Lovage

lovage


Lovage is one of the earliest things up in the garden. It looks small, and tentative at first, but by July, it is well over six feet tall. The leaves have a pronounced celery flavor, and can be used in salads (think tossed salad, or chicken or egg), or simmered with potatoes and onions and pureed into a creamy soup. I think our favorite way though is to harvest a sturdy stalk, trim the ends, and use it as a celery flavored straw for a Bloody Mary.

The following was adapted from an article on CNN. scroll down for a lovage soup recipe

If you love herbs and like to garden, a good perennial herb is lovage. The French call it céleri bâtard, or false celery. It is a great addition particularly to potato and tomato dishes.

Lovage has been used since Greek and Roman times as a seasoning in food, an additive to medicines, even an ingredient in love potions.

Lovage Soup

Lovage introduces a clean, celery-like, herbal flavor to this simple creamy soup. Use an immersion blender to give the soup a smooth consistency. — Adapted from http://nourishedkitchen.com

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch green onions (white and light green parts, chopped)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 3 medium Russet potatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 bunch (1 oz) lovage leaves (chopped fine)
  • Heavy cream (optional)

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. When it froths, reduce the heat to medium and stir in green and yellow onions. Cook until fragrant, about five minutes.

Pour in chicken stock and stir in chopped potatoes. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in lovage and simmer, covered, a five or six more minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir in a spoonful of heavy cream if you like, and serve.

It looks and smells something like celery but is much larger, growing more than 6’ tall, according to Michael Weishan, publisher of Traditional Gardening Magazine and host of National Public Radio’s “The Cultivated Gardener,” to debut in October.

“One of its principal uses is as a salt substitute in dishes. If you are trying to cut down on salt, it can be used instead in soups or stews,” he said.

Lovage can be used in almost any dish celery or parsley would be used in. It isn’t as bland as celery, so Weishan cautioned people should be careful of the amounts they use. “A little lovage really goes a long way,” he said.

Though there are recipes with lovage, a recipe isn’t necessary to use it. Lovage can just be added to dishes. It is great in green salads, potato dishes, soups and stews to give a dish “a little oomph,” Weishan said.

He said anything with a carbohydrate base or that is bland is better with a little lovage.

“It is one of my favorite herbs,” he said. “It is part of the carrot family and is one of a number of herbs the Emperor Charlemagne mandated must be grown in every garden.”

Lovage also has the added health benefit of being high in vitamin C.

 

Welcome to the New Year!

Farming is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind right now. However, we really are hard at work getting ready for the 2014 season—signup begins January 10! At the end of the 2013 season, we sent out a survey to our members. Based on the responses, we have made a few changes, which you can read about below. Here is a great recipe from the Splendid Table for this time of year. It will definitely be on the menu at my house this week:

For the first time, we are offering a new smaller share size—the Mini Share! This share will have 4–5 items (our regular share has 8–12) in it.  It is designed for either a single person, a couple who doesn’t cook too much, but would still like access to fresh, local food, or a family that just wants to see what CSA is all about!

What exactly is a “unit” or “item”?

An item, or a “unit,” will fluctuate over the course of the season—depending on harvests, weather, etc., but basically, it is a grouping of a produce item; or you could think of it as a unit of measure. For instance, when tomatoes are first starting out, a tomato “unit” could be just one tomato. Once they get rolling, a unit could then be a quart of tomatoes. Sometimes a unit will be just one piece of produce, such as a watermelon. It all depends on the particular fruit or vegetable.

Why is understanding what a unit is important?

Since we now have multiple sizes and pickup option, when you come to the farm on pickup day, you will need to know what goes in your share. We will have more signs telling everyone what their share is composed of. They might look something like this:

Potatoes
WS & BWS = 1 qt
MS = 1 pt

This would translate to: Weekly Share (WS) and Bi-Weekly Share (BWS) get 1 quart of potatoes, and Mini Share (MS) gets 1 pint.

This is a work in progress! We may need to play around a bit with the signs to make sure we are all on the same page. Rest assured, we will make sure everyone gets their proper share. We are always around during pickup times and will be sure to answer any questions you might have.

What else are we changing?

We have added a new way to pay online for your membership. It is a new system called Dwolla, and it operates just like an e-check.  You can either go through the signup process with Dwolla (similar to signing up with PayPal) or checkout using Dwolla as a guest member. We like Dwolla, because unlike PayPal and other credit card options, the fees are actually very reasonable—$0.25 per transaction. That’s it. With online credit card payments, we pay a per transaction fee, AND a percentage of the amount purchased. Which really does add up over time. This means that your dollars actually go to supporting us, as opposed to VISA…. So this is a nice option for those larger transactions, such as membership payments.

