Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSA Week 10

From the Farmer’s Wife
Week 10

  Hello once again from Colvin Family Farm. It’s still dry and hot here and the men are sprawled on the front porch trying to get their gumption up to weed the fields and finish the mowing…some just opted to go berry picking! Ha ha! When it feels like this I think everyone slows down.
   We are still praying for rain. Steve, your farmer, is the song leader/choir director at our church (Victory Baptist Church in Dayton, TN…Please come visit us!) and we sang “There shall be showers of blessing, oh that today they might fall…” We drove through a whopper of a shower on the way home but it only sprinkled here. Steve reminds us that “every good and perfect gift cometh from above”, rain or no rain. We are thankful!

   The farm kitchen has been humming with activity this week. I often cook a month or more of meals to help with busy evenings. So, as we enter canning season along with farming I am busy making 90 plus meals to organize in my new 24.9 cubic foot freezer. How fun!
   The monster squash I mentioned last week in my letter are appearing again. I’ve canned 18 pints for winter meals. I’ve got a new zucchini recipe to try out that uses shredded zucchini and if it’s a hit as it has been predicted, I’ll need to can more. I’ll share it with you after it passes the Colvin crew’s taste test.
   This week we get to add cabbage to your shares. Carrots are shaping up and we hope they’ll be ready soon. They really need water to grow straight, so keep the prayers coming. We are singing rain songs whenever lightening lights the evening sky. Last night as I nursed Charity Rose on my little (5 ft. long) porch off my bedroom there were two kinds of lightening that lit up the sky…a storm was approaching (and then turned) and lightening bugs were flittering around the back yard near the pond. It was a gift from God to see things through a child’s eye.
   I know I’m wearing the topic out, but now you have a new additive to your stir fries…changing the cabbage and possibly adding carrots changes the character of the meal. Have you tried using your bean sprouts in your stir fries yet? Wait until the last few minutes to add them as they need little cooking and you want to preserve their vitamin and mineral content. Some people like to rinse the green “hull” off, but I like the added fiber content. These are the same sprouts you buy in the Chinese section of the grocery store canned. If you need the directions again for stir fries, look at From the Farmer’s Wife week 5.
   I like “casseroles” that can be made up ahead of time and set in the refrigerator for cooking at a later time. This cabbage recipe is good for Sunday dinner. On Saturday we (Caleb and I are on Sunday cooking) put a meal together to pop into the oven before we leave for church. Upon returning home we are greeted by the inviting aroma of a meal ready to eat! That way we really enjoy a day of rest!

Baked Pork Chops With Cabbage
4 pork chops
2 T. lard/canola oil
¼ C. diced onion
1 C. cream of celery soup (I use a white sauce with sautéed celery in it)
½ C. milk
3 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced
5 C. Shredded cabbage
¼ C. Flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
   Brown chops in hot oil; remove from skillet. Add onion, soup and milk to oil in skillet. Blend; set aside. Starting with potatoes, put alternate layers of potatoes and cabbage into a 2-qt. casserole; sprinkle each layer with flour, salt and pepper; pour soup/seasoned white sauce over each layer. Place chops on top; cover casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ¼ hours. If you’ll be gone to church like we are longer than 1 ¼ hours, adjust the temperature of your stove to 275 degrees for 2 hours or more.

   There are so many kinds of Cole Slaw, but the only ones I dislike are the store bought variety that shows up too often at church suppers. Why don’t people take the time to cook anymore?! I was discussing this with my niece this week as she is going to teach basic courses at a community college this summer…child safety…basic cooking…house keeping skills, etc. These are the skills all mothers should be passing on to their children! This generation has missed out on these “basic” family life skills because we are too busy running…work, school, ball games, day care, camp, ballet lessons, shopping, Internet carousing, karate lessons, clubs, etc.  Parents, during the “slower” days of summer, consider the next school year. Is your home life peaceful? If not, what is hampering your family’s peace? If you are tired of running, and want to pass on to your children the life skills they will need to succeed learn to say, “No” to the many demands on your family’s time. Make a list of things you’d like to replace the outside activities with…life skills, family read aloud time, tutoring your child yourself,  family game night, etc. Then if you teach them the importance of family meal time, they will be different than most young adults who pick up their meals at the local deli or restaurant or from the frozen food section of the grocery store, when they are on their own. We can rekindle the family fire. 

   This is our basic cabbage slaw that is the mainstay in our farm kitchen. Like many of my recipes it doesn’t call for expensive ingredients that I don’t usually keep in my pantry. This is a fun recipe to do with a child. We don’t use a food processor for most of our cutting jobs, giving us a finished product that also looks homemade.

The Farmer’s Wife Cabbage Slaw
3 cups cabbage
½ cup carrot, shredded
1/8 cup green pepper, chopped (can be optional)

  1. Combine cabbage, carrot, and pepper.
  2. Blend dressing. Stir lightly into vegetable mixture; chill.

Slaw Dressing
½ C. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
½ tsp. prepared mustard (I leave this out.)
1 tsp. celery seed
   Every once in a while I get the urge to make a dish that takes more time…something special for the ones I love. This is one of those special dishes in my eyes…great for company or to satisfy my urge to make a special meal. Unless you are serving 8-10 people, or freezing half for another meal cut the recipe in half.

Farmhouse Stuffed Cabbage

1 head cabbage with large leaves
1 onion, minced
1 lb. ground beef, turkey, or venison
1 cup rice, cooked
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup water
1 cup cultured sour cream

  1. Remove large outer leaves (8-10) from cabbage and cook in boiling salt water for 3 minutes. Drain.
  2. Brown hamburger and onion together. Stir in cooked rice, egg, salt and pepper.
  3. Separate evenly hamburger rice mixture on cabbage leaves. Roll up and fasten with toothpick. Place in greased baking dish.
  4. Stir together tomato paste, water and sour cream. Then pour over cabbage rolls.
  5. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

    I’ve found a new website that has been an encouragement to me this week. A friend referred me to Homestead Blessings to get a recipe using zucchini that her family loved. On their home page I heard  the West Ladies singing a song entitled “Green Beans in the Garden” . “Yes, there’s green beans in the garden, clean clothes on the line, We’ve  got little barefoot children playin’ beneath the grape vine. The sun is shining bright, and the creek is bubblin’ too, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for and Lord I want to thank you!” Learning to sing this song (just the chorus so far) has helped me to keep my focus on what is right in my life and not to dwell on the difficult and negative. I’d like to encourage you to google Homestead Blessings to hear this song. I pray the website is a blessing to you too. God is ALWAYS good!
   Adam wanted me to give instructions on how to use sprouts again. I know we have a lot of folks that joined after the second week when I spent a lot of time giving advice on their use. So instead of me rewriting the information, I will have him search the old hard drive (a computer died that week) and upload them and other issues of the Farmer’s Wife to our website.
   Last week when the trailer (it goes to Farragut Farmer’s Market) finally got home I was horrified to see the few leftover bags of small sprout mixture (alfalfa, red clover, and radish)! The Ziploc bags had been in the heat for too long and had blown up like little balloons! The sprouts inside were close to mush and definitely inedible! I PRAY your sprouts get to you in MUCH better condition!  We are working on a solution for the summer heat and small sprout problem.  In the meantime, if you pick up your share while running errands, please remember to put a cooler in your car to preserve the freshness and vitamin content of your vegetables. 
   If you’d like to keep the sprouts coming in your shares, “Vote SPROUT” on our website at customer support. We love to hear your comments and read about your experiences! It encourages us to keep going.
  God is good to put special people in our lives at times when we really need their friendship. Carol is one godly lady that God put in my life when I had 3 children 3 years and under! She packed up the children and myself and took us to a weekly Bible study that allowed me to be with adults and learn to dig further in God’s Word. Every time I had a baby, or when we were all sick she would also make us a special meal with her special regional Louisiana recipes. This slaw recipe was so special to me…maybe it was because I didn’t have to make it, but it has held a special place in my mind for years. The only thing I could remember was it took Rice Vinegar…a staple for her, but an “exotic” ingredient for me. Well, I finally broke down and bought some when the cabbage started to head, and called Carol for her recipe. She cooks by feel, so I had to play with my little head of cabbage  (for us it is small) to make a recipe…here is my long awaited Louisiana Slaw.

