Wednesday, August 28, 2019

August 29, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Peppers!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Poblano Peppers: Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblanos and Caramelized OnionsCheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

Sweet Peppers: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

Mini Sweet Peppers: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers

Green Beans: Summer Minestrone Soup

Yellow or Red Grape Tomatoes: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Sweet Corn Risotto

Red Seedless Watermelon: Chill & Eat!  No recipe needed!

Tomatillos: Raw Tomatillo Salad

Jalapeno Pepper: Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn
This week the box is filled with a lot of sweetness, starting with our featured vegetable, Sweet Peppers!  There are a lot of peppers in this week’s box.  If they are red, yellow or orange, they are sweet.  If they are dark green, those are poblano peppers which have a mild to medium heat.  Poblano peppers were our featured vegetable last week.  If you didn’t have a chance to try our featured recipes last week, I’d encourage you to consider both Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblanos and Caramelized Onions and Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn.  Both recipes call for about 2 medium poblano peppers and they are both recipes that appeal to a wide range of eaters.  But lets get back to the sweet peppers.  Ever since I picked up Yasmin Khan’s book Zaitoun, I’ve had my eye on this recipe for Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below).  Now that the sweet peppers are ripening, it’s time to actually make this!  This salad is substantial enough to serve as a main dish, or you can eat it as a side.  It’s packed with the flavors of summer, leftovers are good for a few days, and it’s pretty easy to make.  You can make this salad with any of the sweet pepper varieties in the box, including mini sweet peppers.

Before we leave peppers and move on to the other box items, I want to mention that it’s time to make a batch of Jalapeno Cream Cheese.  This recipe calls for several jalapenos, but for most individuals, one jalapeno is likely enough.  This is one of my favorite summer cream cheese spreads for bagels and toast.

Tomato, Zucchini & Corn Pie with Almond Crust
photo from
One of our other “sweet” vegetables in this week’s box is sweet corn!  Earlier this week, Andrea Bemis posted this recipe for Tomato, Zucchini & Corn Pie with Almond Crust on her blog.  This recipe is another one that screams to be made in the summer and it includes fresh tomatoes, zucchini and sweet corn.  I’m also excited to try Andrea’s Almond Crust as a gluten-free alternative.  I’ve also been remembering how delicious fresh sweet corn is in Sweet Corn Risotto with a little fresh tomato salad on top, so that is on the list for this week as well.

While our melon and watermelon season are short and a little late this year, at least they made it before Labor Day!  These two selections need little to no explanation as to what to do with them.  They are sweet and delicious on their own, so cut a melon in half, grab a spoon and just eat them.  Yes, scoop them right out of the rind.  If you do want to do something a little extra special, make these tasty little Melon Prosciutto Skewers.  They’ll be a simple, yet impressive addition to a Labor Day picnic.

We’ve been enjoying a plentiful harvest of tomatillos this year and while salsa verde is a great way to use them, you can also use them in other ways such as this Raw Tomatillo Salad.  This recipe combines tangy raw tomatillos with smoky chipotle chiles, fresh cojita cheese and suggests scooping it up with tortilla chips. 

The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes
photo by Rocky Luten, from
Last weekend we finished harvesting all of our potatoes!  In the coming weeks we’ll be delivering a variety of different kinds.  This week we’re featuring our Rose Finn Apple Fingerling potatoes, an heirloom selection known for being a tasty potato.  Whenever I think of fingerling potatoes, I think crispy!  Last week this recipe for The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes was featured on and I immediately thought of making this recipe with the fingerling potatoes.  In this recipe, the salt actually goes on the bottom of the pan, so I’d recommend cutting the fingerling potatoes in half and putting them in the pan cut side down.  The cut side of the potato will be crispy, salty and delicious.  Serve these for breakfast along with eggs, for dinner along with a grilled steak, or just make the potatoes and serve them with fresh corn on the cob, boiled edamame, tomato slices, and wedges of fresh melon.  That my friends is the beauty of delicious, simple summer vegetable cooking.

If you don’t use the potatoes as mentioned above, and you haven’t eaten all of your mini-sweets by the time you get to this point in the article, I’ll mention another one of my favorite recipes using both potatoes and mini sweet peppers.  This is a simple recipe for Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers.  I like to make this with fresh potatoes and peppers, but you could also make this in the dead of winter with mini sweet peppers that you pull out of the freezer (hint, hint—freeze some mini sweet peppers!).

Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn
Before edamame season is through, I always have to make Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn.  While I vary the vegetables in fried rice throughout the year, one of my favorite combos is edamame and fresh sweet corn.  This is another recipe that can be made in the winter with vegetables you pull from the freezer, so if you have some extra corn, cook it, cut it off the cob and freeze it along with some edamame.  You’ll be glad you did when you pull it out in the winter to make this recipe.

As we close out this week’s Cooking With the Box conversation, we’ll end with this recipe for
Summer Minestrone Soup.  This is a great soup to make as we move out of summer and slide into fall.  Use this week’s green beans, zucchini and other summer vegetables in this classic Italian soup.

We’ve reached the bottom of another delicious box of vegetables.  Next week the box contents will likely shift a bit. We’ll still have plenty of peppers, hopefully some zucchini and tomatoes, but we’re also planning to start pulling leeks along with green top celeriac and our final crop of green top beets.  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Sweet Peppers

By Andrea Yoder

Mini Sweet Peppers
The peak of pepper season typically marks the point in the year where late summer collides with fall.  At the end of this week we’ll be turning another calendar page, Labor Day will come and go, children will return to school and soon we’ll officially say good bye to summer.  Peppers are one of my favorite vegetables to grow and eat and they so gracefully represent this unique point in our growing season.  They play well with summer vegetables, but can also dance with fall and winter selections.  They are easy to eat, right off the stem in all of their crispy, raw glory.  Roast them and they become soft, sweet and smoky in flavor which can add a sweet richness to sauces, soup, sandwiches and more.  While pepper season usually lasts several weeks, I never get tired of peppers and always make sure I have enough frozen peppers in the freezer to span winter, spring and early summer until the next crop comes in.  I use them throughout the winter on pizza, add them to pasta dishes, mix them with root vegetables and roast them with chicken, add them into winter soups and stews, and of course they end up in scrambled eggs, quiche, frittatas and egg bakes.  Peppers are one of the easiest vegetables to preserve, so even if I don’t feel like I have the time to tackle preservation projects, I know I can always successfully freeze peppers.  Peppers do not need to be cooked before freezing.  So, at a minimum, freezing peppers requires the time it takes to wash the pepper and put it in a bag.  If I have a little extra time, and to save some freezer space, I’ll actually remove the stem and seeds and cut them into smaller pieces.  Really, it’s that simple and you’ll really appreciate having them in the dead of winter!

We grow several different types of sweet peppers.  All peppers start out as green peppers when they are immature.  While we eat green peppers, peppers are really fully ripe and at their peak of sweetness and flavor if we let them turn color to be fully red, yellow or orange.  Our mini sweet peppers are our all-time favorite variety and the sweetest and most flavorful pepper we grow.  While there are many snack peppers available in the marketplace today, we believe our peppers are more flavorful than commercial seed varieties.  We’ve been saving our own seed for well over 15 years and our variety is not just carefully selected, but also well adapted to our area.

Orange Italian Frying Pepper
We also really enjoy growing and eating Italian frying peppers.  Italian frying peppers are long, slender peppers that, despite their name, may be eaten either raw or cooked.  We have both red and orange varieties and both have pretty good pepper flavor and sweetness.  One of our other unique sweet pepper varieties is the Ukraine pepper.  This is another pepper that we save our own seed.  It’s actually not available commercially and we got the seed from a woman who brought it from Ukraine.  We like this pepper because it’s a heavy producer, often with as many as twelve peppers per plant. This pepper resembles a bell pepper, but they are smaller and have a pointy bottom instead of a blocky bottom.  They also ripen to more of an orange red color instead of bright red.  They have a thick wall which makes them a good candidate for roasting.  They’re also a good pepper to use for stuffed peppers.

Roasting Sweet Peppers on Stovetop
While sweet peppers are delicious eaten raw, they can also be sautéed and roasted.  You can roast peppers, whole, over an open flame such as on a grill or just on your stovetop if you have gas burners.  Otherwise, peppers may be roasted under a broiler in the oven.  When roasting peppers, you want to blacken nearly the entire exterior of the pepper.  Once blackened, put them in a bowl and cover them so they steam for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and once they are cool enough to handle you can peel away the black skin.  Once you have roasted the pepper, it’s ready to use however you’d like.  Slices of roasted red pepper are a nice addition to sandwiches, grain or lentil salads, or use them to build an antipasto platter.  You can also use roasted sweet peppers to make a delicious cream sauce, dressing or soup.

