Thursday, June 30, 2011

csa box:: week 2

Week two! Our garden is kicking into high gear (finally) and so with the CSA and garden we are starting to ferment, can, freeze and dehydrate. I love having a full pantry and freezer!

in the box:: beets, spring onions, zucchini, snow peas, kohlrabi, asparagus, lavender, strawberries, two types of lettuce, kale, and fennel

extras:: chives, dill, sage, and snow peas

Want to compare week 02, 2011 with previous years?
Click the year to link:: | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |

Do you have a CSA? What was in your box this week?

Don't miss Dawn's CSA box from the west coast::

Thursday, June 23, 2011

csa box:: week 1

As some of you know, during the CSA season I photograph our box/share each week and post what we have. This will be the fifth season (can you believe it)? Today was our first CSA box of 2011. We started a little late due to the abnormally cold spring, so I am very excited it is finally here. Here is what we have this week.

::week 01::

in the box:: two types of lettuce, garlic scapes, snap peas, oregano, summer savory, lovage, spring onions, asparagus, kohlrabi, strawberries, swiss chard.


We pick up on farm from our CSA, and she has additional produce available each week for those who want to purchase extra. I usually get more of things that I don't have in my own garden, that I want larger quantities to can/preserve, or that we just like a lot.

extras:: aparagus, strawberries, fennel, garlic scapes, lavender

Want to compare week 01, 2011 with previous years?
Click the year to link:: | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |

This year I would love to link back each week to others who photograph/post their CSA farm share boxes. If you have a link, please leave it in a comment! And be sure to tell me what general area you live in, so we can see the differences in seasonality between regions.

Do you have a CSA this year? What was in your box this week?

homemade:: croutons

This time of year we have salads every day - our garden is brimming with greens and we love that. And for variety and flavor, I like home made croutons.

We don't eat a lot of bread, but we do like having a good loaf of sourdough or home made grain bread for toast, sandwiches and ... croutons! We usually go through half the loaf before it is getting stale. Perfect for croutons. We like the seasoned super flavorful crunchy big croutons, and this recipe is just that.

Croutons fall into the category of recipe that is ever changing, not exact, always flexible. You like less seasoning, your bread has more moisture this batch, you have certain herbs on hand, etc. Just tweak it and find just how you like it.


2 cups cubed few day old bread
1/4 - 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil (depending on how dry the bread is)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
a few cloves of very finely minced fresh garlic
Seasoning mix:: Use what you have/what you like.

Here is what I most often use::
Up to 1/4 cup of dried herbs. Mine usually includes garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil. I also love a pinch of yellow curry powder , Spanish paprika, or a few crushed red pepper flakes if I want some spice. I use some of our own dried herbs from the garden, and also love the garlic & herb blend we find in bulk at our local Italian Deli.

Cut about 2 cups of few day old bread into cubes. We like 1"+ chunks, you can do smaller if you like. The better the bread, the better the croutons. We like using sourdough, rye, baguette, focaccia. GF bread works great too.

Put the bread in a large bowl. Mix the olive oil and freshly minced garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the bread and toss quickly - keep stirring and tossing until all the bread is coated. If it seems dry, add a little more. Don't skimp on the oil - these are not the break your teeth dry cardboard croutons - good olive oil saturation really helps keep them crunchy but yet easy to eat, and it needs to be moist enough for the herbs to adhere to. Working quickly sprinkle the salt, pepper and herb mixture in, tossing as you go.

Spread onto a pan and toast at 400ºF for 10-20 minutes. Once again, it depends on how dry/stale your bread was. Turn and stir gently at least once. When the croutons are crunchy remove them from the oven. Let cool and store in air tight container.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

strawberry elderberry ice cream.

We love to make cold treats in the summer. Granita, sorbet, ice cream, frozen custard...all have their place. My favorite quick make ice cream recipe is really just that - quick and easy to make. It is not the mild fruit flavor of most ice creams - this is triple the fruit and 100% of the flavor. It isn't too sweet either, and it really tastes more like frozen strawberries and cream than ice cream. Perfectly delicious.


1 pound hulled strawberries
juice and zest of half a lemon
9 Tbsp raw honey
5 Tbsp elderberry syrup
1 cup whipped cream, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract or scraped seeds from half a vanilla bean
a few grates of fresh nutmeg (optional)

In a food processor* pulse the strawberries, honey, vanilla, lemon juice and elderberry syrup. Don't liquefy, just pulse so that the strawberries are chunky but not huge.
(*You can just macerate in a bowl with pastry cutter or fork too.)

