12 Apr

Kate’s Ponderings & CSA Registration

It’s spring again!  Or, is it!  By  this time last year we had experienced lots of winter snow and heavy spring rains.  Not so this year….and the wind!  Oh my!  It blew down part of the north fence a couple of weeks ago and the willow trees self pruned like crazy.  I have had to resort to using city water to keep the trees happy and transplants watered.  The winter mulch of straw was removed from the  the strawberry and garlic beds as it was so warm there for awhile and with the winds they dryed out quickly.  We have been asking for rain, and we have finally been blessed with it.  The much needed moisture these last two days has greened up the lawn and brought sweet fragrance to the air from all all of the flowering trees.  The robins are so happy with the big fat worms that are now at the surface of the ground for easy picking.

I transplanted the scallions, bulb onions and green and red cabbages into the garden this past week.  Barbara came for her first day of work on Thursday and direct seeded radishes and beets.   The greenhouse is full of seed flats.  The tomatoes and peppers are looking fine!  I started more seeds yesterday.

The greenhouse is full of seedlings; peppers, tomatoes, parsley, basil and broccoli, and I started more seeds yesterday.  There is always so much to do this time of year!  My son, Greg, has been coming over to help when he can, and that has been such a blessing.  I may just turn him into a farmer yet!   I am always looking for more help in the gardens and a computer person would be great, too, to help with the on-line marketing/social media stuff.  Sitting in front of a computer is definitely not my thing!  If you or someone you know would be interested please give me a call, or send an email.  This would probably amount to just a few hours a week.

So you can see that things are on course for season 2015 here at Kate’s Garden.  Now, I only need more subscribers to my CSA and other outlets to sell the produce.  I thought that by lowering the subscription price and offering half shares this season that I would be encouraging more subscribers….but so far, that has not been the case.  I know that it is early yet, but the purpose of the CSA is for the producer to bring in early funds in order to pay for start up costs like seed, labor and supplies.  I am trusting that things will turn around as soon as the warmth of the sun and longer days return for good!

Did you know that once upon a time, Montana produced 80 to 90% of the food consumed in the state. The remaining percentage was shipped out of state and that was mostly grain. More, now than ever, it is important to have access to local, sustainably grown food.  Farming cannot be sustainable without the support of their local communities.   It is time to really think about how we, as individuals and as a community, can start to build sustainability and a vibrant healthy food system right here in Billings and the surrounding area. I encourage you to spend your dollar with local food producers and shop keepers so that they can continue creating jobs, paying their taxes and raising their families. That’s what community is all about. Farmers and local businesses are not asking for charity or demanding your support. That is, after all, not the idea. Most are just going about doing what we love while providing you a service that you may need. I can only speak for myself, but for me, it’s also not about getting rich, although that would certainly be great.   It’s about doing something that makes sense, while assisting us all in being able to eat well and stay healthy! We are really supporting each other!

There is a worldwide movement happening, based on this concept. All of the elements are in place and they are valid. Now, it is the cost, the extent and the organization of this movement that will decide if it succeeds or not.  Won’t you join me in strengthening this movement?

If you have been on the fence deciding on whether to join Kate’s Garden CSA, now is a good time to do so, as I will be starting an advertising campaign soon to bring in new subscribers.  I have a passion for growing healthy food, education and being in service to my community.  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions, so if you are so inclined, add a comment to this post or send an email.  I look  forward to hearing from you.

broccoli raab 2

The broccoli raab that I have growing in the greenhouse was the idea behind this quick and easy curry recipe, but the recipe calls for regular broccoli. Both will certainly work. I hope you are inspired to create this in your own kitchen.


5 Ingredient Coconut Curry

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 small heads broccoli (and/or other veggies of choice)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • optional: minced garlic or onion

Instructions

  1. Saute broccoli (and onion/garlic if you’re using it) in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the coconut milk and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. The broccoli should soften but still be tender-crisp.
  2. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk it until it combines with the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring to a slight boil and add the cornstarch. Boil for about a minute, then reduce heat and let cool slightly. Sauce will thicken as the mixture cools.
08 Mar

Kate’s Garden & CSA ~ Early registration is now open!

The 2015 garden season is just around the corner so I thought I would let you know what is happening here at Kate’s Garden!  Seeds are already germinating in the greenhouse, fruit trees have been pruned and all of the beds are ready to plant. I am getting pretty excited and chomping at the bit to put the first seeds and transplants in the ground!  I won’t be putting anything out until at least late April early May, depending on the weather, but I can hardly wait!

My farm is located in the Billings Heights and sits on 1 1/3 acres.  I have always been an organic gardener, but am not certified organic.  I have a passion for growing vital, healthy food.  Ever since I was a little girl I loved playing in the dirt!  Learning how to use our earth’s bounty to produce all that we need to live well has been a life long mission of mine.  I have been an eager student at learning how to grow food, make medicine and nurture my soul.

