27 Aug

Garden News – August 27, 2015

I woke up to frost one morning this week….I can’t remember what day….they all seem to run together this time of year.  I quickly ran out and sprayed the frost off all of the sensitive plants like tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplants and basils.  So there I was, out in the freezing morning air, with my long johns, mittens and rain gear on, watering!  I’ll bet the neighbors thought I had finally gone off my rocker!  If you can get the frost off of the leaves of your plants before the suns hits them, they will not burn and die.  It worked!

I had several visitors come by the gardens this week.  It is always so wonderful when people come and comment on what we are trying to do here.  It makes it all worth while.  Tim, the executive chef from the Northern brought Natasha, a delightful young woman from the Downtown Business Association by; Beth, a shop owner/artist/photographer on Montana Ave came by and we commiserated on ways that we might  use some of my lavender and other products to sell there; and Sherie, the woman that organizes the fundraiser that I purchase my peaches from brought her parents by who were visiting from Texas!  All of the visitors came by on one day.  Barbara commented that it was time for me to get back to work and quite chattering!  What can I say?  I am a true Gemini and we are born communicators and I love to show off my garden.

Harvesting is a daily chore nowadays, as everything is producing.  Even the tomatoes and peppers are coming on.  This weeks share will include the tomatoes, green pepper, radish, kale, cucumbers, summer squash, bunching onions and the beautiful beets.  Make sure you use the tops!  I always have the scraggly, not so perfect ones left overs from your harvest, so I chop them up, blanch for a few minutes and freeze in zip lock bags to use during the winter in soups and stews.

I managed to find some time on Friday to bake, can and freeze a couple lugs of organic Colorado peaches that I purchased.  These peaches never fail to please.  They are my favorite peach, and I purchase them every year.  I now have a couple of peach pies, a cobbler, and several bags of slices in the freezer, a peach chutney,  and all of the pits and peelings are infusing in white wine vinegar to use in dressings and other culinary endeavors.


First step in preparing the peaches for Chutney is to peel them and cut into small chunks.


Everything is in the pot, cooking down into a nice thick spicy and sweet sauce.


After processing in a water bath for 30 minutes, they are ready to label and store for the season.

Spicy Peach Chutney
Cook Time: 2 Hrs
Yield 6 – 1/2 pints

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds sliced peeled peaches
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  ( I always add more)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 5 ounces chopped preserved ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder( I used my own dried cayenne peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pickling spice

Directions

  1. In a large heavy pot, stir together the peaches, raisins, garlic, onion, preserved ginger, chili powder, mustard seed, curry powder, brown sugar and cider vinegar. Wrap the pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag, and place in the pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat uncovered until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. It will take about 1 1/2 hours to get a good thick sauce. Stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom.

Remove the spice bag, and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Wipe the rims with a clean moist cloth. Seal with lids and rings, and process in a barely simmering water bath for 10 minutes depending on the size of jar. I use pint jars and processed for 30 minutes. The water should cover the jars completely.

This is the perfect time to grab some of those peaches that are available at the farmers market or roadside stands.  Try to purchase organic if available.  All soft skinned fruits absorb the pesticides that are sprayed on them.  The ones you usually get at the grocers are hard as rocks, have no flavor and do not ripen….and they are expensive.  If I am going to spend the money, I want them to be safe to eat, juicy, sweet and flavorful.

This cobbler recipe turned out great.  I do not eat wheat, so I used a gluten free flour mix.  I am usually disappointed with the pastry part of sweet desserts using GF flour, however this recipe changed my mind.

Peach Cobbler
Servings 6

FOR FILLING
8 -10 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1⁄4 cup white sugar
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

FOR TOPPING
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup white sugar
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1⁄4 cup boiling water

MIX TOGETHER
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
  3. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle the entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.
No more eggs!  I tried real hard to find a producer that would like to provide them for us, but I was unsuccessful.  You can always purchase them at the Good Earth Market.

See you later on today!

19 Aug

Garden News – August 19, 2015

Interesting weather again this week.  We had to wear warm jackets and rain gear on Tuesday because we were out harvesting most of the day.  I finally moved into the shop to finish bundling the herbs in the late afternoon, as my hands were stiffening up from the cold.

