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Posted 8/22/2016 11:08am by Jennifer.

We are at the height of the tomato season, so enjoy it while you can!  

My Mom used to love tomato season.  If you wanted to put a smile on her face during the summer months, you simply had to hand her a freshly picked tomato.  It didn't matter if it was big or small, yellow or red, bruised or cracked.  She'd take it gently from your hand and caress it in hers with a huge smile on her face - as if you had just handed her a precious jewel.  She'd eat them everyday in all sorts of forms, but she enjoyed them most straight out of hand with just a touch of salt. 

 

Two of my favorite ways to enjoy tomatoes are bruschetta and fresh salsa.  It's ideal to make both these recipes with a paste or plum tomato, but if I don't have those on hand, I simply use regular slicing tomatoes and strain some of the extra liquid out. 

 

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Tags: Tomato
Posted 8/15/2016 7:05am by Jennifer.

If sweet corn is not on your menu for this week, please be sure to take advantage of sweet corn season by freezing it for later use.  Believe it or not, we don't eat a lot of corn in our house besides in the summer, but I'm always sure to freeze a little for special occasions - like Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner.  I also sometimes put some corn in a batch of fresh salsa, which you could make with the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers that you receive this week.  Or I have found that my kids LOVE succotash made with lima beans and corn (I've included a succotash recipe below that is very similar to what I make).  For any of these uses, simply husk and boil the corn for 3 minutes just like you normally would.  Then place them in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Once they're cooled stand the ear on end on a cutting board and slice the corn off from top to bottom, rotating the ear to get all the kernels.  The trick is to cut deep enough to get all the kernels, but not so deep that you get the cob.  If you want to then freeze the corn, place it in a freezer bag (I find that a quart freezer bag is the right portion for my family), expel any extra air, and flatten the bag, so it will neatly stack in your freezer. 

 

Succotash with Fresh Corn & Lima Beans

 

You'll also be getting kohlrabi this week.  People who are new to kohlrabi always ask, "What does it taste like?", and Chris would always describe it as a cabbage flavored turnip.  Come to find out "Kohlrabi" is a German word in which "kohl" means cabbage, and "rabe" means turnip.  This is just another instance for him to tell me how smart he is. 

So what do you do with it?  Lots of people love to eat it like an apple.  Simply peel off the tough outer skin, sprinkle it with salt (optional), and enjoy.  We actually have a customer who plants tons of these in his garden, because he takes a kohlrabi in his lunch everyday instead of an apple.

 

My favorite ways to eat it are either in a slaw or in fritters.  The slaw is prepared with kohlrabi and apples cut into matchstick pieces with toasted walnuts and a vinaigrette.  The fritters are a mix of shredded potatoes and kohlrabi.  Of course the kids like the fritters best!

 

Kohlrabi & Apple Salad

Kohlrabi Fritters

 

I can't believe that summer is winding down already.  Hope you are enjoying this summer bounty while it's here.  Before you know it we'll be eating summer squash and wearing sweaters!

Tags: Corn, Kohlrabi
Posted 8/2/2016 8:25am by Jennifer.

I think you'll really enjoy the watermelon.  It's especially juicy this season, because we've been able to keep a steady supply of water on it through the use of drip irrigation. To quote my son, Charles (who is the official watermelon taste tester), when he was surprised with the first watermelon of the season, "YEEEESSSS!  I've been waiting for you all year!"  We cut it in half, and he eats straight out of the rind like it's a bowl.  "Ah, I'm in heaven!"  We hope you like them as much as Charlie does!

 

You probably already have your favorite ways to make all of these items, so I'm just going to include a few suggestions on how to prepare patty pan squash, in case you are a low sugar/starch member. 

Patty Pan squash is similar to other summer squashes in that it has a very mild flavor and can be prepared in a variety of ways.  Of course you can make it similar to zucchini - fried, grilled, baked, etc.

