News and Events

  • August 31st, 2011

Wow!  Talk about awkward!  It’s difficult getting “vegetable soybeans”, honeydew, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, herbs, peaches, and watermelon from “place A to place B” in any sort of order.  I’m hoping nothing arrives smashed, but assure you that your family is in for a treat with the un-packing of goodies!!

Here’s some recipes, and interesting info for the week on your vegetables!  Enjoy.


What is the tall bouquet of soybeans?

One of my college roommates was telling us about “edamame” that she buys at her local farmers market in Hunington.  Overhearing the conversation between her husband and Shane was quite entertaining because Shane’s not one for recipe talk….but the long and short of was that we needed to begin growing edamame for our CSA customers because it was so good and to Shane it made perfect sense because they are edible soybeans—-we knew we could grow soybeans, so thought this sounded perfect.  As simple-minded as that sounds, I’ve been nervous about this sweet, nutty vegetable soybean all year long.  We purchased a few varieties of seed, hoping at least one would grow….much to my surprise they have done wonderful.  We have had very little insect pressure, no disease to my knowledge and we only had to chop out weeds once because they formed a canopy on the ground so quickly is discouraged a lot of growth for competition.   Shortly after their pods started forming, we got a rain.  It was perfect because it supplied the plant with the “drink of water” it needed to put energy towards producing it’s fruit.

A few months ago, I was so curious of their taste (I’ve tasted raw soybeans before and couldn’t figure out what was so exciting about them), so found a bag in the frozen food department of the grocery.  As Deanna and I were planning our field lay-out back in the spring, we steamed them, and enjoyed!  I have been excited since.

We’ve been keeping an eye on them, and this week the plants started to yellow, which is the sign that they are mature and time to harvest.  We are cutting bouquets of them so that you can see how they are grown and hope it will add to your experience.  What you will want to do is pick them from the plant, rinse/wash them to remove any soil.  The pods can be refrigerated for up to 10 days or blanch them for 2-3 minutes in boiling water and freeze them in a single layer.  After pods are frozen, store them in a plastic bag in your freezer for winter.

In Japan, the “branched bean” are eaten by boiling or steaming them in hot water until pods are easy to pop open (4-5 minutes), then sprinkle pods generously with salt or seasoned salt so that when you pop them in your mouth you will taste the salt also.  Just eat the beans, not the pods!

In China, the shelled beans are stir-fried with other vegetables.  The “hairy beans” are larger, sweeter, smoother, and easier digested than standard soybeans.  They contain about 38% protein and are rich in calcium, vitamin A, and phytoestrogens (plant-produced estrogens).  {all things in moderation}.


What is the wavy, blue-ish green bunch of stuff this week?

This my friends is Kale.  Kale is the “new big thing” in health food, although to many of us, we’ve been eating it since our mothers used to put it on the plate, whether we liked it or not.  Kale is great for digestion (one cup nearly 20% of daily recommendations of fiber),  is a superstar of antioxidants,  helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process, supposedly helps in the detoxification process, and is full of Vitamins K,A, and C.

Here’s a few things you can do with your kale.  I would recommend before doing anything to wash it well, even a few times.  The kale has been growing for a while and needless to say, some of Mother Nature’s finest have been nibbling on it.  The bug damage won’t hurt at all, but just wash it well, or you might get a little “extra protein” with your greens!!

Last season I had the pleasure of meeting Christina Collins as she would bring her children to our Farm Market we did outside of her husband’s work on Friday afternoon.  I loved to see the Collins family come because they took such interest in the food and were excited to see what they could enjoy in the coming week.  You know there are some people you meet and you just know they are good cooks….well, that’s my impression of her!  She shared this recipe as a family favorite and offered for me to share with others.  Christina and her family are now members of our CSA, so thought it most appropriate to share this recipe!

Christina’s Version of Zuppa Toscana

6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into strips widthwise

3 Tbsp minced garlic

1 pound italian sausage, if using link remove casing before cooking (we use mild)

1/4 cup diced onion

2 bay leaves

64 ozs chicken broth (we use low sodium)

1 pint heavy cream

5 large potatoes, skin on, sliced thinly

1-2 bunches of kale, stems and ribs removed and chopped (depending on how much green you like)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Brown sausage, drain grease and set aside. Cook bacon, onion and garlic in stockpot until onions are translucent and bacon is cooked but not crispy. Drain 90% of the fat which has cooked off (or you can skip and just skim the top before adding the potatoes and kale).  Add sausage back to the stockpot, along with chicken broth, cream and bay leaves. Bring to a rolling boil, add in potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender, add the red pepper. Add kale right before serving (amount of time before depends on how done you like the kale – we like it tender but not mushy so we add it approximately 10 minutes before serving).  Sprinkle with cheese before serving, if desired.

Here’s a recipe that was a hit last year—Kale Crisps.  They are a substitute for potato chips on movie night at your house if you let them be!

Kale Crisps

(from the kitchen of Susan C., CSA member)

Wash and dry kale, oil a baking sheet with oil olive. Spread kale out in a single layer.

Spray with olive oil (she uses a Misto). Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8 or 9 minutes until edges begin to brown. “They’re nice and crispy…. almost like a potato chip.”


How to preserve fresh greens

Wash thoroughly to remove all dirt and grit.  Strip the leaves from the stalk (you can hold the stalk with one hand and with the other hand slide your hand down the stalk to easily remove the leaf).  Place up to 6 cups of raw greens (about 1 bunch of mustard or 2 bunches of kale) into 1 gallon of boiling water. Once water returns to a boil, keep it in there for 2-3 minutes (blanching process).  Immediately cool greens in several changes of cold water and drain.  Pack quart or pint sized freezer bags with the greens, leaving a few inches below the seal free of greens. Squeeze the air out, seal, and label.  Lay flat in your freezer and enjoy all year long!

Where did the peaches come from?

We have a beautiful selection of peaches this week from Mulberry Orchard.  Matt and Amanda, like us, are trying to diversify their farm, and this makes sense.  They are creating an atmosphere of agritourism and fine eating as they have created a market on their farm here in Shelby County, close to Cropper.  Their main items are peaches, apples, and pumpkins. In fact, their “busy time” is just around the corner—this is their first weekend to offer apple cider…they have several things for the children to do, which include “getting dirty”.   We thought we’d give you an insight of their harvest and invite you to celebrate Shelby County’s newest Orchard in a big way by coming out this fall.

Not that anyone needs a recipe to enjoy peaches….but just in case….

I remember this one from last year’s Edible Louisville magazine.  I found it on-line today and wanted to share…


I call this a “gazpacho” salad not because it looks like one, but because you can roughly purée any leftovers in a blender, chill it and you’ve got a delicious gazpacho. The dressing for this salad has orange juice in it, but when I have it on hand, I like to substitute a store-bought mango smoothie drink (like Odwalla). When you toss the salad with the dressing, taste the juices; if they aren’t bright-tasting, add more balsamic vinegar or soy sauce. You can also add more mango drink if you need sweetness. Dress the salad close to serving to keep a nice texture, and remember to save some herbs for garnishing.

Serves 6

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes (a mix of sizes — including cherries — and colors is nice)
1 pound ripe peaches
½ small red onion (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or mango
smoothie drink, and more if needed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and more if needed
1 teaspoon soy sauce, and more if needed
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and more if needed
½ cup lightly packed small whole fresh mint and basil leaves (or large ones torn into smaller pieces)
Edible flowers, petals separated if large, for garnish (optional)

  1. Core the large tomatoes and stem any cherry or tiny tomatoes. Cut the larger tomatoes into large, evenly sized pieces. To do this easily, first cut the tomatoes crosswise into thick slabs, and then cut the slabs into large dice (¾ to 1 inch wide). If the tomatoes are very irregularly shaped, just cut them into wedges and then cut the wedges in half. Cut the cherry or tiny tomatoes in half (if small) or into quarters (if larger). Put all of the tomatoes into a large, shallow serving bowl.
  2. Peel the peaches with a paring knife and slice them off the pit into wedges or chunks that are close in size to the tomato pieces. Add the peaches to the bowl. Slice the onion lengthwise as thinly as you can and add it to the bowl, too.
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, lemon zest and salt. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and peaches. Add half of the herbs, season with salt and toss gently but thoroughly. Taste the juices and add more vinegar, soy sauce and orange juice if you need to. (You can let the salad sit for a few more minutes and taste and season again if you like.) Before serving, toss again and sprinkle with the remaining herbs and the flowers (if using).


Also, a few months ago I was doing a “tasting” at one of the Louisville Fresh Market stores and as I was cooking up squash and zucchini on the grill, Mike from the Produce Department was grilling up peaches.  He’d put them on the grill for a very short time and they would bring out a sweetness I didn’t know existed!  So, if you have the grill on over this holiday weekend, throw a few on!


What do I do with all the peppers?

You know, it’s part of having a garden—sometimes you have a lot of one item!

This week if you aren’t interested in making stuffed peppers for dinner, I’m going to recommend you wash, cut out the stem and seeds, and cut into strips or dice, lay on a cookie sheet and freeze over night.  The next morning, scoop up with a metal spatula and put into freezer bags.  You will get to use all year long.  They won’t come out of the freezer with the same texture going into, but perfect for anything cooked.


Stuffed Peppers

(from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, Bridal Edition)

prep time 15 minutes, cook time 15 minutes, Bake time 1 hour.   6 servings

6 large bell peppers

1 pound lean ground beef (I used our neighbors)

2 tablespoons chopped onions

1 cup cooked rice

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce (or homemade)

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cut thin slice from stem end of each bell pepper to remove top of pepper.  Remove seeds and membranes; rinse peppers.  Cook peppers in enough boiling water to cover in 4-quart Dutch oven about 5 minutes; drain.   Cook beef and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.  Stir in rice, salt, garlic, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce; cook until hot.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Stuff peppers with beef mixture.  Stand peppers upright in ungreased square baking dish, 8x8x2 inches.  Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers.  Cover and bake 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Here’s an option from our CSA member and chef, Lee Ashbrook—-omit the rice from the above recipe, and stuff your peppers half full with the meat mixture, then top with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with cheese—-just made Betty Crocker’s version last night….guess we’ll have to try this really soon!

