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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/23/17)

Braising Mix:
Braising mix is typically an assortment of dark leafy greens. “Braising” is a method of cooking where the main ingredient is first seared in hot oil and then simmered in liquid. However, braising mixes do not have to be braised! They can also be sautéed, stir-fried, blanched, steamed or mixed into stews and soups. I love having a bag in the refrigerator as it keeps well and is easy to add into things. Think a mixture of greens and grains, in a grilled cheese sandwich, or sautéed as a side/topping for chicken, pork chops or even salmon. I always try to get some vegetables into my breakfast, and these greens work great with scrambled eggs.
Zucchini:
Zucchini is more often used as a cooking vegetable but can also be enjoyed raw. It makes a great addition to salad or veggie trays with dip. When sent through the spiralizer, this vegetable makes a sort of noodle which is often used as a substitute in paleo diets in spaghetti or noodle soup. To cook, simply heat oil over medium heat (sauté a little onion or garlic before adding the zucchini if desired), add zucchini noodles and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. If you don’t own a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler and make long, flat noodles instead of round ones. Serve as the bed to your pasta sauce and meatballs or add to your favorite vegetable soup.
Green Onions:
Also known as scallions, green onions are milder than regular onions but add a nice pop of flavor and color to almost any dish. They are commonly used as a topping for baked potatoes or salad, but can also be used to liven up your Asian style soups like egg drop or ramen noodle. They are also a great addition to omelets or quiche. You can even grill them whole like spring onions and serve as a side dish with a little lemon, salt & pepper.

FEATURED RECIPE
Sweet Potato Wedges with No Honey Mustard Sauce
Ingredients:
SWEET POTATOES
3 large, organic sweet potatoes, sliced into thick wedges (skin on)
2 Tbsp avocado or melted coconut oil (any neutral oil with a high smoke point)
1/2 tsp sea salt + pinch black pepper
“HONEY” MUSTARD SAUCE
2 tbsp creamy salted cashew
1 Tbsp spicy mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup
A pinch each salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp almond milk
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet.
2. Toss sweet potatoes in oil until all sides are well coated. Season with salt and pepper and toss once more, then arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet (if crowded, use two baking sheets).
3. Bake for a total of 25 minutes, or until golden brown and tender, flipping once at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.
4. While baking, prepare dipping sauce by whisking together cashew butter, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Thin with almond milk (or water) until pourable.
5. Serve sweet potato wedges with no honey mustard dipping sauce! Best when fresh, though leftovers keep in the fridge, covered, for up to a few days. Reheat in the oven.
Recipe from minimalistbaker.com

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It's About to Begin…

It has been a hard Spring. The weather windows have not been in our favor so far. As I write, I am wracking my brain trying to figure out if I have been spoiled the last few years and have forgotten when Spring normally starts.
Last year was early. We had lots of spinach, beets, lettuce, and peas up and growing by this time. This year not so much, not so much. Last year was also a welcome relief as more normal summer weather patterns returned. But, when it started raining in the Fall, it just didn’t quit and still hasn’t. But, as a farmer, if I had to pick, last year’s weather was pretty good.
Two years ago, ugh. I shudder even to talk about it. There was no Spring. Just went right to Summer. It was great. Everything got going early, but it was a ton of management to keep crops alive and grass growing. Not my favorite year.
You might say that 2015 was a year where good farmers struggled to break even. I have often described the two seasons like this: in 2016 farmers made money by just getting out of bed; in 2015 farmers lost money when they got out of bed. When the weather is unpredictable, it really complicates the already delicate dance that farmers do with nature and the environment.
Every Spring, western Washington farmers pray for less water in order for our fields to dry out, and then, we pray for a little water later in the season so we don’t have to turn on the irrigation. Then we start praying for an Indian Summer so we can harvest the fall crops. Aren’t Indian Summers incredible?
Now that I am thinking of it, I imagine many of you have a similar prayer schedule too!
Change is inevitable and the weather is constantly changing. After 20 years of growing vegetables, I have realized that every farm season is different. And as a farmer/steward of the land, I make the best choices I can, with the best information I have, to do the best possible job I can, to grow food.
This year’s farm season is just beginning and a few more days of dry weather will go a long way towards erasing the rainy past few weeks.
Good food is always coming your way. Local food will be a little later, but it will be coming.

