Once again Yourganic Farm and O’Hara Commons join forces to promote education and food sustainability in Western Montana. If you are new to growing food in western MT, or want some time and money saving tips this is your ticket. In this 5 week online course (plus 1 field trip!) Leon will cover an array of topics from nutrient loading, mulching, pest control, fencing to veggie variety recommendations. The course is interactive, there will be time to get answers for your questions in each session. Starts Wednesday, January 25 6-8 pm. For more information and to sign up, please visit O’Hara Commons.
Hello! This is the final week of veggies. As some of you have heard we are taking a sabbatical next year from Veggie Feast/ CSA boxes. We have provided organically grown vegetables for the Bitterroot community for over 20 years.
Closing this chapter of our lives is bittersweet. We have had the opportunity to do honest work, be outside, make our own schedule, meet some fabulous people, and be available for our kids. But agriculture is a challenging business. Just like many small business owners we work all the time. Growing vegetables takes an enormous amount of labor. Even though it seems expensive when you are loading your cart at the store, the amount of time and energy that goes into our food is not monetarily compensated. It is the big ag businesses that get the subsidies. The only way for smaller farms to make money is to produce more (so the meager profit adds up), depend on underpaid labor (hello interns), go fund me type campaigns, or grants. On top of the low-to-no-pay the ironic and cruel twist is only the fairly affluent can afford to buy organic food. The farmer simply cannot afford to sell for less, and the impoverished simply cannot afford to pay the higher price.
So we are looking at other ways to lend a hand and make a difference. It’s impossible not to see the dramatic changes in growing conditions and weather patterns and wonder what that means for our country’s food security. Next year we aspire to test our method of farming against current “standard” farming practices in hopes of showing others how to improve soil conditions, save labor costs and reduce water use. Leon is also gearing up for his “How to grow a small farm/ garden” course this fall through the O’Hara Commons, and plans to put more effort into education so people can feed themselves and their neighbors.
We thank you all for making the effort to eat locally. We hope you continue to support other farms in the area.
Spaghetti squash can be used in lieu of pasta. Check out Delish to explore a variety of ways to prepare this versatile food.
Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) are a new vegetable for many people. They are gaining popularity in recent years due to their high nutritional value, high fiber (in the form of inulin) and low carb content. Since we dig them up, like a potato I assumed they were a tuber, but according to Serious Eats: “A sunchoke is a woody-looking tuberous formation found on the rhizome (horizontally growing underground stem) of a type of sunflower.” Sunchokes are very versatile, they can be fried, roasted, steamed and eaten raw. Add them to a roasted vegetable dish, use as a base for soups, or thinly slice as a topper for a fall salad. They store well in the fridge in a container or a plastic bag for a couple of weeks.
Apple Sunchoke Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 pounds sunchokes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider
2 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup halved, cored, and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
1 cup halved, cored, and thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples
6 ounces skinned smoked trout, broken into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sunchokes in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread sunchokes, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 25 minutes or just until tender and golden. Cool completely.
Combine dill, shallots, apple cider, cider vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add apples and sunchokes; toss gently. Place on a serving plate. Top with trout and basil.
1 pound (450g) sunchokes, rinsed and trimmed of any dark spots
1 1/2 tablespoons (20ml) canola or other neutral oil
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30g) unsalted butter
Large pinch freshly picked thyme leaves
Flaky salt for serving
In a medium saucepan, cover sunchokes with 1 inch cold water. Season generously with salt (the water should taste nicely salted, as if you were seasoning soup). Set over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until paring knife inserted into a sunchoke meets little resistance, about 10 minutes; be careful not to overcook.
Drain sunchokes using fine-mesh strainer or colander. When cool enough to handle, place sunchokes on work surface or cutting board. Working 1 sunchoke at a time, use the bottom of a heavy skillet to press firmly on each sunchoke until it is flattened but still in one piece; take care not to press so hard that the sunchokes break apart.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add sunchokes in a single layer and cook without moving until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip sunchokes, then add butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add half of thyme to the melted butter and continue to cook, spooning butter over sunchokes, until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.
