19 Aug

Chinese Chicken Zoodles

Chinese Chicken Zoodles

Serves 2

These Chinese chicken zoodles are a quick and easy 15 minute meal. Packed with flavors from your favorite takeout dish but way healthier for you!

Ingredients

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 medium zucchini, spiralized on blade “D”
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Instructions

Whisk the soy sauce, garlic, coconut sugar, water, sriracha and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add the sauce to the skillet and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and zucchini noodles to the skillet, toss to fully coat in the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes, until the zucchini noodles are just slightly softened. Serve immediately.

18 Aug

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
2 large zucchini or yellow squash, about 12 inches long
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil (may need more, depending on your pan)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 T finely minced fresh garlic
1 lb. ground beef
12 oz. ground turkey
(use any combination of ground meat you’d like
1-2 tsp. seasoning of your choice….fresh herbs are preferred
salt and pepper to taste
2 C flavorful tomato-basil pasta sauce
2 cups mozzarella or other mild white cheese

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Chop onion and green pepper. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a non-stick pan, then sauté onion and pepper for 3-4 minutes, until just starting to soften. Add minced garlic and sauté about 1 minute more, being careful not to brown the garlic. Remove the onion, pepper, and
Remove the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture to a bowl.

Add 2 tsp. more olive oil to the pan. Crumble in the ground beef and ground turkey, season selection of herbs, salt, pepper and cook over medium heat until the meat is well browned. Tilt pan to see if there is any extra fat, and remove with a spoon if there is, then stir cooked vegetables and garlic back into the meat. Add tomato sauce and simmer until the mixture has thickened and liquid has cooked off, about 10 minutes, then turn off heat.

While meat cools, cut zucchini into 2 inch thick slices, discarding ends. Use a sharp spoon or melon baller to hollow out a cup in each zucchini slice, leaving just over 1/4 inch of zucchini flesh. Be careful not to get too close to the skin or the cups will leak liquid when they cook.

Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray and stand up zucchini cups, open end up. Stir 1 1/2 cups grated cheese into the cooled meat mixture (it doesn’t need to be completely cool), then spoon the meat-cheese mixture into zucchini cups, pressing down with the spoon and mounding it up a little over the top of the zucchini.

Bake zucchini cups for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and use remaining cheese to top each one with a generous pinch of cheese. Put back in oven and bake 10-15 minutes more, until zucchini is slightly soft when pierced with a fork and cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

01 Aug

Blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream

Blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream

Need to use up some of that Zucchini? This cake will surely hit that sugar craving spot and with the addition of blueberries, it’s got to be healthy, right? I found the recipe on Pinterest and it is a good one!

Blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream

Ingredients
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white sugar
2 cups finely shredded and drained zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pint fresh blueberries (you can reserve a few for garnish if so desired)

Lemon Buttercream
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 lemon, juice and zest of (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans.
Grate a large zucchini (or two small zucchini) and place in a clean dish towel. Squeeze until most of the liquid comes out. You will want to have 2 total cups of shredded zucchini after it has been drained. Set aside.
In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini.
Slowly add in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans.
Bake 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Lemon Buttercream
Combine butter, sugar and salt and beat till well combined.
Add lemon juice and vanilla and continue to beat for another 3 to 5 minute or until creamy.
Fold in zest*.
*If you are piping this buttercream, I recommend leaving out the zest.

19 Jul

Garden News – July 19, 2017

We have zucchini, which means that summer is really here!  The cucumbers are now just beginning, too, so from now on there will be a plethora of both.  Just remember this when you start complaining that you are getting tired of eating them, because in the deep of winter, you will be missing their wonderful taste!

There are not too many things things in the garden that can handle this heat.  Even the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants aren’t sure if they want to set fruit.

We are starting early each day and harvesting before it gets too hot.  We began seeding our fall crops  this week.  That means that making sure the seed beds stay good and wet is a priority.  Seeds are typically planted shallow and the soil will dry out quickly in this heat.  We always use a light mulch over the new seed beds to retain moisture and keep the soil cool, but it is a challenge with daytime temps well into the 90’s.

Your share this week is another bounty  of goodness.  The last of the tender leaf lettuce, cabbage, beets, rainbow chard, braising mix (all cut up and ready to wash), scallion, dragon radish, haricot vert and basil.  I have some wonderful recipes listed below using some  of  the produce, so let’s get cooking!