Tristan Klesick, Farmer, Health Advocate

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/16/17)

Chives:

Chives are an herb, related to onions and garlic, with long green stems and a mild, not-too-pungent flavor. Chives are typically chopped to be used as a garnish. They can be featured in all sorts of recipes, from baked potatoes to soups, salads, sauces and omelets. They’re frequently mixed with cream cheese to make a savory spread. Chive butter, a compound butter made by blending freshly chopped chives into butter, is frequently served with grilled steaks or roasted poultry.

Celery:

Celery is a popular finger food as well as a flavorful addition to soup or salad. It has a salty taste, and, depending on the variety, may taste very salty. The natural organic sodium in celery is very safe for consumption. In fact, it is essential for the body. Even individuals who are salt-sensitive can safely take the sodium in celery. Because of it’s boat-like shape, celery works great with a filling as a fun and healthy snack. You can get creative when it comes to what to pair it with. Peanut butter is a common ingredient, but you can stuff your celery with things like cream cheese with chopped nuts and raisins, garlicky chicken spread, or a nut butter with seeds and honey. When making a celery themed salad, you can either go sweet (with thinly sliced apples, pecans, raisins, yogurt or sour cream, honey and a pinch of cinnamon) or savory (adding it to your everyday green salad or making a chicken salad with it).

Featured Recipe: Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

1 medium acorn squash

2 teaspoons butter

1 medium apple, cored and finely diced

1⁄4 cup dried cranberries

3 -4 tablespoons orange juice

1⁄4 teaspoon apple pie spice

2 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

1. Cut the squash in half; discard seeds.

2. Place the squash cut side down in a microwave safe dish; add 1/2 inch of water.

3. Microwave on high, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender; drain.

4. While the squash is cooking, melt the butter in a non-stick skillet and add the diced apple.

5. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 to 3 minutes, add the orange juice, apple pie spice, cranberries and chopped pecans.

6. Continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the orange juice has evaporated, stir in orange zest.

7. Divide the mixture between the squash halves, drizzle with maple syrup and place under broiler for a few minutes to brown lightly.

Hint: For easier cutting of the squash, place in microwave and microwave on high for 1 minute or until slightly warm.

Recipe adapted from food.com

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Dinner Time

When we moved to our current farm back in 2003, something was missing. Our farm isn’t overly large at 38 acres, but when you consider that at any given moment you could be ¼ mile away from home, Joelle and I needed an effective way to get the attention of the farmhands (AKA our children). This old house probably at one time or another had a “triangle or bell” to announce it was time for dinner, but it wasn’t obvious where it would have been.

We decided on a big cast iron bell that I tracked down from Pennsylvania. It has a clear and loud ring and has been mounted on the back porch ever since. The bell itself has been relegated to ceremonial use or the occasional ringing as one walks by. It is just a sign of the times. The bell has been mostly replaced by cell phones, and sadly, even on the farm, electronics have a stronger pull than the great outdoors.

A few years ago, if we wanted to announce it was dinner time, instead of ringing the bell, we would just unplug the Wi-Fi and everyone at the farm would “magically” appear 🙂 But even today, unplugging the Wi-Fi isn’t as effective as it used to be, because everyone has access to unlimited cellular data! Alas, the dinner bell is more akin to a group text!

       

This weekend the Farm came alive. We have a been plugging away, but mostly at idle for the last month. This weekend it shifted to another level. And you know what? No one was late for dinner, because they had all worked up a ferocious appetite.

   

Bell, triangle, or your stomach calling. Whatever. But, eating at least one meal a day together is good for the soul.

Tristan Klesick

Farmer, Health Advocate

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Thoughts with Ashley

I have decided that this is the year I really fall for gardening. If you have been a Klesick subscriber for a while you have probably heard me boast about my tangling sugar snap peas or my sweet strawberries which often got snatched by the squirrels before we have a chance to enjoy them. This year I’m feeling optimistic and I have a windowsill filled with little starts eager to live in the garden to prove it. At least I hope they are eager. Visions of tidy rows of carrots, radishes, beans, beets, lettuces and fresh herbs fill my mind as I sprinkle fertilizer onto the garden beds doing my best to ensure success.