I am going to get up on my  soap box now, so please bear with me!  It has become quite evident that our “business as usual” industrialized food system no longer works for us.  We are now seeing the negative impact on our health and environment  as a result of the high use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides in industrialized farming.  Our bees are dying, the Monarch butterfly is becoming extinct and our soils deplete of nutrients; not to mention the quality of the air we breathe and contaminated water in our rivers, streams, lakes and oceans from toxic run off.  We are becoming aware of the fact that eating fresh, nutritious food is one of the best ways to maintain good health.

“Know your farmer” is not just another catch phrase.  It is a growing movement to create strong, healthy communities.  Our farm lands are being sold to big business because the land is worth allot of money and yet the farmer struggles to make a decent living.  There is something wrong with this picture!  When you support a local farmer, or any local business for that matter,  you build a personal relationship….there is a face to see and a handshake to feel. There is warm conversation and maybe even a new friendship.

I have been asked why I continue to farm, as the work is hard and the money slim.  I know I can’t fix our broken mass produced food system, but in some small way I am helping to educate my community, grow and share vital food and have a positive impact on our environment. I have a strong desire for self-sufficiency, and it is simply the joy of the whole gardening process that keeps me happy and grounded…working the soil, patiently watching the growing process, the taste of the first ripe tomato, and the harmony of the seasons.

I am reaching out to you now, as I need your support In order to continue farming and growing my business.  This year I have taken a giant leap of faith in lowering my CSA subscription price and offering 1/2 shares.  It is my hope that this will encourage you to join this year.  It’s really is a benefit to us both.  I am able to continue doing what I love in sharing my gifts through farming and education, and you have the opportunity to experience the farm and eat healthty food (recipes included).

To see all of the information on the cost of this year’s CSA, how it works and to register, please visit my website.   You can also send an email (katescents@bresnan.net)  or give me a call (245-9128).  I would love to hear from you.

27 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving & Reflections

As I sat in meditation this morning, I was a filled with so many questions, thoughts and emotions. Why does it have to be that on this one day we are to be thankful?

Why shouldn’t we be thankful every day? We are all here to be a part of the transformation and evolution of ourselves and our planet… to experience each and every moment with gratitude, wonder, and purpose. We are presented with opportunity every day.

Read More

25 Sep

Week 15 – Garden Share

What a beautiful week we have been experiencing.  It feels like summer, which is a bit odd considering we entered fall on Monday and have already experienced a hard freeze two weeks ago!  Only in Montana!

I have been feeling a little like a squirrel, in that I have been putting food up for the winter.  This time of year I love to make pasta sauces, salsa, pickles, herbal butters and vinegar,  and fruit  preserves.  Barbara brought me some grapes from a nearby farm, but there was not enought to do anything with it, so I harvested some of my Oregon grapes (they are a native holly like ground cover) and added some Italian plums and we made jam.  It was an experiment that turned out wonderful!  I encourage you to take advantage of this falls produce offerings to put away some for your winter enjoyment.  Food prices are continuing to rise and there is a bounty of local produce available this time of year to ad to your share.  The Farmers Market will certainly provide you with the extras that you might need.  I made up a batch of the roasted tomato soup that I listed on last weeks blog, and it was absolutely scrumptious!  Use some of this weeks tomatoes to make it and then freeze…that’s what I did!

This weeks share will provide you with some wonderful Autumn goodness, greens and fruit.  Of course there is beets, but also lettuce, beans, bell peppers, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, sugar pie pumpkin and some apples.

I have 11 dozen eggs this week, too!  I think the hens are loving fall, as their production has definitely gone up.

Recipies included:

Pumpkin Gingerbread
Rich pumpkin and ginger flavors combine to make a tasty autumn indulgence.

Serves: 8

Ingredients
• 1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
• 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
• 2 lg eggs
• 1 lg egg white
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 1/2 cup molasses
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 cup canned pure pumpkin

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat 9″ x 9″ baking pan with organic cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Stir in crystallized ginger.
3. Whisk eggs, egg white, oil, molasses, and sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in pumpkin. Fold into dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until gingerbread starts to pull away from pan sides and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on rack (may also be served warm). Garnish with sliced crystallized ginger if desired.

17 Sep

Week 14

What a difference a week makes!  From 27 degrees last Friday morning to this afternoon’s 90, the garden is in shock!  That’s a 63 degree difference!  Even after all of the hard work of covering the garden, we still received major frost damage here in the gardens.  The cucumbers are toast, as are all of the herbs.  The summer squash vines are struggling.  The tomatoe vines are fried, but the tomatoes are okay, so will leave them on to ripen.  The eggplant and peppers are recoving and we will still have cabbage for later.

We still are okay though, with a good selection for this weeks share, so I am thankful.  It could have been allot worse, if we had not covered things up.  I will know more tomorrow as I begin harvesting, but it looks like we will have tomatoes, scallions, green beans, zucchini, peppers, lettuce and either kale or chard.  I am giving you a break from the beets, but you will be getting them next week! I am including some beautiful nasturtium flowers for you to add to your fresh lettuce salad.  They are delicious and taste like capers!

The apple harvest at Boja farms is in full swing, so if you are wanting apples for winter eating and baking, let me know and I will get them from Bonnie for you.  Barb and I will be going to visit the farm on Saturday.  We’re helping harvest apples and will be pressing them for cider.  There is nothing better than fresh pressed cider!  I have a press here, and made allot of cider last year from my own apples.  My apple trees only produce every other year however, so next year I am looking forward to another bumper crop and that cider!

See you on Thursday!

I am including some recipes for using the beans and greens.  I hope you enjoy them.

Pasta with Green Beans and Tuna

For a burst of briny flavor, add 1 tablespoon chopped olives or capers to the tuna mixture.

Serves 1

Ingredients
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 3 ounces fusilli or other short pasta
• 2 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
• 1 can (3 ounces) chunk light tuna, packed in water, drained
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon natural almonds, chopped and toasted
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 small garlic clove, minced
Directions
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding green beans 1 minute before end of cooking. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tuna, oil, almonds, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Drain pasta and beans and add to tuna mixture. Stir to combine.

Mixed-Bean Salad

Ingredients
• 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
• 1 shallot, thinly sliced
• 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
• 1 can (15.5 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook green beans until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, oregano, shallot, and mustard. Add green beans, red kidney beans, and chickpeas; toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Rainbow Chard Slaw

1 large bunch chard (or kale), sliced into thin ribbons
4 carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup scallions, chopped

Dressing

1/2 cup minced salad onion or yellow onion
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise (we like Duke’s)

In a small bowl, whisk together the onion, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whisk in the mayo until mixture is emulsified. Place the greens, carrot and scallions in a large salad bowl, and drizzle with slightly more than half of the dressing.

This salad is best dressed 20 minutes before serving. It will hold up, refrigerated, for several hours, but is best eaten day of. To enjoy later, simply save the greens and dressing, and combine them as needed.

Simple Roast Tomato Soup

This has big tomato flavor with smoky notes and hints of fragrant herbs. It’s exactly what you want to be eating as the first leaves of fall flutter by.

4 large tomatoes, halved
1 yellow onion, quartered
5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (I am partial to white peppercorns)
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (make your own!)
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop the seeds out of the halved tomatoes with your finger. Tuck the garlic into the tomatoes, and lay them, and the onions, out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and turn everything to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 30 – 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are bubbly and the edges are brown.

Combine the broth, roasted tomatoes and onions in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the herbs. Puree with an immersion blender or regular blender so that you maintain some of the texture. Add the balsamic, check salt and acid levels, and serve with an herb garnish and a piece of toast slathered with goat cheese.

11 Sep

Week 13 – Winter??? is upon us!

Boy!  What a week this has been.  Barb and I have been working from sun up till sun down harvesting and then covering as much of the garden as possible.  I can’t believe that I already had to wear my insulated jeans and rain gear!  Oh!  I also put the flannel sheets back on the bed!

Our first experience of an ununsual season started with the hail storm in early May, and now we have frost/freeze/snow slated for this evening.  I must say that it is quite disturbing to have worked so hard producing a beautiful garden and wonderful food, only to have it not come to fruition.  We are doing all we can to insure that this first taste of winter will not prove too damaging.  Hopefully it will be short lived and we can then return to a beautiful fall.  Let’s all hold this thought!

Bonnie Martinell from Bridger is continuing her harvest of apples.  If you want to order for next weeks pick up, let me know.

She will still have:

Liberty and Honey Crisp   $2.50 per pound for 5 to 10 lbs or $2.25/lb for a 35lb box

New this week will be harvesting Sweet Sixteen and Harralson, which is a large crisp apple with a slight pear taste.  They will both sell for $2.50 per pound for 5 to 10 lbs or $2.25/lb for a 35lb box

The apples that were ordered last week are here and available for pick up.  If you are writing a check, please make it payable to Boja Farms.

I only have 4 dozen regular sized eggs this week and Marlene brough me 3 dozen smaller pullet eggs which sell for $1.50.

This weeks share includes savoy cabbage (they were so huge that I cut them in half), green beans, eggplant, 3 varieties of peppers (bell, Anjo/Poblano and jalapeno), beets, Parisienne carrots, cucumbers, red and yellow onions and tomatoes.

I hope you enjoy some of these fall time recipes and take advantage of some of the veggies that are in this weeks share.

See you soon!

Cabbage and Pear Slaw
Serves: 4

Ingredients
• 1 cup chopped pears
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons apple cider
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded German Dumpling Soup
• 1 medium red onion, sliced
• 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Directions
Give the reserved pears a rough chop.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, cider, sugar, and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the pear, cabbage, onion, and parsley. Toss everything together, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cabbage and Potato Bake

Serves: 6

Ingredients
• 1 cabbage, about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
• 2 large Idaho potatoes, about 2 1/2 pounds
• 12 ounces lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 2 cups yellow onions, peeled and sliced lengthwise
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 cups homemade chicken stock, or canned, low-sodium chicken broth

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Rinse the cabbage under cold running water and remove the tough outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the hard core. Cut the cabbage quarters into halves and place, rounded side down, in a roasting pan.

Cut the potatoes in half crosswise and peel. Cut the peeled potato halves into quarters, and arrange in the roasting pan, alternating with the cabbage pieces.

Fry the bacon in a heavy medium skillet for 7 minutes. Add the sliced onions, salt, and black pepper to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Evenly distribute the bacon mixture and pan drippings over the vegetables, then pour the chicken stock on top.

Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to sit, covered, for 15 minutes before serving. Serve the vegetables with the bacon and broth spooned over them.

Chunky Guacamole with Hot Peppers
Serves: 16
Prep: 35min

Ingredients
• 6 avocados, roughly chopped
• 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• 1 cup chopped cilantro (from 1 bunch)
• 1 serrano or jalapeno chile pepper, finely chopped – more if you like it hotter
• Juice from 4 small lemons or limes (about 1/2 cup) I prefer limes!

Directions
Put avocados, tomatoes, onion, salt, cilantro, pepper, and lemon juice in large bowl. Stir gently until well combined.
Serving Suggestions
Serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer or on top of steak.

Chicken, Green Bean, and Cucumber Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh parsley and basil
• 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
• 4 ounces green beans
• 1 Basic Poached Chicken, breast half, cooled and torn
• 1 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced
• 2 teaspoons chopped toasted almonds
• Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions
1. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lemon juice, parsley, basil, and capers. Boil green beans, trimmed, in salted water until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water; drain and add to bowl along with poached chicken, cucumber, and chopped toasted almonds. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

 

04 Sep

Week 12 Garden Share

It  feels like fall out there.  It’s only the first week of September and the garden in already slowing down. The cool nights have put a damper on the robust growing that is typical in the summer heat.  We will see what happens over the course of the next few weeks.  I am hopeful that we do not receive a killing frost, as they are expecting one in Bozeman this week!

Eggs—I will have at least 7 dozen eggs here, and also some pullet eggs which as smaller and will sell for less money.

*** My friend, Bonnie Martinell, who owns Bojo Farms in Bridger is harvesting the first of her apples.  Her farm is organic and she specializes in fruit.  You can order them from me and she will begin delivering them next week on your CSA pick up day.  Here is a list of the available varieties.  I do not have the room to store them here, so send me an email or call with your orders.

Colette good eating great baking as is Red Baron these will be $2.00 per pound for 5 to 10lbs $1.85 per pound for a 35 lb box

Liberty great crisp eating apple keeps well these will be $2.50 per pound for 5 to 10 lbs or $2.25/lb for a 35lb box

Honey Crisp great crisp apple keeps well $3.25 per pound for 5 to 10 lbs $2.75 per pound for a 35lb box

She will have 8 more varieties later in the season.  This is another great opportunity to support a local producer who is doing such good things for her land and her community.  I also have some of her eggs here to sell and will try to have more next week.

This week share will contain, Heirloom and Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Slicing Cucumbers, beautiful Eggplant, Scallions, of course some Beets, Swiss Chard, Bell and Jalapeno Peppers, Radishes, Basil, and I am hoping for a few Beans again.

Please return your plastic containers and egg cartons.  It helps keep them out of the landfill and then I don’t have to purchase more plastic!

See you today –  Bodie & I will be waiting for you.

Caprese Salad
Basil is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, and a good source of vitamin C and manganese.
• 2 balls fresh mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
• 4 medium-size ripe tomatoes
• 12 red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• Salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Olive oil
• Balsamic vinegar, optional
• Fresh basil leaves
• Sprigs of basil, for garnish
1. Remove cheese from brine and cut into 8 slices. Slice each tomato into 3 slices.
2. Arrange tomato slices, cheese slices and cherry tomatoes on 4 salad plates.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, if desired. Top with fresh basil leaves. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

White Beans with Cheese and Basil

A new take on a Tuscan classic.

Serves: 6

Ingredients
• 1 1/2 cans (14—19 ounces) cannellini or other white beans, drained, 1/3 cup liquid reserved
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 3 tablespoons grated parmesan or romano cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the beans and reserved liquid in a large mixing bowl and partially mash the beans against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in the oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix in the basil. Place in a shallow 2 to 3 cup baking dish, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

 

 

 

25 Aug

Weeks 10 & 11 Garden Share

Sorry about not posting last week.  I had some heart issues that required an EKG and was feeling out of sorts for a few days.  I am back to normal now!

What a change in the weather, huh?  From the extreme heat to cold and rainy…it seems to be the norm for us here in Montana.  We spent last Thursday out in the rain finishing up the harvest for your baskets, and I have been unable to get out into the gardens ever since as it is so muddy.  When the soil is wet it compacts when you walk, and when the plants are wet you don’t want to harvest because you run the risk of spreading disease like powdery and downy mildew.  This is the perfect time to weed however, so getting down and muddy is on the menu for a few days.

On another note, the Farmer’s Almanac is saying that fall is 4 to 5 weeks early this year (I can see the leaves already turning and some are even on the ground), and that our winter is going to be another cold and wet one…worse than last year!  There will be freezes in parts of the country that usually receive no freeze.  So it is not too early to start preparing.

I don’t know how long the garden will produce and it is always a gamble here, but I have been making sauerkraut, fermenting beets, and drying herbs in preparation for the long winter season.  I encourage you to think about using some of your CSA basket to put some food away, too.  If you need more produce, you can order extra if I have it available.  There are canning basket prices listed on my website.   http://scentsofbalance.com/product-category/garden-produce/   You can make pesto from the herbs and freeze it in zip locks or ice cube trays.  Make some pickles from the beets, cucs and zucchini, make salsa and tomato sauce with the peppers and tomatoes, eggplant can be made into ratatouille, and you can blanch and freeze any of the greens including the beet tops.  I am including some ideas and recipes at the end of this newsletter for you to try.

Food prices are continuing to rise as a result of the challenging weather that the majority of farm lands have been experiencing this past year.  I feel that we must be diligent in continuing to learn how to be more self sufficient as a community.  One of the ways we can do this is by strengthening our food systems.  Continue to support local growers here in Montana and the surrounding area so that they can stay in business.  Source out local eggs, poultry, meat, fruit and veggies.  If you need more information I can certainly give you  some names of local producers.  I am sure that Marlene Wilkin who is our egg goddess will continue to have eggs.  Her production will increase as the summer ends as her new young chicks will begin laying.  I also have a friend in Bridger who has an organic orchard. She will have apple and plums for sale.  If you are wanting any to make sauces or jams, I will post her prices when she begins harvesting.

I am hoping the warmer weather sets in again and stays for awhile so that the cabbages, beans, melons and winter squashes grow big and strong and produce heavy crops.  The lettuce that I planted last month is coming up and will be good for fall harvest.  Radishes, braising greens, scallions and green snap beans will also be ready in a few weeks if the weather holds.  The plantings of cauliflower and broccoli were eaten by those darn flea beetles…again!  There are a few plants still struggling, but if we have an early freeze, there will not be enough time for them to head up.  There are certain challenges when we farm organically…always the weather and then the bugs and soil diseases.  And, everyear is different!  I guess that is how we continue to learn.

This weeks basket should contain kale, beets, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, peppers and basil.  I also have fresh dill seed heads if any of you want them to use in your pickles.  You will have to let me know though, as I won’t harvest  unless you order them.

Here are some of my favorite ways to preserve the garden harvests.

 

Foolproof Fruit Butter

Lower in sugar and much easier to make than preserves or jam, these tasty treats contain no butter. Their name simply refers to the smooth, creamy texture. Perhaps the best-known fruit butter in this country is apple butter, but you can also make peach butter, plum butter, apricot butter, pear butter, berry butter, and even tomato or pumpkin butter.

Makes about 4 pints

Ingredients:

5 pounds fruit (use apples, peaches or whatever is abundant); use an extra pound or two if you’re using fruits with a high water content, such as berries
2 cups cider, fruit juice, or water
Sugar or honey (optional)
Spices (ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger)

Directions:

Peel, core, and seed fruit, and cut into 1-inch hunks. Put the fruit and your liquid (cider, fruit juice, or water) into a large non-reactive pot, bring to a boil, and simmer (covered) for 20 minutes until the fruit is soft and mushy. Stir occasionally, and add a little water if the fruit begins to stick to the bottom, to prevent scorching.

Pour the mushy fruit into a large slow cooker. If possible set the cooker in a sheltered outdoor area so the heat and evaporating water won’t be indoors making an already hot day harder to bear. Cook, uncovered (turn a sieve upside down as a lid if insects are a concern), on medium or low for 10 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the butter is as thick as you like it. It will get brown and rich. You can’t overcook fruit butter, and in the slow cooker, you can’t scorch it as you can on the stove. If you don’t have a slow cooker, use the thickest-bottomed pot you have on your stove’s very lowest setting and be vigilant about stirring, especially as the butter starts to thicken up. There’s no set time for stovetop cooking; you just need to cook the fruit until it reaches your desired consistency.