By hand or with a kitchen aid whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.

Fold the puree of strawberries into the whipped cream, including all the liquid. Add the lemon zest.

Pour into your ice cream maker and run for 20-30 minutes. Transfer into a freezer container to set.

This is the most simple ice cream - and has such an intense strawberry flavor (and color!) that nothing can compare. Being such a simple recipe it is super easy to put together and have in the freezer in no time at all. Leaving more time for summer fun.

I used heavy cream for this recipe, but you could use coconut milk too. You won't get the light whip cream air from the coconut, but will still have the nice berry flavor. If you use regular sugar instead of honey let it sit in the bowl with the strawberries/vanilla/syrup/lemon juice for a bit to dissolve before pulsing. If you don't have elderberry syrup you can substitute - rose water would be wonderful - or just leave it out.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

homemade:: coconut milk

We have been making our own almond milk for a while, and I decided to start making coconut milk recently as well. I like the flavor it adds to coffee and chai, and making my own has been really easy. You can of course grind up a whole coconut but that is a lot of work! I used dried coconut, as that is what is easy to find, stores more long term, and I always have it in the pantry!

::coconut milk::

1 1/2 cups organic shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1/2 of a vanilla bean scraped
4 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp raw honey
  1. Add the coconut to the water and soak for 1-3 hours.
  2. After a few hours add the vanilla and honey to the liquid, stir, and then place half of the mixture into a good quality blender.
  3. Mix on high for a few minutes. I found that I had the best results mixing for a minute, letting it sit to settle for a minute, mix for a minute, repeat until it is creamy/frothy and mixed well.
  4. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer (use a rubber spatula to push through gently).
  5. Repeat with the second half of the liquid.
  6. Store in the fridge and use as needed. You might need to shake before using.

I baked with the solids left in the strainer-- I made coconut pound cake. That recipe is for another day.

Coconut - Most regular dried coconut on the market is treated with sulfites to keep it white. So, be sure to get unsweetened organic coconut. I usually use Lets Do...Organic because they don't use any enhancers/extenders/preservatives or sulfites and it is available at my local co-op. "Shredded dehydrated coconut maintains all of the fiber and the macro-nutrients present in its fresh form; this includes a the highly-prized medium-chain fatty acids, only found in such concentrations in the coconut."


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

lemon balm ginger honey

We grow a lot of herbs in our garden for a lot of reasons. There are so many uses - culinary, medicinal, companion planting, and just plain pretty. Using the herbs we grow is something we are always working on expanding - learning more, trying more, gaining knowledge and experience.

I love medicinal honey. I don't know about your family, but getting children to drink a bitter and/or strong tasting tincture just isn't going to happen. With honey though, so many of the benefits of the herbs are available combined with so much good from raw honey.

Now, I am not a master herbalist, but there are so many excellent books out there with recipes and information and we often make salves, balms, oils, vinegars and honey. We use the power of herbs for eczema, tummy aches, coughs, colds, allergies, fatigue, headaches, stress and more. Doesn't get better than that!

I have a son who always is very intense and affected by what is happening around him, and he gets tummy upsets often. So, this honey is ginger lemon balm. This is a great honey - and a super easy place to start. This is such a great all around honey that you could make it just for flavor and add to your tea, but it also is good for soothing stomach aches, and helps with stress.

lemon balm ginger honey

1 cup local wildflower raw honey
1 cup lemon balm leaves, fresh (pick in morning, new leaves)
2" nub of ginger, chopped

In a saucepan, gently warm your raw honey and stir. DO NOT boil or overheat the honey. We are only raising the temp just enough to activate the oils in the herbs. Add the herbs and ginger to the honey - keep on very very very low heat for 10-15 minutes. Pour into a pint jar. Stir, and be sure all lemon balm is covered and not sticking out the top (or it will turn brown).

Seal and set in a dark spot for a week or so.

After a week you can strain the herbs out of the honey and store. If your house is cool and the honey is hard, just gently heat again (low! just enough to get fluid) and strain. Or, you can leave the herbs in it, and strain what you need as you go. The smell is wonderful, and my boys love in lemonade. I love it in tea.

| About Lemon Balm | About Ginger | About Raw Honey |

Don't forget--children under one year old should not be given honey!!!


There are so many great herbal books out there - the one I have found myself reading and referencing this spring is Homegrown Herbs. It has nice photos, is up to date, and easy to read!

Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs