Friday, July 22, 2011

From the Farmer's Wife - Week 11

I've been struggling with these new fangled ideas of our son Adam...a blog...I am not a blog person. I have nothing witty or intelligent to say. I'm just a farmer's wife with a large family that can share our daily farm life, lessons the Lord is teaching me, and a few recipes I've been using in my farm kitchen. So, I'm going back to the "letter" idea that I sent out to the shareholders last on with...

From the Farmer's Wife
Week 11

Greetings from our family! It's been a while since I've written because I've been really struggling with being a 21st century, computer savvy woman. My mother told me I was born a century too late. I agree to some extent as I like the simple life the Lord has given me. At times it is NOT simple, but usually that is of my own making. As a young wife and mother 25 plus years ago I made certain decisions that have led me to this path. Saying, "no" to modern methods, whether they be working outside the home, schooling my children, ways to dress or cook, and many other decisions we make every day have molded my life into where I am today. Trendy fads don't usually allure me. I've learned that it's the little decisions of obedience to God's Word that determine our life's path, from birth to death. When I look at His plan for women in Scripture and model my life around His ways, there is a contentment I see many women searching for these days.

Can we as woman really have the peace of heart and mind in this ever-changing, busy world? The King James Bible gives us the answer to this question in a 3-fold answer which is the will of God for "younger women". 1 Timothy 5:14-15 teaches that we should 1.) Marry 2.) Bear Children 3.) Guide the house. "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." Is it that easy? Yes, and No, there is a lot to learn how to accomplish each of these things in an honorably way. But this is God's will for all women! Titus 2:3-6 give us further instructions, which on close study are eye opening in the 21st century. We will, Lord willing, look at these verses in the weeks to come.

Here on the farm we are all busy today picking tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, basil, carrots, lettuce, and the like for your shares. Months of work have gone into this harvest. Our family knows first hand the labor, sweat, and toil that goes into each share and we enjoy the sense of working alongside God Almighty growing produce that will nourish our family and yours. This way of life is a mighty tool in His hand to fashion us into His image...attitudes, work ethics, and obedience to His timing are all ways we are learning to be more honoring this season.

We're busy thinking fall this week as we plant late tomatoes, lettuce and other crops you'll prayerfully enjoy in the months to come. The place where our strawberries for next season will be planted is being prepared, and our thoughts are constantly running to how to make things better in the field. We are always learning!

There have been many new "labor saving" devices added to the farm this season as there is ALWAYS more work than daylight and strength to accomplish. The most enjoyable to the older "littles" in our family has been an old riding lawnmower my son-in-law gave the boys this spring. Actually there were two or three of them, but they've pieced one together and now have a wagon behind it to transport tubs of squash, lettuce, or onions from the field. One would think they had been given a 4-wheeler (their dream vehicle for the farm) as they used it ONCE to even get the mail a quarter of a mile away, give the little ones pleasure rides in the wagon behind it, and use it to get to where they are to work...yes, it mows also! There is drip tape, pumps, and a few new sprinklers to help us irrigate. This is a great improvement over the 11 watering cans Steve purchased in early in the season last year! The Lord has sent sufficient rain to keep the pumps running, Praise His Name! We now also have a box truck to haul our many tables, tubs and vegetables to market. We are growing!

We are growing in many ways this year! Of course we are growing vegetables, but the number of families that are now part of our CSA has grown to about 135! God be praised! It is an honor to be use of God to supply your needs. Like all CSA farms, what we plant does not always produce in the manner we hoped. This year the deer have been a problem (our dog is now gone and we will soon replace it as it helped more than we knew) and have eaten the green beans to the ground! More have been planted, but until they produce we go without. Our tomates are late since we were unable to plant during the usual period they were to go out. We had a tornado pass within 1/2 mile of our farm. It moved whole rows of vegetables, pelted us with hail, and flooded our fields. It has been a year of seeing God's hand!!

As you know, it's been very hot lately. My farm kitchen has been steamy as I've been canning different jams and relishes. I have fun experimenting at least one day a week with leftover produce. My favorite has been a zucchini relish using our vegetables. I hope to offer it to ya'll latter this season. I also have been busy with baking for the Crossville Sustainable Farmer's Market on Thursdays. I'm humbled by the response to the cinnamon nut, and cinnamon raisin rolls, granola, zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread, and my jams. I thought you would like to make the chocolate zucchini bread, which is a lot like a moist brownie bread. I like to think of it as a healthy snack as I grind my wheat, grate fresh zucchini and use only a "touch" of chocolate. If zucchini is piling up in your frig, try this:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 Eggs
1 C. Honey
1/2 C. Oil
1 t. Vanilla
3 T. Butter
6 T. Cocoa powder
2 C. Grated zucchini
2 C. Whole Grain flour (not bread flour)
1 t. Salt
1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
2/3 C. Chocolate Chips

In mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla. In saucepan, melt butter and add cocoa powder. Set aside to cool. Grate zucchini. Mix zucchini, with cocoa powder/butter mixture and when cooled combine with egg mixture. Add flour, soda, salt, cinnamon. Mix only enough to blend. Dampen chocolate chips slightly in a small bowl. Coat with a few pinches of flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of your bread. Add to batter. Pour into 2 greased 8" pans. (I use bread or muffin pans.) Bake at 350 degrees until cake tester inserted comes out clean, depending on pan size.

The family has been so hot lately it's hard to know what to make. Do you run into that challenge also? I've found they really enjoy a LARGE salad (3-4 shares worth of lettuce!) grilled vegetables and meats. We've also been enjoying the zucchini pizza recipe that I did for the Knoxville News Sentential. Find the link to it on our home page. One experiment with squash (which our shares have an abundance in each week) turned our fantastic. I made squash crusts in traditional pizza pans for a vegetable pizza. I made several with just thinly sliced (1/4") squash with traditional toppings baked until the "crust" was limp and the cheese was bubbly. Farmer Steve and my favorite though had a touch of the past thrown into the "crust". As a new bride (from the north) 30 years ago I had to be taught how to cook southern. One dish was fried squash. I dutifully sliced up small slices of little yellow crookneck squash, dipped them into beaten eggs, and coated them with cornmeal seasoned with salt and (my touch) garlic powder. I've abandoned that method as it takes HOURS to make enough to feed my family and have adapted the recipe to make an "oven fried" vegetable dish. (We have a link to this recipe on our website also.) Back to the vegetable pizzas...I fried squash the old fashioned way as I described using large lengthwise pieces of yellow and patty pan squash. I let the oil I fried it in drain well, then placed the fried sqush on the pizza pan as the crust. This I topped with the traditional pizza toppings, and baked at 400 degrees until the cheese was melted. The children preferred the easier pizzas, but Steve and I liked the more time consuming pizza...was it worth the time? Probably not when I have to make 6 large pizzas plus the salad! Why don't you try vegetable pizzas this week

Zucchini Pizza

8-Ball Zucchini, cut into 1/4" slices crosswise (lengthwise slices of traditional zucchini will also work)
olive oil
pasta sauce or pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
your choice of:
onions, diced
mushrooms, sliced
green pepper, diced
black olives

Put slices of zucchini on cookie tray. Brush with olive oil. Bake at 350* until slightly limp. Remove from the oven and top with traditional pizza toppings. Return to the oven until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with a big salad or fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Some more recipes on my blog from last year (and I'm sorry they are not user friendly) that you could try this week are a tempting stir fry, wilted salad, egg rolls, sauteed squash, vegetable spaghetti and more. Open up last years letters that are posted under January and browse my old letters. When the chilly days of winter allow leisure time for Adam, I hope to get the recipes all combined on the website. Until then, I'm going back to my old method of these letters. By doing this, our friends from Crossville online Farmer's Market folks can log into the recipes also.

Well, I'm needed in the packing shed to pack the shares, so I must finish this letter again another time.

I'm back again. It's Saturday and all the men and boys are at your markets delivering your shares. I've cleaned the farm house with my 4 little ones and finally finished cleaning the packing shed. When I left it yesterday afternoon after packing shares it was almost tidy...then the boys picked, cleaned, and packed all the vegetables we sell on table at the markets. This was after a late supper....suffice it to say 2 1/2 hours latter all the trash vegetables are composted, tables are hosed down and all tubs are stacked....even the walk-in is swept out and clean. Ahhh, we're ready for another week!

In the walk-in I have a bus tub of zucchini that I need to use on Monday. Since apples are barely coming in I think I'll make "zapplesauce" to make muffins and zapple pie for the family. :) What is zapple sauce? Overgrown zucchini can be made to an mock applesauce or pie easily. The trick is to use overgrown zucchini as the little guys tend to make a bitter sauce.


4 C. Peeled, seeded, and diced zucchini or summer squash
1/3 C. Fresh lemon juice
1/2 C. packed light brown sugar
2 t. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 T. Ground Nutmeg

Combine zucchini and lemon juice in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the brown sugar (which I reduce the amount, and will try sorghum molasses this year)
the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened. Let cool to room temperature.
Use this sauce in:

Zapple Muffins

3 C. Flour ( I use freshly ground soft white wheat with a few other grains mixed in.)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/4 t. Ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 C. Sugar
2 large Eggs
1/4 C. Buttermilk
Zapple sauce above

1. Make Zapplesauce as described above.
2. Preheat oven to 350* . Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups with butter or olive oil spray.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
4. Beat together the butter and sugar in another large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with teh buttermilk, until smooth. Stir in zapplesacue just until evenly distributed.
5.Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. The batter will be stiff; an ice cream scoop does a great job of distrbuting it.
6. Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, until they have risen and a knife inserted in teh center of one comes out clean.
7. Turn the muffins out on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

I've made mock apple pies before with Ritz crackers but it never became a family favorite. This recipe is made with overgrown zucchini that are peeled and cooked with lemon juice then sweetened and spiced to "perfection" will fool "all but the most discerning palates". It works best with older, overgown squash as the young fresh squash will have a trace of bitterness htat advertises the pie's vegetable origin. If you'd like some overgrown squash included in your share, JUST ASK!

Zapple Pie

Pastry for a 9" double crust
6 C. peeled, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash
1/2 C. fresh lemon juice
3/4 C. firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (I use cane juice crystals with molasses mixed into it.)
1 1/2 t. ground Cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. freshly ground nutmeg
2 T. instant tapioca
1 T. granulated sugar ( I use cane juice crystals)

1. Prepare the pie dough according to your recipe directions and refrigerate.

2. Combine the zucchini and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally for even cooking. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

3. Remove the zucchini from the heat. Stir in teh tapicoca and let set 15 minutes.

4.Preheat the oven to 425* with a rack on the lower third of the oven.

5. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the pastry. Moisten the edge of the bottom of the crust with water. Fold the dough circle in half, lift off the owrk surface, place the pastry across the center of the filled pie., and unfold. Trim the edge 1/2 inch larger than the pie plate and tuck tthe over hange under the edge of the bottom crust. Crimp the edges with a fork or make a fluted pattern with your fingers. Make several deocorateive slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. I like to use an apple cookie cutter to make the slits on top and add a little leaf or two to the stem slit.

6. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350* and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the granulated sugar and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbly.

7. Cool the pie on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I gleaned these two recipes from a great book for seasonal eatters called, Serving Up the Harvest, Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables by Andrea Chesman.

My to-do list is growing for the beginning of the week....carrot relish, canning beets, Kosher Dill Pickles...Soooo many decisions on what is BEST for each day. May you too consider before THE Lord Jesus Christ the path you choose to obedience to His ways. I can guarantee that the end of the path will lead to life eternal!! Until next week....

"Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name." Psalms 86:11

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife