is likely enough.  This is one of my favorite summer cream cheese spreads for bagels and toast.

Tomato, Zucchini & Corn Pie with Almond Crust
photo from dishingupthedirt.com
One of our other “sweet” vegetables in this week’s box is sweet corn!  Earlier this week, Andrea Bemis posted this recipe for Tomato, Zucchini & Corn Pie with Almond Crust on her blog.  This recipe is another one that screams to be made in the summer and it includes fresh tomatoes, zucchini and sweet corn.  I’m also excited to try Andrea’s Almond Crust as a gluten-free alternative.  I’ve also been remembering how delicious fresh sweet corn is in Sweet Corn Risotto with a little fresh tomato salad on top, so that is on the list for this week as well.

While our melon and watermelon season are short and a little late this year, at least they made it before Labor Day!  These two selections need little to no explanation as to what to do with them.  They are sweet and delicious on their own, so cut a melon in half, grab a spoon and just eat them.  Yes, scoop them right out of the rind.  If you do want to do something a little extra special, make these tasty little Melon Prosciutto Skewers.  They’ll be a simple, yet impressive addition to a Labor Day picnic.

We’ve been enjoying a plentiful harvest of tomatillos this year and while salsa verde is a great way to use them, you can also use them in other ways such as this Raw Tomatillo Salad.  This recipe combines tangy raw tomatillos with smoky chipotle chiles, fresh cojita cheese and suggests scooping it up with tortilla chips. 
The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes
photo by Rocky Luten, from food52.com
Last weekend we finished harvesting all of our potatoes!  In the coming weeks we’ll be delivering a variety of different kinds.  This week we’re featuring our Rose Finn Apple Fingerling potatoes, an heirloom selection known for being a tasty potato.  Whenever I think of fingerling potatoes, I think crispy!  Last week this recipe for The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes was featured on Food52.com and I immediately thought of making this recipe with the fingerling potatoes.  In this recipe, the salt actually goes on the bottom of the pan, so I’d recommend cutting the fingerling potatoes in half and putting them in the pan cut side down.  The cut side of the potato will be crispy, salty and delicious.  Serve these for breakfast along with eggs, for dinner along with a grilled steak, or just make the potatoes and serve them with fresh corn on the cob, boiled edamame, tomato slices, and wedges of fresh melon.  That my friends is the beauty of delicious, simple summer vegetable cooking.

If you don’t use the potatoes as mentioned above, and you haven’t eaten all of your mini-sweets by the time you get to this point in the article, I’ll mention another one of my favorite recipes using both potatoes and mini sweet peppers.  This is a simple recipe for Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers.  I like to make this with fresh potatoes and peppers, but you could also make this in the dead of winter with mini sweet peppers that you pull out of the freezer (hint, hint—freeze some mini sweet peppers!).

Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn
Before edamame season is through, I always have to make Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn.  While I vary the vegetables in fried rice throughout the year, one of my favorite combos is edamame and fresh sweet corn.  This is another recipe that can be made in the winter with vegetables you pull from the freezer, so if you have some extra corn, cook it, cut it off the cob and freeze it along with some edamame.  You’ll be glad you did when you pull it out in the winter to make this recipe.

As we close out this week’s Cooking With the Box conversation, we’ll end with this recipe for
Summer Minestrone Soup.  This is a great soup to make as we move out of summer and slide into fall.  Use this week’s green beans, zucchini and other summer vegetables in this classic Italian soup.

We’ve reached the bottom of another delicious box of vegetables.  Next week the box contents will likely shift a bit. We’ll still have plenty of peppers, hopefully some zucchini and tomatoes, but we’re also planning to start pulling leeks along with green top celeriac and our final crop of green top beets.  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Sweet Peppers

By Andrea Yoder
Mini Sweet Peppers
The peak of pepper season typically marks the point in the year where late summer collides with fall.  At the end of this week we’ll be turning another calendar page, Labor Day will come and go, children will return to school and soon we’ll officially say good bye to summer.  Peppers are one of my favorite vegetables to grow and eat and they so gracefully represent this unique point in our growing season.  They play well with summer vegetables, but can also dance with fall and winter selections.  They are easy to eat, right off the stem in all of their crispy, raw glory.  Roast them and they become soft, sweet and smoky in flavor which can add a sweet richness to sauces, soup, sandwiches and more.  While pepper season usually lasts several weeks, I never get tired of peppers and always make sure I have enough frozen peppers in the freezer to span winter, spring and early summer until the next crop comes in.  I use them throughout the winter on pizza, add them to pasta dishes, mix them with root vegetables and roast them with chicken, add them into winter soups and stews, and of course they end up in scrambled eggs, quiche, frittatas and egg bakes.  Peppers are one of the easiest vegetables to preserve, so even if I don’t feel like I have the time to tackle preservation projects, I know I can always successfully freeze peppers.  Peppers do not need to be cooked before freezing.  So, at a minimum, freezing peppers requires the time it takes to wash the pepper and put it in a bag.  If I have a little extra time, and to save some freezer space, I’ll actually remove the stem and seeds and cut them into smaller pieces.  Really, it’s that simple and you’ll really appreciate having them in the dead of winter!
We grow several different types of sweet peppers.  All peppers start out as green peppers when they are immature.  While we eat green peppers, peppers are really fully ripe and at their peak of sweetness and flavor if we let them turn color to be fully red, yellow or orange.  Our mini sweet peppers are our all-time favorite variety and the sweetest and most flavorful pepper we grow.  While there are many snack peppers available in the marketplace today, we believe our peppers are more flavorful than commercial seed varieties.  We’ve been saving our own seed for well over 15 years and our variety is not just carefully selected, but also well adapted to our area.
Orange Italian Frying Pepper
We also really enjoy growing and eating Italian frying peppers.  Italian frying peppers are long, slender peppers that, despite their name, may be eaten either raw or cooked.  We have both red and orange varieties and both have pretty good pepper flavor and sweetness.  One of our other unique sweet pepper varieties is the Ukraine pepper.  This is another pepper that we save our own seed.  It’s actually not available commercially and we got the seed from a woman who brought it from Ukraine.  We like this pepper because it’s a heavy producer, often with as many as twelve peppers per plant. This pepper resembles a bell pepper, but they are smaller and have a pointy bottom instead of a blocky bottom.  They also ripen to more of an orange red color instead of bright red.  They have a thick wall which makes them a good candidate for roasting.  They’re also a good pepper to use for stuffed peppers.
Roasting Sweet Peppers on Stovetop
While sweet peppers are delicious eaten raw, they can also be sautéed and roasted.  You can roast peppers, whole, over an open flame such as on a grill or just on your stovetop if you have gas burners.  Otherwise, peppers may be roasted under a broiler in the oven.  When roasting peppers, you want to blacken nearly the entire exterior of the pepper.  Once blackened, put them in a bowl and cover them so they steam for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and once they are cool enough to handle you can peel away the black skin.  Once you have roasted the pepper, it’s ready to use however you’d like.  Slices of roasted red pepper are a nice addition to sandwiches, grain or lentil salads, or use them to build an antipasto platter.  You can also use roasted sweet peppers to make a delicious cream sauce, dressing or soup.
Peppers are high in vitamins A & C as well as a whole host of other phytonutrients, so munching on a sweet pepper also has nutritive benefits.  I mentioned above how easy it is to preserve sweet peppers so you can enjoy them throughout the year.  Watch your email for our produce plus offerings coming as early as next week.  You’ll have the opportunity to purchase larger quantities of peppers if you’d like to preserve more than you receive in your box each week.  Enjoy!

Red Pepper, Lentil and Tomato Salad

Yield:  4-6 servings as a side dish or 2-3 servings as a main course
1 cup brown or green lentils
5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste (approximately 2 Tbsp)
 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet peppers, ¼ inch pieces 
1 cup quartered small tomatoes (red or yellow grape, etc)
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 ½ Tbsp basil leaves, roughly torn, plus more to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ½ oz feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  1. Cook the lentils in a saucepan of simmering water until they are soft but still have some bite.  Depending on the freshness of the lentils, this will take 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the vinegar into a small bowl and add the red onion.  Stir well, then leave the onion to soak (this removes some of its pungency).
  3. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them, rinse with warm water and place in a serving bowl.  Immediately squeeze the lemon juice and 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the lentils and stir well.  Leave to cool completely.
  4. Stir in the red onion (drain and reserve the vinegar for the dressing), sweet pepper, tomatoes, lemon zest, garlic and basil.
  5. Dress the salad by combining 2 Tbsp of the reserved vinegar, the remaining 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  Pour over the lentils, mix well, then taste and adjust the seasoning.  You may want to add a bit more of the vinegar, lemon juice or salt to balance out the flavors.
  6. Just before serving, strew with a few more basil leaves and the feta, if you are using it.
Recipe borrowed from Yasmin Khan’s beautiful book, Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen.

The Journey of Sweet Corn: From Seed to Table

28 Aug 2019 21:57

By Gwen Anderson

Sweet corn, the iconic summer vegetable.  You can hardly drive a mile in the countryside without running into fields’ worth of corn of some kind (and probably not the tasty sweet corn type).  But you know right away what it is, with its tall stalks, long green leaves, and silky ears. Even in the city, farmers park their trucks, beds piled high with the golden goodness, off the shoulder of the highways and in busy parking lots to sell their crop to passersby (but the back of the truck is a hot place for corn, and allows the sugars to quickly convert to starch).  Everyone loves sweet corn, which is exactly why we grow it. Richard has a saying: “Some crops you grow for profit. Some you grow to make friends. We grow corn to make friends.” How do we make friends with sweet corn? By prudently selecting the right varieties, careful planning, vigilantly combating pests, and having an expert harvest crew.  If everything is done right, we will have the best sweet corn ever.

The process starts with selecting the best corn seed.  Like with all lifeforms, genetics plays a vital role in the characteristics that show up in corn.  All types of corn, whether field corn, decorative corn, popcorn, or sweet corn, are the same species: Zea mays.  The genes needed to make corn sweet instead of starchy are recessive genes.  The starchy gene is the dominant gene. Genes come in pairs, one from each “parent.”  If the genes passed down from the “parents” are the same, that is the characteristic that is displayed in the “child.”  However, if the genes in the pair don’t match, it is the dominant gene’s characteristic that is displayed. Take humans for example:  Brown eyes are a dominant trait, blue is recessive. If both parents have blue eyes, they will have children with blue eyes. If one parent has blue eyes and the other has brown eyes, the children could have either brown or blue eyes.  If both parents have brown eyes, the children could still have brown or blue eyes. It really just depends on what kind of genes the parents are carrying.

There are three recessive “sweet genes” in corn: sugary (su), sugary enhanced (se), and supersweet or shrunken-2 (sh2).  Su is the oldest of the sweet corn varieties to have been cultivated. It has around 9% sugar content which quickly converts to starch once it is harvested.  The short shelf life of this sweet corn is traded off for good corn flavor, mild sweetness, and a creamy texture. Se corn has between 16-18% sugar content and has a slower sugar to starch conversion rate than su corn, which means that sweet flavor is more stable.  The kernels on se corn are also extremely tender; so tender they are easily damaged. Sh2 corn has about 35% sugar and has a super slow rate of converting sugar to starch. The kernels are also thick, so it stores well. However, those thick kernels also make for a crunchy eating experience.  But remember how genes come in pairs? It turns out genetics isn’t exactly as cut and dry as recessive and dominant genes, and by mixing the recessive traits we can make new kinds of corn: Synergistic (su and sh2 mix) and Augmented (sh2 and se). Synergistic corn blends the sweetness of sh2 corn with the creamy texture and tenderness of su corn while giving it a long enough shelf life to do some traveling.  Augmented corn does basically the same thing, just with the se corn instead of the su corn.  All these hybrids were created by naturally crossbreeding the corn.  We do not use any GMO altered seeds of any kind, nor do we use seeds that have “seed treatments” that contain various poisons such as neonicotinoids.
With this lesson of genetics under our belts, we pick up a seed catalogue.  Farmer Richard has done plenty of trial and error, and has also learned to trust the advice of our experienced seed rep, Phil Timm.  We buy all of our corn seed from the same company because of the relationship we have built with Phil.  With his help, we try new corn varieties and also have been able to find our favorites: Nirvana, Sweetness, Kickoff, and Awesome.

Sweet corn in early July this year
During the winter, we plan which crops we are going to plant and where.  This helps us decide how much seed we are going to purchase. With the plans made and the seeds purchased, it is a waiting game for the right time to plant.  We normally plant corn, weather permitting, around May 1st.  For the first planting of sweet corn, it is essential to pick a variety that has “cold soil vigor.”  We also wait for the perfect time to plant it: a day with nice, bright sun that will be shining for the next 24 hours.  Depending on the soil temperature, we are able to play around a little with how deep we plant the seeds.  For example, we would plant the seeds more shallow if the soil was still too cool in order for the sun to warm the seeds better and encourage them to germinate. However, this can be risky because birds love corn seeds.  Last year, the red-winged blackbirds found our first shallow planted corn in the field, dug it up and ate a good portion of the crop before it could germinate!

Sweet corn field during harvest time
Another thing we need to keep in mind when we are planting our sweet corn is what kind of sweet corn we are planting.  Because of sweet corn’s complicated genetics, it is important to keep sweet corn isolated from other types of corn; this is even true for different types of sweet corn!  Corn is wind pollinated, so we need to be cognizant of preventing cross-pollination.  It is recommended to keep at least a 250 foot distance between corn varieties that will be tasseling up at the same time to avoid cross-pollination between the varieties. Another option is to time the plantings to ensure at least 14 days between the estimated tassel dates to keep corn from cross-pollinating.  If we follow these guidelines, we are able to keep the true genetics of the variety of corn we plant which is then displayed in the characteristics of the corn we pick.  When Richard took me out to one of our corn fields last week, it was situated in a beautiful field next to our winter squash crop, surrounded by wildlife habitat, forest, and rolling hills. It was picturesque, to be sure, but it was also very far away from any other potential corn fields.
I mentioned the importance of knowing when the corn is going to be “tasseling up,” or getting ready to be pollinated to create the kernels.  The pollen of corn is in the tassels.  Corn takes 65 to 90 days to mature, and that range is broken into 3 different sub-seasons: early varieties (less than 70 days to mature), mid-season varieties (70-84 days to mature), and late varieties (more than 84 days to mature).  If we were going to be planting different types of corn together, we would want to make sure that they were in different sub-seasons. By planting corn from different sub-seasons, we can continue to deliver corn as long as possible throughout corn’s growing season, while also avoiding the potential for cross pollination between the varieties.

Richard explaining how the fake owls work
Earlier I had mentioned how the red-winged blackbirds had found our first crop of corn last year.  Birds are only one of the pests we have to combat when growing sweet corn. We have a couple different tactics we use to try to deter birds, but like all deterrents, they need to be in place before the animals figure out there is tasty corn to be had.  We hang “scare eye” balloons with long silver streamers on poles out in the field. These “scare eyes” work on the same principle that protects moths that camouflage themselves with large eye-like patterns on their wings: big eyes mean big predators. The silver streamers reflect light and move in the wind, also scaring the birds away.  We also have fake owls and hawks posted on the fence lines. These fake birds of prey are solar powered and have moving heads, keeping an ever-vigilant eye on the fields for us and keeping pesky corn eating birds at bay. The fence these sentinels sit on is plastic mesh tied to poles we place in the field that are 6 feet high.  This fence is a deterrent to deer, but again, only if they don’t know what is on the other side of it. Corn is a much tastier treat then grass and leaves, and sweet corn is so much better still than the field corn that is growing elsewhere.  The fence also doesn’t do much to keep raccoons out. So, in addition to the fence, we have an electrical ribbon running through the mesh near the bottom of it to surprise and deter any raccoons who try to pass through the fence.

Richard checking the pheromone trap for earworm moths
Now that we have the critters dealt with, there is one last pest we need to protect our corn from: Earworms.  Earworms are moth larvae that hatch from eggs that are laid on the silks of corn ears. When they hatch, they spend a few days on the silks before they eat their way down into the ear of corn.  To combat the earworms, we use an organic approved Bt spray, a naturally occurring bacteria that is toxic to the earworms. We have pheromone traps set up in the cornfields that attract the moths when they are ready to start laying eggs.  When we have moths in the traps, we know it is time to spray the corn. With the right timing, the newly hatched earworms eat the Bt we’ve applied to the corn silk and die before they can damage the sweet kernels inside.  Again, timing is everything and we only want to spray when necessary.

Richard harvesting sweet corn
With the pests dealt with and the corn crop mature, the next step is harvest.  At one time, we had a mechanical corn harvester. We would run it through the field, harvest all the corn at once, and then need to sort through the corn when we brought it back to the packing shed.  This lead to a lot of corn that would never be ripe and good, thus it was wasted. We decided we were going to go back to hand harvesting the corn. This allows us to pick only the best ears of corn at the right moment, leaving the unripe ears to grow up and become the best that they can be as well.  Every person on our corn harvest team was trained by Farmer Richard on how to look and feel for the best corn in the field. Ripe corn will have nice “shoulders” at the top of the ear, whereas an unripe ear will be pointy. If the corn looks like it has shoulders, the next step it to feel the tip, by where the silk is.  If the tip is soft, it is ready to be picked. If it is still a little stiff, it needs a few more days to let the kernels inside grow up and fill the rest of the ear. If the ear is ready to be picked, you grab the ear and twist it down, making sure you snap off as much of the stalk and leave it behind as you can. If you have too much stalk left on the ear, you’ll have to go back later and break it off before you pack it for shipping.  Once the ear is picked, you place it in your bag and move onto the next one. And all of this happens in a split second!

Sweet corn being iced before being stored in the cooler
When your bag is full, you bring it to the wagon and get ice on it right away.  This is a crucial step because icing the corn and keeping it cold slows down the sugar to starch conversion, and lets you enjoy the corn for a longer time!  When harvest is done for the day, the wagon brings the corn home where we ice it again before putting it in the cooler so it can be completely cooled.  At this point, we have done everything we can to ensure that we have grown the best corn ever. It is now your job to make sure you keep your corn cold before you are ready to use it.  Always store sweet corn in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days of receiving it.
Did we achieve “the best corn ever” this year?  We hope you have enjoyed this article about the iconic summer vegetable and have learned a thing or two about how we bring it to your table.  With all the hard work we put into it, we sure hope we managed to make a few friends along the way by giving you a few sweet ears of our golden goodness this year!

August 22, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Poblano Peppers!

21 Aug 2019 21:33

Cooking With This Week's Box

Yellow Spanish Onions: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below); Fresh Corn Salsa; Cucumber Honeydew Salad with Feta; Grilled Chicken with Honeydew Salsa; Zucchini Panzanella Salad

Italian Garlic: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below)
Poblano Peppers: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below)
Sweet Peppers: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Fresh Corn Salsa; Zucchini Panzanella Salad; Thai Quinoa Bowl
Variety of Large Tomatoes: Tomato Jam; My Best Tomato Sandwich
French Orange Melon: Prosciutto Melon Salad
Red or Rainbow Chard: Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below)
Sweet Corn: The Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Fresh Corn Salsa; Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes and Corn
I don’t know what it is about poblano peppers, but I look forward to them every summer and can’t get enough of them!  So, I’m excited to share them with you as this week’s featured vegetable and I have two tasty recipes as well!  The first recipe is one I developed by accident one night when I really didn’t have a plan for dinner.  While these accidents don’t always turn out, this one was actually a keeper.  So I introduce to you, Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn (see below)!  This is kind of a cross between a frittata, quiche and some kind of burger based casserole.  It has just the right amount of creamy cheesiness without being overpowering and the sweetness of the corn goes well with the background flavor of the roasted poblano peppers.  This got the Farmer Richard and Captain Jack seal of approval!  It also reheats very well.  I actually baked it off, cooled it and then sliced it into portions the next day then reheated it in the toaster oven for lunch.
The second recipe is for Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below).  This recipe caught my eye because it’s simple, but got good reviews for having a lot of flavor with a short list of ingredients.  I also liked it because it includes greens, specifically chard which is in this week’s box!  Serve this dish with warm corn tortillas, rice, or just eat it on its own.
Fresh Corn Salsa
Photo from the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
We’re also excited to include sweet corn in this week’s box!  Farmer Richard knows how to grow delicious sweet corn and I think you’ll be pleased with this!  Eat it off the cob, or cut it off the cob and use it in recipes such as this Fresh Corn Salsa made with sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes.  This is delicious to just scoop up with chips, or spoon it over a grilled pork chop or baked fish.
Summer isn’t summer without sweet corn and….MELONS!  While we’re on the topic of salsa, I’ll share this recipe for Grilled Chicken with Honeydew Salsa.  I don’t often think of eating melon in savory preparations, but if you get Honeydew Melon in your box this week, it’s a good option for using in something savory like this salsa or Cucumber Honeydew Salad with Feta.  If you get the Sweet Sarah Cantaloupe in your box this week, consider using it to make Cantaloupe Lime Popsicles or Jerk Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Melon Salsa.  As for the French Orange Melon, these are delicious eaten just as they are.  If you want to try something different, may I suggest this Prosciutto Melon Salad?  The salty prosciutto is such a nice accompaniment to the flavorful, decadent melon and a little drizzle of high quality balsamic vinegar helps finish it off.
Despite the fact that we’ve been picking zucchini for weeks now, we still haven’t run out of things to make with it!  Last weekend I tried this recipe for Blueberry Lemon Zucchini Muffins which turned out great!  This recipe for Zucchini Cornmeal Pancakes is a recommendation shared by a member in our Facebook Group.  These are a more savory pancake that I think would be good served with just a pat of butter or top them off with Tomato Jam.
Zucchini Panzenella Salad
photo from tasteofhome.com
On the topic of tomatoes, I came across this collection of 47 Recipes You Can Make With a Pint of Cherry Tomatoes.  Of course cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, sunorange tomatoes, etc can be used interchangeably in recipes.  There are some good suggestions in this collection including Zucchini Panzanella Salad and Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes and Corn.  Before we finish our conversation about tomatoes, we need to talk sandwiches. Richard has started his BLT marathon, although he’s only had two sandwiches this week (…. the week isn’t over yet).  But you don’t have to go to the trouble of frying bacon to enjoy a good sandwich.  Consider Merrill Stubbs recipe for My Best Tomato Sandwich.  The key to this simple sandwich is a)  good bread and b) good mayonnaise spread generously.  This is the simplicity of summer!
This week we’re sending another pound of edamame, fresh soybeans.  This was our featured vegetable last week.  If you didn’t have a chance to try last week’s recipes, I’d encourage you to check them out.  I really enjoyed the Thai Quinoa Bowl.  It was filling, packed in a lot of vegetables, and the tofu was excellent!  In fact, Richard (who is not a fan of tofu) actually said “This is really good!  It’s the best tofu I’ve ever had!"  It’s also easy to prep all the components in advance which means you can assemble a quick lunch or dinner in less than five minutes!  The other recipe we featured last week was for Sushi Salad with Brown Rice, Edamame, Nori and Miso Dressing, another great salad to have in your back pocket for a quick meal option.
That wraps up another week of summer cooking.  I’ll end with a little teaser….watermelons coming next week!  Have a great week—Chef Andrea 

Cooking With This Week's Box

By Andrea Yoder
Poblano peppers have come to be one of my favorite peppers over the past few years.  Why?  Flavor.  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 takes the flavor of a poblano and brings it to its full potential.  Poblanos do have some heat which is on the mild side, but in some years moves up to a medium heat level.
Because of their size and shape, poblano peppers are excellent for stuffing with meat, grain and cheese mixtures.  Chiles Rellenos is a classic dish based on roasted poblano peppers that are filled with cheese, coated in a batter, and fried.  We have a few recipes in our archives that have become some of my favorite summer recipes to make when poblano peppers are available.  These include Roasted Poblano, Onion & Jack Quesadilla; Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip; Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce.
Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip
While poblano peppers may be used raw, I mentioned their flavor is enhanced with cooking and more specifically, by roasting.  Roasting peppers is very easy and can be done over a direct, open flame or in the oven.  If you have a gas stovetop, you can 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.  If you don’t have a broiler, you can roast them in a very hot oven, they likely won’t blacken as much.  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 and Corn

2-3 poblano peppers
1-2 sweet peppers
1 pound ground beef
2-3 tsp vegetable oil (if needed)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
4 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp butter
4 eggs
⅓ cup half & half or cream
4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Yield: 4-6 servings
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Roast the poblano peppers and sweet peppers either under the broiler in the oven or over direct flame if you have gas burners.  Once the exterior of the peppers is blackened, place them in a bowl and cover it so they can steam for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove the cover and scrape the blackened skin off the pepper.  Cut in half and remove the seeds and stem.  Dice the peppers and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 10 inch non-stick or cast iron skillet that is oven proof over medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef and brown until nearly cooked through, adding vegetable oil if needed.
  3. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and 1 tsp salt.  Stir to combine and sautè for 3-5 minutes.  Add the corn kernels and roasted peppers.  Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low.
  4. Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces and add to the pan.  As the cream cheese softens, stir to incorporate it into the ground beef mixture.  Taste a little bite to see if it is adequately seasoned.  If not, add salt and black pepper to your liking.
  5. Cut 2 Tbsp of butter into thin pieces and put them around the edge of the pan so the butter melts and runs down the side of the pan to the bottom.  Whisk 4 eggs in a bowl along with ½ tsp salt and the half & half or cream.  Once the butter has melted in the pan, add the egg mixture.  Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and the top is bubbly and golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate any leftovers, which reheat well in just 10-15 minutes in an oven or toaster oven at 350°F.
Recipe developed by Chef Andrea Yoder at Harmony Valley Farm.  Approved and endorsed by Farmer Richard and Captain Jack, The Dog.

Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion

Yield:  4 servings
2 fresh poblano peppers
3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 medium boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (about 1 ¼ pounds total)
Salt, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/4 inch 
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups stemmed and coarsely chopped Swiss chard
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or sour cream
  1. Char the poblanos over an open flame on the stovetop or 4 inches underneath the broiler, flipping occasionally until blackened all over (about 5 minutes for the burner, 10 minutes for the broiler).  Transfer to a bag or covered bowl and let steam until cool.  Peel off the blackened skin, and then remove the stems and seeds.  Cut the poblanos into ¼ inch thick slices.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt on both sides.  Pour the oil into a large cast-iron skillet set over medium-high heat.  When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken breasts.  Cook until browned on the bottom, about four minutes, and then flip.  Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until browned on the other side, five to six minutes.  Set aside on a plate.  (Note:  The chicken might not be completely cooked inside, but you are going to cook it more).
  3. With the skillet still over medium heat, add the sliced onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, but not browning, about nine minutes.  Add the garlic and sliced poblanos.  Stir well, and continue to cook until very fragrant, about 8-10 more minutes.  
  4. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the greens and broth.  Stir occasionally, and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated and the greens are wilted, about five minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, stir in the crema, and cook until it has reduced down to a rich sauce, about five minutes.  Continue to stir occasionally.
  5. Cut the chicken breasts into ½-inch cubes, and add them in.  Stir well, and cook until all the chicken is completely done, one to two minutes.  Season the mixture with salt to taste.  Serve with warm corn tortillas, rice, or just eat it straight from the bowl!
Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless’ book, Fiesta at Rick’s.

Checking in on your Herb Garden!

14 Aug 2019 20:16

By Chef/Farmer Andrea

It’s been almost three months since we delivered herb packs, so I wanted to check in and see how your gardens are doing!  Whether you planted your herbs in pots or in a garden space, I hope you have had success with your plants this year and are flooded with herbs!  This week I want to offer some suggestions for how to use herbs in larger volume in your summer cooking, with hopes of making the most out of your herb gardening efforts.  I will also offer some suggestions for ways you can preserve your herbs so you can continue to enjoy them and reap their benefits throughout the winter.
Most of the time we use herbs in smaller quantities as a flavoring. Perhaps we top off a bowl of soup or a salad with some chopped parsley or add a tablespoon or two of oregano to our tomato sauce.  When your plants are really growing in the peak of their season, a tablespoon or sprig here and there just doesn’t cut it!  While we do often use herbs as a flavor enhancer, we can also use them in volume and treat them more like a vegetable.  Consider salads such as Tabbouleh.  Tabbouleh is a Lebanese salad that is based on parsley and mint with lesser amounts of bulgur, tomatoes, lemon, etc.  Instead of using tablespoons of parsley, you use cups of parsley!  So if your parsley is going crazy right now, make a bowl of this fresh salad!  I also like to make simple vegetable salads throughout the summer and fall that are heavy on herbs, such as a Carrot Parsley Salad that is nothing more than shredded carrots, lots of chopped fresh parsley and a light lemon vinaigrette.
There are other ways to use larger quantities of herbs.  Pesto is something most people are familiar with.  If your basil plant has become a bush, it’s time to trim it back and make a big batch of basil pesto.  You’d be surprised at how much basil you can use in a single batch!  If you have the potential to make more pesto than you can consume right now, reach for your full potential and make extra.  You can easily freeze it in small jars or ice cube trays so you have it available to use throughout the winter.  Pull some out and add it to pasta sauce, soup, spread it on pizza crust and bread or make a quick pasta dish with it.

Chimichurri is an Argentinian herb sauce-type preparation that is based on parsley and oregano.  It’s a delicious accompaniment to grilled meat, but I also like to toss roasted potatoes and root vegetables with it just before serving them.
Of course you can use your fresh herbs to make flavorful vinaigrettes, add them to egg dishes such as frittatas, quiche and egg casseroles, use them in marinades or to season roasted meats, and don’t forget adding them to green smoothies!  But even with an intentional effort to incorporate more herbs into your meals, it can be hard to keep up with your garden.  So lets transition our thinking to preservation.  The most obvious way to preserve herbs is by drying them.  Some herbs retain their flavor better when dried than others.  Parsley, thyme, sage, savory and oregano are good candidates for drying.  When you’re ready, go ahead and harvest a large quantity.  I dry them on the stem, but you could pull the leaves off the stem before you dry them.  You can lay them out in a single layer either on dehydrator sheets if you’re using a low heat dehydrator or on cookie sheets if you are using a low heat oven.  I also sometimes make little bundles of herbs and tie off the stem end with a rubber band to hold the bunch together.  Then I hang the bunches on hooks in my kitchen to let them air dry. If you do this, make sure they are in a good location with adequate airflow and out of direct sunlight.  Once your herbs are dry, strip the leaves off the stems, crush the leaves into smaller pieces if you wish, and put them in a jar or sealed bag to retain their flavor as you use them throughout the winter.  Basil can be dried as well, although personally I don’t care for dried basil and prefer to preserve it in the form of pesto to retain more of that fresh basil flavor.  I don’t have any experience drying chervil, so I can’t offer any expertise on the outcome.  If you’ve had success with drying chervil, please let me know!

Herb Salt, photo from howsweeteats.com
I do know chervil would be a good herb to preserve in the form of herbed butter!  Herbed Butter is also called Compound Butter.  You can make it with any mix of herbs you have in your garden.  It’s great to have in the refrigerator to use when making scrambled eggs, melt it over steamed vegetables, use it in sauces for pasta, melt a pat on top of grilled steak or fish, or just simply spread it on warm bread! You can use it fresh, but it can also be frozen.  It really is fun to find some frozen herb butter in the freezer in the middle of winter!  I’ve included a recipe with this article to guide you in the proportions.  You can also make Herb Salt.  You can make individual herb salts or blend some of the herbs you have available to make your own custom blends.  These also make great Christmas gifts!
Herb oils and herb vinegars are also ways to preserve herbs.  Mountain Rose Herbs has some great information on their blog about how to make Herbal Vinegar.  They also have a lot of great information about making Herb Infused Culinary Oils as well as Bath Salts and more!

Herb Infused Honey
While we often think of herbs mostly in the context of culinary use, the herbs in our herb packs also have medicinal properties.  Two years ago Jean Schneider wrote a great article for us about Fall Herb Preservation & Ways to Use Culinary Herbs Medicinally.  Jean is a longtime HVF supporter and is a herbalist at Nativa Medica.  In her article she offered suggestions for how to make Sage Infused Honey as well as how to use Sage and Thyme as teas to keep us healthy through the winter.  The Latin name for garden sage actually means “healing plant.”  While it’s a tasty culinary herb, it can also help ward off colds and soothe sore throats as it has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.  Thyme is also beneficial for supporting respiratory health and enhancing immunity.  These are just a few examples of how your culinary herb garden can also be your medicinal herb garden.
Some of the herbs in your herb pack are perennials, meaning they are more winter hardy and can survive the winter.  Sage, thyme, oregano and savory are perennials.  Basil, chervil and parsley are annuals and most likely will not survive the winter.  To increase the chances of winter survival, we recommend putting some mulch around the base of your perennial herb plants.  You can use straw or even just dried leaves.  Don’t totally cover the plant, just tuck some mulch around the base to buffer the base from the cold and cover the bare ground.
I hope I’ve given you a few ideas for ways to maximize your herbs as we enjoy the last few weeks of summer and prepare for fall and winter.  It’s hard to imagine that those spindly little plants we delivered back in May can produce enough product for us to enjoy both now and throughout the winter!  Have fun using and preserving your herbs and as always, we invite you to send us pictures and emails about what you’re doing.  Our Facebook Group is another great place to share your projects and pictures!

Herb Butter

Yield: ¾ cup
Stir together in a small bowl, mixing well:
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup chopped herbs (such as parsley, chervil, etc)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • A pinch of cayenne
Taste and adjust the salt and lemon as needed.
  • Chopped shallots and pounded garlic are delicious additions.
  • For a more lemony flavor, add some finely grated lemon zest.
  • For a more pungent butter that is perfect with corn on the cob, flavor with dried chile peppers, soaked, drained, and pounded to a paste.
This recipe comes from The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters.  You can use this butter fresh, but I’d recommend using it within a week of making it.  Herbed butter is also a good way to preserve the fresh flavor of herbs and can be frozen.  Pack it in small jars or roll it into logs.  While the butter is still soft, lay out a sheet of parchment or waxed paper.  Using a knife, spread the butter in the middle of the paper and form it into a log shape.  Lay the paper over the butter and gently roll the butter to form a log.  Twist the ends of the log and then either wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a freezer bag.  Pop it in the freezer and pull it out whenever you’re ready to use it!

August 15, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Edamame!

14 Aug 2019 20:16

Cooking With This Week's Box

Sierra Blanca White or Zoey Yellow Onions: Summer Squash TartPork & Tomatillo StewGreek Cucumber Salad

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Grilled Zucchini HummusVegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce; Pork & Tomatillo Stew

Broccoli: Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Sushi Salad (see below); Greek Cucumber Salad

Edamame: Sushi Salad (see below); Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below)
Orange Carrots: Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Pork & Tomatillo Stew
Green Bell or Orange Ukraine Peppers: Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce
Sunorange, Red Grape or Chocolate Sprinkles Tomatoes: Easy Marinated Cherry (grape) Tomatoes; Greek Cucumber Salad
Green Curly Kale: Sushi Salad (see below); Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Country Ham, Egg & Kale Breakfast Pizza; Eggplant Lasagna
Sun Jewel, French Orange, OR Sweet Sarah Melon:  Just Eat It!
Welcome back to another week of cooking!  I looked at the calendar earlier this week and realized we only have about 6 weeks of summer remaining before we hit the official First Day of Autumn!  We still have a lot of good summer cooking to do before I’m ready to turn the page on another summer, so lets get busy!  This week our featured vegetable is edamame.  Before I came to Harmony Valley Farm, I had never had fresh edamame and didn’t realize how tender, sweet and delicious it can be!  This week I have sourced two recipes that use edamame.  The first recipe comes from alexandracooks.com and is for a Sushi Salad (see below).  Now this salad doesn’t have any raw fish in it, although you could add it if you’d like. Rather, the base of this salad is short grain brown rice or you could use sushi rice.  Both are short grain types of rice that are a little more sticky in nature with tender, chewy kernels.  The dressing for this salad is based on miso and toasted sesame oil.  Vegetables including cucumbers and edamame are piled on top of the rice along with chunks of avocado and some greens, which this week could be chopped kale.  The dressing is drizzled over everything and then the salad is garnished with sesame seeds and nori seaweed.  It’s all the components of a good vegetarian sushi roll, but without having to roll it!  The second recipe is for a Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below) that I found on a new site, blissfulbasil.com.  This is a main dish recipe that is built on a base of quinoa with a whole mess of vegetables piled on top!  You can vary the vegetables depending on the season and what you have available.  This week you can use edamame, broccoli, carrots, kale and peppers from the box.  It also calls for beets, jicama and red cabbage.  If you don’t have those vegetables, just substitute more of the others or use whatever you have!  The protein in this dish is a spicy chile-garlic tofu.  Add that to the bowl and drizzle everything with a nutty ginger dressing, garnish with fresh cilantro and roasted sunflower seeds.  There is a lot going on in this bowl, both in nutrients and in flavors!
Yellow Split Pea & Kale Potato Curry
Photo from blissfulbasil.com
There are so many different ways you can use green curly kale.  If you don’t use it all in one or both of the dishes I just described, consider using it to make this Yellow Split Pea & Kale Potato Curry.   This is another recipe from blissfulbasil.com.  I’m really glad I stumbled across this blog and I think it’s one I’ll be referencing more in the future because it’s full of really tasty vegetarian recipes.  This dish features kale and potatoes as well as tomatoes, ginger, curry powder and turmeric.  It’s a hearty vegetarian meal served with rice.  The other recipe I’ve included this week for kale is for a Country Ham, Egg & Kale Breakfast Pizza.  I told you there are a lot of things you can make with kale!  Why not have it for breakfast!
Last week we featured eggplant and over the past week I’ve come across more eggplant recipes that look really tasty!   Two of them made the cut for this week’s recommendations.  The first is for Burnt Eggplant with Zaatar Flatbread You don’t really burn the eggplant for this recipe, rather you roast it until the skin gets nice and roasty, toasty dark and the whole thing kind of collapses as the flesh gets soft and silky.  You scoop the flesh out and combine it with a few ingredients to make a very rustic kind of dip or mixture you can eat scooped up with freshly made flatbread seasoned with zaatar, a middle eastern seasoning.  The second recipe is for Eggplant Lasagna This recipe resembles a traditional lasagna, but instead of using pasta to create layers, you use thin slices of eggplant!  There is no meat in this recipe, although you could add it if you’d like.  It does call for spinach, but you could use kale instead.
Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce
We just started picking tomatillos from our second crop this week, while we’re still picking from the first as well!  They are nice and big right now and look gorgeous!  Tomatillos are a fun vegetable/fruit to cook with.  Of course you could make a traditional salsa verde, but if you’re interested in kicking it up a bit, I highly recommend this recipe for Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce.  This is a great summer recipe that features a lot of different vegetables and it’s memorably delicious!  I tested and published this recipe last summer and all winter I wished I had made an extra pan of these to put into the freezer!  The tomatillo cream sauce is a breeze to make and you need little more than some fresh pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes to complete this dish.  Leftovers are also excellent.  My other longtime favorite recipe using tomatillos is this Pork & Tomatillo Stew.  I made this stew back when I was cooking for the crew.  I like to make this when tomatillos are fresh, but you can also make it in the winter with frozen tomatillos.  Just remove the husk, wash & dry the tomatillos, then put them in a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  Pull them out in the middle of the winter and make this hearty, delicious stew!
Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserold
Photo from gimmesomeoven.com
We’ve had a nice long run on broccoli this summer, but it’s soon to come to a close and then we’ll have a few weeks of a gap before the fall broccoli starts coming in.  Ali, from gimmesomeoven.com featured this recipe for Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole on her blog this past week.  It’s totally homemade—no canned cream of mushroom soup, but rather a creamy mushroom cheese sauce mixed with pasta, fresh broccoli and cooked chicken.  This is a recipe that could be assembled in advance (like on the weekend), then pull it out and bake it off the day you want to eat it.  Serve it with a little tomato or cucumber salad on the side and you’re set.
Zucchini isn’t going to be around forever, but the plants keep producing so we keep picking!  A member sent us this recipe for Grilled Zucchini Hummus.  This is made in the style of hummus, but without chickpeas!  The flavor comes from grilling the zucchini which is then blended with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and smoked paprika.  The other zucchini recipe I’d like to recommend this week is for Summer Squash Tart.  Summer squash and zucchini can be used interchangeably.  The base of this tart is puff pastry, so don’t even have to make the crust, just buy it.  Make a creamy base with ricotta, egg and parsley, layer on the zucchini and bake it.  Top it off with feta and you have a beautiful tart to serve for lunch or dinner!
Summer isn’t summer until you’ve made some version of a Greek Cucumber Salad.  Now that we have fresh tomatoes, it’s time to make this salad.  This recipe includes black olives, which I like but you could omit if you don’t care for them.  Serve this as a side dish alongside that Summer Squash Tart or with a grilled steak or roasted chicken.
If you don’t use the small tomatoes in the pint container as part of the Greek Cucumber Salad, consider using them to make Easy Marinated Cherry (grape) Tomatoes.  You can scale this recipe to whatever quantity of tomatoes you have available.  The tomatoes are mixed with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil and some white wine vinegar.  Put these in the fridge and use them throughout the week as a little side condiment/salad to eat alongside eggs for breakfast, grilled meat, on top of pasta dishes, etc.  It’s just nice to have something fresh and tangy that’s already made to add to your meals.
I think we’ve used up pretty much everything in the box, except for the little melon hanging out in the corner.  I don’t have a recipe suggestion for this item this week because I think you should just eat it!  Cut it, scoop out the seeds and enjoy it!  They are sweet and delicious and don’t require anything more than a knife and a spoon.
As we close out this week’s Cooking With the Boxdiscussion, I want to share a link with you to WDRT.  This is our local public radio station.  Last week I was invited to the studio to talk with Philothea Bezin, the host of their Saturday food show, Who’s In the Kitchen.  We had a fun conversation about seasonal cooking with an emphasis on summer cooking!  If you’d like to listen to our banter, you can access the show on their website through the end of this week.
Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Edamame

By Andrea Yoder

Edamame (eh-dah-MAH-may) is a fresh soybean that has grown in popularity in the United States over the past few years, but has been a part of Japanese and Chinese cuisine for much longer.  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.  The edamame varieties we grow were developed specifically because they produce a sweet bean that doesn’t have a “beany” aftertaste and is the preferred variety in Japan and China for fresh eating.  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.
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 remove 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
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. 

