Tag Archives: local farm

17 Ways to Prepare Extra Fruits and Veggies When You Have a Bumper Crop

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They may be ugly but they are sooooo good. Those about to be grilled; we salute you!

Oh man, have I been busy in the garden! Sunday I turned 30#s of German Johnson tomatoes into 6 cups of rockin’ roasted tomato & pepper soup and 5 quarts of amazing basil tomato sauce.  Do you get a little overwhelmed with your harvest?

Juicing helps a lot because Herb & I both juice at least one meal a day, heavy on the veggies. Plus we sell a lot of our surplus at the local Ag Center and tail gate farmers markets, but still – whew!

Here’s an article I found that had some really good ideas – I’m a hummus addict so I’m dying to try the baba ganoush and the curried squash bake.

Enjoy these and please share your ideas with me !

Holy Produce Proliferation! 17 Ways to Prepare Extra Fruits and Veggies When You Have a Bumper Crop

By Kim Kash

Maybe your home garden had a bumper crop, so every mixing bowl in your kitchen is full of tomatoes. Or perhaps your neighbor, who has a green thumb and a propensity for random acts of kindness, showed up at your door with enough jalapeños to bring all of Mexico City to tears. Or was it that the zucchinis at the farmer’s market looked so beautiful that you got a little carried away and now don’t even have room in your fridge for the milk?

Assorted Vegetables

Either way, it’s easy for fruits and veggies to pile up come summertime. If you’re ready to run screaming and leave the whole pile to rot—don’t! Here are some ideas for making delicious things out of LOTS of produce.

Too Many Tomatoes

Blender tomato sauce. Fill your blender 3/4 full of cored, quartered tomatoes—should be about a half dozen or so. Throw in a few cloves of garlic, a generous handful of basil leaves, and a small onion or a small bunch of green onions or scallions. Salt and pepper to taste, and blend with a little bit of olive oil, tasting and adding up to 1/2 cup to get a smooth but not oily consistency. When you stir this into fresh, hot pasta, the sauce will warm up just enough.

Roasted tomatoes. Slice tomatoes in half or in big chunks. Arrange on one or more baking sheets. Add big handfuls of basil, cilantro, or spring onions, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are wrinkly and soft, and herbs are completely wilted and disintegrating. Put into a bowl, and be sure to scrape all the oil and bits of herb off of the baking pan. Makes a great pasta sauce, bruschetta topping, or chunky topping for chicken, fish, or another cooked vegetable.

Tomato salad. Mix a variety of colors and types of tomatoes, throw in some herbs, and add a simple oil and vinegar dressing and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Just because it’s salad doesn’t mean it has to have lettuce in it.

Tomato sauce. Yes, it’s obvious, but this is the Cadillac® method for using up a whole lot of tomatoes at once. Plus, tomato sauce freezes really well. There are too many recipes for us to recommend just one.

A Surplus of Summer Squash

Grilled squash. Thickly slice squash lengthwise and roast on the grill.

Summer squash bake. Slice or roughly chop a combination of summer squashes, enough to fill a baking dish. Add fresh herbs if you have them. Grate a layer of cheddar, jack, or even mozzarella on top, and use your fingers to sift a little bit of the cheese down into the vegetables. Sprinkle whole-grain breadcrumbs on top if you wish. Bake in a 350-degree oven until the vegetables are soft and the cheese is beginning to brown. Cover with foil if the cheese or breadcrumbs are browning too quickly. If the finished dish is a bit watery (some summer squashes are more watery than others when cooked), just serve with a slotted spoon.

Italian summer squash bake. Same as above, only add tomato sauce, and use mozzarella cheese.

Curried summer squash bake. Same as squash bake above, only omit the cheese and add a drained can of chickpeas, maybe some fresh greens, and 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder to taste, depending on the quantity of squash you’re baking.

Your signature summer squash bake. Are you getting the idea about this squash bake thing? Summer squash is very mild in flavor, so it plays well with both eastern and western spices. Make a squash bake whenever you need to use up zucchini plus almost any other vegetable or herb or sauce or cheese.

Grate and freeze. Use later for zucchini fritters, zucchini bread, in frittatas, as a thickener for spaghetti sauce, or a filler in any kind of vegetable bake or casserole.

Bustin’ at the Seams with Basil

Pesto. Pesto. Pesto. You can use basil a few leaves at a time in Caprese salads or tomato sauce recipes. But if you need to use up a ton of basil in a hurry, pesto is what you want. Experiment with the many recipes out there—with or without cheese, with various kinds of nuts, with lots of olive oil or very little. Pesto stores beautifully in the fridge, in a tightly closed glass jar with a layer of olive oil covering it. Here’s what you can do with pesto:

  • Smear it on bruschetta.
  • Add it to green salads as a dressing.
  • Use it as a pasta sauce; this is great with cherry tomatoes tossed in.
  • Use it as a sandwich spread.
  • Top grilled or roasted chicken, fish, or vegetables with it.
  • Eat it with a spoon out of the jar.

A Cornucopia of Cucumbers

Raita. This Indian cucumber-yogurt condiment can be thick like a dip, or thin like a sauce, depending on the thickness of the yogurt you use. Thick or thin, whip some yogurt with a whisk to even out its consistency. Then stir it into to a bowl of chopped and (optionally) peeled cucumbers. Add more or less yogurt as you wish. Salt it to taste. If you want a spicy raita, add a seeded, finely chopped hot pepper.

Cucumber water. Peel and slice one or more cucumbers and add to a pitcher of water. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, and serve very cold as a refreshing thirst quencher on a hot day.

Cucumber salad. This was on the supper table almost every summer day when my mother was a child in Kentucky. Very thinly slice cucumbers, pour a little bit of white vinegar over them, and salt. Some people also add a little sugar, but Mom would not approve. These are simple and delicious—but don’t put leftovers in the fridge for next time, because as they marinate in the vinegar, they lose their crispness.

A Big Bell Pepper Buildup

Oven roast or grill. As with basil, there are plenty of recipes that call for one or a few red or yellow bell peppers. But when you have a real bell pepper glut, roasting them is the way to go. Take as many red and yellow bell peppers as you have and spread them on a hot grill, or on the top rack of the oven, set to broil. If you’re using the oven, line the peppers up on the front edge of the rack, and put a baking sheet underneath them to catch drips. When the skin blackens, give them a quarter turn with a good pair of tongs, and repeat until the peppers are charred all the way around. Then remove from the oven or grill and let rest. The charred skin will peel easily off of the cooled peppers. Core and slice the now-soft roasted peppers, coat the strips with olive oil, and store in a tightly closed container. Use these in pasta and on sandwiches and bruschetta.

Excessive Eggplantery

Many recipes call for the notoriously spongy eggplant to be fried in oil. Roasting eggplant instead is much healthier, and roasting on the grill imparts a rich, smoky flavor. In addition to the recipes below, try adding roasted eggplant to casseroles and veggie burgers.

Baba ghanoush. This Middle Eastern dip is often served alongside hummus, with pita bread. Slash one or more eggplants in several places and bake on a pan in a 425-degree oven until very soft. This can take an hour or more, depending on the size of the eggplants. Cool, then peel off the skin. Throw the soft interior into a food processor. For each eggplant, add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the juice from one lemon. Blend just until incorporated, leaving the texture a little rough. Salt to taste. To serve, make a little well on the top of the baba ghanoush and pour some olive oil into the depression. Sprinkle parsley over the top. (Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.)

Roasted eggplant salad. Roast eggplants as above, peel and roughly chop. Serve in a large salad bowl with toasted pine nuts or walnuts, lots of parsley, and mint. If you have too many tomatoes, chop and add a few of those. Dress with either a light vinaigrette or with a bit of whipped yogurt.

Resource:

  • American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org
  • Yu Wen Li, Zhao Ya Ping, Xue Zheng, Wang Da Pu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University); Study on Synergistic Effect of Two Antioxidants and Its Anti-ageing Properties [J]; China Oils and Fats; 2002
  • Haibo Wang, Muraleedharan G. Nair, Gale M. Strasburg, Yu-Chen Chang, Alden M. Booren, J. Ian Gray, and David L. DeWitt. Antioxidant and Antiinflammatory Activities of Anthocyanins and Their Aglycon, Cyanidin, from Tart Cherries. Journal of Natural Products 1999, 62 (2), pp 294-2
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Motivation to ReCLAIM My Life

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I found this motivational photo on Pinterest from a post by Skinny Bitch and it really struck right to the heart of my renewed initiative to lose the weight I lost last year and have since put back on…

I’ve printed it out and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I intend to read this every day and to keep the focus on my choices throughout the day.

I’m also going back on my juice fest because I felt great getting all those nutrients and it kicked all the cravings. Those damn cravings! I’m back in the thrall of them – burgers, pizza, pasta dishes, ice cream… everything chocolate!

The veggie garden is in full swing, so there’s a lot of variety very conveniently located. I have absolutely NO excuses not to do this.

