Grillin’

Guest blogger Bill Wedo offers his take on grilling vegetables.

to be grilledWhen your daughter is a vegan, your wife works at a CSA and your mother-in-law gives you a shiny new Weber, grilling vegetables is not just an option.

It’s your destiny.

Now, accepting your destiny is one thing, controlling it another. Great thing about grilling veggies is that with a little thought – and some EVOO – you can you give the people what they want (mostly) and still enjoy that IPA. Here’s how:

Know your audience. Not everyone enjoys okra or beets. Do some food preference polling over the pre-meal drinks. I have a relative who actually enjoys Korean Kim chi. (Hint: It’s not me)

Know your veggies. Some cook faster than others. Some need prep. Anyone who has had to secretly feed Blackened Pepper Krisps to the dog under the table gets this.

Know your grill. Even the most high-end stainless steel Food Network star is not a Viking convection built-in. There are hot spots waiting to burn the onions and grill slots aching to swallow a too-thinly sliced zucchini. Incidentally, if you are a control freak, order take-out.

grilledHere is a simple grilled veggie medley that you can adapt to whatever your happens to be in your share.

1. Prep. We always soften the beets and potatoes to equalize the cooking time with the other veggies. We also marinate for added flavor. And, there is flammable liquid to throw on the grill so we can enjoy the flare-ups. The cook has to have some fun, you know.

A simple and tasty marinade uses an olive oil base with soy and balsamic vinegar added to taste. If you have garlic or ginger, all the better. In fact, you should experiment. I once whisked in some Old Bay and it tasted great. Unless you are a Yoda/Mr. Miyagi Zen-type master of the tongs, slice veggies thickly and widely. Give yourself a fighting chance of not losing them through the grill surface spaces. Cooking time depends on the lid up or down. I start with it down to warm things up a bit before flipping and sliding. The food, I mean.

chopped2. Pay attention. The zukes and the squash cook much faster than the eggplant. Be ready to move them around from hot spot to not-so-hot spot. If you have to pile them on that little warming rack, go right ahead. It ain’t pretty but it works.

on the grill

3. Perhaps, the most difficult aspect of grilling. Be sure and get all the other knuckleheads to the table BEFORE you plate the food. Nothing worse than having to microwave because your diners are engrossed in Honey Boo Boo. I mean, Downton Abbey.

4. Enjoy.

ready to eat

“Sexy Seconds” from Vollmecke Orchards & Insomnia Kitchen

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!

farm secondsI 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.

carrot seconds      carrot relish with bag

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!

ugly zukezuke pickles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

zuke shredszuke cake mixzuke cake done

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.

ugly beanschop green beansgreen bean relish beforegreen bean relish cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!
Cheers!  Tracy

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: