Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30-CSA baskets, Niagara Heirloom Tomato Festival !

In addition to items in the basket you definitely recognize, there may be a few things that have you scratching your head. As I have said before, not all baskets contain all the same things, so a bit of recognition work will be necessary here.
Salad, and garlic scapes you will know...hope some of you tried the pesto.
The baskets also contained greens-collards or chard or tuscan kale. Also some New Zealand spinach. Collards are the bigger cabbage-y leaves, kale is the darker green bubbly type leaf and chard is the more oval and tender leaf. All three can be lightly sauted in olive oil, with garlic, or of course steamed. Another recipe follows my blurb here.
NZ spinach is a warm weather spinach type green which despite it's name isn't in the spinach family at all, but it can be used in just the same way. To enjoy it, eat lightly steamed, raw in salads. It is a bit of a succulent with a fuzzier texture.
The true succulent in all baskets is purslane- the domesticated version. It is either a golden, or greener colour, with smallish oval leaves. It is the only veg source of Omega 3 fatty acids, so it is tres good for you. Use it in your salads.

Also you will have received some Italian Parsley, or cutting celery-use both similarly, adding their flavour to your cooked or raw dishes. As well basils- the purplish toned one is African Blue Basil-doesn't grow from seed!
Another very strong flavoured herb you will have is the mexican herb papalo-intense cilantro flavour. Can you see the oil glands on the back of the leaves? Good used as cilantro, or sparingly in salads. Also a smallish bag of radish micro-green....rinse before using.
When the chard comes on strong, here is a really great recipe to consider from the really great cookbook, Laurel's Kitchen

Chard Cheese Pie
6 cups lightly steamed chard, well drained
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
2 eggs beaten
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs

beat together cottage cheese, lemon juice,eggs and salt.stir a cup of this mixture into the chard and press it down in a well greased 8x8 pan. Spread the remaining cottage cheese mixture evenly over the top and sprinkle on bread crmbs and paprika. Bake for 1/2 an hour or until set. Allow to stand for several minutes before slicing into squares.

Farm notes

It continues to be pretty busy here in the garden. I continue to fill in empty spots with new seed, but by far the most dominant task right now is weeding. All the rain has meant everything is growing quickly, but truly nothing as quickly as the weeds.Perhaps it is just a bit more rain than we really needed but at least watering tasks have been minimal so far....a good thing!
My 27 chicks are growing like crazy...now 7 weeks old,and pecking and scratching with the best of them. Lots of eggs are in the forecast. Also arriving a week ago was our new collie pup Ellie. Boy, puppies are full of energy, you kind of forget how much! She's a wonderful girl. I can't tell you how much we missed have a dog after Casey and Becky passed away. Not good without them.
I now have tickets available for our Niagara Heirloom Tomato Festival, to be held at Balls Falls on September 6/09. This event is presented by The Wildflower Market, and Tree and Twig, and for the tasting event I will have up to 100 varieties of tomatoes to try. The $45 ticket price also includes 2 glasses of wine, tomato-dish samples from 5 of Niagara's top chefs and entertainment. Children under the age of 6 are free. Chefs involved are Stephen Treadwell, Mark Picone, Frank Dodd, Eric Peacock and Joel from the Keefer.
That evening, a delicious tomatoey dinner with wine included will be created by Wolfgang of The Wildflower for $85. This cost includes taxes, gratuities and entertainment. If both tasting and dinner tickets are purchased you will receive a gift!
We are really excited about this event! Tickets can be purchased from either me (cash or cheque) or from The Wildflower,which will accept your credit card as well.
Hope to see everyone there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wwoofers, scapes and spring.

Anybody want to buy a used trailer? I bought one several weeks ago in anticipation of my first wwoofer...individuals from all over the world who are looking for working vacations on organic farms.
Although it works out wonderfully well for many people, it really didn't turn out that way for me. I felt like I had taken on another child, and one that really didn't like farm work. After the first week of badgering, I knew that was enough for me. Getting a 4 hour work day out of someone shouldn't be so tough. Very nice boy, I wish him well, but it wasn't working here..Us old girls were working circles around him!
I feel very relieved actually. Now to sell the trailer so I can pay old girls to help.
The garden is looking good, certainly weedy after this rain, but I sense it will be a very good year. We have lots of tomatoes planted, lots of many things....it's big!
But it seems like it will be a late season. I heard on CBC news yesterday that this spring has been about 3-4 degrees below normal temps, with no days at all over 30 degrees. It is supposedly one of the longest "springs" we have had temperature wise.
So things are late, just how it is.
BUT, yes, they have arrived! The garlic scapes, those cute little curly tops of the garlic plant, which will, if left, turn into the flower heads, then seed.
They are in the CSA baskets now. That lovely ,lovely garlic flavour, so good in frittatas, stir fries and omelets. But here is another fantastic use- on pasta as pesto....

