It’s a good year for basil.

Summer Squash – 3 Ways

Is there nothing more economical in the garden than zucchini? To the point of the seasonal reminder to lock your windows and doors, lest your neighbors try to foist their bounty on you!

Too much food is not a bad problem to have, so here are a few maybe less-travelled zucchini ideas to help you through the season deliciously.

The simplest recipe comes from one of our customers, who loves the veg so much she actually bought plants from us to augment her weekly share! Simple and delicious: use your vegetable peeler to slice your zucchini into long thin ribbons. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Voila!

The second recipe is a curried squash soup that is great for an appetizer or light repast with salad and bread. Doesn’t look to be a particularly hot summer ahead, but if it were, this soup also works nicely at room temp.

The final dish was discovered on Queer Eye ❤ and is a delicious casserole side to your BBQ or hearty vegetarian main dish.

If none of these appeal, use your search bar! Boundless possibilities await!  And if nothing else, dehydrate shredded zucchini for a soup addition/thickener come winter.

Roast, don’t blanch, your surplus

If you are so lucky, there comes a point in the farming season, where you are overrun with one type of produce, or many!

Recently it was snap peas that needed to go into the freezer. So I turned on the oven and got to work. Wait. The OVEN?!?

You bet! We’ve found that a blast of heat – 475 for 5 minutes – does the same job as blanching, and the results are so much better!

Traditionally, vegetables destined for the freezer are blanched (dropped for a minute or two in boiling water) transferred to an ice bath and then the freezer. This is to kill bacteria on the outside that could lead to spoilage. Only thing is, the veggies are so waterlogged by the process that they have no snap left once you dig them out of the freezer to eat them. And they also lose their nutritional value. Yuck.

The oven blasted veggies, by comparison are still crisp when thawed. And it works for most any vegetable!

Prep your veggies, toss with a little olive oil, spread one layer thick on your cookie sheets, and bake at 475 for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temp, throw them in freezer bags (marked so you don’t grab peas when you wanted beans!), and put them in your freezer.  It really is that simple!

Kale for the Win!

Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition – one of the healthiest veggies on the planet and super-tasty too! Some people find kale to have a strong flavor – it’s a member of the Brassica family (think broccoli), and is loaded with vitamins and minerals we don’t normally get in our diet. So don’t give up on training your palate to enjoy new foods.

Once you start looking, there are so many ways to eat kale!  I like to add it to most everything! One way to have it handy is to wash, chop, toss with olive oil and roast on a sheet pan for 5 minutes at 475. It keeps well for a week in the fridge, and you can add it to burritos, alongside your eggs for breakfast, dress it with sauce to go with rice – endless!  Then there is our FAVORITE Massaged Kale Salad – just need oil, soy, lemon juice, garlic and parmesan. So good!  Like a Caesar! We’ve actually made kale converts with this salad! On the off chance you have leftovers, they are superb the  next day. 

On Eating In

Cooking seems to be the new norm – and while take out was still an option under “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” chances are most folks were doing it for themselves more than they have in a long time.  How’s it going? Discovering a new love or counting down the days? We’re all about food here on the farm: growing, cooking, preserving, eating. Even before COVID-19, eating out was the exception rather than the norm, mostly because we’ve worked out a system so there’s never a question about what’s for dinner (and we happen to love leftovers for lunch!) Here’s a few pro-tips we’ve acquired along the way:

  1. Keep your pantry stocked. Of course it’s hard to cook when half the things you need are MIA. There are lots of guides that you can find online, but keep it simple. I would say we keep up on four categories in our pantry – grains and pasta (includes flour, rice, and dried beans), oils and condiments (includes soy sauce, mustards, vinegars and spices), and dairy (milk, butter, buttermilk, cheese, eggs), and household (includes toothpaste and laundry soap). When you notice you are coming close to the last of the mustard, for instance, write it down so that when you are at the end, there’s another waiting in your cupboard. We use a chalkboard for this, but you can also stick a piece of paper to the fridge.
  2. Plan your meals. We shop about once a week – twice a month if there’s a pandemic going on 🙂 The day before shopping, using a full sheet of scratch paper, we write down the days of the week at the top, along with the dinner we’re planning, and the cookbook or location of recipe, if needed. It’s nice to see everything laid out so you can provide variety. We use starches as the variation, making sure to have rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. in a rotation, so we don’t get stuck in a rut. We also note any evening meetings/activities we might have so that we can plan for a simple meal or a leftover night. If we are planning to go out ot take out, it’s noted there as well. At the bottom of the sheet, we write down the items needed to support the plan that we don’t have on hand, along with the items that need replacing. Note: if it’s not on the list, it’s not purchased, and there’s no second trip to the store – it’s only a week, we’ll survive. After shopping is done, the list goes on the fridge, so we always know what’s for dinner.
  3.  Keep it simple. Unless you really love complex, daylong cooking projects, go for easy wins. One-pot meals with a salad on the side, the shortest list of ingredients. The internet is an amazing resource for recipes – I tend toward the ones that use simple ingredients that I have on hand. We dial it up a bit for Sunday supper, topping it off with a dessert of some kind.
  4.  Share the load. Fortunately every person in our family cooks, and we all participate in the making of the list, so everybody’s needs get met. When our college-aged-son was sheltering with us in March and April, he tended toward Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, and we happily indulged in his made-from-chickpea-falafel that was more work than I would ever bother with, and he cleaned up. What? Yes – instead of a cleanup person, we’ve settled on an all or nothing approach. Why? Folks have different styles, some clean as they go, some pile it up. You can imagine the conflict. This is also the reason we don’t tend to cook together, as a norm.  So sometimes you get to do your own thing and get called to dinner. Nice, no?

There’s lots of benefits to eating in – cost, quality control (knowing what it is you are eating), and portion control. There’s also creativity, the joy of making something, the love that you put into feeding yourself, and/or your family. Hopefully, some of the unexpected pleasures of eating in will stick with us, long after we don’t have to.

 

 

The Salad, back for Spring!

Today marks the first day of CSA boxes! When eating hyper-local, spring begins with nutritious and delicious greens! The nice thing about greens is their versatility. Most any dish can benefit from greens – last week I added a bunch of chopped turnip tops to my ramen-with-egg. Yum!  There are lots of spring green soup recipes on the internet as well, mostly with potato to provide body, but this one uses lentils.  Our absolute, all time, favorite fresh spring dinner is an entree so beloved, so enjoyed, that it is simply known as “The Salad.” Packed with fresh produce, garnished with cold noodles, protein and heavily dusted with finely chopped herbs, this dinner salad is a powerhouse of nutrition and extraordinarily satisfying. We eat it at least once a week.

Dressing:

1/2 cup peanut oil

2 tsp dark sesame oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp mirin

2 Tbsp lime juice

Gather a bunch of salad greens: lettuces, spinach, turnip and radish greens, arugula, etc. Tear a healthy amount and toss with a few Tbsps of the dressing.

Make a base of the salad on your plate. Top with a handful of cooked soba noodles. Garnish with cooked chicken, pork, steak or vegan protein (leftovers from weekend grilling!). Top with chopped radish, turnip, snap peas, asparagus, or crunchy goodness of your choice. Dust with a healthy amount of chopped herbs: chives, basil, mint, cilantro, etc. Chopped nuts or seeds are welcome. Chive or borage flowers a decorative plus. Spoon more dressing on top. Take a picture. Eat. I like fish sauce as a condiment – the farmer likes sambal oelek. Make it your own! Enjoy!

Next Plant Sale Saturday April 17

Due to a very robust turnout our first weekend of plant start sales, we’re taking two weeks to replant and catch up with farm chores. We’ll send another post in a week or so with the replenshed list and new varieties of peppers, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, winter squash, pumpkins, and other warm-loving plants. In the meantime, if you are looking for spring greens, we still have six-packs. Contact the Farmer at 360.338.8654 for details and to arrange pickup.

Be well, and get outside!