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  • September 27th, 2011

What a surprise!  I had really set myself up for a disappointment with brussel sprouts this season.  Last year they were so beautiful and this year…not so much.   The plants have just been more scrony.  However, I guess there is always hope and optimism in the heart of a farmer, so we kept giving them TLC….and we got ’em.  We began cutting brussel sprout plants today and popping off the little jewels.  They aren’t beautiful and uniform like what you will find in the frozen food section of the grocery, but they are fresh and know you will enjoy.  Some are tiny and your recipe may call for you to cut into quarters—-don’t think you’ll have to do that on all of these because some are very small!

A quick lesson we will share….for those of you whom have come to the farm, or been to other vegetable farms, you may recall seeing rows of plastic where the plants are planted.  This is plastic mulch that helps create a more controlled environment for the plants.  Plastic mulch and drip irrigation supplies alone cost about $300, at minimum.  We didn’t realize how valuable the black plastic mulch was to brussel sprouts until this year when we thought we could “get by” with planting them into bare soil and just laying drip irrigation beside the plants.  The result gave us brussel sprouts that couldn’t even begin to compete with last years’….so next year…these beauties will be on plastic mulch.    You know it’s hard to believe we seeded these in the greenhouse back in March!!!  They have been a long time coming!  Good things come to those who wait!! Enjoy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1- 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 tablespoons good olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

 

Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms

From EatingWell:  September/October 2009

Sliced Brussels sprouts and mushrooms cook quickly and cling to the pasta in our fall version of pasta primavera. Look for pre-sliced mushrooms to cut prep time. Serve with a tossed salad.

12 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and/or shiitake

4 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup dry sherry (see Note), or 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 cups low-fat milk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, return to the pot and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sherry (or vinegar), scraping up any brown bits; bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 10 seconds (if using vinegar) or about 1 minute (if using sherry).  Whisk milk and flour in a bowl; add to the skillet with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in Asiago until melted. Add the sauce to the pasta; gently toss. Serve with more cheese, if desired.

 

Beautiful sweet peppers—what to do with them??

This week we have the Yummy Orange sweet pepper (that is actually the name of them) that is apricot in color and the interesting purple bell peppers.  Both are perfect as a snack, plain or dipped in your favorite dressing.  They are perfect in green salads, cold pasta salads, a nice garnish to any meal, liven up a sandwich, lightly cooked in a vegetable medley, or stuff the orange peppers with cream cheese and ham for a heavy appetizer.  They really are a treat from above!

 

The Harvest shares enjoy the last Heirloom tomatoes of the season….

Try a light lunch of Heirloom Tomato Sandwiches…

1 and a half ounces of softened cream cheese

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

4 slices of soft hearty-white sandwich bread

2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

salt to taste

ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayo, dill and garlic powder.  Spread evenly over slices of bread, layer with tomato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with other bread slices.  Serve immediately.  Yum!

 

We just couldn’t resist to offer some more sweet corn for the season.  Here’s one note in our “journal” that has been highlighted—-next year—put more focus on sweet corn space in the field and work on timing of it!!!  We have dearly missed having a field to go to grab a few ears for dinner!  This week, enjoy Gallrein Farm’s Corn.  (As a side note, they are a great place to visit during the Fall for a family day!)

Louise’s Corn Pudding (Flavors of Kentucky, Sharon Thompson)

This recipe is one I use very often (in a year following a plentiful corn crop)… It really is good enough to serve for Thanksgiving dinner and quick enough for a side-dish in a hurry!

16-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained (I use fresh cut-off-the-cob or frozen {no need to thaw})

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

salt and pepper

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons butter, melted

milk

Combine all of the ingredients, except the milk, in a 2-quart microwaveable dish.  Add enough milk to cover.  Microwave on high, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Stir as the mixture cooks.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

This week we have had a beautiful harvest of golden zucchini, patty pan squash, zephyr squash (half green/half yellow), and sunburst squash.   There are dozens of ways you can fix them.   Each are so full of flavor, you really could eat fresh, or slightly sauteed.  If you want a great one-dish meal, give this a try… This summer we have fallen in love with the combination of squash and pork sausage—-never knew the flavors would marry so well….but they do!

Mix-n-match squash casserole

4 cups of summer squashes, cubed (a variety is nice)

1 lb. of pork sausage, cooked and drained

1 cup of dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup of minced green bell pepper

1/4 cup of minced onions

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place squash and a small amount of water in a large saucepan; cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or possibly until tender.  Drain.  Add in all other ingredients; mix well.  Transfer to a greased 11-inch x 7-inch x 2-inch baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes at 325 degrees.  Serve with warm bread and enjoy!

 

Every summer we end up having an over-grown zucchini or two (or more!) that make wonderful zucchini bread.  However, this week, you have this over-grown patty-pan squash that will work PERFECT for zucchini bread!  The ideal size of patty-pans are anywhere from 1 -1/2 to 4 inches in diameter.   Unfortunately, we overlooked that our younger patty-pan plants were bearing again, so here’s a cheers to everyone for making bread sometime over the next few weeks.  The patty pans will keep for weeks in your fridge until you have time to prepare.  The bread freezes well and will also keep in your refrigerator for weeks.  We thought about passing up on the opportunity to share the “accidental overgrown” patty pans with you because it’s not something we are proud of, BUT we want this CSA experience to be as if the garden was really in your backyard. And, if it were, 99% of you would at some point have overgrown squashes out there.  And, to best utilize what we grow, we find delicious recipes for mess-ups from the garden that result in happiness.  So, overgrown patty pan squashes will make delicious “zucchini bread”.

 

Old Fashioned Zucchini Bread (n/k/a Overgrown Patty-Pan Bread)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 1/4 cups white sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

 

A delightful snack: Acorn Squash Seeds

1 cup winter squash seeds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  After removing the seeds from the squash, rinse with water, and remove any strings and bits of squash. Pat dry, and place in a small bowl. Stir the olive oil and salt into the seeds until evenly coated. Spread out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until seeds start to pop. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet before serving.

 

In a rush to prepare dinner and wanna have some acorn squash?

Here’s a recipe for cooking it in the microwave...

(do note that this is sinfully good, so you may want to be disciplined and not eat all of the goodies that flavor your squash that pool up in the middle???)

2 medium acorn squash

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

4 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut squash in half; discard seeds (or save to bake as a snack). Place squash cut side down in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until tender.  Turn squash cut side up. Fill centers of squash with brown sugar, butter and honey; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Herb of the week: savory

Fresh thyme can be preserved the same way as others—freeze or dry.

For herbs that are fresh, you only need half of what a recipe calls for when asking for “dried”.   Savory is great for mushrooms, meats,

Herbed Roasted Potatoes

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 lb. low-starch potatoes (red or yellow skinned), halved or quartered
1/2 tsp. dried summer savory
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450° F. Use some of the oil to coat a heavy baking sheet or pan. Combine potatoes, herbs and remaining oil in pan and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until potatoes are golden brown, stirring frequently, about 40 minutes.

To shorten the cooking time, you can parboil the potatoes for 4-6 minutes before roasting. Drain well, add oil and seasoning and roast for about 20-25 minutes.

