In keeping with the idea that produce grown in the same season is meant to be paired together, I’m going to test out a few new recipes this week. We’re only a few weeks into the farm share, and the goods are already starting to pile up! I’m moving away from our standard house veggies (broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus and eggplant) and into what this season has to offer. Kohlrabi and collard greens, beets and carrots.
Kohlrabi is a fairly new vegetable to me. I had never heard of it before we received it in the farm share last year, and I only had a chance to cook it a handful of times since it was a small crop last year. This year we received a nice fat bulb of kohlrabi and some really good looking collard greens. They can both bit a bit tough served raw, so I sauteed them with some garlic and lime juice. It turned out to be a really refreshing side dish! Check out my garlic and lime kohlrabi and collards recipe if you’re looking to expand the side dish section of your recipe box.
We also received a nice helping of beets and carrots this week, both of which my husband and son aren’t crazy about. I’ve had a little success roasting the carrots with some honey for my son, but he’s still a little weary of anything that’s not fruit. I for one, love roasted beets. In a salad, as a side dish, or just by themselves – they’re earthy, sweet, and so good! I found a great recipe for roasted beet and carrot salad that can be served warm with dinner, or cold as a picnic salad that’s so much more than lettuce and tomato!
I encourage you to try and pair as many local fresh veggies as you can to see what great recipes you can come up with. Anyone with a farm share knows that once the season is in full swing, if you’re not using at least a veggie or two in every meal, then something will go to waste (and that’s just bad veggie karma.) Let me know what works and what didn’t – I’d love to hear some new recipes from others!
Rhubarb and strawberries go together like, well, rhubarb and strawberries. They’re that perfect.
It’s things like strawberry rhubarb jam that make me feel lucky to be a New Englander. Apparently in a lot of places rhubarb and strawberry season collide for only a short period of time, and in some places not at all (how sad for you.) But up here, we get about two good months where both crops are flush and the possibilities are endless.
I was fortunate as a kid to have a mom who knew how awesome rhubarb was. I can still picture clearly the road-side stand in Granby, MA where we used to pick up fresh rhubarb. Sadly, that place has long since closed, but thankfully I’ve found other resources to calm my craving for that tart, sweet, and numbingly strange plant!
My all-time favorite dessert is strawberry rhubarb pie, you can’t beat it. Sweet, tangy, addictive. But after a lot of effort and mess in the kitchen you’re left with one little pie that has a life span of about four days. So why not make something that will last all year? Strawberry Rhubarb jam is basically the innards of a pie all wrapped up into nice neat jars that you can save for a day when rhubarb and strawberry season has long since passed.
I found a basic jam recipe and tweeked it with all of my favorites – cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar. What I came up with was a strawberry rhubarb jam that I was literally eating out of the pot (you didn’t think I would throw those last few extra tablespoons of awesomeness away, did you??!)
Excited, jubilant, overjoyed, elated… all words to describe how I felt while picking snap peas and strawberries last Friday out in the fields. Our farm share season has commenced! And with all of the rain that we’ve had over the past couple of months, hopefully it’ll be a good (and bountiful!) one too!
Our share this week consisted of the usual early-season crops like kohlrabi, spinach, broccoli, greens, and plenty of PYO strawberries, peas, and herbs. I’m splitting our share with a friend again this year, so I was sad to see half of this yummy stuff go, but she’s a smart one in the kitchen so I know it’ll get put to good use!
Red Fire Farm grows herbs all season long, and they don’t usually put a limit on them, they just ask you to take what you need. But I need… oh how I need!! If you’ve never smelled fresh sage and thyme drying in your kitchen then you’re missing out on something amazing. I do my best to only take what I think I’ll use that week, but when the crops are flush, I always make sure to grab a little extra to dry for use when fresh herbs aren’t available.
Drying herbs is simple, and it makes for some of the best free fragrance you’ll ever find. Wash and dry your herbs well before hanging them upside-down somewhere well-ventilated. After about a week when they start to crumble with touch (or when your husband starts to get annoyed that pieces are falling into his stuff), then it’s time to take them down and bag them up. Pull the leaves from the stems and shoots and store the dried leaves in an air-tight container. I found little ones like these at a local craft store – they even screw together so you don’t have 20 jars of herbs rolling around in your spice cabinet. And if you have a mom with a label maker, then your life is complete.
The time for road-side farm stands has come! If you’ve been waiting patiently for local produce like I have, then you’re probably just as psyched to see road-side stands starting to open. On the way home from yoga 2 weeks ago, my Mom and I stopped off at the Alligator Brook Farm in Hadley, MA to pick up some seriously beautiful asparagus. I promised I would pickle it, but just ended up roasting it instead. So we stopped again last weekend and grabbed more. I kept my word this time around and pickled the crap out of it. After about a six-month hiatus from canning, my supplies were low, so I grabbed what little pickling spices I had on hand and threw them in with the brine.
But oh, how good it felt to can again! Windows open, cool breeze blowing through the kitchen, and the smell of brine boiling on my stove top. I am perfectly content.
I only made 3 jars of pickled asparagus, but I’ll have to open one to share with my Mom since I know for a fact that she will pay an arm and a leg for fancy pickled asparagus at the store!
As a former meat eater with German blood, when I think of sauerkraut I think of bratwurst and corned beef. Late in the season last year we ended up with a large amount of cabbage from the farm share so I tried my hand at making homemade sauerkraut. It turned out well, but I had no idea what I would do with it.
In an effort to clear out the shelves of preserves that I canned last year, I grabbed the sauerkraut and started researching recipes. I wanted to use it as more than a side dish, but if I can’t have it with yummy German sausage, then what the hell can I do with it? What I finally came up with was a simple pairing of sauerkraut and sauteed white fish. Still very German, and still very yummy.
With all of the sunny and 70 degree days that we’ve been having in the past week, I’m forced to recognize the fact that spring is here and winter is soon to be a distant memory. My sprouting lilies and irises do not lie. I love winter, it’s my favorite time of year – I’m a freak of nature. But it’s really hard to wish for more snow with my windows open and a warm breeze blowing through my kitchen.
In anticipation of warmer weather, I decided to do some light baking and make some strawberry orange muffins. They remind me of spring and make me feel better about the fact that I now have to wait another 9 months for my favorite season to roll around again.
If you live in western mass, strawberry season officially begins in June. We have a very short window for good strawberries up here, but when they’re good, they’re really good! Click here for a pretty decent list of places to pick strawberries in the western mass area. You can always change your location to search anywhere in Mass, CT, or R.I. Or, if you’re not in any of those states, you can always check out localharvest.org for a complete listing of all organic food in your area (including good places to pick berries.)
Last season I canned a few batches of sweet pickled peppers. They’re great in antipasto or salad, but I hadn’t used them to really cook with yet. June and the beginning of canning season is going to be here before I know it, and I’ve got a lot of shelf space I need to clear out before that happens. So I decided to start using a jar of canned veggies every week for the next few months, and my sweet pickled peppers were calling to me from the bottom shelf.
While at my local Asian market last week, I scored some super-cute and very hard-to-find Thai eggplants. They have the same consistency and flavor as mediterranean or Chinese eggplant, but they don’t require soaking to remove some of the bitterness. These little guys are anything but bitter, and actually have some sweetness to them. Which makes them great for cooking on a busy weeknight, since not much prep work is involved.
I pan-fried these bad boys and threw together some Thai eggplant and pickled pepper stacks. So good, so easy, and the dish only used one pan. What’s better than that? Not much people, not much.