Another area I’ve been slacking off in is my exercise. Last year I dedicated myself to doing the Beachbody Power 90. Well into that, with juicing, my energy levels soared and I added the C25K program. My weight loss started slowing down, but the inches were melting off, so who cares about pounds!

I started a walking group called the Foothills Mile Markers that meets every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday morning for two reasons. One, to help keep me motivated and accountable and two, to share what I’ve learned about nutrition and fitness to help others. Oh yeah, I forgot the third reason: TO HAVE FUN!

So, Tony Horton, once again, its you and me, bay-bee. Gonna be pushing PLAY when I get back from my walk to do the Sweat Circuit and Ab Ripper. I’ll do the Sculpt Circuit Tuesday, Thursday & Saturdays.

Please, God, I want to lose this extra weight, and I know how to do that, feels like You & I have done it a hundred times. But more than that, please help me to finally make the deep personal transformation to keep it off and make it a non-issue for the rest of my life. I pledge to help others every step of the way.

 

 

Lavender Farm

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Day 4 of 28 – Advanced level Turbo Jam

Provence, Hidcote and Grosso lavender plants for sate

Went to a charming 24-acre farm in Burnsville, NC. The Mountain Farm grows lavender and blueberries and raise dairy goats, llama and baby doll sheep along with miniature guard donkeys. The owners took over this farm 40-years ago with the idea of making it as sustainable as possible, pretty forward thinking for their time, eh?

They also have two large wind turbines, installed for free by a state grant, that cuts their power bill in half!

Growing many types of lavender, the Farm produces all sorts of wonderful high quality beauty products (balms, bath salts, lotions, soaps and shampoos) culinary products (lavender teas, sugars, salts, honey) and fiber products (dyed and un-dyed wools, and knitted hats and such).

Doesn’t this just lure you in?

One of the really neat features of this farm is they’ve created a 7-level labyrinth of lavender (say that 3 times!) Different from a maze, there is no puzzle to getting into or out of a labyrinth; there is only one way in to the center and one way out – it is more of a meditative exercise than a mental exercise.

Which brings me to why I’m blogging about this. I’ve grown lavender for a long time and used it in many crafty-kinds of ways, yet I’ve never used it in cooking. Now, since coming back from the farm, I’ve googled all sorts on interesting recipes using lavender.

Basically, you can substitute lavender for rosemary in most any savory dish. I found recipes for adding lavender to desserts from chocolate cake to cookies and creme brulee (wow!) as well as for making lavender salts and sugars.

Wind turbines cut the farm’s power bill a little more than half and are practically silent in operation so as not to disturb the animals in the barn.

I bought a lavender tea sampler: Love Potion, Lavender Chai, Lavender, Mint & Hibiscus and Lavender, Chamomile & Mint. The Lavender Chai this morning was really good and the whole kitchen smelled heavenly!  I like my teas to have strong flavor, especially in the morning, as well as a nice aroma and this tasted really good, very earthy but not at all bitter.

This experience just reminds me of how many things we grow are good for us and can add an extra dimension of flavor keeping us engaged and keeping eating healthy from being boring!

So now that my own lavender is in bloom, I’m going to try it in all sorts of dishes – don’t be surprised to find a new recipe with lavender in my Regular but Awesome Recipes soon!

View of the Black Mountains from the center of the labyrinth

Five Easy Tips to stay Healthy and Still Enjoy Memorial Day (or Any Holiday!)

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Its the Memorial Day Weekend. For any of you that have served or whose loved ones are serving for the benefit of all of us – thank you. I cannot but imagine the feeling  in the pit of your stomach of those with loved ones  missed, so far away.

While we Americans take time over this holiday to remember and express gratitude to our heroes, especially our fallen heroes, for their sacrifice, it may seem Memorial Day celebrations are more focused on the BBQ grill or smoker.

Those of us committed to our fitness goals can be tempted by the happy atmosphere of good friends and tasty treats so here are some tips I’m using to enjoy myself, respect the party efforts of my family &  friends and not go too far off my path.

1. Make Time for Exercise

I’m getting up each morning and doing my Turbo Jam exercises. Before getting distracted or side tracked by the people and events of the holiday, by getting my exercise done, my confidence and satisfaction will shine through and guilty “should” & “should’ve” thoughts won’t interfere with my enjoyment of the present.

I will dance every chance I get (and Susie D will be right there with me! Or I’ll organize a hike, play lawn games like croquet , organize  races or volleyball on land or in the water; whatever joy in movement I can conjure up. If nothing else, Shelby the wonder Puppy is always up for a walk!

