Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 20, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Orange Kabocha Squash


Cooking With This Week's Box:





Variety of Tomatoes: Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower & Potatoes)


Orange Italian Frying Peppers or Poblano Peppers: Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & BaconPoblano Pepper Jack Cornbread

Red or Green Bell Pepper: Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon


White, Yellow or Purple Cauliflower or Broccoli Romanesco: Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower & Potatoes)


Kabocha Squash:  Kabocha Nishime (see below) or Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl (see below)



We have made the transition to fall, it’s official.  Our Harvest Party is coming up this weekend and we have orange kabocha squash in this week’s box!  This is one of my favorite squash varieties and this week I’m sharing two recipes with you from Amy Chaplin’s beautiful book, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen.  The first one is for Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl (see below).  I make this bread throughout the winter and we eat it for breakfast with a hard-boiled egg or sometimes have it as dessert with lunch or dinner!  It’s delicious on it’s own, but even better spread with soft butter or coconut oil.  It calls for spelt flour, which I really like, but I would guess you could also just use all-purpose flour.  If you’re not into baking and sweet things this week, consider trying Amy’s recipe for Kabocha Nishime (see below).  This is a Japanese preparation for kabocha squash where the squash is steamed until tender and very delicately flavored with kombu, fish stock and mirin.  You can eat it on its own or turn it into a bento bowl by serving it with rice, steamed kale and pickled vegetables.

Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon
This week I went back through our recipe database because I was looking for a few recipes I thought we had featured before.  I found several recipes that I had forgotten about including one we featured last year for Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon & Bacon.  This recipe calls for sweet corn, which we don’t have, but you could easily substitute edamame or carrots instead.  This is a rich dish, but very delicious with the silky leeks, the sweetness from the peppers and the tang from the lemon. 

Another recipe I came across that I haven’t made for awhile is this one for Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower & Potatoes).  This is kind of like a quick, Indian vegetable stew with cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes seasoned with curry powder and garnished with cilantro.  It’s flavorful, warming and can be eaten as is or along with rice or a flat bread.

I guess I’m starting to feel the chill of fall which makes me want to eat more soup.  This week I’m going to make Andrea Reusing’s recipe for Carrot Soup with Toasted Curry & Pistachios.  This is a very simple soup, yet so delicious.  If you have some carrots remaining from a previous week, use them to make this recipe for Carrot & Broccoli Salad with Miso Ginger Sauce.  This recipe will make great use of not only carrots, but also this week’s broccoli and the last of the edamame.

Kale Chips with Almond Butter & Miso
Lets talk about snacks for a bit.  Fall is the time of year when I like to make kale chips as our Sunday afternoon snack as we prepare for the week ahead.  I really like this recipe for Kale Chips with Almond Butter & Miso.  I prefer to make kale chips with green curly kale, but I’ve talked to other members who prefer Lacinato kale!  I’m sure they’re delicious with either variety and no reason to feel guilty eating chips!  The other snack food I want to make this week is Mini-Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Feta, Avocado, & Golden Grape Tomatoes.  Mini Sweet peppers are great for stuffing with a lot of things, so if you don’t like this recipe, make up your own or just eat them with cream cheese!

Some boxes this week may receive Orange Italian Frying peppers while others will receive poblano peppers.  For those of you who get the poblano peppers, consider making Poblano Pepper Jack Cornbread.  Serve it for brunch or a light dinner with scrambled eggs and fresh slices of tomatoes.

I have some exciting news to share with you….sweet potato harvest is coming very soon!  Rafael dug some gorgeous sweet potatoes yesterday!  If the rest of the field looks like the samples he dug, we’re going to have a great sweet potato harvest this year!  We haven’t eaten any yet, remember we have to cure them first to convert their starches into sugar.  Start gathering your recipes, they’ll likely be in your box within about three weeks or so.  Have a great week and we hope to see you at the party this weekend!---Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable: Orange Kabocha Squash

This week we’re packing one of our longtime favorite squash varieties, orange kabocha.  The varietal name for this squash is “Sunshine,” something we will take in any way we can get it given the recent rains and gray skies!  You’ll recognize this vegetable by its bright orange skin and rounded, disc-like shape.  This variety is also sometimes called a Japanese Pumpkin and is similar to other squash varieties such as orange kuri and buttercup.  This squash has a thick wall of flesh and a small seed cavity.  The flesh is dark orange in color and has a silky, custard-like texture when cooked.  

This is a very versatile squash and may be used for a variety of preparations including soup, puree, baked goods, curries, stews or simply roasted.  You can often use this squash variety in recipes that call for buttercup, butternut, or orange kuri as well as any recipe calling for pumpkin.  The flavor of this squash is excellent and surpasses even the best tasting pumpkin. 

You’ll find kabocha squash to be a very dense squash that will require a little bit of effort to cut into.  Unlike some other winter squash, kabocha squash has a very thin skin that can be either peeled away or just eaten.  The skin is most tender shortly after harvest and toughens up the longer it is in storage, thus may not be as desirable to eat. There are several ways you can cook this squash. My go-to easy, low maintenance method is to just cut the squash in half, remove the seed cavity and put the squash halves, cut side down, in a baking dish.  Add a little bit of water to the pan and bake the squash at 350°F until the squash is soft and tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove the squash from the oven and turn the halves over so they can cool.  Once cool enough to handle, scoop the cooked flesh out of the shell and either mash or puree the flesh.  Once the flesh is cooked, you can use it to make a simple squash puree seasoned with spices of your choosing and a pat of butter.  Orange kabocha puree can also be used in baked goods and desserts.  This rich, sweet flesh makes a delicious pie filling and yields rich, moist, flavorful quickbreads, muffins, pudding and soufflé.

Aside from baking, kabocha squash may also be roasted or simply steamed.  In Japanese cuisine, kabocha squash are also referred to as Japanese pumpkins.  Known for their simple, clean preparations, you’ll find Japanese recipes for kabocha squash to be equally as simple with just a few ingredients.  Slices or chunks of kabocha squash are often steamed or simmered in a simple dashi broth with kombu seaweed and sometimes miso, soy sauce and sometimes sake.  This week we’re featuring Amy Chaplin’s recipe for kabocha nishime which is made using this type of method for steaming.  Amy recommends including this as a component in a nourishing Bento Bowl, a Japanese way of eating a variety of simple preparations including steamed rice and/or beans, steamed greens and pickled vegetables.  You can also roast kabocha squash as you would prepare any other root vegetable or potato for roasting.  When prepared this way the exterior of the squash gets nice and crispy while the flesh inside stays moist and sweet.

This squash is also delicious when used in soups, stews and curry dishes.  It is also really easy to preserve.  I like to cook a lot of squash at the same time and then puree the flesh.  I pack it in quart freezer bags and then lay them flat in the freezer to freeze them in “pillows.”  I can thaw these bags really quickly and then use the squash as a quick side dish during the winter—just heat and add salt, pepper and butter.  It’s also super quick to pull out a bag of the prepared squash and turn it into bread, cookies, pie or some other tasty treat.

I’ll take a minute to mention squash seeds.  While we usually encourage you to save the seeds from your winter squash and roast them to make a crunchy snack, I have to admit I don’t care for the seeds from a kabocha squash.  They have a thicker hull and are more tough and less enjoyable to eat.  Save your efforts for some of the other squash that will come later such as the sugar dumpling, festival and butternut squash.

For longer storage, winter squash is best stored in a cool, dry location at about 45-55°F.  However you can also keep them on your kitchen counter and enjoy their beauty if you are going to eat them within a few days or weeks.  I would encourage you to eat this week’s selection sooner than later.  Watch them and if you notice any spots starting to form on the exterior, cut that area out of the squash and cook the remainder immediately. 

Kabocha Squash Bread with Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Swirl

Yield:  One 9-inch loaf

Photo from Amy Chaplin's book,
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen
Cinnamon Walnut Swirl:
1 cup toasted walnut halves, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp maple sugar (may substitute brown sugar)
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Squash Batter:
½ to 1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in ½-inch dice (about 3 ½ cups raw)*
2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp milk (dairy or non-dairy)
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten

  1. Make the Cinnamon Walnut Swirl:  Place walnuts, cinnamon, maple sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl; mix to combine and set aside.
  2. Make the Batter:  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly oil a loaf pan and line bottom and two longer sides with a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Steam squash for 10 to 12 minutes or until soft.  Place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork.  Measure out 1 ½ cups cooked squash and set aside. *(see note below) 
  4. Sift spelt flour and baking powder into a medium bowl and stir to combine.  Add olive oil, maple syrup, milk, salt, vanilla, and egg to the mashed squash; whisk until smooth.  Using a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into squash mixture until just combined.  Spread half of batter over bottom of loaf pan.  Layer cinnamon-walnut mixture evenly over batter and top with remaining batter.  To create a swirl, use a small rubber spatula or butter knife to zigzag back and forth through the batter (across pan) and one stroke straight through the center of the loaf (lengthwise).
  5. Place in oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow loaf to sit 5 minutes before carefully turning out and placing on a wire rack.  Slice and serve warm.


*Chef Andrea Note:  Alternatively, you can cut the squash in half and put the two halves, cut side down, in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom.  Bake in a 350°F oven until tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and turn the squash over so they can release steam and cool enough to handle.  Scrape out the seed cavity and discard it.  Scrape the remaining flesh away from the skin.  Mash it with a fork or puree it in a food processor.  Measure out 1 ½ cups cooked squash for the bread and refrigerate or freeze the remainder for another use.

This recipe comes from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen:  Celebrating the Art of Eating Well.

Kabocha Nishime


Yield:  4 to 6 servings


Photo from Amy Chaplin's book,
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

Note from author:  Nishime is a Japanese cooking style that means “long-cooked with little water.”  In macrobiotic cooking, it is said to create strong, calm energy and restore vitality.  This amazingly simple method is perfect for root vegetables and winter squash, as they become super-sweet and meltingly tender.

2 pound kabocha squash
4-inch piece kombu
¾ cup water
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp tamari
Pinch sea salt

  1. Remove seeds from squash, leave skin on, and cut into 1 ¼-inch wedges.  Cut each wedge in half to make triangles.  Place kombu in bottom of a medium-large pot or one that will snugly fit all squash in one layer.  Lay squash skin-side down over kombu and arrange in a circle, with pointy end of squash facing the center.
  2. Pour in water, and add mirin, tamari, and a pinch of salt to center of pot.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until squash is cooked through.  You can test it with a toothpick or tip of a small knife;  cooking time will depend on the thickness of the flesh.  Remove from heat and carefully lift squash into serving bowl
  3. The cooking liquid you are left with is sweet and flavorful and can be poured over the squash when serving.  Or you can simply drink it, as I love to do.


This recipe comes from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen:  Celebrating the Art of Eating Well.  She recommends including this squash as a component in a simple meal mirrored after the Japanese bento meal concept where different components are served in a lacquered box with divided compartments for each component.  To simplify this dish, skip the box and just create your own bento bowl.  Amy suggests choosing several different components such as steamed rice, the kabocha nishime, pickled vegetables and/or steamed greens.  Create a bowl for each diner with the components each desires.  This is a simple way to make a beautiful, nourishing meal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 13, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Mini-Sweet Peppers


Cooking With This Week's Box:

Potatoes: Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Sweet Peppers (See below)


Variety of Tomatoes: Fried Green Tomatoes

Golden Grape Tomatoes: Veggie PizzaEdamame & Veggie Rice Bowl
Broccoli: Veggie Pizza

Mini-Sweet Peppers: Veggie Pizza; Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Sweet Peppers (See below); Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl

Here we are in mid-September and while the trees are still mostly green, you can see they’ll be transitioning to their fall colors soon.  Yesterday we finished winter squash harvest and our greenhouse is filled with bins of colorful squash!  We hope you’ll consider joining us for our Fall Harvest Party coming up on September 23.  Come and see the farm and enjoy delicious food, great conversation with other CSA members and tour the fields! 

