Friday, June 27, 2014

Feasting on the Farm ~ Week 4






Feasting on God's Blessings...

Greetings from the farm! There are many signs of summer all around me...the 
home farm pond is waaay down (lack of rain)...we're picking green beans...AND TOMATOES ARE RIPENING! We're excited at the earliness of the harvest due to our high tunnels that allowed us to plant them in April. We live on a mountain  where we were still getting frosts in May. The investment in our


high tunnels has allowed us an earlier season, and prayerfully will extend the season into the winter! We are committed to providing you with fresh vegetables as much of the year as possible! 

With the advent of summer we're feasting on a wide assortment of vegetables. I don't feel guilty this year snacking on a few green beans, or peeling a cucumber and taking a big bite! Ha ha! We've done it and enjoyed it. Last year was a very, very difficult growing season. It was very draining on the family, and we were sorry to cut the season short. So this year we are delighting in God's provision through our labors.





We are really blessed and feel that each time we sit down to a meal that we are feasting on God's blessings. The bounty of the harvest is very evident, whether it be breakfast, lunch, or supper! If you eat fresh and local, each new season brings the joys of something new. We often get calls in early spring 

from wholesalers wanting corn or tomatoes. The only tomatoes on our farm that time of year are in mason jars, and the few ears of corn I froze have LONG since been eaten! Buying vegetables out of season is fruitless as they, "can't shake a stick" at the taste (or nutrient levels) straight from the field! 



       ~ Breakfast ~   

                                                                        
Since I'm unable still to go to church, I treated myself to a special brunch one morning recently. I used the last of our asparagus, green onions, fresh spinach, bacon, and farm fresh eggs. After gathering what looked yummy in the frig I started to cut up the bacon. It fried while I washed and prepped the vegetables. When I added the green onions I knew I was in for a treat! Next I added the thicker stems of the asparagus which take a little longer to get tender. When the time looked right, (you have to trust yourself) I added the tops...then the spinach. I stirred this for no more than a minute before cracking two eggs on top. Next I seasoned the eggs with sea salt
and cracked pepper. Then I added a few tablespoons of water to create steam, and put a cover over the pan to cook the eggs. All this while I was toasting a bagel on this stove top toaster Colvin style. (Since we toast 18 slices at a time for a meal I only use this nifty camping toaster when I'm having a small meal with a child or my husband. It folds neatly and can be tucked away for small meals..can't do that with a clunky

toaster. See a picture of it at the end of the blog.) I buttered my bagel, picked a special dish and checked on my eggs. I like them runny, but not with loose whites...this is an art! :) When just the right consistency was reached I gently lifted the greens out with the eggs intact on top into my dish. It was delicious...a rare morning feast, quiet, and delicious taste of late spring! You can do this too with just about anything you like found in your share. It's a great way to have vegetables for breakfast!



                    
Levi (8) learned to make
kale chips this week to go with
his sandwich! 






Lunch ~  


(A note to the younger members of our CSA)                         
One day this week Charity Rose (6) decided to hold a luncheon for her babies. We have a corner of our porch (which is also our packing facility for your vegetables) reserved for "her house". She has a 27 year old kitchen there that her Daddy made her oldest sister Missy when she was a toddler. She serves her delicacies on a small table that is about that old too. We call this the summer playroom because we keep tubs of Legos, Tinker Toys, and other fun things on a shelf there also. She picked flowers and decorated a jar with some fabric to make a vase. I donated one of Grandma Colvin's oilcloth table cloths for the occasion too! Next we made the dainties to serve. A sliced mini loaf of bread, a small cup of peanut butter, apples with cheese, and more.
Each little guest was all dressed up, and were propped up to the table. Birds sang in nearby trees and a cool breeze blew in. Charity served up the "tea" and had a great time chattering to each of her guests as she served them. Somehow all the food disappeared off their plates! Maybe someday you too can come to the farm and have a meal with Charity. 
                                                     (Fall shareholders Day!)
                                                                                            
While Charity was feasting, her 7 of her big brothers and Daddy were planting and harvesting vegetables at the other farm. They had a picnic lunch, so things were quiet at home. They often augment their picnic with a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, lettuce leaves, or 
pull an onion and slice it for their sandwiches. They are more than ready to come home to a big warm meal, and to relax. 

~ Supper ~

 Last night was no different, so the age old question haunted my mind..."What should I make for supper?" This week I've been inspired by one of our virtual farmhands over at Full Tummies . She throws "everything but the kitchen sink" on her pizzas. I didn't follow her recipe, but was inspired to look in the frig and do the same...throw I did! I made five large pizzas, and we had a fun movie night with this extra special treat. It was marvelous! Here's what I ended up doing: 

Pizza CSA Style

1 pizza crust ( I use the Master Recipe from
Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day ) Pre-baked 5-7 minutes
1/4 C. Flour
1/4 C. Butter
2 C.  Combination of  Yogurt & Milk (Milk alone will do in a pinch.)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese
1/2 t.  Sea Salt
4 Swiss Chard leaves (any green will do), sliced thinly
1 Medium Onion, sliced thinly
1 Small Squash, grated (I used Zucchini)
1/4-1/2 lb. Italian Sausage
Handful of Pepperoni
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan.  Add flour and whisk in the milk or milk/yogurt combination as I did. Whisk until thickened. Add Parmesan cheese and salt. Set aside.

In a skillet drizzle about 1 T. olive oil. When heated  add garlic and onions, saute until fragrant. Add the sliced greens and squash. Cook until limp. Set aside. 

In another frying pan brown sausage. Add pepperoni to heat through. Set aside.

Spread white cheese sauce over pre-baked crust. Next, spread sauteed vegetables evenly over sauce. Next, layer the meat over the vegetables. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in 450 degree oven until the cheese melts. Enjoy!


One time-tested recipe that makes its way into the blog each season is Cold Pack Pickles. Why? Well, they are really easy to make, stay in the frig for quick side dishes all week, and you can save the brine for a few weeks. Just refill with the next week's share of cucumbers if you fall in love with them too! We like them so well that I made a 5 GALLON bucket of them this week! I've never had a food processor until this year, and WOW it was amazing to see how quick we could make a big batch. (We're hosting 3 other families for a porch picnic this Sunday, and I'm thinking ahead!) I use Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar so that we can have the healthful benefits of unrefined apple cider with the mother in it. This recipe calls for 5 cucumbers...it halves easily, or I recommend that you pick up a few extras at the farmer's market! Serve it with sandwiches or supper!





                                                                               

Colvin Family Farm’s Cold Pack Pickles

 5 medium cucumbers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup sugar/ Colvin Family Farm raw honey 
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (We recommend  Braggs Raw Vinegar)
Add a good dose of coarse ground Black Pepper to taste,
Optionally add water to weaken to taste
Slice cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 15 minutes. Pour off liquid. Add onion and mix well.  In a small bowl combine sugar and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Pour over cucumbers and onions. Add pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least one hour. Mix well before serving. These are best made a day or two before needed. Don’t throw the brine out, simply salt your cucumbers, drain them, then add them with the onions each week to your leftover brine. (It will begin to weaken after a few refills.)  If you like them as much as wee do, keep your refrigerator stocked during cucumber season to help with quick meals!

There is a mystery vegetable in your share this week! Did you find it? We've 
Radish Seed Pods
been enjoying the subtle taste of radish in their seed pods for snacks. You have a small baggie of them to experiment with. I'm going to use radish seed pods in a stir fry! I'm sharing my basic stir fry that changes with the seasons. Stir fries are a great way to clean out your vegetable drawer the night before picking up your share! 





Basic Stir Fry
3 Tablespoons oil, roughly divided
2 cups of boneless meat (chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp) cut in thin strips (vegan is fine too!)
2 thin slices of fresh ginger (can use powdered if fresh is unavailable)
2 bouillon granules the same flavor as meat
2 C. Water
3-4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
          A variety of vegetables cut in the same thickness: Onions, (a must) broccoli, snap or snow peas, mushrooms, green beans, cauliflower, kohlrabi, sprouted lentils or mung beans, carrots, summer squash, baby corn, green/red peppers, tomatoes, Any type of Cabbage or bits of greens, etc.

          Cut your choice of meat into small pieces, and put them into a small bowl. (Optional : Sometimes I marinate the meat with a 1/3 cup of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and two tablespoons of cider vinegar.) 

Using a large round tray or pizza pan, put your small bowl of meat in the middle of your tray. Now, cut the vegetables in bite sized chunks of similar thickness. I start with the seasoning vegetables like ginger and onions. I put these on the tray in the "12:00" position. Next, I cut the vegetable that takes the longest to cook, usually carrots into thin strips. Then cut the remaining vegetables and place them in mounds on the tray in the order it will take them to cook in a clockwise direction. Carrots at 1 o'clock, 2:00 green beans, and so forth with the mushrooms or tomatoes, if they are available being your last additions in the 11:00 position.  If this is cut up ahead of time, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until cooking time.
     Our family likes this on a bed of rice, so I start my rice cooker around 45 minutes before supper. When the table is set and the rice is about done, heat your wok or large skillet up on HIGH. Add 1 T oil, then meat. Stir the meat and cook until the meat has lost its color. Spoon the meat out into the bowl once again. Next, add the remaining oil and your seasoning vegetables (ginger and onions). Sauté for about one minute. Add vegetables in order on your tray beginning with the 1 o'clock position where the vegetables take the longest to cook. Stir constantly, leaving a few minutes between the carrots and the next vegetable until all vegetables (except tomatoes if you are using them) are being stirred. When your arm grows weary, add the bouillon and water. Cover and let steam to desired tenderness, remembering Chinese stir fries are cooked al dente!  Add your bowl of meat and its juices. Finally add tomatoes if you are using them.  Lastly,  move the vegetables carefully to one side to reveal the broth. Slowly add cornstarch as needed to broth to thicken gravy. Stir with a fork until broth thickens. Serve immediately over a bed of rice or Chow Mein Noodles.

  

There are endless ways to feast on the bounty of God's harvest brought to you in your share box. Remember we have a forum on our website to share the creative recipes you come up with! We also have two virtual farmhands that blog about their family's use of the vegetables in their shares. There is an abundance of encouragement at your disposal!  

Feasting on the harvest is needful, but feasting on God's Word is just essential for our daily health too. I've gone about this in many ways over the years...reading a Proverb a day according to the day of the month was one great way. I'd pick one verse to copy on a card and put where I spend time so I could think more about the truth I need to live. Recently...no, for the last 8 or so years I've been copying Scripture. I've copied the New Testament and am in the Old Testament now. I'm not bragging by any means. I have a friend that took about a year to do the entire Bible! I keep getting side tracked into word studies, character studies, and then since the accident 3 months ago I haven't been able to write for long. Copying Scripture helps me to REALLY slow down and understand fully what I'm reading. I use notebook paper and leave wide margins on all four sides. In the margins I make lists, write definitions, draw illustrations, and on the bottom write out applications for my daily life. Do you REALLY want to know God's heart? Slow down and copy Scripture! It's a feast for your soul. What did you feast on today? 

"O taste and see that the Lord is 

good: blessed is the man that 

trusteth in him."

Psalm 34:8


Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife
Val


Noah is faithful to keep the home farm looking
nice. Thanks again Noah!


The bountiful harvest at
Oak Ridge Farmer's
Market.



Tomatoes are beginning to ripen. A sure
sign of summer!
Our Grandson Samuel is learning to farm from
a young age. Thank you Adam for taking the
time to mentor your nephew!



New potatoes are starting to find their way to
the markets...yummm!


A daily challenge is to keep
the family in ice cubes!



Grandpa is packing shares with his grandsons,
Samuel and Josiah


Our onion cleaning crew!
Luke ~11, Levi ~8, Faith Anne ~ 13



Oh the sweetness of a fresh onion!
Nothing from the store can compare.
An heirloom Pineapple Tomato
What a beauty!


Every feast brings the challenge
of doing dishes...a full
dishwasher plus a FULL
RACK to wash!



One of our most popular greens...KALE!


Noah is all done in...time for a swim in the pond
to wake him up!



Heirloom Tomatoes
Welcome Broccoli !



Sweet Nuggets of Summer
A great snack to munch on!
Charity and Samuel  were cutting out shapes
from bread dough and sprinkling them with
cinnamon and sugar while I mixed another
batch of dough.
Even leftovers for lunch  are a feast!



The children find their own feasts up and down the lanes
surrounding our farm.They've been picking wild raspberries
and checking on the black berries. Here are
huckleberries  (wild blue berries)
Adam picked for me!
Samuel Christopher Biggs
our first grandson lives just down the lane
on our farm. What a blessing!


One of my favorite farmers!
Caleb relaxes on the porch
for his lunch.


I just had to post a picture of my
personal sized, non-electric
toaster. It folds away
when I'm not using it. It can toast
up to 5 slices of bread at a time
quickly on your stove's eye.
We originally bought it for camping
with our Coleman stove. It was too
handy to keep packed away!
The garlic harvest is in!
Caleb drives it down the field to the packing shed where it
will be prepared to dry.


First it was tied into bundles.
Then Isaac (20) hung them from
the rafters of our new (unfinished)
packing shed. Here he is helping
Luke (11) try to hang one.
This is a view of the garlic bundles once hung
from the rafters.

The boys used the farm wagon
as their work table to bundle
the garlic cloves.