Notes from the Farm
It’s finally time for sweet corn here in Montana, but unfortunately, the red-winged blackbirds like it as much as we do, so you may notice some gnawing on the ends of your ears. Never fear, just cut them off, and the rest of the corn should be just fine. A special treat in this week’s share is some wildcrafted elderberries in addition to our home grown bounty. Enjoy!
This Week’s CSA
My favorite use for fresh basil is a caprese salad: fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and salt. Keep it well wrapped in paper towels inside plastic bag in the vegetable bin of your fridge. It will also brown if crushed by heavier vegetables, so put it on top of your veggie bin. Basil can also be stored upright at room temperature in a glass with a little water; freshly trim the ends before putting in water.
Beets are a versatile root which can be eaten raw, roasted, steamed, grilled, or boiled. Their natural earthy sweetness pairs well with olive oil, sour cream, vinegars, citrus, mustard, horseradish, dill, tarragon, onions, apples, and goat cheese. Red beets bleed and tint everything they touch but leaving the skin, tail, and at least 1 inch of the stems intact while cooking will help keep all those juices locked inside. Once cool to touch, beets are very easy to peel. Beets store best if the greens are removed. With a sharp knife, remove greens just above the stem and store separately in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The beet root will keep well for weeks in the refrigerator in a paper bag or perforated plastic bag, while the greens are best used within a few days.
Carrots are great both raw and cooked. If scrubbed well, you won’t even need to peel them. If cooking carrots, try to cut into even sized pieces so they cook at the same rate. Carrots pair well with thyme, chervil, dill, cumin, ginger, mint, sesame seeds, chili, mustard, honey, butter, olive oil, and sesame oils. Carrots are best stored in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Remove any tops before storage so the carrot stays crisp and sweet.
As they sit, slicing cukes tend to soften, so they are best eaten fresh. Sliced thin, cucumbers are a treat on any sandwich or salad, served on a veggie platter or just eaten fresh with a sprinkling of salt. For a twist on a refreshing summer drink, add very thin slices of cucumber to sparkling water or as a garnish to gin and tonics. Cucumbers also make a refreshing, light salad or can be added to coleslaw. Making sure they are free of dirt and dry, cucumbers can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a week or longer. Too much moisture can cause them to mold, so make sure they are exposed to air. Once cut open, wrap cut end in plastic wrap.
Although native to parts of western Asia, dill weed is usually associated with Russian and European cuisine where it is paired with fish (gravlax), pickles, yogurt, sour cream, and potatoes. Dill also goes well with beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggs, cream sauces, and salmon. Typically the feathery fronds are used and taste best if added fresh at the end of cooking. Store dill in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Store unwashed fresh bean pods in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days. Just prior to using the beans, wash them under running water. Remove both ends of the beans by either snapping them off or cutting them with a knife. Green beans are a classic ingredient in Salad Nicoise, a French cold salad dish that combines steamed green beans with tuna fish and potatoes. Sautéd green beans are great with shiitake mushrooms. Or prepare the perennial favorite, green beans almondine, by sprinkling slivered almonds on healthy sautéed beans.
These blue or purple berries can be made into elderberry wine, jam, syrup, and pies. The entire flower cluster can be dipped in batter and fried while petals can be eaten raw or made into a fragrant and tasty tea. The flowers aslo add an aromatic flavor and lightness to pancakes or fritters. To store, place elderberries loosely in a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate. Do not wash elderberries until ready to eat, as excess moisture during storage will hasten decay.
Paprika peppers can range from mild to hot and this variety falls in the middle. While native to Eastern Europe, many varieties are now grown throughout the world. These small red peppers would make a great addition to stir fries, breakfast scrambles, eggs dishes, pasta dishes and of course, any Hungarian dish.
The trick to storing salad greens is to place them in a container (or plastic bag) with a paper towel in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. You can wash and spin dry the salad mix first for easy use. Change the paper towel regularly if needed. In addition to traditional salads, greens can be roasted, used as a topping for pizza, or added to green smoothies!
The delicate flavor, soft shell and creamy white flesh of summer squash is a perfect addition to any summer meal. Wash summer squash under cool running water and then cut off both ends. You can then proceed to cut it into the desired size and shape for the particular recipe. Unlike winter squash, summer squash are more fragile and cannot be stored for long periods of time unless frozen. Summer squash is very fragile and should be handled with care as small punctures will lead to decay. It should be stored unwashed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about seven days.
Corn is versatile and can be added to soups, stews, pancakes, bread, soufflés, and casserole dishes. It can be sautéed, steamed, boiled, creamed, or grilled with great results. To add corn to a vegetable pickle mix, leave on the cob and slice 1/2 inch thick. In addition to the traditional corn on the cob or succotash, sweet corn makes a grate addition to salsa. Grilled corn kernels (remove kernels with knife after corn has cooled), roasted peppers, red onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro and lime juice will make a delicious salsa that goes well with tacos and grilled pork or fish.
Sweet onions tend to be lower in sulfur and higher in water content, giving them a mild flavor and perfect for eating fresh in salads and on sandwiches. These onions do not have a long storage life and will last best if stored in a cool dark spot. If the outside layers start to soften, peel and store in the refrigerator. In addition to soup, sweet onions also caramelize well for a sweet onion jam and make for some amazing onion rings.
3 large beets, tossed in oil and roasted at 350 until soft all the way through. This will at least 25 minutes. Stick a paring knife into the beet and if it goes in and goes out easily then they should be ready. Cool them on another plate.
1 cup walnuts, toasted at 350 for 5 minutes or until golden brown
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 oz goat cheese, crumbled
8 cups summer lettuce
5 sprigs mint, leaves removed
5 sprigs parsley, leaves removed
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
After beets are cool. Peel them using a paring knife. Gloves are preferred, beets make everything pink! Dice the beets medium dice and reserve in a small bowl. Toss with olive oil, walnuts and lemon zest.
Combine the lettuce and herbs in a salad bowl. In a mini food processor, pulse together the shallot, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, zest and cayenne. Add the olive oil and pulse again to combine. Add the sour cream and blend for 30 seconds until creamy. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the greens and toss to coat and serve.
Place the dressed greens in a serving bowl and put the beet and walnuts on top. Garnish with goat cheese and enjoy.
Source: Chef Joey Johnson at The Fat Hen
Did you know that you can make paprika powder at home? You can, but it will take you about a year to complete the process. If you don’t have the patience, you can simply fry your chilis in olive oil with a little garlic. But if you’re game for making your own paprika spice, here’s how to do it:
Chiles need to be dried in arid, hot shade. Drying in the sun bleaches away color. Heat adds an almost cooked aroma to the chiles. And humidity is the enemy.
Once chilis are completely dried, making the powder consists of breaking the peppers into pieces small enough to jam into a spice grinder. Remove the seeds first. The grinding takes a few steps, because you always get a a few pieces that don’t want to grind. Keep sifting the bits through a fine-mesh sieve until you get an even powder.
That’s it! Store in a spice jar and it will last as long as store-bought paprika powder (and taste much better)!
Adapted from: Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook