12 Sep

Corn, Black Beans, and Tomato Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Corn, Black Beans, and Tomato Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Serves 5
Ingredients:

3 large pattypan squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
2 ears corn, kernels cut off
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Put the squash in a large pot with about 1 inch of water. Cover pot, bring water to a boil, and let the squash steam until they begin to get tender (about 7 min). Remove squash from pot and let them cool. Once they’ve cooled, cut off stems and scoop out as much of the inside of each squash as possible. Roughly chop the scooped out squash and set it aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Saute onion until it’s tender, and then add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in chopped squash, beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices and cook for a few minutes. Place the squash shells into a large baking dish and stuff them with the bean mixture. Top each squash with a pinch of cheese. You will likely have tons of the bean mixture left, so pour this into the dish around the squash shells or bake it in a separate dish. Bake at 350 for 20 min.

13 Aug

Salad Primavera

Serving Size: 8

Ingredients

• 1 Cup Basmati Rice
• 8 oz Flavored Tofu, drained and diced
• 2 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
• 4 Green Onions, chopped
• 1/2 Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
• 1 Cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
• 1 Yellow or Green Summer Squash, diced
• 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
• 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
• 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Instructions
1. In a medium sauce pan bring two cups of water and the rice to boiling. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy.
2. Remove the rice from the heat. Cool and transfer to a large serving bowl.
3. Add tofu, tomatoes, green onion, bell pepper, cucumber, and squash to the rice and stir to combine.
4. In a blender or small bowl with whisk, quickly blend together the vinegar, mustard and olive oil to create and emulsion dressing.
5. Drizzle the dressing over the rice mixture and toss to combine.
6. Serve and Enjoy!

 

14 Oct

Garden News – October 14, 2015

The gardens are really slowing down now, with the cooler nights and shorter days.  The leaves are falling and some of the trees are already bare while others are slow to let go of their fall clothes!  As I walk around the yard there is a crunch where there once was soft grass.  I guess it is time for one last mowing and then the raking that will go on for several more weeks.

That wind last Sunday did some damage here.  Three sections of my cedar fence went down.  The  4X4 cedar posts snapped off at the ground.  John Pugrud, my savior, will be coming to fix everything this week.  I don’t know what I would  do without him.  Thank you, John!  Some of the wire fence for the tomatoes also blew down.   The tomatoes are so heavy right now, but I am not going to worry, as I will be harvesting them all soon, depending on whether it freezes of not.

My friends Steven and Robin Earles are also bringing me lots of leaves and grass clippings that I will be spreading over my gardens getting them ready for bed.  Thank you Robin and Steve!  The garden and I love you!  I am also bringing in manure.  A light tilling will then be done and the garden will be ready for winter sleep.  Rest and rejuvenation are important….for me too!

This is the final pick up for the following subscribers.  Virginia Bryan, John Pugrud, Charis Cravens, Sonya Whiteley, Lindsey James, Paula Larsen, Vanessa McNeill, Merita Murdock, Kat Pakora, Alicia Pettys, Kerry Sandelin, Sue Tanner, Carol Wardell, Jordan Westerholm, Nancy Wilkin,  Mike Williams.

These remaining subscribers will pick up their last share on October 22nd.  Susan Baak, Jessie Browning, Annika Charter Williams, Steve Charter, David Duke, Pamela Gustafson, James Haney, Halcyon LaPoint, Paula & Tom Larsen, Vanessa McNeill, Nanette Kuhl.

I am not quite sure what the selection will be in your share this week, but for sure there will be  winter squash, eggplant, bell peppers, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, dry onions, broccoli side shoots, red cabbage, tomatoes and cucumbers.  With a possible frost and even a freeze looming just around the corner, I will be trying to time the harvest getting the more tender veggies out of the garden first. It is really dry out there and things are still growing, so I had to water with city water this week  as the water in the canal is too low to pump anymore.  The county empties the canal on the 15th of October.

With the crisp fall temperatures, its time to start thinking about those meals that feed the body and spirit….I like to call them “Soul Foods”.

Creamy Winter Greens Gratin

Serves four as a side dish.

