Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Harvest Party 2018—What a Fun Day!

By Farmers Richard & Andrea

Fall is one of our favorite times of the year and we were happy to have been able to share a beautiful fall day with some of our CSA members last Sunday at our Harvest Party.  Saturday night and Sunday morning were on the cool side, but the sun came out and shone bright all day giving us just enough warmth to make for a comfortable, beautiful day for the festivities!  For all of us, this is a special last party of the season.  No, we are not done harvesting for the year, we actually have quite a lot of vegetables still to harvest and we’re still working on our storm clean-up projects.  Nonetheless, it’s always nice to take a pause in the midst of the fall harvest to spend a special day with you, our members.  The energy and encouragement we gain from spending time with you will keep us strong as we finish out the season.

"Jack the Dog" waiting for someone to play "stick" with him.
We want to thank all of the members who took time to attend the party.  It was great to meet new members who were visiting the farm for the first time and we were happy to see some of our longtime members who make an effort to visit the farm every year.  It’s the people that make this party special to us and in many ways it’s like having a homecoming! Their excitement is contagious as they eagerly ask questions such as, “Where are the pumpkins this year?” and “Can we dig sweet potatoes?”    One of our younger members (2 years old) was at our Strawberry Day event back in June and came back for another visit this fall.  She came camping with her mother and they arrived at the farm late Saturday afternoon.  When her mother took her out of the car, she took a look around and it was super-cool for Andrea to see the excitement wash over her face.  Her eyes were twinkling and a smile quickly formed on her face followed by excited chatter when she realized where she was.  She squealed “Farm” and “Jack the Dog.”  We went up to the office where Jack was still taking his afternoon nap.  He woke up quickly and greeted our sweet, young member with kisses while she gave him lots of pets.

We kicked off our party on Sunday with our annual potluck.  Angel, one of our longtime crew members, is responsible for preparing the delicious roasted pork we enjoyed in tacos.  The pork was raised on our pastures and Angel slow-roasted it in our underground brick oven which he lined with cactus leaves.  On Saturday afternoon he prepared the pork by seasoning the pieces with salt, pepper, garlic and onion and then slathering it with a mild guajillo sauce he made.  The pork was then wrapped in packets and lowered into the oven which was tightly covered for the night.  The next morning Angel, with the help of his visiting cousin Francisco, opened up the oven and pulled the packets out.  When we opened them up we were pleased to see tender, juicy meat!  We served the meat with a simple cabbage slaw on tortillas with a choice of three different sauces featuring our tomatillos and Korean peppers (that was the hot one).  The table was filled with so many delicious dishes members brought including some very interesting things like gorgeous raw butternut salad!  It truly was a “Feast for Kings.”  While we ate we enjoyed the gentle, mellow music of Sonic Love Child.  Dave, Shirley & Nicole have been with us for several years, sharing their musical talents with us which really changes the ambiance of the party and has become a signature part of our fall event.  We appreciate their willingness to make the journey to the farm every year to be part of this special day.

Farmer Richard and Manuel M teaching children how to dig
sweet potatoes.
Once our bellies were full, we were off to the fields!  Sweet potatoes were our first stop.  As much as we love seeing our adult friends, the sweet potato field is where the kids take center stage.  They take turns helping us dig clusters of sweet potatoes, which we refer to as “Wisconsin Bananas.”  They love pulling the clusters out of the soil, grasping the moist sweet potatoes and shaking away the dirt to see just how big it really is!  Each potato is different, each finding a welcome hand to pull them from the moist earth.  It looks like a very, very nice crop which we finished harvesting on Monday afternoon.  They are in the greenhouse, also known as the “Sweet Potato Sauna House,” where we’ll “cure” them for the next 7-10 days at 85°F and high humidity.  This helps set their skins and develop the starches into sugar.

Vicente helping some children cut their pumpkins from the vine
Before we left the sweet potato field area we pulled a few celeriac, cut a celery and harvested a little bit of kale.  Then we loaded up the wagons and headed to the carrot and chard fields.  “Dig this one for me!”  “Wow, this carrot is big!”  “This one is crooked!”  “This one is purple!”  “How do you pick chard?  It is so pretty!”  Wait, let us show you how to twist off one stem at a time, don’t pull up the whole plant!  It was so awesome to hear all the questions, see the excitement and watch everyone enjoy being in the fields and being able to harvest things for themselves.  We also had some very observant members who found a few artifacts in the field.  “What is this rock?”  “Farmer Richard says it is a ‘chip’ from a stone tool maker who lived here a thousand years ago!”  This area is now our pumpkin field which was filled with some very nice pumpkins!  There were big Jack-O-Lanterns with fat handles, many warty “Knucklehead” pumpkins and the silky “Winter Luxury” pie pumpkins that many sought out with visions of pie in their heads.  There were plenty for all and we still have a lot remaining!

Butternut Squash Cupcakes with Chai Buttercream frosting
from Bloom Bakeshop
We made our way back to the farm, the kids now tired from lugging their pumpkins out of the fields, pulling sweet potatoes, stomping in mud puddles and running through the soft, muddy parts of the fields.  There’s something special about playing in the mud and the farm is one place it’s ok to do that!  Back at the farm we enjoyed more music while we ate our afternoon treat which was Butternut Squash Cupcakes topped with Chai Buttercream frosting.  These were made special for our party by our friend Annemarie and her crew at Bloom Bakeshop in Madison.  They even used our own HVF butterscotch butternut squash to make them!  We washed them down with iced maple latte featuring Kickapoo Coffee.  We also enjoyed kombucha made with HVF Sweet Sarah melons.  The kids spent more time with Captain Jack playing his favorite game of “stick.”  Some members meandered around the farm, picking Concord grapes, checking out the pile of sweet potatoes in the greenhouse, walking through the bins of winter squash and admiring the gorgeous green cover crop now growing in the cold frame greenhouse.

We also played a little game of “Guess the weight of the Vegetables.”  We made a beautiful display of some of the vegetables we’re harvesting now, but carefully selected either really big ones or really small ones.  We told you we’d announce the winner of the game in this week’s newsletter, so here you go.  Briana Burton from Madison, Wisconsin was the member who got the most answers correct without going over.  For those of you who are wondering, here are the actual weights and counts of the vegetables we had on display:

Listada Eggplant:  2.38#

Red Savoy Cabbage:  5#

Kabocha Squash:  5.92#

Butternut Squash:  5.26#

Burgundy Sweet Potato:  3.6#

There were 183 red grape tomatoes in the one pound jar.

There were 41 Mexican heirloom tomatillos in the one pound jar.

Briana nailed the tomatillo count with an exact match!  Nice job Briana!  Watch the mail for your $10 HVF Gift Certificate!

 Richard & Andrea chatting with members in the pumpkin field
We truly had a great day and enjoyed spending time with some really awesome people.  As we reflected on the day while we ate dinner Sunday evening, we both had to agree that we have some really great members. There were several families who enjoyed our Hammel Lane campsite Saturday night and everyone seemed to have a pretty good night’s rest as they were lulled to sleep by the owls.  Of course, we have a special place in our hearts for the children and time and time again we’re blown away by CSA kids.  They are intelligent, pleasant to talk with and so very insightful!  From the smallest ones exploring the farm and all its wonders for the first time to the older kids who have been coming to the farm for several years, or most of their lives in some cases!  They aren’t afraid to try new things, embrace new experiences with zeal, and are very aware of their surroundings as they take it all in.  Richard had an opportunity to talk with one of our super-awesome CSA kids who’s been eating our vegetables his whole life.  As he reflected on the farm, he made an effort to seek out Richard and share his thoughts.  He thanked me (Richard) sincerely for the opportunity to visit and expressed that the day “put him in a zone,” a good zone that he needed.  In touch with the fields of vegetables, the sky, the trees, a good “zone” to be in.  Healthy, intelligent kids who are alive and aware.  We’re grateful for them as well as their parents who have chosen to make organic food a priority in their households and carve out time in their busy schedules to visit the farm and allow us the opportunity to form long lasting connections.  We truly believe these kids are going to grow up and do great things in this world to change it for the better.  We’re really proud of them and look forward to feeding them and following their journeys for many years to come!