Sautéed Greens with Creamy Polenta

First, cook the polenta which will take around 30-40 minutes.   Of course, before serving, add butter and Parmesan to the pot and then taste it, and add more butter and Parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced or 1/2 cup ramps, Chopped
  • 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Bunch Swiss chard, the greens roughly chopped and the stems sliced small. Use the whole plant. You can also use other greens like kale, mustards or spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches hot pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese grated to taste

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add oil, wait 30 seconds and add onions, chard stems, pepper flakes and garlic.  Cook/sauté until they begin to color and the chard stems become tender, but still crunchy. Next, add the greens, lower the heat to medium and cover pan with lid and allow greens to cook for about 3-5 minutes. Taste, season with salt and pepper and serve over creamy polenta. Drizzle a little good quality olive oil over the dish and top with shaved or grated cheese.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad
Recipe from DELANCEY, by Molly Wizenberg (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

Serves 2 to 3

Don’t be put off by the number of steps. The dressing can be made a few days ahead.  This salad is wide open to adaptations and a great vehicle for using up leftovers or odds and ends. Take the recipe and run with it, using whatever vegetables and cooked meats you have on hand. Though it changes the whole concept, try substituting hot freshly cooked rice for the noodles.

The dressing:

3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 to 8 tablespoons water, to taste
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 fresh Thai (also sold as “bird’s eye”) chile, minced

The salad:

8 ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise (can substitute any other cabbage)
1 medium carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 handful chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
8 ounces cooked meat or shrimp, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To prepare the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and the chile. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you’d like more sweetness, add more brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Remember that you’re going to be putting this dressing on unsalted vegetables and noodles: you want the dressing to have a lot of flavor, but it shouldn’t knock you over. Pour into a serving bowl. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for 3 days to a week.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water. Lay out a clean kitchen towel on the countertop, shake the colander to drain away excess water, and then spread the cooked noodles on the towel to drain further.
Divide the noodles between two or three good-sized bowls, depending on the number of diners, and top with the vegetables, herbs, and meat. Scatter the peanuts on top. Allow each person to spoon on dressing to taste. Toss well, and eat. (Alternatively, you can present this salad family-style: Toss the vegetables, herbs, and noodles in a mixing bowl and then mound them on a serving platter. Arrange the meat over the noodles, and top with peanuts. Each diner can scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit.)
I will see you all tomorrow from 4 to 6 for your share pick up.  I thank you all again for your support of Kate’s Garden.  It really means allot to me and even though it has been so hot this season, I am still enjoying being able to provide vital nutritious food for you and your families.  Blessings to you all!

08 Oct

Garden News – October 8, 2015

It has been so enjoyable working out in the garden this week.  The weather has been fantastic…not too hot, not to cold.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will continue for the next couple of weeks so things have a chance to ripen up before the first hard frost.  Looking good so far!

I am trying to decide what I want to plant in the greenhouse for the winter.  The restaurant sales continue to increase, but I only have so much room.  I don’t know if I had mentioned to you that I have applied for a grant through NRDC for a high tunnel.  I will know whether I am approved in early spring, which doesn’t help  me for this season, but it will allow me to extend my growing later into the fall/winter next year, and even grow some winter greens when the cold weather hits. I would then be able to offer early CSA shares for Spring, and late shares for Fall.   It will certainly be a learning experience, but I am really looking forward to being able to provide more food.

We are coming to a close for this season.  There will be one more week for those of you who have full shares and those who purchased half shares that started on week one.  I am hoping that the weather stays nice which will allow those with half shares that started on week two to come on the 22nd, otherwise everyone will have to come on the 15th.  I will let you know….it all depends on whether we get a freeze or not.  There will be a plethora of veggies for your last share.  All of the heavy veggies…winter squash, cabbage, root veggies and whatever else needs to be brought in.   Anyway….there will be lots!

This week take advantage of the tomatoes as there will be boxes full. The herbs like basil are not liking the cold nights, so this weeks harvest is small and will be the last picking.  I will have sage and parsley  for you the last week….that way you will have some herbs for your holiday turkey.

This week’s share will include, beautiful peppers, leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, the last of the green beans, eggplant (finally!), and Swiss chard.

