Guest blogger and longtime work share member Tracy M. gives us a peek into what goes on in Insomnia Kitchen…
Why do I call my kitchen “Insomnia Kitchen”? Those who know me, know my brain doesn’t shut off at night, so I tend to drag myself into the kitchen to get myself doing something productive, instead of just watching TV!
I have been working at Vollmecke Orchards for over two years now as a “Work Share Member,” which means that you basically trade “sweat equity” for your lovely CSA share. I found Vollmecke Orchards while looking for volunteer opportunities and was thrilled to hear that this was an option. I soon learned that the people there were absolutely fantastic people, that I immediately fell in love with! We laugh till we cry, talk about food—eat/share all the time, and find a great sense of peace in just being there. Farmer Karen is great about hooking up the lunch table with a great “lunch melon” or gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and sometimes will crack out some of the wonderful bread and cheese that we sell from Stoudt’s Wonderful Good Market, which is also a wonderful local brewery!!
Since we tend to have some beautiful fruits and veggies at the farm that are amazing in flavor, but just do not look so pretty, we try to have fun with our “Seconds”. Sometimes it just takes a little extra time to cut off the bruises/scars/soft spots, but the money you can save by purchasing seconds is outstanding!! I occasionally get sent home with “homework,” with Farmer Karen knowing she will get to taste the results at an upcoming farm lunch. I am happy to spend time in the kitchen trying to find some new fun things for my lovingly named “test monkeys,” who all are very adventurous eaters! We tend to walk up to each other holding something out and say “hey, eat this,” and sometimes we ask what it is, sometimes we ask afterwards!
This week I decided to try out some new recipes. For the carrot seconds, I read about a very simple cold salad that I needed to try. The best thing about organic veggies, you really don’t need to peel them, just a good bath and scrub down will do. I shredded the carrots, added fresh crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro, cumin seeds, and tossed with some honey and rice wine vinegar.
Next I went to the Squash. I have been loving a recipe for very simple zucchini pickles, which is sweet and simple, and last a month in the fridge without even canning them. They are not super crazy pickling, and more of a sweet and sour deliciousness!
And then the squash needed a sweeter side!! Farmer Karen handed me a huge Zuke that shredded down perfectly, just over the 2 cups I needed to make the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake. You may notice that I omitted the chopped nuts, and surely did not measure the chocolate chips that go on top. Super moist cake!
Next was to deal with the sad state of the beans. We were hand sorting out the string beans, and lamenting the fact that the Mexican bean beetles had made these delicious, crisp, and otherwise amazing little beans look like crap with the stupid nibbles here and there. I figured that I would need to find a great way to hide the “non-perfectness” of them, so I thought maybe a relish? None of us have had such a thing that was not a salad-type recipe, so I went to the wonderful world of Google and found a recipe for Green & Yellow Bean Relish.
We had this today for farm lunch and shared with the CSA members for a fun happy hour. I thought it would be fun to cook up some of those “Little Smokies” hot dogs that you buy for under a buck at Amelia’s Grocery Market, popped a toothpick into them, and drizzled on the relish!! Even Farm dog Izzy got to savor a few hotdogs from heaven!
Make sure you check out our “Seconds Section” whenever you are at the farm. Look past the ugly, and on to the tasty!!