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.

08 Aug

Chard Stalk Hummus

Chard Stalk HummusChard Stalk Hummus is a traditional Lebanese dish that resembles baba ghanoush in flavor and texture.  It uses chard stalks in place of the chickpeas to make a rustic dip for raw veggies and pita.  You can use any color of chard stalk.  Each will add its own tint to the dip.

Makes 1 cup

2 cups chopped chard stalks
2 garlic cloves
¼ c tahini
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Swirl of extra virgin olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley for garnishing

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Add the chard stalks and boil for 5-10 minutes depending and how thick they are, until they are very soft.

Drain well squeezing out any excess water, and add the stalks to a food processor, along with the garlic, tahini, salt and lemon juice. Pulse continuously until the dip is slightly chunky and still has some bite to it, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Serve with a generous swirl of oil on top and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

07 Aug

Balsamic Oven-Roasted Green Beans

Fresh green beans cut in half, tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, seasonings and aged balsamic vinegar then quick roasted in the oven til tender, slightly caramelized and crispy around the edges.

Serves: 3

Ingredients

3/4 lb. of green beans, ends trimmed
2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt, to taste (I recommend Pink Himalayan, Celtic)
Homemade lemon pepper seasoning (or cracked black pepper), to taste
Granulated garlic, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2-3 teaspoons of good quality, aged balsamic vinegar

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash, dry and trim the ends off the green beans. Line a large baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the green beans in a pile in the middle. Pour the olive oil over the beans and mix them around so they’re evenly coated. Season to taste with the salt, lemon pepper (or cracked black pepper), granulated garlic and crushed red pepper. Spread the beans out across the pan giving as much space between the individual beans as possible. Shake or measure out the balsamic vinegar over the beans. Bake for 10 minutes, stir the beans and then bake for another 5-10 minutes. If you like your beans more crisp tender, you’ll probably want to pull them out after 15 minutes. I cooked mine for 20 so they would carmelize more.

Notes & Tips
If you prefer fresh ingredients, toss in sliced onion and diced garlic with the beans.

I hope you are enjoying your CSA share. I always welcome your input and suggestions, so please don’t be shy about offering them. If you have any favorite recipes that you would like to share with the CSA members, please send them to me and I will include them in my newsletter.

See you soon, and don’t forget to call if you are not coming to pick up your share.

06 Aug

Garden News – August 6,2015

Hi everyone!  What a storm we had here last evening!  I had every intention of posting this blog last night, but I was outside buttoning down the greenhouse and shop and bringing things in that would blow away.  I just now came in from  harvesting for your CSA box.  It is now almost 4 o’clock and I will be seeing you all soon.  So, apologies for getting this out late.  This is my life at Kate’s Garden.  The garden is a stern mistress.  I abide by her schedule….not mine.

It’s definitely not going to be a night shade year.  The tomatoes are half the height and fullness that they were last year.  Same for the peppers.  The eggplants are not even flowering yet.  Other growers are having the same problems, so I know it is not just me.  Thankfully, the cucumbers and zucchini are doing well.  I harvested over 50# of cucs over the last two days.  If any of you are wanting to make fresh refrigerator pickles or dills, let me know.  I can set some aside for you so that they will be harvested the day before you need them.  I also have fresh dill and garlic.  You will need to pre-order so that I can plan the harvest.  I also have Italian basil that can be made into pesto and put into your freezer to use during the winter.  Let me know if you need any.  I can supply you with recipes, too.  With all of the weather challenges going on all over the country, I have a feeling that the availability of many fruits and vegetable will be much less in the supermarket winter and the prices will be much higher.  I encourage you to do a little canning, freezing and dehydrating with some of your CSA share.  It’s a great way to reduce your trips to the grocery store and will certainly save you money.  You will be eating healthy, organic food, too!

03 Aug

Lemon Basil Shrimp and Pasta

A zesty one-pot shrimp and pasta dish is complete after tossing with capers, basil, olive oil, and lemon juice. Serve with focaccia or crusty baguette.

4 servings
Ingredients

3 quarts water
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups baby spinach

Preparation

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Stir in basil and next 4 ingredients (through salt). Place 1/2 cup spinach on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture.

02 Aug

Basil-Nut Pesto Cubes

Serving Size: 3 Cups
Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 Cup Walnut or Pecan Pieces
  • 12 Cups Basil Leaves, loosely packed
  • 8 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Instructions

  1. In a food processor pulse the nuts, basil and garlic until nuts are crumbled and mixture is uniformly green.
  2. Set food processor to blend and steadily stream in olive oil to create an emulsion.
  3. Add the parmesan cheese and lemon juice and puree until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Ladle into 1/2 cup ice cube molds and press plastic wrap over the surface of the mixture to seal out any air. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight and then transfer to freezer bags for long term storage!
  6. Defrost and use in place of store-bought pesto all year round!

…and here is a great, easy kale salad recipe.  The lacinato kale you received in your share today is great, however, you can use any type of kale.

01 Aug

Overnight Kale Salad

Overnight Kale Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

3 tbsp champagne or other white wine vinegar
2 tbsp finely minced shallot
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 bunches dinosaur or curly kale (about 1 lb), center ribs and stems  removed, leaves sliced into thin   ribbons
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Directions

1. Whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Toss kale in dressing to coat evenly. (The dressing will seem light, but the kale will wilt down to half its volume.)

3. Transfer kale to a lidded container and refrigerate overnight. To serve, divide kale among plates and top with pomegranate seeds, grated cheese, and pine nuts.