Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Locavores CSA August 27, 2013

What's in the Box
NZ Torpedo Onions,  Garlic of Italy,  Peppers - mostly mild, Eggplant, Tomatoes, green beans, grapes,  Stripetti Spaghetti Squash,  and both watermelons and Italian Cantaloupe.
Spaghetti Squash playing hide and go seek

This week's special gift: dried tomatoes and Elderberry Jam.    Elderberry jam is very very good on saltines.  The salt and the seeds go together really well.  There were also eggs this week.

Today's Grapes are Thompson Seedless and Flame and it's a bumper crop this year. 

Melons are here, this week there were several watermelons and lots of Italian Cantaloupe.  If you have a PALE Green watermelon with NO stripes and you are able, please save the seed for me.  This is best done by spitting them on a piece of wax paper, parchment paper or a paper plate.  Thanks.  This is a rare watermelon called Grover Delaney.  When the seeds are dry, put them in an envelope and put them in your box.

Squash is coming
2 Ways to Cook Squash
Microwave :  Poke the squash all over with a fork.  Microwave on Full Power 5 to 10 minutes depending on size of squash.    Fork should easily pierce the peel and flesh if done.  If it doesn't continue to cook and try in 1 minute intervals.    Let it sit until cool enough to handle.  Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out he seeds,  and proceed with recipe.

Roast or Bake
Preheat oven to 350, Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds.  Oil or butter a baking dish.  Place the squash cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork.  20 - 45 minutes depending on size.  With some squash I put a dab of butter in the middle and put my convection oven on roast and cook them cut side up!

Spaghetti Squash with Pepper Cream
1 Spaghetti Squash cooked and removed from shell.  String it out with a fork and put in a butter casserole dish. (2 Qt).

Take out a medium size frying pan and melt 3 T of butter in it and a splash of olive oil.  Add  several chopped and seeded peppers (hot, mild, bells, etc).  (I used 3 mild and 2 hot).  Add 1 chopped garlic and 1 chopped torpedo onion and cook for about 4 minutes until translucent but not brown.  Add 3 T. of flour to this mixture and stir until the flour is cooked and the fat is absorbed by the flour.  (About 3 minutes).  Now slowly add 3 C of half and half to the flour.  Add 1 and 1/2 C. Shredded Jack Cheese.
Cook for about 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Mix the sauce into the squash.  Sprinkle with a little more cheese.  Bake  375 for 30 minutes.  Salt and Pepper to taste.

When I'm out of peppers, we have this with pepper jack.  Try adding nutmeg to the cheese sauce.  This is also good with Cheddar and other cheeses.

King George
George and the Mountain Lion
I have often waxed poetic about George the Rooster, a king amongst roosters.  This day is dedicated to George, I hope he went were all Great Roosters go to roost.  For the last several nights the hen house has been hit by a marauder.  Each night several hens and young roosters have gone missing.  After the first night we locked up the pen and couldn't figure out what in the heck was picking off our chickens.

We have recently seen coyotes, but coyotes don't normally jump a 5 foot fence and climb into a chicken house.  Leo also dispatched 3 possums in the barn.  They normally pick of the very young, but these are not wee chicks anymore.

Young Lion
George always puts up a fight for his hens and Saturday night there was one helluva commotion in the hen house.  Beth heard it and went out with a pen light.  There crouching vertically on the wall was a juvenile MOUNTAIN LION!  This is a photo my brother snapped with his cell phone awhile back, just above us at Henry Coe.   Cat attacks have occurred before in our area, so careful out there on the trails.

Alas for George and his flock, only 3 chickens survived, so there will be no more eggs this season.
One of these is a new hen from this year, and one is older than I am (well in chicken years).  Thankfully we still have the traveling chicken road show, four hens and George's son, Charles Stewart (Chuck Stew) to carry on George's excellent genetics.  May he be as competent a rooster as George was. 