Peppers are high in vitamins A & C as well as a whole host of other phytonutrients, so munching on a sweet pepper also has nutritive benefits.  I mentioned above how easy it is to preserve sweet peppers so you can enjoy them throughout the year.  Watch your email for our produce plus offerings coming as early as next week.  You’ll have the opportunity to purchase larger quantities of peppers if you’d like to preserve more than you receive in your box each week.  Enjoy!

Red Pepper, Lentil and Tomato Salad

Yield:  4-6 servings as a side dish or 2-3 servings as a main course

1 cup brown or green lentils
5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste (approximately 2 Tbsp)
 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet peppers, ¼ inch pieces 
1 cup quartered small tomatoes (red or yellow grape, etc)
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 ½ Tbsp basil leaves, roughly torn, plus more to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ½ oz feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  1. Cook the lentils in a saucepan of simmering water until they are soft but still have some bite.  Depending on the freshness of the lentils, this will take 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the vinegar into a small bowl and add the red onion.  Stir well, then leave the onion to soak (this removes some of its pungency).
  3. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them, rinse with warm water and place in a serving bowl.  Immediately squeeze the lemon juice and 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the lentils and stir well.  Leave to cool completely.
  4. Stir in the red onion (drain and reserve the vinegar for the dressing), sweet pepper, tomatoes, lemon zest, garlic and basil.
  5. Dress the salad by combining 2 Tbsp of the reserved vinegar, the remaining 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  Pour over the lentils, mix well, then taste and adjust the seasoning.  You may want to add a bit more of the vinegar, lemon juice or salt to balance out the flavors.
  6. Just before serving, strew with a few more basil leaves and the feta, if you are using it.
Recipe borrowed from Yasmin Khan’s beautiful book, Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen.

The Journey of Sweet Corn: From Seed to Table

By Gwen Anderson

Sweet corn, the iconic summer vegetable.  You can hardly drive a mile in the countryside without running into fields’ worth of corn of some kind (and probably not the tasty sweet corn type).  But you know right away what it is, with its tall stalks, long green leaves, and silky ears. Even in the city, farmers park their trucks, beds piled high with the golden goodness, off the shoulder of the highways and in busy parking lots to sell their crop to passersby (but the back of the truck is a hot place for corn, and allows the sugars to quickly convert to starch).  Everyone loves sweet corn, which is exactly why we grow it. Richard has a saying: “Some crops you grow for profit. Some you grow to make friends. We grow corn to make friends.” How do we make friends with sweet corn? By prudently selecting the right varieties, careful planning, vigilantly combating pests, and having an expert harvest crew.  If everything is done right, we will have the best sweet corn ever.

The process starts with selecting the best corn seed.  Like with all lifeforms, genetics plays a vital role in the characteristics that show up in corn.  All types of corn, whether field corn, decorative corn, popcorn, or sweet corn, are the same species: Zea mays.  The genes needed to make corn sweet instead of starchy are recessive genes.  The starchy gene is the dominant gene. Genes come in pairs, one from each “parent.”  If the genes passed down from the “parents” are the same, that is the characteristic that is displayed in the “child.”  However, if the genes in the pair don’t match, it is the dominant gene’s characteristic that is displayed. Take humans for example:  Brown eyes are a dominant trait, blue is recessive. If both parents have blue eyes, they will have children with blue eyes. If one parent has blue eyes and the other has brown eyes, the children could have either brown or blue eyes.  If both parents have brown eyes, the children could still have brown or blue eyes. It really just depends on what kind of genes the parents are carrying.

There are three recessive “sweet genes” in corn: sugary (su), sugary enhanced (se), and supersweet or shrunken-2 (sh2).  Su is the oldest of the sweet corn varieties to have been cultivated. It has around 9% sugar content which quickly converts to starch once it is harvested.  The short shelf life of this sweet corn is traded off for good corn flavor, mild sweetness, and a creamy texture. Se corn has between 16-18% sugar content and has a slower sugar to starch conversion rate than su corn, which means that sweet flavor is more stable.  The kernels on se corn are also extremely tender; so tender they are easily damaged. Sh2 corn has about 35% sugar and has a super slow rate of converting sugar to starch. The kernels are also thick, so it stores well. However, those thick kernels also make for a crunchy eating experience.  But remember how genes come in pairs? It turns out genetics isn’t exactly as cut and dry as recessive and dominant genes, and by mixing the recessive traits we can make new kinds of corn: Synergistic (su and sh2 mix) and Augmented (sh2 and se). Synergistic corn blends the sweetness of sh2 corn with the creamy texture and tenderness of su corn while giving it a long enough shelf life to do some traveling.  Augmented corn does basically the same thing, just with the se corn instead of the su corn.  All these hybrids were created by naturally crossbreeding the corn.  We do not use any GMO altered seeds of any kind, nor do we use seeds that have “seed treatments” that contain various poisons such as neonicotinoids.

With this lesson of genetics under our belts, we pick up a seed catalogue.  Farmer Richard has done plenty of trial and error, and has also learned to trust the advice of our experienced seed rep, Phil Timm.  We buy all of our corn seed from the same company because of the relationship we have built with Phil.  With his help, we try new corn varieties and also have been able to find our favorites: Nirvana, Sweetness, Kickoff, and Awesome.

Sweet corn in early July this year
During the winter, we plan which crops we are going to plant and where.  This helps us decide how much seed we are going to purchase. With the plans made and the seeds purchased, it is a waiting game for the right time to plant.  We normally plant corn, weather permitting, around May 1st.  For the first planting of sweet corn, it is essential to pick a variety that has “cold soil vigor.”  We also wait for the perfect time to plant it: a day with nice, bright sun that will be shining for the next 24 hours.  Depending on the soil temperature, we are able to play around a little with how deep we plant the seeds.  For example, we would plant the seeds more shallow if the soil was still too cool in order for the sun to warm the seeds better and encourage them to germinate. However, this can be risky because birds love corn seeds.  Last year, the red-winged blackbirds found our first shallow planted corn in the field, dug it up and ate a good portion of the crop before it could germinate!

Sweet corn field during harvest time
Another thing we need to keep in mind when we are planting our sweet corn is what kind of sweet corn we are planting.  Because of sweet corn’s complicated genetics, it is important to keep sweet corn isolated from other types of corn; this is even true for different types of sweet corn!  Corn is wind pollinated, so we need to be cognizant of preventing cross-pollination.  It is recommended to keep at least a 250 foot distance between corn varieties that will be tasseling up at the same time to avoid cross-pollination between the varieties. Another option is to time the plantings to ensure at least 14 days between the estimated tassel dates to keep corn from cross-pollinating.  If we follow these guidelines, we are able to keep the true genetics of the variety of corn we plant which is then displayed in the characteristics of the corn we pick.  When Richard took me out to one of our corn fields last week, it was situated in a beautiful field next to our winter squash crop, surrounded by wildlife habitat, forest, and rolling hills. It was picturesque, to be sure, but it was also very far away from any other potential corn fields.

I mentioned the importance of knowing when the corn is going to be “tasseling up,” or getting ready to be pollinated to create the kernels.  The pollen of corn is in the tassels.  Corn takes 65 to 90 days to mature, and that range is broken into 3 different sub-seasons: early varieties (less than 70 days to mature), mid-season varieties (70-84 days to mature), and late varieties (more than 84 days to mature).  If we were going to be planting different types of corn together, we would want to make sure that they were in different sub-seasons. By planting corn from different sub-seasons, we can continue to deliver corn as long as possible throughout corn’s growing season, while also avoiding the potential for cross pollination between the varieties.

Richard explaining how the fake owls work
Earlier I had mentioned how the red-winged blackbirds had found our first crop of corn last year.  Birds are only one of the pests we have to combat when growing sweet corn. We have a couple different tactics we use to try to deter birds, but like all deterrents, they need to be in place before the animals figure out there is tasty corn to be had.  We hang “scare eye” balloons with long silver streamers on poles out in the field. These “scare eyes” work on the same principle that protects moths that camouflage themselves with large eye-like patterns on their wings: big eyes mean big predators. The silver streamers reflect light and move in the wind, also scaring the birds away.  We also have fake owls and hawks posted on the fence lines. These fake birds of prey are solar powered and have moving heads, keeping an ever-vigilant eye on the fields for us and keeping pesky corn eating birds at bay. The fence these sentinels sit on is plastic mesh tied to poles we place in the field that are 6 feet high.  This fence is a deterrent to deer, but again, only if they don’t know what is on the other side of it. Corn is a much tastier treat then grass and leaves, and sweet corn is so much better still than the field corn that is growing elsewhere.  The fence also doesn’t do much to keep raccoons out. So, in addition to the fence, we have an electrical ribbon running through the mesh near the bottom of it to surprise and deter any raccoons who try to pass through the fence.

