“Tired” greens

You can rehydrate droopy greens by letting them sit in cold water for an hour or three. Be sure to drain them well before putting them away, though. This can work for certain other vegetables as well.

Many leaf vegetables such as lettuce store longer if there’s a little bit of water at the bottom of the bag so the stem(s) can “drink,” but the leaves must be kept clear of it or they’ll rot. In some cases, like with asparagus, this is best achieved by putting them in a rigid container with a little water in the bottom, vase-style. Unless you’re going to use it right away, though, drop a plastic bag over the whole thing to keep the moisture in.

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Newsletters: 26 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 26 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
Pumpkins, of course, are just one of the many winter squashes. Winter squashes are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, related to both the melon and the cucumber. They were originally cultivated, 10,000 years ago in South America, for their seeds. Now they offer us complex carbohydrates, fiber, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids, omega-3 fats, and a whole alphabet of vitamins. They are said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Research has suggested that growing winter squash can help remove contaminants from soil, which is good as long as you weren’t planning to eat them. The corollary is that this is a good vegetable to buy organic if you do plan to eat it.

In the kitchen
Being a bit pressed for both time and inspiration, I turn once again to good ol’ Epicurious for, of course, pumpkin recipes.

Ginger-Pumpkin Muffins
5.5 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
2 tablespoons brandy
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooked pumpkin puree (or canned solid pack pumpkin)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons golden brown sugar
1/2 cup light molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix 2.5 tablespoons crystallized ginger, currants and brandy in small bowl. Sift together flour, ground ginger, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Whisk pumpkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat egg whites and egg until foamy; beat in 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Beat until light, about 2 minutes; beat in molasses and oil. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin mixture in 3 additions each. Stir in currant mixture. Divide batter among sixteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Mix 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger and 1 tablespoon brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over muffins. Bake at 375F about 25 min., until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

Sugar Pumpkin, Feta, and Cilantro Quesadillas
3 cups peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash in 1.5-inch cubes (about 1 lb. whole pumpkin)
1 finely chopped seeded jalapeño (about 2 tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste
12 flour tortillas, 8-inch diameter
10 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1.5 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges, to serve
Cook pumpkin in boiling salted water until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool 10 minutes; transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in jalapeño; season with salt and pepper. Spread about 1/4 c pumpkin mixture evenly on each of 6 tortillas. Sprinkle with feta, 1/4 cup cilantro and pepper to taste. Top each with a second tortilla. Cook in a heavy skillet over med-high about 1 min. per side, until golden with dark char marks.

Pumpkin-Seed Brittle
1/2 cup fresh pumpkin seeds, not rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Toss seeds with oil and salt and bake at 250F on an ungreased baking sheet, stirring occasionally, for 1 – 1.25 hours, or until golden and crisp. Combine sugar and water and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and washing down the sugar crystals with a brush dipped in cold water until the sugar is dissolved, and simmer it, undisturbed, tilting and rotating the skillet, until it is a deep caramel color. Stir in the pumpkin seeds until they are coated well, and turn the mixture out onto a buttered sheet of foil, spreading it evenly. Let the brittle cool completely and break into pieces.

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Newsletters: 19 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 19 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
This being our designated planning-for-the-winter week, it seems only right to give you a run-down of what will be going on out there over the winter. Here’s a summary of what the WSU Master Gardeners tell us.
• Nov.: Mulch. Move container plants inside (if you haven’t already). Be careful not to over-prune your roses.
• Dec.: Pot up paperwhites for forcing. Fertilize for the winter.
• Jan.: Do a little winter weeding. Start planning next year’s garden, including crop rotation.
• Feb.: Don’t be fooled by good weather into exposing your roses or getting a start on your spring pruning. Instead, go slug hunting or start your brassica seedlings indoors.
• Mar.: NOW you can prune and feed those roses. Transplant your brassicas outside and start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants inside. Sow hardy vegetables such as beets and spinach.
• Apr.: Sow carrots. Start squash and cucumbers indoors. You should probably mow the lawn, too.
• May.: Plant dahlias, gladiolus and calla lilies; fill containers and deadhead bulbs. Sow corn and beans, and transplant tomato, pepper and squash starts, if and when it’s warm enough.

In the kitchen
The cold weather is here, so I guess it’s time to talk about nice hearty soups again.

Clove-scented onion soup with Madeira and paprika
0.25 c unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 lb. onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 c beef broth
3 Tbsp. golden raisins
1.5 tsp. paprika
0.5 tsp. ground mace
8 whole cloves
salt and pepper to taste
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
0.25 c dry Madeira wine
Cook onions in the butter and olive oil, stirring occasionally, 20 min. or until the onions are wilted and golden. Add broth, raisins, paprika, mace, and cloves. Bring to a boil; partially cover, and simmer 30 min. Season. Stir 1/4 c of the soup into the egg yolks. Add the yolk mixture to the pot and cook, stirring, for about 4 min or until slightly thickened. Stir in Madeira.
From: Adriana’s spice caravan / Adriana & Rochelle Zabarkes.