Apparently, the Mountain Lion busted in through the wire near the roof to develop his own access to our hens.  We'll move the last 3 hens in with the Traveling Chicken Road Show.
Hopefully they will be safe in here. 

So long George, you were the best rooster I have ever met.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mer Folk CSA August 21, 2013

What's in the Box
Cream Gold Onions,  Zukes, cukes, Crooked Joes, Melons!  Peppers - all mild EXCEPT - Aji Amarillo (small and yellow and HOT), Eggplant, Tomatoes,  green beans, and grapes.  (If you got a box you also got okra).

This week's special gift:  BBQ Sauce, just in time for Labor Day Weekend.  So drag out that Q, and grill up some zukes.

Today's Grapes are Pearlette and Flame and it's a bumper crop this year.  Zack is in the barn de-stemming the Concords so that I can juice them after delivery today.  Juicing is the first step to jamming.

Melons are here, this week there were several watermelons and lots of Italian Cantaloupe.

Coming Soon
Squash season is roaring in on us, there will be another corn harvest, there's lots more peppers, tomatillos, and eggplant.


Several kinds of eggplant went out, traditional Black Beauty is dark and very purple, Rosa Bianca is round and light purple, Listada de Gandia is long and violet and white, and then my classic Asian is very slender.  I think that eggplant smells wonderful.  It smells purple to me.  I love the flowers, they are my favorite vegetable flower, and they have a lot of competition form some real beauties.

Rosa Bianca in the front and on the left of the bowl, and the Black Beauty in the center of the bowl.  This year the eggplants are huge!  However, the gopher has eaten over 3/4 of the bushes, so next year I'm going to have to cage them.  We won't have eggplant for as many weeks.

Okay heads up chili wimps, this is the hot one.  Last night I made Chicken Gumbo, and it was mighty good.  I used one of these peppers in it and it was just about perfect.  They are not orange yet, I'll save some to turn orange, but I love them at the yellow stage too.

Chicken Gumbo
Okay, so I'm not from the south, so if you are, don't shout at me.  First I dredged a few thighs in 1/4 c. of flour with paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder and fried them in olive oil until they were browned and then I set them aside on a plate.  In this pan I tossed a chopped onion and a couple of garlic cloves and sauteed them until they were translucent.

In a small skillet I dumped what was left of dredging the chicken into a warm pan.  When the flour turns golden brown, I added it to the onion/garlic skillet and stirred it all up.  Now you have roux.

To this whole mess, I added 2 cups of chicken broth, one chopped pepper, a couple of potatoes cubed,
In the mint with the bees
one sweet potato, a couple of carrots, a parsnip, a stalk of celery, some thyme and a bay leaf, stirred the whole thing up.  I let it come to a boil, put the chicken on top and put a lid on it and simmered for 30 minutes.  Then I added a couple of chopped okra and put the lid on it and let it simmer for 30 minutes.  I served it on top of black japonica rice.  There were no leftovers.  Next time, I make a bigger pot!  I think you could have made the whole thing with just veges.  Emeril has a recipe for Gumbo with Sausages.  I love that only 2 pans and a chopping board were implicated in this recipe, vs. my normal of every pan in the house is used and several bowls.

Of course this leads to Leo's favorite joke: 

Cherokee Flour Corn
Holly sat talking with Joe. Their conversation drifted to cooking. 'I got a cook book once', said Holly, 'but I could never do anything with it.' 

'Too much fancy cooking in it, eh?' asked Joe. 'You said it. Every one of the recipes began the same way - 'Take a clean pan..."  (yuck, yuck, yuck).

So tonight's dinner special is stuffed bell peppers.  Now that you have your box you can probably guess why! My stars are the bells coming on!  Luckily the other 30 I picked today, I will slice for the dehydrator, because I have to make BAM.

Every year I dry onions, peppers, parsnips, carrots and herbs and then put them through the food processor.  This all goes into a jar that we fondly call BAM.  I put it soups, stews and sauces and sometimes even bread.

