The Sunny Side – Week of 7/13/14
In this week’s box you will find:
- Purplette Onions
- Green cabbage
- A Zucchini
- Basil (Thursday box)
- Fennel (Thursday box)
- Carrots (Sunday box)
- Dill (Sunday box)
In the Field
If last week was a week of catching up, this week we are going ahead full throttle! The tomatoes can already use another round of trellising, and we actually saw (and ate) a few ripe ones on Friday. Plants that have been waiting patiently until the ground was dry enough to till will get planted, and the leeks, celery and celeriac will get weeded out.
This week at the Glenview Farmers Market we got a lovely comment from one of our customers. She had bought some vegetables from us the week before, and told us that she had really enjoyed them, and that she thought that our soils must be especially fertile and healthy in order to produce such tasty produce. I told her I’d pass the complement on to Nick, who manages our soil fertility, and then it hit me! She had just outlined one of the tenets of organic farming: good soils make for good vegetables.
In order to be a certified organic farm, one of the most important things you need to be able to show is that you are promoting healthy soils. Soils that are healthy have communities of microorganisms that help break down and cycle nutrients and make them available to the plants. In contrast, the overuse of synthetic fertilizers in conventional farming will often leave the soil stripped of organic matter, robbed of natural fertility, and devoid of microbial activity. The management practices that we use include cover cropping, addition of manure and compost, crop rotation, and selective tilling. We also rely on our pastured chickens and turkeys to deliver extra fertility to fields that are lying fallow.
In the past few weeks, I have noticed that the fields we have been managing for the past five years really ARE looking good these days! This is all thanks to Nick:) One of the tools he uses to spread fertility and cover crop seed is our manure spreader (pictured above), which we were able to purchase last year thanks to a generous grant from the Frontera Farmer Foundation. The manure spreader really allowed us to up our fertility game, so thank you, Rick Bayless and friends!
In the Kitchen
Storage tips for this week:
- Purplette onions are not cured (dried) and so they should be stored in the fridge.
- The broccoli is best within 2-3 days of harvest.
- Remove the carrots from their greens to store.
- If you don’t eat all your dill this week, hang the remaining dill upside down in a warm, dark place with good air circulation. When dry, store in a jar for later!
- Cabbage will last for a while in the fridge, so don’t worry if you don’t get to it this week.
- Remove the fennel leaves from the bulb and store separately. Freeze the fennel fronds to use when cooking dry white beans.
Cooking tips for this week:
- The celery in your box is young and has a concentrated flavor that is great in cold salads, soups or stews. You can also use the celery leaves as the base to a simple salad – add shaved or grated hard cheese or bleu cheese, nuts, and lemon-juice vinaigrette.
- Broccoli crowns are the “flower” of the broccoli plant, and the part most commonly eaten, but you can eat the leaves too – they are like kale or collards, and are really tasty.
- Use Purplette onions wherever you might use red onions.
- Visit this past blog post to remind yourself how to cook with collards.
- Cabbage is a classic slaw ingredient. You can toss it with shredded carrot, broccoli stem, fennel, kohlrabi, and/or chopped dill, and dress with either a creamy dressing or a lighter vinaigrette. I like to add some caraway seeds, too!
- You can carmelize fennel in the oven – season it with salt and pepper, wrap it in foil, and roast at 350F for about 20 minutes. Slice the roasted bulb and toss with pasta and white beans for a yummy combination!
- You can find some recipe ideas for fennel stems and fronds here, here, and here!
Thanks again to Lori for some great recipes this week!
Lazy Girl’s Zucchini Spaghetti with Peas, Crème Fraîche and Pesto
- 1 medium zucchini, washed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled + finely minced
- 2 tsp basil pesto
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche, cream cheese, ricotta or mascarpone (half-fat, full fat, whatever you want!)
- 1 handful of fresh or frozen peas
- salt and pepper
- lemon zest and Parmesan cheese, to finish
- Take a box grater and place it on its side with the side with the largest grating holes on it face up.
- Cut the ends off the zucchini, then push along the top of grater, in long strokes in order to create long, thin ribbons of zucchini (see the animated .gif in the post).
- Heat a skillet with the olive oil, then gently fry the zucchini with the garlic until slightly tender. Stir in the pesto, crème fraîche (or whatever creamy ingredient you’re using) and the peas (even if they are frozen. They’ll defrost quickly in the frying pan). Stir until coated, season with salt and pepper, then take off the heat.
- Pile it into a dish (I served mine on a bed of raw spinach leaves), and grate over some lemon zest and Parmesan.
Grandma Elaine’s Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 onions, sliced
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 pounds green cabbage, cored, and cut into 3 inch chunks
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons instant white rice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, or to taste
- Place the vegetable oil into a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the sliced onions, and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, using a spoon to slightly chop the whole tomatoes. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir the cabbage into the tomatoes. Cover, and simmer 1 hour until the cabbage is tender and mixes easily with the tomatoes.
- Place the ground beef, eggs, finely chopped onion, rice, water, additional 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix together with hands until thoroughly blended. Add additional rice if mixture is too moist. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs. Place meatballs on a plate, and refrigerate 20 minutes to firm.
- Place meatballs on the surface of the tomato mixture.
- Cover and simmer over medium heat until the meatballs are firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Gently stir the meatballs into the tomato mixture. Cover the pot and continue to simmer 45 minutes more. Stir in the lemon juice, and taste for seasoning, adding additional lemon juice if required. Stir in the raisins, and honey. Add the brown sugar, a little at a time, tasting after each addition. Cook mixture over medium heat 15 minutes more.
- 1 large fennel bulb—8 small fronds reserved, bulb cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 3/4 pounds zucchini, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed
- 1 quart chicken stock
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- In a medium saucepan, cover the sliced fennel with water. Add the lemon juice and a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the fennel is tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Drain the fennel.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the zucchini, onion and garlic, season with salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cooked fennel and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the vegetables have softened completely, about 8 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Dollop 1 tablespoon of the crème fraîche into each soup and swirl in. Garnish with the fennel fronds and serve.
Lori found an historic recipe for cold cucumber soup (one of my favorite ways to eat cucumber).
Ernest Hemingway’s Cold Cucumber Soup
Hemingway’s mother, Grace Hall Hemingway, published this recipe in The Nineteenth Century Women’s Club Historical Centennial Cookbook. Ernest’s connection with this sweet cucumber and leek broth is unclear, but here it is!
- 3 cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or mint
- 1 leek, white part only, sliced, or 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups fresh chicken stock or canned broth
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- White pepper (optional)
- 1 cup half & half
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Peel and slice two of the cucumbers. Peel, seed and grate the remaining cucumber. Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the sliced cucumbers and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Add the dill or mint, leek and bay leaf and cook over low heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the stock and salt and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and let the mixture cool slightly. Purée the mixture, half at a time, in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan and add the white pepper to taste. Add the half & half, lemon juice and honey; then taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the grated cucumber. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in a chilled bowl.
Excerpted from The Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth (c) Craig Boreth 1998. Used with permission of Craig Boreth.
Here’s another neat soup recipe from Lori:
Pink Soup with Roasted Onions and Broccoli
- 2-3 small to medium beets –peeled and cubed
- 2 garlic cloves –minced
- sea salt
- 2 small to medium onions –peeled and quartered or cut into eighths, depending on size
- grape seed oil
- 1 head of broccoli –cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 cans Thai coconut milk
- pinch of chili powder or a dash of cayenne
- 1/2 lemon –juiced
- 1-2 ripe but firm avocados
- freshly ground black pepper
- Add beets to a medium-sized saucepan along with the garlic and a pinch of salt and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until beets are tender.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F (180 C). Place onions on an oiled baking sheet, lightly brush with oil and roast until golden, for about 20 minutes.
- While waiting for the beets and onions to cook, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking.
- When the beets are tender, add in coconut milk and a pinch of salt, bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Add in the broccoli, stir to heat it through and then remove from the heat. Squeeze lemon juice over the soup and adjust salt if needed.
- Cube the avocado. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with roasted onion wedges, and avocado cubes. Serve with sourdough and/or sprouted bread avocado toasts. Enjoy!
Lori also shared these instructions on how to make vegetable stock:
Vegetable stock and bone stocks are a wonderful addition to recipes. Since we are all about vegetables we will explore the creation of vegetable stock. In your box every week there is a bounty full of yummy ingredients. As you make your creations each week you are sometimes left with a bunch of vegetable scraps. Not all of these are garbage! A lot of them can be used in your vegetable stock.
The flavor of your broth comes from the vegetables you choose. The essential which can come from scraps but add some whole pieces of onions, celery and carrots. Onion skins, carrot peels that have been washed and celery leaves are great additions in stocks. Add in stems from herbs, dark ends of leeks, mushroom stems, asparagus stems, broccoli leaves or stems, corn cobs, fronds etc. etc. If there are some vegetable lurking in your bin and starting to look old add them in too. It really is a choose your own vegetable adventure.
Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower add a stronger and maybe bitter flavor to your broth so choose wisely. When using starchy vegetables like potatoes they could make the broth cloudier. None of these are bad just gives them different flavors.
So as you cook through out the week keep a Tupperware or baggie for your edible scraps and when its full cook up some yummy broth. It freezes wonderfully (put some in ice cube trays to add a small flavor punch when cooking tiny meals). Add your broth when cooking rice and grains instead of water. Enjoy!
How to Make Vegetable Broth (With Kitchen Scraps!)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 8 c. water
- frozen vegetable scraps (2-3 cups is a good amount)
- 2 bay leaves
- a few sprigs of parsley and thyme
- salt and pepper to taste (omit these if you’re making stock)
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until softened (about 5 minutes), stirring often. Add water, frozen vegetable scraps, bay leaves, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot; discard solids.
***If you feel lazy try using the crock pot! Just add all your ingredients to your crock pot and cover the veggies with water. Make sure there is a couple inches over because it will reduce down. Set it on low and simmer for 5 to 6 hrs. Strain the broth and store.