Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

Farm Share Week 3

Green Kale: Ridiculously nutritious and versatile!

Picking the peas was a great way to start today in the nice cool morning. The weather is giving us some sweet relief from an incredibly hot and stormy week. Sugar snap peas are fresh out of the field this week and they are my favorite of all peas! They have sweet flavour paired with the ease of using the whole pod. So, please don’t sit there shelling your peas- the whole pod was made to be enjoyed.

Also new this week is cauliflower- and I must say, it is an achievement. Cauliflower is very vulnerable to pests that are extemely hard to control organically. This is the reason we have not grown more in the past. However, in the shelter of the greenhouse, it looks like the bugs were unsuccessful in finding their favourite treat. Why not try wrapping your cauliflower in tin foil and grilling it?

There are still many leafy greens decorating your box. Try to enjoy them for their versatility- salads, pastas, soups, sauteed on their own or with those sassy garlic scapes! You can even try adding them to smoothies for a little “green power” or using them in an omelette. As more of the other vegetables become available, they will gradually replace some of the greens.

So, here is what you are receiving this week and some recipe ideas.

Half Share
-asparagus (last week folks, savour it!)
-green leaf lettuce
-red leaf lettuce
-cauliflower
-garlic scapes
-green kale
-spinach
-rainbow swiss chard
-sugar snap peas
-snow peas (York & Durham) or black currants (Durham & Pickup)

Whole Share
-asparagus (last week folks, savour it!)
-green leaf lettuce
-red leaf lettuce
-cauliflower
-garlic scapes
-green kale
-spinach
-rainbow swiss chard
-large sugar snap peas
-snow peas (York & Durham) or black currants (Durham & Pickup)
-red beets (first crop this year!)
-kohlarabi (those light green or purple martian heads with big leaves)
-red radish
-Russian kale
-oregano
-green onions

Now for the recipes:

Snow Pea and Bean Sprout Stir-Fry: Try this Lightning-fast Vegetarian Main Dish!
(Adapted From Fresh Juice Magazine, June/July 2012)

Ingredients
-pint clamshell of snow peas
-4 cups bean sprouts
-2 tbsp. peanut or other oil
-3 garlic scape stems, chopped
-pinch salt
-1.5 cups julienned fresh shitake mushroom caps
-3 green onions, sliced thinly on a diagonal
-pinch granulated sugar
-1 tsp. light soy sauce

Directions
1. Pull off strings from peas. Stack 3 or 4 pods and slice lenthwise into 3 or 4 thin strips to make julienne.
2. Pinch off roots and brown seeds from bean sprouts.
3. In wok, heat oil over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, onions and garlic scapes, and stir fry one minute. Add peas, sugar and 3 tbsp. water, stir-frying until peas are tender and water has evaporated (1-2 mins). Add bean sprouts and soy sauce; stir fry for 1 minute. (Serves 4)

Cheese Canneloni

One of my customers was kind enough to share that her family’s favourite way to enjoy spinach was cheese canneloni. I found this recipe online, which is fabulous and hearty, but I must add a few tweaks. The recipe uses frozen spinach, which to me would be more suitable as hockey pucks. Instead, use your fresh organic Ontario spinach, chop it up, steam it for a few minutes (wilted but still vibrant in colour), and then drain it (I squish out the water to save time with my hands). Add as directed. Also, your garlic scapes can be used the same as garlic cloves, so you can easily use this instead of purchasing garlic. Here’s the basic recipe http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/Spinach-and-Cheese-Cannelloni-L1412.html .

Finally, a few ideas for the whole sharers with that odd vegetable called kohlrabi. Try it raw or roasted this week. The green are good to eat also.

Kohlrabi: cauliflower’s eccentric cousin, just loaded with vitamin C

http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.ca/2007/01/roasted-vegetables-roasted-kohlrabi.html
http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.ca/2008/02/kohlrabi-apple-slaw-with-creamy.html

Hopefully these recipes help you in your veggie adventures.

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Farm Share Week 5

Please note:

In order to post earlier some things on this post may change with available. You never know for sure what looks ready and happy until you are out in the fields!

Half Share

-zucchini

-beets

-carrots

-green leaf

-swiss chard

-peas

-radish

-broccoli

-celery

-raspberries

Whole Share

-zucchini

-beets

-carrots

-green leaf

-swiss chard

-peas

-radish

-broccoli

-celery

-bok choy

-red kale

-strawberries

-coriander or garlic chives

-raspberries

-2 additional items

Here is a recipe for cold zucchini soup that I am eager to try. No cooking- so it’s easier and more of the nutrients of the veggies are preserved. http://www.marilyn.ca/Cooking/segment.aspx/Daily/May-2011/05_23_2011/SummerSoups

Also, here is an article on storing veggies. Please note NOT to wash berries before you are ready to eat them. They are very sensitive to moisture. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/29/where-do-you-store-produce-in-your-fridge-for-maximum-shelf-life.aspx

Enjoy!

Last week’s post that didn’t post!

Hello all!

Here is a quick run-though of the contents for the boxes (LAST!) week. My apologies, I was travelling and apparently this didn’t post even though I am quite certain the ‘publish’ button was clicked.  As soon as I have this week’s list I will post it up tonight, no delays!!

Today’s tip, for those of you who don’t have one already, is to get a salad spinner! I always thought “I should get one of those, some day…” and finally picked one up this weekend (the Starfrit collapsible version in fact!).  And it is FANTASTIC.  Damp greens = soggy salads that just don’t taste as good as they could.  So go get one, for $30 or so, they are absolutely worth it.

Also, here’s a recipe for red currants used in an apple cranberry currant crumble pie (say that five times fast!). I think it sounds delicious and am going to try it tonight!

Here’s the list:

Half Share
-romaine
-red leaf lettuce
-spinach
-zucchini
-sugar snap peas
-broccoli
-baby bok choy
-black kale
-chili peppers or other peppers
-carrots

Whole Share
-romaine
-red leaf lettuce
-spinach
-zucchini
-sugar snap peas
-broccoli
-baby bok choy
-black kale
-chili peppers or other peppers
-carrots
-garden peas
-green kale
-red beets
-currants
-parsley
-grape tomatoes

Enjoy!

Week 18 – Summer 2010

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I would have to say that mine was absolutely amazing!

This week I am sending you out some surveys so you can give us your feedback on many aspects of your experience with the Farm Share Program.  Your input is greatly appreciated and heavily relied upon for our planning for next year.

This year to make it fun, everyone who submits a survey by completing it online or returning the paper copy in their box next week or the week after (which, can you believe, is the last week) will automatically be entered into a draw to win a beautiful gift basket stocked with home preserves, seasonal baking and other goodies. Remember, we appreciate all surveys but only the ones with names identified can be entered into the draw.

A new mark of the season is upon us – the appearance of frost overnight. Obviously this means that many crops are phasing out but of course we will still find your 10 or 15 items until the end of the season. You may notice your romaine this week has a few brown spots from the frost but it is still fine to eat though it might require a little trimming. The red leaf lettuce found in the whole shares is very vibrant this week – it responds to the frost by deepening in colour. Also, this probably the last week for leeks, so make sure you enjoy them while they are here.

Your local farm connection,
Jennifer Eng

Half Share

  • leeks
  • carrots
  • beets
  • green onions
  • romaine lettuce
  • black kale
  • butternut squash
  • green cabbage
  • radishes
  • broccoli

Whole Share

  • leeks
  • carrots
  • beets
  • green onions
  • romaine lettuce
  • black kale
  • butternut squash
  • green cabbage
  • radishes
  • broccoli
  • green peppers
  • field tomatoes
  • red leaf lettuce
  • swiss chard
  • baby bokchoy

Here are a few tips from Reader’s Digest on freezing your veggies for those weeks when you just don’t quite get a chance to use everything right up.  Or, maybe you just want to save some of your delightful produce for later on when delivery has ended.

I am a fan of freezing the kale and then crunching the frozen pieces into all sorts of meals — soups, stir fry, lasagna, you name it!  I hope these are helpful to you too.  Have a great week friends!

~ heather

You can can! (home canning tips and tricks)

As we shift seasons, and — dare I mention it — winter draws closer, it’s nice to plan ahead to save some of your delicious organics for when there’s snow on the ground.

Many people enjoy spending  a cool fall day (or two) doing some canning. The windows can be open, so even if your kitchen escapades heat up the house you have a lovely breeze coming through to cool you off.

Hopefully the overview below is informative and helpful to you in either getting started, or in giving canning another go if you’ve tried it before!

What do you need?

  • A canner (many people use a big pot and the boiling water method, though it is often recommended to get a pressure canner)
  • A canning rack (this is what you sit your jars on in the pot)
  • One or more funnels (for pouring your concoctions into the jars)
  • Jar lifter (very handy in order to get those jars in and out of the hot HOT water)
  • A jar wrench (to loosen the lids after canning — so you can eat your delicious concoctions!)
  • An assortment of jars, tops, and lids

Then what do I do?

Although the cooking times and packing instructions will vary depending on what you are making, there are some basic guidelines you’ll need to follow, no matter what you’re preserving.

1. Sterilization. You must sterilize your jars and lids by boiling them! (Carefully review each recipe to determine how and for how long to sterilize). Tops and lids should be used once and then you must use new ones the next time you can. Jars are okay to reuse as long as they are sound.

