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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 9/24/17)

Conference Pears:

As with all new crop pears, these will need to be ripened for 4-7 days before they are ready to eat. Check the neck for ripeness by gently pressing your thumb near the stem end of the pear. When it gives slightly, the pear is ripe.

Leeks:

Besides potato leek soup (recipe below), there are other delicious ways to eat leeks. Used as an onion swap they make a great base in just about anything. Cook in a little oil until tender as a base for a sauce, sauté, scrambled eggs, soup, etc. The flavor is milder than an onion so I don’t mind having larger chunks. I like to cut them into quarter inch rounds. Leeks are cousins to the old, familiar onion, but have a sweeter, more delicate flavor reminiscent of garlic or chives and are delicious no matter how they’re cooked. Additionally, leeks contain generous amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making the vegetable a great addition to a healthy diet. You can cook leeks by poaching them in chicken broth, pan-frying them in a little oil, or boiling them until tender.

Potatoes:

Packed with nutrition, potatoes are among the most popular of all the root vegetables. Low in fat and high in health and beauty-promoting dietary fiber, potatoes are a rich source of B vitamins as well as vitamin C, and vitamin K. Potatoes are an excellent source of healthy, energy-giving complex carbohydrates, and contain good amounts of certain essential minerals like iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and potassium. Be sure to store potatoes in a cool dark place so they don’t develop green spots (from exposure to light) or sprout.

 

Simple Potato Leek Soup

You will be able to make this simple soup in no time flat, and can feel good about filling up your belly with healthful ingredients!

Ingredients:


2-3 large leeks, white and light green parts only

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

Kosher salt

6 medium-to-large potatoes

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade vegetable stock or water)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Sour cream, for serving (optional)


Instructions:

  1. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Add leeks and garlic and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened but not browned, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. While leeks are cooking, fill large bowl halfway with cold water. Peel potatoes, placing each in bowl of water immediately after peeling to prevent browning. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and slice into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Drain potato slices and add to pot along with stock and a few generous grinds of pepper. Raise heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in batches in standing blender. If you like your soups on the hearty side, you can skip this step, or lightly puree (some pureeing makes for that lovely creamy texture, so don’t skip it completely). Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with parsley and sour cream if desired. Soup reheats well and will keep in refrigerator for up to one week.
Recipe adapted from seriouseats.com

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Potatoes and Leeks

Nothing shouts Fall louder than these two winter staples. They just go together and this week we are featuring them in a recipe that consistently ranks as one of the all-time favorite Klesick Farm recipes – Potato Leek Soup. Soups are efficient, nutritious, and can make a great multi day family meal option. The great thing about soups is that you can jazz them up from day to day by adding a protein or more or different vegetables. Greens like Kale and Chard or Spinach can be easily added, too.

As Fall has officially started, many of us farmers are just like you, wishing for a few more days of warmth to put the finishing touches on our crops. These cool nights and warm days send a signal to the plants to switch gears and focus on ripening their fruit. And alas at the same time, production drops off on tomatoes, zukes, cukes and beans. In some ways it is a welcome change and other ways you are back to wishing for a few more days of that fleeting heat.

I think it is about right, the weather, the crops, and the fall season. A good chunk of the farm has been tucked in for the winter with cover crops, which desperately needed the moisture we have received recently to germinate. Cover crops are aptly named, because their primary purpose is to cover the soil and protect it from the winter storms that can cause soil compaction, soil erosion and nutrient leaching. That is an important function on any farm and the benefits definitely outweigh the costs.

For a cover crop to be successful it has to get established and be at least a few inches tall going into the winter. This is why we try and get them planted in early September (check) and then get some water (check) and then some more nice weather (Jury is still out, but hopeful). Cover crops begin to pay for themselves, because as the crop starts to grow it uses any extra/unused nutrients to grow pulling them out of the soil and storing them in the plant. By doing this the plant is essentially acting as a living storage system and keeping the nutrients on the farm and not being leached away with floods or rain.

You might ask why is this so important, the simple answer is because we don’t want another Dead Zone like the one in the Gulf of Mexico that has been caused by the leaching of excess fertilizers/nutrients from agriculture soils. Cover crops wouldn’t have completely prevented the Dead zone, but it sure would have helped to not create the problem.

Cover crops are important and organic farmers have really embraced the use of them.