Sushi Salad with Brown Rice, Edamame, Nori and Miso Dressing

Author’s Note:  “The beauty of this salad is that you can prep everything ahead of time with the exception of cutting the avocado. You may want to double the dressing. I’ve been doing this, and it has been so nice to have on hand, especially when you have leftover rice, edamame, lettuce, etc. on hand — makes for such a satisfying and fast lunch. On subsequent days, you may need to thin the dressing with more water.”

3 cups cooked short grain brown rice, cooled
1–2 cups shelled edamame
4 small cucumbers, thinly sliced into rounds
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
A few handfuls baby spinach, kale, chard or other tender greens
Olive oil, to taste (optional)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
4 toasted nori seaweed sheets, cut into thin slices
Sea salt, to taste 
3 Tbsp miso paste 
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame seeds
1–2 Tbsp water or more as needed
  1. First, make the dressing. Whisk together the miso paste, sesame oil, mirin, sugar, and 1 to 2 Tbsp water until smooth. Add more water by the tablespoon until the dressing is the consistency of cream — it should be pourable. Stir in the sesame seeds. Taste. Add a sprinkling of sea salt if necessary.
  2. Assemble the salad. You can assemble this salad in various ways. You can set out all of the components in bowls and let people assemble their own bowl. But you can also combine everything in one large bowl. Here’s how: In a large bowl, combine the rice, edamame, cucumber, avocado, and baby spinach. Toss together gently. To serve, transfer salad to bowls or plates, drizzle over the dressing, a little olive oil (if you wish), and a sprinkling of sea salt. Top with the nori strips and sesame seeds.
Recipe adapted from Hetty McKinnon’s Family on alexandracooks.com.

Thai Quinoa Bowl

Yield: 3-4 servings

Quinoa Bowl:

1 cup uncooked red quinoa

1 ¾ cups filtered water

1 small head broccoli, washed and cut into small florets

1 recipe spicy chili-garlic tofu (optional—see below)
1 cup shelled edamame
1 small head romaine or green leaf lettuce, washed, trimmed, and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and then shaved into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
1 small beet, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small jicama root, peeled and cubed (optional)
½ cup shredded red cabbage
Handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Handful roasted cashews or sunflower seeds
Spicy Chile-Garlic Tofu:
1 (14 ounce) block firm tofu, drained
3 Tbsp chile-garlic sauce
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Nutty Ginger Dressing:
¼ cup creamy peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, or sunflower butter
2 ½ Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce or to taste
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger root
For the Quinoa Bowl:
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, return to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, uncovered, or until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Steam the broccoli in a steamer or steamer basket for 4 to 8 minutes, or until firm-tender. Strain off any excess water. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tofu, if using.
  4. Chop and prepare the remaining bowl ingredients. (Note, you may vary the vegetable components to your liking as available seasonally)

For the Spicy Chile-Garlic Tofu:
  1. Wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, and place it on a dinner plate. Set a very heavy pot or pan (e.g., cast iron skillet) on top of the wrapped tofu and let stand for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) to press the excess water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium spouted mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the chile-garlic sauce, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar. Whisk together until combined and set within reach of the stove.
  3. Carefully unwrap the tofu. Slice it widthwise into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Then, lay each piece flat and slice in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding four small rectangles from each.
  4. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat until hot. The heat will sear the surface of the tofu and prevent it from sticking, which is why it's important that the pan is thoroughly heated.
  5. Once the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you'll need to do this in two batches). Use the back of a spatula to lightly press down on the tofu (you should hear it sizzle and steam). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pan-facing sides are golden-brown. Flip, and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden-brown.**
  6. Reduce the heat to low, return all the tofu to the pan, and add the sauce. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and begins to cling to the tofu, stirring frequently
  7. Transfer the tofu and sauce to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to rest and marinate until ready to serve. Serve on its own or alongside steamed vegetables and/or brown rice.
  8. Refrigerate leftovers.

For the Dressing:
  1. Add the peanut butter, tamari, sesame oil, lime juice, maple syrup, and ginger to a medium bowl. Whisk together for 30-45 seconds. Please keep in mind that the dressing should be on the salty side—since we're not seasoning the quinoa or veggies, we need a little kick of sodium here to make all the flavors pop. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To Assemble:
  1. Divide the quinoa between bowls. Top with the romaine, broccoli, tofu (if using), carrot, pepper, beet, jicama, cabbage, cilantro, and cashews. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Ashley Melillo at blissfulbasil.com

August 8, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Eggplant!

7 Aug 2019 21:24

Cooking With This Week's Box

Sierra Blanca Onions: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below); Amish Potato SaladCrock Pot Chicken Philly CheesesteakSloppy JoesZucchini & Onion Gratin

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini & Onion Gratin; Zucchini Banana Bread

Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce (see below); Cucumber and Lime Juice
Italian Garlic: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below); Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce (see below); Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro; Crock Pot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak; Spaghetti with Collard Greens & Lemon
Tomatoes: Tomato Confit
Eggplant: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below)
Cilantro: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below); Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro; Broccoli Slaw with Miso Ginger Dressing
Welcome to this week’s Cooking With the Box article.  This week we’re focusing on eggplant as our featured vegetable of the week and I have three recipes to share with you.  However, this week’s recipes don’t all contain eggplant.  Rather, these three recipes are intended to go together to make a full meal.  Let me explain.  This week’s recipes come from Yasmin Kahn’s beautiful book entitled Zaitoun, a  collection of recipes she gathered from her experiences spending time in the homes and communities of Palestinian people.  Her book is beautiful in so many ways, but especially in the way she is able to honor the identity of a group of people who have been displaced from their land.  Despite their hardships, these people have been able to maintain their cultural identity making their food and culinary heritage an even more precious thing to experience.  So even though we’re on the other side of the world, it’s pretty cool that, through food, we can experience a little taste of this culture in our own kitchens.  I encourage you to try this week’s recipe for Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below) which is meant to be served at room temperature either as a vegetarian main dish or as part of a spread of other dishes (referred to as Mazzeh).  Serve this dish with a simple, cooling Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce (see below) to counter the acidity of the tomatoes.  I’ve also included a recipe for Arabic Bread (see below) because “…soft, chewy flatbreads are used as a utensil at the Palestinian table, where they are put to good use scooping up the vast array of tantalizing small dishes and dips.”  While this bread recipe is very easy to make, it does require a bit of time to allow the dough to rise.  If you’re short on time, you can serve this meal with pita bread instead. 
Zucchini Banana Bread
photo from wellpalted.com
Last week I made this recipe for Zucchini Banana Bread as a snack for our market crew.  I made it into muffins instead of bread, which worked equally as well.  They turned out very good and were a hit with the crew.  They are very moist and flavorful and freeze well, so make a double batch and stash some in the freezer OR shred your extra zucchini and freeze that so you can make this bread during the winter!  The other zucchini recipe I have in the cue for this week is this Zucchini & Onion Gratin.  Vegetable gratins such as this are a classic French technique that is really quite simple to execute.  This dish could serve as a vegetarian main dish or you can serve it as a vegetable side dish along with grilled or roasted meats.  Add a few slices of fresh tomatoes or cucumbers and you just created a tasty, yet simple meal.

While we’re whittling down our pile of zucchini, we might as well conquer cucumbers as well!  In addition to the recipe for Yogurt and Cucumber sauce, this week I want to make this recipe for Cucumber and Lime Juice.  It’s a refreshing way to stay hydrated while making good use of cucumbers!

Amish Potato Salad, photo from mrfood.com
It’s been a long time since I’ve made potato salad, but I think it’s time to make a bowl this week.  Potato Salad was one of my Grandma Yoder’s specialties and while no one will ever be able to match the taste of hers, this recipe for Amish Potato Salad comes pretty close!  The Sierra Blanca onions in this week’s box are a great onion to use in this salad and the waxy gold potatoes are also a good choice since they’ll hold their shape nicely without becoming mushy.  Serve this salad with Sloppy Joes!  This recipe for sloppy joes seasons the meat with fresh onions and bell peppers, which are in this week’s box!  If you aren’t into sloppy joes this week, you could also use the bell peppers and onions to make Crock Pot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak.  The chicken and vegetable part of this sandwich is cooked in the crock pot and is then served on a nice crusty roll.

Last week we featured a recipe for Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro.  If you didn’t have a chance to try this simple soup last week, you have another opportunity to do so this week utilizing the onions, garlic, cilantro and green bell peppers in this week’s box.

Looking for something to do with that bunch of collards in this week’s box?  Check out this collection of 12 Vegetarian Collard Wrap Recipes which includes this recipe for Collard Wraps with Raw Curried Carrot Pate.  The broad, flat leaves of collards make excellent vegetable wrappers that you can use in place of tortillas and the like.  I also like this simple recipe for Spaghetti with Collard Greens & Lemon.  If you need a quick dinner, this is a great recipe to turn to.

Tomatillos are great for making salsa verde, but there are other ways to use them!  This recipe for Roasted Tomatillo & Chickpea Curry is one of my favorite things to make with tomatillos.  It’s an interesting dish that is kind of a fusion of Mexican and Indian cuisine.  I also like this recipe for Fried Tomatillo Frittata which is good served at any meal of the day!

When it comes to fritters, I generally think of potato or zucchini as the vegetable of choice.  I came across this recipe for Carrot Fritters and want to give this a try this week.  While fritters like this are best eaten freshly made, you can also reheat them as leftovers. It’s best to reheat them in an oven or toaster oven to reclaim their crispy exterior and prevent them from being soggy.  This would be a good side dish to serve with a sandwich, or add other vegetable dishes to round out a vegetarian meal.  Another good dish to serve alongside is Pan Fried Potatoes & Green Beans.  This recipe is very simple, but that’s the key to cooking when it comes to fresh green beans and early season potatoes!  If you don’t use your green beans for this recipe, consider trying my friend Amanda’s recipe for Spicy Green Beans with Sesame Walnuts.  There are several things I like about this recipe.  The green beans are first blanched and then blistered in a dry, hot skillet to give them a smoky flavor.  They are finished with some Asian inspired seasonings of tamari and rice vinegar as well as toasty walnuts and sesame seeds.  There’s a lot of flavor happening in this dish!

Buffalo Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Bites
photo from runningtothekitchen.com
More broccoli this week?  YES!  Broccoli is packed with nutrients and when you look at health reasons for why we should eat broccoli, the list is pretty long.  It’s a vegetable you want to eat frequently and there are many ways to enjoy it.  This week I came across this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Bites.  These “bites” are shaped into little balls that are baked, not fried.  They contain all the flavors of buffalo chicken wings, just in a different form!  Of course raw broccoli salads are also a great way to enjoy broccoli throughout the week.  While many broccoli salads have a creamy dressing base, this Broccoli Slaw with Miso Ginger Dressing caught my eye as something different.  This salad has a flavorful Asian style dressing featuring miso, orange zest, ginger, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  It also draws a lot of fresh flavors from cilantro, mint and basil and at the end is topped off with coconut flakes.

The only item we haven’t touched on is tomatoes.  Our tomatoes are coming on a little late this year, but nonetheless there are tomatoes in all boxes!  If you receive the small varieties of tomatoes, I encourage you to just pop them in your mouth and eat them as a snack.  Their flavor is really good right now!  I also like to use these tomatoes to make Tomato Confit.  I learned how to make this when I was doing my culinary internship in Scottsdale, Arizona.  We used to make tomato confit to use as a base for flatbread pizzas.  It’s also good eaten on toast or toss the confit with hot, cooked pasta for a quick dinner.  If you receive a variety of larger tomatoes, get started on making BLTs!  Since we don’t have lettuce available this time of year, we often forgo the lettuce part of the BLT and substitute other vegetables such as leaves of basil or slices of avocado.

Have a good week and I’ll see you back again next week with a few more new items including edamame and hopefully some melons!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Eggplant: Flashy, yet humble

By Andrea Yoder

Eggplant is one of the most beautiful crops we grow.  The plants grow several feet tall and, in their peak, are loaded with beautiful glossy fruit hanging heavy on the plant.  In the world, there are many varieties of eggplant ranging in size from small round eggplant 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, lavender, white and orange.  We have narrowed our lineup to our four favorite varieties including Lilac Bride, Purple Dancer, Listada and the traditional Black eggplant.  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.
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 you do not always need to peel them either.
Fried Eggplant Fritters
While eggplant is thought to have originated in the area around India and Pakistan, it has now been spread around the world.  Since eggplant is part of so many cultures, there are a lot of ways you can use eggplant in your cooking.  It is often incorporated into curry and stir-fry dishes in Indian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine.  Sicilians are famous for eggplant caponata while Middle Eastern dishes include baba ganoush.  The French put their mark on eggplant with the traditional Provencal dish, ratatouille.  Eggplant has a mild flavor and soft texture when cooked, which is what makes it unique.  While it isn’t a predominant flavor, it has a texture such that it is able to absorb other flavors and pairs well with other vegetables including tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, potatoes and chickpeas.  It also goes well with flavorful olive oil, tahini, herbs such as basil and parsley and spices including cumin, coriander, sumac, and cinnamon.  It also goes well with dairy products including yogurt, cheese (feta, Parmesan and mozzarella), cream and fruits including lemons and pomegranate.
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.  Thus, we recommend storing your eggplant on the kitchen counter and use it within 2-4 days.  

A Note From Chef Andrea

This week’s recipes come from Yasmin Khan’s beautiful book entitled, Zaitoun (which means “olive” in Arabic).  This book is a collection of Palestinian recipes and stories about Yasmin’s experiences gathered while sharing meals with Palestinian people as she traveled through the area once known as Palestine.  In this book she shares what she learned about the food and culture that shapes their lives.  This week’s featured recipes build a full, simple meal.  Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas and Tomatoes is best served at room temperature.  Serve it with the creamy Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce on the side and Arabic flatbread.  You do need to allow time for the dough to rise, etc, so if you don’t have time to make homemade flatbread, you can also serve this meal with purchased pita bread.

Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

photo from Zaitoun,
By Yasmin Khan
1 ⅓ pound eggplant (about 2 large ones)
2 Tbsp olive oil or any neutral oil, plus more for the eggplant
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
14 ounce can of plum tomatoes
14 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Chopped cilantro, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the eggplants in half, then into quarters and finally slice them into ¾ inch chunks.  Place in a baking pan, drizzle with some cooking oil, sprinkle over a pinch of salt and then toss the eggplant to coat.  Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until soft. 
  3. Meanwhile, fry the onion in a large sauce pan in 2 Tbsp cooking oil until soft and golden (this will take about 15 minutes).  Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, chickpeas, sugar, spices and some salt and pepper.  Fill the tomato can up with just boiling water and add that to the pot, too.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes, until the chick peas are very soft.
  4. Add the eggplant and cook for a final 10 minutes, splashing in more hot water if the dish looks dry. 
  5. Leave to cool to room temperature before drizzling over plenty of extra virgin olive oil and scattering with cilantro.

Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce

7 ounces cucumber (any type)
2 cups unflavored, plain yogurt
½ garlic clove, crushed
Small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mint
¼ tsp salt

  1. Cut the cucumber in half and, using a teaspoon, scoop out and discard all its seeds.  Chop the flesh into small cubes and mix them into the yogurt with garlic, fresh and dried mint and ¼ tsp salt.

Arabic Flatbread

Yield: 6

photo from Zaitoun,
By Yasmin Khan

2 cups bread flour, plus more to dust
2 tsp active dry yeast
¼ tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
⅔ cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the dough
  1. If you are using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in its mixing bowl.  Add half the water and the extra virgin olive oil.  Knead for 5 minutes on a medium setting, or until the dough comes together in a ball.  Every minute after this, gradually add a little of the remaining water, until all the flour has come away from the sides and you have a soft dough. (You may not need all the water.) If kneading by hand, follow the process above but, once you have mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes.  The dough will be wet in the beginning, but keep going and it will become smooth, stretchy and pliable. 
  2. There are a few different ways to tell if your dough is ready.  You can give the ball of dough a firm poke with your finger and, if the indentation that you make fills quickly, you know it’s done.  If the dent stays, then continue kneading.  In addition, you can do the “windowpane test,” which involves taking a small piece of dough from the ball and stretching it between your fingers and thumb into a very thin, almost translucent, square (so it looks a bit like a windowpane).  If you can stretch the dough nice and thin without breaking it, then it’s ready.  If not, keep kneading it for a few more minutes.
  3. When the dough has been well kneaded, use your fingertips to smooth its surface with a drop of olive oil, trying to very lightly coat it.  Place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Knock the air out of the dough by firmly whacking it on your work top a few times.  Cut it into 6 equal-sized balls.  Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oval about ¼ inch thick.  Cover with a clean, damp dish towel and leave to rise for a final 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to its highest setting.  Lightly dust a pizza stone or 2 baking sheets with a little flour (this will stop the bread from sticking) and place in the oven to heat up.
  6. Place the flatbreads on the hot stone or sheets; you will probably have to cook them in batches.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the breads have just puffed up and are starting to color.  Remove from the oven and cover with a clean cloth until cool, while you cook the remaining breads.  Serve as soon as possible, or at least within a few hours.

August 1, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Garlic!