Barb and I were talking today about the fact that we have hardly had any bugs this year, with the exception of the dreaded flea beetle and, of course, the grasshoppers.  We usually have to contend with aphids, especially on the kale and tomatoes.  Not this year!  Of course, we are so happy about that, as it sure saves us time because we don’t have to spray the natural botanicals and soaps that we usually use.  Still disappointed in the tomato production, but they are coming along.  We harvested some beautiful heirloom slicers this week.

Saturday and Sundays are the days that I work alone in the garden.  I don’t have to be on any kind of a schedule, or direct my helpers.  I have the opportunity then to really enjoy the sights, sounds and fragrance of what nature has gifted me in this little sanctuary of Kate’s Garden. I feel at peace.   As I was picking the first of the Italian Romano beans (pictured above),  I was taken back to a time in my childhood when my Grandfather and I were in his garden picking his Italian beans that were from seed that he had brought back from his homeland in Italy.  It was a very special memory…a much simpler time.  Our family was close and our gatherings always centered around food.  We were always cooking, eating, drinking homemade wine and experiencing lively conversations.  Food brought us together in a tight, loving unit. I miss those times. This is why I continue to share my love of gardening and food with you.   It is my hope that on some level you will experience a sense of peace and fulfillment when enjoying your CSA share.  After all, when food is grown and shared with love, it is bound to have a  positive benefit on your physical as well as your spiritual well-being.

There were only a small handful of the Romano beans to harvest this week, but you will be getting some  soon.  In the meantime we harvested colored carrots that will be in your share this week, along with more golden and green zucchinis, broccoli, bunching onions, cucumbers, kale, braising greens, heirloom tomatoes and herbs.

Roasted Carrots with Sesame Ponzu Vinaigrette

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrot, peeled and cut into ¾” thick diagonal pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ponzu sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • ½ teaspoon roasted sesame oil

Directions

Roast the carrots until just tender but slightly crunchy at 375F for 15-18 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Toss with the cooked carrots.

 Ponzu Sauce, Authentic

The magic of Ponzu is possible in your own kitchen – Fresh is the secret; don’t settle for the bottled stuff. Ponzu sauce is great with all kinds of fish, seafood, meats, and vegetables too. It’s also used as a dipping sauce for appetizers and such – Your imagination is your limit.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange juice, and zest
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions

Zest your orange (this is most easily and effectively done with a Micro-Plane grater – if you’ve not discovered how great these are, you must get one!) – Now juice it. You need ¼ cup; make a screwdriver with the rest.

Put orange juice, zest, sake, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and cayenne into a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer, and reduce sauce by half for about 3 minutes.
Mix together the water and corn starch, add to the simmering sauce, and stir until thickened.
Allow to cook for another minute or two, add sesame oil and stir.

…and don’t throw away those carrot tops.  Make a delicious, versatile salsa with it!  You can use it as a dip for veggies, chips and bread, a marinade for meats and veggies, or a drizzle for omelets or roasts.

Carrot Top Salsa

  • 2 cups minced carrot greens (leaves and tender stems only)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 to 1 ¼ cups olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.  You can adjust the oil to make it a thinner or chunkier sauce.  Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight while the flavors intermingle.  This salsa only gets better with age, so you’ll know when it’s good when the tops have turned a muted shade of army green.  Decant the salsa into a jar and refrigerate.  The oil may congeal in the cold temperature, but it will not affect the flavor.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Until next week, enjoy your CSA share!  And don’t forget to bring back those clamshells for recycling.  I can always use them.

12 Aug

Garden News – August 12, 2015

This week has really been hot!  It makes the day seem so much longer, but we are managing to keep up with the harvesting.  Now that the garden is larger with more CSA subscribers and wholesale accounts we have to harvest every day.  If we don’t, the veggies get too big and the plants can stop producing.  Even with our best efforts we miss some, especially those zucchinis,  so you will find that some of the veggies in your share are not always perfect.  I am sure you have heard that old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, well I see perfection in every plant and the fruit that it produces.  The nutritional value of your veggies has nothing to do with its appearance.  I just read an article in a health magazine that stated the veggies that have been eaten on by bugs are more nutritious because the plant puts out more anti-oxidants to fight off the pests!  So eat those “not so perfect” veggies!

More lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots, beets and greens were seeded this week, hoping for fall and early winter crops.  I haven’t a sense of what the weather is going to do this fall, but I am hoping for a beautiful Indian Summer.