Healthy Oatmeal Soup
10 cups chicken stock
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup quick cooking oats (more or less, according to desired thickness)
Salt to taste
Boil chicken breasts, tomato, cumin, and coriander in chicken stock until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken meat from the bones and cut or tear into small pieces. Return meat to broth and stir in oats. Bring to a boil, stir occasionally for about 2 minutes. Boil for about 15 minutes.
Source unknown.

Crock Pot Barley Soup
1 lb. stew beef in 1/2″ cubes
1 med. onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3/4 c. barley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
6 c. beef stock
Slow-cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
Source unknown.

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Newsletters: 20 Oct., 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 20 Oct., 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
Last month Jackie at L&I recommended a recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables using corn and zucchini that I think must be this one. If you move quickly you still might be able to find all the ingredients.

Summer squash and corn pasta
4-6 small summer squashes, diced
5-6 ears corn, cut from cobs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
handful cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. water
1 lb. fresh fettuccine, cooked
juice of 1/2 lemon, optional
Saute squash in the oil until tender and a little brown; season with salt and pepper. Add corn, garlic, and jalapeño; continue cooking a few more minutes. Add cilantro (reserving some for garnish if desired), butter, and water; correct seasoning. Add fettuccine and toss. Add lemon juice if corn is very sweet and garnish with cilantro.
From: Chez Panisse vegetables / by Alice Waters and the cooks of Chez Panisse. HarperCollins, c1996.

Warm spinach and squash salad
1.5 lb. delicata squash cut in half, seeded, and sliced, or butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 t salt (divided)
black pepper
3 Tbsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
8 oz. spinach leaves
1/2 c toasted sliced almonds
Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste, in a 12×17-inch baking dish. Bake at 400F ca. 20 min., until tender. Mix lemon juice with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt; add squash, spinach, and onions. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, pour over all, and toss to coat, wilting spinach. Serve immediately.
From: Yoga Journal, Nov. 2009.

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Newsletters: 12 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 12 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the garden
This month, the WSU Master Gardeners say you should plant garlic and green manure (a nutritious cover crop such as crimson clover). This is also a good time to divide perennials and plant spring bulbs, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Winter is a good time for all kinds of transplanting. Don’t forget to turn off any irrigation system you might have, and rake those fallen leaves right around (and even over) your tender plants so the mulch can protect them over the winter and feed them in the spring.

In the kitchen
Instead of recipes, this week let’s revisit vinegar, because I have a reader’s question to answer. After the discussion of the health aspects of vinegar, Catherine wrote to ask how to make vinegar. It turns out it’s not as simple as keeping wine so long it spoils, although that may be where it began. Here is a general outline of the process; you should check with a brewing supply store or the extension service for more exact directions, or hit the library for some quality research time, before actually starting a project. You should also be aware that it is generally considered a bad idea to try to make wine and vinegar in the same space.

Making vinegar is a two-step process, in which sugars are converted to alcohol and then the alcohol is converted to acetic acid. The first part is the familiar fermentation of wine, cider, or beer (vinegar made from beer is called “alegar”), which in vinegar-making is called “vinegar stock.” The best vinegars are made from a stock with an alcohol concentration of 9-12%, to which the bacteria Acetobacter aceti is added. This bacteria is sensitive to UV light, so the vinegar stock should be left undisturbed in the dark for the first two to three weeks. The container should be covered but not sealed, because the bacteria need oxygen. If a mat of solid matter — a “mother” of vinegar — forms, your vinegar is doing well, although its absence is no cause for concern. It should be removed once the vinegar is through fermenting, however. It can be used to create another vinegar (a bit like sourdough starter) or just discarded. After about four weeks, the vinegar should be ready to test; you can get a test kit that will tell you the sugar, alcohol, and acetic acid levels, or you can just taste it. Fresh vinegar has a sharp, intense flavor that will mellow as it ages. Once all the alcohol has fermented to acetic acid, the vinegar should be strained into airtight containers so the acetobacters won’t continue to break the vinegar down into carbon dioxide and water. Vinegar is usually aged about six months once it is done fermenting.

Well, OK, one recipe; but keep in mind that this is still an overview for the curious and you should do more research before starting your first batch.

Maple Vinegar
950 grams maple syrup
800 grams live vinegar (red wine vinegar, or unpasteurized cider vinegar)
300 grams dark rum
200 grams water
Combine all the ingredients in a glass vessel. Cover the opening with cheesecloth and store the container in an undisturbed, dark place for at least four weeks. Test the vinegar for development. Once the alcohol has been completely fermented out of the stock, strain the vinegar and store it in sealed bottles or mason jars. It can be used immediately but will improve with age.
From: popsci.com

You can find more information at:
popsci.com
Virtual Museum of Bacteria
howstuffworks.com

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Newsletters: 13 Oct, 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 13 Oct, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

Cooking, and reading about cooking
Last week I got a request for green tomato recipes, and especially fried green tomatoes. When I was growing up, green tomatoes always went into relish (I never heard of fried green tomatoes until the movie came out) so I’ve given you my mom’s green tomato relish for the second recipe. About this time of year she’d start watching the weather forecast for frost (this was in Spokane, you see), and when it was likely to freeze she’d go out and pick all the tomatoes, ripe or not. The red ones got eaten right away, the green ones got put aside for relish, and the in-between ones went on the kitchen windowsill to see if they’d ripen (the cats always managed to knock at least one off, but they were too green to squish so Mom put up with it). Then the food grinder would come out and the relish-making would begin. This was a rather messy undertaking, because no matter what we did the grinder dripped. There was a big yellow plastic bowl that went on the floor under the grinder (the rest of the year it was used for popcorn) but it didn’t catch all the splashes. Everybody in the house took turns turning the handle (funny how Dad always had errands to run…) and the kitchen filled with steam from the sterilizing jars while we cranked, it seemed, for hours. Enjoy!

