Thursday, September 27, 2012

CSA Share Week 22 (The last week of the season! Is this possible?  Wow!): From our farm to your table this week…
Greens: Bok Choy, Kale, or Swiss chard
Green Tomatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Winter squash (various)

Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…

It’s like the return of an old friend when fall greens are ready to harvest.  We didn’t learn until AFTER I emailed you last week that the fall lettuce had been drowned by recent rains.  Please accept my apologies for writing to you about lettuce then having Ford deliver greens!  This week, I can say with confidence that greens are wonderful too!  Depending on which variety you select / what is available, you will receive Bok Choy, Kale or Swiss chard.  We posted some of our favorite recipes for each of these earlier this year.  Here are some links to those posts:

Green Tomatoes
Chef Joseph Smith serves up our green tomatoes as fried green tomato sandwiches in his café, Joseph’s, on 4th Street here in London.  Although I’ve yet to try one, they sound so delicious that I’m determined to try to make one at home.  You can keep it vegetarian OR, if you’re feeling adventurous, you might like adding a couple slices of bacon and serve them up on toasted sourdough bread.  With an order of
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries you’ll have a hearty, home-grown meal that will feel pretty healthy even if there was a little frying involved.

Roasted wedges of onion, stir-fried slices and caramelized slivers of onion will add excellent flavor to fall greens as well as whipped potatoes and winter squash.  If you’ve saved up a few bulbs already, perhaps you would enjoy a French onion soup? 

 Green Peppers
I didn’t know these beauties were still in the field or they might not have found their way into your CSA boxes this week!  (….shh, don’t tell Ford I said that.)  These are one of the last real summer crops to linger into cool weather.  Enjoy them fresh while they last, or use them to add flavor to warm casseroles, fajitas, and homemade chili.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so good that it’s hard to make a bad dish using them.  …although, I have, on occasion.  Here are a few of our favorites:
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries, whipped sweet potatoes with applesauce (make the potatoes as you would white mashed potatoes, but add applesauce), and, my personal favorite, sweet potato pie.  I will be forever grateful to a friend of mine who shared this recipe at a Thanksgiving potluck years ago.  I’ve been enjoying it every Thanksgiving since.  Although it is a rich pie, it is not floating in butter or topped with sugary nuts and marshmallows.  This one really tastes like sweet potatoes, and I love it! 
Gwen’s Sweet Potato Pie

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch squares

1.5 cups sugar

1.5 cups whole milk or 1 12oz can evaporated milk

2 eggs

1.5 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

1 stick of butter

Dash of cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400oF.
Boil sweet potatoes until very tender.  They should easily mash with a fork.

Beat the potatoes with a mixer on medium speed and stop to remove and discard any fibrous strings.

While the potatoes are still warm, add butter and continue mixing.

Add remaining ingredients and continue mixing until the batter has a nice, smooth consistency.

You can pour the batter into your favorite unbaked pie crust or omit the crust entirely and pour the batter directly into a greased 9 or 10 inch pie pan.  (This recipe makes a very thick pie in a 9-inch pan, but I like it that way, it looks impressive!)

Sprinkle the top of the pie with a dash of cinnamon and bake for 50-60 minutes.  (A knife inserted in the middle of the pie should come out clean when it’s done.)

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.

Winter squash
Did you know that canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie fillings are often made with winter squash?  Just this week I baked some butternut squash using the method described last week (LINK) but without the brown sugar and butter.  It is so sweet, creamy and delicious all by itself!  The texture is much smoother than pumpkin – perhaps that’s why it’s used commercially as a pumpkin replacement.  Unlike pumpkin, there’s no need to puree roasted butternut squash in a food processor after it bakes because it lacks the fibrous texture of pumpkin and falls apart on its own.  This quality also makes it great for savory fall soups and risotto.  Here’s a very simple, delicious way to enjoy butternut, and other winter squashes without letting the squash get lost in butter and sugar:
Butternut Squash Soufflé.
As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

CSA Share Week 21

FARM TOUR NEXT WEEKEND, September 29!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you haven't already, please email Amanda at if you plan to attend!  The Farm Tour will begin at 4pm and the potluck will begin 5:30.
From our farm to your table this week...