We also are in the process of finding a credit card system that we can have available in the barn so you can use your debit card or credit card for retail purposes too.

Anything else?

In addition to all the vegetable staples, we are looking at some fun new things, such as purple carrots, and maybe even artichokes! We will keep you posted on that. We would also like to offer expanded Pick Your Own flowers this year. You will still be able to pick larger amounts of flowers for a fee. If you have a special event, such as a party or a wedding, you will be able to get all of your flowers fresh and locally!

 

A Few Apple Recipes

It is starting to look like Fall, even if the weather isn’t reflecting a change in the seasons! The change is definitely being reflected in your shares though; summertime favorites such as tomatoes and summer squash have said goodbye, and now is the time for winter squash, greens, apples, and fruit butters! Here are a few ideas to get you going with your apples and fruit butter:

These whole grain fruit bars are by Catherine McCord, and can be found in her new cookbook, Weelicious Lunches. Despite the fact these were designed to go in a small child’s lunch, I am finding them perfect for my own. breakfast.  I made 1/2 with raspberry jam (from Vollmecke raspberries, of course!) and the other 1/2 I used our Apple Butter. Both were great, however, if you are using our fruit butters, keep in mind they do not have any added sugar—so, depending on your tastes, you may want to add a bit more sugar to the recipe.

Homemade Whole Grain Fruit-Filled Bar Recipe on twopeasandtheirpod.com

Whole Grain Fruit-Filled Bars

Yield: 16 bars

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold water
3/4 cup fruit preserves or jam

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, line it with parchment paper, and grease the parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds. Add the butter and cold water and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed.

Divide the dough mixture in half and press half into the prepared baking dish, using the back of a spatula (or measuring cup) to press down evenly. Spread the preserves evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining dough evenly on top of the preserves and gently press down using the back of a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool, cut into 1 1/2 x 4-inch bars, and serve. Note-bars can be stored at room temperature up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to a week.

What in the world do I do with winter squash?

I apologize for this post in advance; I haven’t written anything for the past few weeks, so this is sort of a jumble of everything that has been on my mind…

I will let you in on a secret or two. I don’t really like Swiss Chard (yet). Or know what to do with winter squash (yet). It seems shameful, doesn’t it? I am a farmer (this is Kate by the way), and there are vegetables I don’t like or use frequently. I have to say, if I didn’t work here and belong to this CSA, I am pretty sure I would have stopped with Swiss Chard after my first time. However, it has been quite prolific this year AND I hate to waste food AND I paid for it, so I am going to eat it… I can report that I have turned a corner, because I really don’t dread it anymore, and have made several really delicious things out of it (see recipe below). As the CSA season is winding down, I am trying to use every last bit of everything before I have to return to the dreaded produce department for my weekly vegetables…

My squash is starting to pile up however, and I really do need to address the pile soon, but just haven’t had the chance. This blog post sounds promising, and I may even attempt something from it tonight: “10 Ways to Eat An Acorn Squash” . This link has some great info on just getting the squash “open” and how to go about cooking it.

I am so hoping our Tuscan kale will make it to harvest this year. We have had an awful time with Harlequin Beetles (a stink bug relative), which apparently LOVE kale and have been eating it faster than it has been growing. If you do end up with kale in your share, here is a great way to use it, kale chips. I have made these before and they are addictive.

frittataLast Thursday I was faced with a dilemma I am sure all of you have run into at some point—”crap, tomorrow is pickup day and my produce drawer is still full.” So I made a frittata (these, along with pizzas, are a great way to use a lot of vegetables at one time). I don’t always know what is going into my frittata until I open the fridge, but this one was a keeper, so I wrote it down (see below). First I sauteed some of the onions, garlic and sweet peppers from my share (a couple of hot ones would have been good too). Then I added some Swiss Chard, tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Gruyere and Parmesan cheese and some red pepper flakes got stirred into the eggs. Steamed broccoli rounded out the meal. By my count, that was six items from my share that made it into my meal, AND I had leftovers for lunch the next day AND room for new stuff in the fridge…SCORE!

