Monday, July 21, 2014

Week Six: In A Pickle

Another great week at the farm. We got regular AND pickling (Kirby) cucumbers, onions, lettuce, beets, zucchini, carrots, and fennel. I still haven’t made it out to the self-pick field, but I know there’s some dill there, calling my name!

I made cupcakes with the beets (obviously) – I had been planning on making chocolate cupcakes (the beets were red), but I discovered that I’d gotten candy cane beets! They’re striped pink and white on the inside. Unfortunately they don’t retain their color when cooked, so after I pureed them for the batter it looked like a pile of pinkish-orange mush. Not particularly appetizing, but luckily, cocoa powder covers up a lot!
Surprise! We're stripey.
I’m planning to use the onion in fajitas tonight. I also made some pickles and pickled carrots, which are chilling in the fridge with some garlic getting all yummy.
We <3 vinegar and garlic!
Cute, isn't he?
Also on this week’s menu is the beet and potato hash that I made last season, topped with fried eggs. I’m going to try baking it in the oven instead of cooking it on the stovetop so I can avoid the hilarity that is “just slide the thing onto a plate, put another plate over top, flip, and slide back into the skillet to finish cooking”. Because anything that starts with “Just…” is never that easy. (Exhibit A)

I wasn’t over the moon about the fennel slaw I’d made a couple weeks ago, so I’m reevaluating what I want to do with my fennel. Maybe make it into a risotto again (I’ll use the whey left over from my homemade yogurt, cut with water or chicken stock to make it less sour). I did save a couple of chunks of the stalks for stock – hopefully it won’t be overwhelming once cooked! Google also tells me there are both roasted and lightly-fried options for fennel, which also sound good.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Week Five - Catching Up!

It’s been a busy couple weekends – our usual 4th of July celebrations got rained out, which was a bummer since the rest of the weekend was beautiful! Last weekend I was in Knoxville, TN with my family – what a drive! We passed a Wal-Mart distribution center that was at least a mile long (below), drove the long way through Virginia, and at really good food in downtown Market Square (think Faneuil Hall/Quincy market area without the market buildings in the center).
Allll those trucks are Wal-Mart branded.
This is about the longest direct route you can take through Virginia.
I-81 all the way, through the beautiful Appalachians.

We had a good harvest last week – Matt & Aly dropped off cucumbers, golden beets (you know what that means – cupcakes! Yay!), summer squash, and green and gold zucchini for us. I made some yummy fridge pickles – I can’t wait for my dill to get a little bigger so I can use it for extra flavor. I may also try spears, too. They take a little longer but I'm sure they're worth it!
Mmmm pickles
Easy Fridge Pickles
inspired by Smitten Kitchen
As I was re-reading the ingredients to list here, I noticed that I had accidentally doubled the vinegar and halved the cucumbers. I don't know if I mind, but that would explain how incredibly pickly and spicy they turned out... Her recipe uses 8-10 Kirby cukes and 1/2 cup of vinegar. My version is below.

4 small to medium cucumbers, washed and sliced thin (she recommends Kirby or pickling cucumbers)
1 cup white vinegar 
5 teaspoons salt (coarse, pickling, or kosher)
Optional tasty things:
  1 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  1/2 teaspoon or so red pepper flakes
  freshly ground black pepper

Slice up the cucumbers super thin with a mandoline if you have one, or carefully on a cutting board. Put them in a large bowl with a leakproof lid, then add the salt, vinegar, and your choice of optional tasty additions. Close the lid and shake everything up. Chill in the fridge, shaking occasionally, until ready to eat (wait at least an hour - they'll supposedly last 3 weeks).
The fun part about using a mandoline is that the slices just stack up all on their own!

I roasted up the summer squash to have alongside some chicken. I did a quick marinade with olive oil, garlic, and salt & pepper, tossed the chicken and then the squash in that, and cooked everything at 400* for about 20 minutes. Delish! (Tip: preheat the baking sheet in the oven while you prep everything!)

And a quick garden update: We have pumpkins! No pictures yet, but there are at least three that are fist-sized or bigger and growing every day. The vines are reaching out to the radishes and broccoli, and will probably be at the driveway soon. My radishes went a little wild when I was gone, so I'm not sure if any are now too big to be tasty - some of them have flowered, so I need to clear those out and give everything else some space to breathe.

Another update soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recipe: Sausage and Kale Pasta

Success! This got two thumbs up from Dan, which, as I've mentioned before, is really all I look for when I cook. I streamlined this a little bit and cut out a few things that I didn't have (and, uh, forgot to get at the grocery store) and subbed for things I did have. No pictures, but I promise it was good!

Sausage and Kale Pasta
adapted from Serious Eats
You might want to halve this if you don't have a large stockpot. I had hopes that everything would fit into this bad boy, but it was dangerously full (to the point that I couldn't stir anything) so I opted to dump everything back into the pasta pot. This would probably also be good with spinach.

1 pound fusilli or other short pasta (I used cavatappi)
1 large bunch kale, leaves chopped and stems discarded
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from skins and crumbled (I used Al Fresco sweet Italian-style chicken sausage)
1 clove garlic, minced
12-15 whole cherry tomatoes, such as Sungolds (forgot these!)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping (lots of this)

Remove the stems from the kale and clean the leaves. I cut the leaves into ribbons and then chopped across the long way to make smaller pieces, but I'll need to do more chopping next time to get the pieces a little smaller. Boil the kale in well-salted water until tender - I have no idea how long this "should" take. I'd guess I boiled mine maybe 5 minutes. If you have a stockpot with a colander insert, use that and keep the hot water for the pasta. Mine turned a weird greenish brown color because the kale had a purplish tinge to it.

Return the hot water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook to your preferred done-ness and reserve at least a cup of the cooking water. Drain if it finishes cooking before the sausage is ready (toss the water).

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the sausage. Break up with a wooden spoon and cook until completely browned. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds (if using) and continue to cook until sausage caramelizes and turns golden brown. Add more oil to the pan if needed. Put the kale in the pan and stir/toss to coat. Cook a couple of minutes, and if using cherry tomatoes, add them now and cook until they start to lose their shape. 

Scrape contents of skillet into your big pasta pot (my skillet wasn't big enough for all this goodness!) and add the pasta back to the pot. Stir everything together and add the cheese and enough pasta water to make a sauce. I loaded up on the cheese because it's delicious. 

Top with additional cheese for serving.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Week Three: Forest in the Fridge + DIY + uber-local

We had a great time on vacation last week - lots of family and laughs. And the view wasn't too bad, either:
Lake Canandaigua way in the distance
And in farm news, we're back to leafy greens. The fridge, once again, looks like a prehistoric forest. We had lots to pick from this week. I ended up with beets, chard, kale, and fennel (yay!). Aly got collards, green garlic, summer squash (which made her day), and lettuce. I forgot to take a picture, but between the big leaves on the chard and the crazy fronds on the fennel, the fridge is overwhelmingly green.

I found a pasta recipe for the kale, and a salad idea for the fennel (today's lunch!). Still need to figure out what to do with the chard... most likely will to make it less bitter.

Fennel, Apple, and Carrot Salad
Adapted liberally from Martha Stewart

2 medium bulbs fennel, cored, halved, sliced thing
4 carrots, shredded
1 apple, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Martha recommends a yogurt and white wine vinegar dressing, but I wasn't up for it, so I'll see how it tastes plain. If it's weird, I have some homemade yogurt that I can add on top.

Let's see... I also made some cashew butter last week, because I sometimes can't help myself doing fun-sounding things! It's not too bad, although the texture, obviously, is a little different from commercially processed nut butter. I'd definitely try again with peanuts.
So easy!
It couldn't be easier: just throw a few handfuls of nuts (or seeds like sunflower or pumpkin) into your food processor and whiz away. Mine makes a pretty high-pitched grating noise so I closed the windows in the kitchen. It took about a minute or so in the food processor plus about two teaspoons of vegetable oil. (Inspiration: Macheesmo)

And last but not least, I went uber-local last week and harvested TWO radishes from our garden! They were a little bitter, unfortunately, so I might pickle them next time (I added them to my salad one day). I'm mostly impressed that I was able to grow something at all - I've killed a cactus, after all - so I have high hopes for the rest of our garden!
They are really small. 
Happy holiday weekend!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Recipe: Rhubarb Bars

I'm not overly thrilled with these guys, but Dan appears to be enjoying them. I didn't have enough rhubarb (or other fruit filler) to really cover the crumb base, and what I did end up with didn't turn into yummy bubbly jammy goodness.

But they are being eaten, so I guess that's the success I always look for!

Rhubarb Crisp Bars (adapted from the Smitten Kitchen)
You can supposedly make these in the dish you bake them in - I found that a little awkward so next time I'll probably just suck it up and use a mixing bowl! I'll also toss the rhubarb with the sugar instead of sprinkling it over, and skip my cornstarch substitute (I used a little extra flour). I may also have overcooked them a bit, or at least overdried the rhubarb, so I will definitely try to get some berries next time!

1 cup (80 grams) rolled oats
3/4 cup (95 grams) plus up to 2 tablespoons (15 grams) extra all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (95 grams) light brown sugar
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon table salt (you'll probably need less if you use salted butter)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cornstarch (helps firm up the filling - optional)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar, divided
2 cups (250 grams) rhubarb, diced small (from about 4 medium stalks)

Preheat oven to 375* F. Line bottom and sides of 8x8 baking dish with crisscrossed parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. (No need if you plan to serve out of the pan.)

Mix together oats, 3/4c flour, brown sugar, and salt in the bottom of the dish. Add melted butter and stir until clumps form (I found it easiest to do the last bits of mixing with my fingers). Add additional flour if needed. Remove 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside, then press the remaining crumble evenly into the pan.

Spread half the rhubarb over the crust. If using cornstarch, sprinkle evenly over the rhubarb, then the lemon juice and half the sugar. Spread the rest of the rhubarb over and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Scatter the reserved crumb mixture over everything and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Cool in the pan and serve dusted with powdered sugar, if desired.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Week One: Slow Start

Hello and welcome back! Hard to believe we’re into another year at the farm already, but I’m excited for all the goodies to make their way into the fridge. Yesterday was the first official day of the CSA season, so I headed over after work to see what was available. I grabbed lettuce and collard greens for Matt & Aly, spinach, rhubarb, bok choy, and scallions. There’s a slow start this year - I had a choice of kale, collards, or chard this week, unlike last year when I think they had all of those available. They say it’s because of the wacky weather patterns (high of only 45 degrees in the middle of May? No, thank you!), and promise there will be more in the coming weeks.
Collards are photo-hogs! You can almost see the lettuce under there.
Rhubarb and scallions are sticking up.
 Dan and I only have a couple of days this week to use up what I brought home, so Matt & Aly will get most of the goodies this week. I do, however, have a master plan for my four stalks of rhubarb that I’m looking forward to making soon. I will be sure to post the recipe.

A half-pound of spinach. I have no idea what happened to the bok choy...
it's in there somewhere.
We've also started a garden project of our own this summer – after lots of manual labor (and help from our parents!) we've cleared out our previously mulched-over garden and planted grass and some veggies. Our radishes are coming up super fast, and the broccoli seems to be pretty happy as well. We transplanted some mature chives and oregano, which are doing very well, and also planted some basil and dill (time will tell on those). And the pumpkins are practically exploding overnight. Rumor has it that it’s not too late to plant a couple more plants (tomatoes, cucumbers), so I’ll see if I can find some soon!

We’ll be off on adventures next week, so if I post it will be delayed and/or not farm-related. Til then!