Eggplant flowers

Have a great week, I'll send out September's schedule, as soon as I get back from delivering. 
And make sure to take time to smell the eggplants.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Locavores CSA, August 12, 2013

What's in the box?
Mill Creek Red Onions, Garlic of Kazakhstan,  Zukes and cukes, - last of, Naked Ned Kelly Squash, Peppers - all mild EXCEPT - Aji Amarillo (small and yellow and HOT), Eggplant, Potatoes,  Tomatillos, green beans, grapes, some parsnips, some beets, and tomatoes.

This weeks special gift - yet another kind of relish and dried tomatoes.


Also the first melons and a few okra came out of the field and into your boxes.   A few of you even got flowers.

Naked Ned Kelly Squash

This was bred by my good friend Ray of Australia.  Ned Kelly is a folk hero in Oz.  Go ahead look him up.  This has one TOUGH shell, so be careful cutting it.  Tastes lovely with a texture like sweet potatoes and the green seeds inside are Nearly Naked.  They are lovely roasted.  Put them in a dry frying pan, salt them and let them brown, stirring every now and them.  Don't let them burn.  I'm pretty sure Ray named this squash after Ned, because the skin is like armor.    We had ours roasted with nutmeg, salt and butter.  It was soo good that I'm going to eat another.  But this time, I have to save the seeds.  Those of you who are new this year, probably don't know that Leo Loves Naked Pumpkin Seeds.  The non-naked ones are like chewing pine cones.

I will come back and finish this post.  I just wanted to get it up before someone stuck one of those yellow Aji Amarillo's in their mouth.

More later.

Okay, I'm back  Tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters, so just as I'm out of cukes to make more pickles with, it's sauce season.  This year in the tomato genre I'm also going to try a new bruschetta recipe and of course salsa.  

Now that the grapes are here, I'm sure jelly is just around the corner.  This year I want to make a pepper jelly.  I've identified just the right pepper. 

Huancaína (wan-kay-eena) sauce/ Spicy Cheese Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 yellow aji amarillo chile peppers 
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 cups white farmer's cheese (queso freso)
  • 4 saltine crackers
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Remove seeds from yellow chile peppers and chop into 1 inch pieces.  Wear gloves and do not stick your finger in your eye! 
  2. Sauté onion, garlic, and chile peppers (okay, one chili is for wimps, I'm a wimp) in the oil until onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Place onion/chile mixture in a food processor or blender. Add evaporated milk and blend.
  4. Add cheese and crackers and blend until smooth. Sauce should be fairly thick. Thicken sauce with more saltines or thin sauce with milk if necessary.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
In South America they serve this on potatoes.  But I think this has nachos written all over it.  Bring on the guacamole.

Last week when we were at the library, Leo and I always cruise the new non-fiction stuff, and they had some cool new cookbooks.  I am always looking for new recipes and they had a pretty interesting Polish Cookbook and I brought home 2 new jam/jelly/syrup books AND a Jewish cookbook, as well as a dozen other interesting specimens.  I highly recommend the Field Guide to Radiation...very informative.

Anyway The New Jewish Table by the Gray's of Equinox Restaurant is really fun and last night I found a recipe for a lighter version of Ratatouille.  I'm a fiend for eggplant.  So since I have the same box you do, I basically used almost all of it last night to make this:

Quick Summer Squash Ratatouille

2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut into medium dice
2 garlic cloves
1 small eggplant (okay so the eggplant wasn't very small), peeled and cubed (1 inch)
1 Zuke, cubed (1 inch)
1 Yellow Squash, cubed (1 inch)
1 bell pepper cored and chopped (I used one green and one mini-red)
2 C. V-8 Juice (I used 1 cup of leftover spaghetti sauce with 1 cup vege broth)
1 T. Fresh Thyme (chopped)
2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. grated Gruyere...I didn't have any so I used 1 c. of grated parmesan cheese
garlic bread or garlic toast

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet I used a cast iron, you need a lid! Over medium heat stir in the onions  and garlic, cook 2 minutes until shiny.  Stir in the eggplant, cook for 3 minuets.  Stir in the squashes and peppers and tomatoes and cook 3-5 minutes till they are softened.  Add the juice and thyme, bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.  Spoon over baked garlic bread or garlic toast, sprinkle with cheese and put it under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes till it's lightly browned.