Lima Beans

Oh, boy, these little things grow you some patience!! We have two rows of lima beans planted, about 700 feet long.  The yield is terrible!  “Expert lima bean growers” tell me this is normal and they will continue to bear hear and there until the end of the season.  So, with that, we all have to be patient.  We are keeping a log of who gets them in hopes that prior to the end of the season, everyone will have the chance to enjoy!  A few tips on them…..The pods are kinda rough looking, but it doesn’t matter since we only eat the beans inside.  You can use for a bean salad, garnish any salad with them, or cook them.  A trick I’ve learned is not to stir, but shake.  If you can’t eat right away, you can freeze them.  Hull, blanch, drop in ice-cold water, drain on towels until dry, scoop up and pop in a freezer bag.

Hope you have a great week in the kitchen!  Get ready for some fresh fall salads come next week!!

 


Posted in Recipes of the Harvest   |   0 comment(s) Print This Post
  • September 22nd, 2011

It’s been a bit since I have sat down to “journal” the happenings of Courtney Farms.  We are still plugging away at housing tobacco…in between the rain showers and trying to interpret what the meteorologists are predicting.  I wish we could have had some of this rain during the height of growing season rather than during harvest…but that’s not for me to decide.

Deanna and I have been anxiously watching the growth of our new crops—think we will be able to begin harvesting radishes and loose lettuces the week after next!  And I’m so excited because the young spinach looks wonderful.  I tasted a few leaves today (about the size of a quarter) and…amazing!   Our early crop of spinach bolted on us and we didn’t even get to have one salad with it here, so I’m really excited to know it’s doing well.  You will have to take a look at the picture—we are going to have to be “pulling beans”.  I had to show this.

"green bean weeds"

This area of the field was planted in green beans back in May.  I got so hot there wasn’t enough blooms to produce enough beans to be able to harvest.  They were disappointing.  Well….a few weeks ago when Joe disked the bean patch up so that we could work on re-seeding, I noticed hundreds of black-birds—I was worried that they were finding the new seeds.  Then I got thinking that maybe when we disked it tore open those tough green bean pods that were actually did form on the plants…well, that was right—there are thousands of green bean plants now….which equals weeds amongst our beets—they are taking over; when it dries we will cultivate, then have to manually pull the ones right in beside the baby beets.  We have to laugh about it.  But really, beans are great for the soil as they will naturally add nitrogen to it.  We’ll chalk it up as a lesson learned!

I hope you really enjoy the seedless watermelon this week.  This year was the first time we had ever grown “seedless” melons.  As there is not really such a thing, they are interesting.  The seeds are very difficult to germinate and raise to seedlings—very sensitive to water and heat.  You must plant them along with “pollinators” which are seeded watermelons so that the seedless melon plants will have the opportunity to bear fruit—then we have our bee hives near by to do their work.  You must make sure your pollinators are different in appearance, or you won’t know what your getting until you crack it open!   We had the opportunity to raise seedless watermelons for the students and staff of Jefferson County Public Schools—as it was great, it wasn’t the right year to do it with the heat.  The heat caused alot of our blooms to abort which means you loose the number of fruit a plant will produce.  So long story short, we have a few melons still coming in, but probably not enough to feed one of the many, many schools in the system, so we are sharing them with you.  We weren’t able to deliver what we had hoped to the schools, but we are all in this together, learning.  As much as I love to eat seeded watermelons (think alot of it is the memory of spitting seeds with my Papaw when little), these are great to cut up, put in a bowl and eat as a great snack or easy side dish.

As Friday is the first day of Autumn, we thought it most appropriate for the timing of the beautiful acorn squashes.  You can use them as decor before eating or eat them right away.  They are multi-purpose and will last for quite sometime. If you want them to last a long time, something you can do (done a lot for commercial sales) is to wipe them down with water that has a “splash of chlorine” to kill any potential fungus from beginning to grow and make it go bad early.

I had the pleasure of spending the day at a wellness fair Wednesday at the Judicial Center downtown.  It was wonderful to see so many of our CSA members and meet folks who are interested in gearing up with us next spring.

In each of your CSA shares this week you hopefully noticed the invitation to Touch the Dirt Day here at the farm.  We hope you can join us to celebrate a season of good tastes and community.  Your participation on our farm makes a huge difference.  Sometimes we get so busy we don’t take the time to “stop and smell the roses” much less offer the invite for others to come and do the same.  Just as Lucas was mesmerized by his first view as “Superman” from a high-rise office building in downtown Louisville back in April, we think your children and grandchildren would enjoy finding a turkey feather alongside the woods, spotting a deer eating the tops of soybeans (ugh!), catching a fish, pulling some green bean weeds, picking a cucumber, or splashing in a mud-puddle.  We hope you can join us!

Last one and this week one day we had a crew of volunteers who came to the farm to pick “left over” vegetables to donate to “feed the hungry” of Louisville.  Talk about an awesome thing.  How much better is to to know that blemished vegetables are going to help the less fortunate than disking down at the end of our season??!!  This is an effort led by the AmericCorps VISTA program and it’s wonderful.  They were troopers.  I wasn’t here on Wednesday when 7 volunteers came (was at wellness fair), and it rained and rained and the ground was too muddy to drive to the field, so they (like our workers who harvested the melons for the CSA’s this week) hauled them from the field to the barn.  The difference was that our workers received a paycheck for lugging them and the volunteers “just did it” to feed others.  If any of our members are feeling spunky and want to come pick for a few hours to donate, let me know and we can help it happen.  If there is a specific soup kitchen that’s fine; if not between Blain and us we can find a home for it!

We know you are going to enjoy this week’s harvests.  I found lots of recipes to share.  If ever you come across a great one, I’d love to post it for you on the website.  It’s a great way to “share” and really support our partnership and common bond.

Signing off for the week,
Mary


Posted in Growing Together   |   0 comment(s) Print This Post
  • September 22nd, 2011

This week, enjoy mexican food with a side of seedless watermelon, preserve some fresh herbs, enjoy a dish made with okra, a light side of summer squashes, a desert of acorn squash.  This time of year is really neat. You think the garden is puttering out and there are still all kinds of great things you can do with the Harvest of the week!  We’ve slowed our sales to wholesale buyers to keep this “good stuff” in the hands of our CSA.  Late season items may not all be beautiful to some vendors, but those of us who appreciate whole foods for what they are—it’s fantastic!  Enjoy your meals this week!

 

Fajitas

Fajita Marinade  (can get prepared or make it homemade)

1 & 1/2 pound beef boneless top sirloin steak, 1-1/2 inches thick

12 flour tortillas (8 to 10 inches in diameter)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large onions, sliced

2 medium green or red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 jar (8 ounces) picante sauce (1 cup)

1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)

1-1/2 cups Guacamole (page  23) or prepared guacamole

3/4 cup sour cream

Make fajita marinade in small bowl.  Remove fat from beef.  Pierce beef with fork in several places.  Place beef in resealable plastic food-storage bag or shallow glass or plastic dish.  Pour marinade over beef; turn beef to coat with marinade.  Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours, turning beef occasionally.  Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil.  Heat in oven about 15 minutes or until warm.  Remove tortillas from oven; keep wrapped.  Set oven control to broil.  Remove beef from marinade; reserve marinade.  Place beef on rack in broiler pan.  (For easy cleanup, line broiler pan with aluminum foil before placing beef on rack.)  Broil beef with top about 3 inches from heat about 8 minutes or until brown.  Turn; brush beef with marinade.. Broil 7 to 8 minutes longer for medium-rare to medium.  Discard any remaining marinade.  While beef is broiling, heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook onions and bell peppers in oil 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.  Cut beef across grain into very thin slices.   For each fajita,  place a few slices of beef, some of the onion mixture, 1 heaping teaspoonful each picante sauce adn cheese, about 2 tablespoons guacamole and 1 tablespoon sour cream on center of tortilla.  Fold 1 end of tortilla up about 1 inch over filling; fold right at left sides over folded end, overlapping.   Fold remaining end down.  What a hit!!

Marinade:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients in shallow glass or plastic dish or resealable plastic food-storage bag.   Add meat and turn to coat.  Over dish or seal bag and refrigerate, turning meat occassionally.

Guacamole

2 jalapeno chiles

2 ripe large avacados (if firm when you purchase, sit on counter for a few days until softer)

2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped chilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Remove stems, seeds and membranes from chilies, chop.  Cut avocados lengthwise in half; remove pit and peel.  Mash avocados.  Mix chiles, avocados and remaining ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 1 hour to blend flavors.  Excellent!!   (Betty Crocker cookbook)

 

Jalapeno Poppers

jalapeno peppers

cream cheese

smokey bacon

Split peppers lenghtwise and remove seeds.  Fill to the top with cream cheese.  Wrap with a half slice of bacon.   Place on baking pan lined with tin foil for easy clean up.  Bake at 350 degrees until bacon is crisp.  (Tomato Shed Cafe, Charleston, SC)

Caution: DO NOT touch your eyes or any sensitive areas before removing your gloves and washing your hands.  Please wear disposable gloves when working with hot peppers!!

Note:   Slick shiny jalapeno peppers are generally not as “hot” as those with duller skins and stretch marks.  It’s not fool proof, but a good indicator of the “heat” factor.  The membrane holding the seed is the “hot” part of the pepper, so if you want jalapenos without heat, remove ALL the membrane and seeds.

 

Jalapeno Slaw

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 (10-ounce) bag of angel hair coleslaw mix  (or finely shred 1/2 half of a cabbage)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

2 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

In medium bowl, combine everything.  Cover and chill up to 2 hours.    This is a really good addition to chicken tacos, garnished with a little sour cream and cheese.

(adapted from Paula Deen’s Best Dishes, August 2010)

 

Green Tomato Relish

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

about 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar

about 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds green tomatoes, quartered and seeded

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion

In a small sauce pan, combine vinegar and brown sugar; cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  In medium bowl, combine vinegar mixture, mustard seed, celery salt, black pepper, and red pepper.  Gradually whisk in oil until well blended.   In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse tomatoes and onion until coarsely chopped.   Drain tomato mixture thoroughly through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding liquid.  Add tomato mixture to vinegar mixture, stirring well to combine.   Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.   Store in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

(this is 1/2 of the portion amounts provided by Paula Deen’s recipe)

Green Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup thinly sliced ham, chopped

1 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

1 tbs. chopped garlic (2 cloves)

1 bay leaf

2 pounds of green unripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

sour cream

Heat oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook ham, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add scallions, garlic, and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are tender and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.   Add tomatoes, broth, water, salt, and pepper and simmer, partially covered, until tomatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Discard bay leaf and season soup with salt and pepper.  Top with a dallop of sour cream.

(Tomato Shed Cafe, Charleston, SC)

 

Squash Hushpuppies

1 cup grated squash

1 egg, beaten

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

cornmeal, enough to thicken

oil for frying

Mix together squash, egg, onion and flour.  Add enough cornemal to thicken mixture.  Spoon into deep fryer and cook until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.  Serve hot with fish, chili, green salads, etc.

 

Mediterranean Salsa

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 ripe tomato

1 red onion

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup black olives

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes

garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Dice zucchini, squash, tomato and onion.  Put in medium bowl.  Chop olives and sundried tomatoes and add to mixture.   Toss with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Cool in refrigerator to let flavors meld.  This accompanies grilled salmon very well when you bring it to room temperature prior to topping salmon.

 

Shrimp and Okra

1 large onion, chopped

5 cup sliced okra

1 stick margarine

1-2 pounds small raw shrimp, peeled

flour

Saute okra and onion in margarine until they start to get tender.  Add shrimp and simmer until the okra is done.  Slightly thicken juice with flour.  Serve over rice.

 

Baked Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, halved and seeded

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup of butter, diced

6 tablespoons of firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash in shallow baking pan, cut side down. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until tender. Turn cut side up, season with salt and pepper, dot with butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes more.  (Also good if you have any pecans or walnuts to add prior to baking!).  This is almost too good to not be a dessert!!

The neat thing about acorn squash is that you can use as decor for weeks until you are ready to eat, or if you just can’t wait, go ahead and bake one up tonight.  They are SO good!  We also like to just add butter and maple syrup.  You are in for a great surprise if this is your first time to enjoy winter squash.

 

 

How to preserve sage?

To freeze, just rinse and pat dry the whole leaves, then put them in a resealable freezer bag. There is no need to thaw before using. This maintains the flavor a bit more than drying it.

 

How to preserve thyme?

To freeze, just rinse and blot dry with a paper towel.  Put in a zip-lock bag and freeze for a few weeks.  Then, go back and roll a rolling-pin over the bag, watch many of the herb petals fall off.  Here you can keep whole, or dice up and put into a canning jar with a tight lid, label and put back in your freezer to use the same as you would fresh herbs.  Remember, when a recipe calls for dried, you would need twice the amount of fresh (or frozen).

 


Posted in Recipes of the Harvest   |   0 comment(s) Print This Post
  • September 15th, 2011

This week’s CSA has quite a bit of variety from our farm and we are treating you with some of our neighbors corn from Gallrein Farms.  Here over the next few weeks as we are waiting on some of our fall crops, we are doing a little “clean up” of some items where other crops are just now starting to bear—so everyone may not receive the same items.

This past week encompassed an element of farming that isn’t traditional.  I spent both Monday evening and all day Wednesday “sharing tastes” of our summer harvest with folks.  Monday night was at the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s Taste and Tunes and Wednesday was at a Culinary Event hosted by Piazza Produce in Indy.  For both events I made the following recipe.  It’s kinda weird, but interesting and full of flavor.  I wanted something light and refreshing and to really capture the taste of summer.  Sarah Fritschner of Farm to Table helped me with this recipe…I encourage you to get daring and try it for your next get-together….great conversation piece!

Watermelon, Tomato and Mint Salad

(amended from Epicurious, Aug. 2008, Rick Rodgers)

1 watermelon (4-4 1/2 pounds), preferably seedless

3 large ripe tomatoes, preferably colorful, seeded and cut in 1-inch cubes

1/4 of a medium onion

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

a few dashes of salt

(The original recipe calls for more onion and 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese.  If you use feta cheese, omit adding salt).