Already my garden dreams have had to deal with some harsh realities. Our number one predator currently is our 9 month old terrier who has a knack for digging and a hunger for freshly planted broccoli starts. I know this isn’t the first problem I’ll run up against as I work hard to make my bustling garden dreams a reality. There will be bugs, too much rain, not enough rain (which is hard to imagine right now isn’t it?), and there will be many lessons to learn along the way as I am far from a seasoned gardener. But I’ll consider this garden a success if I’m able to pluck something, anything from its rich (newly fertilized soil) and eat it with the sun on my face, and at the end of the season if I’ve learned something new.

In the meantime I’m even more grateful for the work of farmers like the Klesick’s who have spent years honing this craft. The one thing I do know about gardening and farming is that it is incredibly hard work and as I set out to roast my rhubarb or eat freshly plucked sugar snap peas I feel immense gratitude for their work.

 

Ashley Rodriguez

notwithoutsalt.com

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/9/17)

How to Eat Your Box:

 

Rhubarb

I’m thinking of starting a countdown-to-rhubarb calendar. Every day I’d get the satisfaction of crossing off another day knowing that I was inching my way closer to enjoying one of my favorite vegetables. Yes, I said vegetable.
Rhubarb is a hearty plant that thrives in the Pacific Northwest. It has a short season that begins in early spring. It’s often one of the first signs that let’s us know spring is indeed coming. And you know what my rhubarb countdown calendar is telling me right now? IT’S TIME FOR RHUBARB!
The leaves are poisonous so we’ll stay away from those but the celery like stalks have a crisp, tart crunch. Fresh rhubarb stalks should look firm and glossy. When sugar is added the tartness is tamed to the point of palatability and you are left with a floral flavor that somehow matches its brilliant pink color (although some varieties are green) that maintains a puckering sharpness that I find irresistible.
But sugar is not rhubarb’s only friend. Rhubarb makes a beautiful pickle to top salads or sit charmingly on a cheese board. Or in chutneys and sauces to serve alongside roast pork or chicken.
My favorite and most used way with rhubarb is to cut the stalks in 3-inch sticks then roast with a bit of sugar (or honey) – not too much as I love to retain the mouth clutching brightness. Sometimes I’ll even throw in a vanilla bean or some fresh ginger. Roast (400°F) for about 20 minutes. Don’t disturb the stalks too much as they are incredibly tender when they cook. Serve on top of yogurt or oatmeal in the morning, put in between layers of cake or serve over ice cream for dessert.

 

Garnet Yams

Garnet Yams are the brilliantly orange colored tubers that often get mistaken for a sweet potato. Yams and sweet potatoes are in fact distinctively different. However, because of mislabeling in American grocery stores, these two are commonly confused.
Yams are more nutrient dense than potatoes as they have good amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C but I often use them in the same way as potatoes. They are delicious baked and loaded with beans, scallions and a bit of cheese. Or, make a lovely mash or soup. They have a natural sweetness that pairs nicely with something acidic like lemons or vinegars.
As with most vegetables, yams are delicious roasted. Cut into wedges then toss with a little bit of cornstarch and finely grated Parmesan. The cornstarch helps to lock in the moisture so they turn crispy and more fry-like in the oven. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper then roast in a hot oven 425-450°F for 20 – 30 minutes or until caramelized in parts and tender.
NOTE: Read Ashley’s guest post for this week’s newsletter, here.

 

 

Featured Recipe: RHUBARB FLOATS

By Ashley Rodriguez, Not Without Salt

Of all the many wonderful uses of rhubarb this syrup remains my favorite. It’s a fridge staple all through spring as it easily becomes the base for numerous cocktails, sodas and now ice cream floats. I love the warmth the spice brings but just rhubarb alone is great too. Feel free to play around with the add-ins. I’ve also added citrus peel into the mix with great results.

 

4 cups/1 pound/ 450 g chopped rhubarb

1 cup + 1 tablespoon/ 8 ounces/ 230 g sugar

2 cups/ 1 pound/ 450 grams water

1 vanilla bean (optional)

1 cinnamon stick

3-5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

 

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly so the mixture continues to boil gently. Boil for 15 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by nearly half. The rhubarb will break down and the liquid will get syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool.

When cool, strain out the rhubarb. Save the rhubarb mash to add to yogurt, on top of ice cream or oatmeal.