Lets kick off this week’s cooking extravaganza with a focus on this week’s featured vegetable, the beautiful mini-sweet peppers.  These little gems are delicious just on their own, but they are also really great when roasted.  This week I suggest using most of your mini-sweet peppers to make Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Sweet Peppers (See below).  This is a simple recipe featuring herb-roasted potatoes, mini-sweet peppers and sweet onions, but very tasty and filling. 

Spaghetti Squash & Leek Skillet Gratin
I’m excited that we have both spaghetti squash and leeks in this week’s box so we can use them to make Spaghetti Squash & Leek Skillet Gratin.  I have shared this recipe with anyone who tells me they don’t care for spaghetti squash and everyone who’s tried it has had to admit it’s a pretty good way to prepare this unique squash!  This dish is easy to put together and includes sweet peppers as well as spaghetti squash, leeks and garlic.  Leftovers are pretty good the next day too.  You might want to save one leek to make this recipe for Apple, Leek & Cheddar Quiche which we featured several years  ago in a newsletter.  I had forgotten about this until one of our members reminded us about this recipe in our Facebook Group last week.  This will make a great weekend brunch item with some leftovers for breakfast on Monday morning.

While the tomatoes in this week’s box aren’t technically green tomatoes, most of them were a bit on the under-ripe side when they were picked.  We know tomato season won’t last forever, so I’m going to pull the trigger on making our annual dinner of Fried Green Tomatoes.  This recipe also includes a simple sauce to serve alongside.

When I was a kid, one of the church ladies’ go-to recipes for snacks at church events was a cold Veggie Pizza.  This is a great way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into one preparation.  This could serve as a light dinner or lunch, but might also be a good thing to send in school lunches for the kids or just have it in the refrigerator for an after-school snack.  The recipe calls for using canned crescent rolls for the crust.  You could also use puff pastry as the base or make your own crust.  You can top this with any fresh vegetable you like, but I’d suggest using carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet peppers from this week’s box.  You could also use edamame for a pop of green color. 

Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip
This will likely be the last week we’ll be able to deliver tomatillos.  Several years ago when Chef Chelsea worked at the farm, she introduced me to the beautiful combination of roasted poblanos and tomatillos.  So this week I think I’ll just keep things simple and make Roasted Poblano & Tomatillo Salsa Verde.  This will likely become our Sunday afternoon snack eaten with chips, but you could also use this salsa as a sauce over grilled chicken or pork chops or include it in a breakfast burrito.  The other poblano pepper recipe I have to mention every year is Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip.  I like to make this at least once every year and I use it in a variety of ways.  First of all, it’s really good as a dip with mini-sweet peppers, but it’s also good on quesadillas, on top of roasted potatoes, or use it as a base for something similar to the veggie pizza mentioned above.  This week’s sweet onions are one of the best varieties to use for this recipe.

We’re nearing the end of edamame for the season.  I’ve enjoyed having these sweet, tender beans over the past few weeks. If you’re looking for a simple vegetable snack for the kids, this is a good one.  Otherwise, this week I’m going to follow this simple suggestion for Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl.  You could eat this warm or at room temperature.  Basically you pile brown rice in a bowl and top it off with roasted vegetables (such as carrots, broccoli, sweet peppers or grape tomatoes).  Serve it with chunks of avocado and dress it with a citrus lime vinaigrette.  This is a nice light, nourishing alternative to some of the more rich dishes I’ve recommended throughout the week.
  
Here’s another suggestion for something a bit on the light side.  If you get the red cabbage in your box this week, pair it with carrots to make this Thai Sesame, Red Cabbage & Carrot Salad.  It’s a basic salad consisting of cabbage, carrots, fresh herbs and a light vinaigrette.  You could turn this into a meal by adding some shredded chicken or salmon.

Lastly, if you didn’t have a chance to try the Korean Peppers last week, I’d encourage you to do so this week.  We’ve sent them as a choice item, so pick up a small handful and use them to make the HVF Korean Chile-Garlic Sauce or Salt-Cured Chiles we featured on the blog last week. You can also read more about this chile and how to use it in the same blog post.

Alright friends, we’ve cooked our way to the bottom of yet another CSA box.  I haven’t cooked any of our Kabocha squash yet, but I am thinking they’ll likely land in next week’s boxes, so start transitioning your thoughts to more fall cooking.  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable: Mini-Sweet Peppers

These sweet little gems have become something many of our members look forward to every year, and what’s not to like about them!  They are cute, colorful, sweet and easy to eat.  They travel well, require very little if any preparation, store well on the countertop during the season and are easy to preserve.  They are delicious raw, roasted, sautéed and are excellent for dipping or stuffing.  If I had to choose just one pepper to grow, this would be the chosen one.
 
For those of you who have been members with our farm for several years, you likely remember the story about how this vegetable came to be part of our repertoire.  It’s a relatively new addition to our crop plan and we’re grateful to one of our longtime CSA members who introduced us to them.  Upon his suggestion, Richard picked up a pack of these peppers at the co-op and saved the seeds from them.  Please note, each pepper only has a few seeds inside, so the amount of seed we had to start with was pretty slim.  He planted out the seeds that year, selected more peppers to save seeds from and thus began the process of developing our own line of seed.  At the time he first saw these peppers, they were not very wide-spread in the stores as they are now and seed was not commercially available in this country.  Times have changed and mini-sweet peppers, or snacking peppers as they are also called, are much more mainstream.  Seed is now commercially available in this country.  Several years ago we purchased some seed to try.  We grew it side by side with the seed we had saved and when we looked at the plants in the field, they were pretty similar.  We almost had ourselves convinced that we should just purchase seed and stop spending time painstakingly picking 4-5 seeds out of peppers at the end of every summer so we have seed for the next year.  But then we tasted them.  One bite of the purchased variety stopped us in our tracks.  It was an acceptable sweet pepper, but it did not have the level of sweetness or the depth of flavor we experienced with the variety we’ve been developing.  Deal breaker.  We haven’t purchased seed since then and will continue to refine the seed we save every year as it seems to be doing pretty well in our growing environment.