Richard checking the pheromone trap for earworm moths
Now that we have the critters dealt with, there is one last pest we need to protect our corn from: Earworms.  Earworms are moth larvae that hatch from eggs that are laid on the silks of corn ears. When they hatch, they spend a few days on the silks before they eat their way down into the ear of corn.  To combat the earworms, we use an organic approved Bt spray, a naturally occurring bacteria that is toxic to the earworms. We have pheromone traps set up in the cornfields that attract the moths when they are ready to start laying eggs.  When we have moths in the traps, we know it is time to spray the corn. With the right timing, the newly hatched earworms eat the Bt we’ve applied to the corn silk and die before they can damage the sweet kernels inside.  Again, timing is everything and we only want to spray when necessary.

Richard harvesting sweet corn
With the pests dealt with and the corn crop mature, the next step is harvest.  At one time, we had a mechanical corn harvester. We would run it through the field, harvest all the corn at once, and then need to sort through the corn when we brought it back to the packing shed.  This lead to a lot of corn that would never be ripe and good, thus it was wasted. We decided we were going to go back to hand harvesting the corn. This allows us to pick only the best ears of corn at the right moment, leaving the unripe ears to grow up and become the best that they can be as well.  Every person on our corn harvest team was trained by Farmer Richard on how to look and feel for the best corn in the field. Ripe corn will have nice “shoulders” at the top of the ear, whereas an unripe ear will be pointy. If the corn looks like it has shoulders, the next step it to feel the tip, by where the silk is.  If the tip is soft, it is ready to be picked. If it is still a little stiff, it needs a few more days to let the kernels inside grow up and fill the rest of the ear. If the ear is ready to be picked, you grab the ear and twist it down, making sure you snap off as much of the stalk and leave it behind as you can. If you have too much stalk left on the ear, you’ll have to go back later and break it off before you pack it for shipping.  Once the ear is picked, you place it in your bag and move onto the next one. And all of this happens in a split second!

Sweet corn being iced before being stored in the cooler
When your bag is full, you bring it to the wagon and get ice on it right away.  This is a crucial step because icing the corn and keeping it cold slows down the sugar to starch conversion, and lets you enjoy the corn for a longer time!  When harvest is done for the day, the wagon brings the corn home where we ice it again before putting it in the cooler so it can be completely cooled.  At this point, we have done everything we can to ensure that we have grown the best corn ever. It is now your job to make sure you keep your corn cold before you are ready to use it.  Always store sweet corn in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days of receiving it.

Did we achieve “the best corn ever” this year?  We hope you have enjoyed this article about the iconic summer vegetable and have learned a thing or two about how we bring it to your table.  With all the hard work we put into it, we sure hope we managed to make a few friends along the way by giving you a few sweet ears of our golden goodness this year!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

August 22, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Poblano Peppers!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Yellow Spanish Onions: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below); Fresh Corn Salsa; Cucumber Honeydew Salad with Feta; Grilled Chicken with Honeydew Salsa; Zucchini Panzanella Salad

Italian Garlic: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below)

Poblano Peppers: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below)

Sweet Peppers: Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Fresh Corn Salsa; Zucchini Panzanella Salad; Thai Quinoa Bowl

Variety of Large Tomatoes: Tomato Jam; My Best Tomato Sandwich

French Orange Melon: Prosciutto Melon Salad

Red or Rainbow Chard: Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below)

Sweet Corn: The Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Pobalanos and Corn (see below); Fresh Corn Salsa; Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes and Corn

I don’t know what it is about poblano peppers, but I look forward to them every summer and can’t get enough of them!  So, I’m excited to share them with you as this week’s featured vegetable and I have two tasty recipes as well!  The first recipe is one I developed by accident one night when I really didn’t have a plan for dinner.  While these accidents don’t always turn out, this one was actually a keeper.  So I introduce to you, Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn (see below)!  This is kind of a cross between a frittata, quiche and some kind of burger based casserole.  It has just the right amount of creamy cheesiness without being overpowering and the sweetness of the corn goes well with the background flavor of the roasted poblano peppers.  This got the Farmer Richard and Captain Jack seal of approval!  It also reheats very well.  I actually baked it off, cooled it and then sliced it into portions the next day then reheated it in the toaster oven for lunch.