When the butter is as thick as you want it, taste it to see if you need to add sugar or honey. I rarely add sweetener, but if you prefer sweet butters, add up to about 2 cups of sugar or 1 cup of honey. This is also the time to add spices if you like. Apples go well with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon and a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves; peaches go well with cinnamon and ground ginger. Stir until the spices are completely dissolved or blended.

Ladle the butter into hot, sterilized jars, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath to seal them.

Sweet Squash Pickles

Pickles are almost synonymous with cucumbers in supermarkets, but you can pickle just about any veggie, and even some fruits, with delicious results. Zucchinis make great pickles, and goodness knows we can all use more ideas for using up an overly generous squash patch.

Makes about 3 pints

Ingredients:

2 pounds zucchinis or other tender summer squash (I especially like the Italian heirloom Costata Romanesco, which has lengthwise ridges that make for pretty slices)
1 pound onions
¼ cup non-iodized salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

Slice small squash into ¼-inch rounds. Or quarter larger squash lengthwise, peel, seed, and slice the long strips into ¼-inch slices; it’s OK to use those extra-large squash that grew too big to eat. Peel and core the onions. If using small onions, halve or quarter them, and if using medium to large onions, cut into rings ¼ inch thick. Layer the squash and onions in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl, sprinkling each layer with salt. Add remaining salt and just cover with cold water. Put a plate on top to weight down the veggies and let them soak for 2 hours (this pulls some moisture out of the veggies for crisper pickles). Rinse and drain.

After your squash have soaked, prepare your pickling brine. In a large non-reactive pot (glass, stainless steel, enamelware), combine the remaining ingredients (vinegar through cloves). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add drained veggies. Cover and let sit for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Then, pack into sterilized jars and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. (Follow the canning instructions the jar manufacturer has provided).

Zippy Zucchini Dills

Similar to the previous recipe, these spicy zucchini pickles can stand in for ordinary dill pickles, and they taste especially good on burgers!

Makes about 3 pints

Ingredients:

3 pounds zucchinis or other tender summer squash
¼ cup non-iodized salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
3 fresh dill heads (flowers or seeds), plus 3 big sprigs fresh dill weed, or ¼ cup dry dill seed

Directions:
Slice, soak, and drain the zucchini the same way you would for sweet pickles, allowing it to soak with the salt in some water for 2 hours.

Combine all remaining ingredients. If you’re using the ¼ cup dry dill seed, add that as well, but if you’re using fresh dill, exclude that until the very end. Follow the same process you’d use for sweet squash pickles. When filling the sterilized jars, put one fresh dill head and one fresh sprig of dill weed into each jar before adding the hot pickles.

Create Some Herbal Infusions

If I’m really industrious, I may harvest some of my frost-tender herbs such as basil, chives, tarragon, lemon balm, pineapple sage and lemon verbena to freeze in ice cube trays for winter use.

Feeling even more industrious? Fresh herbs can be used to make herbal-infused vodkas and herb-flavored sugars that you can hand out over the holidays, or just enjoy yourself in a hot toddy or your weekend baking.

Loaded Eggplant Rounds

Love loaded potato skins? Enjoy all that cheesy bacon flavor on top of these nutritious and delicious eggplant rounds!

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 large eggplant
Olive oil spray
Garlic salt
1 and ½ cups reduced fat shredded Mexican blend cheese
¾ cup real bacon crumbles
6 scallions, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice eggplant into round discs, about ¼ – ½ inch thick (thinner rounds will get crispier).
Place the eggplant rounds on a baking sheet, spray both sides of each with a light coating of olive oil spray, and sprinkle with small amount of garlic salt.
Place the rounds in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until rounds are getting brown and crispy.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Top each round with the shredded cheese and the bacon crumbles.
Return the baking sheet to the over for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle the scallions over the rounds and serve.

These could also be served as an appetizer for your next party!

 

zucchini-pizza-boatsZucchini Pizza Boats

Yield: 12 boats, about 6 servings

Ingredients

6 small zucchini (2 1/2 lbs)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 oz)
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (1.4 oz)
1/2 cup mini pepperoni slices
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner, set aside.

Cut each zucchini into halves through the length (if they don’t lye flat trim a thin portion from bottoms so that they will lye mostly flat. Pat insides dry with paper towels (cut portion). Align on prepared baking sheet. In a bowl, stir together olive oil and garlic then brush lightly over tops of zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste then brush a slightly heaping 1 Tbsp marinara sauce over each zucchini, leaving a small rim near edges uncoated. Sprinkle tops evenly with mozzarella cheese then with parmesan cheese. Top with pepperoni slices (placing them more near centers as the cheese will melt and spread). Bake in preheated oven 12 – 18 minutes (bake time will vary depending on how thick your zucchini are and how crisp/tender you want them).

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped fresh oregano. Serve warm.

Here’s a great soup recipe to freeze!

