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  • 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: 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!

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.”


  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: 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!

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