The second recipe is for Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion (see below).  This recipe caught my eye because it’s simple, but got good reviews for having a lot of flavor with a short list of ingredients.  I also liked it because it includes greens, specifically chard which is in this week’s box!  Serve this dish with warm corn tortillas, rice, or just eat it on its own.

Fresh Corn Salsa
Photo from
We’re also excited to include sweet corn in this week’s box!  Farmer Richard knows how to grow delicious sweet corn and I think you’ll be pleased with this!  Eat it off the cob, or cut it off the cob and use it in recipes such as this Fresh Corn Salsa made with sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes.  This is delicious to just scoop up with chips, or spoon it over a grilled pork chop or baked fish.

Summer isn’t summer without sweet corn and….MELONS!  While we’re on the topic of salsa, I’ll share this recipe for Grilled Chicken with Honeydew Salsa.  I don’t often think of eating melon in savory preparations, but if you get Honeydew Melon in your box this week, it’s a good option for using in something savory like this salsa or Cucumber Honeydew Salad with Feta.  If you get the Sweet Sarah Cantaloupe in your box this week, consider using it to make Cantaloupe Lime Popsicles or Jerk Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Melon Salsa.  As for the French Orange Melon, these are delicious eaten just as they are.  If you want to try something different, may I suggest this Prosciutto Melon Salad?  The salty prosciutto is such a nice accompaniment to the flavorful, decadent melon and a little drizzle of high quality balsamic vinegar helps finish it off.

Despite the fact that we’ve been picking zucchini for weeks now, we still haven’t run out of things to make with it!  Last weekend I tried this recipe for Blueberry Lemon Zucchini Muffins which turned out great!  This recipe for Zucchini Cornmeal Pancakes is a recommendation shared by a member in our Facebook Group.  These are a more savory pancake that I think would be good served with just a pat of butter or top them off with Tomato Jam.

Zucchini Panzenella Salad
photo from
On the topic of tomatoes, I came across this collection of 47 Recipes You Can Make With a Pint of Cherry Tomatoes.  Of course cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, sunorange tomatoes, etc can be used interchangeably in recipes.  There are some good suggestions in this collection including Zucchini Panzanella Salad and Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes and Corn.  Before we finish our conversation about tomatoes, we need to talk sandwiches. Richard has started his BLT marathon, although he’s only had two sandwiches this week (…. the week isn’t over yet).  But you don’t have to go to the trouble of frying bacon to enjoy a good sandwich.  Consider Merrill Stubbs recipe for My Best Tomato Sandwich.  The key to this simple sandwich is a)  good bread and b) good mayonnaise spread generously.  This is the simplicity of summer!

This week we’re sending another pound of edamame, fresh soybeans.  This was our featured vegetable last week.  If you didn’t have a chance to try last week’s recipes, I’d encourage you to check them out.  I really enjoyed the Thai Quinoa Bowl.  It was filling, packed in a lot of vegetables, and the tofu was excellent!  In fact, Richard (who is not a fan of tofu) actually said “This is really good!  It’s the best tofu I’ve ever had!"  It’s also easy to prep all the components in advance which means you can assemble a quick lunch or dinner in less than five minutes!  The other recipe we featured last week was for Sushi Salad with Brown Rice, Edamame, Nori and Miso Dressing, another great salad to have in your back pocket for a quick meal option.

That wraps up another week of summer cooking.  I’ll end with a little teaser….watermelons coming next week!  Have a great week—Chef Andrea 

Cooking With This Week's Box

By Andrea Yoder

Poblano peppers have come to be one of my favorite peppers over the past few years.  Why?  Flavor.  Poblano peppers are dark green with wide shoulders and a pointy bottom.  They have a thinner wall than bell peppers, but thick enough that they hold up to roasting very well.  In fact, roasting is the process that takes the flavor of a poblano and brings it to its full potential.  Poblanos do have some heat which is on the mild side, but in some years moves up to a medium heat level.

Because of their size and shape, poblano peppers are excellent for stuffing with meat, grain and cheese mixtures.  Chiles Rellenos is a classic dish based on roasted poblano peppers that are filled with cheese, coated in a batter, and fried.  We have a few recipes in our archives that have become some of my favorite summer recipes to make when poblano peppers are available.  These include Roasted Poblano, Onion & Jack Quesadilla; Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip; Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce.

