Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CSA - Week 8

This week marks the beginning of the Flower share deliveries. For those of you that signed up for this additional share, enjoy picking out a bouquet of fresh-cut dahlias or sunflowers for the next 8 weeks!

This week's produce share will include salad mix, 'Tendersweet' green cabbage, 1/4 lb. of 'Genovese' basil, carrots, 'Transylvanian' softneck garlic, and 3+ lbs. of tomatoes. Thursday's pick-up will likely receive the first delivery of summer squash. The Extra-greens shares will receive salad mix.

All is growing well on the farm. Funny how the plants seem to thrive in the heat, whereas we humans tend to get a little wilty.

CSA - Weeks 7/8 Recipes

Eating seasonally is a bit like experiencing a concert that begins with a soloist and builds into a full symphony with the addition of each musical instrument. The art of cooking with local foods follows a similar rhythm, beginning simply and uncomplicated, each week of the season building creative possibilities with synergistic intensity. Not wanting to waste the bounty your CSA provides is a wonderful incentive to use recipes as inspirational guidelines, perhaps adding or substituting ingredients based on what you have in your kitchen. So, here are some guidelines...

Coleslaw w/ Ginger-Mustard Vinaigrette (California Home Cooking by Michele Anna Jordan)
serves 8

1 med. head cabbage (red, green, or 1/2 of each) - about 2 1/2 lbs.
4 carrots, grated
1 small red onion, diced
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1-2 serrano chiles, minced (jalapeno works, too)
2 tsp. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. sugar
2/3 C. olive oil
3 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, toss cabbage, carrots and onion together and set aside. Make dressing by whisking together vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, chile, ginger, and sugar. Slowly whisk in olive oil and then add cilantro. Add salt/pepper to taste, then pour dressing over cabbage mixture. Toss until well coated. Let rest 10 min. before serving, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Simple Pan-Asian Slaw (Moosewood Restaurant's Simple Suppers)
Serves 4

3 C. shredded cabbage (great mixed with some shredded c
arrot and/or julienned celery)
1/3 C. thinly sliced scallions/green onions
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
1-2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill, basil, or cilantro (optional)

Place cabbage/cabbage mixture in a serving bowl. Put scallions on top, but don't stir. In a small pan, heat oil until hot - almost smoking - and pour it over scallions. Sprinkle on salt, sugar, and vinegar and toss well. Serve right away or keep in refrigerator up to a few days.

Cabbage Salsa (The Great Salsa Book by Mark Miller)
yields about 2 C. / serving suggestions: w/ barbecued food, especially ribs

1 1/2 C. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 C. water
2 C. packed cabbage, diced small
3-4 serrano chiles, cut into rings (1+ tsp. hot red chile flakes would substitute fine)
3 Tbs. seeds and diced red or orange bell pepper
3 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. peeled, cored, and finely diced pineapple (mango would be nice, too)
1 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro

Bring vinegar, water, chiles, sugar, and salt to a boil in large saucepan. Reduce liquid by half, about 10 min. Add cabbage and cook for 45 sec.-1 min., stirring occasionally. Strain, reserving the liquid, and cool the cabbage in a bowl placed over a larger bowl of ice water. When cool, add 1 Tbs. of reserved cooking liquid, the pineapple, bell pepper, and cilantro. Combine thoroughly.

Basil Lemonade (from Sunset Magazine, May 2003)
Makes 4 1/2 C.; about 4 servings

In a 1 1/2-2 quart glass or bowl, combine 1/2 C. rinsed, lightly packed fresh bas
il leaves and 3 Tbs. sugar, agave syrup, or honey. With a wooden spoon, crush leaves with sugar until thoroughly bruised. Add 4 C. water and 1/2 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved, 1-2 min. Taste and add more sweetener, if desired. Pour through a fine strainer and chill before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil.

Basil Oil (from Sunset Magazine, May 2003)
Makes about 1 C.

Great to have on hand form fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, among other things!

1. Rinse/drain 1 1/2 C. lightly packed fresh basil leaves. Pat dry with towel. Combine basil leaves, 1 C. extra-virgin olive oil in a blender or food processor, whirl just until leaves are finely chopped (don't puree).
2. Pour mixture into a 1 - 1 1/2 quart pan over med. heat. Stir occasionally until oil bubbles around pan sides and reaches 165 degrees on a thermometer, 3-4 min. Remove from heat and let stand until cool, about 1 hr.
3. Line a fine wire strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and set over a small bowl. Pour mixture into strainer. After oil passed through, gently press basil to release remaining oil. Discard basil. Serve oil or cover in airtight container and store in refrigerator up to 3 months. The olive oil will likely solidify when chilled, but will quickly liquify when set out at room temperature.

Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad (Panzanella) (from Sunset Magazine, June 2006)
Serves 4
Great served with a selection of fruits and cheeses.

7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 12-inch length of baguette
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
3 lb. very ripe assorted tomatoes (about 8 med.), chopped, or whole if using cherry tomatoes
1/2 C. basil leaves, torn into pieces or cut into ribbons

1. Preheat oven to 350' F. In a small pan over medium heat, combine 2 Tbs. olive oil, the butter, and garlic; stir until butter melts, about 2 min.
2. Cut baguette into 1/2 in. cubes and put in a 10"x15" baking pan. Pour oil mixture over bread and mix well. Bake until golden, 10-15 min. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.
3. Mix remaining olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in tomatoes and bread cubes. Serve at room temperature in shallow bowls or serves over fresh greens. Garnish with basil.

Summer wouldn't be complete in our house without the following dish. My best friend's father made this when I was growing up, and it is still a favorite of mine on a hot summer evening, served with fresh baked bread and salad greens....

Bob's Philly Basil Linguine

3 C. fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 8 oz. cream cheese, cubed (light works fine)
3/4 C. olive oil
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/3 C. fresh chopped basil
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. linguine pasta

In a large serving bowl, combine tomatoes, cream cheese and all ingredients except pasta; mix lightly. Cover and marinate at room temperature about 2 hours. Prepare linguine as directed on package. Add pasta to marinade, toss lightly. Top with 1/2 C. toasted pine nuts; garnish with grated parmesan cheese and basil. Serve at room temperature (also great cold as leftovers).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

CSA - Week 7

This week will include the first delivery of beets. This means that those of you who signed up to receive beets will get one bunch each of beets and carrots. Those who opted out will instead receive two bunches of carrots. The beet roots are a mix of 'Golden', 'Red Ace', and 'Chioggia' (the bull's-eye variety), and the beet greens are wonderful steamed or sauteed. The Extra-greens shares will receive salad mix this week.

In addition to carrots and beets, this week's delivery will include salad mix, fresh dill, garlic, and the very first taste of the season's tomatoes! The tomatoes are just beginning to ripen in earnest, thanks to the much-needed heat this past week. By next week I will be able to give a nice quantity of them. On deck for delivery in the near future are summer squash, cabbage, and 'Walla-Walla' onions. 'Japanese-Long' eggplants are growing quickly, as are the snap beans and cucumbers.

We have been working on harvesting our garlic crop this week....making a big push (thanks to Darrin, my Mom, and Kevin), we were able to finish the task. It is a gorgeous crop this year! Look forward to enjoying a great number of varieties this summer. The garlic will need to dry down for 2-3 weeks before it will be ready to clean and consume. Cleaning all of that garlic by hand is a daunting task for one, so stay tuned for a notice about our second-annual garlic cleaning party at the farm!

Hiving my first honey bee swarm....

...was one of the most exciting things I've ever done! Last week, half of my new hive left an over-crowded home in search of a new one. Fortunately, I was there to show them some available real estate. In honor of the occasion, this week one lucky CSA member will receive a pint of our the honey we harvested last fall.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

CSA Recipes - Week 6

Someone asked me last week what to do with carrot tops (other than feed them to your guinea pig or compost pile)....it reminded me of a recipe passed on to me by a CSA member last year:

Tuscan Carrot Top and Rice Soup serves 4

3 Tbs. Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 C. carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 C. vegetable broth
1/2 C. short grain rice
1 1/2 C. chopped carrot tops
4 Tbs. grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-gauge soup pot. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for 5 min. over low heat until translucent. Add salt and pepper; pour in broth and bring to a boil.
2. Add rice to the boiling broth and cook for 15 min. or until the rice is almost tender. Add carrot tops and cook for 5 min. more, mixing well.
3. When rice is done, pour the soup into four bowls, sprinkle with cheese, and serve. Garnish with finely chopped fresh basil if desired.

For another carrot recipe, here is an intriguing one my sister has prepared:

Carrot/Raspberry Salad
serves 4-6

1/2 Tbs. red wine (or white balsamic) vinegar
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. canola or safflower oil
3-4 carrots (= to 2 C.), grated
1/4 C. chopped parsley (hmmm....I wonder how basil would substitute here?)
1 C. raspberries, fresh or thawed

In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt and oil. Add 2 C. grated carrots and chopped parsley; mix well. Gently stir in raspberries just before serving. Serve at room temperate or chilled (keeps 1-2 days in refrigerator).