2. Hot Stuff.  What’s going into the jar must be HOT. The jars will be hot (you just sterilized them, good job!) and in most recipes the food itself should be bubbling hot on the stove when you go to put it into the jars. If the jars are being packed cold (like with pickles) the pickling liquid you’re using should be boiling hot.

3. Acidity. One of the keys to successful canning (read: safe to eat, no bacteria!) is to follow the recipe/directions closely. In addition to the temperature of both the ingredients and the hardware, the amount of acid in the recipe is key. It is VERY important to follow each recipe and use the exact amount of the exact ingredients and cook at the exact temperature for the exact length of time. Got it? EXACTLY! 🙂

4. Boiling Times. Your goal is to ensure that NO bacteria survive the canning process. Jars must seal tightly, there needs to be enough space remaining in the jar after you’ve filled it to ensure that the food has room to expand in the heat without pressing on the jar tops and lids (this can break the seal).   Your jars need to be properly sealed and boiled for the amount of time required (and in the method described in your recipe) in order to ensure they’ll be safe to consume when you are done.

5. Easy Does It — Cooling Off. Space out your finished product in a low traffic area so air can circulate around and cool off the jars. Keep out of cold breezes and most certainly do not put them into your fridge (or, for goodness sake, your freezer) to speed up the cooling process.  You don’t want to break any of the jars! Remember to tuck them away somewhere as they cool so no one gets burned on the hot containers.

6. “Pop”. Did you hear a popping noise as your jars cool and seal? If the tops do not curve in nicely, the seal hasn’t work, or hasn’t held. This becomes your ‘tester’ jar — keep it in the fridge and use it right away.

7. Storage. Store your delicious finished product in a cool, dry, dark place.  Canned goods make lovely hostess gifts, tie them up with a little ribbon and pop on a custom label (easy to make with labels you can get online or at craft or office supply stores).

8. Be Sure! If anything about your jar seems off, if the lid is bumped out, slightly askew or if you notice mold, bubbles, cloudiness, bad smells, or oddly discoloured food when you open a jar, don’t even think about trying it! Throw away the lids and seals, and dump out the contents.  You can reuse the jar without concern.

So those are some starter points –for more information, Eat Right Ontario has a great FAQ page about canning that will answer any questions a new canner might have.  Check it out for all the basics and tips to get you started. You might also want to visit About.com’s Canning Site.

If you like to have a book to work from, my research pointed me to one book over and over — Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  And Ball also has a fantastic, informative website — pop over to learn everything you need to know about home preserving, they have a raft of recipes as well.

Good luck with your preserving — if you have a favourite recipe to share with us please post it as a comment or email me and I’d be happy to share it with everyone on the blog!

Cheers,

Heather

Tips For Keeping Veggies Fresh

You love our delicious, organic fruits and vegetables, but sometimes it seems like a lot of work to keep them fresh for the whole week. There are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your produce lasts and lasts.

Try these 10 tips to keep your organics crisp and delicious!

1. To keep your celery happy for a long time, wash it right away, pat dry and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, pressing it to conform to the shape of the celery.  Put it in the crisper drawer.  Crunchy!

2. Certain fruits and veggies produce ethylene gas which can prematurely ripen some other plants, and you don’t want that. Keep your ethylene-producing foods separate from their more sensitive counterparts. That means cantaloupes and tomatoes should never hang out with broccoli, carrots, leafy greens or melon!

3. Keep onions and eggplant out of the refrigerator and try to space them apart so that they are not touching. They’ll last longer when air is able to circulate around them.

4. Your leafy greens like it best in plastic zip bags or tupperware. When you get home and unpack your bin, give everyone a bath right away, spin or shake dry, then wrap lightly with paper towel (it will be slightly damp, that’s okay). Pop in the crisper. Enjoy!

5. For carrots, turnips and beets, cut off any green tops and store in a cold, dark place that is well-ventilated.

6. When storing herbs (and asparagus, too), try snipping off the ends and storing them upright in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag.  Fresh!

7. Dear world, we tomatoes wish you’d leave us on the counter. Only put us in the fridge if absolutely necessary. We’ll taste better that way, honest.  Thank you!

8. I heard that storing your berries in a sealed glass jar (pre-wash) works like a charm to keep them from going bad – let me know if you try it!

9. What to do if your lovely organics are looking a bit on the wilted side?  You can revive most greens by covering them completely with cold water (you can even toss in some ice cubes) for up to an hour, this should help them regain crispness!

10. Remember: your veggies, and fruits in particular, are susceptible to mold – touch them as little as possible with your hands to give your organics the best chance at making it to your table!

Be well, see you next week!