Friday, August 31, 2012

CSA Share Week 18: From our farm to your table this week

Red Tomatoes
Spaghetti squash
Sweet corn              
Yellow squash  

Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…


When you’re hosting friends or bringing dishes to a potluck this Labor Day weekend, try this yummy eggplant dip, courtesy of our friends at Elmwood Stock Farm.  The yogurt provides a nice, creamy consistency and a nice bit of added protein.

Roasted Eggplant and Yogurt Spread with Onions and Olives

1 medium to large eggplant6 T Kalamata olives, chopped2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped1 ½ T fresh basil, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped½ small onion, finely chopped½ tsp favorite seasoning mixture 8-12 oz Greek yogurt

Roast eggplant whole on a baking sheet in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour at 400°F.Meanwhile, prepare and mix the olives, garlic, basil, onion and seasonings together in a bowl.
When the eggplant has cooled enough to handle, cut off the stem end, slit the skin and scoop out all of the eggplant pulp.  Mix the pulp in with the other ingredients.  Start adding the yogurt and stirring it in until you have a spreadable consistency.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld.  Serve on flatbread or with favorite crackers or bread as a dip.
Tomatoes will continue to ripen until our first frost (usually mid-October) but their productivity decreases markedly with the shortening days.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s not light quite so early in the morning or as late into the evening.  I love living in this region because, as much as I love the unique joys of each season, I also love to see them go as much as I love the arrival of the next!  Shorter days and cooler temperatures will enable me to coax Ford into the house for a few more hours each week and am certainly looking forward to that! 

In the meantime, enjoy the last of the tomatoes of 2012 by canning or preserving them.  Although you won’t find cherry tomatoes in your basket, if you have some at home you might consider roasting them on a cookie sheet then freezing them. They are WONDERFUL in fall or winter pastas or on pizza.  You can also preserve your tomatoes by canning using a simple boiling water bath method.  Here is the website (& link) for step-by-step instructions on canning tomato products from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Extension program:   You can can up to 7 quarts in a large boiling water bath canner and when chili & soup weather arrives, you’ll be SOOOO glad you did!

Sweet corn

You’ll find a few more golden ears this week and in the weeks to come.  Savor those delicious kernels.  Because I teach evening classes on Tuesday and Thursday, those are “Daddy nights” for Finley.  This week Ford took Finley along with him in the fields when he checked the corn on Thursday night and, before Ford could get him back home, Finley ate an entire ear – raw!  …and for you mothers out there, don’t worry, he didn’t get a tummy ache.

Spaghetti Squash
This is usually the first winter squash that we harvest.  It is shaped a bit like a football (but the ends are rounded, not pointy) and ranges in color from creamy white to yellow.  The interesting thing about this firm winter squash is that, when baked, the hard flesh flakes apart in long strands that resemble spaghetti!  Naturally, my first instinct when Ford began growing it was to serve it up just as I would spaghetti – topped with marinara and cheese!  (Like this recipe: )  That does happen to be a delicious way to enjoy spaghetti squash and, if you’re counting calories, this will fit into your calorie budget much more easily than a hearty pasta.  More recently, I’ve decided to branch out and explore the world of not-so-traditional spaghetti squash dishes.  Here’s one I’d like to try but haven’t gotten around to it just yet.  See below:

Spaghetti Squash with Cranberries, Almonds and Feta
from Vicky on, adapted from Savoring the Thyme

1 whole Spaghetti Squash
¼ cups Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
⅔ cups Feta Cheese, Diced
⅔ cups Dried Cranberries
½ cups Slivered Almonds
¼ cups Fresh Basil, Slivered
Preparation Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Using a knife pierce holes all over the spaghetti squash (so it doesn’t explode in the oven). Place squash on a pan and bake for 1 hour.
2. In a bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic. Set aside.
3. When it’s done, remove squash from the oven. Allow squash to cool for 15 minutes then cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and surrounding fibers and discard them. Using a fork, shred the insides of the squash—the strands will start to resemble spaghetti.
4. In a bowl combine the shredded squash with the dressing, feta, cranberries, almonds and basil. Toss to combine.