September 27, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Collard Greens

Cooking With This Week's Box:

Orange Carrots: Collard, Carrot & Raisin Salad (see below); Carrot & Coconut Gazpacho with LemongrassCarrot, Beet & Coconut Salad with Sesame


Grape Tomatoes or a Variety of Tomatoes: Breakfast Burritos

Red, Yellow and/or Green Bell Peppers: Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas; Breakfast Burritos

White or Yellow Cauliflower: Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas

Broccoli Romanesco: Roasted Broccoli Romanesco

Collard Greens: Collard, Carrot & Raisin Salad (see below)

Masquerade Potatoes: Breakfast Burritos

If you read this week’s newsletter article, you’ll know that our sweet potatoes are all harvested and are currently being “cured.”  This is a process we use to develop their starches into sugar and set the skins so they store longer.  We’re excited to start eating them, but not yet!  So, get your sweet potato recipes ready, they’ll be coming soon.  While we impatiently wait for sweet potatoes, we have plenty more delicious vegetables to enjoy.  This week our featured vegetable is collard greens, an interesting green that is kind of like kale and kind of like cabbage.  This week I’ve featured southern Chef Vivian Howard’s recipe for Collard, Carrot & Raisin Salad (see below).  This is a way to use the collards in their raw form to make a light, bright, flavorful salad that would go well with grilled beef or pan-fried fish.

Carrot & Coconut Gazpacho with Lemongrass
photo from Love & Lemons
I’m on a carrot-soup kick now, so I’m going to suggest another carrot soup for this week.  This one was recently featured at and it’s for Carrot & Coconut Gazpacho with Lemongrass.  You can eat it chilled or warm it slightly.  Pair this along with this Beet, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad, from the same author.  Another beet salad suggestion that would go well with this soup is this one for Carrot, Beet & Coconut Salad with Sesame.  Either one will pair well with the soup and make for a light, nourishing lunch or dinner.

This recipe for Meatless Baked Ziti with Red Kuri Squash popped into my inbox shortly after last week’s feature about kabocha squash.  Red Kuri squash is very similar to orange kabocha squash and can be used interchangeably.  This is a pasta dish I’m sure every member of the family will enjoy with a lot of fresh flavors from tomatoes, squash, mushrooms, and of course cheese.  Serve this with some Roasted Broccoli Romanesco and dinner is set!

I had forgotten about this recipe for Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas until I stumbled over it last week while looking for a different recipe.  This recipe calls for poblano peppers.  If you have some from a previous delivery, great—use them!  If not, consider using this week’s sweet peppers instead.  If you still want a little heat, you could add a few pinches of cayenne or chile powder to the cauliflower.

Sweet & Spicy Gouchjang Chicken
photo from Family Style Food
I’ve never used recipes from Dr. Andrew Weil’s website, but I came across it this week and there are some good, simple vegetable centric recipes there.  This week I want to try this recipe for Spicy Garlic Broccoli with Pine Nuts.  I think I’ll serve this with his recipe for Sweet & Spicy Gouchjang Chicken using some of the HVF Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce I made a couple weeks ago when we had the fresh Korean chili peppers!

If you’ve been reading these weekly articles throughout the year, you’ll know Richard and I are big fans of Breakfast Burritos.  We eat them for breakfast frequently, but have also been know to have them for lunch and dinner too!  I was thrilled when I saw this blog post all about Breakfast Burritos on Smitten Kitchen.  So this week I’m going to encourage you to use your potatoes and bell peppers to create your own breakfast burritos to enjoy at whichever meal of the day fits your fancy.  In her recipe she calls for spinach, but you could also easily substitute collard greens or any other green you have.  And finally….chopped fresh tomatoes to finish them off. 

There you have it friends….yet again we’ve managed to cook our way to the bottom of another CSA box.  Have a super-awesome week and I’ll see you back next week for more delicious recipe talk!—Chef Andrea Yoder

Featured Vegetable: Collard Greens

I grew up in Indiana, a region where collard greens are not a staple part of local diets.  We had one neighbor who grew up in the south and grew collards in his garden.  His name was Brooks and he stayed true to his southern roots and ate his fair share of collard greens along with mustard and turnip greens, which were also not amongst the regular vegetables in our regional fare.  Despite his influence, it wasn’t enough to convince my mother to try them and they remained a foreign vegetable to me until I came to Harmony Valley Farm.  Collard greens are available from late June through October or early November, but we usually reserve them for eating in the fall.  Collards are in the Brassica family and get sweeter as the temperatures cool off.  They feature large, round, flat leaves that resemble a flat cabbage leaf.  While they are related to cabbage and have a flavor similar to cabbage, they never form a head.  Collard greens, as with many other leafy green vegetables, are packed with nutrients including Vitamins A, C, E, K and B6 as well as riboflavin, calcium, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, magnesium and potassium.  With a nutrient profile like this, we have to find a way to incorporate them into our diets!

In this country, many associate collard greens with southern cooking where this green is considered more of a regional staple ingredient.  In fact, South Carolina voted to make it the official state vegetable in 2011!  Collard greens are thought to have originated in Asia, a descendant of a wild cabbage.  This vegetable then spread to other parts of the world and likely made it to America by way of ship and European settlers.  Collard greens are now eaten in many other parts of the world including India, Brazil and throughout Europe. 

Collard greens have a thicker leaf than some other greens we grow such as spinach or chard.  They usually require a longer cooking time to soften and tenderize the leaf.  In southern cuisine, collards are often cooked with some sort of pork cut such as salt pork or a ham hock.  The meat is the flavoring agent used to cook the greens, which are cooked for quite awhile until they become dark green and very soft.  The remaining liquid is called pot likker and is seldom discarded.  Rather it is soaked up with a biscuit or cornbread or some may even drink it.  While collards do require a little more cooking, you don’t have to cook them until they are super soft to enjoy them.  You can also stir-fry or lightly saute them just until bright green.  They’ll have more texture to them and not be quite as soft, but are still quite delicious.  Because of the broad leaf, collards may also be steamed and then the leaf can be used as a wrap to hold a filling.  You can also use them as you would use a grape leaf to make Middle Eastern dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). 

Collard greens obviously pair well with all salty, fatty pork products.  They also go well with garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut and spices including coriander, cardamom and turmeric, lending to some of their uses in Asian and Indian cuisine.  Of course, they also pair well with black-eyed peas, white beans, corn, potatoes, and roasted peanuts.  Slice them thinly and use them to make a creamy cole slaw to accompany BBQ pork sandwiches.  Use them raw in salads, cook them into flavorful bean soups, use them to make collard kraut, or cook them in more of a traditional southern way. 

Store collards in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.

Collard, Carrot, and Raisin Salad

Yield:  4 servings

3 cups collard leaves, stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch dice (1 bunch)
1 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp shallot, sliced into ⅛-inch rounds
¼ tsp chili flakes
¼ cup raisins
½ cup crushed pineapple
¼ cup orange juice
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
¾ tsp salt
⅓ cup salt-roasted peanuts

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the collards and the carrots.  Set aside. 
  2. In an 8 to 10 inch saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil, shallots, and chili flakes over medium heat until they really start to sizzle.  Just before they begin to brown, add the raisins, pineapple, orange juice, vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, and salt.  Bring that thick mixture up to a boil and pour it over the collards. 
  3. Toss together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.  Just before serving, stir in the peanuts.

This recipe was borrowed from Vivian Howard’s book, Deep Run Roots.  Vivian is the co-creator and star of the award-winning PBS series A Chef’s Life, which tells stories about the people, food, and culture of the Carolina Coastal plain where she grew up.

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 soufflĂ©.

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, sautĂ©ed 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

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