Purslane…Weed or Wonderful?

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), is a low growing succulent with a lemony flavor and somewhat crunchy texture when eaten raw. Both the stems and leaves are edible. It is similar to watercress or spinach, and it can substitute for spinach in many recipes. Young, raw leaves and stems are tender and are good in salads and sandwiches. They can also be lightly steamed or stir-fried. Because of its high level of pectin, purslane can be used to thicken soups and stews (similar to how okra is used).

Here are a few recipes to get you started:

Purslane may be a common plant (aka, weed) but it is incredibly good for you. It is high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. (from Mother Earth News)

Pretty good for something you are likely to find growing right in your own yard or garden! As always, when eating foraged foods, use only what hasn’t been sprayed and that you know hasn’t been exposed to any harmful chemicals.

 

To learn more, check out the following links:

Mother Earth News–Power Packed Purslane

The Pleasant Crunch of Purslane–New York Times

http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/purslane.html

Grilling vegetables…

I have been at the beach for a week, so am feeling a little out of touch. I received an update from Huffington Post Taste today, with an article on grilling vegetables. Gone are the days of a grilled portobello on a bun as the only vegetarian option at a BBQ (though I should point out, many of these should satisfy the meat eaters in the group too)! I am just going to include the link to this article, because there are way too many delicious recipes for me to list here. I cannot wait to get my share this week and start testing some of these out. Here are just a few of my favorites:

 

New Recipes!

I realize I am falling behind in my posts. My excuse is that I have been farming. The weather, and the barrage of insect pests, has been crazy this summer! Things seem to be settling down somewhat, so I am hoping to find more time for the fun stuff—finding recipes and making samples for pickup days!

Today we harvested our first (ever), experimental celery crop. We learned a couple of things, and will apply these lessons when we grow it next year. While this celery does have good flavor, the texture is a little tough. This isn’t so much a crudité type of celery, but a gumbo, potato salad or soup celery.  It would definitely benefit from some cooking or spending some time in a marinade or dressing.  The leaves are also very flavorful and can be chopped and used in egg or tuna salad, or used as a garnish for a bloody Mary.  Or frozen and added to heartier soups this Fall.

Anyway, as I said, it was an experiment. One of the benefits of joining a CSA is that you often get to experiment right along with us. So please give us your feedback!

 

Summer is here!

early am at farmWe are slowly transitioning into summer here at the farm, and your shares are starting to reflect this. Today, July 9, marks the last day of lettuce until the fall.  Our Pick-Your-Own (PYO) Peas are also just about done. No more garlic scapes or pea tendrils either. But, this just opens the door for lots of other delicious things!

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are still a few weeks off. But in the meantime, we have lots of zucchini and yellow squash, the ever prolific Swiss Chard, beans (green and yellow!), carrots and beets.  Potatoes and hopefully some corn will soon be joining your shares as well.

flash floodWe had just finished planting our PYO herbs and flowers right before that horrific downpour two weeks ago. We received almost 4″ of rain in about an hour here at the farm. Part of our field with the PYO stuff washed away (in addition to chunks of both driveways). What didn’t wash away is coming along, but that deluge set it back just a bit. (Notice the “stream” in the left hand side of the picture. That usually isn’t there.)

trransplant squash 2We are largely finished with our planting for the spring season–the last to go in was our winter squash—pumpkins, acorn squash etc. We got to use our handy dandy transplanting tool on the tractor, which made our job of planting hundreds of squash much easier…plus it was kind of fun to ride it…

Your shares this week will definitely include beets, Swiss Chard, zucchini and green beans, so here are some recipes to help you use all of those:

What do I do with that?

Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers Markets

One thing we do here at the farm is talk about food and how to cook it. A lot. We want to share this with you as much as possible to help you enjoy what you get each week, otherwise, what is the point of getting all this fresh produce? We realize that not everything in your share box may be familiar to you, but that is all part of the CSA adventure! Each week we try to make sure we have recipes available when you pick up your share, especially for some of the more challenging items, such as kohlrabi, pea tendrils, or Swiss Chard. We find these things to be quite delicious and hope that you will give them a try! Most weeks, I will have a set of recipes that you can take with you. I also will be posting these recipes weekly in our blog, in case you didn’t pick any up.

Many share members have been asking where we find our recipes. I (Kate) subscribe to several food blogs that always provide me with great ideas. Two of my favorites are Alexandra’s Kitchen and Smitten Kitchen. The photographs on both blogs are beautiful and will, at the very least, make you hungry, but will hopefully inspire you to try something new.  A couple of other great sites are  My Recipes (all skill levels, with lots of quick and easy recipes) or Epicurious, for the more experienced cook. Or, when in doubt, just Google it! If you are looking online, checking out the reviews of a recipe can really help weed out some poor choices, or give you ideas on how to tweak something. For instance, last night I was debating what to do with my Swiss Chard stems (which is new for me) and came across this recipe:

The photo is beautiful, so I had to try it. Several reviewers commented however that the brine was too sweet, so I greatly reduced the amount of sugar. I am awaiting the results, but as these are sitting in the cooler at the farm, I am sure there will be some sampling involved in the pickup tomorrow night…If my revised recipe is good, I will include it here.

A unique cookbook organized by plant part to help fresh food lovers make the most of their seasonal shares and purchases.

No one likes to waste food, and I know it can be disheartening to get your share and not know what to do with any of it. Even experienced cooks sometimes have no idea what to do with piles of produce ALL AT ONCE, or need inspiration. Do yourself a favor, and get a good cookbook or two. Check out a few out from library and give them a test run before committing to anything. Some of my favorite cookbook authors are Deborah Madison, Molly Katzen, Mark Bittman and Alice Waters. ALL of these people work miracles with vegetables, but Deborah Madison is one of the best. In fact, check out her book Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America’s Farmers’ Markets. Two other produce-centric cookbooks recommended by Local Harvest are From Asparagus to Zucchini, and Farm-Fresh and Fast. These focus on tasty ways to eat deliciously, healthfully and seasonally. Having great recipes at your fingertips takes a lot of the fear out of the unknown. Try something new this week!

Here are the recipes for the shares during the week of June 23rd:

You never know what you might see…

turtleWith 37 acres of land, there is quite a bit of room for visitors…mostly in the form of deer, fox, hawks, geese and the occasional blue heron. This is something you don’t see every day though. When Sonny, our jack of all trades, went down to prepare one of the far fields for planting, this is what he came across: a snapping turtle laying her eggs.