Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week 1 of Lovely Vegetables

Hello Community Supported Agriculture member,
   Are you ready for a seasonal journey through the garden?  Our vegetables are grown with love using organic methods.  No synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. 
    You are a valuable part of our farm!  We plan all winter to grow a full garden for you.  This year will be our best year yet. The gardens are glowing and soil has really responded to our careful organic management.

Washing veggies: We’ve got wonderfully fresh vegetables for you.  Just remember to rinse or soak your veggies before preparing or cooking.  I have a large bowl that I fill with cold water to soak and swish veggies around it before cutting them up or spinning the salad greens dry. I also have an awesome little salad spinner that stays full in the fridge with my washed baby lettuce and arugula mix.

This week’s harvest and cooking ideas and tips:
        ~Mix into lettuce or enjoy it on its own.  Try an arugula salad with fresh dill and goat cheese.  Add something sweet like grated carrots to an arugula salad.  Add some strawberries if you can find them.  I love a sweet white balsamic vinegar with arugula.
Baby lettuce mix- We grow a mix of 12 different delicate and tender baby lettuce varieties.
        ~Add to sandwiches. Make a baby salad and hummus wrap.
Radishes “French Breakfast”  This variety is easy to slice or grate. It is more mild than other types. (Of course it does get spicier when the weather warms up.)
        ~Do you think radishes are spicy? Much of the spiciness is a volatile, aromatic flavor that will dissipate once you slice or grate the radish.  I make sure to dress the sliced or grated radishes with a bit of salt, olive oil, and sweet white balsamic vinegar and let them marinate for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Heirloom Romaine Head Lettuce- “Rouge di Iver,” a red French heirloom and “Forellenschluss,” a speckled German heirloom (the speckles are normal and unique)
Dill- Adds a lively, fresh flavor
~ Add to any potato dish, really.  Great with eggs: Add to egg salads, frittatas, fried egg sandwiches. Add to any salad. See a salad idea in the arugula section.
Cilantro- Add to a homemade vinaigrette.  See recipe below. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over any Mexican or Brazilian fusion style meal.  We love cilantro with black beans and our chorizo sausage.
Bok Choy- Crunchy and mild Asian veggie that is great diced up raw in salads or cooked in a stir-fry.  See recipe below.
Garlic scapes-Once a year the garlic plants try to flower just before garlic bulbs are ready to harvest. A rare treat.  It has a sweet garlic and onion flavor.
        ~Dice and add to any dish that you would use garlic and onions.
Kale “Red Russian”- a wavy, tender kale with a mild kale flavor. This a staple cooking green that is more mild than mustard or collard greens. 
~ It is very tender, so it requires very little cooking. I just “wilt it down” in a sauté.  See a yummy recipe below. Very good with canned diced tomatoes or add to spaghetti sauces.  I strip the leaves of their stems, dice about ½ of the stems if you'd like, and chop the leaves into 1 inch pieces.  Cook the diced stems about 4 minutes before add the chopped leaves. *Try making kale chips!  Recipe below
Curly Kale- Large shares only: a curly kale that holds up well in sauces and soups.
        ~See above cooking tips.  This variety usually takes 2 or 3 more minutes of sautéing to “wilt it down.”  Great texture for kale chips! Recipe below

Name That Veggie!

"Red Russian" Kale bunch

Heirloom Romaine Lettuce "Forellenschluss," the speckles are normal and unique!

Bok Choy, a wonderful Asian stir-fry vegetable

The delicious eggs are brought to you by...our lovely layer hens. (Members who have a small egg share and who pick up at Bluebird Farm will not get eggs this week. 

Many of my personal recipes are kitchen ideas that I try to capture before cooking dinner myself.  My ideas are sometimes typed on the fly, so if a recipe seems a little incomplete, just go for it and innovate!  Use your judgment and your wonderful fresh veggies and it will taste wonderful!

Bok Choy:     Asian Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Peanut Sauce-
Sauté 4 garlic cloves and 1 chili (or 1 teaspoon chili powder) over medium heat in a medium pot for 4 minutes.  Then add 1 cup water, ¼ cup soy sauce,  1/3 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy), and 2 teaspoons brown sugar.  Stir vigorously to combine.  Thicken sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally.     Makes about 1 ¼ cups of sauce
Stir Fry Vegetables: Add any veggie that you’d like. The possibilities are endless.
Saute 1 onion and 2 carrots over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add chopped bok choy stems and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn up heat to medium high heat and add a splash of water. Add roughly chopped bok choy leaves and stir. After about another minute of cooking, lower heat to medium and pour peanut sauce over veggies. Cook over medium heat until some sauce absorbs or vegetables are done to your liking.
Serve over soba noodles, basmati rice, or brown rice.

Cilantro:    Honey Cilantro Vinaigrette        
Adapted From Passionate Vegetarian
Makes about 1 ¾ cup

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 jalapeno pepper or 1 pinch cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce(optional)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
1 cup olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping the sides when needed.  With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil into dressing.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Best if aged for at least one hour or overnight.

Kale:              Marie’s favorite Kale Chip Recipe
You can use any variety of kale.
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar (about ½ tablespoon)
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees C)
With a knife or kitchen shears remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. (I like to use my hands to strip the leaves from the stem.)Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Place kale in a plastic bag. Drizzle kale with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with sea salt. Thoroughly massage the bag to mix the oil and vinegar into the leaves.
 Using several baking sheets spread the kale pieces out so that they are not touching; I use 3 or 4 sheets.  Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 7 to 12 minutes. Make sure to check the chips almost every minute after 7 minutes have passed.  Every oven is a little different…Adjust this recipe’s time to your oven!

Kale:          Fettuccine with sausage and kale
Recipe from Shiloh at Tumbling Shoals Farm in Wilkesboro, NC.  We both have stands at the Hickory Farmers’ Market, and she sends her vegetable customers over for our ground Country or ground Italian sausage for this recipe!  She says this recipe is how she gets her farm customers “hooked” on kale!  It’s certainly an all-star vegetable in this awesome recipe!
Makes  4 servings
A quick hearty Italian dinner.  I prefer to use a whole wheat penne, but the fettuccine is always tasty!  With tender young kale, you may skip the blanching step and add the chopped leaves after partially cooking the sausage for 4-6 minutes and sauté the kale and sausage for 5 minutes while the pasta boils.
    3 tablespoons olive oil                                        
    1 pound turkey or pork sausages, casings discarded and sausage crumbled
    1/2 pound kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (about 1 bunch of kale)
    1/2 pound or less of dried egg fettuccini pasta                   
    2/3 cup chicken broth                                          
    1 ounce finely grated pecorino Romano cheese plus additional for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, chopping in quarter sized pieces with a spatula or spoon, 4-6 minutes.  Meanwhile, blanch kale in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 5 minutes.  Remove kale with a large sieve and drain.  Return cooking water in pot to a boil, then cook pasta in boiling water, uncovered, until al dente.  While pasta cooks, add kale to sausage in skillet and saute, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Add broth, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet.  When pasta is al dente, reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water to skillet, tossing until combined.  Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water if desired.  Serve immediately with additional cheese on the side.
Gourmet, March 2006

Your farmers,
Marie and William
Please don't hesitate to email or call.  BluebirdFarmNC@gmail.com or 584-7359

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