Late Season Minestroni

Late-Summer Minestrone

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 young carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup celery, chopped thinly
2 small zucchini, green or yellow, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut off the cob
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock, plus 2 cups water
4 large, ripe tomatoes chopped (about 2 cups)
125 g. (1/4 regular package) whole-wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves, loosely packed plus more for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

1. Put 3 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, rosemary and zucchini. Cook, stirring, until vegetables soften somewhat, 5 minutes or so.

2. Add fresh corn and beans. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add stock, water and chopped tomatoes; bring to a boil, then lower heat so mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are quite soft and tomatoes broken up, about 10 minutes.

3. Add 1/2 cup basil and whole-wheat spaghetti. Cook another 5 to 7 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: ladle into bowls and drizzle with olive oil. Tear a few basil leaves and drop them in. Serve with fresh Parmesan, if desired.

 

 

13 Aug

Week 9 Summer Share

I have been blessed to have a new volunteer to help in the garden.  Morgann comes 1 day a week and she brings her pet chicken, Clarissa.  She is a heritage bird whose feet were severely frost bitten and her owners couldn’t keep her.  Morgann came to her rescue.  Bodie, Mara the cat and the rest of us love having her here, as she adds to the beauty, wildness and vitality of the gardens.

The new seedlings that we have been planting are starting to come up.  However, the flea beetles are loving them.  I am spraying with various organic sprays to keep them at bay, but with the extreme heat we have been experiencing I am having to overhead water more which just washes the botanicals right off!  All I can do is keep trying.

The first of the eggplant should be ready for you next week, and hopefully some peppers.  This weeks selection will include carrots, beets, kale, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, rhubarb and a selection of herbs.

If you have some favorite recipes that you would like to share with the CSA members, you can send them to me via email and I will include them in my newsletters.  It always so nice to have new material to add to the recipe box.

Marlene will be bringing eggs again this week.  Her chickens have not been producing as many eggs as usual because of the heat. But I should have at least 7 or 8 dozen.

Thank you all for letting me know that you are enjoying the newsletter.  I usually don’t get around to writing it until Wednesday night after I know what is going to be in your share for that week.  Sometimes I am exhausted from the days work, but I try my best to make it informative.

Pink Herbal Lemonade

The lavender and hibiscus flowers turn this refreshing lemonade a gorgeous hot-pink color. You’ll get the most juice from lemons that are at room temperature. If you can’t find hibiscus flowers, substitute four large strawberries, thinly sliced.
• 4 cups water
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
• 4 whole dried hibiscus flowers
• 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
• Lemon slices and whole lavender sprigs, for garnish
1. Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add sugar; stir to dissolve.
2. Add lavender and hibiscus flowers and steep, covered, for 5 minutes.
3. Strain and add lemon juice. Chill for several hours before serving.
4. Garnish with lemon slices and lavender sprigs.

Moroccan Carrot Radish Salad

Shredded salads are incredibly quick and easy, when you use the food processor. In this one, the peppery kick of radishes and sweet crunch of carrots are enhanced with the tangy lemon dressing. Sort through the radish leaves, discarding any wilted ones, and chop the good ones to toss with the salad.
Ingredients
• 4 large carrots
• 4 large red radishes
• Radish leaves, chopped, or spinach
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup toasted pumpkinseeds
• 1/4 cup toasted, unsalted peanuts (optional)
• 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Preparation
Grate the carrots and radishes coarsely. Wash and sort the radish leaves, and chop or julienne. Put them in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and cumin, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk in the olive oil gradually. Pour the dressing over the carrots and toss to mix. Just before serving, add the pumpkinseeds, peanuts, and feta cheese and toss.

Beet Bundt Cake

16 servings

All I can say is TRUST ME. We use vegetables in other desserts (think carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie), so why not beets?

Ingredients
• 1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
• 1 1/2 cups (340 g) packed dark brown sugar
• 2 cups (450 g) puréed cooked (boiled or steamed) red beets (about 3 medium-size beets)
• 1/2 cup (90 g) semisweet chocolate chips, melted
• 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
• 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons (9 g) baking powder (look for aluminum-free)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preparation
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5), and lightly oil a Bundt pan.
In a mixing bowl, cream together oil and brown sugar. Add beets, melted chocolate chips, and vanilla, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet beet mixture, and stir until just combined.
Pour into prepared Bundt pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely. Before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar and top with blueberries, if desired.

Tip: Reserve 1/4 cup (55 g) of the puréed beets (or purée a fourth beet) to create a red/pink frosting or ganache, using confectioners’ sugar and butter. For a ganache, use the water in which you cooked the beets to thin out the topping. For frosting, fluff up using a hand mixer.

Roasted Beet Salad

The addition of lightly cooked pears to this classic salad combination will likely make this already sweet vegetable more palatable to even the pickiest of eaters.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

4 medium beets (about 1 1/2 pounds), ends trimmed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups arugula (optional)
4 tablespoons (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Wrap the beets in foil and set on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife easily pierces the beets. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Peel the beets, cut each into 8 wedges (wear disposable rubber gloves if you’re concerned about the beets staining on your hands), and transfer to a bowl.

3. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until reduced by about half and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside.

4. Place the walnuts in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pan often, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer to the bowl with the beets.

5. Add the oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

6. Add the reserved vinegar mixture, the salt, and pepper to the beets, tossing to coat well. Place 1/2 cup arugula (if using) on each of 4 plates and top with the beet mixture and pears. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon blue cheese.

Linguine and Zucchini with Bagna Cauda Sauce

6 servings

2 garlic cloves, minced
7 flat anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound linguine
2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch matchsticks

Cook garlic with anchovies in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook linguine in a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente, adding zucchini 2 minutes before pasta is ready. Drain, then toss with sauce.

See you on Thursday …..4 to 6 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06 Aug

Week 8 Summer Share

It’s hard to believe that we are already at the half way mark for the CSA season.  My body is telling me that it is indeed true, but I am certainly not ready for fall just yet.  As much as I have found this past few week’s heat index challenging, I still want to feel some more gentle summer heat and be able to experience the sights, smells and sounds of the vibrant gardens.  Barb and I are still seeding.  In fact, new plantings of orange cauliflower, broccoli, radish, cabbage, kale, swiss chard and beans have been planted within the last few days, in the hope that we will have a long fall and be able to supply you with these veggies before a hard freeze.  Since the early season’s broccoli crop was a disappointment (AGAIN!), maybe the fall crop will be better.

I have the feeling that some of you are not really taking advantage of the newsletter, which is a little disappointing to me.  It was my hope that you would be able to experience through my writing, a sense of what a production garden is all about.  I try to include easy and new recipes for you to try, as I know most of you work and have time constraints as to food prep, especially during the busy summer season.  It takes a certain amount of time to put together this newsletter, so if you would let me know if it is something you are interested in receiving and are finding it helpful, please let me know.  I certainly want it to be interesting, educational and a good read for you.

This week’s harvest will provide for you tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, scallions, beets, Swiss chard and the French bean medley, along with basil.

I am planning on doing more fermenting this year.  Last year was my first experience at making saurkraut, and it turned out great.  I am now going to take advantage of the abundance of beets that the garden is producing.  I hope you are not getting too tired of them, but they are such a wonderful veggie and so good for the liver.  Here is a link to a recipe that I am going to try.  Maybe you would like to experiment, too.  http://harmoniousbelly.com/2010/08/lacto-fermented-beets/. 

I know I have talked to most of you about the ease of roasting vegetables.  I have included a recipe for a different method of oven roasting, and this would be a great week to try it.

I will have eggs again.  I only sold 3 dozen last week, so I am hoping that you will take advantage of this offer in order to make it beneficial to Marlene so that she continues to bring them.

picmhXETH

Greek Style Roasted Vegetables

2 lbs zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch slices (or use half & half zucchini and eggplant. Make sure you salt to sweat the eggplant before using as they put off allot of water.)

1 lb potato, cut in 1/2-inch slices

2 green sweet peppers, membrane and seeds removed and cut into chunks

5 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups tomatoes cut into chunks or slices (peel if you wish)

1/2 teaspoon white sugar

2 onions, thinly sliced

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

2 teaspoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons fennel

1/4 cup virgin olive oil

Fresh chopped parsley, dill, Greek oregano or fennel (for garnish)

Feta or parmesan cheese or use both!

Directions:

Mix together the garlic, tomatoes and sugar.
Oil an oven dish large enough to hold all the ingredients.
Place some onion on the bottom of the dish.
Mix together the remaining vegetables
Add a layer on top of the onions.
Top with some of the tomato mixture.
Season with salt & pepper.
Sprinkle some of the herbs on top and drizzle with the oil.
Continue layering until all ingredients have been used ending with a layer of the herbs and drizzle with oil (this may be 3-4 layers depending on the depth and size of your dish).
Cover and cook in a 350°F oven for 1-1 1/2 hours.
Uncover and top with cheese for the last 15 minutes.
Garnish with the remaining fresh herbs and serve.

Serves 6

Caprese Salad Recipe

Basil is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, and a good source of vitamin C and manganese.
• 2 balls fresh mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
• 4 medium-size ripe tomatoes
• 12 red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• Salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Olive oil
• Balsamic vinegar, optional
• Fresh basil leaves
• Sprigs of basil, for garnish
1. Remove cheese from brine and cut into 8 slices. Slice each tomato into 3 slices.
2. Arrange tomato slices, cheese slices and cherry tomatoes on 4 salad plates.
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, if desired. Top with fresh basil leaves. Garnish with a sprig of basil.