Yellow Squash
Did you know you can finely chop OR slice your squash, blanch it, dry it then freeze it for use later on in the winter?  The deeper we get into the school year the more I find myself using quick methods to store excess veggies for cool weather meals.  These will be perfect for things like squash/zucchini bread or a Thanksgiving squash casserole!  Did I tell you I’m ready for fall?


Slice and enjoy, that’s all you need to know.  Happy eating.

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, August 24, 2012

CSA Share Week 17: From our farm to your table this week

Bell peppers
Sweet corn              
Yellow squash  

Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…

All is well on the farm.  There are still plenty of veggies but Ford has noticed that in the last 1-2 weeks, the summer staples like squash, zucchini & tomatoes are slowing in productivity as the days shorten & the end of summer draws near. 

For a fairly quick weeknight dinner that incorporates several of the veggies in your share, try the mix and match recipe below: Garden Vegetable Tart.  The frozen puff pastry in this recipe cuts preparation time but if you feel like whipping this up on a weekend and want to use whole grains, make your own homemade pizza or puff pastry dough using your favorite whole grain flour.

Mix & Match Recipe for the Week: Garden Vegetable Tart
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
August 2012 issue
~ 4 servings

1 frozen puff pastry sheet (half a 17.3 oz package)
1 large red tomato, peeled, cubed, & excess water squeezed out (tip – prepare these first and set them aside in a colander to drain while you work on the other veggies)

2 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 medium yellow squash (or zucchini), thinly sliced lengthwise

1 medium bell pepper, sliced into thin rings

¼ cup tomato paste

¼ cup water

4-6 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Garnish: crushed red pepper and/or dried basil


Preheat oven to 425oF.
Roll puff pastry into a 14x10” rectangle and carefully transfer to a baking pan or cookie sheet.  Pierce dough all over with a fork.

Bake 10 minutes, then remove from the oven lightly press the center with a spatula to give you a slightly depressed center and elevated edges for a little crust.
While dough is cooling, prepare the veggies as follows:

Option 1 – Toss ALL of the veggies with a bit of olive oil & salt and grill for about 8 minutes on a hot grill, (you’ll need a foil pack or grill pan for the tomatoes).
Option 2 – Toss ALL of the veggies with a bit of olive oil and salt & roast them on another baking sheet for about 20 minutes while your oven is still hot.  They won’t have pretty grill marks this way but they’ll taste good & it will make the preparation a little simpler & conserve a bit of energy.

While the veggies cool just a bit, whisk the tomato paste & water together and spread on the puff pastry.

Cut corn from the cobs.  Spread corn, tomatoes, peppers, & squash/zucchini on top of the tomato paste mixture. Top with cheese.

Return the assembled tart to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes to heat things back up & melt the cheese.

Remove from the oven, top with pepper flakes and basil if desired, cut into squares with a pizza cutter & ENJOY!

Bell peppers

Ford frequently walks around the field or the barn eating these sweet peppers like apples.  They really are that good.  Eating them raw is quick, easy, & delicious, but they are also great on the grill or mixed into just about anything.  For a nice, cool appetizer, take the smallest peppers in your share, cut them into thirds and fill them with a yummy cream cheese mixture.  Here’s my favorite cream cheese filling for fresh peppers: “toast” 1/3 cup pecans in the microwave for 1 minute, remove and shop finely.  Stir the pecans, ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce & ¼ tsp cayenne pepper into an 8oz block of softened cream cheese.  Stuff the pepper pieces with the cheese mixture and arrange on your favorite serving dish.  This should easily fill sections from about 4-5 peppers.


Opening up a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans is an easy, tasty way to add some protein to a vegetarian meal.  Susan Voisin, of the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen has an interesting recipe for Eggplant and Chickpea Curry.  I love eggplant, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) & the flavor of curry, so this promises to be a satisfying combination.  This one uses authentic Indian spices that aren’t always so easy to find (at a reasonable price) in our neck of the woods BUT you could also use the same basic recipe with some of your own favorite seasonal ingredients.  The next time you’re in Lexington or Knoxville, however, you might find that it’s a lot of fun to check out an Indian market and purchase the ingredients listed in this recipe along with some other new items.  I love bringing home new flavors and pairing them with familiar, local produce.  Happy shopping!

