Farm Notes June 7

Hello all! It’s always bittersweet when we get to the last CSA day of the season. Our final shares from the Walking to Spring CSA will be at Main Street Farmer’s Market today. We’ll see you in September after this!

Today, however, we’ve got all kinds of goodies to make it a sweet see-you-later!

CSA:

Red Russian and Toscano Kale
Tender Collard Greens
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Tendersweet Flathead Cabbage
A variety of herbs, including sage

All these nutritious greens are so versatile. Salad, soup, sauté, with eggs, green smoothies!  Check out tanthillfarm.com for some awesome recipes and ways to preserve your bounty!

If you’d like to go ahead and sign up for your fall share, please get in touch at 423-637-9793 to discuss the possibilities!

All the best from our farmhouse to your kitchen!

Mark and Gina


Farm Notes May 31

This is the time of year when it seems like everything is happening in beautiful Chattanooga. The Riverbend barge has arrived, the trails and Riverwalk are packed with people enjoying the lovely weather and one another’s company, and that late spring hustle and bustle has everyone in a good mood. Fuel all that activity with nutritious seasonal produce, and you can savor the season from the inside out!

CSA:
1. Tendersweet Cabbage (Try turning it into kimchi with turnips!)
2. Purple Kohlrabi
3. Tender Collard Greens
4. Red Russian Kale (Makes a refreshing Kale Salad with Apples and Peanuts)
5. Hakurei Salad Turnips
6. Red Potatoes
7. Swiss Chard
8. Sage (perfect for Appalachian Sage Cornbread!)

Market:

1. Red Russian and Toscano Kale,
2. Tender Collard Greens,
3. Rainbow Swiss Chard (Makes a great Super Greens Soup with Lemon-Tarragon Cream)
4. Purple Kohlrabi
5. Tendersweet Flathead Cabbage (Would be great for a batch of Curtido!)
6. Colorful Wildflower and Zinnia Flower arrangements
7. A variety of herbs including sage

All these nutritious greens are so versatile. Salad, soup, sauté, with eggs, green smoothies! And don’t forget to share the love—ask about our Farmers Market Gift Share! You choose the price! Will make a perfect gift of health for you or a loved one! Call farm phone 423-637-9793.


Kimchi, the Easy Way

The first time I tried fermented foods, I was a teenager who by chance was introduced to Sandor Katz, author of the fermentation bible Wild Fermentation. I believe we were in a park, and he had many jars of all sizes. There were samples of sauerkraut. And I was instantly hooked.

Who knew there was a salty, sour world beyond the faintly sweet bread and butter pickles that my grandmother served with her magnificent sandwich platters when I was a kid? Or the pickled jalapeños that my mom topped towers of Triscuits and cheddar cheese that we snacked on when I was in high school. Here was something better, even, than the dill spears that accompanied my sandwich at a Jewish deli in New York City.

Salty, tangy, crunchy, and flavorful, Katz’s kraut boasted all kinds of health benefits. He told us about his own experience staving off chronic illness with fermented foods. I learned the word probiotics. And I also finally understood a lesson they tried to teach me in D.A.R.E. but never understood as a kid who extremely behaved—that there are indeed gateway drugs. If kraut’s medicinal properties count, it certainly led me to funkier, more exciting fermented foods.

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Sourdough, miso, kraut, pickles, yogurt, tempeh, kombucha, kefir…and, of course, kimchi. Which might be my personal favorite of all the vegetables fermented and preserved in their own brine.

This ancient dish hails from Korea, and has a history as least as old as Western civilization. One 14th century poem describes it as such:

Pickled radish slices make a good summer side-dish,
Radish preserved in salt is a winter side-dish from start to end.
The roots in the earth grow plumper everyday,
Harvesting after the frost, a slice cut by a knife tastes like a pear.

— Yi Gyubo, Dongguk isanggukjip
In other words, it’s the perfect dish to make at this time of year when spring is slip-sliding into summer. Because kimchi is such an ancient dish, and one that is the backbone of Korean cuisine, recipes come in endless varieties. There’s red, white, and many more variations. But at its essence, all you need is cabbage, radishes or turnips, garlic, spring onions, salt, and a lot of spice.
First, you’ll want a napa cabbage or two. These Chinese cabbage varieties have more tender leaves that the big green and red cabbages you’d make sauerkraut from. The napa cabbage’s leaves are almost like lettuce. It won’t be hard to wilt them by massaging a generous sprinkling of sea salt into a bowl of chopped leaves and stems.
You’ll want to cut them to bite size, whatever looks like something you’d enjoy eating. Avoid cutting too small though, like a mince or chiffon, as you want plenty of surface area to be in contact with the brine and you’ll want the veggies to stay a little crunchy. Next, rinse your cabbage leaves and give them a twirl through the salad spinner to remove excess water. Put in a glass bowl, sprinkle with salt, and let sweat for at least thirty minutes. Don’t discard the juice that comes off.
Meanwhile, matchstick the rest of your vegetables. Radishes and turnips both work great. Spring onions, with their leaves, are also lovely. You’ll also want to mince plenty of garlic. Add these to the cabbage in the bowl and let set.
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Next, mix up your brine. You’ll want plenty of Korean chili flakes, Sriracha, or Sambal Olek. You might also want fish sauce or crab paste if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan—these add a salty, savory aspect that can be a really lovely compliment to the final fermented flavor. Don’t worry about using them in your brine—it’s perfectly safe, even if it feels counterintuitive to put “seafood” in something you’re going to leave on the counter for a week. These products are already processed and fermented themselves, and won’t harm your kimchi, or you.
Stir in enough of your spice—flakes, Sriracha, Sambal, etc— in to taste. Add a little water, the fish sauce or crab paste, your garlic and onions, and a little sugar. Play with the balance of flavors until you get something that you enjoy.
Once that’s done, get a clean glass or ceramic jar (if you’re using a ceramic or stoneware jar, make sure it’s food safe as some glazes can have lead or other heavy metals). A big mason jar will work nicely. Pack your cabbage/turnip/radish mixture in tightly, with the help of a rubber spatula if needed. Hopefully it will have produced enough brine that some liquid will be covering the veggies.
If not, you can put some salt into a cup of water (enough to taste like tears) and heat up until the salt is dissolved. You can add this to your spice mixture and pour over the kraut until it’s covered by at least an inch. You’ll also want to make sure you have about an inch or two of clearance from the top of the jar, to allow for expansion, bubbles, and all the other fun science that fermenting causes.
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I recommend getting a Kraut Source lid to aid in your fermentation. It’s easy to use, simple to clean, and is much less of a hassle than other methods of sealing your jar. That’s because you want to leave the kraut open to air, but not to bugs or interference. Fermentation relies on yeasts and other good bacteria naturally floating through the air. Traditionally, or if you don’t have a Kraut Source, you’d weigh your kimchi down with a clean rock or a Ziploc baggie of water to keep it under the brine, which would let the kimchi breathe, but prevent the vegetables from contact with the air. Don’t just seal it up with a Mason jar lid yet!

Let your kimchi sit at room temperature for at least a week. Put a plate under the jar incase the brine overflows, especially if you’re using the rock or water bag method. After a week, you can taste some of the kimchi and see if you like the flavor. If you want it to get funkier, give it more time. Once you feel it’s hit peak flavor, you can put it in the fridge and enjoy for several weeks.

You might be wondering what you’ll do with kimchi once you have it on hand. After all, we’re used to thinking of fermented foods like pickles as a side dish. And kimchi can totally play that part. But it’s also delicious in soups like kimchi jjigae, which is like the Korean version of chicken noodle soup for what ails you (I swear by jjigae for kicking a cold or any on-coming illness), kimchi pancakes, or thrown into a stir fry, served with rice, or as a topper for miso soup or a grain bowl. You can even put it in tacos, burritos, and other non-Asian dishes for fusion flare.

Farm Notes May 24, 2017

Hello all! Hope you are having a lovely day, despite the rain. Think of it as an opportunity to get cozy in the kitchen and whip up something comforting, like our recent recipe for Appalachian Sage Cornbread! We’ll be at the Main Street Market this afternoon from 4-6PM as always, rain or shine, at the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. We hope you’re loving the new location as much as we are!

CSA

1. Small Napa Cabbage
2. Daikon Radish
3. Green Leaf Lettuce
4. Hakurei Salad Turnips
5. Red Russian Kale
6. Swiss Chard
7. Young Pak Choi

Market

1. Red Russian and Toscano Kale
2. Tender Collard Greens
3. Beautiful Red Leaf Lettuce
4. Tropicana Green Leaf Lettuce
5. Giant Ford Hook and Rainbow Swiss Chard
6. Alpine Daikon Radish
7. Colorful Wildflower and Zinnia arrangements
8. A variety of herbs, including Sage

Also, don’t forget  to ask about our Farmers Market Gift Share. You choose the price! Will make a perfect gift of health for you or a loved one! Call farm phone 423-637-9793.