 

My family likes when I prepare patty pan pizzas.  Basically, I use a slice of grilled patty pan in place of pizza crust.  I slice the patty pan into rounds, toss them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and place them on a medium-hot grill.  I grill them on both sides, and when they are almost done, I top them with a slice of fresh tomato, a slice of fresh mozzarella, and a basil leaf.  I leave them on the grill just until they are heated through and the cheese is melting.  I take them off the grill and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.  My family eats them so fast I can't keep up with making them!  Or if you want a more traditional pizza with pepperoni and sauce try this recipe:

 

Grilled Personal Patty Pan Pizza

 

Patty Pan squash is also great stuffed.  Here are a few different versions of stuffed patty pan:

 

Stuffed Patty Pan with Quinoa, Beef, and Spinach

Overstuffed Patty Pan Squash with Lima Beans

Patty Pan Stuffed with Corn

 

Patty Pan is also good roasted like this:

 

Roasted Patty Pan with Herbs and Feta

 

If you pick up your CSA share at the farm and would like to try some patty pan squash, we'll have some for sale of Wednesday.

Posted 7/26/2016 7:35am by Jennifer.

I'm so excited to share bok choy with you this week!  Bok Choy is an Asian Green similar to cabbage.

Of course it's good in stir-fry, but I think this week I will try roasting it quickly in the oven.  Or, my family loves homemade egg rolls, but I think a spring roll would be better suited to this hot summer weather.  Here are a couple recipes to give you some ideas on how to prepare bok choy.

 

Roasted Bok Choy

Stuffed Bok Choy

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Ginger & Garlic

Bok Choy Spring Rolls

 

Do you feel like you're drowning in zucchini?  That's not a bad thing...it's a blessing.  Hopefully, this link will give you some news ways to use zucchini.

100+ Ways to Cook Zucchini

 

Hope you're having a fantastic summer.  Stay Cool!

Posted 7/19/2016 6:39am by Jennifer.

Fennel might be new to you, but I think once you try it, you'll really start to look forward to it as a treat when you receive it in your produce share!  It has a fantastic crunch and a mild anise flavor.

My favorite way to enjoy fennel is in a fennel and orange salad.  Here's a salad recipe similar to what I make.  In addition to the other ingredients used in the recipe, I also like to add a little red onion.

Orange, Fennel, and Walnut Salad

 

Fennel is traditionally used in Mediterranean cooking, so it fits perfectly with some of your favorite Italian dishes.  If you're an olive lover (like my Josie) then you'll really like this recipe for Marinated Olives with Fennel.  Or it can be prepared with chicken in a slow cooker for a convenient meal.

Italian Braised Chicken with Cannellini Beans

Chicken with Olives and Fennel

Tags: Fennel
Posted 7/12/2016 2:22pm by Jennifer.

This week you will receive Lodi apples from McConnell's Farm in Independence Twp.  These are not organic.  Lodi apples are an early season apple, ripening in mid-summer.  They are a tart apple, so they're good for pies or sauce.  They are not a storing apple, so they should be kept in the fridge and used within a week or so.

Our cucumber plants are producing like crazy, so you get to share in the bounty!  This is the opportune time to make some pickles to enjoy later in the year...or tomorrow if your like my family and can't wait.  I prefer a refrigerator pickle over the standard canned pickle for several reasons:

  1. I don't have a lot of time to process jars of pickles in a water bath, and refrigerator pickles require no processing.
  2. You can usually make smaller batches of refrigerator pickles, which equals less time and fewer required ingredients.  
  3. I like the crunchiness of a refrigerator pickle.

Here are two recipes for some easy refrigerator pickles - one spicy, and one not.

Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumbers

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

 

Happy Summer!

Tags: cucmber
Posted 7/5/2016 8:34pm by Jennifer.

 

"We LOVE our delicious potatoes - especially heart-shaped ones!"

