Thursday, October 30, 2008

CSA Box This Week

Today in our CSA box...we haven't gotten much squash at all this year in our boxes. Winter squash is one of my favorite things, and I always look forward to it. Today we got only 1 small acorn squash and a mini butternut squash - not a good year for squash, it seems. I traded the mini butternut squash in our box for more brussel sprouts. The wonder of our garden is that we fill in the gaps of our CSA, can get quantity of our favorite items, and so even growing only 1 vine we already have a decent number of butternut squash stored away for this fall and winter!

In our box this week:: lettuce mix, arugula, beauty heart radish, leek, carrots, brussel sprouts, green cabbage, acorn squash, cilantro.

In our box this week last year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It finally happened. Snow! Not a lot, but snow flurries combined with temps in the 20s means we had to pick all of the last more tender bits in the garden.

Most of it went into the dehdrator for our winter herb and spice jars. We also collected some heads and veggies for seed saving, so that we can plant again next year.

This week marks a big date. Six months. We have gone six months without buying any produce from a grocery store...except for random lemons, limes, and the few times per summer guacamole from our local food coop. What does that mean? We have gotten all of our fruit and vegetables directly from a farm, farmstand, or our garden since May. We had our garden and our CSA, and visited farms as close to home as we could to visit on farm stands or u-picks. We have also had a good year for local meat, eggs, and dairy...more on that later!

So for the winter we transition to more root veggies and foods we preserved all summer. For fresh greens we love to sprout on our counter. And we return to more fresh breads and weekly baking. Last night we made a loaf of sunflower millet bread which made the house smell amazing. Very comforting on those cold days. I have some 'mad scientist' plans to experiment and try to grow several types of vegetables and herbs in our house this winter. I want more than a few window herbs, and we will see how it goes. I'll be seed-starting this week, so will share our plans as we go!

I love this season - from hot to cool, from light to dark, from rich garden and farms to a fully stocked freezer. We have relationships with many local farmers that will continue through the winter, but most of the action takes place INside, and all of this work we did all summer makes this time of rest seem even more satisfying!

Friday, October 24, 2008

CSA Box This Week

It is almost the end of our CSA season. Only one more week left - growing season does seem to fly in Wisconsin!

In our box this week: hakuri turnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, leek, parsley, romanesco, lettuce, and a head of garlic.

In our box this week last year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

home made stock.

We like to make our own stock to use for cooking. Chicken broth, bone broth, even veggie/miso broth...making it from scratch helps us get the maximum flavor and nutrition out of it. And while it takes a little time, it is mostly time on low heat on a stove, not the constant stirring attentions of some foods. I try to make a gallon or more at a time which I then use for everything from soup, stew and chili bases, to brown rice. After you have homemade stock it is hard to use the cube stuff! :)

This week I made a beef stock - bone broth. With a sprained ankle and sore back, I know that the nutritional benefits of bone broth will help with joint support and healing.

For beef bone broth I start with 3-4 pounds of assorted bones from organically raised grass fed beef. This batch I used soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones) and ox tail. I buy this directly from the farmer we get our beef from - I know how the animals were raised, and they select soup bones with stock prep in mind. Vinegar and water is added to the pot - the vinegar works to extract the maximum nutrients (esp. calcium). I also add chopped base vegetables for flavor, as well as herbs and sea salt. The prep takes only minutes, after which it can simmer for 24 hours or more for maximum flavor.

::beef stock - bone broth::

Into a large pot add:
3-4 pounds soup bones
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
8 cups water
4 onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, smashed

Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer. After a few hours you can skim off any residue on the top and toss that. Keep simmering for 24 hours or so for beef stock. In the last 30 minutes, chop and add some herbs. I like thyme and parsley - for parsley, I add a hand full, for thyme, a few teaspoons. Let it simmer for the last half hour. When done, pour through a sieve/strain. There you have it! Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat with a spoon. Store in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in batches to use as needed!

ingredients tip::

"Simply put, bone broth is the liquid that results when bones are cooked in water. The use of stocks and broths has fallen out of practice in many modern households but it is still widely used in professional kitchens. Broths have been used through the ages as-easy to-digest nourishment and were prescribed for the sick and ailing, the very old and the very young as well as a staple in every kitchen.

Broth can be seen as a medicinal tea made from bones, meat and the connective tissues that are often attached. By simmering bones in water you extract many constituents contained in them and make them available to the human body for easy absorption.

Properly made bone broth contains measurable amounts of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and other minerals, as well as collagen, gelatin and amino acids. These nutrients are beneficial for bone and joint health, for muscle strength and action, and for maintaining connective tissues and the gastrointestinal tract."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

turnip potato mash.

Oh, it is that time again! The time of cold nights, comfort foods, bread in the oven, and the slow cooker on the counter. In our CSA box we have been getting those end of season root veggies which go so well with all of that cold weather food. One of my favorites is turnips.

I love making the first of the season turnip potato mash. So good!

::turnip potato mash::

8 turnips, chopped
5-6 medium potatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper
1-2 cloves of soft roasted garlic (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
fresh or dried herbs, if you like (I added dried thyme from our garden)

Put the chopped turnips & potatoes in a pot with water (enough to cover). Bring to a boil, and then cook on medium heat for about 15 - 20 minutes, until soft. Drain and toss into a casserole pan. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the cooked root veggies. Add the butter, roasted garlic, salt & pepper, herbs and then mix. Sprinkle most of the Parmesan over the top. Place the casserole pan into a pre-heated 350º oven. Bake about 20-30 minutes until the top is golden. Let cool a bit and then serve with a little bit of the fresh Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Great side dish!