Kale is wonderful in soups because it becomes tender without losing all its chewy texture.
The following is great served with a warm crusty bread (with extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar to dip it in) along with a bowl of freshly grated Parmesan cheese:

Kale and Sausage Soup (from Kitchen Gardener magazine)
serves 6

1/2 to 3/4 lb. linguica or chorizo sausage (spicy sausages)
1 large bunch kale, about 3/4 lb.
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 C. chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6-7 C. chicken or vegetable stock
2 large carrots, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 C. diced fresh or chopped canned tomatoes
1 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
2-3 tsp. red wine vinegar

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Prick the sausage 8-10 times with a fork, add to boiling water and boil for 8 min., to cook out some of the fat. Transfer sausage to a plate. While sausage cools, strip kale leaves from stems, tearing leaves into bite-size pieces. Put leaves in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside. When sausage is cool enough to handle, cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
2. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add chopped onion, saute over med. heat 8-9 min. or until translucent. Stir in garlic, saute several more seconds, then add stock and carrots. Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat and cover partially, simmering for 5 min. Stir in kale, sliced sausage, and salt/pepper to taste; simmer 10 min. Stir in basil, tomato and simmer another 8-10 min. Add more salt if necessary. Turn heat off and let soup sit for 30 min. Reheat, stirring in vinegar, to taste, just before serving.

Scallop and Sugar Snap Pea Stir-Fry (from Sunset magazine, May 2004)
Serves 4

Serve with cooked rice.

3/4 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed and blanched (see Week 4 for instructions)
12 oz. sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 C. fat-skimmed chicken stock
2 Tbs. rice wine or mirin
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. thinly sliced green onions
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. hot chile pepper flakes
1/2 C. slivered fresh basil leaves

1. Cut blanched sugar snap peas on the diagonal into about 1/2" lengths. Cut scallops in half to form half-moon shapes.
2. In a small bowl or glass measure and whisk together broth, mirin, and cornstarch until well blended.
3. Pour oil into 12" nonstick frying pan or 14" wok over med-high heat. When hot, stir in green onions, garlic, and chile flakes. Stir until fragrant, 30-45 seconds.
4. Add scallops and cook, stirring occasionally, until surface of scallops is mostly opaque, about 2 min. Stir in sugar snap peas and pour in broth mixture. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thick and glossy and scallops are opaque but still moist looking in the center of thickest part (cut to test), 2-3 min.
5. Stir in half the basil, then pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining basil.

And finally, a general formula for making basil pesto:

For every 2 C. firmly packed basil, add 1/3-1/2 C. olive oil, 1/2 C. cheese (typically Parmesan or Romano), 1/2 C. nuts (traditionally pine nuts), 3-4 cloves garlic (peeled and quartered before adding to food processor or blender) and salt and pepper to taste. Blend the above ingredients in a food processor or blender until desired consistency is reached.

Get creative with pesto....experiment with different cheeses, nuts (compare toasted vs. raw), various oils, adding lemon juice, other herbs etc. etc.

Bon appetit!

CSA - Weeks 5/6

This is a bit of a catch-up post....last week (week 5) was a whirlwind of visiting family and Fourth-of-July weekend celebrations, topped off with a vicious 36-hour stomach virus that put Darrin and me out of commission mid-week. Fortunately, we recovered quickly, and thanks to very accommodating and understanding CSA members, I was able to delay the Thursday drop until Friday in order to get some much needed rest. 

Darrin's family and I hiked Mount Scott on July 4th - a fun way to spend the day
together and capture some awesome views of Crater Lake. Darrin's nephews have been visiting from Anchorage, AK for several weeks (Matt, Kevin, and Hunter - ages 17, 15, and 10, respectively). They have all been highly entertaining, and I'm especially grateful to Matt and Kevin for their help on the farm (though I must acknowledge, Hunter holds great promise as a farmer's assistant a few years from now!). 

I was also spoiled to have my Mom, eldest sister Jen and two of her children (Henry and Lily) for a 3 day visit last week.  We ate lots of good food (K.Falls has a Vietnamese restaurant that is always a must-go-to when they are in town), rented Kayaks from The Ledge and enjoyed an afternoon at Lake of the Woods, and (of course) toured about the farm. Next week my Mom returns with my other sister, Shoshawna, for a couple of days.  I can hardly wait!

Last week's produce share included carrots, basil, strawberries, salad mix, and the peak delivery of sugar snap peas.  This week (week 6), you will be enjoying the last of the sugar snap peas, the first of the garlic ('Shantung Purple', a Turban variety with moderate heat), more carrots, kale, basil, strawberries, and salad mix. The Extra-greens share will be salad mix this week.

I am beginning to see a lot of blushing going on in the greenhouse .....perhaps we will have the first tomatoes by next week?? Also, the dahlias are beginning to open, so I anticipate the flowers will be coming on within the next week or two. So much to look forward to!