So what do you do with this little pepper?  Well the easiest thing to do is to just eat it as a snack.  I usually don’t even cut them or trim away the top.  I just use the stem as a handle and eat around the seeds.  One of Richard’s favorite ways to eat this pepper is stuffed with cream cheese or other soft cheese.  You can eat peppers stuffed in this way raw or pop them under the broiler for a bit to warm them up.  This pepper is also great roasted, such as in this week’s recipe.  Lastly, you can use this pepper as you would any other sweet pepper.

I mentioned above that it can also be preserved.  This is actually one of the easiest things to put away for winter.  All you have to do is wash them, let them air dry a bit and then put them in a freezer bag and freeze.  That’s it.  When you’re ready to use them, take out the portion you need and leave it on the counter at room temperature for just a few minutes so it softens enough for you to cut them.  I use these throughout the winter as a topping on pizza, added to soups and stews, or chopped and added to rice and pasta dishes.

We hope you enjoy this sweet little gem as much as we do!

Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini-Sweet Peppers

Yield 4-5 servings

(Pre-cooked)
4 cups diced potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 cups mini-sweet peppers, stem removed & quartered (about ½ pound)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
3 Tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, divided
6 pieces chicken thighs, legs, wings or a combination, skin-on

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Combine potatoes, mini-sweet peppers, and onions in a medium mixing bowl.  Add dried herbs, freshly ground black pepper and about ½ tsp salt.  Drizzle with 2 Tbsp oil.  Toss the vegetables to thoroughly mix the vegetables with the herbs and coat everything with oil.  Spread the vegetables evenly on a sheet pan and set aside.
  2. Put the pieces of chicken in the same bowl you mixed the vegetables in.  Drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil and sprinkle with about ½ tsp salt as well as freshly ground pepper.  Mix well with your hands and make sure all sides of the chicken are thoroughly coated with oil and seasonings. 
  3. Put the pieces of chicken on top of the vegetables, skin side up.
  4. Put the chicken and vegetables in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.  If necessary stir the vegetables a bit so they brown more evenly.  Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until the vegetables are golden brown and tender and the chicken is golden, crispy and cooked through. 
  5. Remove from the oven and serve hot.


By Chef Andrea, Harmony Valley Farm

A Giant Success For One Small Municipality


By Gwen Anderson

The story we want to share with you this week is filled with hope and encouragement.  It has been exciting for us here at Harmony Valley Farm over the past few weeks as we’ve dug deeper into this rich story.  There is far too much for us to be able to sum up in one article, so we’ve shared some resources for you at the end of the article and encourage you to dive into this story and learn more.  The story is about a small township called Mals, which is (to our knowledge) the first municipality in the world to ban pesticides.  We first leaned about Mals when we read about it in an article in September’s issue of Acres U.S.A.  The article was an interview with Philip Ackerman-Leist, a farmer and professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at Green Mountain College in Vermont, who is also the author of A Precautionary Tale.  Ackerman-Leist is very familiar with the area surrounding Mals, since he lived and worked in the area as a farmer in the early 1990s.  In both his book and the article we read, he highlights the struggles Mals went through on its long and difficult journey to become a pesticide free municipality.  Their story is one of perseverance, tenacity, convictions, and the desire to, as Farmer Richard would say, “do the right thing.”

Mals, photo from motherearthnews.com
Mals (pronounced Mahltz) is a township located in the Upper Vinschgau Valley of the Italian Alps, in a region called South Tirol.  The township is made up of 11 villages ranging in altitudes of 3,000 to 5,500 feet.  The largest of the villages lends its name to the municipality, so the villages are collectively known as Mals.  Even though the township is in Italy, the inhabitants speak German and retain their Austro-Hungarian heritage.  The residents of Mals have been farmers for 30-35 generations, tending their small family farms and carrying on traditions of rotating grain crops with vegetable crops and keeping their soil healthy.  Most of the farms are small dairy farms, owning 8-12 cows, who grow their own vegetables and have a handful of fruit trees near their homes.  The area surrounding Mals is also the driest in the Alps, with only about 50 days of rain a year, but the water coming down from glaciers and easy access to irrigation have made this a prime agricultural region.

Ulrich Veith, Mayor of Mals
Photo from thelexicon.org
Ulrich Veith became mayor of Mals in 2009.  He was elected because of his desire to create a sustainable municipality while keeping with the local traditions.  The township was building a micro-hydro-system to generate green energy to power their homes, businesses, and the new Swiss-built train that brought their long abandoned rail system back into use.  The train brought tourists who were interested in Mals’ picturesque landscape and the town responded by making bike trails and opening South Tirol’s first organic hotel.  It was a new renaissance period for the people of Mals.
Elsewhere in South Tirol, there was another sort of renaissance happening.  Climate change warmed the Alps and made South Tirol a perfect place to grow fruit, and apples were becoming the biggest money maker around.  The farmers’ cooperatives were building their brands and spreading their markets across Europe and Russia.  They borrowed the efficient tree trellis method developed by the Dutch and the small 3-4 acre orchards were rolling in money.  With money in hand and looking to expand, the apple farmers set their sights on Mals and the valley below, where they could snatch up land at a low price.  With the apples came the pesticides.  Apple farmers are able to legally spray up to 30 different pesticides, each one being sprayed 12-14 times a year.  While the rest of South Tirol was using 35 pounds of pesticides per acre per year, Mals was making a wide-spread movement to organic agriculture.

Gluderer family's herb farm, Castle of Herbs
photo from vinschgau.net
The valley below Mals, which had once mirrored Mals’ picturesque medieval farm landscape, had transformed into a sea of commercial apple orchards.  Urban Gluderer and his family, whom had started an organic herb farm down in the valley in the 1990s, were soon surrounded by conventional apple orchards and quickly found the pesticide drift was spreading to their land.  They planted hedges to protect their herbs, but the produce was still too tainted by pesticides to sell.  After several attempts to speak with government officials in the provincial capital failed to provide an adequate response, the Gluderers spent a quarter of a million dollars to cover their farm with greenhouses as a means to protect their livelihood from the chemical trespass.

