Friday, August 8, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - August 6, 2008

Farm Update
We are finally having a good day at the farm, that is, a day without rain. Hopefully, the weather will hold for a while longer. The farm has definitely suffered over the past rainy weeks. The crew picked 200 bunches of Thumbelina carrots for good eats yesterday, only to discover upon washing that they were spotted with rot. They're picking garlic today and some of it has been found to be rotten as well. The greens are coming back in good shape, however. The cucumbers, eggplant, kale and chard are also holding their own. If the rain lets off soon, we'll be ok.

Pickles and Onions
We've got another couple of questions for you this week. First, for the localvores, we would like to know how you liked the pickles? Did you enjoy them in your share? Would you be glad to have them again?

Also, we know that we've been giving out a lot of onions lately. During our Spring Share, our members were always asking for more onions. Are you happy getting them in your share almost every week?

July 21 Gubernatorial Debate
On Sunday, July 21st, the three major candidates for Vermont Governor met at Lareau Farm for a debate focused on our environment and agriculture. The event was jointly sponsored by the VNRC (Vermont Natural Resource Council), the Mad River Valley Localvore Project and American Flatbread. Though I was unable to make it to Lareau that night, I have been able to find the audio on the Web. The debate covered some very important issues that are not often included in the statewide debates. So, when you have an hour or so, grab a cup of tea and listen to what the candidates have to say about the future of the environment, food and farming in the Green Mountain State. Note, the first 10 minutes or so are introductions.

This Week's Share Contains
Corn on the Cob; Mesclun; Celery; Mix of Purple and/or Green Snap Beans; Cauliflower -or- Broccoli; Green Garlic; Alisa Craig -or- Walla Walla Onions; Beefsteak Tomatoes; Zucchini -or- Eggplant -or- Green Peppers.

Localvore Share:
Shitakes; Tempeh; Feta Cheese

Storage and Use Tips
Snap Beans: Though in the same family as dry beans, snaps trade starch and protein for more vitamins A and C. Snap beans are also known as string beans. Up until American botanists figured out how to breed out the tough string that ran along the sides, one always had to remove the "strings" when preparing beans. You may find purple and/or green snaps in your bag this week. Both taste just about the same. And, if you cook the purples thoroughly, they will turn green as well. Refrigerate beans unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Snap or snip off ends of beans before cooking.
Celery: Wrap unwashed celery tightly in a plastic bag and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator. To maintain really crisp celery, store as you would basil or parsley. That is, place it upright in a glass of water in your fridge and cover loosely with a plastic bag.
Corn: It's always so exciting to receive those first few ears of corn. Corn is at its sweetest when first picked. If you can fit it in your menu, use it tonight! Otherwise, wrap your corn, with their husks still on, in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Eat it as soon as possible!

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
Bonnieview Farm is hosting another elegant dinner at the farm at 5:30pm on Saturday, August 23. The guest chef will be Jeff Egan, formerly of the Cliff house in Stowe. They already have 18 of the 30 seats reserved, so contact them soon if you’d like to attend. Kristen said they had 26 guests for the first dinner. The food was wonderful and they had a great time hosting! Once again the menu will feature cheese, lamb, whey-fed pork, eggs, ewe’s milk and produce from Bonnieview farm, in addition to produce and cheeses from other area farms. Call the farm at 755-6878 for more information and reservations.

If you are unable to attend the farm dinner, not to worry, you can meet Neil and Kristen, along with daughter Tressa, at a farmer’s market. They are at the Common Market in Craftsbury Common on Saturdays from 10-1 and the Stowe market from 10-3 on Sundays. They sell lamb, eggs, whey-fed pork, wool, sheepskins, and of course cheese. Coomersdale, Ben Nevis and Mossend Blue, their aged raw milk cheeses, are now ready. In Stowe, they bring along a grill and serve up grilled lamb and lamb sausage. 'So good.

I just came back from an outing/localvore acquisitions trip to Montpelier and Barre to pick up Tempeh and Bacon for the share. This week you’ll be receiving organic, locally grown and made Tempeh from Rhapsody in Montpelier. Nancy gave me the tip about this product when we were brainstorming ideas for vegetarian protein. Rhapsody is a lovely little vegan café next door to the Savoy Theater. The food is all served as a buffet, and yet the seating and atmosphere make it anything but fast food or cafeteria. They make a number of different sushi rolls, a wide selection of hot entrees, numerous salads, plus cookies, cakes, smoothies and more. Not to worry, they are not too strict and also sell chocolate, coffee, and other indulgences. Committed to preparing and selling organic, local, and vegan whole food, they do not use eggs, dairy, meat, refined sugar or flours in their cooking. They do have their own garden that supplies greens and more for the restaurant. And that’s just the café!

I called and spoke with Oliver about the tempeh a couple of weeks ago. They make it every day, so supplying us with 10 cases was easy. The soybeans are Vermont grown. If you’ve never had tempeh before, try the marinated grilled tempeh recipe below. Tempeh has a good texture and more flavor than tofu, but still absorbs flavors from marinades. You can also try it with barbeque sauce, or chop up the marinated pieces and use it in a burrito.

