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Cucumber Mint Salad

cucumber_salad_with_fresh_mintINGREDIENTS
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar

PREPARATION
Halve cucumbers lengthwise; remove seeds and slice thinly. In sieve, sprinkle cucumbers with salt ; let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. In bowl, toss cucumbers with onions, mint, lemon juice, oil and vinegar. (Recipe can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Taste and adjust seasoning.

Recipe from http://www.cbc.ca/bestrecipes/2011/11/cucumber-salad-with-fresh-mint.html

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The perfect burger

perfect burgerMemorial Day officially marks the start of grilling season and with this holiday around the corner, some of us start wondering what makes the perfect burger? Consistently juicy, perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection. The patty is charred on the outside and juicy on the inside.

A PERFECT BURGER RECIPE 

THE RIGHT CHOICE OF MEAT But before you get to cook the burger, you have to choose the right meat. 

If you are grinding the meat yourself with a food processor or a mixer’s grinding attachment. Chuck and brisket is preferred, and put them in the freezer first and chill them to 30 degrees. The fat percentage is a matter of preference but do not be afraid of fat a 25-30% fat content makes it juicier.

A NICE ROUND SHAPE Next, you form the patty.

Handling the raw meat too much means you’re going to end up with a brick of meat. Lightly shape the patty refrigerate for an hour or two before cooking. This will help it hold better. 

Michael Mina, founder of the Mina Group, which includes the recently RN74 in Seattle, rolls each patty into a ball, then presses it flat to get a nice round shape.

Alternatively, jar lids are popular with chefs. Some swear the lid of a mayonnaise jar makes the best possible burger mold.

Dimpling the patty, helps it cook evenly, and you won’t be tempted to smack it down and lose all the juice.

All the chefs agree that salt is crucial. Whether you’re using kosher, table or sea salt, you should be pretty liberal with it. Beef can take more salt than you think. Most chefs recommended seasoning the burger just before cooking it.

HOW HOT DO YOU GO? The beauty of a burger is its seared crust, and the only way to get it is to make sure the grill, skillet or flat top is hot, hot, hot. 

Testing for doneness is always a challenge for the home cook. Seamus Mullen, the chef and an owner of the Boqueria restaurants in the Flatiron district and SoHo, uses a wire cake tester. (Any thin, straight piece of metal will work as well.)

“We stick it in the middle through the side,” he said. “If it’s barely warm to the lips, it’s rare. If it’s like bath water, it’s medium rare. The temperature will never lie. It takes the guesswork out of everything.”

AND THE PERFECT BUN These chefs are focusing their laserlike attention on the bread around the meat, too.

Every chef believes that the buns should be warm and crispy.

SWEET, SOUR BUT FRESH FIXINGS Nothing is taken for granted, not even pickles. 

Cheese receives the same attention. Joey Campanaro, the chef and owner at the Little Owl in the West Village, uses American cheese.

What matters most to him when selecting cheese?

“Meltability,” he said. So if a cheese like Gruyère doesn’t melt easily, he grates it, then presses it into a disk the same size as the burger.

The chefs had some final tips for creating a memorable burger. Choose lettuce that’s crisp and serve it cold. Use only really good, ripe tomatoes; a bad tomato waters down the burger without adding any taste. 

Ultimately, though, it’s not just the ingredients that make a burger great, good company can make all the difference. Happy Memorial Day!
 

Adapted from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/dining/01burg.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

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Apples and Nutrition

braeburn apples

What can an apple tell us about nutrition? Lots. Apples are an amazing source of so many good things that nutritionally benefit us. (We are just using apples as an example. The same could be said for oranges, kale, radishes, etc.) Have a look at this list of goodies in every apple. One medium apple with skin contains:
Protein 0.47 grams, Calories 95, and Dietary Fiber 4.4 grams. 

Minerals: Potassium 195 mg, Calcium 11 mg, Phosphorus 20 mg, Magnesium 9 mg, Manganese 0.064 mg, Iron 0.22 mg, Sodium 2 mg, Copper 0.049 mg, Zinc 0.07 mg, also contains a trace amount of other minerals.
Vitamins: Vitamin A 98 IU, Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.031 mg, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.047 mg, Niacin 0.166 

mg, Folate 5 mcg, Pantothenic Acid 0.111 mg, Vitamin B6 0.075 mg, Vitamin C 8.4 mg, Vitamin E 0.33 mg, Vitamin K 4 mcg, and contains some other vitamins in small amounts.

