Week #13 for CSA members

As summer is starting to wind down, we are entering it to the massive harvest season and our members and customers are in for some real treats this year.  For example, members will expect to receive these goodies in Week #13:

  • Purple Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Tomatoes
  • Ground Cherries
  • Cucumbers (slicing)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bok Choy
  • Pears

You’ll see purple beans this week, but our second crop of green beans are ready soon too.  And thanks to a new plow, which makes harvest much easier, we’ll have potatoes for the next few weeks.  Did you see our post last week?  Tomorrow is Eat More Herbs, Less Salt Day.  To celebrate, members are getting a few herbs and the blog post will give you some examples of how to use those herbs.

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Ground Cherry

One of those treats members are getting this week is ground cherries.  Named because they fall from the plant before they are ripe, meaning they are harvested from the ground, these cherries are a little sweet, and slightly nutty.  They are excellent raw as a little snack and I’ve even seen people peel the husk, leaving the husk on, and use it to dip the cherry in some dark chocolate for a real treat!  We’ve got 2 other ideas for you this week:

Ground Cherry vinaigrette  (use for a spinach and raspberry salad with some grilled chicken)

  • 1 cup ground cherries, husks removed
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Put the first 7 ingredients in a food processor and blend.  Slowly add olive oil as you are blending to create a vinaigrette.  If you don’t have a food processor, chop the ground cherries finely and mix with other ingredients, adding olive oil last and whisking with a fork slowly as you add in the olive oil.

Ground Cherry salsa (use on grilled chicken or fish)

  • 3/4 cup ground cherries, husks removed
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

Either put ingredients in a food processor and pulse to salsa consistency.  Or chop cherries, onion, and cilantro to desired size and add in remaining ingredients.

Photo image: Freeimage.com/ Lize Rixt

More Herbs, Less Salt Day is August 29

Did you know Monday, August 29th, is National More Herbs, Less Salt Day?  The internet says this is true, so it must be so.

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Image Credit: Freeimages.com/ Patrizia Schiozzi

So to celebrate, let’s do a little round up of some common herbs and how you can use them to replace salt on August 29 (or any day!)

  • Rosemary (Far left above) If you ever thought the leaves of rosemary looked like that of an evergreen tree, you weren’t far off.  Rosemary is from the same family as evergreens.  Easy to grow, it does well in cool climates, and is fine without water for long periods of time.  It is often used in Italian cuisine, either dried or fresh, as well as for flavoring roasted meats. Store the stems in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but in the vegetable bin and they’ll last two weeks.  Try it tonight on grilled fish.

 

  • Sage (Second from left above)  Sage not only can be grown as a nice herb in a small garden plot, but it is often used as an ornamental plant too.  Sage is most often used in Southern European and Middle Eastern countries, but also commonly found in British cuisine.  It’s often roasted with meat (like chicken saltimbocca or in stuffing).  Wrap it in a damp towel and keep it in the fridge for up to 14 days.  When you’re feeling like fall, try it with some chicken.

 

  • Basil (Middle above)  With over 60 varieties, some species are stronger than others, but each type smells a little like anise.  Basil is commonly used in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines.  Cooking basil destroys the flavor and causes the leaves to turn black, so it’s best to use fresh basil and throw it in after the dish is finished.  If you find yourself with an abundance of basil, puree it with some olive oil and nuts for pesto and freeze it.  This is a much better way to use basil when it is out of season, then using dried basil.  Keep the basil leaves in water, changing it when the water gets cloudy, with plastic wrap over it in the refrigerator and the leaves may last up to 5 days.  While there’s near-endless possibilities for basil, try it with some fresh tomatoes tonight.

 

  • Cilantro (also known as Chinese parsley!) This is a versatile plant; you can use all parts of it; the seeds are often dried and ground to create coriander for Indian and Southeastern Asian cuisine; the stems and leaves are used often in Mexican food.  Some people perceive cilantro as tasting soapy – it’s not that the plant has gone bad, but there are some genes that don’t taste cilantro as though the rest of us who enjoy it.  Best used fresh (since cooking it causes a loss of flavor and freezing or drying loses the aroma), you can store it a glass of water, upright, with plastic over it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.  Make a southwest salad tonight with it.

 

  • Mint (Far right above)  If you need to fill up a garden or flower bed, plant a little mint and watch it take off (some varieties are actually considered invasive)!  Very unlike the mint flavoring you may think of in candy or gum, it has a mild sweet taste with a slight cool aftertaste.  It is most commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine and fresh is preferred to dried.  Store it similar to basil and cilantro and you can keep it in your fridge for 10 days.  Try some in a mojito or add it some fresh peas.

 

  • Parsley (not pictured)  Widely used in American, Middle Eastern, and European cuisine, you may recognize it as a garnish, but the flat-leaf variety is actually very good in recipes too.  You can store parsley wrapped in a damp towel and in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for a month or more.  Need a new side dish for summer cookouts?  Try parsley in tabbouleh.

 

  • Thyme (not pictured) Although fresh is superior to dried, getting the tiny leaves separated from the woody stem, which you do not want to eat, can be time consuming.  So dried can typically be substituted for fresh without much compromising.  You’ll find it mostly used in eastern Mediterranean cooking.  Store it up to 10 days in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp towel and in plastic.  Try it in a burger tonight.

How do you plan to celebrate More Herbs, Less Salt Day?  Leave us a picture on Facebook!

Welcome to Week #12

For those of you keeping score at home we’re up to week 12 already!  What goodies are in store for our members and customers?

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Cilantro
  • Hot Peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Kohlrabi
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Image credit: Freeimages.com/John Smith

Our members are receiving some heirloom tomato varieties this week.  What makes heirloom so special?  The seeds are open pollinated- meaning they don’t rely on human intervention to create new seeds.  Heirloom seeds are unaltered (no GMO here!) and as a result, tend to stay pretty consistent These seeds are the descendants of our descendants plants!  We have several different types of heirlooms at Kellner Back Acre, including peppers, lettuce, and pumpkins.  But for tomatoes, we are happy to offer our customers Cherokee Purple (also known as “ugly”); Amish Paste; and Red Zebra.

Our certified-organic raspberries are ready for picking. Contact Nancy to arrange a picking time.  We’re picking as fast as we can, so we’ll try to have some at markets and in the farm store too for those of you who would rather just pick some up.

For those of you starting to get overwhelmed by the tomatoes as we are in the midst of the season (and you aren’t ready to start canning), check out some recipes here: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/fresh-tomato-recipes.  The recipe I’m most looking forward to trying – Cheese & Olive Stuffed Tomatoes!

Cheese & Olive Stuffed Tomatoes (4 servings)

  • 4 tomatoes (use the Purple Cherokees from your CSA share)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (or you could use goat cheese)
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata (or black) olives
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Cut off tops of tomatoes.  Scoop out flesh of tomato, creating a bowl.  Mix the seeds and flesh with cheese, olives, and herbs.  Then fill the tomato bowls with the mixture.  Put the tomatoes in baking pan and put under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes start to blister and cheese melts and browns on top.

Great side dish for some Italian-seasoned chicken.  Or good as a light dinner with a side salad.  Enjoy!

 

 

The Dirt on Composting

EPATwo weeks ago, we told you about the problem of food waste and ways you can reduce that and how we are helping in this process.  When you can’t reduce the waste or reuse it, composting can make a big impact on reducing the waste in landfills (where it often creates greenhouse gases).  So we’re going to give you the real dirt on composting today.

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So what’s the point of composting?  Not only does it reduce food waste in landfills, but it’ll eventually create rich, fertile dirt for your own garden or plants.  You can also use it as mulch, which may help reduce plant diseases.

What goes into composting?  There are four essential ingredients – oxygen, moisture, carbon, and nitrogen.  Oxygen will be provided by the air around us and moisture by rain.  Nitrogen can be provided by green things, such grass clippings.  Livestock manure also provides nitrogen.  Carbon  can be added by throwing brown materials, like twigs and dried leaves into the pile.  So not only can you put in all of your food waste, but all of your yard waste too!  Things you want to avoid – meat scraps that will attract animals; pet feces, which can carry disease; and diseased plants.

How long will this take?  If you plan on piling the materials in a corner of your lawn, it’ll likely take a year or so to create the rich dirt you’ll want to use.  If you are willing to put in some time every few days to tend to the pile, you could have fertile ground in just a few weeks.  USDA has more information on this method.

EPA also has some great resources to help you get started.

 

 

Week #11

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photo credit: Freeimages.com/ Jin Neoh

This is a farm blog (which should not come as news to you).  And for as long as there has been farming, there have been farmers watching, and kvetching, about the weather.  So we would be remiss not to mention the hot, dry weather we have been having.  But luckily for our members and customers, we installed irrigation a few years ago.  This allows our plants to soak up the sunshine, while still receiving some much needed water.  And saves us from the back-breaking work of hauling hoses or buckets to get them that water.  Of course, there are some plants that are LOVING this weather, like our corn and our raspberries, which is coming up nicely.  If you are looking for corn, stop in our farm store – we have some organic bi-colored corn currently for $4/dozen.

Also, new this week we got some baby chicks and our turkeys in.  It’s never too early to think about fall, which leads to Thanksgiving…. so here’s your friendly reminder to pre-order your Thanksgiving bird here.  Of course, we love visitors, so stop in with your pre-order sheet, visit the baby birds, and check out the remodel job we are doing on the front of our farm store.  (Even though we are working hard on a new store front, our store remains open for self service every day and staffed on Fridays through the remodel).

This week members are receiving: Sweet corn, Basil, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Cucumbers, and Kohlrabi.  I love making a side dish of corn, basil, tomatoes and sometimes cucumbers too.  But I was thinking of some fresh, new ways to use these ingredients.  Here’s my brilliant idea for a good, fresh, farmer’s market meal the whole family will love:

Enjoy!

 

 

Scraps you can use

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Regrowing basil

We have environmentally-conscious customers.  So last week we tackled how you can assist in reducing the 90 billion pounds of food waste in landfills each week, including reuse, repurpose and recycle.  Today let’s discuss how you can use some of those scraps you would otherwise toss to grow your own vegetables (and oftentimes in your kitchen windowsill!)

I’m regrowing some Thai basil (above).  Here, I’ve cut several stems that had flowered and removed all the leaves, leaving the flowering section.  In the short term, it acts as a pretty decoration.  In a week or two, I expect to see new basil sprouts!

Avocado.  Technically you can use an avocado pit to grow into an avocado tree; however, avocado trees typically don’t do well in our environment, unless it’s a cold-tolerant variety.  Haas avocados found at most grocery stores are not a cold-tolerant type.  But if you want to keep the tree indoor during the winter months, then take your pit and put 4 toothpicks around the center.  These toothpicks will rest on the sides of a bowl, so the pit is only halfway submerged in water. Put in sunlight and after 3-6 weeks you should start to see the pit split and grow roots.

Basil, cilantro, or green onions.  You can take a cutting of either of these plants and place in a jar of water.  Be sure to change the water a few times per week and keep in a sunny place.  Once the roots have grown about 2″, replant in a pot.

Bok choy or celery.  The base of the stalks should be completely submerged in water.  Within a week, you should start to see new growth.  Replant in a pot once the growth has started.

 

Cabbage or romaine lettuce.  Unlike bok coy or celery, the base should only be placed in small amount of water.  Cabbage and lettuce require sunlight (unlike bok choy and celery).  You should mist the leaves every few days and change the water a few times per week.  Once growth begins, including roots, you can replant in a pot or garden.

Carrot greens.  Using the top of the carrot with the green still intact, place the cut side of the carrot down in a bowl.  Add enough water so the orange top is halfway covered. Once shoots appear, replant.  Then harvest whenever you like (you’ll just be eating the carrot greens and not get actual new carrots from this process).

Garlic greens.  Place bulbs or clove in water so the water is just touching the bottom of the clove or bulb.  Submersing the whole thing will end up in rot.  Place in a sunny area and change water frequently.

Ginger.  Using fresh ginger (not yet frozen), place a chunk in potting soil. It should only receive indirect sunlight.  Once it’s ready to harvest, pull up the root, cut off a chunk, and re-start the process.

Peppers, pumpkins, and tomatoes.  Clean the seeds from these vegetables and you can replant next spring.

Mushrooms or potatoes.  Plant the stalk of the mushroom in soil, covering everything except the very top.  Or for potatoes, cut in half and wait until dry (24 hours).  Then plant.  Harvest when fully grown.

Onions.  Place onion bottom in soil.  Once new roots have formed, remove old onion piece.

Pineapple.  Like those regrowing avocado, this will require a portable planter that can come inside during our winters.  And this is not for the faint of heart – expect to wait 2-3 years to see fruit.  See instructions here.

Are you trying any of these techniques?  Tell us about it on Facebook!

Let’s talk trash

You know what stinks?  All that garbage we produce each year from food waste.  To the tune of 90 BILLION pounds each year.  This costs you $370/year, on average.

trashAs you may already know, a half-share (our most popular CSA offering) costs members $350/year.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Hmm… if I could only figure out a way to reduce my food garbage, saving $370/year, the cost of my CSA is practically a wash.

Here’s how we are aiming to help you:

  1. Planning – each week we provide recipes to aid you with how to use some of the vegetables.  We also provide a chart to all members in our weekly newsletter that describes common preparation methods, as well as how long you can expect to keep that produce fresh in the refrigerator – allowing you to plan which vegetables to eat first to avoid waste.
  2. Quality – since we’re providing you local produce, it is often days fresher than what you would receive in the store . This helps you reduce waste because our produce is likely to last longer than the produce you purchase that has been shipped in from outside the area.
  3. Donate – when you have too much and don’t know what to do with it – donate it.  There’s always food banks willing to accept donations.  We provide excess produce and eggs to our local food bank, which comes in part from CSA shares that aren’t picked up in a particular week because the member is on vacation or too busy.
  4. Compost – if you do have to throw away food, rather then sending it to the local municipal dump (where food trash is the largest contributor), compost it and create your own dirt for planting in the years to come.  We have a large compost pile, which we use for our young plants each year.  If you don’t want your own smelly compost, feel free to drop off your food trash and we’ll compost it.

Want to learn more?  USDA has a great infographic and more education about this initiative here.

Image credit: Freeimages.com/ Marc Garrido i Puig

 

 

 

Week #9 – Halfway point!

I can’t believe we are already halfway through our CSA season this week!  Members can look forward to receiving:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beets

We had an expert forager at the farm this week, who found lots of weeds at Kellner Back Acre (no surprise there).  But she found things like marshmallow root, red raspberry leaf, skull cap, and anise.  Why is this so exciting?  Because we’ll be offering a weed walk to our friends coming very soon.  This expert forager will walk individuals around our property, pointing out various weeds that are edible and their possible benefits.  We’ll then show you how these “weeds” can be used to make your own herbal tea!  Benefiting from our farm all winter long :)  Be sure to watch our Facebook page for more information soon.

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Swiss chard

This week brings two vegetables that some members may not be completely familiar with – kohlrabi and Swiss chard.  Isn’t the Swiss chard beautiful?  Sometimes I just want to put it in a vase because of the beautiful stems.  But that would be a waste of a tasty, and beneficial vegetable.

 

So how do you use that chard?  See our post from earlier in the season to use your greens.  We also had a post in general about how to use extra vegetables each week.  My favorite way to use it is as a side dish – sautéed with a little olive oil.  But if you’re looking for something new, try this Swiss chard tart from Cooking Channel.

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Kohlrabi

 

The kohlrabi is good raw or sautéed.  We like adding it to Asian-flavored noodle bowls with some kale and edamame for a light lunch.  Kohlrabi “fries” are one of my favorites.  But if you want some new ideas, check out this Potato, Corn, and Kohlrabi Chowder.

As always, we love to hear what you’ve made with your weekly share or what you purchased from Kellner Back Acre at the farmer’s market this week.  Leave us a comment in Facebook!

Swiss chard Image credit: Freeimages.com/ Nathalie Dulex

Kohlrabi Image credit: Clipart

Spotlight on Zucchini

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We are coming on that time of year…. zucchini season.  You may feel inundated with zucchini – in your CSA share; at every farmer’s market booth; a bag on your doorstep from your neighbor; free zucchini in the break room at work… you know what I’m talking about.

Benefits

Also known as courgette (in England) or summer squash, zucchini has lots of health benefits.  It’s high in dietary fiber and a good source of manganese and vitamin C, among other things.  These benefits have been found to aid in reducing men’s prostate cancer risk; reducing other cancer risks by ridding toxins from the body; and helping those with arthritis.  High in fiber and water content, it is also an excellent vegetable if you’re looking to lose weight.

Storing

Optimally, this vegetable is stored in a perforated bag in your refrigerator for a few days (5 days maximum). It can be frozen, but given zucchini is 95% water, it needs to be prepared first.   One way to do this is blanching it for about a minute and draining all excess water. (This deactivates the enzymes that would otherwise cause it to turn into a mushy mess once frozen and thawed again). This method is fine for zucchini to use in soups, casseroles, and pasta sauces. But if you intend to use the zucchini in one of the many recipes we have listed below, you probably want to grate the zucchini first; blanch it; then drain the excess water and freeze it. (Instructions from University of Nebraska here).

Uses

If you like…. Try:
Tater tots Zucchini Tots
Fries* Zucchini Fries

 

Zucchini Chips

Pizza* Pizza bites

 

Zucchini pizza

Meatballs Zucchini “meatballs
Breadsticks Cheesy zucchini breadsticks
Lasagna* Zucchini lasagna roll-ups

 

Zucchini lasagna

Tacos* taco stuffed zucchini boats
Noodles* Zucchini noodles
Banana bread Zucchini bread
Brownies Zucchini brownies

 * Denotes recipes that require fresh zucchini and cannot substitute frozen zucchini.

Excited to try some of these recipes?  Visit us at the farmer’s market or come to the farm store to get your zucchini.  Then snap a pic and share it with us on Facebook!

Image credit: Freeimages.com/ Michael & Christa Richert

Week #8 is looking great!

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Photo credit: Freeimages.com/ Lorenzo S.

You may find this weather over the past week a bit oppressive, but if you were a vegetable, you’d be very happy (until that is you were plucked from your warm bed for Sunday dinner)!  We’ve been lucky to get rain when we need it and plenty of sunshine.  As a result, our green peppers and tomatoes are starting to ripen.  Members will see a few in their shares this week, but can expect to see more in the near future. Continue reading