What herb is this?

This week you may be receiving Rosemary or Oregano.  They are each one of my favorite!  Enjoy.  The rosemary looks like little branches from a cedar tree, and the oregano leaves are softer, more round-like.  Use them to flavor a multitude of dishes!


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  • August 25th, 2011


Greetings from the farm!  This week you are receiving a nice assortment of vegetables and an extra special treat that I’ve been real excited about sharing with you since we realized we could.

This week is the end of the sweet corn for sure—what you are getting sure isn’t pretty, but still tastes great.  You know, last year we had more sweet corn than we knew what to do with and this year, not near enough.  We started sweet corn plants in the greenhouse and transplant them into the field, in hopes of giving them a “head start”.  Unfortunately, those transplants had to “hang out” in the greenhouse far too long due to the rain.  We went ahead and planted them, but come time for the corn to mature, we realized they had been stunted in the greenhouse—the plants didn’t get much taller than 3 feet tall—-so that planting was a flop.  Then, the next planting produced very, very little sweet corn…my best guess is because of the heat messing up proper pollination.  Then onto this next planting—-it’s been fine, but the struggle has been that when it’s ready, we have to pick it or the birds will conquer—so there has been this battle of pick it or gamble, pick it or gamble….so enjoy this last round, even though it won’t win any beauty contests, it’s good.  With sweet corn being a lot of folks’ staple summer items, we will be sure to provide you more sweet corn, grown by our neighbors, Gallrein Farms, down the road.  Then, next year, we hope for better results!

We were able to get some green beans picked for Thursday’s shares.  These romas aren’t quite what we had hoped for—-results of the early heat.  The pollination was dampened, like the corn, by the extreme heat.  (causes the plant to abort the bloom).  We picked yesterday afternoon, but after realizing how unrealistically long it took to pick a crate of beans because there just isn’t many there, we’re not sure how many more beans we will pick. The quality of these roma beans aren’t quite as nice as they would have been earlier in the spring….another lesson learned!

So, aside from the “ugly duckling” crops, you have a great share this week….I think most will be self explanatory—-cabbage, cucumbers, red peppers (which may have a bad spot to cut out), a specialty pepper of some type, eggplant, specialty squashes, basil, etc.  And then, you have these beautiful grapes.  The grapes are from some friends of ours who live in Midway, KY.  Steve and Geri Isaacs and their son Ben raised these amazing table grapes and he offered us the opportunity to include in our CSA shares.  Steve (as he wants me to call him now, f/k/a Dr. Isaacs), was one of our college professors.  Shane and I both took his Farm Management course while at UK (actually took together while we were dating) and it has been the most practical course of all of our college classes.  Also, he is one of the coordinators for the KY Ag Leadership Program Shane’s been a part of for two years—–so we’ve gotten to know him well.  We use his teachings daily, so it’s really neat to share in his family’s work.  I sure hope you enjoy them as much as I was amazed.  When I met him to pick up the grapes, I shouldn’t have put any in the passenger seat because I think I probably lessened our supply to share by a pound or so! Enjoy the texture—-don’t eat too fast or you will miss out on their uniqueness.

I started out the week by spending 5 unexpected hours on Monday at the Urgent Care Center with two of our workers—one had a backboard of a wagon fell down on his leg.  We are thankful it didn’t break, but he sure does have a nasty bruise.  The other poor fella, had to get three stiches because his leg got a deep cut due to a stumble.  But, it’s been uphill from there!  We’ve gotten alot more tobacco cut, were able to harvest lots of produce and getting ready to seed some lettuce tomorrow!

Shane and I took a few hours away from the farm and mowing to visit with a representative from Congressman Brett Guthrie’s office about the issues of the labor force for the agriculture sector in Kentucky, and all across America for that matter. As you may (or may not know), on our farm we employee migrant workers through the H2A program, governed by the U.S. Department of Labor.  The men who are with us this year are phenominal men.  They are committed, dedicated, very hard workers….on and on and on. However, it is very, very costly to employee them.  We have a very high pay-scale we must follow, pay for their egress and ingress, transportation, housing, utilities, etc., etc.  The regulations are very stiff and complex.  We recruit American workers for the first half of our season, but have had very little response.  The program’s difficulties are scary to me as labor is the biggest input in much of the food and fiber produced in America.  Unfortunately, due to the cost and regs, many farmers and ranchers opt to hire folks that may not have correct documentation. For those of us who employ folks on a work visa and agree to the program…it’s getting more challenging.  This poses a threat to us (not just our family, but many fruit and vegetable producers) for long-term viability.   When you hear about unemployment and immigration issues on the 6:00 news, know that it effects your food supply, directly.  We hope that by sharing our thoughts with a representative, maybe our voice will be heard and they can attach a real face to the real issues that us farmers face providing food, both locally and globally.  As neat as this is, one of our own CSA members told us about the rep coming to town—-thank you for realizing what all impacts a safe, realiable, supply of American grown food for our own country!

Tuesday night we had the honor of hosting Kentucky Farm Bureau’s LEAD group (Leadership Enhancement for Agricultural Development) to the farm.  It was great—farmers or folks in the farm industry from around the state came to see how we have diversified our farm and reaching out to find folks who choose to support local economies and local farms.  It was a real treat!

I started this blog at 5:30 this morning, and just finishing now (5:28 p.m.)—-but haven’t been sitting at the computer all day, either!   I’m going to wrap up because we have a lady on her way to the farm now to pick up some seedless watermelons that we realized have what is called “hollow hearts”.  Something went wrong in either the pollination or watering that resulted in this.  The tough thing about melons is that you don’t know 100% sure if they are ripe, overripe, problematic, or perfect until you cut one open!  So, rather than dumping them in compost, we are donating them to feed the less fortunate in the surrounding counties.

For anyone who’s interested, ladies, come visit us at the Ladies Night Out sponsored by the local John Deere dealership.  It’s at the Shelby County Fairgrounds tomorrow night from 6-9:00.  Melissa, Jeneen and I will be spreading the word about what we raise, along with many other local farmers.


We hope you enjoy this week, and get ready for a large harvest this coming week as we anticipate many will want to celebrate Labor Day with a melon!

From our Farm to your Family,

vineyard of Graskop Farm, near Nonesuch, KY

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  • August 21st, 2011

Scalloped Cabbage

4 cups of shredded cabbage

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons flour

1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup bread crumbs

1 cup hot milk

Drop the cabbage into boiling water in a large saucepan.  Boil for 15 minutes;  drain.  Layer ½ the cabbage in a large buttered baking dish.  Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Sprinkle with the flour and cheese.  Dot with ½ of the butter.  Top with the remaining cabbage.  Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Sprinkle with the sugar.   Dot with the remaining butter.  Sprinklw with the bread crumbs.  Pour the hot milk over the layers.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown.   Yield is 10 servings.

Source: Pride of Kentucky


Cabbage Casserole (“almost a meal”)

1 small head cabbage

1 pound lean ground beef

1/3 cup rice (instant, uncooked)

1 small onion

1 can tomato soup

1 can water

salt to taste

Shred cabbage coarsely and place in baking dish.  Brown meat and onion.  Stir in rice.  Pour over cabbage.  Mix soup and water; pour over entire casserole mixture.  Add more water if casserole seems too dry.   Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in a  9x 12 inch casserole dish, greased.   Serves 6 to 8, so feel free to adjust ingredient amounts for smaller family.   (taken from Hilma Madison’s recipe in the Washington County Women’s Club cookbook)


Cabbage and Potatoes Sauteed

(this uses several items we have recently harvested)

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or 1 strip of thick bacon plus 1 Tbsp. butter.

½ head cabbage (medium size)

1 (8 oz.) unpeeled potato, sliced (or equivalent)

¾ of a medium – large red or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1 large onion, sliced in thick rings

2 Tbsp. water

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

Shred the cabbage coarsely and soak it on ice water 1 hour to crisp.  In a very large skillet, sauté the potato slices a few minutes in butter.  Add the peppers and onion.   Drain the cabbage and add.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water and season with salt and pepper.  Cover tightly and simmer-steam 10 minutes over medium heat.  Toss and keep cooking until the potatoes are done, about 20 minutes in all.  Do not overcook.  Serves 6 to 8. (taken from Tillie Eddleman recipe in the Washington County Women’s Club cookbook)


Saute of Green Beans and Roasted Peppers in a Catalina Sauce with Fresh Goat Cheese and Almonds.

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

3 cups fresh green beans, snapped and rinsed (golden wax beans are just fine!)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds

¼ cup top-quality Catalina dressing

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

Roast the whole peppers under a hot broiler, turning at quarter points, until they are charred black all over.  Run the peppers under cold water and remove skins, seeds, and cores.  Pat the peppers dry and cut into a julienne.  Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat.  Blanche the beans until just tender plunging all at once into rapidly boiling water and cooking for about 3 minutes.  Drain, then rinse beans in very cold water until they’re cool.  Drain and set aside or store overnight in the refrigerator for later use.

When close to serving, sauté the garlic in the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high.  Add the almonds, blanched green beans, dressing, salt, and pepper.   Toss and heat through for about 2 minutes.   Season and drizzle each serving with crumbled fresh goat cheese.  Serve immediately.

Note:  This could also be chilled and served later over fresh greens tossed in a big more Catalina dressing.   Serves 6.

Source: Southern Farmers Market Cookbook, Holly Herrick



This next recipe was submitted by Hallie Bray, CSA member—-here’s her comments.  This sounds great and might be a good way to utilize some left-over vegetables in your refrigerator!

This was a new recipe that I tried for dinner – YUM!!!  The great thing is you can probably add or substitute any of the vegetables you prefer as long as they have a similar consistency.  Hope you like it.  It was a revamped version of a Giada deLorentis veggie casserole(with all the veggies I had in the fridge to throw together), here is my version:

Vegetable Casserole Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato or 2-3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2-3 Chinese eggplant or 1 ½-2 cups regular eggplant, peeled and cut into quartered slices
  • 1 bell pepper (red or purple are nice for sweetness), seeded and chopped pieces
  • ½-1cup corn (1-2cobs), boiled and off the cob
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 small white onions (can use red onion for more zing), thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 small or 1 large squash or zucchini (I used the patty pans), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Parmesan(powder is good too) or cheddar, or ½ of each)
  • 2-3 tablespoons dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
  • Optional: 2 carrots(cut into pieces) or any other veggie that you have lying around


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Toss the potato, corn, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of 13X9 inch (or larger) casserole dish.Optional: You can add a layer of cheese mixture (see below) here if you want more richness or more tomatoes here too if you like.Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Toss/coat squash/zucchini/eggplant in 2 tbls olive oil with a little salt/pepper and arrange over the onion.  Arrange the tomato slices over the top.Stir the cheese and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese and crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish.Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40-50 minutes (or more if added extra veggies). Garnish with fresh basil sprigs, if desired.



Gazpacho (appetizer or cold soup)

Melissa Ballard, (Bluegrass Beef farmer) sent me this—-she told me it is so healthy, while full of flavor and refreshing!

Here’s the gazpacho recipe from her Aunt Cathy.  She writes:

I’ve found at least the basis for our gazpacho we’ve made in the past.  You probably know that we are all experimental cooks so never follow a recipe exactly and often have to substitute ingredients but this is a good base.  Enjoy!

1 c. peeled tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 c. finely chopped green pepper

1/2 c. chopped celery (I’m not sure I used this)

1/2 c. chopped cucumber

1/4 c. chopped onion (red onion is especially good or a mild sweet onion)

2 tsp. snipped parsley

1 tsp. snipped chives

1 small clove garlic, minced (I doubt we ever stop at “one small clove garlic”)

3 T. wine vinegar

2 T. salad oil (of course, olive oil can be good in this)

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 c. tomato juice

Chill.  Serve as an appetizer or cold soup.


This is taken from my MORE WITH LESS COOKBOOK by Doris Janzen Longacre

which is one of our family favorites as it’s so full of simple, natural recipes

and lots of wonderful suggestions for healthy eating.


Abundant Harvest Oven-Dried (or Roasted) Tomatoes

5 pounds tomatoes

(plums are easiest, but use whatever you have)

Olive oil to coat very lightly

3 minced garlic cloves (optional)

Kosher or sea salt


Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Cut the tomatoes in half lenghtwise.  Toss iwth the oil, garlic, and herbs, if using, and salt to taste.  Arrange, cut sides up, in one layer close together but not touching, on baking sheets (perferably parchment-covered or nonstick).  Roast until half-dried or drived and shriveled, between 6 and 12 hours.  (Taste and remove them anytime you like, but only totally dried tomatoes can be stored at room temperature.)   Different sizes of tomatoes will dry at different times, so remove them as they are done if the batch dries unevenly.   Yield varies greatly depeinding  on how long you dry the tomatoes.

To store:  Store very dry tomatoes in a sealed bag at room temperature.  Reconstitue in water, broth, or right in a sauce of any kind.  Store roasted (half dried) tomatoes in oil in the fridge for several weeks, or in a plastic container in the freezer.

Serving suggestions:  Enjoy half-dried (roasted) tomatoes with olive oil (and garlic and herbs if you like) in an antipasto, over pasta, in any kind of sauce, or pureed with nuts and cheese for a spreadable tomato pesto.  They are also great on any kind of sandwich.  (Source:  The Locavore Way, Amy Cotler)


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  • August 19th, 2011

How to Store Cabbage to Preserve Quality

Storing cabbage correctly is important to preserving its quality. Proper storage methods will help to slow down the respiration, or “breathing” of the cabbage. This is important because the faster the cabbage “breathes”, the quicker the cells metabolize and the cells’ metabolic processes begin to break down, and the sooner the vegetable begins to spoil. Therefore, to preserve its flavor, color, texture and nutrients, we need to slow the metabolic rate. Here’s how:

Refrigerate. Chilling the cabbage slows its rate of respiration. At 59°F (15°C), both red and green cabbage give off carbon dioxide at a rate of 32 milliliters per kilogram per hour. Chinese cabbage breathes at a much faster rate. The temperature of most home refrigerators, 41-46°F (5-8°C), is an appropriate temperature range for keeping cabbage chilled in order to preserve its quality. Keeping the cabbage cold will also help to retain its vitamin C content.

Keep it wrapped. Wrapping cabbage in plastic* and storing it in the crisper section of your refrigerator limits its exposure to air flow, and thus reduces respiration and retards spoilage. Just as importantly, plastic wrap keeps external moisture out, preventing mold and rot, while helping the cabbage to maintain its internal (cellular) moisture-without which, the cabbage leaves lose their firmness and begin to wilt.

While plastic wrapping does help to preserve the quality of the cabbage, it does carry some concerns. Plastic residues from the wrapping have been found to migrate into food at refrigerator temperatures and even though the residues are in very, very small amounts, they still must undergo detoxification by the body. Additionally, plastic wrapping carries with it an environmental burden as is it non-biodegradable and in most parts of the country, non-recyclable.

Convenient alternatives to plastic wrapping include reusable, tightly-locking Tupperware-type plastic containers or Pyrex-type containers with rubber or plastic gaskets, both of which should be closely matched in size to the head of cabbage.

Handle with care. If you need to store a partial head of cabbage, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Since the vitamin C content starts to quickly degrade once the cabbage has been cut, you should use the remainder within a couple of days. Also, handle cabbage carefully to prevent bruising. Any kind of cell damage degrades vitamin C content.

* Some plastic vegetable storage bags have tiny air holes, and do a better job of reducing surface moisture and air flow, and minimizing spoilage. Better still are the ones that absorb the carbon dioxide the cabbage expires, dramatically improving storage life. But plastic alone will not prevent loss of vitamins, which is why chilling is also necessary.


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  • August 19th, 2011

Greetings from the farm!


It’s been another crazy week here, but that’s just part of it being mid-August. We were topping tobacco, began cutting and housing tobacco (for those of you not from Kentucky, that is where you harvest the plants and take them to the barn to “cure” until ready to remove the leaves to sale), picking our regular orders of vegetables, including many watermelons to be eaten by the students and staff of Jefferson County Public Schools!


Last night, Shane had about half the crew loading up tobacco to begin hanging this morning and the rest of the workers picked melons. Picking and packing watermelons was an experience!  We didn’t think it would take that long, but time flies when you are having fun, and the boys ended up picking the tail end of them with headlamps!  Bins just kept coming to the barn….while the boys were picking, Lucas and Elly ran around “helping” while I constructed boxes…and more boxes and unloaded the bins when they’d bring them in.  A few hours into it, the rest of the crew arrived to help and we had a good time packaging the melons until 11:30 last night.  The kids hung in there with us and every once in a while when a melon would fall, they’d enjoy the result.  It did get to where Elly took a box, laid it on the ground and told me that was her blanket….these are the days we will look back on and smile.  {Hence, the long blog today because of the long nap!}  Just like I remember sitting up all night (so it seemed) with my parents sorting blueberries or harvesting honey when I was their ages.     It’s really neat to realize that we have the opportunity to help feed so many students this coming week!


This week I had the opportunity to visit the Humana building downtown Louisville as a guest farmer to meet those who enjoy their dining facilities.  I tell you it is a real reward to enjoy how someone else uses what we do.  They served this pasta dish that had our golden zucchini, okra, striped eggplant, tomatoes, orange and purple peppers, made with some olive oil and white wine.  Talk about delicious!  I hope your families are being creative.  It’s been neat to watch people “explore” vegetables they regularly wouldn’t eat and come to enjoy them (or at least appreciate their attempt!).


Something really hit me this week…how attached I become to our CSA members—even those of you who I haven’t gotten to know personally.  It’s something about growing, choosing, and packaging your personal groceries for many weeks, I guess.  As I’m glad for his family, I am sad for our extended farm family to have learned that one of our families is returning home to Montana this coming week.  They were one of our first CSA customers and always supportive and full of ideas for us.  Michael, you and your wife will be missed here at Courtney Farms.


That brings me to another thought I’d like to share…..our CSA program really allows for optimizing what we grow.  It’s often times that we accidentally over-pick for a grocery store order on Wednesday morning, so if we have some extras, your bags are the perfect place to share them. Deanna, my right-hand gal, has done a great job helping us utilize what we raise, and it’s wonderful to know it can add to your experience.  It’s wonderful having the flexibility to actually work with the harvest and let it tell us what needs to be picked—which is very helpful—and that’s how having a garden of your own works also!


As I like to take the time to keep you up-dated on how the weather impacts our crops, this week’s weather has been interesting.  The temperatures have been enjoyed by everyone, last night’s rain will help the crops in the fields, but we did get some tobacco that was cut muddy, but positively thinking, I’d say the rain benefited more than the mud will hurt!  Not sure if you had any storm damage from the weekend or not, but I know our drive home from church last Saturday night was uncomfortable….the closer we got to Bagdad, the more wind damage we were seeing….corn and tobacco crops were laid over….we arrived at the farm to find it no different here….plus many of the vegetables, specifically eggplants and peppers.   The wind can effect the vegetables different ways: one, it can cause the plant to break over and potentially kill the plant, or the plant may live, just not in the up-right position.  When the wind blows the plant over, the vegetables are exposed to sun-burning, which ruins the produce.  So, Monday was spent standing up tobacco, the field corn either will or won’t come out of it, and we just make what we can out of the damage for the vegetables…it will make picking more difficult, and have more culls, but most of the plants didn’t actually “break” when they fell over, so they are still hanging on!  The worst discovery was when we realized our greenhouse is twisted from one end to the other and all the poles are bent—guess we needed another project?!?


