Monday, August 4, 2014

Farm Finds, Week 12 CSA

This past week, one of the guys chopping out weeds in the winter squash found part of an Indian arrowhead.  Your farmers and your farm workers have quite a collection of various shapes and sizes that have been found over the years. Archeologists can identify differing properties of each of these stones, which aid in determining when they might have been crafted. It is fascinating to think that someone was hunting to provide sustenance for their family, and potentially bartering the pelts for other goods or services. These stones are estimated to have been made from two thousand to fifteen thousand years ago. This land named Elmwood Stock Farm has provided food and clothing for humans for many, many centuries, and now we bear the responsibility to continue that tradition.

Those Native Americans were also afforded shelter in a cave here on the farm. You may have noticed the grass covered depressions in the landscape, also called sink holes, when you were here for the open farm day in the spring. What you did not see is that one of these sink holes has lots of old trees growing in it, and it actually has a large cave opening, twelve to fifteen feet across and five or six feet high at one point. There is a large room just inside the opening and a cavern that we have walked back maybe 300 feet. This was bound to have provided refuge for Native American people centuries ago. In the wet season and after a big rain, you can hear the water running and occasionally an under-ground stream still floods back up into the sink hole and cave itself. 

We have had to ramp up our raptor deterrence plan this past week. We found evidence of a chicken dinner in an adjoining field. They are magnificent to watch as they soar overhead, but can wreak havoc on chicken farmers. We have devised various types of netting and string systems over the poultry, in an effort to keep them from hauling off our birds. Coexistence with nature is a big part of farming. Doing it with attention to all parts of an ecosystem makes for a good farmer. 

The barn swallows, that began nesting in a corner of the barn soon after we renovated it, have reared another brood of babies this year. Their arrival each spring, after the long flight from South America, is one indicator that spring has sprung. It’s simply amazing to think they go all that way and return to the exact same nest they built years before. And their babies will take up residence nearby as well. One of the joys of farming is watching them zoom back and forth in front of or behind the tractor catching insects as they fly up from the mower or another implement. Guess the farmers in South America think of them as their birds, and look forward to them returning to announce the spring season down there as well.

Peppers and tomatoes are kicking into high gear after going out to the field much later than normal due to cold soil and air temperatures this Spring.  You should start seeing more in your shares each week, as our first crop and second crop are starting to ripen at the same time.  We are scheduled to have salsa, diced tomatoes, marinara, and ketchup professionally processed again this season, providing enough extra tomatoes are available during August and September.  We will be roasting red peppers again this season at the weekend farmers market, which are great to peel and enjoy.  You have a recipe included this week to do this at home. Stock up your freezer for winter, you will be glad you did!

Our Fall Season CSA Farm Share signup is now open and posted on our website.  Your last week of Summer shares is October 13-16th, with the Fall shares beginning the next week, and offered every-other-week through mid-December. You can add a Fall Share on to your current CSA membership, along with Egg Shares, Meat Shares, and Pantry Shares.  Or, contact us by phone or email and we will get you signed up!

In Your Share

Yellow Snap Beans
Sweet Corn
Sweet Bell Pepper
Hot Peppers
Yellow Squash
Green Zucchini


Zucchini Pasta Marinara, Serves 4
3 cups vine-ripened or heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (you can use tomatoes that are oil-packed and drained, or tomatoes that are dried and have been rehydrated in boiling water, then drained)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus a few extra tablespoons for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 small zucchini, spiralized, peeled, or grated into noodles (see instructions)

Blend the tomatoes, pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, maple syrup, sea salt, black pepper, thyme, and basil in a blender or a food processor till relatively smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil with the motor of the machine running, and keep blending till the sauce is smooth. Season to taste, and set the sauce aside. Use a spiralizer, a vegetable peeler, or a box grater to cut your zucchini into noodle shapes. Divide the zucchini onto four plates, and top each with about half a cup of the marinara sauce. Garnish each plate with a tablespoon of chopped basil, and serve.

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini
Glaze ingredients: 1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. milk 

Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Then add oil and sugar until well blended. Add lemon juice, buttermilk, lemon zest to this mixture and blend all together. Fold in zucchini until it is mixed well. Add dry mixture to the wet mixture and blend all together until well combined. Pour batter into greased 9x5 loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. While still warm, make glaze and spoon over the bread. Let the glaze set up before cutting and serving.

Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese, Red Pepper and Capers
Preheat grill to high heat.  Slice a strip lengthwise from the zucchini to expose the inside of the vegetable. Discard or reserve for another use. Cut the 2 ends from the zucchini to make straight edges. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips.  Brush both sides of the zucchini pieces with olive oil. Season well kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay the zucchini pieces on the grill. Cook until the zucchini is very tender, but not mushy, about 3 minutes per side, moving the pieces during cooking to ensure even browning.  Remove the zucchini from the grill and set on a wire cooling rack.  Spread about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese on each zucchini slice. Divide the red pepper and capers evenly amongst the zucchini.  Gently roll each piece of zucchini. Serve.

Sautéed Corn, Okra & Tomatoes

1/2 pound fresh okra

1 medium vine-ripened tomato

1 small onion

1 ear corn

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 

Cut okra into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Peel and chop tomato. Cut onion into thin slices and cut corn from cob. In a heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and saute okra with salt to taste, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer okra to a bowl. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to skillet and sauté onion, stirring, until it begins to soften. Stir in tomato, water, and Worcestershire sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add corn and simmer until corn is crisp-tender and sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in okra with salt and pepper to taste and cook until heated through.

Smothered Okra

4 bacon slices

2 pounds okra, cut in pieces

1 ½ tbsp. wine vinegar

1 ½ celery ribs, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 pound tomatoes, chopped (or 16 oz. can whole tomatoes coarsely chopped)

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain, reserving ¼ cup drippings in pan.  Crumble bacon and set aside.  Cook okra in hot drippings over medium heat; add vinegar, stirring well.  Reduce heat add celery, onion, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring well; simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with bacon. Serves 6.

Roasted Red Peppers our thanks to a CSA member for sharing her research on how to roast and freeze red bell peppers.  What a wonderful treat this winter!

Wash peppers and place on top rack of electric oven, preheated on broil setting, or place under broiler of gas oven.  Alternatively, peppers can be roasted directly on a gas flame, on a grill, or carefully over an open fire.  Regardless of method, roast peppers, turning frequently, until most of the skin is charred.  Set aside to cool completely.

When peppers have cooled, peel away strips of skin with your fingers or rub gently with paper towels until all skin is removed.  Remove stems and seeds, then halve peppers so pieces lie flat.  Place roasted pepper pieces between sheets of waxed paper, then slide into zip-top freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible.  Freeze until solid.  Remove and defrost peppers as needed for recipes.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Enjoy with tortilla chips, or use as a sauce over roasted fish or chicken.  The same ingredients can be prepared fresh without cooking, but your farm crew’s favorite method is below. 

1 – 1 ½ pints tomatillos
1-2 chiles, like serrano or jalapeno, stem removed (optional)
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 T cilantro, chopped
1 T fresh lime juice
Salt, to taste
Cumin, to taste, just a dash (optional)

Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse off the sticky resin in warm water.  Place tomatillos and chiles in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove items with a slotted spoon.  Place tomatillos, chiles, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt and cumin.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.  Store refrigerated for up to a week.

Southwestern-style Squash, Makes 6 servings
1 large white onion, chopped
1/2 C red bell pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp oil
1 C corn kernels
2 lb yellow squash, chopped
One (4-oz) can green chilies or 4 roasted chilies, seeded and peeled
1/2 C hot water
Salt to taste

In heavy skillet over medium high heat, sauté onion, red pepper, and garlic in oil. Add corn; cook and stir until uniformly browned.  Cut squash into match-sticks.  Cut chilies into long thin strips.  Add squash and chilies to skillet along with water and salt. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with hot tortillas.

Creamed Corn, makes 4 servings
4 large ears corn
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 C sour cream or plain mild yogurt
dash of Tabasco
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 C chopped fresh chives for garnish
Chopped parsley for garnish

Cut corn kernels from cobs, and place kernels in a bowl. You should have about 2 1/2 cups.  Hold each cob over the bowl and scrape with back of a knife to extract juices.  Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in corn; cook until barely tender, 4-5 minutes.  Add sour cream and hot sauce. Cook until warmed through; do not allow to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives and parsley.

Sweet Peppered Beans, makes 4 servings
2 medium red bell peppers
1/2 lb fresh snap beans
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Ground black pepper, to taste

Wash and dry peppers. Place on greased baking sheet under broiler. Broil and turn peppers until skin gets black on all sides. Or, use tongs and hold over gas flame.  Wrap in kitchen towel and allow to cool to touch (or place in paper bag and close) at least 10 minutes. Peel off charred skin, remove stem and seed. Cut into short strips and set aside.  Snap stems from beans. Steam 4-8 minutes or until tender. (Time may vary) Place hot beans in serving bowl. Toss with red pepper strips and season with oil, salt, vinegar, pepper. Serve at once.

Green Beans with Tomatoes, Makes 6 servings
1 1/2 lb fresh green beans
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 C chopped onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut julienne
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 white potato, cubed
Salt and pepper
1 C water

Trim beans, set aside.  Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add onions and sauté 1 minute. Add peppers, garlic and tomatoes; cook 1 minute.  Add green beans, toss; add potato, season with salt and pepper. Add water; cover and
simmer 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Vegetable Chicken Salad Makes 8 servings
2 lb potatoes, well-scrubbed
1 lb fresh snap beans, washed and trimmed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-in cubes
3/4 C prepared pesto sauce

Bring pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise in 1/2-inch slices. Add potatoes to boiling water, cover and return to boiling; cook 3 minutes.  Add beans to pot with potatoes and cook 4 minutes; vegetables should be firm. Drain and set aside.  In the same pot, heat olive oil over high heat and cook the chicken, stirring, 6 – 8 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Remove from heat; stir in pesto sauce, then gently stir in potatoes and green beans.

Vegetable Medley serves 4
1 Tbsp butter
2 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 C corn kernels
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add squash, zucchini and onion. Cook 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, and other ingredients. Cook and stir 2-3 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.