 

You will receive New Potatoes.  These are potatoes which have not been cured in the ground yet.  Their skins are extremely tender, so we will not wash them.  It will be best for you to wash them right before use, and there's no need for peeling, because their skins are extremely tender.  My family really likes when I make these on the grill (or oven using the same following method).  I thinly slice the washed potatoes and place them in a foil pack with sliced onions.  I toss them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and seal the packet up tightly.  I place it on a grill that was heated on high and then reduced to low (or oven preheated to 400F).  I cook them until the potatoes are fork tender - about 10-15 minutes.

 

We also grilled some zucchini this past weekend.  I slice the zucchini lengthwise.  I make sure the slices are relatively thick, so they will hold up to the grilling process without falling apart.  I toss the sliced zucchini with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  I place the slices on a low-medium heat grill.  After a few minutes I check for some nice grill marks and flip them.  Cook for another couple minutes.  Chris ate his grilled zucchini plain.  I put a little leftover pesto on mine....mmmm.

 

I had some beet roots accumulating in my fridge (Note - if you cut the tops off the roots, the roots will store in your fridge in a plastic bag for months.  As long as the roots are firm, they are good to eat).  I made a couple quick jars of pickled beets, similar to the recipe below, except I put sliced onions in the jars also.  I also put chopped garlic scapes in the jars, and omitted the chopped garlic cloves in the brine.

 

Refrigerator Pickled Beets 

 

I think next time I have beets to use up, I'm going to try this Refrigerator Beet Salad recipe that I found on the Food in Jars website, which is a great resource for small scale canning recipes.

 

Beet and Onion Salad

 

And if you still have basil left from last week, you can still make pesto out of it.  If you don't use all the pesto at once, leftovers can be frozen in ice cube trays.  When the cubes are completely frozen place them in a freezer bag for storage.  Put a cube or two in the pasta sauces that you make throughout the winter to add a little summer freshness.  Typically pesto sauce is made using pine nuts, but if you are allergic to them, substitute another nut.  I use almonds or walnuts.  Here's a basic pesto sauce recipe to get you started.  

PESTO SAUCE

Pesto is an aromatic herb paste, traditionally made from fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. It is most commonly used as a pasta sauce.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

1. In a food processor, blend together basil leaves, nuts,           garlic, and cheese.

2.  Pour in oil slowly while still mixing.

3.  Stir in salt and pepper.

  • Since pesto has a very concentrated flavor, make a pasta sauce by reserving a cupful of the pasta cooking water when you drain the pasta.
  • Return the drained pasta to the hot pan, add a tablespoonful or so of pesto, and add the water a little bit at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.  The starch in the water will help to thicken the sauce and allow it to coat the penne or linguine (or whatever shape you choose). 
  • Serve the pasta as is, or top it with chopped fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and toasted pine nuts.

 

You can also make it more filling by adding sautéed vegetables and leftover cooked chicken or ham.  

 

Pesto Pointers       

  • Fresh basil is very delicate, and will turn brown if it gets very hot or if it's exposed to air for long periods of time. Many cooks use fresh spinach as well as basil in their pesto to help maintain its brilliant green color.        
  • When mixing pesto with pasta, potatoes, or risotto, stir it in at the last minute, just before serving.       
  • Store pesto in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for about six months.   
  • Keep it looking fresh and green by covering the top with a thin layer of olive oil or with a sheet of plastic wrap directly on its surface; this will keep it from oxidizing and turning brown. (If your pesto darkens in color, it will still taste good. Only discard it if it has been stored improperly.)  

 

Serving Suggestions for Pesto

 Try pesto:        

  • On pizza in place of or in addition to the red sauce        
  • Added to a cream sauce or Alfredo sauce       
  • Mixed with mayonnaise as a sandwich spread or burger topping       
  • Stirred into mashed potatoes        
  • Stirred into risotto       
  • Dolloped on soup      
  • Spread on crostini and topped with chopped tomatoes, smoked salmon, roasted red peppers or goat cheese     
  • Whisked into scrambled eggs or folded into omelets
  • In pasta salads, potato salads, or salad dressings   
  • Mixed with cream cheese and spread on a bagel

 

Posted 6/27/2016 8:32pm by Jennifer.