This week we hope you enjoy the golden wax beans—they are a treat, and I enjoy just eating them raw.  The corn, well, we know you’ll enjoy.  We were excited to see how nice the cabbage turned out, especially since that was our first time raising it.  They seem to be nice, compact heads.  We hope you were excited to receive a Sugar Baby watermelon this week—-we are hoping to be able to harvest the honeydew very soon!


Deanna and I were sitting down discussing some things coming up over the next few weeks…the new crop of yellow squash, cucumbers, and zucchini are really benefiting from these rains lately—they look good.  The winter squashes and small pumpkins are the same—our newest planting of green beans are a few inches tall and we will be seeding lettuce here in the next week or so.  It is neat to watch the edible soybeans (edamame) grow—it’s a first for us.  I think we will be able to start having a beautiful assortment of heirloom tomatoes soon, so hope you’ve been able to enjoy BLT’s, salsa, and whatever else you have, but one of my favorite dishes after last summer is heirloom tomato salads….so get ready!


We hope you are enjoying working with us “vicariously” through your participation in our farming operation.  We hope you enjoy the tid-bits of info we share, but part of our quest is for “non-farm folks” to come to understand agriculture and what a large role it has in everyone’s life.  It is our hope that the Jefferson County Schools will utilize their watermelon this week for a “life lesson” on where their food comes from—not just from a cafeteria!


Thank you for sharing in our harvest!


P.S.  The items available for preserving are on-line now where we had the a la cartes—enjoy!

Enjoying a trip to the mailbox!


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  • August 12th, 2011

Where did July go?  I think I am still in denial that it’s August, although I have to say that the temperatures we have had the last few days have been absolutely amazing!  I’ve actually needed a long-sleeve shirt the last few mornings during the early hours loading the truck (well, for the first few minutes anyway).  The past few weeks have been extraordinarily busy for us in the “garden”.  Remember the rains of April and May?  Well, because of the early rains, our intended planting schedule was “thrown out the window” and so much had to be planted at once when we were finally able to get in the fields…so now, months later, that has resulted in lots of produce coming ready for harvest simultaneously.  Thus, the intended harvest schedule hasn’t come to be either.  It’s working…we’re just picking and moving a lot….and adjusting.

With one of our farming needs being stability from year to year (in both farming and the vegetable operation, specifically) we try to diversify our crops and markets.  With that being said, we still try to sale as local as possible because it “just makes sense”.  We are fortunate to have such growing desires of local foods in Kentucky.  Almost all of our food we raise has a destination within a 60-mile radius of our farm, which we are proud of.  However, in efforts to diversify and grow, we also raise a large  amount (for us) of eggplant and variety peppers for a company in Louisville that will move our Kentucky Proud product many miles.  My degree is in Agriculture Economics, so this experience (as is all of our farming) has been a “hands on” project learning how to feasibly “plant, till, and harvest” and pack and  distribute a crop on a larger scale successfully.  I have learned a lot about how and why America’s food system is the way it is and that because of the advancements in agriculture and distribution we have the luxury of foods at the prices we do at the grocery store (when you can’t grow or eat locally).  Our workers realize that each one of us must do our due diligence in making every minute working in these crops count, because when you raise something on a larger scale, selling it to someone other than the end-consumer, your profit margins are much tighter and less room for error.  Consistent quality is a must (which has actually added to the number of food donations), packaging must be systematic and well organized and details mustn’t be overlooked.  The reason that I share these thoughts with you is that I hope that you will, like me, think about how “out there somewhere” are families and farmworkers working in unison to provide the ingredients that fill our restaurant menus and grocery store shelves year round.  As wonderful as it is to eat as local as we can, it’s not practically possible to do it all the time for every meal—-but I think it’s good that we can realize why our food system is the way it is.  If it weren’t we couldn’t have affordable tomatoes on our pizzas in December in Kentucky.  Personally, I love how on our farm, we get to help feed both locally and globally…it’s such an honorable role to have.

Aside from picking and packing many, many peppers and eggplants, we have been irrigating, picking bins of watermelons and cantaloupe, praying for rain, planting some items for the fall, doing lots of rain dances, topping (removing flowers) tobacco, sorting tomatoes, and quite frankly trying to figure out how to juggle it all and keeping straight what goes where!  We were very fortunate and have finally received a few showers and have been blessed with the cooler temperatures.  Every couple days, I keep checking on the green beans, to find they are still too small—they’ve just been “hanging out” in the heat, not growing.  Hoping with this break in temps, we’ll be able to begin picking beans again soon.  We decided to beat the birds to the corn, despite it may be a little immature.  The first field we planted got overtaken by the birds and was a total disappointment…for us and for our CSA members, too, I’m sure.  There’s nothing like good sweet corn.  (a little side note…our workers asked Shane if they could have some corn to eat, and he said, “Well, we really need to leave it for our CSA members because we don’t have much now because of the birds.”  They laughed and and told him they were talking about field corn (the corn we raise that will be processed for other foods).  Shane then had to give them a few ears and it was like syrup—this will be the first time the five new workers have ever had real sweet corn.—-it is a treat for all of us—and a true beauty of eating local!)