Now, I was also out of bread, yes the baker did not show up to work this week, she was off canning.  So, I added 2 chopped potatoes just before bringing the whole thing to a simmer.  I topped it with cheese and served it as a side dish.  I think this would also be a great main dish if you added cooked Italian Sausages to it.  Actually the baker was fooling around with peach upside down cake, and Polish Cherry Cake. 

And now I'm going to go make a mini pizza and spoon ratatouille on top for lunch.  Yeah, Eggplant, it's what's for dinner.

Dinner and a movie?  $2.99 to rent at Amazon.  Have a nice week.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mer Folk CSA August 7, 2013

What's in the box?
Mill Creek Red Onions, Garlic of Kazakhstan,  Zukes and cukes,  NZ Spinach, Butternut Squash, Bell Peppers,  Chili's, Eggplant, Potatoes,  Tomatillos and green beans.

And this week everyone got relish and dried tomatoes as your special gift. 


The toms are really coming on and you should be getting many more in the weeks to come.  I took some photos of them so you could try to pick out which was that tomato that you just loved.  This week, I picked Crazy Horse, distinctive in it's green shoulders, Picardy is a nice size reddish orange tomato and Dr. Carolyn's pink - the pink tomato in your box.

I also picked some Lieven's Teardrop.  My friend Lieven of Belgium.  Yes, he's the breeder that also bred our leeks.  I named this tomato, as Lieven sent me a package of his recent crosses and this was part of the cross, but there were really 3 kinds of tomatoes.  I have been selecting this one for 2 years now, and it is really one of my favorites.  I named it because of it's shape.  At the time I did not know that Lieven was having a year of great sorrow.  I hope this tomato helps to lighten his burden. 

Crazy Horse is from PKS Heirlooms http://michiganfamilyfarms.com/farm-listings-details/p-k-s-heirloom-tomatoes and my correspondent, Dean Slater.  All of the rest of the tomatoes this year, are from our Alabama Friend, Dar Jones.  And a very fine fellow he is as well.  He and son grow hundreds of tomato transplants a year and he saves enough time to chat with me about better plants, better varieties, peanuts and sweet potatoes.

Sioux Cosmo is a recent cross by our farmer friend in New York,  Tim.  A lovely little saladette, slightly pink and yummy.

Of the tomatoes I planted this year, there were only 3 that won't make it to your table.  Campbell's 54 which I was really hoping for (a canning tomato) was eaten by Madame Gopher and her brood.  Confusticate the rodents.  There was a yummy tasting yellow tomato called KBX a giant beefsteak thing which failed to meet my appearance minimums.  (okay some ugliness is allowed, but really...this is too much).

And finally we had to cull Grappiolo d’ Inverno  as it was infected with some sort of blight.  A shame really, as it was a storage tomato.

The storage tomato that I am most impressed with, straight from Mt. Vesuvius, via Dar of course is Piennolo  de Vesuvio.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJDpMrklLGU

If I had to go live on an island, this is the tomato I would take with me.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnSN3gw22fg

Even without volcanic soil, this is one bella tomato!  And yes we take our tomatoes very seriously here at Foothill Farm.  And no, you probably won't see any of these this year.  I need to do a seed increase so that I can plant many more of them next year.  And those numbers on the cards?  That's sweetness measured in brix.  Peinnolo is more sugar than tomato!  Enjoy your week.