Garlic scape Pesto

8-9 garlic scapes, 1 cup in total
1/3 cup walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup parmigiano
1/2 tsp salt

Process scapes and walnuts in food processor till smooth.
Remove from processor, add to bowl, add cheese, salt to taste. Keeps in the fridge for one week. Use 2 TBSP with 1/2 lb pasta...YUM!

Cooking greens are coming up now too, New in your baskets on June 23 are a mix of cooking greens such as kale, collards and chards. These too are great with the scapes. Stir-fry the scapes in a bit of olive oil, add the greens and wilt.
It's good!
The tickets for The Niagara Heirloom Tomato Festival, to be held at Balls Falls on September 6th are going on sale soon. I will have up to 100 varieties on tomatoes there for the tasting as well as vino, sample dishes from some wonderful Niagara chefs and musical entertainment. Wolfgang from The Wildflower is my co-organizer and will be putting on a great dinner that evening. Tickets will be available through me or The Wildflower and I will post a notice here as to when they are available. It will be a great day and planning is in high gear!

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 16th baskets-recipes

Excerpted from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables: Seasonal Recipes and Stories from a Community Supported Farm by Farmer John Peterson & Angelic Organics (Gibbs Smith Publisher). Check with your local farm or bookstore for availability. Additional recipes, charts, signed copies of this book, and quantity discounts available at www.AngelicOrganics.com/cookbook.

Salad Greens
Salad greens start early and keep coming throughout the season. Experiment with salad building! You can top greens with fruit, nuts, seeds, pasta, and whole grains in addition to numerous dressings. As nineteenth-century editor and author Charles Dudley Warner once wrote, “You can put everything, and the more things the better, into a salad, as into a conversation; but everything depends on the skill of mixing.”

Store unwashed lettuce or mesclun in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. (Wet greens will spoil quickly, so make sure they are truly dry before refrigerating them.) If you have a salad spinner, wash and spin the greens before refrigerating. Use mesclun mix within three or four days, and use lettuce within a week.

Salad greens bruise easily, so be sure to handle them gently. For lettuce, slice the head at its base with a sharp knife and let the leaves fall open. Discard any damaged or leathery outer leaves and tear large leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash lettuce and mesclun mix by swishing them in a basin of cold water. Dry the greens in a salad spinner. (Or place them loosely in a mesh bag or thin towel, then go outside and swing the bundle.)

Sweet Maple and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Try this dressing over a mesclun mix or tossed with grilled or steamed vegetables. You might like to add some bitter greens such as endive, radicchio, or arugula to your salad mix to complement the sweetness of the dressing. Angelic Organics Kitchen.
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, basil, lemon juice, dry mustard, and garlic in a large jar. With the lid tightly screwed on, shake the jar vigorously until the oil and vinegar have thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste and shake again to combine.

2. Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To serve, toss it with salad greens or grilled or steamed vegetables.

Arugula Pesto
In this recipe, the strong, peppery snap of mature arugula finds its counterpart in Asiago cheese. Blended to creamy smoothness with garlic, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts, this vibrant pesto will make something brilliant of a basic pasta meal. You can also try it tossed with roasted potatoes or steamed vegetables. If you plan to freeze it, don’t add the cheese until after the pesto has thawed. Angelic Organics Kitchen.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups mature arugula
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Toast the pine nuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.

3. Combine the arugula, Asiago cheese, oil, garlic, and pine nuts in a blender or food processor; process until thoroughly combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Braised Lettuces

Tired of munching bunny food? Don’t be afraid to add heat to lettuce. In this recipe, small heads of lettuce are carefully bundled and cooked like whole vegetables—first blanched to tender succulence, then braised to give them a buttery golden glow. Cooking lettuce this way brings out a natural, delicate sweetness in the leaves. The bunnies don’t know what they’re missing. Shareholder.
Serves 3 to 4

3 to 4 small heads lettuce, rinsed whole under running water, tough or bruised outer leaves removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1–2 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black peppe

1. Tie a piece of string around each head of lettuce, just tightly enough to hold the leaves together and promote even cooking.

2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil; add the salt and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the lettuce heads and boil for 3 minutes.

3. Drain the lettuces in a colander and let cool. When cool enough to handle, gently squeeze them in your hands to remove any excess water. Remove the string.