Cut up the watermelon into 1 inch cubes (remove seeds if needed).  Transfer to serving bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 12.  Add the tomatoes, onion, and mint to the watermelon and toss gently.  Add the feta (or salt) and toss again.  Serve immediately.

 

Freezer Slaw

cabbage

green pepper

carrots

Add 1 tablespoon salt; set 1 hour.  Squeeze out

1 cup vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. celery seed

1/4 cup water

Boil 1 minute; cool.  Pour over slaw and freeze.

(this recipe is from the St. Dominic School cookbook, Springfield, KY submitted by Bubba Robertson).  I thought it might be good for those of you who’d like fresh slaw in a few months.

 

Stuffed Banana Peppers

This comes from The Food Network and has amazing reviews.  The variety of banana peppers we raised this year are in fact Hungarian Wax, so they are perfect for this!  Hope everyone tries!

  • 1 pound hot ground Italian Sausage, roasted and chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup Locatelli Romano cheesee
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • Olive oil to saute
  • 4 banana peppers (Hungarian hots or mild as preferred)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, heated for service
  • Wedge dry ricotta cheese

Mix sausage, cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and egg together in mixing bowl. Season to taste. Adjust mixture with additional cheese and bread crumbs if too dry or moist – medium moisture for stuffing desired. Make a radial slice around the top of the banana pepper leaving the top intact. Pull back top and remove seeds if so desired. Gently stuff mixture into peppers. Place olive oil in hot saute pan. Gently place peppers in the pan and fry each side until browned. Place marinara sauce in middle of plate. Arrange peppers on top of marinara and grate the dry ricotta cheese on top of the hot peppers

 

While at the food show I helped with, I picked up an edible Indy magazine.  I came across this corn chowder recipe and thought it sounded good for this cool, rainy weather we are having.    Her trick for getting fresh corn off the cob is to put a 15-ounce tin can in the middle of a large bowl.  Place / prop the cob on the can and cut down, allowing the kernels to fall into the bowl.  Make the first cut about half way through the kernels and the second close to the cob.  This double cut releases more of the liquid and increases the chowder’s corniness.

Corn Chowder

by Andie Marshall

Makes 8 servings

1/4 pound bacon, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

2 large all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced

2 large ribs celery with tops, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium bay leaf, fresh or dried

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups whole milk

2 cups cream

3 cups cooked corn kernels and liquid*

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium to high heat.  Add chopped bacon and cook until crisp.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon; drain thoroughly and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add butter, potatoes, celery, onion and red bell pepper to bacon drippings.  Cook vegetables until tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Add bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in the chicken stock, milk and cream, stirring constantly.  Bring soup to a bubble.  Add corn and bacon (saving some for garnish) and stir.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Adjust salt and pepper seasonings to your taste.  Remove the bay leaf before serving.

* About 6 ears of corn will yield 3 cups of kernels and liquid.  If you are starting with raw ears, first boil the whole cobs in water for five minutes, then cool before cutting the kernels from the cobs.

Suggested garnishes: crisp bacon, oyster crackers, diced green onions.

 

How to cook FRESH Lima Beans (Harvest Share—we only picked the pods that were filled, and hoping with last week’s rain, the other pods will fill soon and everyone will get to enjoy some frsh lima beans before frost)

from www.restaurantwidow.com

It’s a little more time-consuming than frozen, but I think it’s worth the effort.  Remove the beans from the pods and rinse under cold water.  Place the beans in a small pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and boil them for about 5 minutes, or about 2 minutes after the skin has begun to look pale and puckery.  Drain and rinse under cold water until they are cool to the touch.  Remove the tough outer skins by poking a hole in the “belly button” with your fingernail or a knife.  The bean will pop right out – although the skins are a little tougher than fava bean skins, they pull away from the bean much easier than the favas, so this isn’t nearly as time consuming.  I like to skin them right over the same pot, and then cover them with water again.  Bring to a boil again and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the beans have reached desired softness.  Drain and return to the pot again, putting the beans (with no water) back over high heat for just a few seconds, to dry them off.  Toss the pan a little whilst doing this.  Remove from heat and drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil, or coat with a pat of butter, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Something that is pretty fun about selling food is you get to hear all kinds of little tricks here and there.  One of the distributors we work with was telling me about this amazing eggplant dip called babaganoush.  I never thought I’d be able to remember the word, much less find a recipe.  Wanting to find something fun for this week’s eggplants—or come back to this recipe another week—the reviews were great!

Middle Eastern Fire-Roasted Eggplant Dip: Babaganoush

Total time: 40 minutes, yield is 4 cups of dip

www.foodnetwork.com

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste, available in the international aisle at the supermarket)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pita chips, for dipping

There are 2 ways to cook the eggplants. The first way, on the stovetop, is my favorite because it yields a much smokier-flavored babaganoush.

For the stovetop method: Turn 2 burners up full-throttle. Place 1 eggplant on each burner and, using a pair of tongs, turn every 5 minutes or so, until the entire surface of eggplant is charred and crispy, about 15 minutes. Don’t worry if the eggplant deflates a little. Remove from the burner and place on a plate to cool.

For the oven method: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork (this keeps the eggplant from exploding in the oven, so don’t skip this step). Place on a baking sheet and roast until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Regardless of the cooking method you choose, once the eggplant is cool enough to touch with your hands, carefully peel the charred skin off the eggplant. Discard the skin. Move the flesh onto your chopping board, slice off the stem and discard. Using your knife, mince the flesh until almost smooth. Scoop into a bowl.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, parsley, and a little salt and pepper. Whisk together and taste for seasoning. Feel free to add more lemon juice, more salt and pepper… it will vary depending on the size of your eggplant, and how you like your ‘ganoush! Serve with pita chips.

 

Ok, so I’ve had fun searching The Food Network’s website for some fun recipes today.  Every once in a while during the winter I’ll sit down and watch some of their shows and I love them.  One of my favorites is Bobby Flay—here’s one of his….and sounds super easy!

Grilled Oriental Eggplant

  • 4 Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted lightly

Place eggplant in a large shallow baking dish. Mix together the soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Pour the marinade over the eggplant and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat grill. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper to taste and grill on each side for 3 minutes, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade. Serve topped with the toasted sesame seeds.

Szechwan Eggplant Stir-Fry

This is from The Food Network and the reviews make it seem like it’s a real hit for  a true, easy Chinese dish!

  • 5 Asian eggplants, about 2 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 fresh red chile, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Thai holy basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cut the eggplants in 1/2 lengthwise and then slice crosswise into wedges, no more than 1-inch wide.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils; tilt the pan to coat all sides. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared and sticky, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter and cook the remaining eggplant in same manner, adding more oil, if needed.

After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the broth. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, until the sauce has thickened. Put the eggplant back in the pan, tossing quickly, until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with sesame seeds, Thai basil, and cilantro and serve.