Acorn squash
BasilButternut squashLettuceOnionsTomatoes
Green zucchini (large)

Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…

Acorn Squash

A truly beautiful winter vegetable, the acorn squash is both versatile and attractive, especially when sliced in rings.  Here is a simple recipe that is as beautiful as it is delicious from the Williams-Sonoma kitchen: Acorn Squash Rings Glazed with Maple & Orange.

Have you been thinking about holiday gifts and treats for guests? That time is just around the corner.  Small glass jars filled with your own dried basil make a wonderful treat for family and friends over the holidays.

Butternut Squash
My first encounter with butternut squash was about ten years ago.  One evening my roommate (a horticulturalist) convinced me to try a simple, baked butternut squash with brown sugar & butter for dinner.  It was a lot like the recipe I shared with you last week for acorn squash (
Delicious Baked Acorn Squash).  It was so good that I ate an entire (LARGE) butternut squash by myself.  Yes, friends, unfortunately that first blissful encounter was so extreme that I felt sick afterward and couldn’t eat the sweet autumn veggie again until about a year later.  (I have obsessive compulsive tendencies.)  Thankfully, I’ve mastered a little self-control (with butternut squash) and have tried numerous, delicious dishes including butternut squash risotto and, one of our favorites, Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry Stew.  That’s the one I’ll share with you this week.  It has just the right combination of smooth, creamy squash and warm yellow curry with a hint of cinnamon.

Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry Stew

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed1 small onion, finely diced
1-2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks

24-32 ounces organic chicken broth, low sodium (depends on how thick you like your stew)
1 large or two small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp yellow curry powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar

½ cup raisins

-Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven.  Cook onions and garlic until slightly browned then add chicken and cook thoroughly but don’t let it get dry or burn.

-Pour broth over chicken, and then add butternut squash.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (or turn it on low and leave it for a LONG time). 
-When the squash is very tender and a few pieces have fallen apart, remove ½ cup of the liquid and combine with remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Whisk together thoroughly and return to the Dutch oven.

-Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

- stirring in 1-2 cups of chopped kale, tatsoi, or spinach when you add the cubed squash is a great way to boost the nutritional value of this stew and it’s delicious.  I always do this if I have greens on hand.

Lettuce is back!  …and I’m sooooo glad.  Lettuce, kale, spinach and Swiss chard are just the right plants for early spring and fall in Kentucky.  Since our lettuce patch isn’t close to our house, Ford has had to patiently respond to my weekly question – “Are the greens and lettuce ready yet?” In the fall, my FAVORITE way to enjoy fresh lettuce and tender greens is to top them with chunks of fresh pears, slivers of purple onion, raisins, gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts.  A sweet berry or apple cider vinaigrette makes the perfect topping.  …oh, and if you’re feeling really extravagant, a few pieces of crumbled bacon push this simple salad over the top, turning into a great main dish. YUM! 

These fragrant bulbs are great for slicing into thin slivers and layering on salad.  They are also great to use just as you would any storage onion from the supermarket and they will last for several weeks in a cool, dry, dark place. 

This week I used some over-ripe tomatoes to help make the sauce for a sweet potato chili.  The fresh tomatoes really added some depth and freshness to the otherwise heavy vegetarian main dish.  If you don’t want to enjoy the last fresh tomatoes raw in a salad, I highly recommend using them in soups, stews, or roasting them and freezing them for later this winter.

Zucchini - green
The zucchini in your share this week will probably be a little larger than the zucchini you got earlier in the season.  That means it’s a great time to make zucchini bread.  I’ve shared my favorite with you before, but here it is again for easy reference:  Grandma’s Zucchini Bread. The grated lemon peel really makes this bread so don’t leave it out (like I did the first few times I baked it).  

 As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.

Friday, September 14, 2012

CSA Share Week 20: From our farm to your table this week…

Acorn squash
Bell peppers
Spaghetti Squash
Sweet Corn

Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…

Acorn Squash

Did you try stuffed acorn squash last week?  If not, and if you’re looking for a quicker recipe for acorn squash, try this one by my best imaginary friend (Ford’s words) Ree Drummond, The Pioneer woman: Delicious Baked Acorn Squash.  Although I haven’t used this technique with acorn squash, I’ve baked butternut squash this way and it’s delicious.
Earlier this year we mentioned using basil to flavor water but last weekend our friends and CSA members, the Harringtons, made an amazing flavored water using basil with fresh strawberries.  What a great idea! The sweet strawberries and aromatic basil were a perfect pair.