The cucumbers are going crazy and need to be preserved for the winter.  I encourage you to try your hand at putting up some pickles this year.  They are so easy to do and once you have tasted you own, you will  never buy store bought again.  I have lots of recipes for both refrigerator dills, refrigerator bread and butter pickles and canned dills.  You can purchase a canners share (12-13#) for $25.  You need to pre-order, but right now I have plenty.  I also have dill.  I saw a great idea for using those chard stems, too!  Cut them in lengths to fit a canning jar and pickle them!  Great on an appetizer plate and they look so pretty in the jar!

I finally have a few tomatoes for you this week. It is a little disappointing to say the least.  This is the first year in forever that I have not had oodles of tomatoes.  I always preserve allot  of tomatoes, but I don’t know if there will be enough to do much this year.

Thank you again Lindsey for coming to help harvest beans today!  An extra hand in the garden is always appreciated.

Besides the tomatoes, this weeks share will include a big head of cabbage, Swiss chard, red bunching onions, beets, green beans, cucumbers, yellow and green zucchini, patty pan squash and, of course some herbs.

29 Jul

Garden News – July 29, 2015

We had a great week with a nice heavy rain and a couple of cooler days.  It made things go a little easier.  Barb noticed some paw prints in the mud yesterday and we determined that they  were from  a racoon!  Now I know what is knocking my pepper plants over.  Guess I will have to keep an eye out for damaged veggies, but so far have not seen any.

The garden was blessed with a visit from Lindsey Jamesn today, who is one of our CSA shareholders.  She worked for several hours in the strawberry patch and basil beds.  She was great help and brought some new energy to the plants. Thank you  Lindsey!   You can come back any time.  It was so great having some extra help.

We also spread manure, grass clippings and alfalfa pellets and tilled them into some of the already harvested beds to ready them  for the replanting of some fall crops.  Hopefully more carrots, radish, broccoli, lettuce, spinach and greens will be planted this next week.

The cucumbers are really starting to produce so you will have some in this weeks share along with beautiful bush green beans, the last of the sugar snap peas and oakleaf lettuce, yellow summer squash, patty pan squash, a few small bulb scallions, and, of course some fresh herbs.  I am including a great recipe below that you can use some of this week’s produce to make.

Fresh Herb & Beef Salad with Southeast Asian Flavors

Having a delicious and interesting salad is not hard with this recipe that combines many great tastes and Southeast Asian flavors

Did you know that grass fed beef can be just as low in saturated fat and as good for you as chicken? Choose cuts that have the word loin or round in the name and you have a high-protein meal that is just as healthy as chicken.
Serves: 4
Ingredients

  • 1 lean boneless beef top round steak (12 ounces), well-trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed through a press
  • 6 cups shredded mixed red and green leaf lettuce, romaine
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet white onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

Directions
1. Preheat the broiler. Line a broiler pan with foil. Coat the broiler-pan rack with cooking spray. Rub the steak on both sides with 1/4 teaspoon of the red-pepper flakes.
2. Broil the steak 4″ to 6″ from the heat source, turning once, for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness, or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 145°F for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate.
3. In a large salad bowl, mix the lime juice, fish sauce, oil, sugar, garlic, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes with a fork. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the dressing over the steak on the plate and let the steak stand for 10 minutes.
4. Add the lettuce or greens, cucumber, onion, radishes, cilantro, and mint to the remaining dressing and toss to mix well. Divide among the 4 plates.
5. Cut the steak into thin slices on an angle and arrange on top of the salads. Spoon the steak juices over the top.

See you on Thursday afternoon….4-6 PM.

22 Jul

Garden News – July 22, 2015

Another hot, busy week here in the gardens.  The last of the sugar snaps are harvested and will be in your share this week.  The Romanesco zucchini is going crazy and the yellow summer squash is starting to produce nicely.   We harvested the first few cucumbers and beans…not quite enough for this week’s share, but definitely will be in next week’s.  The tomatoes and peppers are really slow this year.  I have talked with other growers and we all seem to be complaining.  I think it is because of the temperature fluctuations.  Extreme heat, then cool nights, and then we had that cold snap a week ago.  The grasshoppers  aren’t doing the damage yet that they did last year, but with this heat who knows how long that will last!  The garden seems to be pretty bug free so far….keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Besides the peas, this week your share will contain cabbage, oakleaf lettuce, radish, zucchini, kale or swiss chard, fresh white onions, and, of course some herbs.

I am asked quite often why I am so passionate about growing good food.  I used to think it was just about the taste of homegrown veggies….they just taste so much better.  But over the years I have come to realize that there is a deep connection within us with all things from nature. Food reconnects us with nature and from there to our spirit. When food has been grown with care and attention, we are drawn to it…we can tell.  We recognize it.  When we can talk to the people who grow our food and share our experiences, we are drawn more deeply into ourselves and the connection we all have with each other and nature. I recently saw a sign that said “Food is love made visible.” For me, it is not going too far to say that love is the driving force behind the resurgence of passion for local food over the last few years. When love reveals itself as food, we respond.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Yield: 12 boats, about 6 servings

Ingredients
6 small zucchini
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup marinara sauce
1 ½  cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
¼ red onion, sliced
¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped
½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil chiffonade
1/2 cup mini pepperoni slices
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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 tomatoes, olives and 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 the fresh herbs.  Serve warm.

Just a friendly reminder to let me know  ahead of time if you are not going to be able to come and pick up your order, as I do not have room in my coolers to store any extra produce.  Three boxes this week were not picked up, so they were given to my neighbors.

15 Jul

Garden News – July 15, 2015

It’s been a busy week in the garden, with lots of harvesting and seconding plantings going in.  The summer squash are finally coming on strong, and we have to check on them every day to make sure we pick them before they get too big.  Even with constant diligence, some of them slip by and get huge!  Those are the ones that I like to shred for breads or desserts.  It’s amazing what you can do with zucchini!

I havested some of my favorite herbs this week to make herbal tinctures and oil macerations.

Hyssop

Bees love the flowers, so I always have it growing near the garden.  The fresh leaves and flowers are stripped from the stem and infused in Everclear to make a tincture for respiratory challenges.  The herb is my go to for asthma, bronchitis, colds and anything affecting the lungs.  Because it is good for inflammation, I use it in my pain balms and foot creams.

Calendula

The fresh calendula flowers are macerating in extra-virgin olive oil and are used in all of my creams and lotions, baby products and massage oils. The herb is soothing to the skin, and good for pain and inflammation. When you walk back to the shop to pick up your share, you will see both of these herbs growing along the driveway

We harvested some beautiful big cabbage for you this week and there will also be a small amount of broccoli…not allot, but enough for a stir fry. I am not happy with the the yield, but because it became so hot all at once it affected the production in a negative way. I just planted a second crop and it will hopefully germinate well so that there will be a late fall harvest. Radishes are planted every few weeks, too, for a continuing supply. Your share will also include some beautiful oakleaf lettuce, sweet onion, radishes, summer squash and fresh herbs.

Have you ever cooked radishes? If you are like me, we were taught to eat them raw, on a relish tray or sliced into a salad. But, oh how wonderful they are cooked! I was amazed at the transformation in flavor and texture. This recipe is quick and delicious!

Roasted Radishes with Radish Greens

Serves 8

3 bunches small radishes with greens attached
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 500°. Trim the radishes and wash the greens; pat dry.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the radishes, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the radishes for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender.

Return the skillet to the burner and stir in the butter to coat the radishes. Add the radish greens and cook over moderate heat until they are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Serve the radishes right away.

…and a recipe for your Cabbage

Sweet Beet Dressed Slaw
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2 small to medium-sized red beets, peeled and grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
8 to 10 radishes, julienned
1/2 small head red cabbage, thinly shredded (can substitute green cabbage)
3 bias cut scallions
2 rounded spoonfuls dill pickle relish
Directions
Preheat a medium size skillet over medium-high heat with 3 turns of the pan of extra-virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons. Once you see the oil ripple in the pan add the grated beets, season with some salt and pepper and cook stirring every now and then until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beets to a bowl and let them cool down a bit. Add the mustard and the vinegar to the beets. Whisk in the remaining extra-virgin olive oil in a slow and steady stream. Add the fresh dill, radishes, shredded cabbage, sliced scallions and relish and toss to combine, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve now or the next day.

 

…a gentle reminder…pick up times for you CSA share are Thursday from 4-6 PM. If you are unable to pick up your share, please let me know ahead of time. Last week I had 3 shares that we not picked up. I would not have had to harvest those shares and then give them away if I had been given a heads up. Please remember to bring you boxes, and you can recycle back to me any of the clam shells and extra packaging that are in your share.