 

This recipe was submitted by CSA member, Mary Smith.  Sadly Mary lost her father this past week and asked that I share this recipe that he loved (and very seasonal).  It has been an honor to realize that her father seemed to look forward to her dishes “from the farm” that she has been able to share with him this summer.

 

Mish Mash

1 Rutabaga, peeled, diced

6 Carrots, peeled, diced

3 Potatoes, peeled, diced

1 small Onion, chopped small pieces

3 Parsnips, peeled, diced

2 White Turnips, peeled, diced

Butter

Garlic Powder

Lawry’s Season Salt

Chopped fresh Parsley

All vegetables should be diced and separated in their own prep bowls as each is added separately.  Bring 8 cups of water to a boil.  Add Rutabaga and boil for 10 minutes.  Add Carrots and boil 5 minutes.  Add Potatoes and Onion, boil 5 minutes.  Add Parsnips and Turnips and boil 20 minutes or until soft.  Drain and mash together with Butter, garlic powder and Lawry’s (I never measure, just taste as I’m mixing).  Add chopped parsley for color.

*Mary, this gives me some encouragement to expand our root crops next fall!

 

We hope you are enjoying cooking, preserving and eating healthy.  We do hope you are expanding your palettes and trying some new dishes this summer!

From our farm to your kitchen,

Mary & Family

 

 


Posted in Recipes of the Harvest   |   0 comment(s) Print This Post
  • September 08th, 2011

I have to say this week is one of my favorites of the year—putting them together has been really fun—so much color from the striped or oriental eggplant, to the vibrant colors of the hot peppers and beautiful tomatoes, to the soft colors of the cabbage and honeydew….simple, yet stunning, images of the farm.  If you are reading this and you aren’t a member of a CSA, I think this variety will get your wheels spinning!   Yum!

This week has “stretched” me when it comes to recipes.  As I was putting baggies of hot peppers in CSA bags, I’m thinking….what are people going to do with these if they aren’t crazy about hot peppers?  So, I found some info for you and put it here.  I can enjoy a bit of heat now and then, but otherwise, I’d be scraping my tongue for days if I tried to enjoy many at once!

Hope you enjoy!

 

The following recipes were submitted by Melissa Ballard, beef farmer and excellent cook!

We’ve really enjoyed the two following recipes over the past couple of weeks and I thought I’d share.  The first is one that I cook every summer – I always end up adding more of the veggies than the recipe calls for.

Coastal Style Rice

2 Cups uncooked rice (can use white or brown)

1/4 onion, cut into chunks

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 Cup water

vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups chopped carrot

4 cups hot water

2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups corn (I use fresh)

2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage

Soak rice in warm water to cover in a large saucepan 5 minutes.  Drain and return to pan.

Puree onion, garlic, 1/2 cup water, and a small amount of oil in blender until well combined.  Pour off any excess oil.

Add onion mixture, carrot, 4 cups hot water and salt to rice; bring to a boil.

Add corn and cabbage to rice mixture and cook, covered, over medium-low heat 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed by rice.

REALLY flavorful and pretty too!

This next recipe came from Tasty Kitchen and I was skeptical at first but wanted to use up some eggplant.  It was soooooo good!  Josh and I both kept saying, wow, this is really good!  We used our beef in the recipe as well.

Eggplant Lasagna

1 whole Eggplant

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 dash Salt And Pepper

1 pound Ground Beef

½ cups Chopped Onion

1 whole Egg Beaten

1 cup 2% Cottage Cheese

1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

½ teaspoons Salt

¼ teaspoons Pepper

1 can Diced Tomatoes (we Like Garlic, Basil, And Oregano Or Fire Roated), 14 Ounce Can

½ cups Tomato Paste

2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar

3 cloves Garlic, Minced

1 teaspoon Finely Chopped Fresh Oregano (or Dried)

1 teaspoon Finely Chopped Fresh Basil (or Dried)

1 cup Shredded Parmesan Or Other Italian Cheeses

Start by slicing the eggplant into thin slices. Arrange slices on a baking sheet with edges. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 450F for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef and onion in a skillet on medium heat.

For the sauce, in a food processor (or blender) combine the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, oregano, and basil. When blended to desired consistency, add to browned meat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Stir together the beaten egg, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna:

First, spread 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom of the 8×8 pan. Second, layer the roasted eggplant slices. Third, layer the cottage cheese mixture. Repeat layers until all of the ingredients are used. Top with the extra cheeses.

Bake for approximately 60 minutes at 375F, checking at 45 minutes.

 

Preserving Okra

If you want to preserve it, just dice it up (remove stems) and lay on a cookie sheet.  Freeze it overnight, then scrape off and put in a freezer bag.  Then you can add to chicken pot pie, soups, or even use to fry over winter.

If you want a stew to warm you up with these cool temperatures, here’s one:

Curried Tomato and Okra Stew

3 to 4 tablespoons oilive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of curry powder (or to taste)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 cups sliced fresh okra

3 tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

3/4 cup of water or chicken stock

Pinch of sugar, if desired

1/4 cup of fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings; stir.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the okra and saute 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, water, and sugar.  Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust accordingly.  Stir in the parsley.  Serve warm over rice or grits, or as is with a slice of cornbread.  Serve 6.    (From Hilly Herrick’s Southern Farmers Market Cookbook)

 

Heirloom Tomato Salad

A friend of ours, Serena Gilkison (black raspberry farmer), made this for a get-together we were at together on Saturday night.  I think I could have eaten the whole pan!

Arrange slices of mozzarella cheese on a serving dish (that has shallow sides).  On top of each slice of cheese, place a slice of tomato, then another slice of mozzarella cheese.  Top with pieces of basil.   Generously pour some Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (she used Newman’s Own brand— I think) over the dish and let marinade for at least 45 minutes.

 

Coleslaw, from Outdoor Eating

Serves 10-12

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cup plain yogurt

dash of Tabasco sauce

1 medium head of white cabbage

4 carrots

1 green bell pepper

salt and pepper

To make dressing, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste together in a small bowl.  Chill in the refrigerator until required.  Cut the cabbage in half and then in quarters.   Remove and discard the tough center stem and finely shred the leaves.  Wash the leaves under cold running water and dry thoroughly on paper towels.  Peel the carrots and shred in a food processor or on a mandoline.  Alternatively, roughly grate the carrot.  Cut the bell pepper into quarters, then seed it and cut the flesh into thin strips.

Mix the vegetables together in a large serving bowl and toss to mix.  Pour over the dressing and toss until the vegetables are well coated.   Let the vegetable mixture chill until required.

 

Cherry Tomatoes

Last year we did a little farm market outside SHPS.  There was a very nice man named Derrick who visited with excitement weekly.  He loved the cherry tomatoes and shared this recipe with me.  Thought I’d share the wealth!

from:  www.pinchmysalt.com there are lots of neat ideas on this website—one that looks real good is to serve on toasted brushetta smeared with goat cheese!  I don’t have either at our house, but a little whole wheat bread with cream cheese may be pretty good too?

 

Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Cherry, grape or pear tomatoes (or whatever tiny tomatoes you prefer)
Garlic cloves, unpeeled
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Combination of dried Italian herbs (such as fennel, oregano, basil, or thyme)*

1. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and heat oven to 225 degrees.

2. Cut enough tomatoes to fill the sheet pan (about 2 small baskets should do the trick) and place them cut-side up on the parchment paper.  Scatter a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves throughout the tomatoes.

3. Drizzle olive oil all over the tomatoes, then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

4. Mix together some of your favorite dried Italian herbs (or just use a commercial blend) and measure out about 2 teaspoons of the mixture. Grind the herbs into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle then sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.

5. Bake tomatoes at 225 degrees for 3-4 hours, or until they have shriveled but still contain a bit of moisture inside.  The time will depend on the size of your tomatoes, so start checking early.

  1. Let cool and eat immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  The garlic cloves can be peeled and eaten or stored in the jar with the tomatoes for a few days, refrigerated.

 

Spaghetti Garden Ragout

(from Gardens of Plenty, a recipe book from Bed and Breakfasts around the country)

(I thought this sounded like a great dish to use the immature winter squashes!  Everything I read, it sounds like they are fabulous if prepared as zucchini.)

“A quick saute of tomatoes, zucchini, and onions, combined with melted Mozzarella tops spaghetti al dente.  Serve with a glass of dry wine.  Our testers were mad about this recipe and used plum tomatoes; whole canned tomatoes otherwise”—Mast Farm Inn, North Carolina

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced and halved lengthwise

1 large onion, sliced into thin rings

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and quartered

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon minced basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano

1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 pound thin spaghetti, cooked

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

(makes 2 servings)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the minced garlic and saute until the garlic just begins to brown.  Add the zucchini and onion and continue to saute over medium heat until tender.  Add the tomatoes, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.   Remove the pan from heat and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.  Cover and allow the dish to sit for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese melts.   Meanwhile, toss the spaghetti with the butter and cheese.  Arrange the pasta on a large platter and top with the warm vegetables.  Serve immediately.

 

What to do with these hot peppers if I’m not a fan of hot peppers?

****Caution, you may want to use gloves when handling these as hot peppers can irritate your eyes and skin****  We don’t need any visits to the ER this year!

www.allrecipes.com

Pickled Hot Peppers

“These pickled peppers are great in salads or to serve alongside a meat dish. These can be made less spicy by removing the seeds from the peppers.”

Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 pounds banana peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
  2. 1 pound jalapeno peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
  3. 1/4 pound serrano peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
  4. 6 cups vinegar
  5. 2 cups water
  6. 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  7. 1 onion, chopped
  1. Place the banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and serrano peppers into a large pot. Add the vinegar, water, garlic, and onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes (from reviews, not too long or may turn mushy)
  2. Ladle peppers into sterile jars, and fill to the top with the liquid, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Tap jars on the counter to remove air bubbles. Place two piece lids on the jars.
  3. Place jars in the rack of a large, canning pan, and fill with enough water to cover the jars completely. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Refrigerate jars after opening.

I think you could scale it down to make a jar or so of hot pickled peppers if you like.

 

Last night I made a pot of chili and put one of the little red cayenne-like peppers in it whole, then removed it before serving and it added a nice taste to it.  I’m going to dry some of these to keep for just that.

Our workers typically lay the chiles outside to dry, but I was curious how to dry some ourselves to keep for occassional use.  I found this info (with great reviews) on the website:  www.scottrobertsweb.com He sounds like a hot pepper expert!

Why Dry Hot Peppers?

The main reason to learn how to dry hot peppers is simply to enable you to keep them for a long time. Peppers can last for several days to a few weeks at room temperature or in the refrigerator before they start to rot. Freezing peppers, if done right, can make them last several months, but the thawing process can be a tricky one where often you’re left with overly soft and mushy chiles. Dried chiles can last from several months to a few years if store properly.

Removing moisture from peppers will magnify and intensify the heat, flavor, and natural sugars it contains. Dehydrated chiles pack more fiery punch and ferocity in both solid food and hot sauce recipes than fresh peppers. Plus, if you grind or crush dried peppers, you can use it as an all-purpose flavoring and seasoning for any occasion.

Preparing Chile Peppers to Be Dried

Before you start drying peppers please take the following precautions:

If you’re drying peppers indoors, keep the area well-ventilated. Warmed peppers will give off pungent fumes that are irritating to the eyes. If you have a ceiling fan, use it; or better yet, open your windows and bring in a portable fan or two to keep the air circulating and minimize the watery eyes and burned nasal passages. Take extra precaution around young children, pets, or anyone who is sensitive to spicy foods.

If possible, always wear gloves when handling hot peppers. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching hot peppers. Do not scratch your eyes, nose, face, or any other sensitive area of your body after handling.

Inspect each pepper before starting the drying process. Discard peppers if they have:

  • Soft, mushy, or spoiled areas
  • White, grayish, or diseased-looking spots
  • Have a questionable or rotten odor

Wash the peppers with warm water and dry thoroughly with a cloth towel.

Remove the stems from your peppers. If you’re drying in them in your oven or food dehydrator you may wish to slice the peppers length-wise (this will allow them to dry faster). If you’re drying the peppers indoors you may want to keep them whole as it usually takes a few weeks to dry and not cutting them open help prevent premature spoilage (but you may wish to experiment based on your regional humidity levels and temperature).

Drying in the Oven

You can dry peppers in any regular kitchen oven. It’s convenient that this method of drying can be done in just about any kitchen in the western world, but there is one big disadvantage; it may take several hours to a few days for the peppers to fully dry, depending on the size. It can also heat up your kitchen considerably if you’re drying on warm spring or hot summer day.

Simply position the peppers on a pan or cookie sheet in a single layer and place it in the oven. Set the oven to its lowest temperature setting, which is usually labeled as “WARM”, or just below 150 degrees Fahrenheit (120° to 140° is desirable). To allow moisture to escape, keep the oven door slightly open at least a couple of inches (now you know why it can make your kitchen hot). Every hour, rotate and/or flip the peppers over for even drying.

If you find peppers getting soft, brown/black, or extremely hot on the side where they touch the pan, then they’re getting cooked; you certainly don’t want this, as you’re just trying to dry these to use at a later date. To prevent this, try one of the following:

  • Turn down the temperature slightly. Not all ovens are calibrated the same – some may be off by 10° or more from the “real” temperature.
  • Flip the peppers over and move them around more often
  • Open the oven door wider

As soon as they’re fully dry, remove from the oven and place in an air-tight container. Larger, thicker-skinned peppers will take longer to dry than smaller or thin-skinned chiles.

Drying in a Food Dehydrator

This is the quickest and easiest way to dry not just chile peppers, but just about any fruit or vegetable.Once you have a dehydrator in your house or place of business and have it set up in a well-ventilated area, it’s time to dry your chiles. If the chiles are medium or large in size put them length-wise and place them on the dehydrator’s tray with plenty of space around each piece for good airflow. Smaller peppers (1 inch or less in length) can be left whole to dry.

If your dehydrator has a temperature setting, place it between 135 and 145 degrees. Let the chiles lay in the dehydrator for 8 to 12 hours, checking every so often to see if the smaller or thinner pieces have dried out. Larger pepper pieces may take a few additional hours to dehydrate.