Stuffed vegetables are fun, relatively easy & they always hold the promise of a warm delicious surprise masked by the outward appearance of one of your favorite foods.  You’ve seen stuffed zucchini, stuffed peppers, & now another veggie joins the party – stuffed tomatoes!  The recipe below lends itself well to variations in cheese and herbs.  Give this one a try then tweak it to perfectly please your palate. 

Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn and Black Beans
adapted from the August 2012 Issue of Everyday Food

~ 4 servings

large, red tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
¾ cup corn kernels (from about 1 large ear)
1 small onion, thinly sliced then chopped
½ to 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely chopped
1 cup drained, rinsed black beans
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar (2 oz) divided
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, divided
1 Tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450oF.
Slice top ½ inch from tomatoes, remove hard core if present, & scoop out flesh to reserve for another use (like spreading on crusty bread before baking).
In a medium skillet heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat.  Add corn & onion and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in jalapeno, beans, 1/4c cheddar, ½ c breadcrumbs, & lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.
Coat an 8” square baking dish with 1 tsp oil. 
Brush tomato skins with 1 tsp oil, season all over with salt & pepper.  Place in dish and fill with corn mixture.  Combine remaining cheddar, breadcrumbs and 2 tsp oil, season with salt and pepper and divide evenly among tomatoes.
Tent pan loosely with foil and bake 10 minutes. 
Uncover and bake about 5 more minutes OR until tomatoes are soft, & breadcrumbs are golden.

Sweet corn
The corn in your share this week is what we call “late corn,” because it’s maturing at the end of the summer harvest season.  Savor the last delicious ears of the season but also think about preserving a few kernels for winter soups, stews and holiday meals.  My grandmother made sure that every Thanksgiving table included a big bowl of corn that she had preserved in the summer.  It was one of my favorite parts of the holiday meal and my mother and I try to keep that tradition going strong.  Use it however you like it most - boil it, grill it, blanch it and freeze it or use it one of the mix-and-match recipes above – just enjoy it!  Ford works really hard to make sure that the corn you receive is freshly harvested and cooled immediately after the harvest to preserve the flavor and texture.  You should be in for a treat!

Yellow Squash

Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman), whom Ford also refers to as my imaginary friend, has an amazing knack for creating delicious recipes and presenting them in a beautiful, step-by-step manner on the cooking section of her famous blog,  Earlier this week she posted a recipe for grilled zucchini that, I’m confident, would work equally well for yellow squash.  It combines coarse salt, ground pepper, olive and fresh lemon zest as a marinade for the zucchini – brilliant!  One look at these beautiful images will have you firing up the grill and slicing up your squash in no time.  Here’s the link: Pioneer Woman’s Yummy Grilled Zucchini.


Do you remove the seeds from your watermelon and put it in a container in the fridge for easy access?  Do you slice it and serve it with the rind?  Do you put salt on it?  How do YOU eat your watermelon?  It’s a much debated issue in my family.  Finley dips cubed watermelon into watermelon juice, slurps it, then, when he gets bored, squeezes it into a dripping, sticky mess in his hands.  …but he sure looks cute doing 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, August 17, 2012

CSA Share Week 16: From our farm to your table this week

Eggplant OR  Okra 
Onions (storage) 
Kennebec potatoes
Red Tomatoes                
Yellow squash  