Transfer sunchokes to a serving plate and spoon the thyme butter on top. Garnish with remaining freshly picked thyme leaves and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve immediately.
A variety of flowers we grow to attract pollinators…. evening primrose, borage, hollyhock
This Week’s Veggie Feast
Potatoes, Radishes, Spinach, Kale, Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Pepper Mix
Sauteed Potatoes with Kale and Nigella
…. a little note from the NYT cooking
“One of the reasons we love latkes so much is because the browned crispy edges of potatoes are so delicious. Even when they are just browned and not particularly crispy, as they are here, they are irresistible. It helps to use a heavy nonstick pan for these so that you can cook the potatoes long enough and on high enough heat to get the browned edges, without losing those edges to the surface of the pan, where they will undoubtedly stick once they have absorbed the oil. I have been using a potato called simply “yellow potatoes” for this; they are slightly starchy, just a little less so than a Yukon gold or a fingerling, both of which will work just as well. Blanch the kale before you cook the potatoes, cut it into slivers, and add to the potatoes once they are tender. I season the mix with nigella seeds, one of my favorite spices; you can also add something with a kick, like cayenne or chile powder, if you want to pump up the heat.”
1bunch black kale (about ½ pound), stemmed, leaves washed in 2 changes water
2tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1½pounds potatoes, such as yellow potatoes or Yukon golds, cut in small dice (about ½ inch)
1teaspoon nigella seeds
Freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you clean kale. When water comes to a boil, salt generously and add kale. Blanch 2 to 3 minutes, until just tender. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water, taking it up by the handful. Cut squeezed bunches of kale into slivers and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat in a heavy, preferably nonstick, 12-inch skillet and add potatoes. Turn heat down to medium-high and sear without stirring for 5 minutes, then shake and toss in pan for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until just tender and lightly browned. Add salt and continue to toss in pan for another minute or two, until tender. Add remaining teaspoon oil, shallots and nigella seeds and cook, stirring until shallots are tender and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in kale and additional salt if desired and cook, stirring or tossing in the pan for another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.
1/2 cup chopped herbs of your choice (I used chives)
About 1 cup (6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 more tablespoons if needed
Olive or a neutral oil for frying (I used safflower)
Shuck corn and stand the first stalk in a large bowl. Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the corn into the bowl, then run the back of your knife up and down the stalk to release as much “milk” as possible into the bowl. Repeat with remaining ears. It’s okay if you get a little more or a little less than 3 cups of corn.
Add scallions, herbs, cheese, and many grinds of black pepper and stir to evenly combine. Taste for seasoning; I usually find I needed more salt and pepper. Add the eggs and use a fork or spoon to stir until they’re all broken up and evenly coat the corn mixture. Add 1 cup of flour and stir to throughly coat. My mixture at this point (especially with bi-color corn) looked precisely like egg salad, to give you an idea of what you’re looking for: mostly kernels and just a little visible batter to bind it. A scoop of it should hold its shape unless pressed down; if yours does not, add the remaining flour. (For reference, I needed it.)
Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot and shimmering, add your first scoop of corn fritter batter and press it gently to flatten it. (I used a #40 scoop, which holds a little less than 2 tablespoons. Tinier fritters are easier to manage.) Corn fritters cook quickly so keep an eye on them. When the underside is a deep golden brown, flip and cook to the same color on the second side. Drain on a paper towel, sprinkling on more salt. When it’s cool enough to try, taste and adjust the seasonings of the remaining batter if needed.
(Deborah Madison advises that if your fritter isn’t holding to add another egg and 1/3 cup flour to give it more “glue” but I didn’t find this necessary.)
Cook remaining fritters in the same manner, adding more oil as needed. Try to get them to the table before finishing them.
Do ahead: Fritters keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, and freeze well too. I like to defrost and re-toast them in a 350 degree oven.
It’s interesting to read recipes and watch where I get all incredulous. 1) Toasting nuts in a microwave???? 2) Does anyone actually use a mortar and pestle?
