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Farm Share Week 12

As you scope the flyers for last-minute back to school gear and perhaps sneak in a few last camping or beach trips, we are doing the last of the seeding (mostly for greenhouse crops now) and beginning to harvest some fall crops, such as cabbage and squash.

Many of our students who work on the farm are also heading back to school, which co-incides nicely with our reduced labour needs as we near fall. There is very little planting and less weeding to be done now, but still a whole lot of harvesting. In fact, I believe the tradition of giving the kids a summer break originated with the need for their help on family farms during the summer months. A lot has changed since then!

We still have loads and loads of tomatoes, so if you plan to do your own canning or freezing, now would be a great time to pick up some larger quantities from the farm store, open Fridays and Saturdays. Looks like we have another week of green peppers, although some of the peppers are thinking about turning red and yellow, so hopefully next week they will be extra sweet. The carrots are looking fuller and the lettuce is back to its big, beautiful self again- phew! Lettuce prefers the air to be a little cooler. New this week is celery, which I think is looking great. Celery is suprisingly hard to grow- it demands a lot from the soil and is greedy for water. It may be a slightly darker green than you are used to, but this also means it contains more densely packed nutrients like iron. Ths snow peas are doing very well with the cooler nights, and we will probably have them just one more week, so savour them!

So, here’s the list:

Half Share

  • red beets (remember, save the leaves and use as swiss chard)
  • snow peas
  • field tomatoes (best flavour if left on your countertop)
  • cucumber
  • carrots
  • red swiss chard
  • romaine lettuce
  • celery
  • green peppers (don’t worry if you see one that’s a lighter or yellow-ish green. They are just yellow peppers that have not turned yet)
  • watermelon (yellow inside)

Whole Share

  • red beets (remember, save the leaves and use as swiss chard)
  • snow peas
  • field tomatoes (best flavour if left on your countertop)
  • cucumber
  • carrots
  • red swiss chard
  • romaine lettuce
  • celery
  • green peppers (don’t worry if you see one that’s a lighter or yellow-ish green. They are just yellow peppers that have not turned yet)
  • watermelon (yellow inside)
  • green cabbage
  • campari tomatoes
  • pepper squash
  • oregano
  • garlic
  • red or green leaf lettuce
  • eggplant

And now, what to do with more green peppers?- I say, stuff them! Be creative. Below is what I tried with some pics in case stuffing peppers sounds intimidating. I also use them in sweet and sour pork or chicken, fajitas, on salads or with dip. How do you like to eat your green peppers?

Step 1: Cut top 1 inch off tops of peppers. (save them to use in other recipes)
Step 2: Place in glass baking dish in one inch water, cover with tin foil, and steam in oven for 5-8 minutes or until tender.

Step 3: Fill steamed peppers with favorite filling: I just did chopped campari tomatoes, pesto and a little cheese but a starch would have been nice to absorb the juices (such as rice or quinoa). The recipe I was working from called for onion, garlic, corn, tomatoes, black beans, fresh oregano, parsley & cumin which were sauteed together before adding to the green pepper cups. I think I did it the lazy way, so if you are trying to impress, try sauteeing the filling first and adding some of the other ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Farm Share Week 11

Well it’s week 11 and it’s at the point that you may be thinking of back to school for your kids, or maybe just trying to squeezing some more enjoyment out of the warm, sunny days and cool nights of August. I think this may be my favourite weather combination that our varied climate has to offer.

Along with the cooler nights, the first brave few fall items are appearing. The first few cabbages and even the odd squash was harvested. Look for cabbage next week in your box. I am also hoping that the celery will be ready next week, with a little water and sunshine, and that the skinny carrots will fatten up nicely. Soon as the peppers will be becoming even sweeter and taking on some colourful hues. Though I have not harvested many yet, we grow quite a lot of shepherds peppers, which taste just like the bell peppers but have an elongated form, reminiscent of hot peppers. The sweet peppers are much larger, wider and deeper green or red.

Here are your items this week:

Half Share


Heirloom tomatoes: sometimes striped, yellow, greenish, orange, uniquely shaped or marked with seams- sometimes surprising, always delicious!

  • Grape tomatoes (great for snacking or in salads)
  • Field or heirloom tomatoes (super for sandwiches or burgers)
  • Romaine lettuce (back to it’s big and beautiful self this week)
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Green and yellow beans
  • Cucumber
  • Baby boy choy
  • Radish (remember, you can cook them if you find them too spicy)
  • Green peppers
  • Cantaloupe (or watermelon)

Whole Share

  • Grape tomatoes (great for snacking or in salads)
  • Field or heirloom tomatoes (super for sandwiches or burgers)
  • Romaine lettuce (back to it’s big and beautiful self this week)
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Green and yellow beans
  • Cucumber
  • Baby boy choy
  • Radish (remember, you can cook them if you find them too spicy)
  • Green peppers
  • Cantaloupe (or watermelon)
  • Eggplant
  • Red kale
  • Watermelon
  • Rhubarb
  • Hot Chili Peppers (I harvested them a little early so they are mild)
  • Spanish onions (dry out if you are want them to last longer)
  • Golden beets
  • Roma tomatoes (excellent for cooking or canning

Some cool appetizer ideas:

Tomato, Cucumber & Melon Skewers (adapted from www.bettycrocker.com)

Ingredients

  • 6 saladette tomatoes, halved
  • 12 balls or cubes (1 inch) cantaloupe
  • 12 balls or cubes (1 inch) cucumber
  • 12 bamboo skewers (or toothpicks)
  • 1 tablespoon real maple or maple-flavored syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Thread 1 cantaloupe ball/cube, 1 cucumber ball/cube and 1 tomato onto each skewer.

2. In small bowl, beat syrup, vinegar, oil and parsley until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over skewers.

Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Skewers from www.foodnetwork.com (if you have leftovers from last week) I think I am going to try these as samples for the “Meet Your Farmer” event Thursday August 23 at the Uxbridge Arena.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) watermelon, cut into 32 (1 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 32 small basil leaves (or torn larger leaves)
  • 16 saladette tomatoes, quartered or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Special equipment: 16 (6-inch) skewers (or use toothpicks)

Directions

1. Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Starting with the watermelon squares, push the watermelon to the very tip of the skewer. Then skewer a basil leaf, then a tomato half. Continue with another watermelon, basil leaf, and tomato half. Place the skewer on a serving platter so it stands upright, using the lowest watermelon square as a base. Continue with the remaining skewers.

3. Drizzle the skewers with the reserved balsamic syrup and the olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve.

Tomato, Cucumber & Feta Bruschetta (this one’s original so the quantities are approximate) Who doesn’t love bruschetta? I wanted to make this restaurant favourite and wondered, why can’t the cucumber join in too?

Ingredients

  • 1 small loaf whole grain fresh bread, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 clamshell saladette or campari tomatoes, cut into 1-in pieces
  • 1 small cucumber, cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter (enough to spread over bread)
  • garlic, chopped, to taste
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar (if desired- I wanted to add a pickle taste to the cucumbers, marinating the cucumbers for a few hours first would have been tastier).
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Pepper and other seasonings (ie. basil and oregano) to taste)

Directions

1.  Butter bread and let it crisp lightly in the oven on broil (watch closely!)

2. Mix tomatoes, cucumber, cider vinegar, garlic, seasonings and feta together in a bowl. Take lightly toasted bread out of oven and spread mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle grated mozzarella on top and broil till cheese is melted and lightly browned. The tomato and cucumber ended up very lightly cooked, which suited me fine.

Serves 6 as an appetizer.

Below: Why not add seasonal items to your go-to recipes? Some summer chili with fresh heirlooms, zucchini, eggplant and green peppers in the slow-cooker made a nice meal to come home to after a long day at the farm.

Enjoy all!

 

 
Sheppard peppers: We’re sweet, not hot!

 

Farm Share Week 10

Wow- are we half way through the season already?

Now is a good time to pause and think- am I getting everything I can out of my Farm Share? Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help, and I will try to make it happen if possible. Are you struggling to use a certain item? Let me know and I can post some recipes for that particular item.

This week we have watermelon for one and all! Let me assure you that the dark flesh is normal for the variety and the insides are a nice juicy pink like the typical supermarket watermelon. However, our melons get to ripen on the vine, since they don’t have to be harvested before they are ready to get prepared for cross-continental travel. I am sure you will taste the difference! I discoveredsome marvellous tips for selecting a ripe melon from one of our Jamaican workers. Apparently they grow watermelon in Jamaica too, which I think is a little unfair considering they are also able to grow tropical fruits like pineapple. Nonetheless, he introduced me to the “knock test”. While a sizeable yellow spot and more visible pattern emerging on the skin are also clues, giving the melon a knock with your knuckes should produce a hollow sound in a ripe melon, reminiscent of coconuts. I will admit that I may have knocked out a few beats while testing the melons.

Image

Stunning flowers of the okra plant- nice enough for a bouquet!

Here is your list of veggies for this week:

Half Share

  • green beans
  • cucumber
  • saladette tomatoes
  • green leaf lettuce
  • red kale
  • green peppers
  • eggplant
  • watermelon
  • potted bail
  • golden beets

Whole Share

  • green beans
  • cucumber
  • saladette tomatoes
  • green leaf lettuce
  • red kale
  • green peppers
  • eggplant
  • watermelon
  • potted bail
  • golden beets
  • heirloom or field tomatoes
  • okra
  • green swiss chard
  • red leaf lettuce
  • onion chives
  • fennel
  • sugar snap peas

And for the recipes:

Pasta-Less Eggplant Lasagna from www.foodnetwork.ca

Image

Tasty Lasagna minus the pasta!

 

Ingredients

  • large eggplant, very thinly sliced – think Paper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oi
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1- 1½ cups cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package Italian Veggie Ground Round
  • 3 cups Tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 2-2½ cups low fat Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

(Feel free to substitute based on what you have: I used an italian mixed cheese, added Italian seasonings and pepper, and substituted some of the eggplant with zucchini based on what I had in my fridge.)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the onions, garlic and Italian ground round. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the ground round is cooked through (about 5 minutes or so).
  2. In the meantime, baste the eggplant slices with olive oil and broil until they are brown around the edges and soft in the center (about 2-3 minutes per side). Remove from oven.
  3. Lower the heat to 350°F/180°C
  4. Layer the “lasagna” in an ovenproof dish as follows:
    • Thin layer of tomato sauce
    • Layer of eggplant slices
    • Thin layer of grated mozzarella
    • All the ground round mixture
    • Thin layer of sauce
    • All the ricotta, evenly spread over the sauce
    • Layer of fresh basil
    • Rest of the eggplant (I saved a few pieces for garnish)
    • More sauce
    • Lots of mozzarella
    • Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes. The top will be golden and it will be bubbling around the edges. Serve with salad.

Beef, Beet and Cabbage Soup from www.yummly.com with some extra veggies.

Image

Beef, beet and cabbage soup. Not the world’s prettiest photo, but it was easy, tasty, and satisfying.

I made this up to use leftover beets and other items in my fridge and have something to eat after a long day on the farm. I heated some fresh crusty buns that I had frozen in the oven, and they tasted like freshly baked bread, which made for a nice accompanyment.  

Ingredients

  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. stewing beef, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced)
  • 6 small beets cut into quarters
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 cups cabbage, sliced (I used Chinese cabbage)
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 L of beef broth or veggie broth

Directions

1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil and add the beef chunks. Brown about 10 mins. and trasfer to slow cooker.

2. Add onions to pan and cook about 5 minutes. Add to slow cooker with remainder of ingredients.

3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

4. Come home to a nice, hot, home-cooked meal and serve with fresh bread, or cheat and heat up previously frozen buns in the oven at 380 degrees. Remember to keep a close eye on them to prevent burning!

Hope you have fun experimenting this week!

-Jennifer

 

 

Farm Share Week 9

Greetings from Huntsville!

Doug, Tytus and I are taking a break from the busy growing season to relax with family in beautiful cottage country for the week. There is naturally a lot of time spent on the lake and of course, lots of salads and grilled veggies. Our grilled cauliflower, zucchini, garlic scapes, mushrooms and onions seasoned with lemon juice, pepper and garlic powder and cooked about 25 mins on the grill was a hit even with family members that don’t quite share my love of veggies. New this week for everyone is eggplant, a vegetable that can be very versatile and hearty. Try it in last post’s curry, in eggplant parmesean, or grilled on the barbecue.

I hope your summers are filled with fun days soaking up the sun and filling up on vegetables and fruit. This week I am “on-call” to make sure everyone gets their veggies, while the wonderful staff at the farm fill in the gaps and share the work we (Doug and I) left behind. Here is your list of fresh produce for the week, as well as a recipe for Greek inspired Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad. While not everyone got watermelon this week, you can be sure that watermelon is in your future.

Half Share

  • carrots
  • beets
  • snow peas
  • mini field tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • zucchini
  • red or green swiss chard
  • red leaf lettuce
  • eggplant
  • grape tomatoes

Whole Share

  • carrots
  • beets
  • snow peas
  • mini field tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • zucchini
  • red or green swiss chard
  • red leaf lettuce
  • eggplant
  • grape tomatoes
  • leeks
  • black kale
  • romaine
  • watermelon
  • garlic scapes
  • yellow beans
  • sugar snap peas

 

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad from cook-eat-love.com

Note: the one pictured here that I made did not have balsamic vinegar (we had none) and was still delish. I definately think the balsamic would have added a depth to the flavour.

Ingredients

  • 1 watermelon, chopped into 1 inch cubes with seeds removed
  • 1 cup or more feta, crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (we added lemon juice instead)
  • black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Cut watermelon into 1 inch cubes and remove the seeds as you go.

2. Add feta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped mint and pepper and toss. For a fancier salad, cut into balls with a melon baller and use the watermelon rind as a bowl.

Happy Summer everyone! 

Farm Share Week 8

Hello from the fields of Zephy Organics!

This week on the farm we had our classic Tuesday thunderstorm. It is funny how often the storms land on a Tuesday, so we were busily picking peas until the storm really looked like it was picking up. We ended up waddle-running (how one hurries while carrying heavy bushels) when the rain and wind really started pelting at us. Later, a young girl from my church came with her dad to help out. She slid around in the mud with me trying to harvest those delicious tomatoes in the rain (no lightning at this point, don’t worry). What a satisfying experience that was, after scouring the field weeks on end for that one red tomato here or there, to see the whole thing decorated with vibrant red bite-sized wonders! What a trooper she was, and what a blessing to have an extra pair of hands and some company. We had to laugh at how ridiculous it can get out there in the field sometimes.

Our watermelon aren’t quite at their full potential yet, but next week they should be a nice vibrant pink insiide (they start out white inside and just eadible in taste). The okra plants with their gorgeous cream and violet blooms are starting to produce a little more, and we harvested the first eggplants from the fields. Soon everyone will get a taste. Also, sweet peppers should be ready soon, just the green ones, as they take longer to ripen into the sweeter coloured peppers. Sadly, the beans are done for now- the field mostly has blemished and old beans now, in diminishing numbers.

In the spirit of Carribana coming to Toronto this weekend, we have okra and calliloo (large green leafy vegetable) which can be used in curries, done up like spinach stir-fry (calliloo) or made into soup. The Jamaican workers on our farm love these, and they are hard to come by in Canada, although they seem to thrive in our climate. Here are the best 2 recipes I found, one vegetarian http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Moosewood-Callaloo-Greens-Stew-Recipezaar and one traditional http://latinfood.about.com/od/maindishes/r/Callaloo-Recipe.htm. I have not tried it yet but hope to soon.

On a positive note, we have lovely golden beets this week. The taste is slightly different, with a bright yellow hue when cooked. Beet lovers will tell you roasting is the way to cook them to bring out the flavour. I tried roasting some odds and ends this week in the oven, and found the same for the other veggies. I drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with seasonings and let them cook, covered at 400 degrees for 45 mins or so (they took a long time so I kept checking). Don’t forget to put a little water in the bottom- I think the lack of water made mine take longer to cook. You could also cut them into much smaller pieces so they are ready to go. That’s a glass baking dish I used with tin foil to cover.

Roasting brings out the best in many vegetables and it marvellously easy- I was playing at the nearby park with my son when our zucchini, potatotes, tomatoes, carrots and fennel roasted in the oven.

So, here are the fresh veggies looking to find a place in your bellies this week:

Half Share
-carrots
-golden beets
-sugar snap peas
-snow peas
-mini field tomatoes
-cucumber
-romaine lettuce
-red or green leaf lettuce
-garlic chives
-baby bok choy

Whole Share
-carrots
-golden beets
-sugar snap peas
-snow peas
-mini field tomatoes
-cucumber
-romaine lettuce
-red or green leaf lettuce
-garlic chives
-baby bok choy
-callaloo
-okra
-eggplant
-grape or saladette tomatoes
-zucchini

Here’s an idea for using many odds and ends at once- try with okra, zucchini or spanish onions (add when chicken is browning)

Eggplant, Carrot & Tomato Curry with Chicken

Eggplant, carrot, tomato curry with chicken (optional)

Serves 3

This was the recipe I did off the cuff- so use your own sensibilities along with it, please. I found it to be a little sweet and lightly spiced but I have a high spice tolerance.

Ingredients

  • chicken, cut into 1 1/2 in. strips (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small spanish onion (or use green onion after cooking)
  • 1 large eggplant peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 bunch carrots, grated
  • 1/2 clamshell mini field tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
  • 1/4 cup of water (or amount needed to make seasonings into a sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1-2 green onions or 1/4 cup garlic chives

Directions

1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and stir frequently until lightly browned. Add spanish onion if using and sautee until translucent.

2. Add eggplant & grated carrots and more oil if needed and cook until lightly softened (about 5 mins). Add tomatoes, water and spices, turn to low temperature, cover and simmer for about 20 mins.

3. Stir in green onions or garlic chives and serve over rice. Flatbreads such as pita and naan make a nice side as well as a dollup of plain yogurt to cut into the heat.

Enjoy the fruits of the land this week 🙂

Jennifer