Weekly Farm Notes :: April 27th, 2015

Hello! Hope everyone is having a great start to the week. Below are this week’s farm notes. See you at the market on Wednesday!

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April 22nd Produce

Here are some of the items you may have picked up at market last week:

  • Black Summer Pok Choi: toss this Sesame Pak Choi with Asian noodles or rice and protein and you can have dinner on the table in no time.
  • Red Russian Kale: give this recipe a try for Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas and use the green garlic in the dressing!
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard: don’t throw away those chard stems! See the recipe below for a little inspiration.
  • Tronchuda Beira Kale: I love fritters and these Potato, Scallion and Kale Cakes look like something I need to make very soon.
  • Butterhead Lettuce: we have grown this variety before called Adrianna. It has grown so strangely this year but is still very tender with a buttery texture. It is not washed because it is so delicate. Try this lettuce with some Red Russian Kale and the Summerfest Asian greens for a delicious salad.
  • Summerfest Komatsuma Asian Greens: wonderful rich flavor for salad, saute or soup.
  • Green Garlic: try this in the garlicky kale salad dressing listed above!

April 29th Produce

Below are some items that you can expect to see this week:

  • Red Dragon Mustard Greens: I thought this nutritional breakdown from Whole Foods was very interesting:
    • The cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed mustard greens is second only to steamed collard greens and steamed kale in a recent study of cruciferous vegetables and their ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract. When bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body. Since bile acids are made from cholesterol, the net impact of this bile acid binding is a lowering of the body’s cholesterol level. It’s worth noting that steamed mustard greens (and all steamed forms of the cruciferous vegetables) show much greater bile acid binding ability than raw mustard greens.
  • Garlic Chives: high in Vitamin C also rich in vitamins A & B, iron, calcium, sulfur and magnesium. Good tonic herb to take regularly.

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Recipe :: Chard Stem Relish

Looking for a fun way to use your Swiss chard stems? Here is a great recipe from Steven Satterfield’s Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons. I made a batch this past weekend but haven’t used it on anything yet. I might drizzle a little over blue cheese on crackers. Let us know how you use it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced Swiss chard stems
  • 1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until stems are tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove stems with slotted spoon and reduce liquid by half. Let cool separately and combine. Store for 4 weeks.

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Events

May 16th: Wildwood Harvest is having an open house from 10am-2pm. I plan on bringing a picnic to enjoy on the farm – hope to see you there!

May 22nd: Crabtree Farms is hosting a “Buying Local on a Budget” class from 6-7:30pm.

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Other News

Have you read Alice O’Dea’s latest article? Check out her latest article on the benefits of eating beans!


Preserve the Harvest :: Dehydrated Greens + Recipe

Hello!

I just went through a week of intense preserving to help Mark & Gina use up pounds and pounds of kale and collards, along with some parsley and edible flowers, that would have gone to the compost heap otherwsie. I could have made it easier on myself by just processing the greens in two or three ways but I couldn’t control myself and ended up preserving by: making soup, blending and freezing greens, making and freezing compound butter, fermenting, dehydrating and steeping edible flowers in a sweetened apple cider vinegar mixture (called a shrub – more to come on this!). I list all of these items to give you some insight into the various paths I used to preserve the harvest. Each process has it’s upsides and downsides. For example, blending kale with water and then freezing it in ice cube trays is really simple and cheap (no added ingredients) but freezer space is limited and how many kale cubes does one really need?

Dehydrating has tradeoffs as well – it is simple to prepare, relatively hands off and the finished product can be stored at room temperature. However, it is energy intensive as each batch has to dry for hours at a time (even tender greens take 2 hours in my dehydrator). For someone with limited time, however, I think the tradeoff is worth while.

The dehydrating process is really simple:

  • Wash greens well
  • Dry well
    • I put mine through a salad spinner and then pat them dry with a clean towel.
  • Remove ribs and cut into desired shapes
    • If you are against wasting the ribs, I would at least cut them out and then dehydrate them separately from the leaves as they will dry at different rates.
  • Season if desired
    • This step depends on how you intend to use the greens. If you want to eat them as “chips”, I would suggest tossing them with at least a little oil and salt (see below for recipe idea). If you just want to dehydrate them in order to throw them in soups later, you can probably skip this step.
  • Dehydrate
    • Using a dehydrator: I have tried various temperatures but find that 135 degrees works best for greens. It only takes 2-3 hours at this temperature, whereas it can take hours and hours more if you drop it down much lower. I know raw foodist don’t cook anything over 104 degrees as they believe the nutritional value is lost. This may be true but since dried greens are such a small part of my overall diet, I don’t worry about it much.
      • If you don’t have a dehydrator but are looking to purchase one, this article gives a lot of helpful information.
    • Using an oven: I have never dehydrated food in an oven so I would do your own research if this is the route you wish to take. From what I have read, most ovens don’t go below 170 so you have to prop the oven door open to maintain the correct temperature. It seems like this could be difficult to control but I would love to hear from anyone who tries it.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry spot.
    1. This is a good article to understand where and why dehydrated food should be stored and how long you can expect it to last.

In the end, you can dehydrate just about anything. Since greens are so plentiful right now, give this a shot if you are out of other ideas!

Spiced Swiss Chard Chips

Recipe notes: 1) depending on the size of your dehydrator, you may be able to fit more greens at once. I am using a round, 4 level Nesco dehydrator.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more if desired
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 pound (about 15 medium leaves) Swiss chard, washed and dried thoroughly

Directions:

  • Whisk oil, spices and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Trim Swiss chard ribs and set aside. Cut leaves into desired shapes. I cut the leaves in half along the ribs and then cut each half into halves or thirds, depending on the size.
  • Place leaves in the mixing bowl and toss gently but thoroughly with the spices. Arrange the leaves on the dehydrating trays, taking care not to overlap them too much.
  • Dehydrate at 135 degrees F, checking after 2 hours to see if they are crisp. If not, continue to dehydrate, checking every 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place. These should last for months but I bet they won’t stick around that long 🙂

Weekly Farm Notes :: April 20th, 2015

Hello!

This is the first in a series I hope to publish each week to give you some insight into what you can do with items you picked up last week at market and also what produce to expect in the coming weeks. I will also provide you with recipes and any local food-related news and events of interest. Let’s jump right into it!

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April 15th Produce

Here are some of the items you have picked up at market last week:

  • Radishes: these are the Icicle variety. Gina suggests roasting them to calm the spiciness. Here is a great article and link to a recipe from The Kitchn. I plan on trying it tonight!
  • Black Summer Pok Choi: need a little inspiration? Check out the recipe below!
  • Red Russian Kale: have you tried our Green Tahini Sauce yet? If not, this kale would be great in it!
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard: now that it is getting warmer, a Chilled Swiss Chard Soup is in order.
  • Tronchuda Beira Kale: this unique specialty from Portugal is also called Portuguese cabbage or sea kale. The taste and texture of the wavy green leaves are similar to collards. The thick fleshy midribs and stems can be peeled and eaten like celery or included in soup.
  • Red and Green Romaine and Red Leaf Lettuce: the red leaf lettuce has some bronze colored edges and the red romaine has some hints of red. These aren’t as colorful as usual given the sun has not been out a lot recently and they were harvested a little early.
  • Summerfest Komatsuma Asian Greens: I look forward to experimenting with these greens. Let us know how you use them!

April 22nd Produce

Below are some items that you can expect to see this week:

  • Red Dragon Mustard Greens: I developed a Mustard Green Harissa recipe last year when I was trying to figure out what to do with these greens. While I love mustard greens simply sauteed and eaten in any type of egg dish, this recipe will spice things up a bit more.
  • Garlic Chives: I love garlic chive pesto but here’s a thought if you don’t want to be too exact: make a deconstructed pesto. Toss pasta with minced garlic chives, Parmesan, toasted and chopped nuts of choice and a healthy dressing of olive oil. Couldn’t be easier!
  • Tronchuda Beira Kale: looking for healthy food you can eat on the run? This kale would work great in our Quinoa and Kale Bites!
  • Summerfest Komatsuma Asian Greens: I look forward to experimenting with these greens. Let us know how you use them!

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Recipe

I just picked up a copy of America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook which features over 700 vegetarian recipes. There are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options and many of them are quick to put together. I haven’t tried it yet but the recipe below looks like a great option for your Pok Choi (or Bok Choy).

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 heads bok choy (4 ounces each), stalks sliced 1/2 inch thick and greens chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, trimmed to bottom 6 inches and smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 teaspoons juice

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add bok choy (pok choi) stalks and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in rice, water, coconut milk, lemon grass and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until liquid is absorbed, 18-20 minutes.
  3. Fold in cilantro, lime zest and juice and bok choy greens, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 3 minutes. Discard lemon grass. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Events

Join us at the Main Street Farmers Market Spring-A-Ma-Jig this Wednesday, April 22nd from 4-6pm! There will be fresh smoked chicken and chicken tacos from Hoe Hop Valley Farm, some spring side dishes from The Farmers Daughter Cafe, live music, and kids activities. It’s sure to be a great time!

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Other News

Have you read Alice O’Dea’s latest article? Check out her Takeaways From the Scenic City Supper Club!


Green Tahini Sauce

Our friends over at Choose To Eat have a recipe for falafel that comes together really fast with the use of canned chickpeas. Falafel is great served with a tahini sauce but we thought it would be even better with a healthy dose of greens included. You can use any greens you have on hand – kale, spinach, tender collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, even radish tops. Serve the falafel and sauce with pita and my personal favorite, our Curtido recipe, and you have a filling, healthful dinner in no time!

Green Tahini Sauce
makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 to 3/4 packed cup of chopped greens
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into a blender and process until very smooth, 30-60 seconds depending on your blender. Taste and add extra greens, salt or lemon juice to taste.

Quinoa & Kale Bites

Hello!

This is just a quick post to share a recipe I made this week. It is inspired by this recipe from the 101 Cookbooks blog. I changed a few things but the base is the same – quinoa, kale and edamame baked in muffin tins. It is nutritious, fast to prepare and will provide a number of quick meals you can eat on the run. We hope you enjoy it!

Quinoa & Kale Bites
makes 12 muffin bites

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (from about 1 cup raw quinoa)
  • 1/2 packed cup of cooked finely chopped kale or other tender greens
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded Manchego or cheese of choice
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (from about 3 medium cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1/4 of a large lemon)
  • Salt to taste (will depend on saltiness of cheese; I used 3/4 teaspoon table salt)

Directions:

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a standard 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Fill each muffin tin almost to the top with the mixture and pat down lightly to even out the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins are set and they are golden brown around the sides. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.

Preserve the Harvest :: Quick Pickled Radish Leaves

Making quick pickles is one of the fastest and easiest ways to preserve the harvest. These types of pickles are made by pouring an acidic brine over produce, allowing the brine to flavor the vegetable or fruit over a number of days in the refrigerator. Although they are called quick “pickles” it is important to understand a few important ways in which they differ from fermented pickles.

  • Time: quick pickles are ready in a matter of hours or days whereas fermented pickles take weeks or even months.
  • Flavor development: quick pickles get their flavor from the acidic brine and any flavoring components whereas fermented pickles get flavor from bacteria present during the fermentation process. Fermented pickles tend to have a more complex and developed flavor but you have more control over the final flavor with quick pickles.
  • Refrigeration: quick pickles have to be refrigerated and typically last only a few weeks, unlike fermented pickles which have a much longer shelf life.

Quick pickling is pretty foolproof but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Vinegar/Water Ratio: I suggest starting with equal parts vinegar to water to see how you like the balance of flavor. You can always adjust it during the next batch. To determine the amount of brine needed, just measure the amount that will fit in the jar you intend to use.
  • Types of Vinegar: I wouldn’t use balsamic vinegar but just about anything else goes – apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, distilled white vinegar. I like to use rice vinegar because it’s has the lowest acidity level (~4%) of those I mentioned above (wine vinegars are around 7%) so the flavor of the vegetables and spices can shine through a bit more.
  • Flavorings: Whole spices and crushed garlic are great places to start when deciding how to flavor your brine. I prefer to keep the spicing relatively mild so I can use my pickles on just about anything. Mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns are classic but don’t stop there. I have added cumin seeds, fennel seeds, allspice, cinnamon sticks, cloves and dried hot chiles to batches in the past.
  • Sugar: a lot of recipes I find include sugar – and some of them have A LOT! I don’t find that I need sugar because I use rice vinegar. If you are using a vinegar with a higher acidity level (see Types of Vinegar section above) then you might want to add a tablespoon or two to help balance the flavor.
  • Vegetables: some vegetables, like greens, thinly sliced onions or thinly sliced cucumbers don’t need to be pre-cooked. Just pour the hot brine over the vegetables and you are set. Others, like carrots or beets, need to be cooked a little beforehand to ensure they aren’t too crunchy.
  • Time: the amount of time you let the vegetables sit in the brine is completely up to your taste buds. I recommend trying them every day to see how they change.

Below is a rough outline of what I used to preserve the radish leaves from last week’s CSA share. We look forward to hearing your quick pickle recipes!

Quick Pickled Radish Leaves

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch radish leaves, trimmed, washed and sliced into 1″ strips
  • 1-1/2 cups rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • A few allspice berries
  • A few dried hot peppers

Directions:

  • Place radish leaves in a quart sized glass canning jar and set aside.
  • Place the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and carefully pour brine and spices over the radish leaves. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 weeks.