Rain, Rain Go Away Come Again Another Day! An update from the fields.

June 23rd, 2010

I feel like we are living in the rain forest!  It has been raining almost every day for 2 weeks!  Everything is lush and green.  It has been challenging getting into our fields on time.  Our soil is high in clay which means it retains nutrients and water better than a sandy soil.  It also means we need a few days of dry weather to be able to prepare beds for planting.  Otherwise the soil just sticks to the equipment and clumps up.  It is also bad for soil compaction.

With all this wet weather we are late getting our potatoes and sweet corn planted.  We still have time as there are about 100 growing days left in the season.  But they will not come as early as they have in the past.  It was too wet for our strawberries and they went bad on the vine.

Other plants are loving this wet cool weather.  The lettuces, spinach, and radishes have all been sweet, crisp and juicy.  The tomato plants are shooting into the sky.  You can expect lots of tomatoes this season!  The green beans are growing really fast right now too.

Let’s not forget the weeds.  They are at their heaviest pressure right now, lasting for the next month.  We have lost some scallion beds to the weeds because we couldn’t get to all of them in time.  It’s hard to weed when it is so wet.  The soil clumps up around the hoe or comes out in large chunks when you pull them.  If you leave the weed laying with the roots touching the soil they will stand right back up again!

At the end of every rainstorm is a rainbow.  Find a rainbow of vegetables in your CSA box each week and bring new meaning to the phrase “Taste the Rainbow!”

Farm Rainbow (450 x 600)

Quantity and Variety of your CSA Box.

June 23rd, 2010

The quantity and variety of your box will fluctuate from week to week.  Your box will be lighter in the Spring and heavier throughout the Summer and Fall as you eat with the seasons.  Some farms use a smaller box in the Spring so their members feel like their box is full.  We prefer to use the same size box all season long.

I”ve been asked before, “Why does the farmers market have vegetables that we haven”t seen in our box yet?”  The answer is that every farmer is working with something different.  A farm a few hours away from us can have a different micro climate.  Each farm has different soils, rainfall, and frost times.  This affects when you can get your equipment into the fields and seeds in the ground.  Plus every farmer has a different “Master Plan”.  There are only so many best online casino hours in the the day and everybody lines up their priorities differently.

From past surveys I have found that for every person who wants more variety and less quantity there is another who wants less variety and more quantity .  The only way to please everyone (is that possible?) is to do both. Sometimes more quantity and sometimes more variety.  My goal is to have (on average) between 6-10 items in each box in large enough amounts to add to a meal.  My motto is “When in doubt, Stir-fry it!

Garlic Scape and Herb Compound Butter

June 23rd, 2010

garlic scapes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but not melted
2-3 garlic scapes, minced
small handful dill, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary savory, or any combination of leaves minced
sea salt and fresh black pepper
~ Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Adjust
seasoning to your liking. Store in your fridge for later use on items such as Bread, steaks, potatoes, or grilled veggies.

adapted from recipe at taitfarmfoods.com

Snap Pea and Scape Stir-Fry

June 23rd, 2010

1 cup whole snap peas
(strings removed)
4 teaspoon garlic scapes, diced finely
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small pinch black pepper
1 fl. oz. water
1 fl. oz. soy sauce
~ In a small mixing bowl, toss snap peas and cornstarch together to coat
evenly, shaking to remove excess.
~ Place a sauté pan over high heat and allow it to become quite hot. Next,
add the sesame oil and swirl in the pan to coat evenly. Just as the oil
begins to smoke, add the diced garlic scapes and toss in the pan for 5-10
seconds before adding the cornstarch-coated snap peas and black
pepper. Toss together over the heat for another thirty seconds before
removing the pan from the heat and adding the water, soy sauce, and
brown sugar.
~ Using a heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of
the pan and stir frequently (1-2 minutes), until liquid looks consistent and
slightly thickened.

Cook’s Column
By Silias Conroy
(workshare and sous chef at Elk Creek Cafe)

taitfarmfoods.com

Roasted Baby Beets with Braised Beet Greens

June 15th, 2010
Beets with Greens
Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of beets with greens attached
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation:

You will be using all parts of the beets, both the greens and the roots, and a different preparation method for each: Roasting the beetroots (which will take 30 to 60 minutes) and then braising the beet greens (which will take only seconds).

Chop the beet green tops off of the beets and save both the beetroots and the greens.

Roasting the Baby Beets

Wash the baby beet roots. You don’t have to remove any long stringy roots as these will come off with the skin after roasting.

Make a pocket of aluminum foil by tearing off about a 12-inch piece of foil, placing the beets in the foil with a tablespoon of olive oil, then folding up each point of the square and crumpling them together at the peak to close the pocket. Make sure the beets are coated with the oil. You may wish to add a couple sprigs of rosemary.

Roast in the oven or on a grill until the beets are tender. Tiny beet roots cook in about 30 minutes at 400 F. Larger roots would take longer. If you are baking other items, simply place the beets in the oven alongside the other dishes and test the beets after 30 minutes. You can test the beets with a fork. When they have softened enough to be pricked with the fork, they are done.

Once done, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.

Once cool enough to handle, you can rub off the outer skin with a paper towel. The beets are now ready to arrange for serving.

Braised Beet Greens

Save this step until right before you are about to serve the meal, as it will go very quickly.

Wash the beet greens.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan.

Rip the greens into sections, discarding any large central stem or vein.

