Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 24

From the Farmer’s Wife
Week 24

   Greetings from the whole family at Colvin Family Farm.  We are alllllllllllllllllll heading out to pack your shares and enjoy a beautiful fall day together! I’ll pop in and out of the farm house to check on a big country dinner that is simmering and write a bit to you today.
   We finally got more rain yesterday!! We appreciate God’s good and perfect gift of rain more than most folks when it comes…The crops in the field are taking off once again; this will allow us to continue selling at Market Square, Lord willing, after we have finished our 2010 CSA year!
   I’ve popped in to change a wet two year old and thought I’d warm up a bit and write ya’ll. I’ve been delegated to bagging Nappa Cabbage…123 heads of it. J When you work with one vegetable for a long stretch of time, you get to know it well. Some of the heads are soo big that I am having a hard time fitting them into those persnickety grocery store plastic bags…you know the kind. They keep us all humble trying to rip them off the roll and find the right end to open. Some of these beautiful heads could easily fit in a shopping bag instead. I think of them as a type of flower the way they form a rosette. There will be a few bugs as they enjoy them also. The dark outer leaves have the most chlorophyll so I have purposefully left them on unlike most grocery stores. I hate waste…and the farming industry is full of it. Napa Cabbage is fullll of fiber and more vitamins than normal cabbage; here are 8 ideas on how to use what you’ll find in your share….

1. Napa Cabbage Rolls

Instead of using green cabbage, try some of the larger outer leaves of napa cabbage. Cut them in half and steam or boil them until they just turn soft and then fill with a mixture of cooked white rice and browned mild sausage or hamburger. Top with tomato sauce and bake until bubbly.

2. Quick Kimchi

Kimchi is a spicy Korean side-dish, sort of like the hottest cole slaw you’ve ever eaten. Traditional kimchi can take several days to make. However, for a quick at-home version, combine a few cups of chopped napa cabbage, a tablespoon of sambal olek (an Eastern hot sauce), 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 4 sliced cloves of garlic, and a healthy pinch of salt. Stir well, chill overnight and then eat right out of the bowl!

3. Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry

If you have eaten a Chinese dish with vegetables, you have probably eaten napa cabbage. Typically, they are white squares that look like they should be onions, but have not turned clear. To do your own napa cabbage stir-fry, peel off 20 to 25 leaves and cut off the leafy green sections until all you have is the firmer white stems. Cut the white stems into two-inch pieces. Heat some peanut oil in a wok, cook the napa cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes until it starts to soften, and then add your favorite stir-fry sauce. Cook until the sauce starts to bubble. Serve hot over rice.

4. Napa Cabbage Slaw

Got a favorite cole slaw recipe? Try it with shredded napa cabbage. Napa cabbage slaw has a subtly different flavor and texture than classic cole slaw and is particularly tasty if you add fruit. For your next slaw, combine 2 cups diced mango, a finely diced jalapeno, 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 cups shredded napa cabbage, and 4 tablespoons rice or red wine vinegar. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight and serve.

5. Braised Napa Cabbage

For a quick and easy side-dish, add the cut up white stems of the napa cabbage to a skillet and cover them half way with vegetable broth, ground ginger, garlic powder, and a few teaspoons of soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until the napa cabbage becomes soft.

6. Napa Cabbage Spring Rolls

Napa cabbage has a great crunch that’s perfect for spring rolls. Simply slice napa cabbage into thin strips and roll with cooked shrimp, rice noodles, and fresh basil in a spring roll wrapper. Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, chilies and fish sauce.

7. Napa Cabbage Taco Topping

Traditionally, tacos are topped with a healthy handful of lettuce. A better choice is napa cabbage, which is more flavorful and totes a crisper texture, which contrasts nicely with the taco fillings.

8. Napa Cabbage Soup

Warm up with a hearty bowl of napa cabbage soup. Add a few cups of chopped napa cabbage to your favorite vegetable, chicken or beef soup; it will give your soup a lot of body and for fewer calories than most other ingredients.
Napa Cabbage Salad
1 head napa cabbage
1 bunch minced green onions
1/3 cup butter
1 (3 ounce) package ramen noodles, broken
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4cup cider vinegar
¾ cup canola oil
½ cup sugar (can crystals or natural sugar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
 1.  Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Make the crunchies. Melt the butter in a pot. Mis the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake the crunchies in the preheated 350 degree oven, turning them often to make sure they do not burn. When they are browned remove from oven.
4. Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
5. Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies wil get soggy.
Serves about 6 and takes about ½ hour to make.

   Isaac just filled my sink with kale (his favorite) so I’ll be back in a while to wash and chop them…and chat with you…napa cabbage; here I come!
   I’m in the warm again…a northerly wind along with cool temperatures is reminding me of the changing season all around me. I’ve packed dikon radishes, green beans, and have been teased A LOT by my boys. (Feel sorry for me? Really I am thankful for their playful ways.)
   Adam wants me to give directions again for basic steaming of greens. That is how we eat our greens (basically any kind)…no extra time and calories are needed.
   Bring a large kettle “2/3 full” (I’m a big believer in using as little water or broth as possible. Think of all the vitamins you waste in the water! Steam them instead of boil them. We have “waterless” cookware, so I use about 1 cup in the bottom of my LARGE canning kettle.)  of salted water, bouillon  or broth to a boil. Add greens. Star timing when you put the greens in. Boil. (I steam as I said.)
Beet Greens 3-4 minutes
Broccoli Raab 3 minutes
Collards 10-20 minutes
Dandelion 1-3 minutes
Kale 5-10 minutes
Mustard Greens 2-5 minutes
Swiss Chard 1-2 minutes
Turnip Greens 4 minutes

These times are for the leafy parts, but I include as much as the stems as possible…Kale is about the only one I feed the stems to the hogs. Some people keep the larger stems separate and put them into the kettle before the chopped leaves. (I have far too many to take the time to do this.)
  Those of you that are struggling to keep your refrigerator organized may want to start freezing a part of your weekly share of greens. When ya’ll come out for our fall shareholders day on November 13th may want to glean greens to freeze. Here are the instructions for doing this:
Freezing Greens
Cut off lare, tough stems; discard all damaged leaves (to save on waste, just pinch off the yellow or otherwise damaged leaves). Wash thoroughly several times if extra dirty. Blanch 1 lb. greens in 2 gallons of water. Blanching times don’t vary too much. All greens except collards (3 minutes) and spinach (1 ½ minutes) are blanched for 2 minutes. Blanch – to emerse in boiling water, begin the above timing when the water returns to a boil. Cool all blanched greens in cold water, drain, package and freeze. (When I’m blanching a quanity of vegetables I use a gallon milk jug that is filled with water and frozen to keep the water cold. I sure beats cracking ice!)  I find that freezing in quart or pint freezer bags are more space efficient. Lay bags flat on a cookie sheet, stacking the bags carefully. When they are frozen solid, transfer to freezer compartment.
   While we’re speaking of freezing vegetables for the wintry days ahead, I’d like to mention freezing peppers. My family is not big on cooked peppers, but I always freeze diced peppers in a very convenient way…by following the directions I give, you’ll be able to reach into a freezer bag and pull out only the amount you need for a particular dish.
Freezing Diced Peppers
Wash, core, and dice peppers (You can freeze any type of peppers in this fashion.). Place the cubed peppers on a cookie sheet and place in your freezer. When the peppers are frozen, place into a freezer bag and store where you can easily “grab a handful” when needed. I use these on pizzas, spaghetti sauce, in omelets, and many more dishes.
    I’m back in again…today has been filled with many outdoor tasks since I am not finishing and packing sprouts or baking. There are soo many things that need to be done…I’ve bunched kale for table sales, packed ½ pound bags of the yummiest looking mixed greens for shares, I’ve bunched the cheeriest looking red radishes, green beans and more. At times I worry that you’ll get enough as it would take 4-6 shares worth to feed my crew! If you are funning short, just ask for more!
   It is now 6 p.m. and the family is now focused on cleaning black beans. Don’t take that too literally! YOU WILL HAVE TO CLEAN AND SORT YOUR OWN BEANS ONCE THEY ARE BROUGHT HOME! I have broken a tooth on a rock before from using dried beans. I stress the importance of sorting beans with my little ones who do this job for me. We have pulled the plants, threshed them, and are winnowing them. Next a team sifts them through hardware cloth removing MOST of the rocks, sticks, and morning glory seeds. The rest will be up to you. We will not be held responsible if someone bites down on a rock…we are doing our best.
   Now that I’m said that, let’s get on with one of our favorite dry beans. We got through about 100 or more quarts of canned dry beans in a year. I put them in tacos, in my salsa dip, in chili, and whenever the “spirit moves” when I’m cooking. When combined with a grain (rice, homemade bread, etc.) it becomes a complete protein that rivals meat in protein. I’ll share a few of the above recipes with you….understand I don’t have concrete recipes, just do what looks right. J
  The first recipe is one of our lunch favorites when combined with fruit. When you home school your children, they do outgrow peanut butter and jelly…try this!
Chips and Cheese with Black Bean Salsa
Tortilla Chips (These become a “cheap” lunch when you buy them in bulk at Sams)
1 quart salsa
1 pint black beans, canned
1 bag of shredded cheese
   Lay a single layer of tortilla chips out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle cheese liberally over the chips. Place in 350 degree oven until the cheese melts.
   In a saucepan, empty a jar of salsa and black beans (pintos work good also) in and heat thoroughly.
   Serve a small bowl of salsa dip on a plate of “Chips ‘N Cheese” to please your family!
   I just inherited a crockpot from my Daddy…it’s a fabulous one with three bowls that are 2,4, and 6 quarts! I’m going to be able to make our favorite black bean chowder in it this winter! Here is the recipe:
Hearty Black Bean Chowder
1 medium onion, diced
1 (25 oz. or two quarts of home canned) can black beans
1 (15 oz. or 1 quart home canned) diced tomatoes (for extra zing use tomatoes with jalapenos in them)
1 cup frozen corn (or a small can of store bought)
1 (25 oz.) cans fat-free refried beans (the hot ones if you like spicey. If you have a grain mill, ask me for my recipe for instant refried beans that we make!)
1 cupt fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth…save the water when steam vegetables in the freezer and add to it until you have 1 cup portions)
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
½ -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
sour cream to garnish
Very Optional:
1 ½  cup chopped chicken, leftover roast, or browned hamburger/ground turkey
   Combine everything EXCEPT cilantro and sour cream in a crock-pot or on the stove top in a large saucepan. Cook in crock-pot 8-9 hours. I like to turn the crock –pot to high the last half hour to allow soup to thicken. On stove top, cook on medium heat until slightly thickened, about one hour. If using, top each serving with a dollop of sour cream. We like to serve this chowder with tortilla chips for fun scooping to eat!
   I know that you’ll not get enough dry beans in your share for the following recipe, but with dry beans so economical, I’d like to share one idea I’ve found to save time and money!
Thrifty Home Canned Beans
Wash quart canning jars thoroughly. Sort beans carefully. (I’ve trained my little ones to do this job…they love it!)  Line up your jars onto a sturdy cookie sheet or baking dish. Using a funnel, fill your jars 1/3 of the way full with dry beans.  Do not add salt to the jars until serving. It makes the beans tough. Add seasonings.
Seasonings: (I like to use dry seasonings to make the process quick and EASY!)
Mexican Black Beans – onion (dry is quick) garlic, cumin and ham
Pintos – onion, country ham or bacon ends and pieces – these make quick refried beans
Red Beans ‘N Rice  - garlic, onion, bay leaf, ham or sausage (serve over rice)
Black Eye Peas – onion and seasoning meat
   Pressure can for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. This is a fun family project that the preparation is done and over with quickly…the time consuming part is the processing which can easily be done in the coarse of the day.  If you don’t have a full canner of beans you can can meat, cubed potatoes, or water at the same time and pressure.
 Today at dinner (2 p.m.) I made a “clean out the fridg” vegetable mixture….daikon radishes (which are new to us this fall), carrots, leeks, onions, and tiny red radish for more color. It was okay…but there has to be a better way to enjoy my growing collection of diakon radish. I did an Internet search and came up with a few ideas. I’ll share them with you.

Overnight Chinese Daikon Radish Pickles

1 1/2 c cubed daikon radish
 ¾ t. kosher salt
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs water
2 heaping tsp sugar
drizzle of sesame oil

In a mixing bowl, toss daikon radish with a bit of kosher salt and set aside for about 30 minutes, until the liquid from the radish is released. Drain. Rinse the salt off the radish and pat dry. Add the rice wine vinegar, water, sugar and a bit of sesame oil and stick it in the fridge for about 8 hours. This keeps for about 2 weeks in an air-tight container.
“You can make variations of this with Napa cabbage and carrots. I recommend eating this as an palate-cleanser with heavy Asian dishes such as duck, Chinese 5-spice beef or broiled chicken.”
   Another site had a surprisingly easy variation…
Overnight Chinese Daikon Radish Pickles
1 ½ cups chopped daikon
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ teasopoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
   Ina mixing bowl, toss daikon with salt. Cover, and refrigerate until 1 to t2 tablespoons of water is released, about 30 minutes.
   Drain and rinse daikon, removing as much salt as possible. Pat dry. Return to bowl. Stir in rice vinegar, black pepper and, if desired, sesame oil. Cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
   This week I’ll make my first fall beef stew. In my mind, stews are for cool weather and served with yummy muffins! I’m going to try diakon radish in it for the first time. I like to play with the ingredients…sweet potatoes, cubed butternut squash, turnips, and now diakons are my extra additions to fool around with. J
Val’s Beef Stew
1 lb. cubed beef stew meat or cubed venison
¼ cup lard, or your choice of oil
beef bouillon
garlic powder (start with 1 teaspoon, then adjust)
carrots, sliced rather thick
onions, cut in wedges and separted
Optional ingredients: cubed sweet potatoes, cubed butternut squash, sliced diakon radishes, or even a sprinkle of cinnamon
Dredge meat in flour seasoned with salt. Place in a dutch oven or stock pot and fry in oil (there is a term for this, but I’m tired and it won’t come to me) until the meat looses its color. Cover with water. Let simmer about 1 hour. Add vegetables and seasonings to meat and cover with water. Let the vegetables simmer slowly until tender.
   If you like a thick broth like I do, thicken with a few tablespoons of cornstarch mixed in a SMALL amount of water in a small cup and added when the broth is boiling. Stir constantly while adding. Serve.
   I’m going to end this now and bag black beans. It’s now 7:30 p.m. and the boys have been working around the kitchen table cleaning and sorting them some more…these are added to your shares with lots of love and tender care!
   Now the conversation among the boys is ping pong…our newest past time. Our packing table this season was an old homemade ping-pong table…it collapsed leaving us with a top that can be put on saw horses for fun play. We ALL have joined in for rowdy games after a long day in the fields. How fun!
      I do want to thank all the share holders that send their cards of sympathy, e-mails assuring us of their prayers and MORE during our time of bereavement over my mother’s sudden death. God has been MORE THAN FAITHFUL to meet all our needs… physical, emotional and mostly spiritually. Praise His name! Thank you!
   With my mother’s sudden passing still ever-fresh on my mind, I feel an urgency to share the good news of Jesus Christ with you. We love meeting your physical needs with our fresh, naturally grown vegetables, but we’d love to share with you something far more important, eternal life!  Feel free to call, write us, or corner us when you visit with your questions. Without Jesus’ strength these past few weeks I would be totally without hope and peace. He gives me complete forgiveness of my sins, hope for eternity in heaven, wisdom to guide, and strength for each day. I don’t deserve it, but it was a free gift!
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Acts 16:31

Abundant Blessings,
Your Farmer’s Wife,
Val Colvin