Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week 13: September 13, 2011

Cherry Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Pepper, Cucumber, Cabbage, Carrots, Potatoes, Sweet Onion & Zucchini

                        This week we have lots of tomatoes; so you can make your own pasta sauce or simply enjoy tomatoes as tomatoes.   Most of the varieties we grow are heirloom varieties which tend to have richer flavour and a less uniform appearance than store bought red tomatoes.  They also come in a greater range of colors, textures and shapes.  You might get red, yellow, orange, pink, purple or black-red tomatoes in your bag.  Seeds of these varieties have been passed down through generations of gardeners and are selected because of their flavour not their transportability. 
Determining ripeness: I am frequently asked how to tell if a tomato is ready to be picked or not.  I pick a tomato based on several factors and it is more of an art than a science.  A ripe tomato should give slightly when you squeeze it lightly but should not feel mushy or hard.  The color should be deep and rich.  That said you do not want to leave a slightly under ripe tomato unpicked only to have it crack or break the vine.  If it feels ripe eat it, if not let the tomato to sit on the counter for a day or two to finish ripening.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Sauté a finely chopped yellow onion over medium heat in a large pot or saucepan with a lid.   Add several cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 tsp of salt. 
Cook on medium low heat until fragrant. 
Add 1 – 2 cups of coarsely chopped tomatoes to the onion mixture and turn up the heat stirring frequently for 5 – 10 minutes.  The idea is to melt the tomatoes.  Slowly add more chopped tomatoes as the mixture breaks down; you can use as many or as few tomatoes as you wish. 
Once all the tomatoes are in the pot, lower the heat, add some more chopped garlic and let it simmer all afternoon if you can, until it is thick and saucy. 
Season to taste before serving. 
Freeze excess sauce in Ziploc bags for later use. 
* My mother is adamant that tomatoes skins must be removed before we make sauce or salsa, and although I am lazy about such rules I tend to agree.  
My lazy skin removal technique is to leave the tomato chunks large, and just pick out the skins as they separate from the flesh while the sauce cooks, or to use a hand blender and biz everything up after the tomatoes have cooked for a while so the skins become invisible.  The proper method is to drop your tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skins split and loosen. Drain the tomatoes and immerse in cold water.  The tomato skins should slip off easily with gentle peeling by hand.

Spaghetti alla Trapanese

1 lb dried spaghetti
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ½ oz almonds
1 clove of garlic
4 large handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked
5 ½ oz freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb tomatoes, halved
            Cook your spaghetti in salted boiling water according to the package instructions.  Warm the almonds a little in a dry pan, then smash them up in a pestle and mortar or whiz them in a food processor until you have a coarse powder.  Put them into a bowl.  Bash the garlic and basil separately in the mortar and mix with the almonds, adding the pecorino or Parmesan cheese, a good glug olive oil, and some salt and pepper.  Add the tomatoes and really scrunch them up with your hands into the almond mixture until they have completely broken up.  Loosen with a little extra olive oil and toss with your hot drained pasta.  Check the seasoning, divide onto four plates, and spoon any sauce that remains in the pan over the top.
This trapanese pesto like sauce is truly amazing; a very light and refreshing pasta dish.  And the whole thing can be done in the time it takes to boil and cook your pasta.  To make things simple use your food processor instead of a mortar and pestle.  
            From Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 12: September 6, 2011

Potatoes, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cooking Onions, Garlic & Lemon Basil

            We had our first frost Saturday morning.  I was up early to pack the truck for market and I noticed some very silvery patches of grass that were crunchy when I touched them.  Yikes. The cucumbers lost a few leaves, and the tops of most of the basil plants are brown, but nothing seems to be permanently damaged.   
            Adam and I were enjoying our second cup of coffee and a relaxed Sunday morning, when the neighbours called to tell us our cows were out.  Based on where they were and where they should have been I did not think it could be our cows, but I was wrong.  Mom, Dad and I jumped in the truck, leaving Adam at the house with a radio, and headed off.  Luckily one of our neighbours was on horseback and had already rousted them out of an unfenced hay field and had them heading back up Bailey Road when we arrived.  Getting those girls out of that field would have taken three people on foot more time, more frustration and more cursing than is fitting for a day off.  Mom and I kept them moving while the rider blocked off driveways and side roads.  What a procession!  Our assorted herd includes five cow calf pairs, three yearlings and one llapaca, was followed by Mom and I on foot, Dad in the truck, and three other vehicles that just happened to be caught in the parade.  I radioed Adam and he moved onto the road in front of our house to act as a fence and traffic controller.  We live on an S curve, and it would have been unfortunate to have a car come around the corner into a herd of cattle.  The girls seemed to know they were beaten and ran straight into the driveway and down to the barn yard.  Thank goodness for the horse! 
            Juliet has had her litter of piglets – 11 in total and although there have been a couple of losses, the remaining nine are now happily following mother around and exploring their surroundings.  She has created a ‘lovely’ cooling mud bath underneath the waterer and has an alternative wallow that she uses when the irrigation is running through her pen.  Juliet has figured out that she can hold the sprinkler head in her mouth so that the water dribbles out of her mouth and on to the ground until a mud pit to her liking is created.  

            I decided to divide this recipe into two parts because the roasted cauliflower is delicious and easy.  If you roast enough you can use the leftovers for the risotto recipe the next day.  

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt

Trim cauliflower; cut into chucky florets.  Toss together with the garlic, olive oil and salt.  Roast on a greased baking sheet or cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, in a 400F oven until golden and tender, 35 to 45 minutes.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  I would mince the garlic because it gets lovely and crunchy in the oven. 

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

roasted cauliflower, see above recipe
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ c vegetable broth
1 ¾ c water
1 large shallot or half an onion
1 c Arborio rice
¼ c dry white wine
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a small saucepan, bring broth and 1 3/4 cup of water to a boil; reduce heat to low and keep warm. 

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat; fry shallot and salt, stirring occasionally, until softened but not coloured, about 3 minutes.  Add rice, stirring to coat and toast grains.  Add wine: cook stirring until almost no liquid remains, about 1 minute.

Add broth mixture, ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more, 18 – 20 minutes total. Rice should be loose, creamy but not mushy, and still slightly firm in the center of the kernel.
Stir in cauliflower, garlic, cheese and parsley.
Serves 4.

“The Vegetarian Collection” by Alison Kent and the Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Week 11: August 30, 2011

Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumber, Lettuce, Yellow Beans, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Sweet Onions, Basil & Oregano

I am so excited that we finally have tomatoes! J

            We are being overrun by cucumbers!  I think I picked close to 60 pounds of them yesterday, so everyone is getting several in their share this week.  Luckily, nothing beats cucumber sandwiches in the summer.  Genny, Adam and I eat whole cucumbers straight out of the field, quite a refreshing workplace snack.  There are definite perks to spending your days working in a garden, especially in August.  

            This has been a rather busy week.  Adam had eye surgery to re-attach his retina last Monday, and must spend at least eighteen hours a day resting with this face parallel to the floor.  He will have to continue lying face down for the rest of this week, and possibly longer, while he heals.  His eye is looking better, but his back and neck are suffering from the constant discomfort.  

            We owe huge thanks to Genny and my Mom, who pulled together to get the veggie bags ready last Tuesday, and also to my Dad and brother Adam who looked after the chickens and turkeys while we were gone.  Adam did not get released from the hospital until 10 pm and had an 8:30 am follow up appointment; we ended up staying overnight, unexpectedly, with friends in Kamloops.   At times like this I am grateful that I am surrounded by a network of people so willing to pitch in and help out.  

            Thank you to everyone who has sent me recipes for the newsletter.  I am trying to put them in the newsletter as we have the appropriate ingredients being distributed.  

So many wonderful cucumbers, sweet onion and the first tomatoes, I even have enough fresh oregano for everyone to get a sprig, so you have all the fixings for:

Greek Salad

1 cucumber
1 – 2 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 cup (125 ml) kalamata olives
2 tbsp (25 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 tsp (18 ml) red wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh oregano
Pinch of salt
1 Pinch pepper
3 oz (85 g) feta cheese, crumbled 

Cut cucumber into 3/4-inch (2 cm) chunks.  Place in large bowl. Cut the tomato and onion into same-size chunks. Add to the bowl along with the olives.  Sprinkle with oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper; toss to combine. Add the feta cheese just before serving and toss. 
I like to let my Greek salad marinate for a few hours before serving.

Recipe courtesy of “Canadian Living”

Green Bean Pâté with Basil

½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. lemon rind

Cook beans until tender by boiling or steaming them. In a skillet, heat oil; add onion and sauté until softened. Cool.
In a food processor or with a food chopper, process or grind green beans, onions, eggs, basil, and lemon rind until roughly pureed.
Remove to a bowl; mix in just enough mayonnaise to hold mixture together. Stir in
salt and pepper to taste. Chill.
Garnish with whole nasturtium blossoms, and serve with melba toast or crackers.
Makes 2 cups.

This dish tastes sinfully rich, but it’s not in the least, so enjoy!
From “Recipes From A Kitchen Garden” by Renee Shepherd & Fran Raboff

One of our CSA members sent this in to me and it is perfect for this week’s share.   The green beans are not ready yet but I think yellow beans will be just as good.

Week 10: August 23, 2011

Satina Potatoes, Yellow Beans, Cucumber, Broccoli, Beets, Onion, Carrots, Zucchini or Patty Pans, Lettuce & Garlic
             August is a more relaxed month in the garden, as we do not have any more transplanting to do and the plants are established so we do not have to worry about the weeds taking over. Once the hot weather hits you know the weeds you pull will actually die, and very few new ones will come up.  There is lots of harvesting to be done, but that is a welcome change from weeding.  

            Turkeys are much more interesting animals than one would expect.  They are fascinated by everything that moves, and troop along as a group following whatever goes by.  They stretch out their wings, line up and chirp when the sprinkler passes over their pen, and will sit in the spray whenever Adam turns on the hose to fill their water.  

            They have escaped their pen three times in two days, and twice the fence was still standing when we went to chase them back.  We are starting to think they are simply pushing it over on their quest for grasshoppers, and then it springs back into place.  This morning I could hear their chirping coming from the wrong side of the meadow.  When I looked out the window all thirty of them were following the milk cow around the field while she grazed.  Later, after our coffee was finished and we went outside to start chores the turkeys strolling nonchalantly up to our front door.  Miesha, the guard dog, was sound asleep under a tree that is two feet from our overhead bunk as the turkeys surrounded her.  Adam took off yelling and clapping in his sock feet to scare them away.  What is it with the birds all want to live under our trailer?  

            By the way, if anyone is interested in a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, we are selling them for $3.50 a pound.  You can call or email myself or Adam to reserve as many as you wish.  They will be ready for Thanksgiving, and we will contact people with the pickup details.     

            Adam is also raising another batch of chickens that will be ready in October too.  Chickens are $3.75 a pound and you can contact us to place an order.  If you would like one sooner please let me know, we have some from the spring batch that are still available.    Yum YumJ

            Farm day was a success.  We had about twenty people come to the farm and everyone was very interested and inquisitive.  J 

Not Your Mother’s Beans

½ c nuts of your choice
3-4 c water
1 lb beans, tipped and tailed
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
¼ c raspberry or balsamic vinegar
¼ c olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, basil, or chervil
Salt and pepper to taste

            Toast nuts for about 10 minutes until golden brown. While the nuts are toasting bring the water to a boil in a small sauce pan, ease the beans into the boiling water and cook for 3 – 6 minutes, until they are just tender.   Combine shallots, vinegar, oil, and herb of your choice in a medium bowl.  Drain the beans thoroughly and ad to the bowl, tossing with the dressing.  Stir in the nuts, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or chill for 20 minutes.