31 Jul 2019 22:15

Cooking With This Week's Box

White Spanish Onions: Cheeseburger Onion Rings

Fresh Porcelain and/or Italian Garlic: Triple Garlic Linguine (see below); Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below); Skillet Zucchini Pesto Pizza; Pasta with Smashed Zucchini CreamGarlic Broccoli Stir-Fry
Green or Purple Beans: Fresh Green Bean Salad
Red Norland or Golden Carola Potatoes: Crispy Potato Tacos
Green Bell Peppers: Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below); Crispy Potato Tacos
Jalapeno Pepper: Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below)
Sunorange, Chocolate Sprinkles, or Red Grape Tomatoes: Fresh Green Bean Salad; Crispy Potato Tacos
Cilantro: Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below); Crispy Potato Tacos
We’re flipping another page on the calendar this week as we welcome in the month of August!  Summer is whizzing by, but August is also an exciting month filled with sweet corn, tomatoes and peppers so who can complain!  This week we’re going to start topping our garlic, sorting out our seed stock and getting it all tucked away safely in the cooler.  So needless to say, garlic is at the forefront of our thoughts which is why I chose it as our featured vegetable!  This week we have two garlic-centric recipes.  The first is for Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (see below).  As with many traditional recipes that stand the test of time, this recipe has its roots in peasant food.  This is a very fitting for this week’s box though as it utilizes not only garlic, but also jalapeno and bell peppers as well as cilantro.  It comes together pretty quickly as well, so it’s a good option for a healthy, quick dinner.  The second recipe is Triple Garlic Linguine (see below).  It’s a simple garlic-forward pasta dish, but you could add other things to it such as some diced chicken and/or chard.
Skillet Zucchini Pesto Pizza
photo from runningtothekitchen.com
I’ve been having fun finding and trying new recipes using zucchini this summer.  You know I love a good, simple pizza, so this recipe for Skillet Zucchini Pesto Pizza caught my eye.  I also came across this recipe for Pasta with Smashed Zucchini Cream.   Aside from some Parmesan cheese, this pasta dish actually doesn’t have any cream in it.  The creaminess comes from smashing the zucchini and letting all the juices come together to create the sauce.
If you didn’t have a chance to see last week’s featured vegetable article about cucumbers, I’d encourage you to check it out.  If you go to the bottom of the article you’ll find a list of 30 recipes/recipe ideas all featuring cucumbers!  So if you are running out of ways to enjoy cucumbers, let me suggest a few things you may not have tried.  Perhaps these refreshing Cucumber Mint Green Tea Popsicles or this Mojito Cucumber Mint Sorbet will hit the spot!
This week we’re picking both green and purple beans.  Both varieties are more tender than our earlier varieties and thus, better for eating raw.  Growing up, we only ate green beans cooked…rather overcooked, thus I despised green beans.  It wasn’t until my adult years I realized you can eat them raw.  Now that is my preferred way to eat them, which is why this Fresh Green Bean Salad is on the list for this week!  Raw green beans are crunchy and fresh tasting and can become a tasty simple salad with a light vinaigrette mixed with some other summer vegetables like the cucumbers and tomatoes in this recipe!
Smashed White Bean KAle Quesadillas
Photo from runningtothekitchen.com
One of our awesome CSA members posted this recipe for Smashed White Bean Kale Quesadillas in our Facebook Group.  It’s a simple recipe, but a good one for a quick, easy, yet filling dinner option.  Really you can use any green in this recipe, one member suggested she was going to use last week’s amaranth greens which made me think of making these with this week’s chard!
I hope you’ve been enjoying the fresh potatoes, I know we have been!  This week I want to try this recipe for Crispy Potato Tacos.  This recipe calls for Russet potatoes, but I think a waxier potato such as the Red Norland or Gold Carola potatoes we’re sending this week would be a better option.  I would also suggest adding some sautéed green bell peppers to the tacos and top it off with quartered grape tomatoes and cilantro from this week’s box.
Looking for something different to do with carrots this week?  How about turning them into this refreshing Tropical Carrot Smoothie!  Many carrot drink recipes call for carrot juice which means you lose the fiber—no good!  This one blends the whole carrots with strawberries, mangos and other frozen fruit.  Perfect!  Or, if you prefer a creamier drink, try this Carrot Cake Smoothie.
Garlic Broccoli Stir-Fry
photo from omnivorescookbook.com
Looking for a simple side dish?  Try this recipe for Garlic Broccoli Stir-Fry.  It would actually go well with these Cheeseburger Onion Rings.  I know I always tell you to slice the onions thinly, especially when serving them raw.  This recipe, however, is an exception to that rule.  You make thick slices of onion and then pull the rings apart.  Press ground beef and a piece of cheese inside the onion ring, bread the whole thing and fry it.  You end up with a crispy coated burger wrapped in a slice of onion with gooey melted cheese oozing out the middle!  Ok, it might be a little messy but it sounds kind of fun and these white onions are the perfect onion for this application!
That concludes this week’s cooking chat.  Have a great week and I’ll see you back next week, hopefully with recipes for using edamame and more tomatoes!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Garlic 

By Andrea Yoder

“In all of its many forms and in kitchens around the globe, the lusty and pungent allium garlic is the flavor of comfort.”  This is the opening line in an article entitled “The Glories of Garlic” published in Saveur magazine October 9, 2014.  Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated crops and has made its way around the globe to permeate and enhance the cuisine of cultures all around the world.  In Spain it’s used to make Ajo Blanco, a chilled garlic and almond soup.  In Argentina it’s a key ingredient for making chimichurri, a fresh sauce or condiment consisting of parsley, oregano, garlic and red wine vinegar that is commonly served with grilled meat.  In Chinese cuisine, garlic is an integral part of the base of many dishes along with ginger and scallions.  In France, garlic is used to make aioli, or rather a fancy name for homemade garlic mayonnaise.  These are just a few examples of how important garlic is to our diets, no matter where we come from in this world.  So this week we are featuring this staple ingredient that we strive to include in every CSA box throughout the season, in one form or another!
Garlic is a big deal crop for us, partly because we like the challenge of growing it, but also because we value having it available and we use it in meals throughout the entire year.  We start off the season with green garlic, then move on to garlic scapes, then fresh bulb garlic and finally, dried garlic that can be stored throughout the fall and winter.  We value garlic for its flavor, but also for its health and medicinal value.  It’s antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial…..basically, it’s good medicine.  Richard swears by a good raw garlic sandwich to ward off something as simple as the common cold.  Perhaps including garlic in your diet daily is a good dose of prevention and gives your immune system the daily boost it needs to keep you healthy!
Italian Garlic
While we have several different varieties of garlic, we have two main types that are our “workhorse” varieties.  These two varieties are Italian and Porcelain.  At the farmers’ market we are frequently asked “What’s the difference between the two?”  I don’t think the flavor of these two garlic varieties are much different, but perhaps you’ll detect some subtle differences.  The thing that sets these apart in my kitchen is the size of the cloves.  Garlic forms a bulb or head of garlic that contains individual pieces of garlic called cloves.  Italian garlic forms more cloves per head than porcelain, but the cloves are smaller.  Porcelain garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves per head but the individual cloves are bigger.  We use a lot of garlic in our household, so I tend to gravitate towards porcelain garlic simply because it means less peeling!  You can tell the difference between the two not only by the size of the cloves, but also by the color of the skin.  Porcelain garlic has pure white skin with just an occasional streak of purple while Italian garlic has more reddish purple coloring.
Porcelain Garlic
Properly dried garlic typically has a long shelf life if stored in the right environment.  We store garlic in a cold, dry cooler at about 34-36°F.  Home refrigerators are usually too humid to properly store garlic, so if you are looking to store garlic for awhile or over the winter in your home, we recommend you store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and a location with good ventilation.  If you ever purchase garlic from us as a produce plus item, we’ll pack it in a mesh bag that can be hung up.  The mesh contains the garlic but allows it to breathe and have better airflow.
In its raw form, the flavor of garlic can be very strong, spicy and even might burn a bit if you eat a big piece!  Some people really like this bold, strong garlic flavor.  Others may find raw garlic too pungent for their palate, so for those individuals I recommend enjoying garlic either sautéed, fried or roasted.  Cooking releases some of the pungent sulfur compounds, mellows the intensity and even sweetens it up a bit.  You can roast a whole head of garlic in the oven until the cloves are soft and golden, then pull the cloves off the head and squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of the skins.  You can also peel garlic in advance, toss it with oil and roast it in the oven or cover it with oil and slow roast it to make garlic confit.  The benefit of the latter is that you end up with a flavorful garlic oil as well as roasted garlic cloves!
This year’s garlic has been drying in the greenhouse for almost three weeks now and it’s finally ready to start removing the tops and sorting.  We have a big job ahead of us over the next two weeks as we sort out our seed and get everything moved from the greenhouse to the cooler for storage until late December.  This week we encourage you to try some more garlic-forward recipes as we embrace this beautiful vegetable, celebrate its recent harvest and look forward to enjoying garlic throughout the remainder of the season!

Triple Garlic Linguine

Yield: 4-6 servings

photo from saveur.com
1 head garlic, plus 10 cloves (7 thinly sliced, 3 minced)
1 cup olive oil
½ tsp crushed red chile flakes
12 oz linguine
4 ½ cups chicken stock
½ cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
Kosher salt, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Slice garlic head in half crosswise and set cut side up on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp cold water; wrap into a tight package. Bake until tender, 1–1 ½ hours.
  2. Heat remaining oil and the sliced garlic in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium; cook until garlic is golden, 4–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic chips to paper towels to drain; set ⅓ cup oil aside. Reserve remaining oil for another use, if you like.
  3. Heat reserved ⅓ cup oil, the minced garlic, and chile flakes in a 14” high-sided skillet over medium. Cook until garlic is soft but not golden, 2–3 minutes. Add pasta and stock; bring to a boil. Cook, using tongs to stir pasta occasionally, until liquid is almost evaporated and pasta is al dente, about 12 minutes. Unwrap roasted garlic and squeeze cloves into pasta. Add parmesan, lemon juice, parsley, and salt; toss to combine. Garnish with reserved garlic chips.
Recipe borrowed from saveur.com.

Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro (Açorda à Aletejana)

Yield: 6-8 servings

photo from saveur.com
4 cups roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup olive oil
½ lb crusty bread (such as a baguette or French bread)
8 cups chicken stock
4 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Pulse cilantro, garlic, bell pepper, serrano/jalapeño, salt, and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add oil; purée to a smooth paste. Place ½ cup of paste in a bowl. Add bread and toss to coat; set aside.
  2. Heat remaining paste in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. While stirring constantly, slowly drizzle in eggs; cook until eggs are just set, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in bread mixture; serve hot.
Recipe borrowed from saveur.com.

Making it Rain: Irrigation at Harmony Valley Farm

31 Jul 2019 22:15

By Gwen Anderson
“Water is the driving force of all nature.”  --Leonardo Da Vinci
This year's irrigation crew: Vicente (left) and Manuel M. (right)
Ever since there have been farms, farmers have been finding ways to get the life-giving force of water to their crops.  The blessing of a nice, gentle rain at just the right time is a great boon, but you can’t be guaranteed anything of that sort in farming, despite your skill and grace at rain dancing.  As farmers, it is our job to care for our crops, to give them what they need at the time they are needing it, and that includes water.  To learn more about how we water our crops, I spent some time talking to Farmer Richard and the leader of the irrigation crew, Vicente.
Here at Harmony Valley Farm, we have two main ways to deliver water from its source to our crop fields: subsurface and overhead.  Subsurface, or drip, as we call it, is when a small hose is buried in the ground under the crop.  This hose, called drip tape or drip line, has tiny holes in it that allows water to be fed directly to the roots of our crops.  The other method, overhead irrigation, is something most people are familiar with: sprinklers.  We have two methods of using sprinklers, either many small ones connected in a line or one very large one we call “the gun,” which slowly pulls itself across the field with water pressure.
Drip line in our squash field.
Richard dug it up a little bit so we could see it in action.
Both types of irrigation have their advantages and disadvantages.  Vicente prefers the drip tape because it is a onetime set up and stays with the crop for the whole season.  When it comes time to water the crops, you just hook up the pump, check for leaks, and let it run.  The main disadvantage to this type of irrigation is that it is not reusable.  Every year, we need to purchase new drip line to replace what we used the year before.  Every spring, we bury the drip lines in the fields where we will plant the crops we use it for, and we have to pull it up at the end of harvest.  If you watched the garlic field tour video we posted to Facebook a few weeks back you saw some of our harvest crew removing the drip tape from the soil as the lifter brought the garlic out of the ground.  Due to the onetime use nature of drip tape, the price to use it to irrigate crops that are planted and harvested once, like radishes and cilantro, would be high.  Instead, we save the drip tape for long season crops, like onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.

This years onion crop, with cover crops planted to reduce
weeding needs and sequester carbon.
There is also the problem of leaks in the drip line.  If the line isn’t buried deep enough, or if a tractor gets off course even a fraction of an inch, the drip line can get ripped by our cultivating equipment.  While the pump is running, Vicente checks the fields to make sure water is running through the whole drip line.  If there is a spot in the field that isn’t getting water, it takes a little bit of detective work to find where the water stops, sometimes just by digging up portions of the line.  Vicente says it is easier to find the leaks in beds that have plastic mulch on them.  This is because the drip line isn't buried as deep as on a regular bed since we don’t have to use the cultivation equipment on beds with plastic mulch.  When the leaks are found, he cuts the ripped section of the tape out and replaces it with a hard plastic coupler to reconnect the two pieces of the spliced tape before burying the drip line again.  In recent years, we’ve been trying different techniques to alleviate the problem of ripping the drip tape with the cultivators.  Burying the drip tape deeper is one of those measures.  Another trial technique this year has been planting cover crops in the wheel tracks of some of our fields with drip tape in them.  Not only does it mean we don’t have to run the cultivators through those fields as often, but it has the added benefit of more green, living plants sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere.  That is a win all around!
Drip line is buried when the plastic mulch is laid.
The drip tape does allow us to do something we can’t do with sprinklers and the rain gun.  We can fertigate!  Fertigation is when we use the irrigation lines to “spoon feed beneficial nutrients right to the roots of the plant,” as Farmer Richard says.  Unlike other methods of applying fertilizer, with fertigation we aren’t applying it to everything that has access to the top soil, like weeds.  We can also use this method of applying fertilizer when the crops do not need to be watered.  We hook the fertilizer up to the pump, run it through the field with minimal water to facilitate the delivery, and turn the water off when the fertilizer has been administered.  No need to run the pump for 7 or more hours like Vicente would if the field was needing water.
What do we use to fertilize our fields?  I could write a whole article on fertilizer alone, so I’m just going to stick to a few highlights.  Any of the fertilizer we use with fertigation needs to be water soluble, or able to be dissolved in water.  There are two ways to do this: either have the fertilizer already be liquid, or use a water soluble solution.  The main fertilizers we use for fertigation are either liquid fish and seaweed, or a fish powder.  When the crops are starting to put on fruit, we give them extra potassium, the mineral plants use to produce fruit.  We also provide our crops with a vast assortment of beneficial microbials and other micro nutrients that do everything from promote total plant health to deter pests.  
Sprinklers running to sprout radish and cilantro seeds.
Overhead irrigation, or our sprinklers and “rain gun”, is mainly used to germinate seeds and when the crops are small.  This is the type of irrigation we use on our weekly planted crops, like radishes, and crops with small seeds, like carrots.  To use the sprinklers, Vicente and the irrigation crew lay out aluminum pipe in the field that needs to be watered.  These pipes are connected to a pump that has been placed in a water source near the field, either the Bad Axe River, a creek, or the well at our Hammel property.  Once the field has been watered for the appropriate amount of time, the pipes and pump are picked up and either stored or moved to another field to start the process over again.
The rain gun works in much the same way, except the pipes are not laid through the whole field.  Instead, the rain gun follows a thick, sturdy hose that needs to be laid out in the field we want watered.  Vicente uses a tractor to slowly pull the hose through the field, with one of his irrigation crew members ready to radio him when the hose is to the end so it doesn’t break.  Once the hose is laid and the gun is ready to use, the pump is turned on and the gun sprays water over the field, slowly following the hose back to the pump.  As the gun “walks” through the field, it coils the hose back up on a reel so it is nice and tidy for the next time Vicente and his team need to use it.  This particular method of irrigation is only used when the fields are very dry.  Luckily, we haven’t had to use the rain gun this year.
"Rain gun" being used in our kohlrabi field in 2017.
The advantages of overhead irrigation are reusability and portability.  The aluminum pipes are long lasting, thus we can use them season after season.  Since the pipes are also portable, we don’t need to worry about damage from our cultivation equipment.  However, that portability comes with its own challenges as well.  I mentioned earlier that Vicente runs the water pumps for at least 7 hours, and may need to run it for as much as 12 hours if the crop is very dry.  That can make for a long day if the pipes aren’t out first thing in the morning.  As leader of the irrigation team, it is Vicente’s responsibility to turn off the pumps at the appropriate time and to check on them during the watering process.  It is a responsibility he takes seriously.  “Sometimes, when I’m finished for the day, and I’m tired and want to go to bed, I can’t go to bed because I have a pump out there that I need to turn off.  I have to wait until the gun gets to the reel and shut off the pump so things don’t get over watered.”
Over watering isn’t the only reason to stay up and check your pumps, either.  If the pump needs a tractor to run it, you need to make sure it doesn’t develop a mechanical problem, or you risk damaging the tractor.  Also, if a hose comes loose and you don’t have an automatic shut off switch installed, you could be pumping water directly into the ground near the pump instead of through your field.  “I’ve never done it,” Farmer Richard told me, “but I’ve heard stories of if you didn’t get up in the middle of the night and catch it, the next morning you’d have a hole deep enough to fit two school buses in.”
Beautiful peppers from 2012, the fruit of the irrigation
crew's dedication and effort.
During a drought year, like the one we had in 2012, that lack of sleep can really add up.  “You start doing that for about 6 days in a row and it gets old,” Farmer Richard told me.  Vicente and his crew were working around the clock for two months to keep our crops watered and healthy.  “That was terrible,” Vicente admitted, but he was dedicated to ensuring the crops were getting taken care of.  Farmer Andrea recalled one night that year the irrigation team was having trouble getting a water pump started, and Vicente was exhausted.  She had told him to go home, but Vicente said “I can’t go home, I need to get the water going.”  After some reassurance, Vicente took her advice.  “It was a very hard year,” Farmer Andrea stated.  “He was up early shutting off pumps and switching things over, because he had to in order to stay on top of the water needs.”
However, the crops were beautiful.  Farmer Richard admitted to liking drought.  “These excess rains just promote disease like nobody’s business.”  Even Vicente said “we should have another year like that.”  In the end, the beautiful crops are what make all the work worth the effort.  It doesn’t have to be a drought year for the effects of ones efforts to be seen, either.  “When the crop is good, and I know it is producing nice,” Vicente told me, “that is what makes me feel good.”
An irrigation pump (right) connected to a water filter (left)
running water to the drip line in our squash field.
While both types of irrigation have different uses, they do share some of the same challenges.  With either type of irrigation, we use water pumps to get the water to where it needs to be.  Vicente is in charge of all of the equipment, and needs to ensure it is safely put away when not in use.  We do our best to keep an eye on the weather, but sometimes rain catches us off guard.  If it rains a lot and we have left a pump at a site near the river, we just might loose the pump to the water.
Administratively, we need permits from the Department of Natural Resources to pump the water to our fields.  The DNR assesses whether our water usage is going to have a negative impact on other people who also use the waterways in question.  There are strict guidelines the DNR uses to ensure this, and if we are awarded the permit, we are only allowed to pump the amount of water allocated on our permit.  Due to this, we have to report our water usage at the end of the year.  We lease land and use several different water ways, so we have several different permits.  The water usage reports are filed separately for each permit.  Vicente keeps records of where he pumps water, what kind of irrigation he uses, and how long he runs it.  He then calculates the water usage and turns it in to me at the end of the year.  It is my responsibility to enter the information into our records and file the reports with the DNR.
Vicente checking the sensor in the squash field.
No need to turn the water on here!
We’ve gone over the different methods we use to irrigate our crops and some of the challenges inherent to doing so, but how do we know when to do it?  Vicente uses a device called a tensiometer to measure the amount of water that is saturating the soil.  The sensor is buried in the ground at root depth, which for most of our crops is 6 inches, and then marked with a flag so Vicente can find it later when he needs to take a measurement.  He uses a portable sensor reader that he hooks up to the sensor that will display the kPa (kilopascals) reading.  Our tensiometer is set up to read 0 to 200 kPa.  0 kPa means the soil is as full of water as it can be.  Depending on the type of plant, the kPa reading they like to be at is different, so Vicente has a chart with the tensiometer to help him out.  Onions “drink a lot of water,” as Vicente says, so he waters them when the sensor reads 25.  If the sensor reads more than 25, it means he needs to get to work immediately and give the onions a drink.  Celeriac is another crop with a desired kPa level of 25.  Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are a tropical crop and require a lot less water, 200 kPa according to Vicente’s chart.  Most of our crops land in the 45 kPa range.
Due to the nature of the sensors, we keep them where they are “planted” for the season. We do our best to have a sensor in every field, especially in fields where we have drip lines.  While the tensiometer is an invaluable tool used for irrigation, we sometimes have to just water the plants when they look thirsty.  Vicente keeps a close eye on the crops that don’t have sensors in them, and when they start showing signs that they are in need of a drink, he and his crew set up the irrigation systems.  Richard says that generally, our crops need about an inch of water per week.  “Are they going to die if 8 days go by and they haven’t had an inch [of water]?  No, but they might stop growing.”
2018 Sweet Potato Crop, which Vicente stated he was very
proud of due to the excellent production we had.
Luckily, here in Wisconsin, there isn’t a great need for irrigation like in some of the other arid states.  Mostly, we use irrigation to promote consistent growth in our crops and to germinate seeds.  “We don’t want to baby our crops too much,” Richard stated.  “If you continuously water one or more times a week they tend to have shallow roots, so when it does get dry they are not prepared for it.”  In the end, you see the literal fruits of the irrigation team’s labor in your CSA boxes every week.  Vicente and everyone here on the farm work hard to make sure you get the best tasting, nutritionally dense produce we can offer.  It is a job everyone is proud of.  I think Richard summed it up best when he told me “there is some nervousness around irrigation, but when it works, it is wonderful.  Our crops just grow like crazy.”

July 25, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Cucumbers!

24 Jul 2019 21:08

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green Scallions or White Spanish Onions: Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below);  Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below); Zucchini Enchiladas; Summer Farmer SkilletAloo GobiCreamy Broccoli Cauliflower CasseroleDiner Style Western Omelet

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini Enchiladas; Summer Farmer Skillet

Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below); Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below); Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing
Fresh Italian Garlic: Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below); Zucchini EnchiladasSummer Farmer SkilletAloo Gobi
Green Top Carrots: Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below); Summer Farmer SkilletCarrot TopsCarrot Top Hummus
Jalapeno Peppers:  Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below);  Indian Amaranth Stir-Fry
Since our second crop of cucumbers is starting to produce now, I thought this would be a good week to feature cucumbers!  Wondering what to do with the pile of cucumbers in this week’s box?  Our two feature recipes this week include Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below) and Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below).  If you aren’t in the mood for either of these recipes, perhaps you’ll find something to your liking on the list of 30 different recipes/recipe collections (see below) I’ve included with this week’s vegetable feature!   I’ve included recipes for everything from soups and salads to beverages and desserts!
Zucchini Enchiladas
photo from WellPlated.com
Once you’ve conquered the pile of cucumbers, it’s time to move on to the pile of zucchini!  I came across this recipe for Zucchini Enchiladas.  This recipe uses long, thin slices of zucchini in place of corn tortillas.  You use them to wrap up a filling, line them up in a pan and cover them with a flavorful enchilada sauce.  What a great idea!
Tis the season for Summer Farmer Skillet!  This is a recipe I featured back in 2017 and it’s a simple way to make a filling main course using a lot of different vegetables including potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onions, garlic, beans and either amaranth or kale.  You can vary the ingredients based on what you have available.  Leftovers also reheat very well for a nice next-day lunch or dinner option.  You can also eat it for breakfast with a fried egg on top!
Looking for something to do with the carrot tops instead of throwing them away?  How about Carrot Top Hummus? Make this on the weekend and keep it handy for a quick snack or light dinner. Eat it with slices of cucumber and carrot sticks, pita or chips.
Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
photo from SpoonfulOfFlavor.com
I haven’t made Aloo Gobi for awhile, but it’s always a delicious dish to make with new potatoes and summer cauliflower.  Aloo Gobi is an Indian curry one-pot meal that is pretty simple to make…and eat!  If you don’t use the cauliflower for aloo gobi, consider making Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole.  This is a simple recipe that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!  While we’re talking casseroles, I think this would be a great week to make Cheesy Ham Green Bean Casserole.  This recipe calls for 2 pounds of beans and yields 8 servings.  There is only one pound of beans in the box this week, so you’ll have to cut the recipe in half.
Looking for another main dish dinner recipe?  This Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner with Green Beans & Feta looks like a winner!  It includes not only green beans, but potatoes as well!
Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing
photo from BonAppetit.com
If you receive the beautiful amaranth in your box, check out this recipe for Indian Amaranth Stir-Fry featuring amaranth, coconut and garlic.  If you receive the kale, consider making this Kale and Cucumber Salad with Roasted Ginger Dressing.
Last, but not least, if you still have a little onion and bell pepper hanging out at the end of the box, turn them into a Diner Style Western Omelet.  This is one of my favorite ways to use green bell peppers and it reminds me of those Sunday after-church lunches with my family when I was a kid.  We’d often go to The Waffle House or Bob Evans and I’d either get a stack of blueberry pancakes or a western omelet.  Aside from my brother pulling the chair out from me when I went to sit down, those were fun times with good memories!
That’s it for this week.  I’ll see you back again in one short week with more summer vegetables and more delicious recipes!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Cucumbers

By Andrea Yoder

“Why Cucumbers? (Doesn’t everyone know about cucumbers?)”  This is the opening line to the chapter about cucumbers in Elizabeth Schneider’s book, Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini.  Cucumbers and zucchini are kind of staple summer crops, you just have to have them.  The thing about both of these crops that can sometimes be frightening is their ability to produce like crazy in the heat of the summer which leaves us with a pile of cucumbers and the question “What in the world am I going to do with all these cucumbers?!”  Don’t worry, I have some suggestions for you this week!
While we’re only accustomed to seeing several different types of cucumbers in this country, there are many different shapes and colors of cucumbers world-wide.  They are thought to have originated in India or the surrounding area.  They then spread into other Asian countries as well as Europe and then made their way to the Americas where they were introduced to this part of the world by explorers.  Cucumbers, which thrive in warm climates and the heat of summer, are known to be very cooling and help us stay hydrated with their high water content.  This cooling characteristic also makes them a sensible condiment or accompaniment to counter spicy foods such as chiles and curries.  We grow the most familiar “green slicer” cucumbers as well as our favorite variety of cucumbers called silver slicers.  Silver slicers produce a smaller cucumber that has a white to pale yellow skin color with crispy, fruity flesh.  We have grown to prefer this variety because the flavor is more complex, the flesh maintains its crispness, and it doesn’t have any/many of the compounds in cucumbers that can cause burping or gastrointestinal consequences.
In addition to their high moisture content, cucumbers have other important nutritive qualities.  They are also high in vitamin K as well as a host of phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  These nutrients are thought to be beneficial for heart and brain health as well as cancer prevention and perhaps are helpful in managing diabetes.  There’s a reason why cucumbers are often associated with skin treatments as well.  Cucumbers can help decrease swelling, puffiness, skin irritation and soothe a sunburn due to their cooling and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cucumbers pair well with a whole host of ingredients, but some of the most common pairings include herbs such as mint, basil, parsley and dill as well as other vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and garlic.  Cucumbers also pair well with other fruits such as melons, watermelon, limes, lemons, grapefruit and berries.  Of course they also play well with feta cheese, cream, buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt.
Cucumber Sorbet
photo from TheLittleEpicurean.com
There are so many things you can make with cucumbers.  Of course, they are good to eat with just a little sprinkling of salt, but beyond this simple pleasure they are most often used in salads and pickled.  They can also be used in sandwiches, cold and hot soups, desserts such as sorbet and popsicles, refreshing drinks both with and without alcohol, and condiments such as Tzatziki and Raita.  But don’t think cucumbers are only for eating raw.  They can also be cooked!  That’s right, cucumbers can be stir-fried, sautéed, roasted and baked.
I hope you’ll check out the extensive list of 30 recipes/recipe collections that follow.  I hope you enjoy some of your old “go-to” ways of eating cucumbers this summer as well as experimenting with some different ways to use cucumbers!  Lastly, cucumbers are sensitive to cold temperatures and ideally should be stored at 45-50°F.  Thus, we recommend only short-term storage in your refrigerator or just keep them on the counter at room temperature until you use them within a few days.  Have fun and don’t forget to stay cool as a cucumber this summer!

Not Sure What To Do With Cucumbers....Here Are a Few Ideas!

Mexican Cucumber Snack
photo from ThriftAndSpice.com
Pickles, Salads & Snacks:
Summer Vietnamese Noodle Salad (see below)
Tuna Steaks with Cucumber Relish
photo from BBCGoodFood.com
Appetizers and/or Mains:
Cooked Cucumbers:
Korean Stir-Fried Cucumbers (see below)
Desserts & Refreshing Treats:

Summer Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Yield:  4 to 6 servings
Photo from Food52.com
8 ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
1 ½ cups cabbage, thinly sliced
2-3 medium carrots, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 large or 2-3 medium cucumbers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced 
1 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
16 ounces cooked tofu, chicken, or shrimp, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts or toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
⅓ cup fish sauce
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup light brown sugar, plus more to taste
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ to 1 fresh jalapeño, minced
  1. To prepare the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, and the jalapeño. Whisk well.  Set aside.  (Note: The dressing will store in the refrigerator for 3 days to a week.)
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes (or according to package instructions), until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water to cool them. Shake the colander to drain away excess water.
  3. When the noodles are well-drained, put them in a large bowl along with the vegetables, herbs and tofu or meat.  Spoon dressing over the entire mixture and toss well to combine.  
  4. Serve with chopped peanuts or almonds on top.
Recipe adapted from Food52.com.

Stir-Fried Cucumbers (Oi Bokkeum) "Quick and easy Korean cucumber side dish"

Yield:  4 servings
Photo from KoreanBapsang.com
1 pound cucumbers
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
½ tsp minced garlic
1 scallion, finely chopped 
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp sesame seeds
  1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise slightly diagonally.  If the cucumbers are thin, you can simply cut into thin rounds.
  2. Toss the cucumber slices with one and a half teaspoons of salt to coat evenly.  Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Squeeze as much water out from the cucumber slices as possible.  Don’t worry about bruising them.  They will recover when stir-fried.
  4. Heat a pan over high heat.  Add ½ tablespoon of cooking oil.  Quickly stir in the garlic.  Add the cucumbers.  Stir-fry for a minute until the cucumbers are slightly cooked.  Turn off the heat.  Toss well with the scallion, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
Recipe borrowed from www.koreanbapsang.com.

July 18, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring New Potatoes!

17 Jul 2019 21:46

Cooking With This Week's Box

New Potatoes: New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter (see below);  Pesto Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans (see below)

Purple Cipollini Onions OR Green Scallions: Carrot Top Pesto PastaSlow-Cooker Korean BBQ Beef; Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and DillCilantro Lime SlawCauliflower, Chickpea and Chard Curry

Fresh Italian Garlic: New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter (see below); Pesto Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans (see below); Carrot Top Pesto; Carrot Top Pesto PastaZucchini “Meat”ballsFabulous Zucchini GrindersSlow-Cooker Korean BBQ BeefCilantro Lime Slaw
Green and/or Yellow Beans: Pesto Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans (see below); 7 Easy Stir-Fry Recipes
Carrot Top Pesto Pasta
photo from HealthyNibblesAndBits.com
We started off this week with an exciting afternoon harvest of the first potatoes of the season!  As Alvaro said at the end of the day, “Everything was just perfect for the harvest and the potatoes look beautiful!”  Alvaro is right and new potatoes are definitely something special as far as we’re concerned.  So my recommendation for using the potatoes this week is to just keep it simple.  I am sharing my recipe for New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter(see below), which is a simple farmer’s way of eating freshly dug potatoes.  Sometimes this is the main focus of our meal along with steamed green beans, slices of salted cucumbers, and roasted beets. Despite Richard’s desire to have meat at every meal, sometimes there just isn’t room on the table for meat when there are so many fresh vegetables to cook!  I also like eating these simple New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter for breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs and we sometimes have them for dinner with a grilled pork chop or steak.  Really, you can eat them at any time of the day.  The other recipe we’re featuring today is for Pesto Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans (see below).  Nothing beats freshly dug potatoes and fresh green beans, so why not pair them together in this simple twist on roasted vegetables.  This recipe calls for pesto, which you can easily make in your own kitchen using either Italian basil or Carrot Top Pesto using the carrot tops on the bunched carrots this week!  You likely have enough carrot tops to actually make a double recipe of carrot top pesto, which you might as well do as long as you’re making a mess!  Use the extra pesto to make Carrot Top Pesto Pasta.  This is a light pasta dish featuring angel hair pasta tossed with the pesto as well as roasted carrots, sautéed onions and zucchini.
Zucchini "Meat"balls
photo from SkinnyTaste.com
Zucchini is one of those vegetables that is always abundant in summer, but it’s also such a versatile vegetable that you can use it in so many different preparations.  This recipe for Fabulous Zucchini Grinders was recommended by one of our members in our Facebook Group.  This is a tasty hot vegetarian sandwich featuring sautéed zucchini.  Another member recommended this recipe for Zucchini “Meat”balls!  This is another vegetarian recipe that actually doesn’t have any meat in it but rather uses zucchini as the main ingredient!  What great ideas—thank you for sharing!
Actually, there have been a lot of great ideas and posts in our Facebook group over the past week.  One member did an awesome post sharing a whole list of stir-fry sauce recipes.  One of the links she referenced was to this post that features 7 Easy Stir-Fry Recipes.  The author of this recipe provides 7 different stir-fry sauce recipes along with a basic recipe to guide you in making a stir-fry using 4-6 cups of vegetables and 1 pound of meat (if you choose to do so).  You choose your sauce recipe, seasonal vegetables and meat of your choosing and turn it into stir-fry using her simple methods.  This week’s box has several different vegetable selections that can be used to make a great stir-fry including onions, cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cumbers, carrots, and green beans—ok, well nearly the entire box could be used to make stir-fry!  The other cool thing about this recipe is the author recommends making these stir-fry sauces in advance and putting them in the freezer.  When you need a quick dinner option, the sauce is made and you just have to chop whatever seasonal vegetables you have available and assemble the stir-fry.  If you set aside some time to make the sauces in advance, you might as well cook a big pot of rice as well.  Cooked rice freezes really well and then it will just need to be reheated on your quick stir-fry night.
Stir Fried Cucumbers, photo from KoreanBapsang.com

Did you know you can cook cucumbers?  Yes, you can bake, roast, saute and stir-fry them!  I’ve never tried Baked Cucumber Chips, but now that I found this recipe I’m going to have to try it!  The author gives several different variations you can try for seasoning the chips.  I also want to try this Korean recipe for Stir-Fried Cucumbers.  This recipe calls for one pound of cucumbers that are stir-fried with garlic, onion and simply seasoned with sesame.  This would be a great accompaniment to Slow-Cooker Korean BBQ Beef.  
This is our last week for salad cabbage.  If you missed out on last week’s vegetable feature about salad cabbage, check it out.  I also shared two simple cabbage slaw recipes including Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill and Cilantro Lime Slaw.  The cilantro lime slaw is part of a recipe for Crispy Baked Fish Tacos that are awesome!  Both slaw recipes are simple AND delicious—you can’t go wrong with either.
Warm Chard Salad with Bacon
Dressing & Roasted Chicken,
photo from FiveAndSpice.wordpress.com
Wow, we’ve talked about a lot of food already and we still have a few more items to discuss!  If you don’t use your cauliflower in stir-fry this week, try this recipe for Cauliflower, Chickpea and Chard Curry.  I love curry dishes like this because you assemble and simmer everything in one pot, they use a lot of vegetables, and leftovers always taste good.  It seems my meals this week are all paired with rice or a similar grain in most cases (eg stir-fry, slow cooker Korean beef, etc).  So, start off your week with one big batch and save yourself the trouble of cooking rice, quinoa or other grains multiple days.  If you don’t use your chard to make this curry recipe, consider using it in this Warm Chard Salad with Bacon Dressing & Roasted Chicken.  This is a main dish salad topped with pecans, dried cherries and roasted chicken.
Ok friends, that brings us to the absolute bottom of another CSA box.  Have a great week and enjoy this summer bounty!

Vegetable Feature: New Potatoes

By Andrea Yoder

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 Monday afternoon of this week off of 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 before use and just give them a gentle scrub if needed.

Potato digger unearthing new potatoes
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.  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.  Light causes 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. 
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.  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.  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.
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!  They are excellent simply boiled or steamed with a little butter, salt and pepper.  This week, simple and minimal is best.  Enjoy!

Pesto Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

Yield:  8 servings

photo from BelleOfTheKitchen.com
2 pounds new potatoes, washed and quartered 
8 ounces fresh green beans, washed and trimmed 
¼  cup prepared pesto* 
2 tsp fresh minced garlic 
Salt and black pepper to taste 

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, green beans, pesto, and salt and pepper. Mix carefully making sure all of the vegetables are well coated. Spread the potatoes and green beans out onto the prepared baking sheet. 
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring the mixture once halfway through cooking. Once the vegetables are tender, remove from the oven and enjoy!

*Chef Andrea note:  You can make a traditional basil pesto using fresh basil from the choice box and/or from your own herb garden.  You could also make carrot top pesto to make good use of the carrot tops in this week’s box!

Recipe borrowed from belleofthekitchen.com.

New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter

Yield:  2-4 servings

1 pound fresh new potatoes
1 Tbsp salt, plus more to taste
3-4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Cut potatoes into approximate 1 ½ inch chunks.  If the potatoes are small you can leave them whole. Place potatoes in a saucepot and add cold water, enough to cover the potatoes by 1-2 inches.  Season the water with 1 Tbsp of salt and then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the potatoes come to a boil, reduce the heat a bit to maintain a rapid simmer.  Simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Test a potato by piercing it with a knife to see if it is tender and cooked through.
  3. Once the potatoes are tender, drain off the water and put the potatoes in a bowl.  Cover to keep them warm and then set aside.
  4. Next, return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat.  Add butter.  Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and continue to simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the garlic is softened and fragrant, but not browning.
  5. Remove the butter from the heat.  Put the potatoes on a serving platter or directly on your plate.  Gently smash each potato with the back of a fork just to break into the skin.  Spoon the garlic butter over the potatoes and season generously with freshly ground pepper and more salt to taste.

Recipe by Chef Andrea

The Lazy Days of Summer…..What?!

17 Jul 2019 21:46

By Farmers Richard & Andrea
It’s been nearly six weeks since our early June farm update and a lot has happened!  The cold, wet start to our season quickly shifted to hot and humid.  The heat is great for some of our warm weather crops like peppers, melons, zucchini and cucumbers, but heat with high humidity can wreak havoc on other crops such as cilantro, baby bok choi, arugula, etc making them susceptible to leaf disease.  The weeds are also loving these hot days and sadly, they are growing quite nicely.  Our determined crew continues to do battle against weeds, hitting them from every angle possible in an attempt to save crops.  Despite these farming challenges, we have some really nice crops in the fields and a lot of exciting food coming your way very soon! 
Italian garlic, bunched and ready to bring in
Starting at the end of last week, our focus shifted to garlic harvest.  As we write this article on Tuesday, July 16, we only have about one third of the crop remaining to harvest….and it is a very nice crop.  This is probably the nicest crop of garlic we’ve seen in the past 10-12 years.  The past two years were pretty disappointing, so before we planted garlic last year we paused for a little field crew huddle and pep talk for ourselves.  Two poor crops, lets not add a third to that list.  So we made sure soil conditions were right, carefully planted the cloves at the right depth and then carefully covered the field with a nice layer of chopped straw mulch before the snow started to fall.  We were careful to give it enough of a mulch layer to insulate it, but not too much that would prevent the garlic from pushing through.  We also covered the field with row cover which also helped keep the straw mulch in place over the winter.  While many of you may still be cursing the harsh, cold, snowy winter we had last year, the conditions may have actually been somewhat favorable for this year’s garlic crop!  The garlic was tucked safely underground, covered by a thick layer of insulating snow which protected it from the polar vortex!  The result was a very high survival rate this spring.  By July 17 or 18 we plan to have the entire garlic crop tucked away safely in the greenhouse to dry and cure over the next few weeks.  Then the hard work of trimming, cleaning and selecting seed for next year’s crop will begin!
A pepper plant loaded with baby bell peppers
Based on the amount of zucchini in your boxes the past few weeks, you may have noticed that our zucchini is producing very nicely right now!  Zucchini is one of those crops that loves heat and production can skyrocket during a hot week.  Actually, we’re harvesting from both our first and second crops now.  Not quite the timing we had hoped for, but there isn’t any way to hold back the second planting so we’re just going for it!  Yesterday the crew picked 1,400# of zucchini!  We pick three times each week, so there’s the potential that we’ll pick over 4,000# of zucchini this week alone!  We’re only picking from our first cucumber crop right now, but it won’t be long before the second planting kicks in.  We’re just glad cucumbers and zucchini aren’t peaking at the same time!

Pretty soon we’ll have peppers and tomatoes to enjoy with all that zucchini.  The pepper field looks quite nice this year and the plants are full of blossoms as well as small, immature peppers.  It looks like we will be picking bell peppers and possibly jalapeño peppers as early as next week.  The tomatoes also have fruit set on.  While we haven’t seen any fruit turning color yet, this hot week ahead of us could accelerate the ripening.  We may be picking tomatoes for next week’s boxes as well! 
Sweet corn growing in the field.
If you were to walk through the melon and watermelon fields, you would find the cutest little melons set on the plants.  It’s exciting to think that in just a few weeks we’ll be slurping juicy slices of sweet melon!  What’s summer without sweet melons, watermelon and sweet corn?!  While our first two plantings of sweet corn are not quite what we had hoped for, we will have sweet corn coming soon.  We actually have five plantings of corn and the last three look really good right now!  Of course if we’re going to talk about corn we have to mention beans and edamame as well.  Our first two plantings of beans are usually the most challenging to grow, but both are looking pretty good with more plantings coming up behind them.  It looks like it’s going to be a pretty good year for green beans, and we hope our purple amethyst beans will produce well again this year!  The first crop of edamame has little fuzzy pods hanging from the vines.  Just a few more weeks and we’ll be popping the sweet, tender, bright green soybeans into our mouths! 
Don’t think we can breathe a sigh of relief and go on vacation after garlic harvest is done.  Well, we can breathe a sigh of relief but then we need to get ready to harvest onions!  It must be an allium favorable year because the onions are also looking pretty nice!  If we can keep the tops alive for a few more weeks we should have a pretty sizeable onion harvest which will leave us with just one problem….where are we going to store everything!  It’s a good problem and one we’re happy to have. 
Sprinklers running after irrigation crew laid pipe.
The irrigation crew has shifted their focus from just fertigation (providing nutrients via drip irrigation lines with minimal water) to now needing to deliver more water as well.  Over the past week fields have really dried out, going from a state of excess moisture to now needing to be watered.  On Monday the crew set up irrigation pipe for sprinklers to water some crops planted last week including carrots, cilantro and radishes.  They need water to soften the soil and make sure the seed has adequate moisture to germinate and break through the surface.   You just never know when the weather will shift to a drought, so we’re working hard to stay ahead of the game. 

Farmer Richard and Lt. Governor Barnes
sampling fresh strawberries.
We’ve also hosted some visitors to the farm over the past 6 weeks.  On June 16 we had a great turnout for our annual Strawberry Day party.  We had a nice, pleasant day filled with good food, strawberry ice cream, laughs, questions and just a lot of fun.  Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating this year’s strawberry crop.  At the end of June we also had the pleasure of hosting Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.  We had a pleasant visit with Lt. Governor Barnes including some great, honest conversation about a variety of topics including the importance of pollinator habitat, climate change and the impact erratic weather is having on Wisconsin farms and communities. 
We are also happy to have added a few more friendly faces to our crew.  Amy started the first week of June, coming to us from Colorado with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn…..everything!  Amy is our Packing Shed Support person who helps us stay organized in the packing shed by managing cooler and supply inventories as well as helping out wherever she’s needed from day to day.   She has also helped out in the greenhouses, is learning all there is to know about managing our seed inventory and in general is starting to put together the pieces of “the big picture” about what it takes to bring everything together to get vegetables to your tables!  We are also happy to welcome back Samuel and Silvestre. They weren’t able to join us earlier in the season, but made it back to the farm this past weekend and are hard at work! 

Cookies from Bloom Bake Shop
In the midst of all the hustle associated with summer and a busy growing season, we took time to relax a bit last Saturday, July 13 as we hosted our Annual Crew Appreciation Party.  We ended our work day at about 2:30 pm, got cleaned up and then met up at the Legion Park near our farm.  Nearly all our crew members were able to make it as well as some family members including daughters, sons, wives and husbands who live in the area.  We had a fun evening filled with goofy soccer and volleyball games, some card games, water balloons, music, a piñata and a delicious meal.  Angel and Ascencion roasted a goat in our underground brick oven so we had goat carnitas along with grilled HVF hotdogs.  We finished up the meal with our favorite Castle Rock ice cream and special cookies from Bloom Bake Shop.  Annemarie and her crew at Bloom made the cutest vegetable and farm animal cookies for us including cookies resembling broccoli, potatoes, carrots, sweet corn, peas, goats, pigs, cows, etc.  We had a really fun evening and this party always reminds us (Richard and Andrea) how blessed we are to be able to work with such a great group of people who are happy, hardworking, funny, sincere, creative, caring, talented individuals.

HVF crew playing volleyball at the Crew Appreciation Party.

July 11, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Salad Cabbage!

10 Jul 2019 20:29

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green Top Purple Cipollini Onions: Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill (see below); Cilantro Lime Slaw (see below); One-Pan Baked Brie & Beet Greens FrittataRoasted & Charred Broccoli with PeanutsGreen Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: 31 Best Zucchini Recipes of All TimesSpaghetti with Zucchini Grilled Cheese with Zucchini, Basil & Gruyere

Broccoli: 27 Broccoli Recipes You’ll Want to Make TonightBroccoli and Ricotta Toasts with Hot HoneyRoasted & Charred Broccoli with Peanuts

Fennel: Fennel Honey CakeSausage Fennel & Gruyere Miniature Egg Stratas

Green Top Beets: Roasted Carrots & Beets with Carrot Top Pesto; 15 Creative Ways to Use Beet Greens; One-Pan Baked Brie & Beet Greens Frittata; Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens

Green and/or Yellow Beans: Green Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing; Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic

Green Top Carrots: Roasted Carrots & Beets with Carrot Top PestoCilantro Lime Slaw (see below)

Sweetheart or Tiara Salad Cabbage: Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill (see below); Cilantro Lime Slaw (see below)

Cucumbers: Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill (see below); Green Beans and Cucumbers with Miso DressingMexican Cucumber Snack of Pepinos con Chile y Limon

Fresh Italian Garlic: Cilantro Lime Slaw (see below); Roasted Carrots & Beets with Carrot Top PestoOne-Pan Baked Brie & Beet Greens FrittataRed Lentil Soup with Beet GreensSpaghetti with ZucchiniGreen Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing; Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic
This week we’re packing CSA Box #10!  That means we’re already a third of the way through the season.  Next week we’re going to be doing a farm update for the “Weed Em’ and Reap” main newsletter article.  Folks, despite the challenges we have had with recurring rain showers, the vegetables are growing and we have a lot of exciting things coming up very soon (such as new potatoes and tomatoes)!  We’re also on the brink of garlic harvest and it won’t be long before we’ll start onion harvest.  Stay tuned for more crop and farm updates next week!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I guess we’d better get back to this week’s box!  This week we’re featuring Sweetheart and Tiara salad cabbage.  Now that we’re finished with head lettuce and salad mix, we need to start making more salads with other vegetables.  I have two simple, delicious recipes for you this week.  If you favor vinegar based slaws and dressings, you’ll like this simple Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill (see below).  This slaw holds up for about a week in the fridge as it continues to marinate and just get better each day!  This is a tasty slaw to eat with burgers, grilled chicken, grilled cheese, simple deli-meat sandwiches, etc.  If you favor creamy slaws, you may prefer this Cilantro Lime Slaw (see below).  This is a super-simple and very flavorful slaw that can stand alone or it’s also great on or with fish tacos.  I found this recipe at gimmesomeoven.com.  The author, Ali, featured this slaw along with her recipe for Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos (see below).  I love fish tacos, but dislike frying fish.  When this recipe showed up in my inbox last week, I had to try it.  Did it change my life?  Well, with regard to fish tacos…Yes!  The breading for the fish is simple and delicious.  Once you get the fish breaded it bakes in just 10 minutes.  I also like it because the fish isn’t greasy and soggy so it actually reheats well, which is a bonus for having a plan for lunch the next day if you have leftovers.  Top off the tacos with the Cilantro Lime Slaw as well as other toppings of your choice and this makes for a delicious meal.
Roasted Carrots & Beets with
Carrot Top Pesto
Photo from DishingUpTheDirt.com
This week we have some fresh, new flavors in the box, including green top carrots!  These early season carrots are tender, mild and sweet.  You don’t really need to do much to them for them to be delicious, in fact simple is probably better.  This recipe for Roasted Carrots & Beets with Carrot Top Pesto is a good option for using both the carrots and beets in this week’s box AND it incorporates the carrot tops as well!  Yes, carrot tops are edible and make a delicious pesto.  If you want to make this dish go further or serve as a main dish, combine the vegetables and pesto with hot pasta or rice.  This recipe doesn’t use the beet tops, but don’t throw them away!  They are delicious and full of nutrients!  Here’s a collection of 15 Creative Ways to Use Beet Greens.  There are some really delicious recipes in this list including One-Pan Baked Brie & Beet Greens Frittata and Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens.
Our next crop of broccoli is ready for harvest this week and cauliflower may end up in some boxes as well.  While I often just eat steamed broccoli with butter, broccoli can be used in so many different ways.  If you’re at a loss as to what to do with broccoli this week, check out this article featuring 27 Broccoli Recipes You’ll Want to Make Tonight.  There are some delicious ideas in this collection including Broccoli and Ricotta Toasts with Hot Honey and Roasted & Charred Broccoli with Peanuts (note, this recipe uses the stems as well!).
Grilled Cheese with Zucchini, Basil & Gruyere
Photo from food52.com
I’m not quite sure how this happened, but I seem to be into finding collections of recipes this week.  Earlier this week I came across this article for Food 52’s 31 Best Zucchini Recipes of All Times.  I will be referring to this collection as the summer unfolds, but for this week I have my eye on this simple recipe for Spaghetti with Zucchini as well as Grilled Cheese with Zucchini, Basil & Gruyere.
Last week our featured vegetable was fennel.  Check out last week’s blog post which included 25 recipes utilizing fennel.  This week I want to try this Fennel Honey Cake and these Sausage Fennel & Gruyere Miniature Egg Stratas.  The stratas can serve as a breakfast, brunch or dinner option and they reheat well for breakfast or a snack the next day.  Cake—well you can eat that any time you want to!
Green Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing
Photo from BonAppetit.com
I love this simple preparation of Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic to highlight the fresh taste of the first beans of the year and fresh garlic.  You can adjust the recipe to the amount of beans you have available.  I also found this recipe for Green Beans and Cucumbers with Miso Dressing.  This is another simple recipe that would make for a simple meal if served with steamed rice and broiled or grilled fish.
Lastly, if you have a few cucumbers left over, enjoy them as a refreshing snack, prepared Mexican style.  Check out this simple concept for Mexican Cucumber Snack of Pepinos con Chile y Limon, or rather, Cucumbers with Chile and Lime.  This is what summer is all about—fresh vegetables, simple meals, full flavors.  Slow down and take the time to taste the flavors in this week’s box.  Have a great week and I’ll see you back here next week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Salad Cabbage

By Andrea Yoder

Sweetheart Cabbage

We plant most of our cabbage for harvest in the fall as cabbage thrives and tastes better when it is grown in more cool temperatures.  However, we reserve a little spot in our spring planting schedule to plant this unique class of cabbage called “salad cabbage.”  This year we have two varieties of salad cabbage, Tiara and Sweetheart.  Tiara is a round cabbage and sweetheart cabbage forms a pointy head.  Both are smaller varieties typically only weighing about 1¼ to 2 pounds on average.   These varieties are intended to be grown as an early-season cabbage and are known as “salad cabbage” because the leaves are tender enough to be eaten raw in salads.  Another reason we grow this variety for summer harvest is that it gives us another option for a “salad green” during early summer when lettuce is more difficult to grow.
There are a lot of different ways you can prepare salad cabbage.  I recommend slicing it thinly or shredding it for use in vegetable slaws or other raw salads.  You may use the leaves as a wrap in place of tortillas or bread.  If you choose to cook it, I’d recommend a quick cooking method such as stir-frying or grilling and be careful not to overcook it!   Two of my favorite recipes from past years include Simplest Cabbage Slaw and Thai-Style Slaw with (or without) Chicken.
Store salad cabbage loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  Lightly rinse the outer leaves before using.  If you don’t use the entire cabbage for one preparation, wrap the remaining portion of cabbage and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  While salad cabbage can vary in size, an average cabbage typically yields 5-7 cups when shredded.

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (or a 50/50 blend)
½ cup tightly-packed fresh cilantro
¼ cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
3 green onions (just the green parts)
2 cloves garlic 
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and cored (optional)
7 cups green salad cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrot, shredded
  1. Combine the Greek yogurt and/or sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, salt, black pepper, green onions, garlic and jalapeño (if using) in a blender or food processor*.  Pulse briefly a few times until the mixture is combined.
  2. Place the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle the sauce on top of the vegetables, then toss until the mixture is evenly combined.  Season to your liking with extra salt, pepper and/or lime juice if needed.
  3. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
*Skip the blender:  If you would like to skip the blender/food processor step, you’re also welcome to make this cole slaw dressing recipe entirely by hand.  Just finely chop the cilantro, jalapeño (if using), green onions and garlic, and whisk them all together with the other dressing ingredients until combined.
Recipe sourced & adapted from gimmesomeoven.com.  This recipe is delicious prepared on its own as a slaw to accompany grilled meat, summer cookouts with burgers and brats, etc.  It is also very delicious when served as part of the set up for Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos, also from gimmesomeoven.com. See the recipe to follow.

Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos

Yield: 12 Tacos
Chipotle Crema:

½ cup plain Greek yogurt (or mayo)
1 tsp chipotle chile adobo sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
¼ tsp fine sea salt

Breaded Fish:
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
1 egg, whisked
1 ½ pounds firm fish, such as cod, halibut or salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces

To Assemble The Tacos:
12 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
1 batch Cilantro Lime Slaw
Optional toppings: diced fresh avocado, fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeños, crumbled queso fresco, sliced radishes, sliced red onions, etc.

  1. To Make The Chipotle Crema: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside until ready to use.
  2. To Make The Fish: Heat oven to 375°F.  Spread the panko out in an even layer on a medium baking sheet.  Bake for 5-7 minutes, giving the pan a gentle shake halfway through, until the panko is toasted and golden brown.  (Keep a close eye on the panko so that it does not burn.)  Transfer the panko to a medium bowl, and dust off the baking sheet for future use.
  3. Add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper to the bowl with the panko, then whisk the mixture until combined.
  4. Now, set up an assembly line with the (1) fish, (2) whisked egg, (3) panko mixture and (4) parchment-covered baking sheet.  Using your right hand, dip a piece of fish in the egg so that it is coated on all sides.  Then, using your left hand, transfer the fish to the panko mixture and gently press it on so that the fish is coated on all sides.  Using your left hand, transfer the fish to the baking sheet.  Then repeat the process with the remaining fish.
  5. Bake the fish for 10 minutes, or until it is cooked through and opaque and flakes easily with a fork.  
  6. To Assemble The Tacos: Fill a tortilla with a few spoonfuls of the slaw, followed by the fish, and any desired toppings.  Drizzle with the chipotle crema and serve immediately.
Notes:  If you have fish leftover from your Fish Taco night, it does reheat well in either a toaster oven or a preheated oven.

Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill

Yield: 6 servings

4 cups green salad cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded  
1 medium cucumber, quartered, seeded and sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tsp sugar
¼ cup cold water
  1. Toss the cabbage, cucumber, onion and dill together in a large bowl.  Don’t be freaked out by how big the salad looks; it settles as it marinates.  
  2. Whisk the vinegar, salt, and sugar together in a small bowl until the salt and sugar dissolve.  Stir in the water.  Pour the liquid over the salad, and let it marinate in the refrigerator, tossing the cabbage occasionally.  After 1 hour, it should be a bit wilted and crunchy; at 2 hours, the flavor is even better.
Note:  This salad keeps, covered, in the fridge for a week. The best part is, the cabbage stays crispy!

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman

July 3, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Fennel!

2 Jul 2019 20:46

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green Scallions: Strawberry Tabbouleh; Strawberry, Fennel, and Orange Salad (see below); Broccoli SaladPeas & ScallionsChicken, Broccoli & Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry
Red Summercrisp Lettuce: Strawberry, Fennel, and Orange Salad (see below); Salt-Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnuts
Fennel: Fennel Ginger Smoothie (see below); Candied Fennel & Simple Syrup (See below); Strawberry, Fennel, and Orange Salad (see below); Caramelized Fennel & Beet PizzaShaved Fennel and Beet Greens Salad
Happy 4th of July Week!  I say this every month, but I can hardly believe we’ve marked another month off the calendar!  Lets jump right into this week’s box because we have a lot to talk about!  First of all, I hope you have had a chance to read this week’s vegetable feature article about fennel.  If not, I just want to mention I included 25 recipe ideas for using all parts of fennel!  We’re featuring three of those recipes here as well.  I never considered using fennel in a smoothie, but decided to try this Fennel Ginger Smoothie (see below). It’s packed with nutrient dense vegetables that are great for both energy as well as aiding in digestion.  It’s very refreshing and is great for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up.  I’ve also never had fennel and strawberries paired together, so I was intrigued by the recipe for Strawberry, Fennel and Orange Salad (see below).  This is a delicious, simple salad that is so refreshing.  It will go nicely served with grilled chicken or fish, and I have to say I really like the combination of strawberries and fennel!  The third recipe I’ve included below is for Candied Fennel (see below).  I wanted to try this recipe because I was looking for more ways to use fennel stalks.  This recipe takes some time, but it is super easy to make and you really don’t have many action steps.  It just takes time to dry the fennel after it’s candied.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you also get a delicious fennel simple syrup as a byproduct of the candied fennel.  I was surprised when I tasted the syrup—it has a lovely, mild, floral flavor and would be a great sweetener to use in hot or iced green tea, lemonade, cocktails, etc.  Kelly even suggested using it to make strawberry lemonade!
Shaved Fennel and Beet Greens Salad
We’ve been looking forward to fresh beets and they are finally ready!  Beets and fennel are an early summer combo and pair very nicely together.  Of course I’m going to remind you to eat the beet greens too!  They are delicious and you can use them as you would use chard or other cooking greens.  It would be a shame to throw them away!  We have a few recipes in our archives that I like to pull out this time of year.  Consider this Shaved Fennel and Beet Greens Salad.  It’s a light, refreshing salad that will keep you hydrated on a hot summer day!  It’s dressed with a light lemon-honey vinaigrette and garnished with feta cheese and chopped nuts.  Another popular beet-fennel combo recipe from our past is Caramelized Fennel & Beet Pizza.  Even people who don’t care for fennel and beets typically like this recipe!
It’s a salad kind of week, both because we have a lot of great salad ingredients in the box and because it’s finally hot and it’s nice to have cool, refreshing meal options.  Did you notice that big, beautiful head of Red Summercrisp lettuce in this week’s box?!  There are several meals in that crispy head of beautiful lettuce.  In addition to the Strawberry, Fennel, and Orange Salad mentioned above, this recipe for Salt-Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnuts caught my eye.  The beets are the star of this salad that is served on a bed of lettuce.
Red Lentil Soup with Amaranth Greens
We certainly have a lot of color going on in this box, including the gorgeous red amaranth greens!  If you’ve never used amaranth before, don’t be intimidated by it.  It’s easy to use and at this size, it’s best used as a cooking green.  It’s a very nutritious green and has a mild flavor.  Last year we featured this recipe for Black Beans with Amaranth.  It’s such a simple recipe, but it’s so delicious.  Another recipe I like to make every year is Red Lentil Soup with Amaranth Greens.  I know it’s hot outside now, but this soup does make a nice, simple dinner along with a salad and maybe even a piece of crusty bread.
This is a big week for broccoli & zucchini.  There’s a substantial amount of both items in your box this week.  First off, if it’s more than you can use fresh, both of these vegetables can be frozen.  Broccoli needs to be blanched first (lightly cooked and then rapidly cooled), but zucchini can be shredded and frozen raw.  I put some of both in the freezer last year and I was very happy to have them when February rolled around!  Earlier this week this recipe for Broccoli Salad came into my email from Love & Lemons blog.  It is simply called “broccoli salad.”  It’s raw broccoli with onion, dried cranberries and smoky tamari almonds—very simple, but makes for a tasty combo and is a good option for a holiday barbecue or picnic!  I also have my eye on this Macaroni & Cheese (& Broccoli) Casserole, another great dish to take to a 4th of July cookout or a nice side dish for a weekend meal to accompany grilled ribs or chicken.
Baked Cheesy Zucchini Bites
Photo from MelsKitchenCafe.com
As for the zucchini, one of our members shared this recipe in our Facebook Group for Vegetarian Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai.  I have to give this one a try—it looks delicious!  I also have this recipe for Zucchini & Dark Chocolate Chunk Pancakes with Maple Yogurt in the cue for Sunday morning brunch.   Now that we have a main course and a breakfast covered, lets talk about appetizers.  These Baked Cheesy Zucchini Bites would make a nice appetizer to enjoy with a glass of wine or include them as a side dish with your main meal.  The author of this recipe also mentions they can be frozen and are adaptable to different kinds of cheese.  If you like them, shred some zucchini and freeze it—you can make these when zucchini is out of season…perhaps they’d make a tasty snack for Super Bowl 2020?!
I didn’t think we’d have sugar snap peas for this week, but they made it.  Unfortunately we aren’t going to have many peas this summer, so we have to make the most of them this week!  Stir-fry is always on my list of things to make in early summer and this week I’m going to try this Chicken, Broccoli & Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry.  My other go-to sugar snap pea recipe is so simple, but so delicious.  Peas & Scallions is simply sugar snap peas quickly sautéed with scallions.  It takes less than five minutes to make—nature’s fast food.
Goat Cheese & Strawberry Breakfast
Tarts, photo from saveur.com
Alright, we’re rolling into the home stretch.  The only item remaining is strawberries.  Rain, storms and high humidity are weather conditions we hope to avoid during strawberry season, but unfortunately that’s what we’ve received the past week.  It’s been really hard on the strawberry field, which makes us appreciate every berry we have even more!  So as our strawberry season winds down, I hope you’ll enjoy these final sweet berries and use them to make something delicious.  Check out Saveur’s Best Strawberry Recipes which is an extensive collection of strawberry recipes including Strawberry Lemonade Ice Pops and Goat Cheese & Strawberry Breakfast Tarts.  I also found this recipe for Strawberry Tabbouleh that I want to try before the season is done.  It looks like a really refreshing salad and includes basil and mint.
That wraps up this week’s box contents.  We’re hoping to see more cucumbers coming in next week along with green top carrots and tender sweetheart cabbage!  Peppers and green beans have set on blossoms, so it won’t be long before we’re munching on those vegetables as well.  Have a great week and I’ll see you back here next week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Fennel: The Three In One Vegetable