Caramelized Poblano Chile & Onion Dip
While poblano peppers may be used raw, I mentioned their flavor is enhanced with cooking and more specifically, by roasting.  Roasting peppers is very easy and can be done over a direct, open flame or in the oven.  If you have a gas stovetop, you can roast the poblanos directly on your burners over a high flame.  If you have a small rack, you can put that over the burner.  The other direct flame method is to roast them on a grill.  If you want to use an oven, it’s best to roast them under a broiler.  If you don’t have a broiler, you can roast them in a very hot oven, they likely won’t blacken as much.  You want to roast them until most of the skin is blackened.  You’ll have to turn them periodically to blacken all sides evenly.  Stay close and don’t walk away because sometimes this happens quickly, especially under a broiler.  Once the skin is charred, put the peppers in a covered bowl or a paper bag so they can steam and cool slightly for about 10 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, use the back of a knife to scrape away the skin.  Remove the stem and scrape away all the seeds from the inside of the pepper.  Now you’re ready to add roasted poblano peppers to whatever dish you’re preparing!

Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

2-3 poblano peppers
1-2 sweet peppers
1 pound ground beef
2-3 tsp vegetable oil (if needed)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
4 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp butter
4 eggs
⅓ cup half & half or cream
4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Yield: 4-6 servings
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Roast the poblano peppers and sweet peppers either under the broiler in the oven or over direct flame if you have gas burners.  Once the exterior of the peppers is blackened, place them in a bowl and cover it so they can steam for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove the cover and scrape the blackened skin off the pepper.  Cut in half and remove the seeds and stem.  Dice the peppers and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a 10 inch non-stick or cast iron skillet that is oven proof over medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef and brown until nearly cooked through, adding vegetable oil if needed.
  3. Add onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and 1 tsp salt.  Stir to combine and sautè for 3-5 minutes.  Add the corn kernels and roasted peppers.  Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low.
  4. Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces and add to the pan.  As the cream cheese softens, stir to incorporate it into the ground beef mixture.  Taste a little bite to see if it is adequately seasoned.  If not, add salt and black pepper to your liking.
  5. Cut 2 Tbsp of butter into thin pieces and put them around the edge of the pan so the butter melts and runs down the side of the pan to the bottom.  Whisk 4 eggs in a bowl along with ½ tsp salt and the half & half or cream.  Once the butter has melted in the pan, add the egg mixture.  Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and the top is bubbly and golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate any leftovers, which reheat well in just 10-15 minutes in an oven or toaster oven at 350°F.
Recipe developed by Chef Andrea Yoder at Harmony Valley Farm.  Approved and endorsed by Farmer Richard and Captain Jack, The Dog.

Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion

Yield:  4 servings

2 fresh poblano peppers
3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 medium boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (about 1 ¼ pounds total)
Salt, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/4 inch 
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups stemmed and coarsely chopped Swiss chard
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or sour cream

  1. Char the poblanos over an open flame on the stovetop or 4 inches underneath the broiler, flipping occasionally until blackened all over (about 5 minutes for the burner, 10 minutes for the broiler).  Transfer to a bag or covered bowl and let steam until cool.  Peel off the blackened skin, and then remove the stems and seeds.  Cut the poblanos into ¼ inch thick slices.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt on both sides.  Pour the oil into a large cast-iron skillet set over medium-high heat.  When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken breasts.  Cook until browned on the bottom, about four minutes, and then flip.  Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until browned on the other side, five to six minutes.  Set aside on a plate.  (Note:  The chicken might not be completely cooked inside, but you are going to cook it more).
  3. With the skillet still over medium heat, add the sliced onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, but not browning, about nine minutes.  Add the garlic and sliced poblanos.  Stir well, and continue to cook until very fragrant, about 8-10 more minutes.  
  4. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the greens and broth.  Stir occasionally, and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated and the greens are wilted, about five minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, stir in the crema, and cook until it has reduced down to a rich sauce, about five minutes.  Continue to stir occasionally.
  5. Cut the chicken breasts into ½-inch cubes, and add them in.  Stir well, and cook until all the chicken is completely done, one to two minutes.  Season the mixture with salt to taste.  Serve with warm corn tortillas, rice, or just eat it straight from the bowl!
Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless’ book, Fiesta at Rick’s.