Fried green tomatoes
1/4 lb thick-sliced bacon, finely diced
1.5 lb green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c coarse yellow cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
Fry bacon until just beginning to crisp. Reserve bacon and fat separately. Press tomato slices into cornmeal until well coated on both sides. Cook tomatoes in some of the bacon fat 5-6 min. on each side, until golden; wipe out pan between batches to avoid burning loose cornmeal. Season to taste and sprinkle with bacon bits.
From: Vegetables / James Peterson. William Morrow and Co., c1998.

Green tomato relish
Put the following through a food grinder (you can use food processor but a grinder gives a more even result):
24 med. green tomatoes, cored but not peeled
2 red peppers
4 green peppers
8 small onions
Add:
4 Tbsp. salt
Mix well. Let stand 2 hours. Drain. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
Heat:
2 cups sugar (up to 4 cups if you like sweeter relish)
3 cups vinegar
4 Tbsp. mustard seeds
2 Tbsp. celery seeds
Add tomato mixture; boil 10 minutes. Pack boiling into hot (sterilized) jars, cap with hot (sterilized) lids, and hope they seal. Unsealed jar(s) will keep all winter if refrigerated. Makes about 10 1/2 pints.
From: Dorothy Huffman’s recipe collection

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Newsletters: 5 Oct., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 5 Oct., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the belly
I’ve written about CSA shares before, but this seems like a good time to remind you of all the great vendors we have who are joining the CSA parade. Mostly I’ve spoken of the advantages to the farmers and other producers, who love to have those advance sales and a little predictable income, and also just enjoy having a personal relationship with their best customers. This time I’m going to say a little about the advantages to the customer, beyond the discount. You, too, benefit from a personal relationship with your farmer (or baker, or soap-maker, or…), with special frills such as first-of-the-season produce, limited-run specialties, farm news, and deals on, or first shot at, additional products. A traditional produce CSA can also help you eat better, because you’ve got this huge box of beautiful vegetables and there’s another one coming! You get to try new things with the help and advice of your personal farmer, often including preparation instructions and recipes in your CSA newsletter. Not sure you want to try new things? Most farmers will let you trade what you won’t use for something you will.

In the kitchen
How about recipes from CSA newsletters to go with the CSA information? Here are some late-season selections from our two “anchor” farms. No, it’s not at all that I’m rushed and lazy, they just fit in so well… OK, it’s because I’m surrounded by half-packed moving boxes and don’t know where I put the inspiration.

Creamy Potato and Parsnip Gratin
8 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, halved
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 c whipping cream or yogurt
Generously butter a 13×9-inch baking dish and rub with garlic. Arrange a single layer of potatoes in dish. Sprinkle lightly with a little of the thyme, salt and pepper. Add a layer of parsnips. Sprinkle with seasonings. Repeat layers with remaining vegetables. Pour in enough cream to come three-quarters up side of dish. Place on baking sheet and bake, covered, in 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes longer or until top is brown and crusty and potatoes are cooked through.
Variations: Butternut squash, kohlrabi, or celeriac may be added to the vegetables. Maple syrup may be added to the cream.
From: Left Foot Organics CSA News, October 16, 2008

Sweet and Sour Peppers
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups very thinly sliced onions
2 large red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 large green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 can baby corn, drained
1 1/2 cups cashews
Combine catsup, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, water, and cornstarch to make a sauce. Heat oil in wok or large skillet and stir-fry garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes. Add peppers; add 2-3 tablespoons water if necessary to prevent scorching. When peppers and onions begin to soften, add corn and cashews. Stir fry 1 minute, then add sauce mixture and let simmer another minute.
From: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, as quoted in The Kirsop Farm news, October 14, 2009

Red Cabbage with Apricots
2 1/2 lbs. red cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
Salt to taste
Combine cabbage and apricots in a slow cooker. Mix honey and juice; drizzle over cabbage mixture. Add wine; cover slow cooker and cook on LOW until cabbage is very tender (5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours). Season to taste with salt.
From: Left Foot Organics CSA News, October 22, 2009

Fennel with Parmesan Cheese
2 pounds fennel bulbs, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Blanch or steam fennel 8-15 minutes, until tender but firm. Cool and quarter, leaving a thin layer of the core to hold the bulb together. Arrange cut side up in a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes until cheese is lightly browned.
From: Victory Garden Cookbook, as quoted in The Kirsop Farm news, October 13, 2010

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