 

Tristan,
Farmer/Health Advocate

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How to Eat Your BOX! (9/17/2017)

D’Anjou Pears:
The d’Anjou is a truly an all-purpose pear. They are juicy when ripe, and their subtle sweetness hints at a refreshing lemon-lime flavor. Their dense flesh holds up well in heated applications like baking, poaching, roasting, or grilling and they are delicious when sliced fresh in salads or eaten as an out-of-hand snack. The most important thing to know about d’Anjou pears is that they do not change color as they ripen, unlike Bartletts, whose skin color changes to yellow during ripening. Check the neck for ripeness by gently pressing your thumb near the stem end of the pear. When it gives slightly, the pear is ripe.

Fennel:
Known for its crunchy texture and mild anise flavor, fennel is best used within 5 days. Keep fennel bulbs wrapped in the fridge to keep out air that will lessen its flavor. Fennel is wonderful braised, roasted, or grilled where its it brings flavor reminiscent of pine nuts to the table, or, sautéed, or used raw in salads, where it is crunchy and sweet.

Beets:
In the cooking world, beets are often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin” for their incredible range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Although beets can be cooked in a variety of ways (including as a secret ingredient for deep dark chocolate cake-Google it!), roasting beets is one of the easiest and most delicious. Roasting beets intensifies their flavor, brings out their earthy sweetness, and makes their skin tender and easy to peel off. Roasted beets are particularly delicious in beet salads or just as a complementing side dish. Check out the recipe below for easy Roasted Beets.

Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad
“The good news: Beets are packed with folate and potassium, and the red ones deliver lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.” – Food & Wine

Ingredients:

4 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (~1 1/2 pounds)
2 thyme sprigs or 2 tsp dried
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large fennel bulb with fronds—bulb cut into 1/2-inch wedges, 1 tablespoon chopped fronds
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or balsamic

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F. In a medium baking dish, toss the beets with the thyme, the water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and cook for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly. Discard the thyme.
2. Meanwhile, in a small baking dish, drizzle the fennel wedges with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until tender and lightly browned.
3. Pour the beet juices into a bowl and whisk in the vinegar. Add the beets, fennel wedges and fronds and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Recipe adapted from: foodandwine.com

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Cukes and More Cukes

This has been the best year for cucumbers and tomatoes. They just keep coming. Ironically, they also take a while to get established, but when they do – oh boy! This season I planted an early crop of cukes in the greenhouse and then direct seeded a crop outside in early June and with another planting in mid-July. The greenhouse cukes are done, the June cukes are slowing down and the July cukes are hitting their stride.

Look for Klesick Farms cucumbers till the first hard frost. We absolutely love the flavor of the Silver Slicers. Those yellowish white cucumbers have great flavor and provide a nice break from the traditional green slicers that come most of the year.

However, we also plant the classic green slicing cucumber “Marketmore”. Whenever Marketmore’s are brought up in grower circles, you should hear the poetic waxing, “Those are beautiful.” or “The disease resistance is incredible.” or “They just keep producing!” or “They taste great!”. Jeesh, all this gushing about a cucumber! It is well deserved.

And when you plant a Marketmore or Silver Slicer in organic soils it tastes even better, but, really every crop tastes better when it is grown organically. The healthier soil combined with ample water and sunshine is a recipe for a bumper crop bursting with nutrition and flavor!

Fennel
This week I am switching gears in the “boxes of good”. Our friends at Highwater farms have some excellent Fennel and I have a good quantity of beets, so we are pairing the two together and offering a roasted fennel beet salad for the recipe. Fennel isn’t on the dinner plate often, but every so often I like to stretch a few taste buds.

You can follow the recipe here or google how to use Fennel, or you can do what I do. I grab every root vegetable that has been hanging around waiting to be eaten (think: carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, potatoes, garlic, onions, and fennel), chop them up into 1″ chunks, coat them with olive oil, sea salt and a little pepper, toss them into a pan and roast them all at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. YUM! The tricky thing about eating good vegetables is that you have to eat them to get the nutrition. I know the produce is beautiful and you just can’t bring yourselves to cook them, it’s okay, but their beauty really shines when you eat them.

 

Tristan

Farmer/Health Advocate

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 9/10/17)

Pluots:
These sweet Dapple Dandy Pluots can be eaten out of hand, as a fresh topping for yogurt, dehydrated into dried pluots or made into jam. You can also experiment by substituting them for plums in recipes (after all, they are the delicious hybrid of the plum and apricot). Pluots will continue to ripen once off the tree. Turn them upside down and leave them on the counter away from the sun. When ripe, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days. If stored in the refrigerator, remove your pluots before eating and let them return to room temperature. As with cheese – their flavor is best if allowed to warm slightly. Rinse and leave whole, slice into wedges or cut into chunks.

 
Petite Onions:
Most of my dishes start with onions! A great go-to soup during the week is “Sopa a la Minuta” a.k.a. “The Soup”. To make, sauté 1 finely chopped onion in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown. Add 2 cloves minced garlic. Add 1 ground meat of your choice and cook until brown. Add 1.5 cups of diced tomatoes. 2 tbs oregano, and cook until tomato turns darker in color. Add salt and pepper. Taste. Add 6 cups beef broth and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add 2 diced potatoes. Boil until potatoes are tender. Rectify seasoning and dinner is ready!

 
Cauliflower:
Cauliflower is enjoying its spot in health limelight these days for good reason: not only is it a cancer-fighting veggie, it lends itself as a replacement for starchy carbs, grains, and you name it! There are so many ways to use this vegetable: it can be chopped up and added to salad or soup, roasted in the oven, tossed in a stir fry, boiled and pureed as a stand-in for mashed potatoes or to make a creamy soup, baked into a pizza crust as a flourless alternative, or simply eaten raw. The options are endless! You don’t even have to cut it up. Try baking it whole by simply cutting off the leaves and stem so it can sit upright, baste in olive oil, salt and spices of your choice, and bake on a cookie sheet or cast iron skillet at 450° for about 45-60 minutes or until a knife can be inserted easily. Because of its mild flavor, cauliflower goes well in spicy dishes or curries as it soaks up all the other flavors.

 

 

Recipe: Glazed Petite Onions
Active time: 20 minutes Total time: 45 minutes Serves 6
Ingredients:

2 pounds Klesick’s petite onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Instructions:
1. Using a paring knife, trim off the ends of each onion and score a light “X” into one cut side. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add onions and cook until outer layers are soft, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain onions and run under cool water until cold enough to handle. Peel onions with your fingers and discard peels.
2. Transfer onions to a large saucepan or high-sided sauté pan and cover with water. Add butter and sweetener. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring and shaking pan occasionally, until onions are completely tender and sauce water has reduced and emulsified with the butter into a glossy glaze, about 25 minutes (if butter looks greasy or broken, add 2 tablespoons of water and shake pan to bring glaze back together). Season to taste with salt. Stir in parsley, and serve.

Recipe adapted from: seriouseats.com

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Back to School!

I have this tension that revolves around the school calendar. Every Spring I need help with planting and weeding and the kids are still in school. Then, every Fall I need help with harvesting and the kids are back in school, though I do appreciate the return to a normal schedule that comes with this time of year. But, unlike the Spring where the work is more tractor and less harvesting, the Fall is more harvesting. What typically gets planted as tiny seeds in the Spring will be harvested by the ton – think pumpkins, winter squash, potatoes, beets. So, if I could choose the ideal school calendar, it would be: out in mid-May, back in July, out in September and back in mid-October. That would accommodate a vegetable farmers schedule nicely!

But that is not the School calendar and I am not going to attempt to change it either. Farmers represent 1% of the population and an even smaller percentage of the 1% are vegetable/fruit farmers. Of those who are smaller vegetable/fruit farmers an even smaller percentage of those actually hire school/college kids to work on their farms. Which makes me a really small percentage of the farming population and an even smaller percentage of the overall population. Suffice it to say, it would be a better use of my time to work on solving the Salmon/habitat/farming issues that affect local food production in the Puget sound area than to try and change the school calendar!

Which is precisely where I have been investing my time for the last few years as a Co-Chair of the Snohomish Sustainable Land Strategy. In addition to parenting, running a home delivery company and a 40-acre vegetable/fruit and grass-fed beef farm, I also donate about 10-15 hours a week on environmental issues. So, when Fall rolls around and the farm begins to slow down, I also get to a little more sanity in my world. One reason is that the kids are going back to school, but mostly it is because my farm is requiring less of my time. Yes, it is a crazy life, especially during farming season! But each of us has a crazy element to our lives and managing the “crazy” goes with the territory.

Even though farmers are a very small part of the population, I hope is goes without saying that we need more local vegetable and fruit farms, not less; and those local farms need more places to sell, not less. Which brings it back to you. Because you choose to buy from a local farm, who also buys from other local farms, you get super fresh food, while supporting a different food system, a smaller more intimate food system.

 

With your help we are changing the food system one nutritious bite at a time.

