Monday, September 1, 2008

News about local food

CSA, Week 17
Coming up at the end of this week is the Healthy Foods, Local Farms annual conference organized each year by the Sierra Club in Kentucky. This year it will be held in Louisville on Saturday with a Harvest Festival local food tasting on Friday night. Always offering compelling presentations from diverse speakers (KY’s own Wendell Berry is a favorite participant) the event brings together food consumers, farmers, environmenalists, faith-based organizations, policymakers, non-profit organizers, and educators. Topics vary from year to year, but ultimately the title of the event is always the focus—accessing healthy food grown on local farms. That access is easier now as almost every county in KY has a farmers market with local food items. Many farms (including Elmwood) participate in the WIC program and Senior program that gives vouchers to low income seniors and young mothers to spend on KY grown fruit and vegetables.

Changing a family’s food consump-tion from processed items purchased at a conventional grocery store chain to local produced foods, eating food that is in season where you live, food offered for sale at an independent food market or restaurant, and food items you grow yourself is more than just a simple choice – it does turn into a change in lifestyle. Not having all the ingredients in that recipe you saw on TV, having family members unwilling to try foods that are “different”, or not having enough time to think through your meal preparation are all real challenges.
Often, however, folks find surprising benefits if they get far enough into the lifestyle change. Examples are weight loss from including more vegetables and whole foods in the diet, healthier medical test results, quality family time as meals are prepared and eaten together, better food choices by the kids at school, and happier folks as a result of consciously eating nutritiously.

In Your Share
As always, your share may vary depending on pickup day and share size. Each share may not have each item listed below.

Sweet Basil - organic

Hard Neck Garlic – organic
The garlic will keep for you for several weeks. Store in the pantry or at room temperature.

Okra – organic

Sliced okra can be sautéed with diced tomatoes for a nice side dish. Try oven roasting whole okra -- put on baking sheet in single layer, drizzle with olive oil, roast at 375-400 until crisp. Batter and fry or oven roast for traditional Southern style fried okra. Until ready to use, store refrigerated.

Sweet Onion– organic
Not a storage onion like some, try to use your sweet onion fairly soon. Store refrigerated.

Bell Pepper, Sweet – organic

Pepper, Hot - organic

Potatoes – organic
Your potatoes will also keep for several weeks if stored refrigerated, and out of any light.

Yellow Squash

Swiss Chard –organic
Find a bunch of dark, rainbow leaf chard this week, a favorite. High in Vit. A, E, and C and iron and calcium, the minerals in chard are better absorbed than from other leafy greens like spinach. Store refrigerated and try to use within 2-4 days. Can be blanched quickly, drain-ed, and frozen in bags.

Green Tomato
To keep green, store in the refrigerator; if out on the counter, they will begin to ripen into a red or yellow.

Red or Heirloom Tomato – organic

Green Zucchini

Larger Shares:
Beans, Green – organic

Enjoy these heirloom beans grown from saved seed, not a variety that is available commercially. You do need to string them on both sides and break into bite-sized pieces before cooking. Simmer in plenty of water for an hour or more until the pods are soft and the beans cook through. Use your favorite seasonings or one of the following: olive oil, bacon grease, onion, bell pepper, hot pepper, or ham hock.

Recipes to Enjoy
Zucchini Strand Spaghetti, adapted from a Michael Chiarello recipe on the Food Network, serves 4
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾ pound whole-wheat dried spaghetti
¾ pound zucchini
¼ C olive oil
2 T minced garlic
½ tsp red pepper (either flakes, or a little less fresh)
3 T coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
½ C grated Parmesan, plus a small piece

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, cut the zucchini with the fine French-fry cutter on a mandolin, or cut by hand into the longest, finest julienne you can manage. Season with salt and pepper. If your zucchini is very finely cut, it does not need to be cooked. Otherwise, place in a colander, suspend over the pasta pot, cover the pot, and steam the zucchini until still slightly crunchy, about 2 minutes.

Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and sauté briefly until light brown. Turn on the exhaust fan and add the red pepper. Quickly mix in the basil and remove from the heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain through a colander, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl; add the zucchini, garlic mixture, and ½ cup of the cheese. Toss well, adding cooking water as needed to make a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as needed. Grate about 2 tablespoons Parmesan over the top and serve at once.

Swiss Chard with Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts

adapted from recipe published in Hearst Newspapers to serve 1 as a main dish, 2 as a side dish
1 T pine nuts

1/2 T olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
7 stalks of Swiss chard, stems & leaves
1 T golden raisins (optional)
1 T balsamic vinegarsalt and pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until brown & fragrant. Set aside. In the same pan heat the oil & add the onion. Allow to cook until soft & golden brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, separate the stems from the chard leaves. Chop the chard stems into 2 inch pieces & the leaves into 2-inch strip. Once the onions have cooked add the chard stems and raisins to the pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the stems are tender.

Add the chard leaves and cook until wilted down, about 5 minutes. In the last minute or so of cooking stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the reserved pine nuts.

Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette
This recipe works well for a salad dressing as well as a sauce for chicken or fish entrées.

Fresh peppers (roasted, skins and seeds removed)
1 C quality olive oil
1/3 C white vinegar
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
¼ C chopped fresh mixed herbs
1 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

In food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To roast peppers:
Over a gas range top or outdoor grill, place fresh peppers directly onto the flame. Char the peppers all the way around each side; the pepper skins should turn black and blistered.

After the peppers are charred, place them in a paper bag and allow to steam for twenty minutes. Steam-ing allows the skins to be removed more easily. After the peppers have cooled, remove them from the bag and peel them. Consider wearing rubber gloves or coating hands in oil prior to peeling any hot peppers. Discard the seeds and the charred skins, remember to save the pepper juice, it has a lot of flavor. Store refrigerated or can be frozen for later use.

You can also roast peppers in the oven, lightly oiled on a sheet pan. Roasting peppers in the oven works well if you do not have a gas range, but the end result is not quite as good. You can roast almost any pepper using this same method.

Baked Green Tomatoes Thanks to a CSA member for sharing this recipe. She says to enjoy the taste of fried tomatoes without the fat!

1 C cornmeal
1 tbsp dried dill weed
Salt & Pepper to taste
5 medium green tomatoes, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a medium baking sheet. In small bowl, mix the cornmeal, dill, salt and pepper. Dip tomato slices into the mixture, coating both sides. Arrange coated slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes in preheated oven until crisp and golden brown.

Squash Fritters recipe shared by Wash House Herb Farm in Stamping Ground, Kentucky

3 T vegetable oil, divided

1 egg, beaten

2/3 C milk

½ C self-rising cornmeal

1 C packed grated yellow squash or zucchini

2 T grated onion

2 T sour cream

2 T finely shredded Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

¼ tsp black pepper

prepared salsa

Combine 2 T oil, egg, milk, cornmeal, squash, onion, sour cream, cheese, cayenne, salt and pepper; mix well. Add additional milk for a thinner consistency or another tablespoon of cornmeal if batter is too runny. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Spoon ¼ C batter per fritter on first side and 2 minutes on second side. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with salsa. Serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as a side dish. Makes a great appetizer.