I am including some great recipes to use some of the produce in this week’s share.  I hope you enjoy them.

Grilled Eggplant with Tomato-Caper Salsa

These thick slices of eggplant double as delicious grilled steaks. Combined with the tomato-caper salsa, this is a unique meal with bright flavors that are sure to please any pallet.

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

  • 6  Eggplants
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, plus a little extra
  • 2 lbs. Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons Capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon Sherry Vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat.
  2. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into steaks and brush with olive oil.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, basil, shallots, capers and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Grill the eggplant steaks for five minutes on each side; they should be fork tender with dark score marks.
  5. Arrange on a plate and top with tomato-caper salsa!

I make lots of Ratatouille every year and freeze it!  It’s a great way to use up all of those “last out of the garden” veggies.  I use it in lots of ways…over pasta, added to soups, in omelets.  You are only limited by your imagination!

Ratatouille

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound eggplant, sliced in rounds
1 pound zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 pound bell peppers, sliced
1 pound tomatoes, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Olive oil
Bay leaf
Thyme sprig
Salt and pepper

Directions

Wash and slice all of the vegetables. To peel the tomatoes drop them in boiling water for about 10 seconds and use a sharp paring knife to help slip off the peel.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced eggplant and cook, turning occasionally for five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove the eggplant from the skillet.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and add the zucchini slices. Cook for about five minutes, turning occasionally, then season with salt and pepper and remove from the skillet.
Repeat the procedure for the bell peppers.
Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
Add the tomatoes and the pre-cooked vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers. Stir to combine and then add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
Add the garlic and salt and pepper if needed and cook covered for another 10 minutes.

Green Beans and Carrots Parmesan

Serves: 4

Ingredients

4 carrots, cut into 3″ matchstick
8-10 ounces fresh green beans
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Place a steamer basket in a large pot with 2″ of water.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Place the carrots and green beans in the basket and steam for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
4. Drain and toss with the oil.
5. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with the cheese.

10 Sep

Garden News – September 10, 2015

The garden has really  been coming on strong.  With the cooler nights, the plants are wanting to finish their growing cycle of production because they know fall is coming!  What that means for us is that we are harvesting, harvesting, harvesting! Any special projects that we have planned, like weeding and preparing for winter are just having to wait.  We can barely keep up!  Cooler space is at a premium, too!  That is why it is so important for everyone to get here to pick up your shares, as there is not enough room to store anything extra.

We are hoping that the lettuces, spinach and other greens that we seeded a few weeks ago are liking this cooler weather.  They seem is be up and growing well, which means that we can start harvesting some for you in another week or two.  I don’t  know about you,  but I miss not being able to have  a nice green salad during the heat of the summer.  I love cabbage slaw, braised kale and chard, but lets face it….they are not the same as spring lettuce.  I could live on salad!

I have lots of tomatoes for you this week, so take advantage….recipe for a great roasted tomato pasta is listed below. The smaller early  tomatoes are great for this recipe.  As long as you are at it, make extra and freeze.  Those tomatoes that are going to be in the markets during the long winter season taste like cardboard and are not fit for eating!

The cauliflower has been picked over the  course of the last week and a half.  I wish it would all be ready at the same time, but unfortunately,  that is not the case.  Each head is different and not all are perfect.  They are still good.  When I find a little brown spot, I just scrape it off, or rub with a lemon.  One of my favorite ways to cook it is to roast it, as cauliflower is kind of bland on its own.  Roasting brings out the flavor and the addition of slivered garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar and Parmesan or Romano cheese is over the top.

I will have extra cucumbers out for you  to take, too!  They have been going crazy!  Anything that is not used this week is going to the food bank, as I don’t  have enough room to store them all.

This weeks share will include the beloved zucchini, cucumbers, cauliflower, beets, bell pepper, tomatoes and herbs…Pineapple Sage to try  in the recipe below.   If I find anything else out there that that I have time to  harvest, it will be added to your share.

Enjoy this beautiful weather while you can and see you later today.  If you can remember to bring back those clam shells that would be great.  Tomatoes are hard to package,especially when they are picked ripe!

Here are some great recipes for you to try.

Pineapple Sage Pound Cake

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ cup honey (light wildflower or sage preferred)
5 eggs
2 T chopped pineapple sage leaves (small, new leaves have the most flavor)
3 T chopped pineapple sage flowers (optional)
1 t grated lemon peel
4 T well-squeezed, chopped pineapple
1 t baking powder
2 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in honey. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat one minute after each addition. Beat in sage leaves, flowers and lemon peel. Stir dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture. Fold these together gently until just blended. Pour into 4 mini loaf pans (6”x3”x2”). Bake at 350oF for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Paccheri Pasta with Cauliflower and Spinach

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into flowerets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil (best quality), for drizzling
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sliced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach (about 3 cups)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (best quality)
  • 3 tablespoons capers, with 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound paccheri pasta (large tube) approximately 2.5-inches long by 2-inches wide
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves

Directions

Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil over medium heat, then add in the salt and the cauliflower. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, and saute the garlic and red pepper flakes for 1 minute. Remove the cauliflower from water with a large strainer or spider and add it to the pan with the garlic-red pepper mixture. Saute briefly until starting to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, add in the spinach, cover and let wilt for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and capers with juice and reduce the heat. Remove the cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Return the cauliflower water to boil, adding more water, if necessary, to cook the pasta. Add the pasta add cook to al dente. Remove the pasta from the water and add it to the pan with the sauce, adding a little pasta water, if needed. Stir gently to combine, transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Garnish with the parsley and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta

This pesto is bursting with seasonal flavors and nutrients. Hello lycopene! It’s also quite low in oil thanks to the roasted tomatoes adding body and flavor. I left the almonds chopped and it added a nice texture that was great mixed into pasta or spread on a toasted sandwich. I suggest making some and freezing it for a later date.

Yield: 1 cup pesto

Ingredients:

  • 9 large roma, heirloom or any tomato, sliced in half lengthwise – if really large, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup pinenuts, almonds or walnuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup tightly packed basil + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling on tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Your desired amount of cooked Pasta

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place sliced tomatoes on the sheet and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour and 10 minutes s at 400F. Watch closely during the last 15 minutes of roasting.
2. Reduce oven heat to 325F and toast nuts for 8-10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup into food processor and process until finely chopped. I prefer mine a bit chunky for texture. Remove and set aside.
3. With processor turned on, add 2 garlic cloves and let it whirl around until finely chopped. Now add in the basil and process until finely chopped.
4. Add in the oil, optional nutritional yeast, and 1.5 cups of roasted tomatoes (you will have tomatoes left over). Process until smooth. Pulse in 1/3 cup toasted nuts. Season generously with salt and pepper.
5. Pour your desired amount of pesto over the cooked pasta and mix well. Chop the remaining roasted tomatoes and stir into pasta. Chop remaining nuts and chiffonade the basil.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Shrimp

9 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 (17-ounce) containers Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 hothouse cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 9 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 lemons)
  • 3/4 pound cooked large shrimp, halved
  • Thin slices of lemon, halved, for garnish
  • Fresh dill, for garnish

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt, half-and-half, cucumbers, red onion, scallions, salt, and pepper. Transfer the mixture in batches to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the cucumbers are coarsely pureed and then pour into another bowl. Continue processing the soup until all of it is pureed. Fold in the dill, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until very cold.
Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Serve chilled, garnished with the shrimp, lemon, and fresh dill.

Cream of Zucchini and Anise Soup

Serve this soup either hot or cold.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
6 cups chopped zucchini (from about 6 medium zucchini)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups water
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or whipping cream
2 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur

Additional olive oil

Directions
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped zucchini and chopped onion and sauté
 until onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Add 2 cups water, chopped garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds and thyme sprig. Stir in 2 tablespoons crème fraîche and 2 tablespoons Pernod. Simmer soup uncovered 20 minutes. Remove thyme sprig from soup.
Working in batches, purée soup in processor until smooth. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Return to saucepan and rewarm over medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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.

06 Sep

Zucchini Pizza Boats

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

 

zucchini-pizza-boatsZucchini Pizza Boats

Yield: 12 boats, about 6 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

 

05 Sep

Late-Summer Minestrone

Here’s a great soup recipe to freeze!

Late Season Minestroni

Late-Summer Minestrone

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

 

24 Aug

Linguine and Zucchini with Bagna Cauda Sauce

6 servings

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

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