 

Tristan

Farmer, Health Advocate

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 9/3/17)

StarKrimson Pears:

They are delicious just raw and out of the box, but if you are looking for something different, try sautéing them in butter with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey and serve them over almond butter toast. Or try adding them (thinly sliced) to a grilled cheese sandwich or your panini!

Patty Pan Squash:
Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until it foams up, usually 1 to 2 minutes. Sauté 1 small onion (diced) in the olive oil-butter until tender and translucent. Add sliced squash and garlic; season with lemon pepper. Sauté until squash is easily pierced with a fork, 5 to 6 minutes.

Green Beans:
You can enjoy raw or cooked, in salads, soups or by themselves. My go-to meals are anything stir-fry. They are quick to make, simple, and healthy. Green beans make a delicious stir-fry, check out the recipe, below!

Chicken – Green Bean Stir Fry – by Peruvian Chick

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil, divided
6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
12 ounces green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise (about 4 cups) OR 1 lb. Patty Pan Squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
Steamed white rice and sesame seeds (for serving; optional)
Salt

Instructions:
1. Prep all of your ingredients and have them ready and handy to use. Toss chicken, cornstarch, a pinch of salt and 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce in a medium bowl.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add scallions and ginger and cook, tossing until scallions are browned and softened, usually about 2 minutes. Add green beans and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until green beans are crisp, but still tender, usually about 4 minutes. Transfer green bean mixture to another bowl.
3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil in same pan over high. When oil is shimmering again, add chicken mixture and arrange slices in a single layer. Cook, until chicken is browned and caramelized on the first side. Toss and continue to cook until it is completely cooked through, usually about a minute or two longer. Pour in the soy-sauce & honey mixture along with the green bean mixture, and cook, tossing briskly until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated, usually about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and taste, rectify seasoning and serve with white rice. Enjoy!

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My Cooking Identity Crisis

Interesting title, huh? Well, bear with me. Most of you know me as Peruvian Chick from Instagram or Facebook, the Peruvian Gal that loves to cook, post recipes, loves traveling and cherishes time with friends, family and dogs. What many of you don’t know is that as much as I love cooking, I love business. I first earned an engineering degree before I went on to earn a master’s degree in international business management. I currently run a successful business consulting and branding agency which I co-founded over 12 years ago and guess what? I LOVE cooking just as much!

When my parents discovered this new passion of mine was taking such a pivotal role in my life, the occasional “Oh my, all that money invested in education and all you want to do is cook?” would find its way into conversations. But then they tasted my food, started sharing my recipes and then told their friends that I was famous on “The Facebook.”

If we’re honest, the world at large still tends to be judgmental about women who don’t cook. But society can also be judgmental about women who do cook. Have you ever heard someone commenting on a Facebook or Instagram post: “Who has time for that?” or “I wish I had time to cook, I work.”

These types of comments took me to the unconscious (and unreal) conclusion that these two passions were mutually exclusive. For the past few years I have been living a double-life being a self-proclaimed Business Consultant by day and Peruvian Chef by night. Depending on the crowd, I would either wear my chef’s hat or my consultant hat. At times, I was embarrassed to admit I loved to cook out of fear it would make me look weak in the business world. Other times I was embarrassed to admit that I am an excellent business strategist out of fear people would not find me relatable anymore. Let’s face it, that was not only silly, it was arrogant of me.

I’ve come to believe that business, as an investigative science, as a practical discipline and as a creative art, shares many characteristics with the culinary world. Cooking is my love language and keeps me connected to my roots. It gives me satisfaction to know where my food comes from and is my form of meditation. On the other hand, business fulfills my insatiable need for research and learning. I love doing a deep dive into a business, begin the problem-solving process and then create the strategies that lead to growth. Both cooking and business feed my creative soul. Getting seasonal fresh produce excites me as much as presenting a new marketing strategy for a client. Have you ever tried to make a meal for 12 stretch into a meal for 30? You do the math. It’s about getting the right ingredients, at the right temperature, at the right time. It’s an analogy with many parts, and it has consequences.

Ultimately, cooking or not-cooking is a choice for both men and women. There’s no right or wrong and I am not here to judge. If for any reason, (out of fear that others will think you are bragging you have hesitated to post a homemade meal you made from scratch after a hard day of work, or a full day of home-schooling and watching the kids; believe me, you are not. You are just living your truth and that is your business!

 

With love and gratitude,

 

Sara Balcazar-Greene

(a.k.a. Peruvian Chick)

peruvianchick.com

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P.S. As I write this article my thoughts and prayers go to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.