Toss them in the pan with the hot oil just until they are wilted, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and toss with the greens in the pan briefly.

The greens are now ready to serve.

You can arrange the greens on the plate with the roasted beets on top for an elegant presentation. You can salt and pepper to taste.

walking.about.com/od/sidedishrecipes

How to dry Herbs

June 15th, 2010

Air drying herbs is not only the easiest and least expensive way to dry fresh herbs, but this slow drying process also doesn’t deplete the herbs of their oils. This process works best with herbs that don’t have a high moisture content, like Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Thyme. Moisture dense herbs, like Basil, Chives, Mint, Tarragon preserve better in a dehydrator, or try freezing them. Use a microwave or oven to dry herbs only as a last resort. These actually cook the herbs to a degree, diminishing the oil content and flavor.

How To Dry Herbs

  1. Cut healthy branches from your herb plants.
  2. Remove any dry or diseased leaves
  3. Shake gently to remove any insects.
  4. If necessary, rinse with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Wet herbs will mold and rot.
  5. Remove the lower leaves along the bottom inch or so of the branch.
  6. Bundle 4 – 6 branches together and tie as a bunch. You can use string or a rubber band. The bundles will shrink as they dry and the rubber band will loosen, so check periodically that the bundle is not slipping. Make small bundles if you are trying to dry herbs with high water content.
  7. Punch or cut several holes in a paper bag. Label the bag with the name of the herb you are drying.
  8. Place the herb bundle upside down into the bag.
  9. Gather the ends of the bag around the bundle and tie closed. Make sure the herbs are not crowded inside the bag.
  10. Hang the bag upside down in a warm, airy room.
  11. Check in about two weeks to see how things are progressing. Keep checking weekly until your herbs are dry and ready to store.

Storing Dried Herbs

  1. Store your dried herbs in air tight containers. Zip closing bags will do. I like to use small canning jars.
  2. Be sure to label and date your containers.
  3. Your herbs will retain more flavor if you store the leaves whole and crush them when you are ready to use them.
  4. Discard any dried herbs that show the slightest sign of mold.
  5. Place containers in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
  6. Dried herbs are best used within a year. As your herbs lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.
  7. Use about 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh

Rhubarb Cake

June 15th, 2010

rhubarb

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:

In a large mixing bowl with electric hand-held mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar slowly, continuing to beat, until the mixture is well blended and fluffy. Beat the egg and vanilla into the creamed mixture until well-blended.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Combine the lemon juice and milk; add it alternately with the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat after each addition, just enough to blend. Gently fold the chopped rhubarb into the batter; spoon into a greased and floured 9x13x2-inch pan, spreading evenly.

In a small bowl blend together the nuts, granulated sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the top of the rhubarb cake. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan at least 25 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping.

southernfood.about.com

Baked Creamed Spinach

June 15th, 2010

Spinach Bunched

Ingredients:

2 lb of fresh spinach.
1 ½ cups of hot milk.
1 cup of cheddar cheese, grated.
2 tablespoons of butter.
2 tablespoons of flour.
1 teaspoon of salt.
Pinch of pepper.
Pinch of nutmeg.

Preparation Instructions:

Trim and wash 2 lb of fresh spinach.

Place in a suitably-sized pot with water still on the leaves.

Cover; then cook only until wilted.

Allow to cool, then squeeze out the excess water.

In a saucepan, melt the butter; then add the flour.

Whisk and gently cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the milk; then bring to a boil.

Add the salt and a pinch of pepper and nutmeg.

Cook for about 5-6 minutes.

Combine the sauce with the spinach and ½ cup of grated cheese.

Spoon into a baking dish, then top with the other ½ cup of grated cheddar.

Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 20 minutes.

spinachrecipes.org

Beet Greens with Bacon

June 15th, 2010

While this recipe calls for discarding the stems, if you want you can use them too if they aren’t too woody. Just cut them into 1-inch segments and add them to the onions after the onions have been cooking for a minute.  This recipe can also be used with kale, collards, or Swiss chard.

Beet Greens

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beet greens
  • 1-4 strips of thick cut bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/6 cup of cider vinegar

Method

1 Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

2 In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat). Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.

3 Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. (For kale or collard greens continue cooking additional 20 to 25 minutes or until desired tenderness.)

simplyrecipes.com

How To Freeze Herbs

June 15th, 2010

If you have an abundance of  herbs you can freeze them so that you can use them year round. Freezing herbs is fast and easy to do.

When storing fresh herbs in your freezer, it is best to first chop the herbs as you would if you were going to cook with them today. This will make using them later easier. Keep in mind when freezing herbs, that while they keep their flavor, they will not retain their color or looks and so will not be suitable for dishes where online casino the herbs appearance is important.

The next step in how to freeze fresh herbs is to spread the chopped herbs on a metal cookie tray and place the tray in the freezer. This will ensure that the herbs freeze quickly and will not freeze together in a large clump. Alternatively, when preparing for storing fresh herbs in the freezer, you can measure out typical measurements, like a tablespoon, of the chopped herbs into ice cube trays and then fill the trays the remaining way with water. This is a good way how to keep cut herbs if you plan on using them frequently in soups, stews and marinades where the water will not affect the outcome of the dish.

Once the herbs are frozen, you can transfer them into a plastic freezer bag. When storing fresh herbs like this, they can stay in your freezer for up to 12 months.

www.gardeningknowhow.com