You can make this gratin with your choice of spinach, Swiss chard, kale, or broccoli raab. You’ll need to boil the greens first, following the instructions below. You can also substitute any hard cheese for the Parmigiano.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2-1/2 oz. bacon (about 3 strips) or 1-1/2 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
2 cups cooked winter greens (spinach, Swiss chard, kale, or broccoli raab)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or a combination of Parmigiano and another hard cheese like Gruyère, Emmental, or aged Gouda

Prep and cook the greens:

To get the 2 cups of cooked greens you need for the gratin, be sure to start out with the amount of raw greens specified below.

Cut off and discard the tough stems (use a small, sharp paring knife and trim around the stem). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, submerge all the greens, and cook just until tender (see cooking times below). Drain well and then spread on a towel to absorb excess moisture. If the greens still seem very wet, squeeze them gently to remove excess liquid.

Spinach
Start with 1 lb. mature spinach, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped to yield about 7 cups tightly packed (or 12 oz.); cook for 30 seconds, just until wilted.

Broccoli raab
Start with a 1-lb. bunch broccoli raab, tough lower stems removed (almost half the bunch), as well as any discolored leaves, and the rest very roughly chopped to yield about 6 heaping cups; cook for 2 min.

Swiss chard
Start with 1-3/4 lb. chard, stems cut away and reserved for another use (slice, freeze, and add to your next vegetable soup) and leaves roughly chopped to yield about 9-1/2 cups (or 12 oz.); cook for 1 min.

Kale
Start with 1-1/4 pounds kale, tough stems trimmed away, leaves roughly chopped to yield 6 cups tightly packed; cook for 8 min.
Assemble and bake the gratin:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Have ready a shallow 4-cup ceramic gratin dish or casserole dish (any shape is fine as long as it’s shallow). Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter and toss it in a small bowl with the breadcrumbs and a pinch of kosher salt and a little ground pepper; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and garlic to a boil over medium-high heat (watch that it doesn’t boil over), immediately lower the heat, and simmer vigorously until the cream reduces to about 3/4 cup, 4 to 8 min. (Don’t over-reduce.) Take the pan off the heat and remove and discard the garlic cloves. Let the cream cool slightly, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming. Season with 1/4 tsp. of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat until crisped and browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels, and carefully pour off most of the excess fat in the skillet (but don’t wipe it clean). Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter to the skillet and let it melt. Add the cooked greens, season with 1/4 tsp. salt if using bacon (omit the salt if using pancetta), and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Transfer the greens to the gratin dish and spread them evenly.

Crumble the bacon or pancetta over the greens. Sprinkle on the cheese. Pour the seasoned cream over all, and top with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until the gratin is brown and bubbly, about 25 min. Let rest for 10 to 15 min. before serving.

For a change, serve these gratins individually. Just divide ingredients among four small gratin dishes and bake as directed above.

Emeril’s Favorite Cabbage

8 to 10 servings

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 head green or white cabbage (about 3 1/2 pounds), cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
Directions

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until browned and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, salt, cayenne, black pepper, sugar, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir to mix well. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage just begins to wilt or soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the beer. Stir to mix.
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

Thai Squash Soup

Refreshing and earthy, this recipe puts a Thai twist on winter squash soup.

Serves: 4
Ingredients

  • 6 shallots, unpeeled
  • 1 can (13 1/2 ounces) light coconut milk
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro + 1 tablespoon chopped, for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions, green parts only
  • ground black pepper

Directions
1. Preheat the broiler. Spray a sheet of heavy foil with organic cooking spray and place the shallots on top. When the broiler is ready, broil the shallots, turning occasionally, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened and blackened. Remove from the broiler, let cool, then peel and halve them lengthwise.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the shallots, coconut milk, broth, squash, and the 1/w cup of cilantro. Cook just until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat, add the salt, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Stir in the fish sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
3. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of the minced scallion greens and the chopped cilantro and season with pepper to taste.
Recipe Tips
To make an edible soup bowl, cut a thin slice from the bottom of a small pumpkin or squash. Cut off the top and scoop out the insides, leaving at least 1/2″ of shell intact. The bowl may be cooked or served raw if it’s cooked, you can eat it when you’ve finished the soup!

***This is important!  Be sure and let me know if you are coming to pick up your share.  I know  it might be confusing with this last pick up because of the half shares.  It is confusing to me, too!  Just give me a call, or send an email to confirm that you are  coming, or if you have questions.

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.