Picking Cantaloupe

We hope you are enjoying the produce so much and stay excited figuring out how to prepare.  I encourage you to get creative.  Last night I wanted spaghetti.  Although it tasted different than usual, we had a wonderful dish from this week’s harvest…fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and about an hour on the stove with some herbs and a package of the Ballard’s beef. It was great.

As a supporter of eating local foods, and trying to eat healthy all year long, I encourage you to think about canning or freezing some of the harvest.  Next week we will begin offering items in bulk so that you can “enjoy the bounty” beyond the season.  Please look on the a la carte menu for opportunities to purchase items in bulk for your preserving.  You shouldnt’ be scared to try it.  I grew up with my mother canning and freezing a lot of items, but have to say that I mainly taught myself to can from the publication that the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension provides (and other extension programs around the country).  I found the links online—take some time to consider it—-I do think you will be glad you did, come fall/winter/spring!


Hope you take time to enjoy each and every bite and get to get outside.  Join in our “rain dance” we are welcoming some rain this weekend.

From our farm to your home,

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  • August 12th, 2011

So many choices of what to do with the wonderful picks of the harvest this week.  We probably all have our favorite dishes, but here’s a few suggestions for this week’s banana peppers, okra, potatoes, cantaloupe, and tomatoes.


Over the last few weeks you’ve received a good portion of potatoes.  Don’t be overwhelmed—they will keep just fine stored in a cool, dark, dry place for at least a month.  You may want to check them occassionally to remove any that may “go bad”.

New Potatoes with Lemon Butter and Herbs

About 1 and a half pounds of small potatoes

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

3 tablespoons of olive oil

grated zest and juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon of chopped chives

1 tablespoon of basil

1 tablespoon of parsley

salt and pepper

Arrange unpeeled potatoes in a single layer in a large frying pan.  Add water to cover and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender but still firm, 10-12 minutes.  Drain well.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over low heat.  Add the lemon zest, chives, basil, parsley, potatoes and salt and pepper to taste.  Heat gently, stirring to coat the potatoes on all sides with the butter mixture.  Add the lemon juice, stir well and serve immediately.


Creamy Ranch Potato Salad

3 lb. red or new potatoes, cut into chunks and boiled until tender

1 C Ranch dressing

1/2 C sliced green onions

1/2 tsp sat

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 lb cooked, crumbled bacon

In a large salad bowl, combine all the ingredients except the potatoes.  Toss with warm potatoes; cover and chill.

May also be served warm (Melissa’s preference).  (submitted by Melissa Ballard, CSA member and beef farmer)



Find you a nice basket or open area on your countertop to enjoy the decor of ripe tomatoes in your kitchen.  You don’t want to store these in your fridge.  Since all of our tomatoes are vine ripened, some will need to be eaten right away, others will have a bit more shelf-life for you.

Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove of garlic, cut in half

6 plum (Roma) tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 teaspoon drived oregano

½ teaspoon dried mint

Warm the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, oregano and mint.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.   Using a wooden spoon, force the tomato mixture through a sieve over a small bowl.  If serving hot, reheat.  (makes about 1 cup).

This is great with pasta, steamed vegetables, and an easy-to-make sauce that will keep for 4-5 days in refrigerator.



Okra with tomatoes

I love, love, love this dish!   Hope you do, too.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, cut in half

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 pound okra, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)

1 cup of tomato sauce (recipe found here)

4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

Warm the oil in frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 1 minute longer.  Add the rosemary and okra and stir until coated thoroughly with the oil.  Stir in the tomato sauce.  Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and red pepper flakes.  Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until the okra is tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Discard the bay leaf and garlic halves.  Serve hot or warm.  Serves 4-6.



Summer tomato and chipotle salsa

8 tomatoes,  peeled and chopped

4 bell peppers (any color), chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 ounces fresh cilantro, chopped

3 chipotle chilies, chopped  (a chipotle is a dried jalapeno pepper)

juice of 4 limes

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers and onion in a large bowl and mix well.  Add the cilantro, chipotle chilies, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic and olive oil; mix well.  Season with the salt.  Chill, covered, until ready to serve.  Serve with chips or quesadillas.  Makes 12 servings.

–From the cookbook of Sharon Thompson, Flavors of Kentucky


Fried Banana Peppers

Vegetable oil

5 to 6 banana peppers

1 egg


all-purpose flour

cocktail sauce, optional

Heat the oil in a large skillet or electric deep fryer until hot.  Cut the banana peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds.  (It’s a good idea to wear gloves).  Combine the egg with enough of the milk and flour so the mixture’s consistency is thinner than pancake batter.  Dredge the peppers in flour and dip them in the batter.  Drop the peppers into the hot oil using kitchen tongs.  Cook until lightly browned and drain on paper towels.  Serve warm with cocktail sauce, if desired.

–From the cookbook of Sharon Thompson, Flavors of Kentucky



Melon Wrap

I love cantaloupe as “just cantaloupe”, but if you want to dress it up some, here’s a good idea for a great appetizer.

(You can use this for honeydew also.)  Cut your cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces and wrap with Prosciutto ham and secure with a toothpick.









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