Bell peppers
This week I came across a great recipe that uses a combination of peppers, mushrooms, celery, and apples with couscous.  What a delicious way to combine the last peppers of summer with some of the first fall apples!  The recipe is from the May 1996 edition of Cooking Light but I made a few modifications.  To see the original, click here:
Moroccan Couscous Peppers (original). 
Moroccan Couscous with Peppers
2 large bell peppers (about 1 pound), diced
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped peeled tart apple
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
1/2 cup uncooked couscous
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Coat a large nonstick skillet with oil, and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add peppers, onion, mushrooms, celery, apple, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
 Combine broth, salt, cumin, pepper, and turmeric in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir in couscous and oil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add pepper mixture, raisins, pine nuts, and parsley; stir well. Spread evenly into an 8-inch square baking dish; bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Caramelized onions are delicious accompaniments to many main and side dishes.  My parents say that when I was a child, I ate onions like apples.  That didn’t last but apparently I’ve always had an affinity for these flavorful bulbs.  Try this along with your favorite meat or mix it into a vegetarian favorite for a more robust flavor.  They’re also incredible piled on top of mashed potatoes!  (Can you tell I’m hungry while writing this one?)  Combine about 1tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter per small/medium onion and heat in skillet until melted and hot.  Add thin slivers of onion and cook for about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and cook 30-45 more minutes.  Be sure to stir the onions frequently but allow them to get good and brown.  A tiny sprinkling of sugar helps with this, but please don’t make them too sweet!  When they’re nice and soft, and brown, toss in a splash of your favorite vinegar.  (Adapted from )  There’s also a nice step-by-step recipe (slight variation from above) with photos on the Southern Living website HERE.
Sweet corn
Ford tells me this is the last week for fresh, sweet corn, so I’ve decided to share a family favorite recipe with you.  We call it “fried corn” on Pistol Creek, but don’t worry, there’s no batter or deep fryer involved.  It is best eaten with a big bowl of fresh tomatoes, a few slices of fresh onion, and cornbread.  YUM! 
“Fried” Cornaccording to the instructions of my mom (Margie Baker) as passed from her mom (Daisy Johnson)
6 ears of fresh sweet corn, washed, silks removed, patted dry
Option 1 - Leftover batter from a batch of cornbread OR
Option 2 - 
        2 tsp cornmeal        2 tsp flour
1 Tbsp butter

Prepare your corn and set aside.
Option 1 – Stir up a batch of your favorite cornbread, pop it in the oven but DON’T wash the bowl you used to stir up the batter!  Instead, cut the kernels of corn into that bowl. 
Here’s an important step: once you slice the kernels off all the way down the cob, go back and scrape the cob with your knife to remove the milky residue at the base of the corn kernels.  This is a little messy, so you should probably put the bowl you’re cutting the corn into down in your sink because the corn juice goes all over the place.  Trust me; this makes all the difference in the world.

Option 2 – Stir together cornmeal, flour and enough water and milk (about half & half) to make a thin batter.  Add the corn as described above.
Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet until melted, then add the corn mixture and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Mom says to stir it very often or it will stick!
Try not to eat the whole bowl all by yourself if possible.
Spaghetti Squash
In case you don’t have it handy, here’s a basic recipe for cooking spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti Squash video.  Once this basic preparation method is complete, you can enjoy as-is or spice it up with cheese, marinara, or whatever makes you happy.

If you make my mom/grandma’s fried corn recipe, please, by all means, serve up freshly sliced chunks of tomato along with it!  You won’t be disappointed.
As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.

Friday, September 7, 2012

CSA Share Week 19: From our farm to your table this week…

Acorn squash




Sweet Corn


Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…

Acorn Squash

This is, by far, my FAVORITE winter squash.  From the smooth green skin to the bright orange flesh, I like to eat EVERY last part of this vegetable (except for maybe the stem).  If the tough skin isn’t your style, you don’t HAVE to eat it, but if you want to, you can.  Rather than baking this one in the oven and filling it with brown sugar and butter as I would a butternut squash, I prefer to either roast it in wedges or make stuffed acorn squash.  The wedges are great to roast as you would sweet potatoes, but they are AMAZING if you finish them off with a mildly sweet glaze made by boiling orange juice with a bit of sugar and cinnamon until it gets just a little sticky.  Throw in some raisins or pitted prunes (yes – pitted prunes) and you have an amazing side dish.  If you love the look of beautiful stuffed pumpkin and squash main dishes, try the stuffed acorn squash recipe on the right.  It’s a creation I made up last year and it’s one of our favorite fall meals.