In 2009, Günther Wallnöfer, an organic dairy farmer in Mals, watched as two commercial apple orchards went in next to his hay fields.  He didn’t feel the legal requirement of a 3 meter (10 feet) buffer between fields was going to protect his farm, and stories like the Gluderer’s only gave him justification to worry.  As Ackerman-Leist said in the article, “You can’t even turn your tractor around in a 10 foot radius!”  The next year, Wallnöfer had cuttings of his hay tested for pesticides.  The first came back tainted, as did the second and third.  Wallnöfer went to see the new mayor and asked him to do something.  In a community that has a wind named after them, everyone knew that no one was safe from chemical drift.  Per Ackerman-Leist, “Pesticides represented the death knell to the renaissance that [Veith, Wallnöfer] and others had worked so hard to bring about.”  So Veith went to the provincial and local governments for assistance.  What Veith received were two test orchards, supposedly to test pesticide drift, but also to trial new fruit varieties.  The people of Mals didn’t want more orchards, and didn’t see the need for further testing when there was already enough evidence of the dangers pesticide drift presented.  In the summer of 2012, much to the chagrin of the township, the test orchards were built.  In the end, the test orchards brought talks about changing the buffer law, but nothing substantial ever came from them.

Dr. Johannes Fragner-Untherpertinger
photo from thelexicon.org
It was clear that the provincial government didn’t have its sights on the same goal, so the citizens rallied; not just the farmers and environmentalists, but small business owners, the local medical community, and concerned parents.  The Advocacy Committee for a Pesticide-Free Mals was born in February of 2013, and Dr. Johannes Fragner-Unterpertinger, the local pharmacist, was elected as the spokesperson.  The Advocacy Committee started talking about a possible referendum to ban pesticides in Mals.  Speakers from around the world were brought in to educate the community of Mals on pesticides, from toxicologists (Dr. Irene Witte) and entomologists (Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren), to an EU food safety expert (Hermine Reich) who supported “safe pesticide use.”

In the summer of 2013, Dr. Unterpertinger, together with fellow activist Dr. Elisabeth Viertler, a pediatrician, wrote a Manifesto of Doctors and Pharmacists calling attention to the health dangers that pesticides present.  It was signed by 51 members of the local medical community.  Ackerman-Leist quoted the pharmacist as saying “When I see something jeopardizing the population here, which is coming in tiny increments, just in the same way the medicine I give out is prescribed in tiny increments, there is no way that I see that as appropriate.”  “None of these pesticides are harmless,” Dr. Unterpertinger said.  “Providing this information over the last years has borne its fruit. The community now understands how dangerous pesticides are. If you have a bit of a conscience, you cannot stay silent as a doctor.”

Meetings and education were not the only form of activism in Mals.  A group called Adam & Epfl (or Adam & Apple in English, is a play on words for ‘Adam and Eve’ in the local dialect) held cultural events to showcase Mals’ unique culture and support the sustainable economic development the township was striving for.  They have also been known to use a guerrilla art tactic or two, leaving painted snakes around the towns and apple orchards as a reminder not to be tempted by the “promises” of the Big Apple (a term coined to describe the commercial apple industry modeled after the term “Big Ag” in the US)
. 
5 members of Hollawint, from left: Pia Oswald, Dr. Elisabeth
Viertler, Beatrice Raas, Martina Hellrigl, and Margit Gasser
Photo from thelexicon.org
Martina Hellrigl and Beatrice Raas, the founders of a woman’s group called Hollawint (which means “Stop right there!”), wrote letters to the local newspapers pleading for the mayor to protect their health after the first submission of the referendum was declined.  Their first letter, which appeared multiple times with over 60 different signatures, read: “The increasing use of pesticides and herbicides in the municipality of Mals has us highly concerned for our health and especially the health of our children.  We ask our Mayor, who is responsible for the health of our citizens, to ensure that our environment and our health are not endangered.”  Another of their letters, sent to government officials during the referendum vote in September of 2014, focused on the highly profitable tourist trade: “We wish for everything that the tourist brochures have long promised: highly valued, healthy, and diverse foods that are grown in healthy soil and embedded in a landscape in which people, animals, and plants all have the possibility of a healthy life. We request that you publicly give us positive support in public and act accordingly.”  During the same time Dr. Unterpertinger was releasing his manifesto, the women of Hollawing hung over 100 recycled bedsheets throughout Mals stenciled with slogans promoting a pesticide-free future.  Hollawint also borrowed the guerrilla art tactic from Adam & Epfl by placing hay-stuffed pesticide suits sporting signs explaining the dangers of pesticides in high traffic areas around the township, and painted sunflowers to remind people to vote “Ja!” (or “Yes!”) for the pesticide ban referendum.

Eco-tourism was also a huge weapon the residents of Mals had in their arsenal.  “Probably the biggest mistake Big Apple made was overestimating their actual economic importance,” Ackerman-Leist stated.  “Agriculture only accounts for 6% of the South Tirolean economy, while tourism is closer to 25%.”  Elsewhere in South Tirol, stories were emerging about bicycling tourists being sprayed by pesticides while riding the countryside.  In April of 2013, a Swiss newspaper ran an article saying pesticides were ruining South Tirol as a vacation spot, which the region’s governor scoffed at.  Germany and Austria are also a huge tourism market for the South Tirol area.  When the Environmental Institute of Munich ran a campaign in April last year declaring many of the areas in South Tirol too filled with pesticides to visit, the South Tirolean government and tourism office were up in arms.  The institute then sponsored a bus trip to the villages of Mals in an effort to support their pesticide-free initiative.  A German tourism magazine interviewed Mayor Veith, which Ackerman-Leist summed up: “He essentially said, ‘We offer the perfect opportunity for eco-tourists.  Why wouldn’t you come to Mals, where you don’t have to worry about pesticide drift in your hotel or being sprayed when you’re out bicycling?’”