See you tomorrow!

08 Jul

Garden News – July 8, 2015

From 99 degrees on Saturday the 4th of July to me wearing my insulated Carharts the very next day while I was out harvesting the garlic!  Only in Montana, right?  I am wondering if the plants are as confused as I am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first of six 20 foot rows of garlic harvested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the Inchelium Red artichoke type garlic.  Some of them were as big as baseballs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic needs to cure for a couple of weeks or longer. This allows the necks to dry down so they will store well. I place them on raised screens in a protected shady area. Then I will clean off all of the dirt, remove the dried stems and trim the roots. Some of the garlic will be saved to replant for next years crop.
Lots of weeding again this week. I am also experimenting with a new method of training the tomatoes to climb on strings. It took a couple of days to get them all tied up. We will see how it works. I am seeing a few tomatoes set fruit and there are quite a few flowers on them. So, am hoping for a beginning harvest by late July or so.

The grasshoppers are starting to do some damage on the kale and other greens. I am hoping that we get some rain, as we really need it to keep the insect eating frenzy down.

This weeks share will include rhubarb, sugar snap peas, beets, radishes, lettuce, kale, red overwintered onions and herbs. This will be the last of the peas, as those high 90 degree days did the number on the flowering tops. Peas don’t like the heat. I am happy that everyone received some during the first two harvests, but I was really planing on a longer harvest window.

I am including a recipe for a great breakfast/brunch dish using your kale. Frittata’s are so quick and easy to make. You can use almost any veggie in them and you can also top with a nice feta or aged cheese..

Potato, Bacon, and Greens Frittata
You can substitute sliced Canadian bacon for a lower-fat alternative in this hearty Spanish egg dish.
Serves: 6

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups roasted or boiled potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup cooked greens, such as mustard or kale, chopped
2 slices crisp cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions, thickly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
8 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet with ovenproof handle over medium heat. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, turning with tongs, 10 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in vinegar and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in potatoes, greens, bacon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
2. Pour eggs over vegetables and stir to blend. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to set, 3 minutes. Place skillet in oven and cook until set, 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. To serve, loosen around edges with rubber spatula and turn out onto platter.

There will be eggs available for $3 a dozen. See you tomorrow…Thursday….4-6 PM. If you can’t make it, please let me know. Remember to bring you bags, boxes or coolers

 

 

01 Jul

Garden News – July 1, 2015

Wow! After all of the indecisive weather patterns and the challenges that came with our Montana spring season, Kate’s Garden is opening her gate for the first week’s CSA share pick up. I hope you are as excited as I am! I am looking forward to meeting you, as many of you are new this year. I will get to see those of you who purchased full shares every week, and for those who are half sharers, every other week. I sent you the information on your scheduled pick up dates in the last newsletter, but you can view it again on my website, where you will find all of the past newsletters and blogs.

There are some general housekeeping instructions that I will clarify for you now, as some of you are unfamiliar with our procedures.

1. Please bring your own box, cooler or bags in which to place your produce, as I do not have extra boxes or bags. Your veggies will be field washed or cloth wiped clean, however, you will need to wash them when you get them home just as you would when purchasing at the store.

2. I encourage you to recycle the produce clam shells, egg cartons and any appropriate packaging that you acquire at the store and bring them with you when you come. I can use them here to send things like beans, peas, herbs, tomatoes, etc back home with you. Even those cute plastic pouches that they are packaging grapes and cherries in nowadays will work! If you are not sure what I can use….just ask! That way I don’t have to buy more plastic and it keeps it out of the landfill. No deli containers, though. They always smell!

3. I am planning on having local, free range eggs available again this year. Marlene, the lady that supplied eggs last year has increased her production this year. Now, f the hens do their job and don’t start molting in this heat, we will hopefully have more eggs. Marlene sells here eggs for $3 per dozen, which is a steal!

4. Pick up time is from 4 to 6 PM. Please be on time. Thursday’s harvest begins early in the morning, so it is a long day for me. I will have the big gate open. Walk down the gravel driveway to the back shop, where we will be waiting for you. You will probably be greeted by Bodie, my German Shepherd. He is boisterous, but friendly.