Louisiana Slaw

1 medium head of cabbage, approximately 6 cups, cut very finely
1/3 shredded onion
½ cup Marukan Seasoned Gourmet Rice Vinegar (found at Bi-Lo)
1 cup canola oil
Salt to taste
Coarse grade pepper, to taste
   Combine finely sliced cabbage and shredded onion in a medium bowl. Sprinkle approximately ½ teaspoon salt and coarse pepper over cabbage mixture; mix. In a small bowl combine oil and rice vinegar. Combine oil and vinegar dressing over cabbage. Stir. Let marinate in the refrigerator at least one hour. ENJOY! 
   As usual our favorite way to eat cabbage is simply steamed with a pad of butter on it. This is one of farmer Steve’s favorite vegetables, and he likes things simple. Again, we have waterless cookware, so adjust the amount of water needed to steam your cabbage. Do not soak your vegetables in water to cook them. This makes great vegetable broth for soups, but I’d rather eat the vitamins in the vegetables!
Steamed Cabbage

Cabbage, chopped
Butter to season
               Put chopped cabbage and needed water (start with 1”) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cook, covered, approximately 5 minutes or until tender crisp. Serve with a pad of butter to season.
   I just found out that you will be receiving a share of new carrots this week! How exciting! I have really enjoyed the samples they’ve pulled to gauge the size of the crop over the past few weeks. I’ve been grating them over our salads and in my salad wraps. Home grown carrots have such a distinctively unique taste that I would hate to cover it up with fancy sauces and spices. Enjoy their just pulled from the earth, farm fresh taste!

 Steamed Carrots
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil. Add 4 c. sliced carrots and 1 tsp. salt. Return to a boil and simmer, covered approximately 10 minutes or to your desired tenderness. Serve with butter if desired.

   Tonight with supper we had carrot sticks along with our meal. Little Levi (4) eats them by the handful! I like to have these in the refrigerator when available for quick snacks. Children can learn to enjoy fruit and vegetable snacks instead of sugary or salty ones. When cucumbers ripen I’ll keep cucumber wedges for snacks also…then soon following that are cherry tomatoes. (I don’t have to even keep these in the kitchen…they eat them off the vine!) These are child-friendly snacks at their very best!
   We are growing some things in our gardens that are new to even me. (Not that I’m an expert with vegetables…) In my second garden I grew fennel…disliked the licorice taste, never learned to use it, and never grew it again. Today (Friday morning) a fennel bulb with its beautiful fronds appeared on my hutch. I knew I was about to learn about it whether I wanted to or not… “Mom, include a fennel cookie, Okay?”  was discussed at breakfast. Fennel cookies?? Now I’ve done some research on fennel..not one good fennel cookie recipe to be found. One reviewed got zero stars and the second got a whopping, iffy  three!!  The reviewer said, “Great if you like fennel. I would add something to make it a bit more moist as my dough was very dry and hard to ball-up. Will make again for a few special friends that like that strong taste but it's sure not for everyone.” Cookies also call for the seed, we are harvesting the fennel bulb and herb. So, let’s learn together!
     “Fennel’s history is as rich as its flavor!  For centuries fennel has been used as a food, medicine, herb, and even a insect repellant! In ancient Greece, fennel was used in religious ceremonies. Grown in the temple gardens, it graced the heads of the worshippers. The ancient Egyptians, greeks, and Romans believed fennel an excellent aid for digestion, bronchial troubles, poor eyesight, and nervous conditions. Today in India, fennel seed is used for seasoning as well as chewed after the meal as a breath freshener and digestive aid. Nutritionally, fennel is very low in calories, but offers significant vitiamin A and calcium, potassium, and iron.” From asparagus to Zucchini p.78 An ancient recipe from Spencers The Vegetable Book sounds very interesting. Columella, a Spainaiard who served in the Roman army in Syria in AD 60 is quoted as saying, “Mix fennel with toasted sesame, anise, and cumin then mix that with pureed dried fig and wrap in fig leaves and then store in jars to preserve.” Now that sounds interesting!
Storage for Fennel:
  Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks..  If space is a problem, remove the long fronds to store just he fennel bulb. If you are saving the delicate leaves, they will go limp. Wrap them in a moist towel and refrigerate.
   Some Ideas For Use:
·         Wash fennel bulb, trimming off any damaged areas or woody parts of the stalk.
·         Use in any recipe that calls for celery. They are interchangeable.
·         Sprinkle chopped fennel leaves on hot baked potatoes.
·         Add cooked fennel to omelets, quiches, stuffings, or sauces.
·         Add stalks to stocks to for their flavor.
·         Cook fennel in your favorite tomato sauce.
·         Place stalks and leaves on barbeque coals as they do in France. The fennel scent permeates the grilled food.
·         Slice steamed or blanched fennel, cover with vinaigrette and serve chilled.
·         Chop raw fennel and add to tuna fish sandwiches.
·         Slice fennel thin and layer iwith raw potatoes, cream and cheese to make a potato au gratin.
·         Try using the feathery leaves as fresh herb for seasoning. Try using it in place of dill.
·         They say it is excellent on baked or broiled fish with butter and lemon…we’ll soon find out!
   Since becoming a full-time farmer’s wife I am committed to learning to use the vegetables we grow. So after research, this is what we’ll be trying this week.
Roasted Fennel
2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs sliced
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking dish with aluminum foil. Lay out piece of fennel and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize. Serves 4
Greek Burgers   *****
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 pounds ground lamb
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 bulb fennel, chipped
3 tablespoons shallots, minced (I’ll substitute green onions.)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
8 hamburger buns
   In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and minced garlic. Cover, and regfrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat grill for high heat. Mix together lamb, bread crumbs, fennel, shallots, oregano, and salt. Form into ¾ inch thick patties, and sprinkle black pepper over surfaces. Brush grate with oil, and place burgers on grill. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning once, or until done. Serve on buns with garlic mayonnaise.
Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Fennel ****1/2
1 pound hot Italian sausage links
1 16 oz. package rigatoni pasta
1 24 oz.  jar marinara sauce (I’ll do an online search for a recipe.)
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup grated Asiago cheese (What’s that?? I guess I’ll learn about that also.)
1.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes.
2.     2. Fry the sausages in a large skillet over medium heat, turning frequently until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from the skillet, cool slightly and slice into rounds. Add the garlic, fennel and onion to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, then add the roasted red peppers, basil, sliced sausage and pastea sauce. Heat through over low heat until warmed.
3.     Combinethe pasta with the sauce and vegetables in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Spread the mozzarella, Parmesand and Asiago cheeses over the top. Garnish with a few fennel leaves left from the bulb. Cover with aluminum foil.
4.     Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove the aluminum foil. Set the oven to broil and cook for another 5 minutes or until cheese is browned.
Simple Marinara Sauce

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs[/ basil garlic olive oil (see recipe for this below)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes in juices
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or basil (or both)
  1. Saute the onions in olive oil until soft, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the tomato products and the parsley and/or basil. Let simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
  5. When finished simmering, puree with immersion blender until smooth - if desired.
Basil Garlic Olive Oil
1.      Cut a head of garlic in half lengthwise. Rub a small amount of olive oil on the top and bottom and wrap the package in aluminum foil. Place the whole business in a 350F oven for approximately 30 minutes.
2.     You can certainly wait for the garlic to cool down to prevent burning your finger tips, but it is much easier to pry the roasted cloves from the head when it is piping hot before all the stickiness solidifies and makes a gooey mess of everything.
3.     Empty the roasted garlic into a mortar. I like to use my mortar and pestle in this application because it insures complete destruction of the cell walls and ergo the release of all the essential oils in the garlic cloves. A small bowl or glass and a heavy spoon or bread knife would make a good substitute in a pinch.
4.     Grind into a paste. Once the garlic has been sufficiently massacred add it to chopped basil and volume of oil you hope to infuse. Bring the sauce pan to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Try to keep the temperature even and on the stove for at least 30 minutes. If you are using less-than-stellar cookware this *WILL* require supervision and flame adjustment up and down - trust me it'll all be worth it in the end...
5.     Now let your new secret ingredient cool off and start thinking about enhancing a tried and true recipe or just pull out a baguette and top liberally. YUM!
  This recipe sounds like one I should do on a slower day, not on picking and packing day!
   Here is a recipe to store for a while until the cucumbers come in.
Fennel Cucumber Salsa *****
2 medium cucumbers
1 large fennel bulb, diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup pickled banana peppers, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
   Combine the cucumber, fennel, avocado, red onion, banana peppers, cilantro, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Allow mixture to sit 30 minutes before serving.

   Well, our week is winding down I’ve been canning, mending, (Six pairs of overalls and jeans now have patches…where else?...on their knees from weeding and harvesting!) growing sprouts for your shares, and cooking large batches of meals for the freezer. Praise God there is never a dull moment around the farm! I pray you and your family will enjoy your shares together. Please keep praying for rain, it is sorely needed.

“And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

Abundant Blessings,
Your Farmer’s Wife,
Val Colvin