A Farmer's Future's logo
photo from thelexicon.org
Once Big Apple realized the citizens of Mals were serious about their referendum and were not going to just go away, groups were formed to fight back and put pressure on the government to intervene in their defense.  While the first attempt to submit a referendum failed, the second gained almost 3 times the signatures of support required in 2014.  In response, a media campaign called A Farmer’s Future was launched by the commercial fruit industry and allies of the South Tirolean Farmers Association.  This group tried to stop the referendum vote by requesting that the government invalidate Mals’ town council’s decision to allow the referendum only weeks before the vote.  The South Tirolean officials themselves had already stalled the vote on the referendum once by refusing to give Mayor Veith the voter list, saying the referendum was inadmissible.  When Veith countered the officials, they found an error on the request form and reminded the mayor that the voter list request must be completed, correctly, 45 days before the vote, thus forcing a reschedule.

Finally in September 2014, the citizens of Mals were able to pass the referendum to ban pesticides with 76% of voter’s support, but it still wasn’t enough to make it a law.  Mayor Veith and the town council had laid the groundwork for a referendum passed by the people to become law in 2012, but the change in the municipal code did not guarantee the referendum would be turned into law, only that it must be considered.  The ordinances imposing the referendum weren’t passed until March 2017.  According to Ackerman-Leist “it took more than a year and an election of town councilors before they actually voted to develop the ordinances to implement the referendum.”

Part of the issue slowing the referendum being turned into law was legal uncertainty.  The town council’s vote to change the municipality laws failed twice, in no small part due to lawsuits against the referendum (and a number of the activists) being paid for by the South Tirol Farmer’s Association, which supported commercial interests.  In 2016, the provincial courts even declared that the referendum was illegal because it was sponsored by the Advocacy Committee, six months after Mayor Veith and the town council had drafted the ordinances.  “The Malsers saw that as a technicality,” Ackerman-Leist stated.  “The ordinances for a pesticide-free Mals were not overturned.”

Ägidius Wellenzohn, photo from vip.coop
Lawsuits were not the only backlash the Mals activist saw.  Mayor Veith, a member of the region’s most prevalent political party, was under constant political pressure.  Dr. Unterpertinger, whose family had been pharmacists in the area for hundreds of years, received death threats and required police protection.  His garden was destroyed and his family’s graves were vandalized.  Ägidius Wellenzohn, another prominent activist, has been an organic fruit grower for 30 years.  Someone entered his orchard and sprayed it with glyphosate, not only destroying his crop for that year but also compromising his organic status for the next several years.  “Obviously, this is not something I ever wanted,” Ackerman-Leist quoted Wellenzohn as saying, “but I also realize that this is the price sometimes you pay for activism.  It’s still worth it to me to have been this involved.”
The town pulled together to support Wellenzohn, just as they had been supporting each other throughout the rest of their fight to live a life free of pesticides.  “I have the right not to be poisoned.  It would seem normal, but it’s something we need to fight for, not to be poisoned,” Dr. Unterpertinger says in a video from Friends of the Earth.  “They say that Bertol Brect says ‘[he] who fights may lose, but [he] who doesn’t fight [has] already lost.’  To say ‘Oh, well, there is nothing I can do,’ is unacceptable.” 

Mals, photo from independentsciencenews.org
Mals is a lesson for us all on how education and collective community persistence can win against even the seemingly unbeatable Goliath powers of commercialism and industry.  When we consider the negative impact “Big Ag” has in our own country, it can seem impossible that “we” can ever find success in opposing their efforts to influence government and support their cause with the power of the almighty dollar.  Mals’ success story is one that many European groups, including the Pesticide Action Network and Friends of the Earth, are trying to spread with the hope that this story will be emulated in other communities, much to the delight of many of the people of Mals.  “I see it almost as a gift, what happened here,” Martina Hellrigl says in the above video.  “It’s a beautiful story and we hope this beautiful story acts like a seed.  I hope Hollawint’s seed grows in other places also.”

Resources:

Philip Ackerman-Leist’s book, A Precautionary Tale: chelseagreen.com/product/a-precautionary-tale
                In audiobook format: amazon.com/precautionary-tale-pesticides-preserved-heritage/dp/1603587055

Lexicon Multimedia Project: topplinggoliath.org



Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September 6, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Korean Peppers


Cooking With This Week's Box:



Leeks: Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below); Alice Water’s Classic Potato Leek Soup


Korean Peppers: Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see below); Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below)

Variety of Tomatoes: Cream of Tomato Soup


Green Top Red BeetsRoasted Beet & Avocado Salad
    
Orange Italian Frying Peppers & Red Bell Peppers: Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Linguine



It’s been an eventful week to say the least!  While the rain fell Monday night, I distracted myself by experimenting with the Korean chiles in my kitchen!  I hope you’ll take the time to read this week’s article about Korean peppers and consider trying the recipes for Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see below).  These are great condiments to have in your refrigerator and I offer several resources in the article for finding recipes and ideas for how to use them.  You can also use this chile in the recipe for Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below).  It seems like gentle, delicate leeks and hot chiles are on different ends of the spectrum, but they actually complement each other quite nicely in this dish.  This recipe calls for tofu, but you could make it with chicken if you prefer.

If you don’t use the leeks to make the stir-fry, then you might want to use them to make Alice Water’s Classic Potato Leek Soup.  Her recipe calls for yellow potatoes, but I specifically included the Purple Viking potatoes in this week’s box because I think they’re one of the best varieties for this soup!

Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad, photo from Food & Wine
This week we are fortunate to have avocados in the fruit share.  Avocados and beets pair together very nicely in dishes such as this Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad.  Don’t throw away the green tops!  Wilt them with in olive oil and use them as the base for serving this salad.

I have been craving roasted red peppers and this is the week to make this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Linguine.  While the recipe calls for roasted peppers from a jar, please do yourself a favor and roast your orange Italian frying peppers and/or red bell peppers for this recipe!  This recipe also includes onions as the base and this week’s sweet yellow onions will really enhance this dish.

I shared some edamame with a friend last week who had never had them before.  As I was telling her how to cook them I mentioned how when you roast them you can add different seasonings.  In my early days at the farm, I created this recipe for Wasabi-Roasted Edamame to honor Richard’s love of wasabi.  This makes a nice little snack in the afternoon.

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Photo from Land of Noms
It’s supposed to be a cool week, so this is the week to make Cream of Tomato Soup with fresh tomatoes!  Serve a bowl of this tasty soup along with a Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich and you’re set for a light lunch or dinner.

Hopefully you still have a little fresh basil remaining in your herb garden.  If so, pick a little and use it to make this recipe for Pesto Stir-Fried Carrots, Cauliflower & Cherry (Grape) Tomatoes.  This dish makes use of some of your carrots as well as cauliflower (or substitute broccoli Romanesco) and the grape tomatoes in this week’s box. Serve this dish as a vegetable side to go along with grilled chicken or fish.

I hope you enjoy this week’s cooking adventures.  Lets cross our fingers that we’ll be able to harvest peppers and tomatoes for a few more weeks, but it’s also time to start preparing your plans for some of our favorite fall vegetables!  Spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, Kabocha squash, celeriac and more still coming your way!—Chef Andrea 

Exploring a new ingredient, HVF Korean Peppers

By Chef Andrea

Dang Jo Cheong Yang pepper photo from the
Osborne Seed catalog.
This week your CSA boxes include a beautiful bright red Korean Pepper called Dang Jo Cheong Yang.  Every year we look for some new, interesting vegetables to grow.  Last winter, as we were pouring over seed catalogs, this pepper caught my eye.  The picture in the Osborne Seed catalog showed a long, dark purple pepper that looked to be pretty prolific.  They described it as “a unique Asian pepper that is similar in pungency and appearance to a serrano. The fruit are purple in color and ripen to a deep dark red color. They are easy to harvest and uniform. Outstanding yield and good ripening ability in the Pacific Northwest make this a nice addition to a hot pepper program.”  We thought it would be fun to try something new and we don’t have any purple peppers so why not give it a try!  We have found that the plants are very prolific producers and just as the picture shows, they set on quite a lot of dark purple peppers.  Our next mission was to decide when to harvest them.  Since we’ve never experienced this pepper before we are basically doing our best to assess the qualities of the pepper at different stages and make our best judgements as to when it’s at its peak of ripeness.  I started trialing this pepper when it was just purple and found that it really didn’t have much flavor.  It tasted like a very green hot pepper.  Nothing really remarkable about it.  So we decided to let it ripen more and see what happened.  Now that they are fully red, the flavor has really changed and it not only has heat, but a much more complex flavor than when it was green.

As with every new vegetable we grow, we not only have to figure out how to grow it and when to harvest it, but we also have to figure out how to best put it to use in the kitchen.  Before we go any further, I should offer the disclaimer that I am very much a novice when it comes to the cuisine of most countries in Asia.  Yes, I had “Cuisines of Asia” in culinary school and I have a handful of Japanese, Thai and Chinese cookbooks, but I have to admit that I’m not very familiar with many of the cooking techniques and ingredients that are used in these cultures.  I’m also not familiar with the languages of this part of the world, so I just assumed this was probably some sort of a pepper from China.  I started researching more about this pepper, starting with the seed company.  Unfortunately they didn’t have much to offer beyond the description in their catalog.  When I looked up the name of the pepper, it actually pointed me in the direction of Korean cuisine.  So, based on my research I have concluded that this is likely a pepper variety coming to us from Korea.  Aside from knowing a few people from Korea and eating kim chi, I am not very familiar with the cuisine of Korea.  Thus began another culinary food adventure!  So for those of you who are in the same boat as I am and don’t know much about Korean cooking and ingredients, I’m going to do my best to share some of the information I learned from my research.  If you have more experience with Korean food and have additional information to share with me, I’d welcome your input, recipes and culinary expertise.

Gouchujang I brought home from Minneapolis
last winter.
One basic thing I learned about Korean cuisine is that it includes quite a lot of fermented foods as well as spicy hot foods.  Korean cuisine and its influence on food and cooking in the United States has been growing over the past few years as we see Korean influences crossing over into dishes from other origins, such as Korean tacos and pizza.  I suspect Chef Roy Choi holds some responsibility for this influence based on the success of his food truck business in Los Angeles, California that started with a Korean short rib taco and has now grown to include multiple food trucks as well as a catering business, restaurant and many features in cooking magazines and other media outlets.  Chefs and home cooks are taking some basic Korean ingredients and cooking techniques and applying them to other preparations.  One of these ingredients is called gochujang.  Gochujang is a savory, sweet, spicy condiment used in Korean cuisine.  It is considered a backbone ingredient to Korean cooking and one source I read likened it to sriracha mixed with miso, but with a more complex flavor.  Traditional gochujang takes quite a while to make because the complexity of its flavor comes from a fermenting process.  It’s made with glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt and the traditional dried Korean peppers.  If you’re interested in learning more about how this is made, you can find more description and pictures on this blog written by a Korean woman who is a simple home cook sharing the cuisine of her country.  Gochujang is used as a condiment in sauces, soups, dipping sauces, marinades and with roasted meats.  I am seeing this ingredient more in some of my cooking magazines, although I have limited experience using it and have not seen it in any of our local stores.  Last winter when I was in Minneapolis for sales meetings I found a jar of gochujang at one of the food co-ops.  It wasn’t organic, but it was made with non-GMO soybeans so I picked up a jar so I could see what it was like.  I have only used it once, but am glad I have a jar of it now that I’m learning more about what it actually is!

So back to the little bag of peppers in your box this week.  First of all, I want to make sure everyone understands that this is a hot pepper, with the heat level similar to a serrano pepper.  You can use this pepper anywhere you might need a fresh hot chile and I have been using it in recipes that call for jalapenos as well as fresh Thai chiles.  They have added a nice background heat to fresh salsas, scrambled eggs, Thai curry dishes and fried rice.  If you prefer less heat, just use a portion of the pepper or remove the seeds and white pith.  As with all hot chile peppers, handle them carefully and don’t rub your eyes with your hands for awhile after handling them!