You’ll notice that you’ll accumulate a lot of loose seeds on the bottom of your dehydrator. Be sure to save these either for replanting purposes or for using later in your dried chile recipes.

After complete, place your veggies in air-tight plastic bags or containers to prevent moisture from getting on them.

Drying Hot Peppers Indoors

This is the “easiest” method of drying peppers, yet probably the most time-consuming. Place whole or sliced chile peppers single-layer in a bowl, plate, or sheet and set them in a very dry, warm, and extremely well-ventilated area with loads of sunlight. Rotate the peppers regularly and discard any that show signs of softness or spoilage. If at all possible, place your bowl or sheet outdoors when the forecast calls for hot, sunny, and dry weather (this will speed up the drying process). Within one or two weeks, you should start seeing your beloved chiles get dry and brittle.

Drying Hot Peppers Outdoors

There are a couple of different methods for drying hot peppers outdoors. One, you can dry the aforementioned way of laying them out on a sheet and placing them outside when there’s a long string of hot and sunny days. Sun-drying can be very effective if the weather cooperates and if you’ve picked a spot where you can get maximum exposure to direct sunlight. If you’ve sliced the peppers, you may wish to place a screen over the sheet or bowl to provide protection from insects.

Another good way of drying chile peppers outdoors is to hang them from a string. Grab some whole peppers with the stems still on, take a long, sharp needle, and string them together with strong thread or fishing line through their stems.

Unlike decorative ristas (which clump several hanging chiles together in a tighter space), you’ll need to leave plenty of room in between peppers for proper airflow. At one end of the string, tie a small stick or wooden dowel to prevent the peppers from sliding off. Hang up your strand of peppers securely in an area where they’ll get plenty of sunlight and fresh air.

It can take up to two weeks of drying time in good weather.

When They’re Dry

Properly dried peppers should be devoid of any signs of moisture or soft “fleshiness”. Fully dried peppers can still retain a bit of flexibility in their skin – you don’t have to dry them until they’re brown, crumbling, or hard as a rock. But when in doubt, the pepper should be uniformly dry, slightly brittle, and have a tough skin.

What to do with them you’re done? You can:

  • Separate them by pepper type and store them in high-quality Ziploc-type plastic bags or plastic containers. This way you’ll always have a handy supply of dried peppers to use in sauces, soups, and other dishes.
  • Crush them in a food processor, blender, or spice mill and create a chile pepper seasoning.
  • Give them to family and friends as unique gifts so that they can spice up their own recipes.
  • Plant the seeds for a new crop of chile pepper plants.

 

from the work of our hands to your’s….Happy Cooking!


Posted in Recipes of the Harvest   |   0 comment(s) Print This Post
  • September 07th, 2011

From one extreme to the other—whether you are working outside each day, or just walking to and from your car, you’ve realized the extremes in temperature and moisture in the air…

Saturday morning had to have been one of my favorite few hours of this summer.  This might sound strange, but as much as I enjoy my time spent writing, answering the phone with orders, packaging, etc., sometimes I really miss just having time alone in the field.  Praying for rain and trying to “beat the heat” I started planting seeds with the sun came up Saturday morning.

We needed to get some lettuce, spinach, peas, turnips, radishes and beet seeds planted so I took my like seeder out there and before the kids got up, had several hours to myself back and forth across the field.  I had the most beautiful view of a sunrise, with each pass it got warmer and warmer.  When Lucas woke up he hollered for me off the back porch, so drove the 4-wheeler to the barn to get him and he “helped” for my last few passes.  ….the joys of working outside….

Despite my enjoyment, I was heart-broke at the same time.  I was seeding next to the edamame plants.  We really try to pair up what we are raising with particular markets (stating the obvious, I know), so like everything else, much of these “edible soybeans” were being raised for Grasshoppers Distribution (a company in Louisville who distributes many locally grown items through a CSA and we are “one of their farmers”).  With this being the first time we had raised this particular crop, we were watching closely, early last week we realized we were nearing harvest and we began mid-week with your CSA shares.  These beans are supposed to be able to be picked over a three- week period. Well, Saturday morning, I realized the heat had totally dried up (aka “killed”) the beans in a two-day period.  Talk about devastating!  Irrigation can only do so much, but like I said last year, “too bad we can’t air condition the field”!  It’s hard to believe that was only Saturday, and since Monday I haven’t been outside without a jacket on!

One thing is for sure, we can plan all we want to, but in the end it’s not up to us.  We have to be willing to be flexible with what Mother Nature provides.  We were going to be cutting tobacco this week, but good thing we held off or we’d have nasty, muddy tobacco going to the barn.  We are so thankful for the needed rains, especially since it has been gentle and has soaked in.

Shane and I both serve as Directors on our local Farm Bureau Board.  Last night prior to our monthly Advisory meeting we had the privilege of meeting with Whitney Meadows who is the Agriculture Liaison for Senator Rand Paul about a few “hot topics” effecting our farm.  Last night we focused on immigration, unemployment and the need to reform the guest-worker program (H2A).  We realize that we can complain about the “local” workforce challenges, but if we don’t channel our voice, we won’t be productive in trying to seek reform. As scary as it is, labor issues are handicapping the sustainability of American farmers continuing to produce a safe, affordable food and fiber supply to domestically take care of our country.  Just in the past year alone, the hourly cost of our dependable labor source has increased by more than 30%—that’s tough to overcome.  These are a concern and a real threat to all American families, not just ours.

At the FB meeting, we had the opportunity to hear from the candidates for Commissioner of Agriculture.  Unfortunately, Bob Farmer didn’t attend the meeting, but I had the pleasure of meeting James Comer.  I’ve kinda watched him in admiration as he is a full-time farmer taking his passions and concerns to the needed leadership of our industry.  I admire his view points in many ways.  He seems to grasp growth of all of KY’s needs—-from protecting our food production, turning vacant lands into cropland, certifying more organic production, minimizing unneeded regulations from government, phasing out crop subsidies, improving infrastructure to help more efficiently utilize locally grown fruits and vegetables, so on and so on.  Comer’s excitement and passion is contagious as he focuses on bio-fuels, embracing young farmers, farmers of all sizes, ag literacy, joining hands of all commodity groups within our state increasing exporting markets, while growing local markets—he seems to share many of the same viewpoints as both Shane and I—-I guess equally deep rooted in our lives-on-the-farm.  As a previous intern for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, I have to say that James Comer got me really excited to see how innovating and level-headed the next leadership could be for our industry and Kentucky.  He also got me curious about his opponent.  I came home and watched their debate that was aired the other night on KET.  In any way I don’t want to push any of our political views on any reader or CSA member, but I invite you to view the debate so that you can go to the polls educated and do your part for securing a bright future for sustaining Kentucky’s farm families and crops. Here’s the link: http://www.ket.org/election/, then click on “Candidates for Commissioner of Agriculture”.