Appalachian Sage Cornbread

I can’t imagine Appalachia without cornbread. It’s as much a part of this place as the hills and hollers, as the Cherokee and the rhododendrons. It’s as essential a food as ramps and fiddlehead ferns and wild ginsing. A batch of cornbread tells the story of this place.

First off, it’s important to note that Appalachian and Southern cuisine aren’t exactly synonymous, much like squares and rectangles. Southern cooking is as broad a category as the region itself, encapsulating everything from low country boils to Cajun gumbos to Virginia ham to Alabama catfish. Appalachian cooking is full of flavors and ingredients unique to the area, with dishes like poke sallet, vinegar pie, greasy beans, and more. It’s a culinary legacy built on thrift, foraging, and ingenuity.

Jane Black writes for the Washington Post of Appalachian cuisine:

 It’s a scrappy, intelligent way of cooking that, out of necessity, embraced preserving, canning, fermenting and using every part of the animal long before all that was trendy. The short growing season in the mountains put a focus on preservation of all kinds: smoked meats, pickled vegetables, fruit turned into jams and jellies. Many families were poor, so little was wasted.

Many of the dishes we associate with traditional Southern cooking, like fried chicken, pimento cheese, and biscuits, didn’t become common on Appalachian tables until the Great Depression. That’s around when marketers, charities, and government aid programs promoting processed foods like refined white flour and jarred pimentos encouraged residents of Appalachia to try new ways of cooking and eating.

Those dishes we think of as Southern staples were more labor intensive than traditional Appalachian dishes like barbecue, cowpeas, and, of course, cornbread. Biscuits took a long time and plenty of rolling and kneading to make— the kind of work busy farmers didn’t have much time for, but that a well-to-do family who could afford help could have on the table. Cornbread, in contrast, was simple to throw together and get in the oven.

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Cornbread, like many Appalachian staples, has its roots in American Indian foodways. Native peoples throughout the Americas used cornmeal as a staple. Maize, after all, is native to the Americas, not Europe. In Appalachia, it was the Cherokee and Shawnee who taught Scotch Irish settlers and free blacks how to use this versatile ingredient. Like the region itself, cornbread has since evolved into an incredibly diverse dish. You will hear people hotly debating adding sugar, molasses, or honey, advocating for cheese or meat in the mix, or various greens, peppers, and herbs.

At its heart, though, cornbread is little more than cornmeal, fat, liquid, a binder, and salt. It can be leavened into a fluffy light cake or unleavened as a quick bread also known as corn pone, hoe cakes, or skillet bread. How you grew up eating it—crumbled into a cold glass of milk, with honey or molasses, with whole corn kernels added in or not—says a lot about where you’re from.

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In Appalachia, cornbread is typically unleavened and cooked in a well-greased iron skillet. And the recipes are often passed down orally, without exact measurements. In that spirit, here is the gist of how to make your own sage cornbread with the fresh herbs from your share.

3 cups cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-2 eggs
Handful fresh chopped sage
Pinch of baking soda
Pinch of salt
3 cups buttermilk (or yogurt mixed with water to consistency of cream)
Generous amount bacon grease, lard, olive oil, or butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients and sage. Then add the egg, liquids, and fat. Mix until well blended, and pour into a well-greased cast iron skillet, glass baking dish, or muffin tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and slightly pulling away from the edges of dish.


Farm Notes May 9: Mothers Day Lettuces!

We hope you had fun at last week’s Spring-A-Ma-Jig! It was great seeing everyone and we are continuing to love the new Main Street Farmers Market location, especially as the Tennessee weather heats up! This week we have more delicious spring goodness for you, including:

CSA:
1. Red Butter and Red Leaf Lettuce
2. Red Russian and Siberian Kale
3. Tender Collard Greens
4. Swiss Chard
5. Garlic Chives
6. Pak Choi
7. Hakurei Salad Turnips
8. Flowers for Mothers Day!

Market:
1. Red Russian and Toscano Kale
2. Young Tender Red Russian Kale (great for salad)
3. Tender Collard Greens (use as a wrap or raw collard salad)
4. Purple Kohlrabi
5. Beautiful Red Leaf Lettuce
6. Tropicana Green Leaf Lettuce
7. Tender Red Butter Lettuce
8. Giant Ford Hook and Rainbow Swiss Chard
9. Alpine Daikon Radish
10. Hakurei and Scarlet Salad Turnips
11. Edible flowers for a beautiful salad
12. A variety of herbs.

