22 Oct

Garden News – October 22, 2015

The final week for the CSA half shares is here.  The following subscribers will pick up their last box today, Thursday the 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.  If you cannot be here, please let me know ahead of time.

Your share this week will include red cabbage, beautiful peppers, beets, dry onions, leaf lettuce, swiss chard, eggplant, French pumpkin (Galeaux de Parisienne), winter squash (several choices) cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and a few cucumbers and summer squash.

Barb and I will be making sauerkraut today, too,  with the Late Dutch White cabbages that are still out in the gardens.  If any of you are wanting to make kraut or cabbage rolls this is the best cabbage to use.  These cabbages will be available to purchase over the next week or so as well as the late plantings of lettuces and oriental greens.   I have to harvest them before it get really cold.  I also have an abundant supply of eggplant and several varieties of peppers, from mild to hot, if you are wanting to make conserves, relishes, or casseroles to freeze.  Stuffed peppers anyone?

I am honored and excited to have been invited to provide my garden veggies for this upcoming harvest dinner at The Fieldhouse.   ‘http://www.thefieldhousemt.com/#!home/mainPage   The food and wine will be sensational.  I might even get to help out in the kitchen!  You  all know how I love to cook. Won’t you join us and show your support for a local restaurant that is doing it right!

I will be getting the garden ready for next year over the next few weeks.  Just brought in 9 yards of compost and will be hauling sheep manure from Barb’s farm.  The manure and compost along with dried leaves, grass clippings and feather meal will be layered over each bed and planting area and then lightly tilled in.   The 4 compost bins are filled to the tops with all of the garden waste that we have cleaned out of the beds.  They will slowly breakdown over the winter.  Once everything is done, I will be spending time getting my house back in order from the summer neglect, planning next years garden and maybe find time to read some good books!  My body is needing a break from all of the heavy garden work!

I will be sending out the information on next year’s CSA sometime after the first of the year.  I hope you will be joining us again.  I am always interested in your feedback regarding your experience with the CSA.  Not everyone is suited for the CSA business model.  It works for some…and not for others.  Your input will help me determine what needs to be improved and the ways to make the CSA work better for it’s members. Constructive critique is always good!

I am including some recipes using some of the veggies in your final box.

Walnut Raisin Pumpkin Bread


Two loaves….one to eat and one to share

Ingredients:

4 eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup oil
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.) or your own puree made from baked fresh pumpkin
I cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two loaf pans.

Step 2:  Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together.

Step 3:  In a separate bowl mix together eggs, sugar and oil.
Add vanilla.
Add pumpkin.
Then slowly add flour mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
Lastly, stir in raisins and walnuts.

Step 4:  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to an hour.

Let cool.  Then slice and serve.

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Peppers

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Good quality cooking oil or olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • salt + pepper
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
  • ½ cup chopped parsley, more for garnish
  • 1 cup short grain rice, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes, drained
  • ½ tsp hot paprika
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2¼ cup water
  • 6 bell peppers, any colors, tops removed, cored
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (or water)

Instructions

  1. In a medium heavy pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Sauté the chopped onions until golden. Now add the meat and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned. Season with salt, pepper, allspice and garlic powder. Stir in the chickpeas and cook briefly.
  2. To the same pot, now add the parsley, rice, paprika and tomato sauce; stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a high simmer until liquid has reduced by one half.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and no longer hard nor too chewy.
  4. While the rice is cooking, heat a gas grill to medium-high. Grill the bell peppers for 10-15 minutes, covered. Be sure to turn the peppers occasionally so that all sides get charred. Remove from the grill and let cool briefly.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Assemble the bell peppers, open-side up, in a baking dish filled with ¾ cup broth or water. Spoon in the cooked rice mixture to stuff each of the peppers to the very top.
  7. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place it in the 350 degree F heated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley, if you like. Serve immediately with your favorite salad and a side of Greek yogurt.

Loaded Eggplant Rounds

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

Serves: 4Ingredients

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

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

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

I will be sending out newsletters throughout the winter when there are interesting things happening here at Kate’s Garden and Scents of Balance.  I know that some of you don’t really read my musings, so if you would prefer to not receive them, please let me know and I will remove you from my list.  I will, however, contact you next year when I determine the structure of the 2016 (Yikes!) CSA.  I have enjoyed visiting with you all during this veggie season and would love for you  to stay in touch.  I wish you well!

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.

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.