Tom Wisner of Tweed Valley Farm in Pittsfield, VT is supplying the shitake mushrooms this week. In addition to the gourmet Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms grown in our barn greenhouses, they also raise registered Shetland sheep and lambs as breeding stock. Also available is yarn, wool, humanely raised turkeys, chickens and fresh farm eggs. Here’s what their website has to say about growing the mushrooms:

Only one section of the 8,000 square foot barn at Tweed Valley Farm is being used for the mushroom cultivation. There are presently eight 8' X 8' greenhouses situated in this specially insulated section that are being used to control the temperature, lighting, humidity and air circulation for their proper growth. The Shiitake mushrooms are being grown on sterilized logs and the Oyster mushrooms are grown in bags of sterilized medium. There is a pellet stove used for regular heating and a propane heater for when the temperatures get very low. The process takes constant monitoring of all necessary conditions to achieve maximum growth.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Tomatoes and Feta
Grilling the vegetables adds pizzazz to this Mediterranean-inspired salad. Approximately 4-6 servings.

1 lb. snap beans, ends removed
1/2 a sweet onion, sliced thin
1 small zucchini or eggplant sliced crosswise or 1 large green pepper sliced into 1/2" thick wedges
2 TB sunflower or olive oil
1 large tomato, seeds removed, cut in 1" dice
6 oz crumbled feta cheese
2 TB toasted pine nuts

3 TB red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove mashed to a paste with kosher salt
salt and pepper to taste
6 TB sunflower or olive oil

Preheat barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Shock beans by placing in a large bowl of ice water. Drain and pat dry with a dishtowel. Toss beans and eggplant, pepper or zucchini in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill or broil oiled vegetables until beginning to brown, turning frequently, 2-5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Add onions and tomatoes. Make dressing by combining the vinegar, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Then whisk in oil. Toss vegetables with dressing, adjust seasonings and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve at room temperature.

Mediterranean Orzo
The combination of feta, lamb and tomato is classic. If you are not a lamb-eater, try throwing in some mushrooms, kalamata olives and pine nuts instead. Serves 4.

1 lb. ground lamb, crumbled, or good lamb sausage sliced into half-rounds
2 TB olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 head broccoli or cauliflower separated into small florets
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 TB chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1 large tomato chopped
3/4 lb orzo
6 oz feta cheese crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook lamb in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Reserve the cooked lamb and drain the skillet. Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, saute for one minute, then add garlic. Saute onion for another minute or two, then add the broccoli or cauliflower, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add the chicken stock and oregano. Bring to simmer, reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the orzo to the pot of boiling water and cook according to packaged directions. Add the cooked lamb and chopped tomato to the skillet and simmer one more minute. Drain the orzo reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the orzo with the lamb and vegetables, adding reserved pasta water if necessary. Toss in the feta. Serve warm.

Summer Vegetable Ragu
This is how Heather prepares summer’s bounty of vegetables. It's something like ratatouille, but you can use any vegetables you have on hand. It’s great served with pasta, polenta, or rice, with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta. It also makes a yummy, if juicy, sandwich in a baguette! Serves 4-6.

4 cups or more of uniformly cut vegetables, such as beans, zukes, cauliflower, peppers, eggplant, and/or summer squash
½ cup chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB oil
3 tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
¼ cup minced fresh herbs, basil/mint/oregano
Salt & pepper

Heat oil in a deep wide sauté pan and cook garlic and onion until soft, fragrant and beginning to brown. Add vegetables, except tomatoes. Season with salt & pepper and sauté until nearly tender, with some brown flecks. Add tomatoes and herbs. Simmer gently until the tomatoes are saucy and the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

Maple Grilled Tempeh Recipe
From the 101cookbooks blog by Heidi Swanson. A grill tray makes this easy to cook without losing all the little pieces into the fire. Serves 2-4.

8 ounces tempeh
3 TB soy sauce (Heather prefers shoyu sauce)
3 TB maple syrup
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
1/2 tsp powdered chipotle (or a couple pinches of cayenne)
½ cup sliced shitake mushrooms
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice or grain of your choice
a generous handful of green beans

Garnish: fresh herbs of your choice, crumbled feta cheese

Cut the tempeh diagonally into 4 triangles. If possible, thin those triangles out by slicing each in half horizontally - 8 triangles total. Set the tempeh aside while you make the maple marinade by combining the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic, and chipotle powder in a small bowl. Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade to use later as a drizzle.

Place the pieces of tempeh and mushrooms in a large baking dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the tempeh. Make sure the tops and bottoms of tempeh are coated and marinate for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 days, flipping occasionally. Toss in the beans to coat with marinade just before grilling.

Grill the tempeh, mushrooms and beans on a medium hot grill for a few minutes brushing all the while with the marinade remaining in the bottom of the baking dish. When the tempeh is a toasted, deep, maple-y, golden brown remove and serve over a bed of warmed quinoa (or rice). Drizzle with the reserved marinade.

Creamy Feta Dressing
If this recipe looks familiar, it's because it originally appeared in our May 21, newsletter. It's one of Heather's favorites, so we're including it again for those who weren't in our Spring Share. If you have fresh mint in the garden, use some here. Makes about 1 cup.

1/3 cup feta cheese, finely crumbled
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup oil
2 TB cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
3 TB yogurt
1 TB mayonnaise
fresh black pepper
fresh minced or dry herbs: mint, dill, chives, parsley

Blend together vinegar, garlic, yogurt, mayo, salt, pepper, & herbs. Blend in the oil in a drizzle until emulsified, then stir in feta. Keeps 1 week in refrigerator.

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