By Andrea Yoder
When it comes to fennel, there are typically two groups of people.  Those who love it and those who are still learning to like it.  If you are in the latter group or you’ve never tried fennel before, I encourage you to approach this week’s vegetable with an open mind.  I wasn’t exposed to fennel until my college years, and even then I was skeptical of it when someone told me it tasted like black licorice.  My mom used to chew black licorice gum that I thought was horrid!  While fennel does have an anise flavor similar to licorice, it’s not the same as black licorice candy.  I have grown to really appreciate fennel and am excited to share a whole slew of recipe ideas for how to use this vegetable!  I’ve tried to be very thorough with my research for this week’s article and pushed myself to “think outside the box” and go beyond traditional uses for fennel.  I’d encourage you to visit our blog this week as I’ve included links to 25 recipes utilizing fennel.  At the end of this article I’ve include  25 links to recipes utilizing fennel, so hopefully there is something on that list that will spark your interest! 
One of the unique characteristics about fennel is that all parts of the plant above ground are usable.  The white bulb is the most commonly used portion, but the stalks and feathery fronds that extend from the bulb are also edible.  The stalks can be more tough and fibrous, but they have a lot of flavor.  The feathery parts that resemble dill are actually called fronds.  They have a mild flavor and can be used more like an herb.
Pasta with Golden Fennel
Fennel may be eaten raw and cooked.  It pairs well with a variety of ingredients and flavors, so when you’re looking at recipes you’ll likely see similar ingredients show up time after time.  Fennel pairs well with lemons and oranges as well as herbs such as dill, parsley and basil.  It also plays well with beets, tomatoes, celery, onions, carrots, pomegranate, apple, stone fruit and berries.  It is often used in dishes along with Parmesan, cream and white wine which come together to make a delicious sauce.  Lastly, fennel pairs very well with seafood, especially in soups and chowders, and pork products including sausage, pancetta, prosciutto, fresh pork cuts and more.  While most think of fennel as a vegetable to use in savory dishes, it can also be used in sweet preparations paired with honey, citrus, berries, etc.
In addition to its culinary value, fennel has some health benefits.  It can soothe the stomach and GI tract, thus it’s often used to help with digestion.  It can also freshen breath and has other potential health benefits including being antibacterial and working as an antioxidant to remove free radicals in our bodies.  It is high in fiber and vitamin C in particular.
Fennel Martini, photo from foodnetwork.com
The stalks and bulb typically have the strongest flavor.  If you enjoy the flavor of fennel, you’ll likely enjoy it raw.  I have one very important point to make about eating fennel raw.  It must be sliced very thin, like paper thin!  Fennel bulb is very fibrous and dense.  If you slice it thinly it is more tender and enjoyable to eat, plus it mingles better with other flavors in the dish.  In its raw form, fennel bulb is often used in simple raw salads and can also be used in fresh salsas, pickled, or preserved in alcohol to make your own digestif.  When you cook fennel, the essential oils that give it its distinct flavor and aroma volatilize and the flavor and aroma of fennel mellow and become more mild and sweet.
The stalk can be eaten, but seldom is.  Rather it is often used for flavoring.  I like to save the stalks and add them to vegetable or meat broth or just stick the whole stalk directly into a pot of soup to flavor it while cooking and then pull it out before serving.  It can also be used as a stirring stick for cocktails or use it to flavor water, lemonade, etc.  One of our featured recipes this week is for Candied Fennel Stalk.  I gave it a try and really like it!  What a great way to enjoy the stalk!  You can munch on candied fennel after a meal and get the benefit of settling your stomach while meeting the need for something a little sweet.
Fennel Frond Pesto
Photo from WholeFoodBellies.com
Last but not least, lets talk about the mild, feathery fronds.  Chop them up and use them as a herb-like garnish on salads, stirred into soups, or as a final topping on a pizza.  You can also blend them into smoothies and drinks or use them to make a cocktail, such as a Fennel Martini.  I also found a recipe for making Fennel Frond Salt.  It is shelf stable and can be used to season your own homemade sausage patties, use it to salt fish, roasted potatoes, cucumbers, cream sauces, etc.  Of course, you can always make Fennel Frond Pesto, using only fennel fronds or you could blend in some fresh basil or parsley as well.  Fennel Frond Pesto would make a lovely sauce for salmon, toss it with pasta, use it as a sandwich spread or mix it with mayonnaise and make a dipping sauce for fish or chicken strips!
Ok, that’s a lot of information and it’s time to get cooking.  Be sure to wash the fennel bulb well before using.  Sometimes a little dirt can get in between the layers.  Cut the core out of the base of the bulb and you’re ready to go.  Store fennel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
These recipes come from past newsletters and have received positive member comments including ones like “I always struggle with fennel and decided this is the last time I’m going to try it, but this is it—I finally found a dish with fennel that I like!”
Lemony Fennel Cupcakes

Fennel-Ginger Smoothie

Yield:  1 quart (1 large or 2 small servings)
1 cup almond milk
1 cup spinach, chard or beet greens, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
¼ cup  fresh lemon juice 
½  inch piece ginger root, peeled
1 fennel bulb, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
1 cup frozen pineapple 
½ cup ice
  1. Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.  You can adjust the almond milk or ice depending on your preference for thickness.
  2. Drink immediately.  
Recipe adapted from www.toopreciousforprocessed.com.
Note from Chef Andrea:  While I’ve only tried this smoothie with frozen pineapple, I think it would also be good with frozen blueberries or strawberries.

Candied Fennel Stalk & Fennel Simply Syrup

Yield: ¾ cup candy and 1 ½-2 cups syrup
Photo from WashingtonPost.com
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ cups fennel stalks, cut on the diagonal into thin slices 
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Add the fennel and reduce the heat to medium.  Simmer for 3 minutes, until the fennel is crisp-tender.  Remove from the heat and let the fennel  steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain the syrup into a container.
  3. Transfer the syrup-coated fennel slices to the lined baking sheet, spreading them in an even layer.  Bake for about 30 minutes, then separate any fennel slices that are sticking together.  Bake for 30 minutes more or until the fennel is dry, slightly crispy and just a bit sticky.
  4. Cool completely on the baking sheet before serving or storing.  The candy can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.  The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  5. You can munch on candied fennel after a meal and get the benefit of settling your stomach while meeting the need for something a little sweet.  You can also add it to fruit salads or use it as a topping for baked goods & ice cream.  The fennel simple syrup has a lovely mild floral-fennel flavor and can be used to sweeten beverages such as mocktails, cocktails, lemonade, tea, etc.
Recipe borrowed from www.washingtonpost.com

Strawberry, Fennel & Orange Salad

Yield:  4-5 servings
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
2 navel oranges
8 oz (1 pint or 1 ¼ cups) strawberries, hulled and quartered or halved
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 Tbsp finely chopped fennel fronds
1 green onion, thinly sliced
6 cups torn head lettuce 
Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese, for serving
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and black pepper.  Zest two oranges and add to the lemon juice mixture.  Cut the bottom and top off of each orange so the top and bottom are flat.  Use a knife to cut away the peel and pith by running the knife from the top of the orange to the bottom.  Once the peel is removed, hold the orange in your hand and use a paring knife to cut out the segments, letting them fall into a bowl, along with the juice.
  2. Add strawberries, sliced fennel and fronds, and green onion to the bowl of orange segments and toss together gently.  
  3. Put 1 to 1 ½ cups lettuce on each plate and spoon about ⅔ of the fennel and fruit mixture over the lettuce.  Garnish with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.  
Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

Dealing With Weeds At Harmony Valley Farm

2 Jul 2019 20:45

By:  Richard de Wilde
“What we call a weed is in fact merely a plant growing where we do not want it.”
 —E.J. Salisbury, The Living Garden, 1935
Leeks after cultivation using "The Lilliston"
As organic farmers we do our best to understand and work with the natural world.  Nature is wise and knows the value of keeping soil in place and covered with plants which maximize each day of sunshine, capturing carbon and nitrogen from the air while exhaling oxygen that we need to live.  In nature, soil is never left bare to be wasted or eroded by wind and water.  Weeds have a purpose, and it really is a good one!  So why are we so set on killing and eradicating them from our fields?  Weeds can be very aggressive and can inhibit the potential of a crop by competing for sunlight and nutrients.  They impede our harvest efficiency and produce thousands of seeds which will haunt us for years.  Most weeds have accompanied agriculture from its beginning.  They moved around the world as early settlers brought their grain seed along with some tag along weed seeds and today they hitchhike with the global grain trade and then further spread by way of wind, animals, equipment, etc.
Potato field cultivated with "The Lilliston" 
Weed plants are very adaptive.  They can lie dormant in soils for 10-30 years, just waiting for their time of need to germinate.  Some weed seeds  only germinate at certain times of the year, such as in cool spring or fall temperatures.  Others are triggered in times of excess moisture, while others only germinate in summer heat or extreme drought.  Weed seeds are also triggered to geminate by exposure to light, usually caused by tillage.  Tillage is any disruption of the soil, which in our case could be cultivation or other work to prepare the soil for planting.  As the soil is stirred and disrupted, even just a flash of sunlight is enough to trigger some weeds to germinate!  In fact, I’ve read that in Europe some farmers even started cultivating at night to avoid triggering weed seeds!  Weed seeds may also be triggered by fertility needs in the soil.  Some weeds have the ability to correct soil nutrient deficiencies.  For example, if soil is deficient in phosphorus, a seed for a plant that has the ability to scavenge phosphorus may be triggered to germinate and grow.  As we try to minimize weeds in our crop, one thing we do is to provide balanced nutritional needs for the soil to prevent the need for weeds to correct the deficiency.
Cilantro:  Cultivated with "Basket Weeder" with shields & Kult Kress Duo.
There are really only two kinds of weeds, annual or bi-annual weeds and perennial weeds.  Annual or bi-annual weeds grow rapidly from seed, but only under the right conditions.  In order to thrive once they germinate, they need to grow and develop their green structures above ground to capture sunlight and utilize photosynthesis for energy.  When these types of weeds die at the end of the season, they are dead and won’t grow again.   Thus their main way to propagate themselves is to produce seeds that drop back into the soil and are available for a future season.  In contrast, perennial weeds survive from year to year and their main strength and the key to their survival is their underground root storage system which holds nutrients and energy.  When a new year rolls around, they don’t have to wait for the right conditions to germinate a seed and start photosynthesizing, rather they draw their energy from their roots.  The key to eradicating these types of weeds is depleting their root reserves.  Up until the plant is six inches tall, it is drawing its energy from its root reserves.  When it is about six inches tall, it starts utilizing photosynthesis to put energy back into the roots and replete the reserve.  One way we can battle this type of weed is to repeatedly mow it off when it is about six inches tall. This takes persistence, but after time the root reserves will be depleted and the plant will die.
Rafael using disc cultivator in the cilantro field.
By now you may be wondering if there is a silver bullet for weed control.  Valid question and one farmers have been asking for years.  In a recent article in Acres U.S.A. written by Anneliese Abbott, she commented about the onset of agricultural herbicide use.  “It seemed so easy:  forget about plowing…and just spray chemicals to kill the weeds.  No tillage, no erosion and no weeds:  what could be better?  Unfortunately, herbicides caused as many problems as they solved. They polluted water, harmed non-target organisms and sometimes posed a threat to human health.  Worst of all, they only worked well for a short period of time.  Weeds quickly evolved resistance to every major type of herbicide, forcing farmers to spray more and more chemicals with less and less success every year.”   Sadly, as organic farmers there is no easy way to deal with weeds.  Rather we try to understand how weeds work, the conditions they thrive in, and then we utilize multiple methods to kill them and prevent their growth.  Aside from the occasional use of 30% vinegar, chemicals are not our answer.  So lets talk about the methods and tools we can use.
New weed control technique:
Low growing cover crops between rows of melons.
One of our weed control tools is planting cover crops of grains, grasses and clovers.  If we can satisfy the need to cover the soil, there’s no need for dormant weed seeds to germinate.  It helps that most grasses and cereal grains, such as rye, also exude chemicals to inhibit other seeds from germinating.  Historically we have planted most of our cover crops in the fall, which can serve to prevent the growth of bi-annual weeds.  Bi-annual weeds germinate in fall, but do their growing in the spring.  If we can inhibit germination with a fall cover crop planting, we won’t have those weeds in our spring planted crop.  We are also perfecting a new and exciting technique we’ve developed for controlling weeds that grow in the space between the beds where crops are planted.  Immediately after preparing the beds, we plant two very fast germinating cover crop plants, creeping red fescue and white Dutch clover.  Both grow fast and inhibit weeds.  They are also short in stature, only 6 inches tall at most, so they do not compete with our crop for sunshine.
Using Flame Weeder to kill small weeds before crop emerges
We can also deplete the “weed seed bank” in the soil by triggering weeds to germinate, then killing them when they are small with very shallow cultivation or flaming.  We typically utilize this method before we plant the crop, but it requires us to prepare the beds one week ahead of planting.  Then, just before we plant, we “basket” the beds.  A “Basket Weeder” is an implement mounted on a small tractor.  It has horizontal wires that flip small weeds out as they roll across the surface of the bed.  We can also utilize a “Flame Weeder” to kill weeds that germinate and emerge after the crop has been planted, but before it comes up.  In order for this to work, the timing and conditions have to be just right.  The flame weeder is a tank of propane mounted on the back of the tractor with burners that carry just over the surface of the bed.  The flames burn the weeds off, thereby killing them.  If you flame too soon, you won’t maximize the number of weeds you kill.  If you wait too long, the crop may start to emerge and you risk burning off your crop.  We utilize flame weeding for crops such as cilantro and dill that we plant every week for over twenty weeks.  Typically we have to time the flaming about 4-8 days after the crop is planted, depending on temperature.  We also use this technique on carrots and parsnips and the difference between a crop that has been flamed and one that has not is dramatic!!  We have a significant reduction in weeds with timely flaming.  When we do get weeds in our field, it is critical that “bad” weeds to go to seed in the field or areas around our fields.  If they do, they’ll make a deposit into the “weed seed bank” that we’ll pay for in years to come!
Vicente using "The Lilliston" to "hill" sweet corn
We have a few more tools in our collection of things for weed control.  Sometimes we use a tool called “The Lilliston” which aggressively throws dirt in one direction and can be used to smother weeds by throwing dirt on them.  We use this to smother weeds within the rows of crops such as potatoes, leeks and sunchokes when the plants are big enough to get partially covered by dirt without damaging them.  Another tool we use is called a “Lely Tine Weeder.”  This tool has little tines that rake out very small weeds.  This is a more gentle tool and can be used on small transplants and fast growing crops that are direct seeded, as long as the crop is larger than the weeds.  The “Basket Weeder” is also extensively used with tunnel shields that we put on the implement to carry over the rows of crops to protect them from dirt flying into the row and smothering the crop when the crop is too small.  While this method preserves the crop and kills weeds in between the rows, it doesn’t do anything to remove weeds that are in the row.  Later, when the crop is bigger and can take a little more aggressive cultivation, we remove the shields.
Jaime and Felix G using "The Kult" in celeriac
In more recent years we’ve started using a steerable cultivator that we call “The Kult.”  It requires a team of two people to operate it.  One person drives the tractor and the other rides on the cultivator to steer the machine.  This tool is more effective at killing weeds within the rows of crops and it is indispensable at killing new weeds in larger, more established crops where we have to be careful not to disturb the crop’s root system or damage the plants.  It’s also adaptable and can be set up in a variety of ways to best meet our needs.  We have even more cultivating tools, but I think you can see we try to utilize mechanical options as they are our most efficient and cost-effective means of killing weeds.
Ascension using a hoe and his hands to remove weeds
in the strawberry field
We can also smother weeds by covering the soil with plastic or straw mulch.  Some of our crops are planted on plastic covered beds.  We use the plastic mulch for a variety of reasons, one being weed control.  As a last resort, when we’ve exhausted all other methods, we turn to old-fashioned hand weeding.  Yes, we do still do more than our fair share of hand weeding and this too is a skill.  We try to avoid weeding by hand because it is time consuming, but sometimes that’s the only option.
Will we ever kill all the weeds in our fields?  No, but the sum total of all our efforts will pay off this year and in years to come as we minimize the impact weeds have on our crops.

June 27, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Swiss Chard!

26 Jun 2019 21:16

Cooking With This Week's Box

Purple or Green Scallions: Orzo Pasta with Chickpeas & Chard (see below); Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown ButterSimple Sauteed Celtuce with HerbsSwiss Chard & Lentil Soup with Herbed Kohlrabi YogurtKohlrabi Curry
Garlic Scapes: Orzo Pasta with Chickpeas & Chard (see below); Grilled Garlic Cilantro Chicken SkewersSwiss Chard & Lentil Soup with Herbed Kohlrabi YogurtKohlrabi Curry
Red Boston Lettuce: Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown ButterApple, Blue Cheese & Boston Lettuce Salad
Celtuce: Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown ButterSimple Sauteed Celtuce with Herbs
Kohlrabi: Kohlrabi CurrySwiss Chard & Lentil Soup with Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt
Strawberries: Mini Grain-Free Angel Food Cakes with Lemon Cream and Juicy StrawberriesZabaglione with Strawberries; Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
Broccoli or Salad Cabbage: Kohlrabi Curry; Thai-Style Slaw (with or without chicken); Simplest Cabbage SlawBroccoli Pizza
Green or Italian Zucchini: My Special Zucchini Bread Recipe; Grilled Lemon Garlic Zucchini;  Orzo Pasta with Chickpeas & Chard (see below)

Cilantro: Grilled Garlic Cilantro Chicken Skewers; 91 Bold & Savory Cilantro Recipes; Thai-Style Slaw (with or without chicken)

Rainbow or Red Swiss Chard: Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon & Parmesan (see below); Orzo Pasta with Chickpeas & Chard (see below); Green Curry with Brown Rice Noodles & Swiss ChardSwiss Chard & Lentil Soup with Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt

Holy cow....we’re in the last week of June!  Now that we finally gave our crops the memo that it’s officially summer, things are growing!  The zucchini plants are packed with blossoms and now that we’re having some warmer days we anticipate the plants will start pumping out the fruit!  Get your zucchini recipes ready…you’ll need them very soon!  Do you have plans for the 4th of July next week?  Whether you’re traveling or celebrating in your own back yard, don’t forget to incorporate your CSA box contents into the festivities.  If you’ll be out of town, pack your box and take it with you!  I’ve thrown a few recipe ideas into this week’s Cooking With the Box Plan that might work for your travels or 4th of July picnics and potlucks.
Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon & Parmesan
Lets start off with our featured vegetable of the week which is the colorful rainbow chard.  I have two simple recipes this week.  The first is for Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon & Parmesan (see below).  While chard is typically cooked, this salad features raw chard and it is delicious!  It’s made with simple ingredients and doesn’t take long to put together.  You want to add the dressing just before serving, so keep all the components separate until it’s time to eat.  You can use this as a side salad or make it the main feature.  It would also be good with grilled fish or roasted chicken added on top.  The other recipe is for Orzo Pasta with Chickpeas & Chard (see below).  The recipe calls for bacon, but you can omit it and use olive oil instead of the bacon and bacon fat.  I’ve eaten this dish both warm and cold and I think it’s good both ways!  I like it just as it is, but you can also add grated Parmesan on top if you like.
If you didn’t receive a box last week, you may be wondering what to do with celtuce and kohlrabi.  We published a feature article about these two unique vegetables last week on our blog.  Take a moment to read more about how to use these two vegetables and refer to last week’s “What’s In the Box” post for recipe suggestions.  I recommend using the kohlrabi to make the Kohlrabi Curry from last week or pair it with this week’s chard to make Swiss Chard & Lentil Soup with Herbed Kohlrabi Yogurt.  As for the celtuce, if you aren’t opposed to another soup suggestion, I’d recommend the Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown Butter or  Simple Sauteed Celtuce with Herbs.  If you take me up on the celtuce soup suggestion, consider serving it with an Apple,Blue Cheese & Boston Lettuce Salad.  Use the outer lettuce leaves for the soup and the inner leaves to make the salad.

Grilled Lemon Garlic Zucchini
Photo from DamnDelicious.net
If you haven’t brushed off the grill yet to do some outdoor cooking, now is the time!  Try this recipe for Grilled Garlic Cilantro Chicken Skewers and pair it with Grilled Lemon Garlic Zucchini.  If you just aren’t sure what to use the cilantro for, check out this collection of 91 Bold & Savory Cilantro Recipes.  Surely there’s something in this collection that appeals to you!  The other suggestion I have, if you receive the salad cabbage this week, is to use it along with the cabbage to make Thai-Style Slaw (with or without chicken).  This is a refreshing, yet filling salad that can be made in advance and still taste good!  It’s easy to transport, delicious to eat, simple to make, and leftovers can be wrapped in rice paper wrappers to make spring rolls!
Looking for something to make with the kids?  Pizza?  Absolutely!  You can put anything on a pizza (or nearly anything), so why not Broccoli Pizza!  You could even make these on the grill! 
If you are traveling, be sure to turn your zucchini into this delicious recipe for My Special Zucchini Bread Recipe.  Slice it and take it with you on your travels.  You could also take all those strawberries with you as well!  Summer isn’t summer without a few strawberry desserts.  Here’s a recipe for Mini Grain-Free Angel Food Cakes with Lemon Cream and Juicy Strawberries.  I also recommend making Zabaglione with Strawberries.  Zabaglione is an Italian custard that is flavored with Marsala wine. It is thin and pourable, so you can drizzle it over (or drench it in) fresh strawberries!

Mini Grain-Free Angel Food Cakes with Lemon
Cream and Juicy Strawberries
Photo from HeartbeetKitchen.com
My final suggestion for strawberries this week takes me back to my Mennonite church carry-in days.  Check out this recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Dessert.  I’m not usually big on things that call for “Jell-O”  but everyone loves this recipe.  The combination of sweet and salty is delicious.
Ok, I think that wraps up this week’s cooking chat.  I hope you’re finding some inspiration from these articles and are enjoying the experience of it all!  If you’ve found some good recipes of your own, please share some of your favorites with us!  Have a good 4th of July and I’ll see you next week!---Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Swiss Chard

Red Chard in the field.
Chard is a gorgeous leafy green with crinkly green leaves and bright, vivid rib-like stems in a variety of colors including red, yellow, orange, pink and white.  It is actually in the beet family and bears resemblance to beet greens, which may be used in place of chard in some applications.  While chard is most often considered a cooking green, the leaves are tender enough to also eat raw.  While less of a traditional use, you can use it in salads, such as in this week’s recipe for Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon, Parmesan and Breadcrumbs.  Chard has a taste similar to spinach, but it is more earthy & full-flavored.  Some describe it as having a “mineral flavor.”  Since minerals are what help give food it’s flavor, that means chard tastes really good!  It’s packed with nutrients including vitamins A, C & K, calcium, iron, magnesium and a variety of antioxidants and B vitamins.  Most of the time chard is referred to as “Swiss Chard.”  It really has nothing to do with Switerland, rather the origin of this term goes back to how this vegetable was identified in France many years ago.  Just know that Swiss chard and chard are the same thing.
Rainbow and Red Chard
In the Midwest, chard is available from early summer to late fall.  Unlike kale and collards, chard is not very frost tolerant.  Because of its long season of availability, you’ll see chard used in a variety of applications with both summer and fall/winter vegetables.  While there are many ways to use chard, some common ways include vegetable gratins, soups, or just simply sautéed in olive oil with garlic and a drizzle of vinegar. 
Chard pairs well with bacon, lentils, white beans, chickpeas, cream, cheese, black pepper, raisins, pine nuts, vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice.  It also goes well with fresh herbs (thyme, cilantro, basil), and other vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, winter squash).  You can eat both the leaves and the stems, although the stems require just a tad longer cooking time.  In addition to eating chard raw, you can also steam, sautè or stir-fry it.  When properly cooked, the leaves are tender and silky.  Take care to not overcook it! Store chard in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready for use.  

Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Breadcrumbs

Yield: 2-3 servings (as a main) or 4-5 servings (as a side)
1 bunch Swiss chard
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic or 1 garlic scape, finely minced
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Zest of one lemon
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Wash and dry the chard.  Separate the stems from the leaves.  Finely chop the stems and put into a large salad bowl.  Stack a few of the leaves on top of each other, then cut lengthwise into thirds.  Holding the stack together with one hand, cut horizontally across the leaves into ⅛ -inch strips.  Add the leaves to the salad bowl.
  2. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic/garlic scapes and red pepper flakes (if using).  Sautè briefly, just until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until they are crisp and golden brown (about 5-10 minutes).  Be careful not to burn them!  Season with salt and a little black pepper, then remove from heat and cool.  
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice and Dijon mustard with a few pinches of salt.  Stir to combine, then slowly whisk in ½ cup of the olive oil.
  4. Add lemon zest & Parmesan cheese to the bowl of chard.  Drizzle with ½-⅔ of the dressing, then toss gently until all of the components are nicely coated with the dressing.  Taste and add more dressing if you like.  Be careful not to get too much dressing or the greens will be soggy.  Toss in the toasted breadcrumbs and serve immediately.  
  5. Note:  If you are not going to be eating or serving the entire salad at one meal, store the greens, dressing, Parmesan cheese & breadcrumbs in separate containers.  Assemble and toss only the amount of greens you will be needing at one time.
This recipe was adapted from alexandracooks.com.  

Orzo Pasta with Chickpeas & Chard

Yield:  4-6 servings
8 oz dried orzo pasta (about 2 cups uncooked) 
½ pound bacon, cut into ⅛-inch wide pieces (optional) 
3-4 scallions 2-3 garlic scapes or garlic cloves, finely chopped 
Red pepper flakes, to taste 
2 cups zucchini, small dice 
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas/garbanzo beans 
1 bunch chard, stems and leaves separated
3-4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
1 Tbsp stoneground mustard 
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice 
¼- ½ cup fresh basil 
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
Parmesan cheese (for serving), optional
  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package instructions until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Next, prepare the garlic and scallions.  Separate the bottom portion of the scallions from the green tops.  Thinly slice both the bottom portion as well as the green tops, but keep the tops separate from the lower portion.  Finely chop the garlic scapes and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet or sautè pan, over medium heat.  Add the bacon and fry until crisp and golden.  Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.  Drain off any excess bacon fat.  You want to leave about 4 Tbsp of bacon fat in the pan.  NOTE:  If you choose not to use the bacon, you can omit this step.  Replace the bacon fat with 4 Tbsp olive oil and proceed with the remainder of the recipe.
  4. Next, add the garlic scapes and scallions (lower portion only) to the pan.  Sautè briefly, then add a pinch of red pepper flakes, zucchini, and chickpeas to the pan.  Sautè for 5-10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and just slightly al dente.  
  5. In a small bowl, mix together 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar with stoneground mustard.  Stir to combine, then pour in the skillet with the chard, zucchini, etc.  Chop the chard stems and add to the pan.  Make a stack with the chard leaves and slice them in half lengthwise, then horizontally into strips about ¼ inch wide.  Add chard leaves to the pan and season with salt and black pepper as well as ¼-⅓ cup pasta water.  Stir to combine and allow the chard to wilt down.  
  6. Once the chard is wilted, add the orzo along with red wine vinegar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Add more pasta water if needed.  You want the orzo to shimmer, but you don’t want it to have a lot of liquid in the pan.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil and sliced scallion tops.  Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, balsamic vinegar and/or lemon juice as needed.
  7. Serve warm topped with freshly grated Parmesan if desired.
Recipe developed by Chef Andrea Yoder

June 20, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Kohlrabi and Celtuce!

19 Jun 2019 21:18

Cooking With This Week's Box

Potato Onions or Scallions: Kohlrabi Curry (see below); Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried RiceFried Rice with Chicken and Celtuce; Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger & Sesame; Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown Butter (see below); Simple Sauteed Celtuce with Herbs (see below); Spicy Pork SaladArugula & Strawberry Salad
Garlic Scapes: Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried RiceFried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce; Spicy Pork Salad
Baby Arugula: Arugula & Strawberry Salad
Salad Mix: Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown Butter (see below)
Red Oak & Red Butterhead Lettuce: Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown Butter (see below); 38 Ways to Use Lettuce!Spicy Pork SaladMixed Lettuces and Kohlrabi with Creamy Sumac DressingStrawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Celtuce: Fried Rice with Chicken and Celtuce; Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger & Sesame;  Simple Sauteed Celtuce with Herbs (see below)
Kohlrabi: Kohlrabi Curry (see below); Oven Baked Kohlrabi Fries (see below); Spicy Kale & Coconut Fried RiceMixed Lettuces and Kohlrabi with Creamy Sumac Dressing
Strawberries: Arugula & Strawberry SaladStrawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic VinaigretteStrawberry Rhubarb Trifle;  Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb: Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle; Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble22 Sweet & Savory Rhubarb RecipesStrawberry Rhubarb Trifle
Baby Broccoli: Kohlrabi Curry (see below); Broccoli Egg Muffins
This week we’re cooking up two unique vegetables, celtuce and kohlrabi!  If you’re not familiar with either of these vegetables, take a few minutes to read our feature article about them before you dive in.  This week we have two recipes using kohlrabi.  The first is a simple Kohlrabi Curry (see below) that uses both the kohlrabi bulb as well as the leaves.  This recipe comes together pretty quickly and is delicious served over rice with a little squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro.  You could also use the kohlrabi bulb to make Oven Baked Kohlrabi Fries (see below).  It’s best to eat these right out of the oven and would be great served with a big juicy burger!  If you make the Oven Baked Kohlrabi Fries, you’ll still have the greens available for another use.  Consider using them in place of kale to make the Spicy Kale and Coconut Fried Ricerecipe we featured last week!
Fried Rice with Chicken and Celtuce
Moving on to celtuce.  Last year I used celtuce in two Asian inspired recipes, which you may want to consider.  Fried Rice with Chicken and Celtuce and Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger & Sesame.  This year I decided to go a different direction with two simple recipes.  The first is for Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown Butter (see below).  I’ve seen recipes for lettuce soup and always thought that kind of a weird use for lettuce, however the recipes always have rave reviews.  Since celtuce is related to lettuce, I thought this might work, and it did!  This is a simple, light soup that reheats well and you can make a light lunch or dinner with just a piece of toast and maybe a simple salad on the side.  The second recipe featuring celtuce is for Simple Sauteed Celtuce with Herbs (see below).  It is exactly as the name says…simple!  Serve this as a side dish alongside a piece of fish or chicken to make a complete meal.
Spicy Pork Salad, photo from BonAppetit.com
Tis the season for lettuce!  This week we’re finishing up the last of our red oak and red butterhead lettuce.  We still have more lettuce yet to come in the next few weeks, so it’s time to get creative!  I found this article entitled 38 Ways to Use Lettuce!  It includes a few interesting recipes utilizing head lettuce.  I picked out two that I’d like to try.  The first is a Spicy Pork Salad.  This would be appropriate for either of the head lettuce varieties this week.  The recipe calls for cucumber, but you could substitute celtuce!
The other recipe has a Middle Eastern Flair.  The recipe is entitled Mixed Lettuces and Kohlrabi with Creamy Sumac Dressing.  Sumac is a tangy spice often used in the Middle East.  I’ve been able to source it in Madison, WI at Penzeys and often can find it in the bulk spice section at many co-ops.  It’s a lovely spice to use and adds just a bit of zing to salads and other dishes.
Strawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Photo from ACoupleCooks.com
It won’t be long before we say goodbye to lettuce salads for the summer, so lets make the most of this week and get our salad fill!  Here’s a tasty recipe for a Strawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette that could be made with a base of salad mix or head lettuce.  If you’re feeling spicy, you could use this week’s baby arugula to make this Arugula & Strawberry Salad.   There are a lot of flavors going on in this fruity salad!
We’re almost at the end of our box, and we’re also at the end of rhubarb season.  Check out this article featuring 22 Sweet & Savory Rhubarb Recipes.  Surely you can find something delicious to make such as this Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle.   This recipe for Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble also looks tasty.
Last, but not least, we can’t forget about breakfast.  This week the baby broccoli is going to find its home in these Broccoli Egg Muffins.  I love egg dishes that can be made in advance and just reheated.  They’re also easier to take with you than say, scrambled eggs.  Plus, you can mix up the ingredients—use a different kind of cheese.  The other reason this recipe is a keeper is because it’s easy enough for the kids to do on their own and they don’t take much time to assemble!
There you have it friends, another delicious CSA box adventure.  A big thank you to those of you who were able to make it to our Strawberry Day Party last weekend.  We had a great time and hope you did as well!  If you weren’t able to join us for the party, mark your calendars for September 29 and we’ll see you for the Harvest Party!

Oven Baked Kohlrabi Fries

Yield:  3-4 servings
Kohlrabi bulbs 
2 tsp paprika 
1 ½ tsp salt 
¼ tsp garlic powder 
¼ tsp onion powder 
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper 
3 Tbsp flour 
1 egg, beaten 
1 ½ Tbsp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Cut kohlrabi into sticks or spiralize it and put into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Combine paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and flour in a small bowl.
  4. Add in egg and milk and mix well.
  5. Pour seasoning mixture over the kohlrabi and mix well. (It’s easiest to use your hands)
  6. Spread fries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  It’s best to keep them in a single layer so they are not overlapping.  You may need to use a second baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping once during baking.  They will still be soft on the inside, but crispy on the outside.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from the blog Like Mother Like Daughter.  

Creamy Celtuce & Lettuce Soup with Brown Butter

Yield:  4 servings
2 celtuce, stems and leaves
3 Tbsp butter
1 ½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups firmly packed fresh lettuce
½ cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup thinly sliced green onion, to garnish
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  1. First, prepare the celtuce.  Trim the leaves off the stem and wash well in a sink of cold water.  Shake excess water off the leaves and roughly chop them.  Set aside.  Next, use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to peel away the outer layer on the stem to reveal the tender, translucent flesh inside.  Cut the stem in half lengthwise, then cut into ¼ inch pieces.   
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted, continue to heat the butter until it starts to get foamy and the color just barely starts to turn more golden to slightly light brown.  At this stage it will smell like a shortbread cookie.  Add the sliced celtuce stem.  Sautè for 5 minutes to just soften the celtuce.  Add the dried parsley, ½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir to combine, then add the chopped celtuce leaves.  
  3. Continue to cook until the leaves start to wilt down, then add chicken or vegetable stock to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the leaves and celtuce are soft.  Remove the pan from the stove and set aside.  
  4. Next, you will use a blender to puree the soup.  First, put the lettuce into the blender and then carefully ladle the soup into the blender.  Put the lid on and carefully blend until the soup is at the desired consistency.  You can blend it until it is totally smooth or leave it a little more rustic.
  5. Once fully blended, pour the soup back into the pan and heat it over medium heat.  Stir the cream into the soup, then taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.  Just before serving, add a pinch of nutmeg if desired.
  6. Serve warm garnished with thinly sliced green onions and buttered toast.

Recipe by Chef Andrea

Simple Sautéed Celtuce with Herbs

Yield:  2 servings
1 celtuce
1 Tbsp butter
2 scallions
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Salt, to taste
½ cup chopped fresh dill or parsley

  1. Prepare the celtuce by trimming the leaves off and thinly slicing.  Set aside.  Peel the celtuce stem and cut in half lengthwise.  Slice into ¼ inch thick pieces.
  2. In a medium sautè pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Once the butter is sizzling, add the celtuce pieces and sautè for 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.  
  3. Add the celtuce leaves and season with salt.  Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until both the the stems and leaves are softened.  Remove from heat and add vineagar and fresh herbs.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.  Serve immediately.

Recipe by Chef Andrea

Kohlrabi Curry

Serves 4

3 kohlrabi bulbs, with leaves 
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
1 cup broccoli stems/florets
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and thinly sliced, OR 1 tsp green curry paste
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 (14-15 ounce) can coconut milk
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of one small lime
Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges, for serving (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving

  1. Cut the leaves away from the kohlrabi bulbs, discarding the connective stems.  Wash the leaves, dry them, and chop coarsely.  Set aside.  Using a paring knife, cut the kohlrabi bulbs into quarters and then peel the bulbs.  You must peel deeply enough to remove any fibrous parts;  the inside should be crisp and moist.  Once peeled, cut the kohlrabi into medium dice.  Reserve the kohlrabi and leaves in separate piles.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sautè pan (12 inches or wider) over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the ginger and sautè for 45-60 seconds, then add the scallions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes.  
  3. Next, add the cumin, salt, coriander, and turmeric.  Stir to combine, then add the diced kohlrabi and broccoli.  Stir to coat the vegetables with the spices.
  4. Add the coconut milk and broth to the pan, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, turn down the heat to low and add the chopped kohlrabi leaves.  Partially cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables and leaves are tender.  
  5. Remove the pan from heat and stir in lime juice.  Taste and add additional salt if needed. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Recipe adapted from Brassicas, Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables:  Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More by Laura Russell
S3442 Wire Hollow Road, Viroqua, WI, 54665, United States
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