Chile Ristra, photo from heb.com
In Korea, this pepper is often used as a dried chile.  This makes sense because it has a thinner wall which means it dries very easily.  I’ve actually dried some that have just been hanging out on my countertop, but you could also intentionally dry them in a dehydrator or low heat oven.  You could also use them to make a beautiful dried chile ristra.  Checkout this website for a step-by step guide for how to make a chile ristra.  You can string up the fresh chiles and hang them in your kitchen to dry naturally.  Once they are dried you can use them as a dried chile pepper including grinding them with a spice grinder to make hot chile flakes.  If you aren’t into hot peppers, you could also enjoy your dried chile ristra just as a decoration in your kitchen or use it as a Christmas gift for someone who does like a spicy culinary adventure!

This week we’re featuring two different recipes that use these Korean peppers in their fresh form.  The first recipe is for Salt-Cured Chiles.  I’ve made these before using a fresh Thai chile that is actually very similar to these Korean chiles.  This is a quick, easy way to preserve your chiles and I like it for several reasons.  First, all you need are the chiles and salt.  Second, if you use a food processor this recipe will take you maybe 10 minutes to make, including clean up.  Third, these chiles will keep in your refrigerator for months and retain that fresh chile flavor.  You don’t need much to add heat to dishes, so a little jar can last quite a long time.  You can use them to add heat to stir-fries, marinades, sauces or use them to make your own homemade hot sauce.

Korean Tacos
photo from KIMCHIMARI
The second recipe is for a preparation I’m calling HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce.  It’s based off of a recipe that is a quick version of gochujang that anyone can make at home.  This is another quick and easy recipe to make.  I think it only took me about 10-15 minutes to make it and clean up.  This sauce will keep for a couple weeks in the refrigerator or you can portion it into smaller containers and freeze it.  Traditional gochujang is a thick paste, but this sauce made with fresh chiles is more of a sauce and less of a paste.  The flavor of traditionally fermented gochujang is more complex, so I don’t want to misrepresent this recipe as the way to make traditional gochujang.  I do think this is a really tasty chili-garlic sauce and it can be used in any recipe that calls for gochujang.  It is pretty spicy, so when you use it in recipes, adjust the quantity to the amount that fits your tastes.  If you’re interested in learning more about how this condiment can be used, I’d encourage you to check out the blog I mentioned earlier that includes recipes such as Korean Tacos.  There is also a nice article entitled “10 Fresh Ways to Use Korean Gochujang.”

I had a lot of fun learning more about this pepper and a little more about Korean cooking.  I hope you have fun experimenting with this pepper in your own kitchens.  I invite you to share your experiences in our Facebook group so we can all learn a little more about this pepper as well as experiment with different recipes and ways to use our own homemade Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce!  Have fun and thanks for trying something new!

Salt-Cured Chiles

Yield:  ½ cup

4 oz fresh Korean peppers
1 Tbsp kosher salt
  1. Thinly slice peppers with a knife or roughly chop them and then use a food processor to chop the peppers into smaller pieces.  If you use a food processor, process just enough to coarsely chop the peppers.  You do not want to make pepper paste or puree. 
  2. Put the peppers in a small bowl and add the salt.  Mix very well with a spoon.  Cover the bowl with a plate or a clean kitchen towel and leave out at room temperature for 24 hours. 
  3. After 24 hours, move the bowl to the refrigerator and mix the peppers once a day for 5 days, or until the salt has dissolved and the now softened chiles are completely covered in liquid. 
  4. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid, tamping the chiles down so that they remain well  below the level of the liquid.  These will keep for several months in the refrigerator.
This recipe was adapted from Andrea Reusing’s book, Cooking in the Moment, although she credit’s Fuchsia Dunlop (author of Land of Plenty) with this simple method for preserving chiles for use long into the winter months.  Reusing suggests pureeing some of the salted chiles along with cider vinegar, garlic, and a little sugar to make your own hot sauce.  Of course you can use these chiles anywhere you need a little heat. Add them to soups, stews, marinades, stir-fry, dipping sauces, vinaigrettes, etc.

HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce

Yield: 1 cup

4 oz fresh Korean peppers
4 cloves garlic
⅓ cup miso
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
  1. Remove the stem and roughly chop Korean peppers into one inch pieces.  Put the peppers in a food processor or blender along with the garlic cloves and roughly chop them until they are a fine, yet chunky paste. 
  2. Add the miso, maple syrup, and tamari.  Blend together until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed to your liking.  Add tamari for more depth of flavor, maple syrup for more sweetness, garlic to get more “zing” or salt if it just needs a little enhancement to wake up all the other flavors.
  4. Put the sauce in a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Alternatively, you can freeze it in smaller portions as a means of preserving it for later use. 
Note:  You may use this in place of the Korean fermented chili paste called gochujang.  It’s pretty hot, so a little bit will go a long way!

Recipe adapted from minimalistbaker.com

Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger


Yield:  4 servings



8 oz firm tofu (drained)*

3 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp sherry or dry vermouth
2 tsp honey
⅔ cup vegetable stock
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
3-4 leeks, thinly sliced
1 red Korean pepper, sliced thinly
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Cut tofu into cubes.  Combine the soy sauce and sherry or vermouth in a medium bowl.  Add the tofu and stir to make sure the tofu is well coated.  Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. 
  2. Strain the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade and juices in a measuring cup.  Mix the marinade with the honey, stock, and cornstarch to make a paste. 
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and when hot, stir-fry the tofu until crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Reheat the oil and add the chili, ginger and leeks.  Stir-fry over high heat for about 2 minutes, moving the vegetables frequently to keep them from burning.  Stir-fry just until the leeks have softened. 
  5. Return the tofu to the pan together with the marinade and stir well.  Continue to simmer the mixture, while stirring frequently, until the liquid is thick and glossy.  Serve hot over rice or egg noodles.
*Note:  You may also substitute chicken breast meat for tofu.

This recipe was adapted from Christine Ingram’s book, Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking:  The definitive encyclopedia of healthy vegetarian food.