Last Minute Swiss Chard Fritatta

6 eggs (preferably those from happy hens)
Salt and pepper to taste
A splash of hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup Grated Gruyere cheese (or more, it is up to you) Swiss Cheese would also work
1 TB olive oil
1 or 2 small onions, diced
1 small red, green or yellow pepper, diced
A sprinkle of Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bunch of Swiss Chard, rinsed, de-stemmed, and sliced into ribbons
1 or 2 small tomatoes, or a handful of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half, or chopped, depending on tomato choice)
1/4 cup kalamata olives
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler. Break eggs into medium-sized bowl, add salt, pepper and hot sauce (if using) and Gruyere. Whisk to combine, then set aside.

Heat a medium-sized cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil; when shimmering, add onions, peppers and red pepper flakes (if using). Saute for a few minutes until just starting to brown. Add Swiss Chard, stir, then cover for a few minutes until the chard starts to wilt. Remove lid, add garlic and stir until it becomes fragrant. about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and olives. Let cook over medium heat for a few minutes until tomatoes soften.

Add egg mixture. Stir to combine, lower heat and let cook for several minutes until edges start to set. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place under broiler. Broil for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffy. Remove from oven and lit sit for about 5 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving. I also like this cold or at room temperature, though this does not appear to be a universal thing. Enjoy at whatever temp you like!

I also made horseradish the other day…did anyone else try? I followed the preparation advice I sent out in a previous post/email, but I think I added too much vinegar since my resulting sauce wasn’t very hot. If anyone else made it, send me an email or contact me on Facebook. I would be interested to hear about your results.horseradish 2 horseradish

Raspberries aren’t technically a share item, but I have had a lot of them this year, and I just keep freezing them (something to keep in mind for next year)—which came in handy last weekend. Raspberry scones!scones

Recipes from Our Members

I recently received several recipes from some of our members. They all sounded so good, I thought I would share.

Juliet used our peaches and raspberries to make a delicious crisp and peach muffins. I made the crisp as well, and it was indeed fantastic.  We still have a few peach seconds, which would be perfect for this!

Meghan, one of our Work Share members, shared this with me yesterday. It makes good use of a lot of your recent share items, including tomatillos. I have not yet made it, but it is going to be on our table sometime this week for sure.

Tracy, another Work Share member, sent me this recipe for Swiss Chard Olive Bread. Swiss Chard can be daunting for those of us still learning to love it—as well as for those who are ready for a new way to prepare it.

And finally, we are harvesting horseradish this week.  It will be a choice in the shares, since not everyone will be excited by this. For you diehards, fresh horseradish is fantastic! Here is a link to a brief article explaining how to prepare it.

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Changing Seasons, Changing Produce

dewey leafThe days are bright and sunny, and the nights are getting cooler. So far so good—this is Fall, just the way we like it. These are perfect growing conditions for all of the greens we have in the ground right now, and hopefully they are helping to ripen our apples as well!

We have spent quite a bit of time this season talking about what hasn’t grown well, so today I am going to point out a few things that did grow well. But I think you may already know what they are, as you have continued to get them in your shares all summer.

  • Swiss Chard. Nothing seems to stop it. If you don’t like it, now is the time to try, as it shows no signs of slowing down.
  • Tomatillos. Since this was sort of a poor year for tomatoes, I thought these wouldn’t do well, but I was wrong. Salsa Verde was last month; time to try them in a stew.
  • Potatoes. Other than the occasional nut sedge root infiltrating the tubers (see photo below), these just keep going and going…

…which, depending on your point of view, may or may not be a good thing. It is entirely possible that you are up to your eyeballs in potatoes. But just think of all the lovely, organic spuds you could have this winter if you start storing them. I know potatoes are readily available all year, but do you know how commercial growers harvest potatoes? While the vines are still green, they apply a broad range herbicide to kill the plant down to the roots, which makes them easier to harvest. Once the plants are dead and gone, they dig up the spuds and everything around them, which all gets transported to a factory somewhere to get sorted; first by machines, then by actual humans. At some point, they make it to the store.  Sounds tasty doesn’t it?

So how do we do it? We wait for the plants to die back naturally, then Farmer Karen drives the tractor down the row, digging a trench behind her. We, or Chester County Food Bank volunteers, follow along and pick the taters up out of the soil, put them gently into harvest baskets and bring them inside to store in a cool dark spot until we give them to you.

Which brings me to, How To Store Potatoes. They should not be refrigerated! Ideally, they should be kept in the dark, with minimal humidity and cool temperatures. I keep mine in a closed paper bag in the basement. If exposed to light, they will turn green and sprout. Or rot. But properly stored, they will last for months.

Recipes

sedge tater

If you see a little brown hole in your potato, chances are, it was left by a nut sedge root, not a varmint.