Stuffed Acorn Squash – 6 servings
3 small to medium acorn squash
3-4 cups brown rice, cooked
1.5 cups toasted walnuts, broken into small pieces
2 cups orange or pear juice
1 cup pears, peeled & chopped into small squares
½ to 2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp REAL butter
1.5 cups raisins
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wash acorn squash remove stem or stem end and cut in half from the pointed end to the flat, stem-end.
Remove seeds and any stringy flesh inside.
Place cut-side down in a baking dish with about ½ inch of water and bake for 1 hour.
In the meantime cook your rice if you don’t have prepared rice on hand.  (I like to make big batches of rice then store it in the freezer for quicker meal preparations.) Set aside.
Toast walnuts in oven or microwave and set aside.
Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil on the stove while stirring frequently with a whisk.  (You don’t want the raisins to stick and burn.  You want them plump and juicy!)  Reduce heat but continue stirring until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture has thickened slightly.
Remove baked acorn squash from oven, remove any excess water from squash and pan.
Arrange squash, cut-side up, on a lightly greased cookie sheet or baking dish.
Combine the rice, walnuts and all but 3/4 cup of the liquid portion of the juice mixture.  Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed then fill the acorn squash.
Now put the stuffed squash back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes to let all the flavors blend.
In the meantime, return the ¾ cup remaining juice mixture to the stove and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.  Allow it to get just a bit thicker but don’t let it turn into a sticky syrup.
Remove stuffed squash from oven and drizzle with remaining juice mixture.
Serve immediately!
This is great alone but a light salad of fall lettuce & greens balances out this hearty, vegetarian main dish.
Frost will steal this tender herb from our gardens in about 1 month so enjoy it while it lasts.  I prefer dishes with fresh basil this time of year to get me through the long months when all I have are tiny, dried flakes to remind me of the splendor of fresh basil.

Use this storage onions as you would typical supermarket onions in a wide variety of dishes.  We HIGHLY recommend the mix-and-match recipe this week if you aren’t sure how to use your onions


This fall I’m teaching evening courses twice weekly and I don’t make it home until late.  On days like that, it’s SOOO nice to put a healthy meal in the crockpot when I leave home and know that all of us will have a healthy, delicious meal when we walk through the door in the evening – no preparation required.  Even if Ford and Finley beat me home, I like knowing there’s something warm and tasty for them, and something that I’ll get to enjoy later.  Our mix and match recipe of the week is an adaption of one of my old favorites.  I think it’s a weight-watchers recipe that a friend of mine shared in graduate school and I’m sure I make it at least once a month when the weather is cool.

Mix and Match Recipe of the Week: Healthy, Homestyle Potato Soup
2-3 cups, peeled, cubed white potatoes
1/2 to 1 cup chopped carrots

1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz chicken broth (or enough to cover up your veggies in the crockpot, add a little water if you have to)
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Optional variations on this basic potato soup to keep things interesting:
-add 1 cup diced, smoked sausage
-add 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

-add a tsp of minced jalapeno peppers

Combine first 5 ingredients (through broth) in a large crockpot.  Stir in optional ingredients if using.
Turn on low for 10-12 hours or high for 6-8 hours.
Before serving, remove about 1 cup of liquid, stir in flour and milk then return to the crockpot.

Stir thoroughly, salt and pepper to taste, then serve, topping with shredded cheddar if desired.
This is so good with cornbread!

Sweet corn
Boil it, roast it, grill it or slice into fresh salads, raw.  You can enjoy this late summer and fall favorite many ways.  It’s a great mix in for soups like the mix-and-match recipe above.  There are also a lot of great corn chowder recipes that you might want to try when the weather gets cooler. 

This is another delicate summer vegetable (okay, fruit) that will be gone in another 4-6, so enjoy it while it lasts!  Trust me, even if you’re had more tomatoes than you could eat this summer, you’ll be missing them when you get watery vegetables disguised as tomatoes at the supermarket this winter.

As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.