Friday, July 18, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, CSA Week 7

Greetings from the farm!

We've had another busy week here...harvesting the last of the onions...readying more ground for planting, and more planting for the early fall crops we'll need. A few of the boys planted the LAST PLANTING OF SQUASH FOR THE SEASON in the greenhouse today! Time sure is flying by!
There are harvests daily that bring lots of
vegetables to the porch packing shed...the good, the bad, and the ugly!

This week I've been able to experiment with some of my "uglies" and created some really fun meals. One of our family favorites
was the zucchini crust pizza I made for one lunch picnic out under the trees. When you shred zucchini it really doesn't matter if you use the bad, or the ugly. In fact this will be my "go-to" pizza crust this summer! It's quick, healthy, and YUMMY! Thank you Pintrest!

              Zucchini Crust Pizza

1 large egg or 2 small ones
3 small to medium zucchinis
1.5 cups grated Parmesan, Cheddar, or Mozzarella Cheese. 
(I combined Parmesan and cheddar.)
1 t. Italian Seasoning

This is what I can choose for yourselves.
Sliced tomatoes, or mild tomato sauce
Swiss Chard, thinly sliced and sauteed with garlic
Onion, diced
mushrooms, sauteed with chard
leftover grilled chicken thighs
bacon, crumbled
mozzarella cheese

Grate the zucchini and sprinkle it heavily with salt in a bowl. Let sit at least 15 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini as dry as possible. Next combine all the ingredients listed for the crust. Mix gently. (If it looks too wet as mine did, just sprinkle some flour over the mixture until it is                       drier. The crust is very forgiving!)              
      Pour onto a parchment lined pan. Mold into a circle. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the crust is just set. Remove from the oven.

Next put your toppings on...Pizza takes on a different feel around here in the summer. Gone is the heavy tomato sauce and chopped or sliced tomatoes are in its place. I added sauteed greens and mushrooms, chopped bacon and chicken, along with diced onions.  It was a yummmmmy meal!

I like to make side dishes that I can keep in the refrigerator all week to draw from quickly. I pack lunches on the go as men leave for markets, or when we return home from church late in the evening. Having side dishes ready helps even on less hectic days, leaving me time to do the go to Charity's tea parties! Like usual I've used very little good vegetables this week...mostly I work with the bad (very ripe or have visual imperfections) and and a few uglies(These have spots that need to be cut out to be used.).  They all taste the same, but the condition of a vegetable will tell me how long it will remain in edible condition.

This colorful pasta salad was really easy to make...and I made it from 100% uglies. While the vegetable spiral pasta was cooking to the al dente stage I cut up 8 different ugly vegetables from my frig to go into it. Cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, radishes, a pepper, all went in raw. I lightly steamed the carrots and kohlrabi before adding them to the bowl . Lastly we made Ranch dressing and poured it over the mixture and gently stirred it in. In the past I've also used our Italian dressing, so use your favorite dressing to moisten. This lasts all week in your refrigerator for a quick side dish. 

 I store my tomatoes on the counter on a wicker tray. This allows the air to circulate around the tomatoes so they won't stay damp
and mold quicker. It also allows the tomatoes that are still a bit unripe to finish up the ripening process without rotting. Being in a single layer is also important. The tomatoes we raise are not the same varieties you find in the store...they are .... for shipping. They stay hard and last a long time for that reason. Many of our tomato varieties are heirlooms that have interesting names like Cherokee Purple, (Our farm lies in the path of the Cherokee
 Trail of Tears.) our award winning Lemon Boy, and Pink Beauty  that are very tender.  I arrange my tomatoes upside down on their shoulders on this tray by how ripe they are.(Slightly green ones to one end, while working towards the "must eat now" ones at the other end of the tray.) We eat from one end of the tray and slowly move the fruit as it ripens to the ripe side. I cover this tray with a pretty towel to slow the fruit flies down. It really helps.

We are alllll spoiled to the beautiful produce that is displayed in abundance at the grocery store...piles of super-straight cucumbers, carbon-copied peppers, tomatoes that look like they've
Carrots are laid out to be hosed down before
bunching them for shares.
been uniformly molded into a specific shape, and oranges in the prettiest shade of bright orange! My, my, someone must be a GREAT farmer to produce such nice produce! NOT...there is a widespread problem of food waste...We know the pressure to produce the food that you the consumer are used to. Can our tomatoes be odd shaped? Can a cucumber with a bit of "scab" sell? Do local consumers understand that cauliflower that is not sprayed with preservative upon harvesting will end up with little black flecks on the florets within hours, and that a simple cut with a paring knife will rid the heads of it and be PERFECTLY EDIBLE for at least a week when refrigerated? Did you know that more than half of the colored peppers grown in the field are wasted in the process of producing those beautiful colored peppers, and that slight imperfects should be overlooked? 

There were years while raising our family on a
Okra has begun to be harvested!!
It sure is pretty!
"small" one acre lot with a single income that I longed for an abundance of produce that my small raised bed gardens built on a rock ledge couldn't grow. I didn't know then what I know now and worked hard to can everything the Lord sent me! We lived in a farming community that raised LOTS of tomatoes. We were given seconds for many years, but as the regulations have been getting more strict over the years we are now unable to glean as we did for YEARS. Along with the stricter food "guidelines" comes a growing problem. The problem is not one somewhere far's a problem right here in East Tennessee as well as all over the United States. In our nation alone there is an ugly problem of food waste! Our homes, our schools, restaurants, and especially within the farming community the percentage of food waste has risen to an alarming 40%! While our government spends millions on how to figure out how to feed a growing population, the problem could be solved by personal accountability within our homes and communities. 

(One of our Facebook followers linked us up with this video that shows an amazing solution! WATCH IT HERE. Another great article on the problem can be FOUND HERE.)

I read an interview with a large farmer that hires large dump trucks to haul his waste produce off! There was no mention of food pantries, homeless shelters, or even composting! I've seen the waste first hand and we're trying to be very careful about our use of the bad and the ugly here on the farm. Our family lives on leftovers from markets and the bad, we have needy families in our area that regularly get the surplus free of charge, and we participate in Second Harvest Food Bank's produce round-up. One more way we're planning to help us all out in this is to open our own commercial kitchen where we can freeze, can, or dry the good, the bad, and the ugly for year round sales, prayerfully further reducing food waste on our farm. Look for an announcement this fall and winter on that front!
A peek at our traditional Sunday dinner
after church. Getting the meal ready is
a family affair.
Levi (8) scrubbed a dutch oven full of
carrots for us. He was so proud
to be a help!
These hens will feed us for dinner, and
provide sandwich meat during the week.
We put almost 300 pounds of chicken in the
freezer last year. What a blessing!!
Our dessert came straight from the field the day
before! Soon cantaloupe will prayerfully be in
all the shares!
Sunday dinner...sliced heirloom tomatoes, multi-colored carrots
sliced raw squash, cold pack pickles, farm raised baked chicken,
brown rice, (the only dish made from off farm ingredients)
and 100% Whole Wheat Baguettes.
I've been waiting a few weeks to introduce my new kitchen gadget. It is sure fun to use this vegetable spiralizer, but I'm still in the experimentation stage. Steve and I really enjoy the lighter and healthier pasta that we can make quickly for our private meals. I've not used it on a grand scale yet for the entire family as pasta is a great "fill 'em up" ingredient that I use for the boys and young men. So, Farmer Steve and I have been enjoying

zucchini spaghetti over the past few weeks when a private meal is convenient after church. There are two different sizes of pasta depending on which end you use. Levi (8) and I also made a raw carrot salad last night for a movie date with Charity (6). I found that spiralizing our carrots was much more difficult to do, but still a yummmmy option. I plan on
experimenting more with some Pintrest recipes in the near future and will report on my success or failures! (The link on this page is to a spiralizer that is identical to mine. I could not find my exact brand on Amazon anymore. It is probably the same thing with a different label stamped on it.) Here is a demonstration of the product...with another name on it. Video Demonstration

Vegetable Spaghetti

1 medium zucchini per person
Your favorite Pasta Sauce
(We used up leftovers from a spaghetti night.)

Quickie Version: Spiralize the zucchini onto microwaveable plates. Top with pasta sauce. Cover the plate well with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes per plate. Let sit for a few minutes to finish cooking. Pour off any extra liquid. Serve! 

To help remove the liquid before making the meal, simply sprinkle salt on the spiralized zucchini and let sit 15 minutes. Pour off any liquid, then proceed to the directions above.

For a few weeks now the words, "the good, the bad, and the ugly" have been ringing in my mind. The Lord prompted me to make a list of the "good, the bad, and the ugly" in my life. I challenge you to prayerfully do this too! 

First I looked at my home, and how it was managed. We do well over 40 loads of laundry a week around here counting the farm linens. Keeping up with Mt. Saint Dirty Clothes is a daily challenge that we conquer so it doesn't conquer us! We also have made a family closet this year that has taken A LOT of pressure off keeping rooms bedrooms tidy. So, on my list I wrote:

Good                   Bad                         Ugly

Family Closet    Not dealing with    Overwhelming       
                      the daily muddy    pile that dis-
                      Jeans and other       courages

Then I proceeded to my spiritual life:

The good: A desire to help others.

The bad:  I step in when I should pray first.

The Ugly:  I go ahead of God's will.

After I was "still and knew He was God" I learned to celebrate the good God was doing in my life in the "good" column. "Being confident of this very thing,that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Then, against my flesh's will I looked at the bad column...again and again each issue I had listed had me going ahead of the Spirit's leading. This was a BIG caution to me.

In the ugly category there were strongholds of pride and slothfulness that needed to be torn down with the Spirit's power. I didn't have what it would take on my own. No more would the excuse of, "I'll try to do better." work....These areas were ugly in God's sight. 

I challenge you to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in your life. It may be the way you look at vegetables at the farmer's market from now on. It may be the way you look at the problems you face in your home. If you are bold enough to have the Spirit's light illuminate your spiritual life, you'll see the bad and the uglies that need Jesus Christ's blood to cleanse them. 

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:7

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife

This week we've been laying more plastic for fall crops.

Okra blooms are sooo beautiful!

It's hot pepper season! 

Bundling kale for mid-week

Charity (6) has a special relationship with her lifelong assigned
buddy. Now that Caleb is in a courtship with Shelby Bennett
she feels a need to "stake her claim". ;)

Hope (our 4th to the oldest) and our second
grandson Josiah stopped in and helped me
freeze corn for the winter.

One of our best "hired hands" here on our Certified Naturally Grown farm. This Praying Mantis eats lots of bugs...even small mice, hummingbirds, and lizards!
Kids, check out this link!