The garlic you will be receiving this week is fresh garlic.  Some people call it green garlic.  It has not been dried and cured, so it will not store for a long period of time on the counter.  It should be stored in a closed container in the fridge and used relatively soon.  It has a more potent flavor than dried garlic, so adjust your recipes accordingly. 

 

This week you will be getting another bunch of beets.  In addition to the recipes I shared last week for roasting the beets or using them in a cake, you might also like to try this special treat for your loved ones.

Beet Tarts with Goat Cheese

 

You will be getting a bunch of Swiss Chard.  Once again you can saute this just as you would any other green, or if you would like to try something new, how about stuffing the chard - kind of like stuffed cabbage rolls.  You can adjust the filling to your family's taste.  Here are three recipes for stuffed chard, each with a different filling.

 

Stuffed Chard with Fresh Marinara

Stuffed Chard with Cheese Filling

Stuffed Chard with Mushroom Filling

Tags: Beets, Chard
Posted 6/20/2016 8:28pm by Jennifer.

 

The best way to store your beets is to first cut the tops off, and store the tops and roots separate.  This will keep the roots from getting spongy and extend the roots' shelf life dramatically.  I usually saute the beet greens like I would any other green (with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper).  I also sometime slice it finely and put it in pasta dishes or soups at the very end of cooking.  This is a sneaky way to hide veggies in your kids' meals.  They're also good in your favorite juicing or smoothie recipes.

 

As for the beet roots the possibilities are endless.  I usually do one of the following:

 

Roasted Beets
  •  Wash the beets thoroughly. 
  • I only peel them if the skin is tough (not usually the case with spring beets). 
  • Chop them up and toss in olive oil with a couple of cloves of smashed garlic.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. 
  • Roast on a baking sheet at 400o for approximately 30 min.
  • These roasted beets can be used in salads or as a side dish on their own.
 
Sometimes I roast the beets along with a couple chopped potatoes, garlic, chopped carrots, and chicken thighs drizzled with olive oil and seasoned on a baking sheet for a one-pot meal.  In this case I would bake for 45 minutes.
 
 
Here's a delicious chocolate cake recipe that uses beets in the batter.  It's super moist.
 
BEET BUNDT CAKE
INGREDIENTS
1 c. butter, softened, divided
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar                    
3 eggs 
4 (1 oz.) squares semisweet chocolate                                                     
2 c. pureed cooked beets
1 tsp. vanilla extract            
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt                        
powdered sugar
 
DIRECTIONS
1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a 10-in. fluted tube pan. 
2.  In a mixing bowl, cream 3/4 c. butter and brown sugar.  Add eggs; mix well.  Melt chocolate with remaining butter; stir until smooth.  Cool slightly.  Blend chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla into creamed mixture.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Pour into prepared pan.
3.   Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Move to wire rack and cool completely.  Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
Tags: Beets
Posted 6/13/2016 8:24pm by Jennifer.

Most of the items you will receive this week are pretty common, except you might be asking, "What is a garlic scape?"  Here they are pictured below.

 

 

Garlic scapes are the tender shoots from the garlic plant.  If these shoots are left on the plant, they will produce seeds and make for a smaller head of garlic, because the plant will put energy into making seeds and not a garlic head.  So, we pull scapes in June, so we can harvest bigger garlic in July.  The scapes have a mild garlic flavor.  Some people eat them raw, others roast them in the oven.  I like them tossed in olive oil with salt & pepper and grilled.  They can be chopped up and put in a stir fry to add a mild garlic flavor.  I've also chopped them up and placed them in a homemade vinaigrette for salads.  You can also use them in pesto.  The possibilities are endless!  Here's a link with a couple more ideas.

Garlic Scapes

 

The strawberries are tasty eating by themselves, or top them with some freshly made whipped cream for a healthy dessert, or pair them with the fresh spinach for a delicious salad.  The following recipe is similar to how I prepare my spinach salad, except for the dressing I use whatever vinegar I have on hand (usually balsamic or red wine), and I use honey or stevia to sweeten.  

Strawberry Spinach Salad