2. Bring a Healthy Choice Dish

I make a really good summer salad that every one loves and is so easy to make its almost a sin! I have the recipe here. Having something as tasty as this makes it easy to avoid the heavy mayo-based or pasta salads that are traditional BBQ or picnic favorites.

3. Eat Healthy Before

I  make sure I don’t skip any meals before the party because I don’t want to be in hunger mode when the goodies are served.

4. Drink Sensibly

I try to drink a lot of water at parties. For me, it helps to hold hunger in check and I find I also don’t drink as much alcohol.

I’m often asked to sing and I found out a long time ago I do not sound better the more I drink!

Your best food choices can be thwarted if you forget how many calories you might be drinking. Plus, too much alcohol and you can easily give yourself permission to overindulge in food, too. One of my other tricks, especially at a bar, is I enjoy club soda with a section of lime – it looks like a gin & tonic so  no one asks why I’m not drinking.

5. Give Yourself Permission (or Halve it and Have it)

I try not to psyche myself out that there is anything I can’t have – who doesn’t rebel against “can’ts” even if they come from  ourselves! So I tell myself I can have anything as long as I halve the portion. When I can have (halve) whatever I want its easier to avoid those things altogether.

But I do not forget this is your day, soldiers and patriots

With deepest gratitude to the brave women and men in our armed forces. Thank you for my freedom.

7 Ways to Beat the Food Addictions

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Throughout the course of my generation, the US food industry has been as insidious in addicting us to food as the tobacco industry was in the prior generation.

Commercial farming is focused on producing commodities, largely three crops: corn, soy and wheat. All other fruits and vegetable are considered “specialty” crops.

Seed for the greatest percentage of the big three is patented and controlled by Monsanto. They are patented because the seed is genetically modified (GMO) to make the plant almost invulnerable to herbicides  by introducing herbicides into their very DNA. The resulting plant produced is infused with herbicide and then we are paying top dollar to eat it.

Around the globe man existed for thousands of years on wheat and soy – now they are the top allergens in children and adults. The number afflicted with allergies to “staple” foods has  doubled almost yearly since GMO foods were introduced, as has the rise in autism, yet our government agencies see no correlation…

This post by Mike Geary, The CORN, SOY, and WHEAT Monopoly is an excellent read, but I’m focusing on the following (excerpted from his blog):

By “derivatives” of corn, soy, and wheat, this means the food additives such as:

  • high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • corn oil
  • soybean oil (hydrogenated or plain refined)
  • soy protein
  • refined wheat flour
  • hundreds of other food additives such as maltodextrin, corn or wheat starch, soy lecithin, mono and diglycerides, etc, etc

It is these derivatives that are literally killing us. Not only are we constantly eating because our bodies are desperate for nutrition, HFCS and refined flours are literally addictive, as addictive as tobacco or cocaine.

Beating any addiction is hard and these 7 tips I’m going to share have been helpful to me in combating my food addiction.

1. Stop eating at junk food places

There is nothing healthy there, no matter what the commercials are telling you. Even if something is low calorie, it has no substantive nutrition. Salads are contaminated with preservatives, salad dressings are contaminated with the above derivatives. Stop. Don’t taper off, just stop.

2. Stop shopping in the center aisles of the grocery store

Most of the offerings in the center aisles are processed foods, even the canned vegetables and many packaged vegetarian foods. Be a label reader. Avoid any products with more than 7-ingredients and avoid every thing with HFCS, soy or hydrogenated anything. Avoid any product with more than 200 mgs Sodium. Take the time to read a label, it’s much quicker than sitting in the doctor’s office reading a lame out of date magazine or waiting for your prescription at the pharmacy…

3. Be accountable to someone

Find a friend or loved one to go on the journey to beat the addiction of food with you. Everything is more fun with a friend and you’ll be less likely to succumb to the call of the pasta if you are not alone.

4. Exercise

Any exercise is better than no exercise. Endorphins are released when we exercise, and endorphins makes us feel better. When we feel better we are less likely to munch. Again, get a buddy to exercise with – its more fun! My exercise buddy is my dog. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could offer to walk a neighbor’s pet or better yet, go to your local animal shelter and help walk and socialize their dogs. A socialized and calm dog is much easier adopted!

5. Get a Bag of Tricks

Keep some distractions handy – crossword puzzle, sudoku, drawing or painting supplies, cards with words of inspiration, pictures of fashions you’d like to wear or places you’d like to go. Get you mind off the craving and engaged in something else.