5. I invite you to take the time to walk through the gardens. I am very proud of them and want you to enjoy them, too!

6. If you are unable to make your pick up day, please let me know ahead of time. I know that some of you are traveling and things come up. I cannot hold your share, or adjust your pick up day as there are so many of you that are picking up every other week. It would be a scheduling nightmare to keep up with it all. What works best with most CSA’s is to make arrangements with a friend or another family member to pick up your share for you. I am sure they would love having some fresh, local produce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a photo of the Snap Peas growing on the fence along the driveway. They are in flower right now and use their tendrils to help them climb. You have to harvest them everyday day in order to keep them producing, but they don’t like the hot weather, so there is a short window of harvest. I just can’t resist eating a handful when picking them! Yummy, sweet and crunchy!

This first week’s share will include Sugar Snap Peas, Beets with their greens, Radishes, Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Rhubarb and fresh herbs.

Here is a quick and delicious recipe for the Sugar Snaps.

Spicy Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas

Serves 3-4

1 lb. sugar snap peas
2 T soy sauce (can use low-sodium soy sauce if you prefer)
1 tsp. sesame seed oil
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
2-3 slices fresh ginger root
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 T peanut oil
1 tsp. black sesame seeds or sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Remove the strings from the each sugar snap pea by snapping the stem end and pulling the string down the side, then slice each one on the diagonal. (The sugar snap peas actually have a string on each side, but on most of them I only removed the string from one side.)

Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Put the wok or heavy frying pan on the burner and preheat at least one minute. (It should feel very hot if you hold your hand above the wok.) When wok is hot, add the oil and let it heat until the oil is shimmering (about 15-30 seconds, depending on how hot your stove gets.) Add the sliced ginger root and garlic and stir-fry just long enough so that they become fragrant and season the oil, then remove. (Be careful not to brown the ginger and garlic or they will have a bitter taste.)

Add the sliced sugar snap peas and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the peas turn bright green and are just starting to cook, about 2 minutes. Pour in the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce just starts to coat the peas, about 1 minute more. (There will be some sauce in the bottom of the wok, but not much.) Serve hot, sprinkled with black sesame seeds or sesame seeds if desired.

See you on Thursday! 4-6 PM! Can’t wait to see you all and share the garden’s bounty!

13 Jun

Garden News – June 13th, 2015

This is a quick update on the progress in the gardens. If all goes well, I am hoping to start the first share pick up date on July 2nd. We all know that rain is a good thing…especially here in the high plains desert, but too much is too much! I have been beating myself up about not being on time this year with the beginning of the CSA, but Mother Nature is just not working with me. The cool weather slowed everything down by at least 10 to 14 days. Now, we have the full blown heat of this past week and the plants are in shock! Such is the life on the farm. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, but continue to bless the gardens and do everything humanly possible to make sure that they are productive.

I have worked out the schedule for those of you who have purchased half shares. You will be picking up your produce every other week, in a leap frog way. The majority of you purchased the half share. There will be 15 members picking up every week…some full shares and some half shares.

Week one pick up (July 2nd) will be the following subscribers: From then on, you will pick up your second share on July 16th and every other week from there.

Susan Baak, Jessie Browning, Virginia Bryan, Annika Charter-Williams, Steve Charter, Charis Cravens, David Duke, Pamela Gustafson, James Haney, Halcyon LaPoint, Lindsey James, Paula & Tom Larsen, Vanessa McNeill, John Pugrud, Sonya Whiteley

Week two pick up (July 9th) will be the following subscribers: From then on, you will pick up your second share on July 23rd and every other week from there.

Virginia Bryan, Charis Cravens, Lindsey James, Merita Murdock, Kat Pakora, Alicia Pettys, John Pulgrud, Kerry Sandelin, Sue Tanner, Carol Wardell, Jordan Westerholm, Sonya Whiteley, Nancy Wilkins, Mike Williams

Those of you who purcased full shares will come every week. I trust you know who you are!

I hope this is not too confusing for you. I was ready for a good strong cocktail after finishing figuring it out! This way there will be around 15 of you here every week to pick up your share. It is my hope that we will be able to extend the last pick up date, as we are starting late. We will have to see at the end of fall what the weather will be. I plan on having winter squash, carrots, onions, beets at the end of the season as they can take a light frost and the cooler weather. If its anything like last year there will be a plethora of peppers, eggplants and tomatoes that I have rushed out to harvest before the freeze.

I am trying real hard to communicate with you better and more often, but please know that this is such a busy time for me in the gardens. I have been out there every day from sun up till sun down, seeding, transplanting and WEEDING.

If you need clarification on any of this, just give me a call. I am outside all of the time, but always return my calls.

The markets are full of spinach and strawberries right now, and since it has been so hot, salads for dinner are quick, easy and nutritious without being too filling. I love this Spinach & Strawberry Salad. I hope you give it a try.

Spinach Salad with Strawberries + Pine Nuts

Ingredients:

1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups spinach
2 cups quartered strawberries
3 tbsp. roasted pine nuts (roasted in a skillet over the stove on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly)
1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped dill to taste
Crumbled blue or feta cheese

Instructions

Peel and dice the cucumber, and slice the strawberries.

Roast the pine nuts in a skillet on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly roasted.

In a bowl combine the cucumber, spinach, strawberries, and pine nuts.

Mix the Dijon mustard, honey, white wine vinegar, and canola oil in a small cup.

Add the dressing to the salad and toss to mix, adding the herbs, cheese, some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

 

08 Jun

Welcome sun!

It was a good week to spend weeding! There is never enough time once the garden really gets going to keep up with them. My shoulder is screaming at me, and my knees, too, as being down on the ground crawling around and using that constant repetitive drawing and pulling motion of the Japanese hand hoe gives these joints a real workout! There is still allot more to do, but I am getting it done!

Since it really heated up these last few days, I have started transplanting some of the seedlings that needed to go out. Hopefully we will not receive any more spring storms.

The herbs are up!  They have been loving the cooler weather.   Tarragon is already quite tall and the chives are blooming, so it is time to make my yearly batch of beautiful, pink Chive vinegar. It is quite lovely to look at, and I use it on many summer salads, like potato and pasta salads and, of course, coleslaw. It is wonderful splashed over quickly sautéed veggies. If you don’t have any chives in your garden, plant some! They are easy to grow and once you have some, you will have them forever. I will probably have some to sell later on in the season.

Chive Blossom Vinegar
Yield: 1 quart

chive-vinegar

Ingredients

3/4 quart chive blossoms
About 1 quart champagne or white wine vinegar
Directions
• 1. Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Keep an eye out so that it doesn’t boil; you want the warmth of the vinegar to seduce the coy, subtle flavor out of the blossoms, not immolate them.
• 2. Meanwhile, plunge the flowers in a bowl of cold water and gentle swish them around to flush out any dirt and bugs that have taken up residence. Dump the flowers into a colander and thwack it against the side of the sink to shake off the excess water.
• 3. Stuff the jar with the blooms.
• 4. Pour enough of the warm vinegar into the jar just to submerge the blossoms, using a metal spoon to push down any errant blooms that want to float up over the top. You might not need all of the vinegar.
• 5. Let the vinegar cool, then place a square of parchment paper or saran wrap over the opening of the jar and screw on the top. You want to make sure the vinegar doesn’t come in contact with the metal lid, as the acid will erode the finish of the cap and do nasty things to the taste of your infused vinegar. Place the container in a dark, cool spot that’s so hidden you’ll forget about it.
• 6. When you’re happy with the chive-y strength of the brew, strain it through a fine sieve and toss the spent blossoms. Pour the vinegar into your favorite (preferably glass) sterilized bottle with a rubber stopper and display prominently. Its hue–the blush of a very embarrassed Rosé–is a great conversation starter. Just don’t forget to use it.

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.

06 Mar

2015 CSA registration is now open.

Know your farmer

Sometime in the past, you have either been a subscriber to my CSA, or have expressed an interest in learning about the farm. The 2015 season is just around the corner so I thought I would contact you again to let you know what is happening! 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 abundance 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.

It has become quite evident that our “business as usual” industrialized food system no longer works for us. We are now seeing the impact 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 and lakes 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“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, 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 really is a benefit to us both. I get 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 good food (recipes included).

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

 

16 Feb

Our 2015 garden season is fast approaching

Our 2015 garden season is fast approaching and I am excited to tell you about a new price structure and other good stuff pertaining to Kate’s Garden & CSA.

 Kate’s organic produce and vegetables in Billings MT I am taking a huge leap of faith in lowering the subscription rate this year and am offering half shares too!  I hope in doing so that I encourage more subscribers to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase “home-grown” produce for their families.   As a valued returning participant in the gardens, your support allows me to continue following my passion of developing a strong local food system which in turn builds a strong community.

The challenges of farming continue to affect small producers all over the country.  Small farm America is dying.  Too much work, not enough pay and frustration over having to compete with Big AG is causing this!   We are often asked why we continue to farm when we don’t bring in an honest profit and the work is physically hard!  I can only speak for myself, but here are my top 4 reasons.

  1. It is my desire to be a good steward of the land.  Nothing seems more beneficial than to raise wholesome, nutritious food that can be shared with friends and family.
  2. I happen to believe that fresh, locally-grown, organic fruits and vegetables are indispensable for optimal nutrition and health.
  3. I have a strong desire for self-sufficiency for myself and for the community.
  4. 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 know that I cannot feed the world, but it is so rewarding to me to know that I am in some small way helping to keep myself and my community sustainable, healthy and strong.

 Kate’s organic produce and vegetables in Billings MTOnly with your support can I  continue in this endeavor.  Please let your friends and family know that there is an opportunity to join the CSA this year, as I am depending on having more mouths to feed!  I believe the price is more than fair and the Thursday pick up usually works for most, as it is before the weekend and at the end of the day.

All of the information on this year’s CSA is posted on my website along with a downloadable registration form which you will need to print out and mail back with your deposit.  If you haven’t already done so, be sure and sign up to receive my newsletters and blog posts, otherwise you will not know what is happening here in the gardens, and you don’t want to miss out on all of the recipes!

 Kate’s organic produce and vegetables in Billings MT
Please let me know as soon as possible if you will be joining us for another year.  That way I know how many openings I will have for others to join.  Registration and deposits are due by April 15th.  Bodie, Barb and I are looking forward to seeing you all in June.  I will be posting more news as the season comes closer.

27 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving and 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

02 Oct

2014 CSA – Week 16 – Final share

As I sit here writing this my heart is happy and sad at the same time.  Is that even possible?   I have been thinking about my accomplishments in the gardens this season and how good it makes me feel knowing that you have been eating and hopefully enjoying the veggies, herbs and fruit that that have been in your weekly box.  I also know that I am going to miss seeing and chatting with you every week.  Barb, Bodie and I feel like you are all good friends now!  As with the change of the seasons, there will be a change in the structure of our lives, as winter approaches and we go inside, both physically and emotionally.

We are expecting a freeze tonight, so we will be out harvesting everything that is still growing in the gardens.  There will be allot of tomatoes for you, so take advantage and put some away for the winter.  The Rustic Roasted Tomato Soup recipe that I gave you last week is scrumptious  and so easy to make!

Once we have everything out of the gardens, we will be preparing the beds for next year, by layering sheep manure, grass and leaves, and anything else we can get our hands on that will feed the soil, and then do a light till.  So there is still allot of work to do gathering all of the materials needed.  Hopefully the weather will hold long enough for us to accomplish this.

As we are always in garden mode, even when it is not garden season, it is always good to know who is interested in being a subscriber in next year’s CSA.  This helps us to know how much marketing we need to do to fill up our share program.  As always, I would appreciate your comments on how we can get better at what we do.  What worked for you and what didn’t?  Was there enough food?  Too much?  Were there items you did not like, or that we did not grow?  You input is vital to the success of the CSA, so don’t be shy!  I promise I won’t take it personal.

Todays share will include Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, beets, carrots, scallions, assorted peppers, cherry & heirloom slicing tomatoes, garlic, eggplant and two kinds of winter squash ( Delicata & Buttercup) which I purchased from Boja Farms in Bridger because of our low crop yield.  I will have plenty  of eggs for you today, too, so stock up, as this is the last week that you will be able to get them here.  The girls are loving this cooler weather.

It is my intention to keep the blog going….probably not every week, but on a fairly regular basis to keep the news of what is happening here circulating throughout the community.  I am not a techy person, but I am sure I will have more time this winter to learn the tricks of the internet marketing trade.

See you this afternoon!   4-6 PM.

Blessings…Kate

17 Sep

2014 CSA – 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.

04 Sep

2014 CSA – Week 12

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

2014 CSA – Weeks 10 and 11

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.

 

13 Aug

2014 CSA – Week 9

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.