We also have a fabulous Mother’s Day Special: All lettuce 2 for $5!

All these nutritious greens are so versatile. Salad, soup, sauté, with eggs, green smoothies!


Dưa Cải Chua

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. -Joni Mitchell

It’s hard to believe in the middle of winter, when you’re so hungry for fresh veg you can’t stand it, but by mid-spring sometimes you can get greens fatigue. They just keep coming!

That bounty is wonderful, but when you’re running out of ideas for how to eat them fresh, remember how hungry you were for those greens just a couple months ago. Fortunately, your greens don’t have to go the same way as Joni Mitchell’s proverbial paradise.

Cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and radishes aren’t the only spring and summer veggies you can pickle. Give your mustard and other spicy, peppery greens the same treatment, and you can have a taste of spring even after summer has passed.

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Dưa Cải Chua is a Vietnamese dish of pickled Spicy Asian Mustard Greens. It’s simple to make and easy to customize to your preferred palate—you can adjust to find your perfect balance of salt, sweet, sour, and spice. And best of all, you can make it with what’s in your share and a few common items in your pantry.

You’ll need:
2 bunch mustard greens, about 4 pounds
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of spring onion or white onion
Large pot boiled water
2.5-3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoon sugar
Sriracha, Sambal Oelek, minced Sereno Peppers, or Szechuan Peppercorns
Fish Sauce (optional)
Clean mason jars
A Kraut Source fermentation kit (we sell them at our booth!) or ziplock bags & mason jar lids

Clean and separate your mustard greens and onions. Pick out any leaves that have gotten too yellow—though a little yellow or limpness is ok, as Dưa Cải Chuaa is a great way to use up greens that have languished in the back of your fridge a little longer than you intended (shhh, we won’t tell). A salad spinner an a little chilled tap water will do the trick.

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Dry the leaves and shred, then slice the onions. Some recommend letting the greens air dry and get limp for up to 12 hours. Others to simply pat dry with paper towels. It depends on how much time and counter space you have, and how fresh your mustard greens are. Once your leaves are dry, massage them till they are even more limp and even start to sweat a little. Mix with your onions and garlic and set aside.

Rinse your mason jars with boiling water to sterilize them. While the jars are cooling, use remaining boiled water to make a brine with the salt, sugar, and whatever spices you are adding. Taste with a clean spoon as you go to make sure you like the level of heat and balance of flavors.

Sriracha will produce a sweeter, milder Dưa Cải Chuaa. Sambal oelek will be spicier. Minced serano peppers are more traditional, but can get very spicy very quickly. Sezchuan peppercorns will be a different flavor—making the dish more Chinese than Vietnamese— and the level of heat will depend on how fresh your peppercorns are. Fish sauce will make it saltier and add an extra briny, umami flavor.

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Pack your jars with the blend of mustard greens, onions, and garlic as tightly as possible. Press them down with a rubber spatula, which you can also use to break up air pockets. Pour the brine in with a funnel, until the greens are covered by at least an inch of brine. Don’t overfill your jars though—you want the brine to sit just below the neck of the jar, at least an inch from the lid.

This is when you either screw on your Kraut Source fermentation kit lid or, if you don’t have one, gently press a plastic bag into the mouth of the jar. Fill with tap water, taking care not to spill. The water will press the baggie flush against the top of the brine, making the contents air tight. Secure lip of the baggie to the mouth of the jar with a rubber band.

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Let the Dưa Cải Chuaa sit on your counter for a week. After it’s done fermenting, take your baggies or Kraut Source lid off, and replace with regular mason jar tops. The Dưa Cải Chuaa will keep for months in the fridge unopened, much like kimchi or sauerkraut.

Traditionally, Dưa Cải Chuaa is eaten much like kimchi or kraut, used to add flavor to soups, salads, meats, rice, and more. Add it to stir fry, grain bowls, eggs, or noodle dishes.

 

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If you used Szechuan Peppercorns for more of a Chinese flare, add your pickled greens to Dan-Dan Noodles, a traditional spicy Szechuan dish made with thick, chewy noodles in a spicy soy-based sauce. For a Japanese-style meal, fry some of your Dưa Cải Chuaa (called Takana in Japan) in sesame oil before adding to rice.

Or if you want to stick close to Vietnam, you can make Canh Dưa Cải Chuaaa beef soup with pickled mustard greens. Or add to another Vietnamese dish Thịt Kho. a slow-braised pork dish with eggs. It would also be wonderful in Pho.