I know many people just boil and mash their turnips and serve without the baking step, but I find turnips a bit more watery than potatoes. Baking a bit helps thicken the dish a little, and also gives a nice boost of flavor on top from the baked parmesan!

ingredient tip::
Turnips may be a 'starch' veggie, but they contain only about one third of the calories as an equal amount of potatoes. Turnips are a great source of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, manganese, panthothenic acid and copper. They also contain a good amount of thiamine, potassium, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin and the vitamins B6 and E.

And with turnips don't throw away those greens! Turnips Greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. We like to saute them in a pan with a little olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper and a splash of good balsamic. Takes only a minute and they are super tasty!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CSA Box This Week

I sprained my ankle yesterday, so after a few trips hauling a sleepy 3 year old and our CSA cooler up the steps into the house I was a big shaky - I took 5 or so photos of the produce today, and all were slightly blurry. So, sorry about the blur - here is our box this week!

CSA Box: Lettuce salad mix, swiss chard, broccoli, hakuri turnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, thai basil. We also had arugula and mizuna greens, but I traded those for additional potatoes...we have so many greens this week already!

In our box this week last year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

in the kitchen...mid-october.

After a weekend trip in Minneapolis, we are back to preserving everything we can at the end of the year. I think our garden is in the final stretch - although we are still happily picking the last bits of things like beans and raspberries and swiss chard. We will still get radishes, turnips, chives and leeks a bit longer, but everything else is being cleared out.

We pulled all the tomatoes and brought in everything that was still green - it is all in tubs to ripen in the sun through the window. We are also continuing to make applesauce and dried apples. We have been baking pie pumpkins to make pumpkin bread and soup--and tomorrow we will can a big batch of apple pumpkin butter (recipe coming soon!). Yum.

Tomorrow on our way home from our CSA pickup we will be stopping at a few farm stands to load the car up with winter squash and root vegetables so we can store them. Can't wait!

What is happening in your kitchen this week?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

pumpkin time.

We went to a farm last weekend to pick up our first batch of pie pumpkins. We love to make our own pumpkin puree, which we use for all of our fall baking. I like doing a few pans of pumpkin at a time to economize on time. Making fresh pumpkin puree is simple and has such a great flavor.

Take your small sweet pie pumpkins and cut off top/stem, then cut them in half. Scoop out the seeds and drizzle with a little oil. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350º face down 30 minutes, turn them over, bake face up 30 minutes. The inside should be soft. Let cool and then scoop out the insides. You can take the pulp and run it through a food processor or a food mill to get it the consistency of canned pumpkin (smooth & creamy).

So with all the fresh pumpkin we had to make something - pumpkin bars! These are nice in that they are moist and flavorful but not too sweet.

::pumpkin bars::

Preheat oven 350º

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups sugar or maple syrup
3/4 cup butter
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the above ingredients together in a bowl.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Add the rest of the above ingredients into the mixture and stir. Pour into a lightly buttered 9x13" pan. Bake at 350º for about 35-40 minutes! Let cool and cut into squares.

ingredients tip::
"Pumpkin and winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese. In addition, winter squash and pumpkin is also a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October is Fair Trade Month.

"October is Fair Trade Month, which provides a great opportunity for people throughout the United States to support, promote and celebrate a socially responsible system of trade that prioritizes the needs of human beings and the environment over the drive for profits.

Fair Trade is important because conventional "free trade" often leaves farmers and artisans living in extreme poverty, sometimes even facing malnutrition and starvation when world market prices swing dramatically. These are the conditions that have led in some cases to the use of illegal child labor, including child slave labor, and to the use of unsustainable environmental practices such as cutting down trees in the rainforest.

Fair Trade, by contrast, ensures that farmers and artisans are paid a living wage, and that the products they produce aren't made in sweatshops or by exploited child laborers. Fair Trade also promotes production techniques that will not harm the environment."

If you are not sure where to start, you can begin by taking small steps. Products that are accessible everywhere include fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa and sugar. And, by buying organic fair trade, you are supporting a system which is better for humans and the earth.

>Where to Buy Fair Trade Certified.
>Find a Fair Trade event in your area.
>Find out more about Fair Trade.

Monday, October 6, 2008

apple butter, baked apples, apples!

We went apple picking over the weekend and have more apples. I have been getting apples in batches of 20-30# so that I can do a bit at a time. We have been making applesauce, apple butter, baked apples, pie fillings, and more. With the cool weather also comes the return of bread baking - I seem to fizzle out when the heat peaks, but happily return to the smell of bread baking in the house as the nights get colder. And with freshly baked sunflower millet whole wheat bread you need fresh apple butter to top it with, of course.

apple butter

5-1/2 pounds apples, peeled and sliced/chopped (= about 15-18 med. sized apples)
2 cups sugar (I like to use maple syrup or honey)
1/4 - 1/2 cup apple cider
2-3 tsp cinnamon, or 3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Place apples in a slow cooker. Add all of the ingredients and mix well. Put on lid and cook on high for 1 hour (stir a few times). Reduce the heat to low. Cover again and cook on low for 9-12 hours - or until it is thick and dark brown. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook for one more hour. Remove cinnamon if you used whole sticks. If you like a smoother apple butter, you can run it through a food mill or use a stick blender. You can process for canning, freeze, or refrigerate and eat within a few weeks!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

CSA Box This Week

In our CSA box this week: romanesco broccoli, broccoli, 4 types of greens/lettuce, beans, cilantro, tomatillos, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro.

In our box this week last year.