Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 13

The Farmer’s Wife

Week 13

   Hello once again from our mountainous farm…Colvin Family Farm. God continues to bless the farm with occasional showers and the harvest and planting will reflect His all-powerful hand in the coming weeks. We are busy planning and planting for the fall harvest…time has FLOWN by!
    This week leeks make their debut in your share.  Leeks are also known as “poor man’s asparagus”. This must come from their mild sweet flavor. Unlike onions that give an oniony flavor to the dishes they are added to, leeks enhance the flavors of the food they are cooked with.
     My favorite all-time way to eat leeks is a creamy leek and potato soup on a cold snowy day…but it definitely isn’t snowy weather!  If you want them for yummy soup this winter, bury them in a bucket of damp sand keep in a cool (but not freezing) location. A good book to read about this type of storage is, “Root Cellaring” by Mike and Nancy Bubel of Rodale Books. You don’t have to have a real root cellar dug into a bank of earth to store vegetables. This book describes ways to store fruits and vegetables in unconventional ways in an apartment or home. This is a good way to stock up for the cold winter ahead when the farmer’s market is only a memory. This book is an older book, and you could probably find it inexpensively at a used bookstore as I did. We buy most of our books over the Internet using “Fetchbook” or “BookFinder” which are search engines that compare prices of new and used books Internet wide, and lists them for you to compare and buy from. Right now on Bookfinder, this book is listed for $7.63, which includes shipping!
      Because of how leeks are grown, you must clean them thoroughly to remove the grit before using. To clean your leaks, simply remove the green tops to about 2 inches of the white section. Like preparing an onion, peel off the otter layer of white. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water to remove soil between the layers.
     Leeks can be refrigerated unwashed and dry with roots attached for up to 2 weeks. Wrap them in plastic wrap to avoid sharing their aroma with your other groceries. J
   There are several ways to use leeks, and I plan on expanding my leek usage beyond leek and potato soup! Here are a few ideas for their use I found in From Asparagus to Zucchini, the book we are offering our shareholders for sale this season.
*Leeks may be eaten raw, chopped into a variety of salads.

*Leeks may be cooked whole; try braising or baking.
*Steam or boil leeks for 10-12 minutes. Top with butter, a dash of salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
*Layer thin slices of leek in a favorite sandwich. Leek, tomato and melted cheese is a winner.
*Lightly sauté chopped leeks alone or with other vegetables.
*Chop or slice leeks into quiches, egg dishes, casseroles, stews, stocks soups, and stir-fries.
*Substitute leeks for onions in recipes and notice the subtle flavor changes.
*Pure cooked leeks for a soup base.
*Add leek leaves to long-cooking dishes, such as grains, beans, or stews, for added flavor.
*Add cooked leeks to mashed potatoes.

     One recipe I plan on using is mentioned below. There aren’t too many recipes (outside my favorite soups) for leeks. Always remember that we can substitute leeks for any recipe that calls for onions.

Leeks With Wold Rice Corn and Sausage

1 ¼ c. wild rice
2 T. butter
6 oz. Smoked sausage cut into ¼” cubes
1 ¼ c. chopped leeks, white parts only
¾ c. diced (1/4”) carrots
2 c. fresh corn kernels
1 c. long grain white rice (we like Jasmine)
4 t. dried Thyme
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
4 ½ c. chicken stock, plus more if needed

  Cover wild rice in lightly salted, boiling water. Cook 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain and reserve. Heat butter in large, deep-sided pan over medium heat until hot. Add sausage, leeks, carrots and corn and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Add wild and white rices, thyme, cayenne, and stock and bring mixture to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until all liquid has been absorbed., 25-30 minutes. Taste rice and if not quite tender enough, add ½ c. extra stock and cook. Covered about 5 minutes more until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Sir in salt to taste. (Rice can be prepared 1 day ahead. Reheat, covered, in 350 degree oven until hot, 15-20 minutes.)
   Since I am prowling for leek recipes, I will mention a few I’ve found that I want to try! These little potato and onion (you could use onions from your shares or even the leeks) baskets look like a fun recipe to make with my daughter Faith Anne (9).  I even have ideas for other fillers instead of onions if the baskets work out nice!

Onion Potato Baskets

3 baking potatoes
3 T. olive oil, divided
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
2 c. diced onions
½ c. light cream (I don’t usually keep this on hand, so I may put a bit of milk in some plain yogurt to make a substitute.)
½ c. shredded Swiss Cheese
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 T. chopped parsley
   Coarsely shred peeled potatoes Stir in 2-T. oil, slat and pepper, tossing to coat well. Place 1 ½ T. potato mixture into each of the 12 greased muffin pan cups, pressing into tin to create a crust. (nest) Bake at 425 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in large skillet, sauté onion in remaining oil until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add cream; cook 2 to 3 minutes more or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in cheese, egg and parsley. Spoon about 1 T. onion mixture into each potato cup. Reduce oven to 400 degrees; bake 10 to 12 minutes more or until center is set. Serve warm.

Easy Onion and Cheese Quiche

26 soda crackers
¼ c. melted butter
6 slices of bacon
1 c. chopped onion (or leeks)
2 c. shredded Swiss Cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ c. sour cream
     Combine crackers and butter and press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Save 2 T. drippings to cook onion in. cook onion until tender, about 10 minutes. Combine rest of ingredients with onion and pour into shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

     The boys are planting more snap peas as I type this letter. A thunderstorm is threatening and the harvest of oats and wheat is being put off once again. The heads of these grains must be dry to be cut and threshed…this is tricky business this time of year with storms passing so frequently. (We’re not complaining though! Praise God for the rains!!)
   Farmer Steve just brought in a large bowl of corn…pretty much the total harvest. Sigh…the corn sat at knee to thigh high during the little drought we had and tasseled too soon. We have replanted and anticipate a much larger harvest in September. Then we can all enjoy a good corn boiling! Thank you for your patience..God is in control and we are learning! We are thankful we now have equipment to water if another dry spell sets in.
   We have been enjoying the carrot harvest this year. The boys must, as they keep slipping bags of carrots from the cooler down to me in the farm kitchen! We go through the usual routine of them hiding something behind their backs and saying, “Which hands?” with a sweet smile…then they produce their personal vegetable of choice. Lately it’s been carrots and cabbage. One of farmer Steve’s favorite desserts is carrot cake. It’s extra special when made with REAL farm-fresh carrots!

REAL Farm-Fresh Carrot Cake

3 eggs
2 cups flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil (we use canola)
2 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon 
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup walnuts/pecans chopped
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups REAL RAW FARM-FRESH carrots, shredded

1.      Beat eggs well: then add the next seven ingredients and beat well until smooth.
2.     Stir in the coconut, nuts, pineapple, and carrots with mixing spoon.
3.     Pour into a greased 9 X 13” cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
4.    When cake is slightly warm, spread with Cream Cheese Frosting. (The same frosting I use on the Zucchini bars from last week.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

      Another way my children have liked carrots over the years is in a raw salad. I like to make raw salads (bean, cucumber or others) to have on hand as a quick side dish for the busy days of summer. I often have dinner (the big meal in the middle of the day) to prepare after a morning of canning or sewing, or gardening, as the men will be off at a market, or harvesting grain at the field we have leased during the cool of the evening. So I can pull these fresh salads from the refrigerator to round out a meal at short notice. We all have busy days, so why not try a few this week? The cold pack pickles recipe from week ____, and this carrot salad are two good ones to start with!

Carrot-Pineapple Salad

1 ½ cup grated raw carrots
½ cup chopped celery (optional)
1 slice pineapple, diced (or use crushed)
1 cup chopped pecans
     Blend together the carrots, celery, pineapple, and pecans. Toss with a small amount of mayonnaise and serve.

Delete celery and pineapple, and substitute a handful of raisins. We then rename it to “Sunshine Salad”.

Another good variation I use in the fall when we have an abundance of fresh apples is to add equal amounts of grated carrots, grated apple, raisins, nuts, and mayonnaise together for a tarter taste.

     Another week on the farm is coming to a close. I pray you are finding that being a part of our farm this season has been a joy. I know it’s a lot of work too, picking up your shares and taking care of the vegetables for storage. Cooking from scratch as you do (at least in part) also takes time also. Let’s not get caught up in the mentality of this world that everything must be quick. Quality anything takes time! I pray you are enjoying the process and including your family along the way. Praise God along with us for all He provides for our families!

Abundant Blessings,

Your Farmer’s Wife,

Val Colvin

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”
Ecclesiastes 3: 1,2