That reads more like a list from a multivitamin, except the apple didn’t have any added preservatives, food coloring or sugar.

What is even more amazing, is that our bodies are uniquely created to eat, process and put to good use all of the apple’s ingredients. Let’s take a look at the Vitamin C in an apple. Our list says that an apple has 8.4 mg of Vitamin C. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C is 200 mg. Hmmm… The apple appears to have 25 times less Vitamin C than the RDA. Many people would contend that 200 mg is just enough Vitamin C to ward off scurvy and so they push for higher amounts, upwards of 1500 to 2000 mg per day.

It would appear that when we reduce the apple to its core (pun intended), one would have to eat a lot of apples to get to the recommended RDA. However, some research done at Cornell University on apples and Vitamin C discovered that 1) apples did have about 8.4 mg of Vitamin C, but 2) that the apple produced 1500 mg of Vitamin C-like benefits when eaten. This is incredible! Our bodies are able to magnify the 8.4 mg of Vitamin C and deliver 178 times more benefit. And that is only one nutrient. What about potassium or manganese or iron?

The same body that breathes on its own, circulates blood on its own, and heals cuts on its own, is probably more than capable to mix and match any combination of nutrients based on what the body needs at that moment.  

One could start to imagine, that if our food supply was grown on healthy organically managed soils, that weren’t abused by chemical fertilization, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, how much healthier our food supply would be. If our nation’s soil was rich in nutrients and the foods we eat were grown in that that type of soil, Americans would be among the healthiest people in the world. 

Fortunately, in America, we still have the freedom to choose life-giving foods, rich in nutrients that will nourish us and sustain us. So the next time you think your body needs an immune booster, just reach for two apples and let your body decide how it wants to best use all the nutrients. 

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Three Types of Farming

healing-through-nutrition-01-300x300I have been preparing for my upcoming talk at the Celebration of Food Festival at the Lynnwood Convention Center this Sunday, May 19th. My topic is Healing through Nutrition. I will probably tackle this subject from a soil health perspective—something akin to healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people. In the 1900s, America’s health ranking as nation was #1. Americans were the healthiest, but by 2007 we had moved from the top to the bottom, ranking 95th in overall health. What has changed in those 100 years? The way we farm!

For centuries we have had food primarily raised “organically.” People ate more locally, had more diversity in their diets, raised their own food and got plenty of exercise in the process. (I can only imagine how successful a CrossFit gym would have been during the early 1900s.) Americans also ate a lot less processed foods and consumed a lot less animal proteins.  

Back then, New Jersey was called the Garden State for a reason. When the country was run by true animal power—everything from police to fire to transportation—every sector of society generated animal waste and it all had to be carted out of the city. And guess where NYC’s animal waste went?  New Jersey. Copious amounts of barnyard waste were plowed into those farm fields to grow more fruits and vegetables. A beautiful picture of a symbiotic relationship between cities and farms, where the farms fed the cities and cities, in turn, fed the soil.

After WWII, agriculture moved away from barnyard wastes to chemical solutions. Initially, the chemicals were used more like a supplement and they worked reasonably well, but that was because the farmland was heavily fortified with nutrients from the “organic” farming practices of earlier generations.  But as time marched on, the ease of chemical usage enticed many farmers to leave the time-tested practices of building soil health. And eventually our national treasure, the soil, became depleted and disease and insect pressure on our crops dramatically increased. Of course, the chemical mongers developed stronger killers to wipe out the new problems that their chemicals helped to create.  

As our national health continued its decline, our nation embraced Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). So, having moved from organic farming to spraying our crops with synthetic herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, we are now actually inserting the pesticide or herbicide into the genes of our food. Now, a farmer can spray his crops with an all-purpose indiscriminate herbicide like RoundupTM and kill everything but the crop or insert a pesticide into the plant itself, so that when a corn borer or Monarch butterfly starts to nibble, it will die, saving the crop, so that you and I can nibble it later. YUCK! 

Klesick Family Farm, along with many other farms across the nation and around the world, has decided to grow real food from soils that are nutrient-rich—working with nature, not against it.  But we can’t do it without “eaters,” so thank you for saying “yes” to real food.  

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Southwestern yellow stuffed peppers

quinoa-stuffed-peppers-recipeINGREDIENTS

4 large yellow bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
olive oil spray
1 cup sliced mushrooms
¼ c. onions, chopped
2 cups rice, cooked
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Pepper, freshly ground
½ cup monterey jack cheese, grated

PREPARATION

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large pan with foil. Spray outside of pepper halves with oil. Arrange peppers cut side down on prepared pan; bake on lower rack 15 to 20 minutes. When finished cooking, turn right side up and arrange in 9 x 13 inch dish.
Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes till soft. Add cooked rice, corn, zucchini, tomato sauce, spices, and beans and heat thoroughly.
Spoon rice mixture into cooked pepper halves. Sprinkle cheese over top. Return to oven for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Freezes well.

Adapted from: http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/skinny-secrets/southwestern-roasted-stuffed-peppers

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Give the Gift of Good!

431892_10151632556921145_254187675_nThis May, Give the Gift of Good! No strings attached.  

We want to partner with you in our mission to bring GOOD FOOD to as many families as we can! During this month, every new or returning customer* will receive 25% off their first produce purchase.*
 
By referring your friends to Klesick Family Farm, you are not only connecting people with a good source of healthy food, you are also helping support sustainable organic farming and the local food economy, while reducing the toxic load on the planet. More importantly now than ever – together – we are saying NO to genetically engineered foods, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides with each box of good delivered! More organic and sustainable agriculture means less industrial factory farming, less chemical toxins, healthier soil structures, and stronger communities.

* Must mention this ad to receive the discount.

* A returning customer needs to have been inactive for eight months or longer in order to receive the discount. Please contact us for more information.

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Farm Musings

farm musingsFinally, a good stretch of planting weather! This is an awesome time of year. Things just start ramping up when the weather breaks. Every farm in the valley is going “hog wild” right now. But after the last few years, every one of us is pushing our equipment to get as much done as possible before…well, we just don’t know what the future holds and the weather is good now.

This last week, we were able to plant the potatoes. We are upping our planting by 500 lbs. this year. When it comes to potatoes, we are “plain Jane” around here. I like to plant one red variety called Red Lasoda. I like its flavor and it consistently performs well on our farm. The yellow variety is called Satina and it has to be one of the most flavorful creamy tasting “taters” for the fresh market. The plants are luscious and really respond to our valley soils. It feels good to have these planted and checked off the list.

June strawberries—I should have some, but that patch is weedy; oh man, is that patch ever weedy. I haven’t decided to weed or not. Sadly, it is a matter of economics. The cost to weed the patch would be more than the crop is worth. As you can infer, I am leaning towards just picking it. The strawberries for August are looking good and less weedy, at this time.

Our sugar snap peas are up and going. They will probably be ready to start harvesting mid-June. We just planted our second crop of them. I love those peas—plump, sweet, juicy peas—can’t wait!

We planted our first round of green beans. This planting may be a tad early—time will tell.

We have also started the first batch of winter squash in the greenhouse and will probably direct-seed a second batch as well. There are so many kinds of winter squash. We have settled on one acorn variety, three different varieties of Delicata and, of course, we planted a splash of Cinderella pumpkins.

But my favorite crop this year has been all the birds. With the addition of an orchard and a few hundred new trees planted around the farm, we have seen an explosion of wildlife. When we moved here there were the usual suspects like robins, swallows, a few Steller’s Jays and crows. Of course, there are lots of bald eagles and hawks, too. But this year we have a huge resident flock of finches and sparrows. 

I am really excited about a new addition to the mix of birds this spring—a nesting pair of Mourning Doves. Those doves are so beautiful and make great farm help. They have upwards of ten offspring a season and their favorite meal is weed seeds. And as far as I am concerned, they can have the whole crop of weed seeds. ☺ 

 

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