4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lettuce heads; cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, turning them carefully, for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

The Crop
Our growing manager said to me last night, “What are we going to do with all the lettuce? We’ve got so much lettuce, and it’s all big and beautiful.” I said, “Give it all. The shareholders won’t mind. It’s the first box—they’re not tired of anything yet. Just cram it in somehow.” —Farmer John

Garlic & Garlic Scapes

There are many exciting garlic preparations to choose from: zesty raw garlic, mellow roasted garlic, pickled garlic, and the savory flavor of sautéed garlic that falls somewhere in between. Garlic scapes are the curlicue flower stalks we snap off garlic plants in the spring to redirect the plant’s energy down toward the root.

Like onions, garlic can be eaten fresh (uncured) or dried. Dried garlic will keep for several months in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place at a cool room temperature. Keep fresh green garlic in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and use promptly; accumulated moisture in the bag will cause it to spoil. Store unwashed garlic scapes in a loosely wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To separate the cloves, set the bulb, root end up, on a counter and press down on it with your palm. To peel an individual clove, trim off the root end and then press on the clove with the flat side of a knife. The skin should pop off nicely. If garlic is fresh—uncured—the skin will present more of a challenge.

To mince garlic, lay the clove on its flat side on a cutting board. With a small, sharp paring knife, make thin lengthwise slices, using your fingers and thumb to keep the slices squeezed together. Then slice crosswise, making even more tiny slices. Or, use a garlic press.

Garlic scapes can be minced, chopped, or sliced.

Garlic Croutons

The great thing about making your own croutons is that you can make them at your leisure, when the inevitable stale half-loaf of bread appears in your kitchen. While store-bought croutons are adequate in a pinch, you’ll find that the little extra time and effort it takes to make your own make this delicious homemade version an attractive option. Friend of the Farm.

stale bread, any amount, sliced (white bread is best, but any kind works)
olive oil
garlic cloves, peeled, top quarter sliced off

1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

2. Brush both sides of the bread with a thin layer of olive oil. Place the bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle tops lightly with salt. Bake until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes, checking frequently to make sure bread doesn’t burn.

3. Remove the bread from the oven and rub all over with the cut side of the garlic cloves.

4. Cut the bread into smaller pieces if desired. The bread is ready to be used or stored.

Mongolian Garlic

If you find yourself lucky enough to come upon a bounty of garlic, here is a wonderful recipe to use up some of it. These intensely flavorful little gems are great as a condiment, or, for an hors d’oeuvre, stick toothpicks in them and serve in a shallow plate in a pool of the sauce. Any leftover sauce is delicious over rice or egg noodles. Friend of the Farm (adapted from The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking).
Makes about 2 cups

5 large, firm heads garlic
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sake or Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

1. Separate the cloves of garlic from the head. Peel away all skins that fall away from the cloves, but leave the thin layer of skin that doesn’t fall away on each clove. Use only large, firm cloves.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. When the liquid is just about to simmer, add the garlic, turn the heat to low, and partially cover.

3. Stew the garlic in the liquid until the garlic is very soft, 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of the cloves and the variety of garlic. It is very important that the liquid does not come to a boil; the garlic will turn bitter if boiled. Uncover the pot frequently to check that the liquid is just barely simmering and to stir the garlic. At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat, cover the pot tightly, and let the cloves marinate in the liquid for 2 hours.

4. The cloves can be served at this point or refrigerated for up to a week. They are best served warm or at room temperature. The cloves are still in their skins. Pop them in your mouth this way and use your tongue to squeeze out the clove (it comes out easily), or squeeze it out with the flat side of a knife.

Excerpted from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables: Seasonal Recipes and Stories from a Community Supported Farm by Farmer John Peterson & Angelic Organics (Gibbs Smith Publisher). Check with your local farm or bookstore for availability. Additional recipes, charts, signed copies of this book, and quantity discounts available at www.AngelicOrganics.com/cookbook.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2 baskets....

Just a quick note before I eat supper and head out the door to "Lettuce, Turnip and WHine|
Baskets today included, amongst other things, the following...
Salad greens, a small bag of Daikon Radish microgreens and pea shoots, as well as some Marilyn's Salad Mint. All can be used in your salad, or on wraps or sandwiches.
Radishes, green onions, green garlic (use fresh as you would any garlic),some baskets have a "stem-my" green called celtuce, par-cel, a number of different basils.
We are working really hard to get the garden in so baskets will be overflowing come high season. In as of today are all the eggplants, peppers, some tomatoes, squash, cukes, more salad, and assorted other greens, all the onions, tomatillos, ground cherries, cape gooseberries, some carrots,some beets and some beans, cauli, broccoli, cabbages, kales and collards...
Still lots of planting to do, followed by lots of growing.
Best wishes to all. And a most sincere thanks to Bob and Mary-Beth for taking the trek out to pick up all the baskets. Incredible!