Tips for using &/or preserving your produce…

The days of summer, and summer herbs like basil, are numbered.  This realization always hits me hardest when school resumes, which happened to me this week.  It seems like the excitement of the first days of school give way to fall parties, Halloween, and then, in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving and Christmas have arrived.  My thoughts are beginning to turn toward that season.  With just 6 weeks of CSA shares remaining, it’s time to stock up on dried/preserved basil.  If you haven’t already dried some of those aromatic leaves, be sure to save at least a few stems to hang upside down in your kitchen to dry.  It will smell so nice as it dries and you’ll be left with crunchy leaves you can sprinkle into small pieces just right for seasoning winter dishes.
The Moosewood Cookbook is full of amazing vegetarian recipes.  This week, you might enjoy trying something new with your eggplant: Spicy Eggplant Relish.  The author says it can be served “as a condiment to almost anything – especially curries, humus, falafel, or Tabouli salad.  Or use it as a dip or spread.” See the very simple recipe below.
Spicy Eggplant Relish
from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
3-4 small eggplants (2 medium), cut into ½ inch cubes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp cumin
Salt and lots of cayenne
Juice of one lemon
Combine onions and eggplant in a skillet.
Stir in oil and a little salt. Cook slowly, over low heat, until soft.
Add remaining ingredients and season to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Onion ( storage)
What did you think of the storage onions last week?  It might not have been quite as exciting for you as it was for us, but, after years of growing onions that seemed to spoil within 2 weeks of harvest, we are so delighted to have good, firm onions that have dried and kept well.  It always makes me feel happy and proud when Ford finds success in a new farming adventure, especially when it happens to be something I eat almost every day!  We hope you feel the same excitement when you use these onions in your home.

Green Peppers

If your home is like ours this time of year, you might be scrambling around after dinner assembling lunches for work or school on the following day.  I find that I am much less likely to snack on convenience foods if I pack plenty of healthy snacks.  If you’re short on time but want a tasty, crunchy side dish with your lunch, slice some raw peppers into long strips and use them to dip into hummus, soft goat cheese, or your favorite spread.  They’re such a nice treat on a busy afternoon!


To the greatest extent possible, I like to share recipes with you that I’ve tried.  I’ve run out of such recipes for okra, so I’d love to hear what YOU are doing with it.  With your permission, I’ll share that with our CSA group.  Thank you in advance!  

Potatoes (Kennebec - white, multipurpose, organic)
This week I saw a recipe on the Tasty Kitchen blog that looked SOOOOO good!  I haven’t had the chance to try it, yet, but I plan to make it this weekend.  The photo they provided was beautiful (see below) and the recipe got excellent reviews from several members of the Tasty Kitchen community.  Give it a try this weekend.    

Chipotle and Lime Roasted Potatoes

Chipotle and Lime Roasted Potatoes
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

2 lbs small new potatoes cut in half OR large new potatoes cut into chunks, with skin ON
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Kosher Salt
1 whole Chipotle Pepper Packed in Adobo Sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled & minced
1 Tbsp grated lime zest
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400oF.
Place potatoes on baking sheet, drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and toss with salt.

Roast 30-35 minutes, stirring once, until potatoes are golden and can be easily pierced with a fork.
While potatoes are in the oven:
Mince one chipotle pepper and combine with 2 tsp of adobo sauce (from the same can).
Add garlic, lime zest, lime juice and 2 more tsp of olive oil to the peppers and sauce.  Whisk thoroughly.
Remove potatoes from oven and, while hot, pour them into the chipotle lime dressing. 
Add cilantro and stir gently to combine.

In keeping with the theme of quick, simple preparations, I’ll encourage you to try yet another roasted vegetable recipe – garlic roasted tomatoes.  This one is taken from the September 2007 issue of Everyday Food and can also be found online here:

Garlic-Roasted Tomatoes
from September 2007 Everyday Food

4 large tomatoes cored and halved crosswise.
2 Tbsp butter, cut into 8 thin slices

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400oF.
Place tomato halves, cut side up, on a large, rimmed baking sheet.

Dividing evenly, top with butter and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Bake until tomatoes are tender, 40-45 minutes.
Yellow Squash
Ford doesn’t share my love of yellow squash, but even he remarked this week that fresh, sautéed yellow squash makes a very good side dish!  Take tender, small-to-medium squash and slice once, lengthwise down the middle.  Place each half, flat side down, on a cutting board and slice into half- moons. Sauté in olive oil with garlic and onions until the squash gets spots of golden brown and darkens slightly.  It takes on a delicious sweetness that is best enjoyed fresh from the skillet.

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.