Rhubarb syrup will keep covered in the fridge for two weeks.

 

For the float

These measurements are rough as it’s all a matter of taste. Adjust how you’d like. I kept on meaning to muddle strawberries with the syrup before adding the club soda and ice cream but got too excited that I forgot. Perhaps you’ll remember. Or imagine using strawberry ice cream or even coconut sorbet. So many floats to be had.

1/8 – 1/4 cup rhubarb syrup (recipe above)

1/2 cup club soda

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

 

Add the syrup to a glass. To that add a scoop of ice cream and finish with club soda. Serve with a spoon and a straw.

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Tree Swallows, Bats, and Barn Owls

I can be a little batty at times, but now that label will be justified! There are a few ways to combat pests on a farm, but keeping pests under control in an organic system can be challenging. I know that there are “sprays” that kill pests, even organically approved sprays, but I just don’t like to use that technology. I do have a sprayer, but I use it primarily for spraying nutrients, things like Kelp or Potassium, to help keep the plants at their optimum health.

However, we do have a few persistent pests, particularly in the orchard and especially, the dreaded Apple Maggot Fly that can render a whole crop unmarketable! The solutions to keeping that critter in check are mostly sprays. (Yuck!) I am not willing to go down that path. So, I have been spending a fair amount of time thinking about how to naturally (using nature) control those critters.

Strategy #1: I have decided upon a few nesting boxes for Tree or Violet Green Swallows, a bat house and a nesting box for Barn Owls. Swallows are insect eating machines and will be for daytime bug control. The Bats will be for nighttime bug control and the Barn Owls will help with the rodents that also call our organic farm home.

Strategy #2: I am going to use black plastic on the orchard floor to prevent the Apple Fly larva from emerging from their winter rest and becoming adult flies.

Strategy #3: I will use some sticky traps as well. Yes, all of this is a lot more work than using a spray, but, like I said earlier, “I don’t like to spray.” Check back in September to see if I was successful. 🙂

Increasing biological diversity is the best strategy. Using nature to keep nature in balance. Whoa! That’s revolutionary!

Tristan Klesick, Farmer, Health Advocate

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How To Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/2/17)

Kiwi:

Kiwi is most commonly eaten as is by cutting in half and spooning out the inside, but it can also make a great addition to breakfast food, salad or dessert. It can be used in smoothies (try with bananas and avocado), as a topping for granola and yogurt or cereal, or as a decorative and delicious addition to pie or meringue. It makes a great addition to fruit salad or even a green salad if you’re feeling adventurous. And since the weather is finally starting to warm up, kiwi makes for a refreshing drink when added to ice water with mint and/or a squeeze of lemon.

Mushrooms:

Did you know that there are over 10,000 species of mushroom in North America alone? Or, that mushrooms are more closely related to human DNA than plant DNA, and a single Portabella can contain more potassium than a banana? You can also boil wild mushrooms to make dye for clothing. They’re simply amazing! Mushrooms can be sliced up and added to salad or cooked in a skillet with some onion and garlic as a yummy sautéed topping for a breakfast, lunch or dinner plate. So, get out there and eat some fungus already!

Daikon:

Daikon is a white root vegetable often seen in Japanese and Chinese cuisine that resembles a carrot. However, unlike a carrot’s sweetness, daikon is spicy and tart, similar to a radish. Its pungent and sharp flavor can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. The white pigment in daikon is called anthoxanthin, which is an antioxidant that may lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In Asian cuisine, daikon is often eaten alongside meaty dishes, and is said to aid in digestion and breakdown of oil, fatty animal protein, and dairy. It can be eaten raw like you would a radish, sliced or grated into a salad, or baked, sautéed or grilled like any other root vegetable. Cooked daikon has a similar texture and flavor to turnips.

Featured Recipe: Roasted Daikon Radish, Carrots and Peppers

Ingredients:

daikon radishes (1-3 daikons), scrubbed and sliced into ¼-inch rounds

2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the daikon, carrots, red peppers, onion and olive oil on a nonstick baking sheet. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice until tender.

2. Drizzle the veggies with balsamic vinegar and return to the oven. Roast for an additional 5 minutes. Toss well and then transfer to a serving bowl.

3. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from sarahscucinabella.com