6. Drink a glass of water

Aw, you knew this one was coming! When we are addicted to food, much of that food is high in sodium and dehydrates the body. Drinking a glass of water helps to nip the craving in the bud with the added benefit of helping to flush and hydrate our cells. Think water is boring? Try these recipes for water (yes, recipes…)

7. Become an Expert

The more you understand the what , how and whys of food addiction and the food industry’s involvement, the more ammunition you have to win mastery over the addiction. Read books, watch movies like Forks over Knives, Weight of the Nation, Food Matters. Once you understand the nature (or rather the lack of nature) of what you are eating and craving you just might decide to make a different choice.

Is Butter Bad or Are We?

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Turbo Jam – day26 of 28 – finally got up the courage to do the Turbo Sculpt and ooo I’m sore!

 

Ya know, just 2-3 generations ago, we got butter a little differently than we do today.

First, you had to breed, birth, feed and care for the cow, muck out the stalls, milk the cow, separate the cream and churn that butter for a few hours.

After you clean out the churn and set the butter to cool, its time to weed the vegetable garden, water by hand (no spigot – ya pumped it by hand and carried the bucket to the garden – back & forth) pick and clean the vegetables. Don’t ya just love to sit and shuck peas? It is down right meditative. Only way I can get Herb to grow crowder or other peas is to promise to shuck them all myself!

And because you had to cook everything from scratch go get out the flour and lard to make the bread, knead it, let it rise and knead it again, bake it. We haven’t even gotten to the part where you had to go out to the hen house, pick out a lazy layer and do everything needed to get that bird on the table…

You could afford to put as much butter on your food as you wanted – but when you had to go through all that to get it one meal on the table, you appreciated everything that was there and used it accordingly.

I remember my Grandma’s farm kitchen. Oh the smells! Fresh bread or something always baking, something on the stove simmering. In the morning she would call my Grandpa in for breakfast from the fields or orchard or wherever he’d been working since before the sun came up. He had the same thing most every day, 2 slices homemade wheat bread slathered very thickly with cooled bacon grease and salted heavily with one soft boiled egg and coffee – then back to work until Grandma called him in to lunch! They were green and organic and didn’t even know it!

Trouble is too many of us in America have those old habits of big farm eating without the big farm chores. Homemade pies, jams & jellies, pancakes, butter, cheese and for the carnivores big slabs of meat, potatoes and gravy – gravy or butter on everything! The majority of  Americans never used to have to exercise because it was just part of life. On the farm or in the city.

Now we’ve got so many gadgets to make our lives “easier” that to stay healthy we need to formalize exercise.  As I’m remembering Grandma’s kitchen I picture her doing laundry in her old wringer-washer before my Dad bought her an electric washer.

Just think how lost we all would be if our electricity was gone, every where, for even a month. Not being able to charge our cell phones would NOT be the worst of it!

My Grandparents held hands and kissed each other frequently their whole lives. They both lived a full life, Grandma to 89, and at 93 Grandpa was still bowling and playing piano for the Veteran’s Hospital palliative care. It was a different life back then. I asked Grandma once what was the secret to their relationship and she told me, “Some days its 80-20, some days its 20-80, but the bottom line is ya have to be crazy about each other.” Oh, my I miss them both!

Spring Gardening – It all Starts with the SOIL

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Turbo Jam – Day 13 of 28 – Beginner Level

Love this time of year! Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. The big plus: gardening is excellent exercise!

The last of the winter crops going to seed (we harvest a lot of kale & broccoli seed to not only plant but for sprouts, too!)

Herb noticed that the kale going to seed was also putting out some new leaves at the bottom of the terminal bud stem, so he’s going to experiment and see if we can continue to get get kale without having to rip them all out and replant from seed (that takes sooo long!) Herb is going to cut back the terminal bud stem to the new growth coming on. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

But THE most important thing looking at the garden whether it is for veggies, annuals, bulbs, shrubs or whatever is the SOIL.  Now, Herb is known as Dr. Dirt around here and he takes his soil very seriously. His overriding philosophy is, “Spend $10 on the dirt, $1 on the plant.”

Even though he takes special pains ongoing to keep the tilth and nutrient value of our 100’x100′ veggie garden soil at a premium, he still gets soil analyzed each year. We get sample boxes for free from our county extension office. The analysis is free, too, we only pay mailing cost. Yeah, I know, paying to mail dirt, but oh it pays for itself many times over to learn exactly what you need to amend your soil to grow what you want specifically. Here’s some more info about soil testing if you’re interested. Here’s a sample form showing all the different crop codes.

We keep to organic principles and yes, it is work, but it is a labor of love. It is a big savings on the grocery bill, too. Healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits form the cornerstone of our healthy eating plan and working from home gives me the luxury to pursue this hobby.