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while now, you know that we have grown quite fond of our workers—every last one of them.  From Jim’s pride, Joe’s long hours, Deanna’s attention to detail, the ninos’ endurance and ownership—they are just a great crew.  However, whether speaking English or Spanish, we sometimes mis-communicate.   This past weekend, I had added to the picking list “total calabaza” which all summer long has meant, “pick all the yellow squash and zucchini that is ready”.  I did the same thing for Tuesday’s work….happen to look outside to see our crew going through the field of winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc) with crates in-hand.  I ran outside and hollered, but it was too late.  The boys were sad, especially Agustin, who has done an amazing job this year helping everyone understand what needs picked—-he even offered to pay for the mess up—bless his heart!  With that being said, notice in your CSA share you have some beautiful winter squashes, just immature.  With the mind-set of not wanting to waste anything, I looked it up and yes, you can eat immature winter squash—cook it just as you would summer squash and it’s supposed to be quite lovely.  So, enjoy and hope you can join in our humor here on the farm.

Enjoy this week’s share and as always, I hope you have enjoyed “living vicariously” on the farm this week—-sweat to goose-bumps, dust to mud— it’s been a good week!  You will each get a selection of mixed beautiful hot peppers, heirloom tomatoes, cabbage, honeydew, striped eggplant, okra, cherry tomatoes, and immature winter squash.

 

Blessings from our farm to your table,
The Courtney’s


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  • September 01st, 2011

When time flies, I guess we’re having fun, right!?  When I was pulling home a wagon of cover-crop wheat on Tuesday, it hit me that the end of summer is nearing.  Then, I’m starting to realize, even though I’m in denial, that many of the plants that we’ve been harvesting from for months are beginning to die. Where has this summer gone?

It’s all part of what we do here on the farm is work with the beauty of nature and the cycles of life.  Whether it’s harvesting tobacco and following up by disking the soil, to sow winter wheat to protect the earth from erosion and contribute back some organic matter (we take care of our land and it will take care of it), or watching an eggplant that has been very prolific all season long, begin to breakdown and loose it’s leaves, or walking through the watermelon patch to find nothing but a few sunburn melons laying above the dried up vines, knowing the enjoyment it gave to a young child this summer.  Farming is challenging, but it is rewarding.  With the onset of September upon us, it reminds us of the new life we helped establish in the Spring that has fed many, many people that is now slowly coming to an end…and the planning of next seasons crops will be rolling around soon.  On the other hand, it’s interesting to watch our later crops “coming on”….yesterday Deanna brought a zephyr squash up that was ready to be picked—-the new life of some younger plants as we will extend our seasons on some items.  And watching the little lettuce and mustard seedlings has been fun….kinda like a ray of sunshine in the process of many things beginning to taper off.

winter squash plants

lettuce seeds have germinated!

The last couple days Shane and Joe have been avidly working on preparing the grain equipment to get ready to harvest in a few weeks.  It’s exciting to know that here in a few weeks we will get to see the work of their efforts come to fruition as they harvest corn and soybeans.  These crops will contribute to the big picture of “feeding the world” whereas our vegetables, “feed local”.  It’s neat for us because as we diversify our farming operation, we are diversifying what we do with the work of our hands.   As important as I think that it is to support local, reality is that I’d like a bag of tortilla chips to go with my homemade salsa, and those chips originated from a grain farmer out there—so when you are driving on a county road here over the next few weeks and get behind slow moving equipment, take a minute to throw your hand up and wave to “thank a farmer” rather than some other signs we often get when moving slowly.

I hope you each really enjoy the diversity of the CSA share this week.  It is an awkward one for sure.  This week’s tomatoes aren’t going to win a beauty contest (oh, but the taste), and we hope and pray that all of your honeydew are actually ripe (outside signs of maturity aren’t error-proof), and the edamame may make a bit of a mess if you strip the pods at your counter, and you will want to wash (and wash) your kale simply because worms have nibbled quite a bit on them….but we hope that you will each realize the beauty in the bag. We hope you will look at picking and cleaning edible soybeans as a treat rather than a hassle. The beauty is not that it would win a contest for appearance, but it’s the beauty (and reality) of farming and/or gardening.

As part of this education process, I think we would be robbing you of much if we chose to only include blemish-free tomatoes, greens with no holes, or potatoes of all one size.  With last year being our first year, I was awestruck with the learning of how America could likely “feed our own hungry families” if we could figure out a way to utilize what “society” has deemed as inappropriate to purchase.    Some of the best tasting tomatoes are the ugliest!  Some of the best tasting corn is going to have worm damage, and what’s the damage in cutting out a “bad spot” in a pepper to eat the other 97% of it?  To me this is a beauty of the CSA relationship we share.  No, you don’t always get to have the beauty of what’s offered at the most up-scale farmers’ market in Louisville, but you do get to eat real food from a real farm….and with that a farm that looks at your food with common-sense, not one tainted with “societal standards”.  We try to allow you to experience the farm/garden as if you really did have one in your back yard….so dicing and freezing some green peppers would be the natural thing to do, when it’s watermelon time you eat lots of watermelon, the end-of-the-season tomatoes look like end-of-the-season tomatoes…so on and so forth!

picking watermelons for Labor Day

As the bulk of our “wholesale” season is nearing an end, we are finally getting the process smoother and life hasn’t been quite as hectic the last few days….which has been wonderful!  At naptime (then again before bed) the kids are absolutely covered it dirt from playing so hard, I’ve been able to take more time to enjoy our produce in our kitchen.  We’ve had some simple, yet lovely meals lately.  I have the luxury of getting to pair our vegetables with meat from my parents’ farm, or some of the farmers we work with nearby.  It’s such a treat.  Here real soon, we are going to offer some meat packages that would allow you to purchase ground beef or hamburger patties—so it’s something to think about if you like to have some local meat in your freezer for upcoming months.

One last note, we hope you enjoy the peaches very much. They are from our friends, Matt and Amanda, who recently began Mulberry Orchard, just down the road from us.  They are great people and offer amazing fruits (and our vegetables).  As we had planned to offer their peaches “a la carte” that didn’t come to be, so before the end of peach season, we wanted to get some in your mouths!  If you can take the time to visit them this fall—-you should.  Beginning this weekend, they will have apple cider and I know that Fall will be their big time!  Them, like us, are trying to diversify their family farm to stay a viable family farm for generations—-an orchard makes sense.   Enjoy those peaches!

A real quick chuckle for you—never a boring day on the farm!  Just a few minutes ago, I had to detour my writing because Bersael (one of the H2A workers) came running up to report a cow was in the vegetables.  He can’t speak a lick of English, so he was telling Deanna by moving his arm in the air as if swirling a lasso with urgency.  He knew that would be detrimental since she was over in the young squashes and cucumber plants.   So, Shane’s been a herdsman and eventually was able to get her back over to where she belongs.

From our farm to your home—have a blessed weekend and we hope you get to celebrate American’s who take pride in their work…whether it’s a farmer, a doctor, a secretary, a writer, a teacher, or factory worker—it takes a dedicated work force to make things tick the way they do.  We each depend on other’s professions.  Our hats off to you and together, let’s work in unison to teach our children a strong work ethic to improve tomorrow’s labor force.  If you ever feel you don’t have a place for them to “practice” hard work, there’s always some weeds here that need chopped!

Thanks for your commitment and enjoy these 95 degree days!

 


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