2 cups packed arugula leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Brown the garlic: Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
Toast the nuts: Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get that roasted flavor. In our microwave it takes 2 minutes.
3a Process in food processor: (the fast way) Combine the arugula, salt, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
3b Use Mortar and pestle. Combine the nuts, salt and garlic in a mortar. With the pestle, grind until smooth. Add the cheese and olive oil, grind again until smooth. Finely chop the arugula and add it to the mortar. Grind up with the other ingredients until smooth.
Adjust to taste: Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual ingredients, and the strength of the ingredients depends on the season or variety, test it and add more of the ingredients to taste.
Leon planted our corn later than usual this season due to the cold June (remember that?). The birds were looking for it in August, whole flocks. I am sure we didn’t outwit them but it’s nice to think that we tried.
Brussels sprouts can last a long time but they are best when eaten sooner than later, as their flavor becomes more assertive over time. Any food item that goes well with cabbage or cauliflower also makes a great pairing with Brussels sprouts, including butter, cream, blue cheese, mustard, capers, garlic, bacon, and vinegar. Brussels take well to steaming, roasting, or braising. If cooking whole, cutting an X in the bottom brings heat to their centers more quickly. Generally the small round heads are cut in half or thinly sliced, allowing them to cook faster and better absorb more sauce or seasoning.
First of the season for us, yum.
Poblano Peppers are usually used in sauces, salsas, and stuffing mixes. The membranes and seeds of Poblano peppers is where most of the heat is found. So, if you don’t want it to be quite so spicy, be sure to take the veins and seeds out before using the pepper.
To prepare Poblano peppers it is best to roast them with a little olive oil or grill them until they are soft enough to peel the skin from the pepper. To do this without a lot of hassle it is best to roast the Poblanos with a little olive oil then place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap so the steam helps to separate the skin from the flesh. Before long the skin will be soft enough to peel off in sheets. Some recipes will call for searing Poblanos until the skin is black by placing them in a broiler or over an open flame.
Poblanos can be stored and even frozen in airtight containers for many months until you are ready to use them. You can also choose to dry the peppers out for later use. Dried Poblanos are also known as Ancho chiles, which means wide chile in the Spanish language. They are given this name because when Poblano peppers are dried they become very flat, wide, and heart-shaped.
This recipe was shared by one of my favorite foodie friends, Emily, and it is her favorite way to cook and eat Brussels sprouts. Simple, quick, and delicious. For those of you who need a bit of protein, bacon or pancetta would make a great addition to this dish.
1 pound of Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly milled pepper
1/2 cup dried cherries, optional
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and remove any yellow or wilted leaves.
Toss well with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cherries.
Roast on a sheet pan for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and gently toss halves with balsamic vinegar.
Continue roasting for 10-15 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the balsamic vinegar does not over caramelize.
Serve while still warm.
Southwest Stuffed Poblano Peppers
We make quite a few stuffed peppers, you can stuff them with whatever you fancy, but here’s a recipe… I did take the liberty to replace some of the canned ingredients….why use canned tomatoes when you have fresh ones? And garlic powder makes me shudder cause it tastes so off, but off you go to make your own magical stuffed pepper
4 poblano peppers halved and seeds/membranes removed
1 pound lean ground beef OR chorizo
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, chili powder, diced garlic
1 cup cooked long grain white rice
½ cup cooked black beans
½ cup corn
½-1 cup grated mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Arrange halved poblano peppers in a single layer on the baking sheet so that they aren’t overlapping. Bake for 10-15 minutes while you move on to the next step.
Add ground beef (or preferred meat choice) and rice to a large skillet, and season with the cumin, chili powder, and garlic. Saute over medium heat for 5-8 minutes until meat is browned and cooked through.
Stir in the black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, and green chiles. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Spoon mixture into the peppers, sprinkle with cheese, and return to oven for another 10 minutes or so until peppers are tender and cheese is melted. Allow to cool slightly before serving.