Why is farm produce special?

You can tell by my vegetable drawer in the fridge, which is which. The farm produce is always in a random grocery sack from under my fridge. It has a little soil still left on it; it’s not uniform is shape. If I was smart, I bought some seconds and so they have some bumps and bruises. They are not perfect shiny objects. They are vegetables from the ground.

I feel so different when I cook with produce from the farm than I do with produce from the grocery store. I think the word that best describes how I feel when I cook with farm produce is “proud.” I’m proud to know where it’s from, who grew it, and that I’m doing something good for myself, for the earth, and for my community. I’m proud that I’m feeding my family something healthy and organic. I’m proud that I’m taking extra time to wash fresh soil from these veggies because I think it’s worth the extra effort.

And when I get to use multiple items from the farm in one dish, my pride grows exponentially. For every extra item I can incorporate, my smile and heart expand. And so this Autumn Kale Salad brings me lots of warmth. Apples, squash, and kale all from the farm: into the bowl and into my family’s bodies. Good job me! kale salad

 

 

Farewell Summer, Hello Autumn

Guest post from Work Share member Kris. We love the enthusiasm she brings to the farm as well as her endless interest in “playing” with her food!

SFC_potatoes_sweet_labeledAs we say farewell to Summer favorites like corn, peppers, and tomatoes, we welcome warm and hearty vegetables into our share. Crops that have been growing strong all Summer long are now producing hefty fruits of their (our) labor! Winter squash, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, and of course, dark leafy greens, are all making their way into the Autumn harvest and your shares. As sunlight diminishes and the air cools, we begin to desire something more satisfying than a light salad in our tummies. This is where our Autumn harvest comes in.SFC_parsnips_labeled
SFC_kale_lacinato_labeledMy favorite thing about the Autumn harvest is that many of these crops mingle well together. I encourage readers to get away from strictly following recipes, and instead experiment with your ingredients in basic cooking. For instance, try:
  • roasting your root vegetables with the winter squashes with a few garlic cloves thrown in
  • throwing everything into a crock pot to make a hearty stew.
  • wilting your leafy greens in a skillet then stirring them into spaghetti sauce or a frittata.
  • sauteing a medley of greens and squash, mix in your favorite dried fruits and nuts (walnuts, cranberries and winter squash are always good together!), and throw it all over some rice.
The possibilities are endless, and trying different combinations will keep your taste buds intrigued. Get out of your comfort zone and play with your food!
To help you along in your cooking adventures, here are some tips to make things easier:
  • Roasting: Chop up your vegetables into similar sizes. Use a flat cookie sheet with a lip (to give your vegetables onto more surface area). Roast at a fairly high temperature, around 400. Use a good high-temperature oil (extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil). Go crazy with spices! Also, I like to add some Balsamic vinegar and/or honey, depending on the vegetables being roasted.
  • Squash: Sometimes winter squash can be a real bear when you want to make dinner quickly. You can get around this by cutting your squash in half (or quarters, depending on the size), scooping out the seeds and putting it in a microwave safe casserole dish with a little bit of water at the bottom (you want the skin side DOWN in the water). Cover with a piece of parchment paper, and cook on high for approximately 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. This speeds things along nicely when you are incorporating squash into a dish, but I wouldn’t recommend eating it straight from the microwave. You can then mash it, or fork out spaghetti squash noodles, or mix it into a warm salad. Another possibility is quickly sauteing it in some oil or butter; that will add nice texture and dimension to your squash. SFC_squash_spaghetti_labeled
  • Soups/Stews: I highly recommend a crock pot for soups and stews. There is nothing like throwing all of your ingredients into a crock pot in the morning, and then coming home from work to a fully cooked dinner. Again I would suggest chopping your vegetables into similar sizes. Don’t be shy with herbs and spices. Experiment with liquid bases–broth, water, wine, tomato sauce, vinegar, or juices, and be sure to try different combinations of each! Don’t leave out pureed soups, they can be wonderfully filling, yet exceptionally healthy if you use thickeners like beans or starches. Also, soups freeze well, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch. You’ll thank yourself later this winter!
  • Warm salads/sides: Start with a base: rice, noodles, quinoa, barley, hearty grains, or potatoes. Add vegetables: roasted, sauteed, wilted, or steamed. Pick a protein: meats, beans, nuts, seeds. Sprinkle in accents; dried fruits, herbs, spices, oils, vinegars, condiments, or sauces. Throw it all together and enjoy!
SFC_spinach_leaves_labeledSo welcome fall with open arms (and empty stomachs!);it is not the end of the growing season, but the beginning of a new harvest! Have fun, and good luck on your food journey!

Another recipe for butternut squash, and 1 for tomatillos!

On Friday during pickup, I felt bad for one of our butternut squashes. No one was picking it. Maybe it was because of its size and people were intimidated. I don’t know, but I felt bad, and decided I would choose it and bring it home it so it could fulfill its destiny as a squash.big squash  This photo doesn’t do it justice–that cutting board is at least 15″ wide.

Anyway, I know about roasting, but wanted to do something a little different. Then I remembered a recipe I had found in Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food a few years ago. Perfect! First you roast the squash with some garlic, EVOO, and sage, and then you puree it with half-and-half to make a delicious pasta sauce. AND, with the size of this thing, I would certainly have enough sauce leftover to freeze and serve later in the season. Click here for printable version.

chopped squash

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Serves 8
This recipe makes about 4 cups of sauce; enough for 3 lbs of ravioli, or 1.5 lbs of short pasta. For 4 servings, use half the sauce (about 2 cups). Freeze the rest for later (see below)

  • 1 medium (1.5 lb) butternut squash
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • ½ TB dried rubbed sage (or 1 TB fresh, minced sage)
  • Course salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 5 garlic cloves, peel on
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Pasta (such as cheese ravioli, or any short pasta) for serving

Preheat oven to 375°. Using a large sharp knife, trim ends then halve squash crosswise to separate the bulb from the neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds. Discard.

Cut squash into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor or blender; purée. With motor running, add half-and-half through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water; continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta, toss to coat. Add pasta water to thin sauce if necessary.

To Freeze: Cool sauce to room temperature. Transfer to airtight containers, leaving 1 inch of space. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to use, place plastic containers upside down under hot tap water to help release frozen blocks of sauce. Place blocks in large saucepan; cover and reheat over medium low, adding water to thin if necessary.

I am sure for that some of you the “tomatillo season” may have dragged on just a little too long…I mean salsa verde is delicious, but really, how much can one family eat? I am sorry it took me so long to try this recipe, because now that tomatillos are officially gone, I have found another great way to use them. Or, like me, maybe you have few still tucked away in your fridge…just waiting… . If so, you are in luck. This is delicious and hearty and EASY. It could be eaten as a stew, as a dip, or as I served it—as slightly messy tacos. Give it a shot, it may change the way you look at tomatillos! Click here for printable version.

Tomatillo Chicken

Serves 8
Serve hot with tortilla chips, guacamole or avocado slices. Also makes a great filling for tacos. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream.

  • 6 free-range skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 dried hot peppers (to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 lb. whole tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sour cream for garnish

In a large Dutch oven bring chicken, broth, onion, peppers, garlic, and bay leaf to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, add tomatillos to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil uncovered for 10 minutes, or until soft. With a slotted spoon, transfer tomatillos, peppers, and garlic to a blender; add cilantro and purée.

Pour the mixture back into the stock and mix will. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pull chicken breasts apart into large chunks and add back into tomatillo mixture. Simmer until slightly thick, about 10 minutes.

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