First Harvest!

In early May we planted three gardens on the farm. I’ve never had a garden before, and it’s been amazing to watch our plots of dirt transform into lush, green spaces. We planted a variety of vegetables and fruit: potatoes, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, beets, onions, pumpkins, all kinds of squash, cucumber, strawberries, asparagus, watermelon, and honeydew…just to name a few. I’ve always wanted a garden and it’s been an awesome learning experience… Learning what each plant looks like as they first began to come up out of the ground; trying to differentiate between the tiny, new beet plants and the weeds that surrounded them; watching for certain kinds of bugs — some beneficial to the plants and some that are not good at all.

As the plants have continued to grow, I’ve been anxious for the first thing that we could pick or cut or pull up out of the ground and eat! This week I was able to cut garlic scapes, and pull up our first radishes! So exciting! Really, there is nothing like pulling a vegetable out of the ground and thinking, “I grew this!” I don’t know why more people don’t grow their own veggies.

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Well, you probably know what a radish is, but you might not be familiar with garlic scapes. I had no idea what they were until the other farm intern and his wife made us some garlic scape pesto recently. (So good!) The garlic scape looks like part of the stem on a garlic plant. It shoots up in between the leaves and you’ll know it’s ready to cut when it’s curling at the end. It’s actually beneficial to cut the scape off so that the garlic plant can use more energy to go toward growing the garlic bulb itself. And, bonus, you get to eat the delicious garlic scape! I wanted to try out my own pesto with the scapes, so I decided to use them all up, slather it on some bread, and top with thinly sliced radishes. Mmm, delish.

Here are a whole mess of garlic scapes in all their glory. Aren’t they pretty?DSC_0027 DSC_0029

This pesto was ridiculously easy to make. We whipped it up in just a few minutes. Along with the bread, radishes, and some white wine, we had ourselves a simple summer meal. You could also definitely serve this as a yummy appetizer.

Head to your local farmers market to try to hunt down some garlic scapes! They have them at our market now, so I’m hoping you’ll find some at yours. Looking for a farmers market? Check out this website to find one in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/

Garlic Scape Pesto (makes about 1 cup)
10-20 Garlic Scapes
Handful of fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Walnuts or whatever nut you’ve got on hand (almonds, pine nuts, etc)
Salt and Pepper (optional)

Chop up your scapes, leaving off the white pointy end. Toss them in a food processor along with your basil, about 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup of cheese and a handful of walnuts. Blend for a bit, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides with a spatula.

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Add more oil and cheese if you like. Pesto is great because you really just add what you like until it’s the consistency and taste that you like. I added probably another 1/4 cup of oil to get it to a smoother consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Ta-da! Pesto, with bunny ears.

I slathered this deliciousness on some toasted bread and topped with sliced radish and a bit more cheese. I would have preferred to use a nice loaf of french bread or a baguette that had been toasted in the oven. That would have been amazing, but of course I didn’t have a baguette on hand so I just used some wheat bread that I had. Still delicious! Either way, this is a really simple meal with lots of fresh ingredients. Enjoy it.

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Rosemary & Chipotle Spiced Nuts

Last night I was up ’til 11:30 (way past my bedtime) making spiced nuts. But it was worth it. Oh my goodness, these are yummy. Spicy, sweet, and salty. Mmmmm, all kinds of good. We are headed out of town for Thanksgiving and I wanted to make these as a little gift to bring for our hosts —something to snack on tomorrow during the day when maybe we don’t want to eat a whole meal before the big dinner, but want a little somethin’ somethin’ to munch on.

I got this recipe off of Pinterest, and it’s from Ina Garten’s book, How Easy is That? Here’s the link to the recipe.

Chipotle & Rosemary Spiced Nuts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (and more for oiling pan)
3 cups whole, roasted, unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
1/2 cup whole almonds (3 ounces) (We forgot the almonds at the store, so we went without and just used a little bit more walnuts and pecans)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (I used store-bought)
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided (I used a little less. my poor rosemary plant would have been stripped bare if I used 4 Tbsp worth!)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine your nuts with vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt, and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature. At this point, the pan was reeally sticky and starting to harden, and the nuts were all getting stuck in it. So to prevent a disaster, I moved the nuts onto a clean pan. While they were cooling, I used a fork to break everything up so they didn’t all stick together.

Cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

I put mine in some mason jars with cute little labels! Happy munching!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa!

Have you ever made your own salsa? No? Me either. But, last week in our CSA we got tomatillos! If you don’t know what a tomatillo is, google it.

Aren’t they cute?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture because my husband actually made the salsa when I wasn’t home, so I didn’t get to take any pictures until the finished product. Bummer.

If you jump over to my “getting to know you page,” you’ll see a link to our CSA farm’s website. Each week before pickup, I get an email letting us know everything that’s coming in our box. They also include some yummy recipes for inspiration. Last week they included a recipe for tomatillo salsa, so of course we had to try it.

Like I said, I didn’t make this one myself, but apparently it was super easy and pretty quick to make! It turned out so delicious and made quite a bit of salsa. But it didn’t last long. Between the two of us, we finished it off pretty quickly.

The recipe calls for 3-4 medium tomatillos. We got about 10-15 small ones in our box. At first, Ric put in 6 or 7 tomatillos, but he said it was wayyyy too spicy with the jalapeno, so he roasted the rest of the tomatillos and used all of them. It was still spicy in the end, but not so much that your mouth is on fire, and your nose is running, and you’re sweating profusely. That is bad spicy. This is good spicy. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
8 ounces (3 to 4 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (1 or 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs of fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), roughly chopped
1/4 small white onion, finely chopped
Salt

Roast the tomatillos, chile(s), and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blotchy black and softening (they’ll be turning from lime green to olive), about 5 minutes.  Flip them over and roast the other side.  Cool, then transfer everything to a blender or food processor, including all the delicious juice that will be on the pan after roasting. Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, then blend to a coarse puree. Scoop into a serving dish. Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture.  Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon.

cheese, glorious cheese

Mmmmmmmmmmmm, cheese.

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 3 years now, sometimes dabbling in veganism. But what brings me back is always the cheese. I don’t know if I can live without it. Yes, there are some decent vegan cheeses out there, but they can not live up to the glorious, delicious, drool-inducing flavors of goat cheese, for instance. Or brie. Oh my gosh, brie.

My husband and I recently subscribed to a CSA (community supported agriculture.) I was super excited to get new vegetables and try new recipes. When we started it a few weeks ago, though, we were on a break from cheese. We both decided we had been eating a wee bit too much, and a break from dairy was needed.

But then we got beets in our box, and my goodness, so many people recommended eating those suckers on a baguette, shmeared with goat cheese, and a bit of olive oil. Maybe some arugula. YUM.

But we were on a cheese break. So, I found a recipe for roasted beets. I roasted them. I tried them (for the first time ever) just on their own, with a little salt. I was seriously not looking forward to eating that beet. I don’t know what it is, but the crazy intense red, counter staining, finger staining, everything staining color, grosses me out. I reluctantly ate a piece…. and I kind of liked it. I mean, it was not bad. But then I didn’t know what to do with all of them. The rest of the beets sat in my fridge uneaten for awhile, until hubby concocted some recipe with them involving quinoa and avocado. I also very (very) reluctantly ate that, because it was all red and gross looking! It was ok.

Well, the beets are back. And hallelujah, we are NOT on a cheese break any longer. So I decided to roast up some beets, and go crazy with the goat cheese on some crusty baguette.

Roasting beets is super simple. Take some beets and rip off the stems & leaves. You can save the leaves if you like and cook with those. I just compost mine, because I have enough kale & lettuce in my CSA box that I don’t need any more leafy greens to worry about going bad.

You might want to rinse/scrub the beets to get rid of any dirt. Take a large piece of aluminum foil and stick the beets on there. Drizzle some olive oil over them, and fold the foil up over the beets to make a little packet. Stick them in the oven at 375F and wait 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Shorter time for smaller beets, longer for big ones. They’re done when you can stick a fork in them and they feel soft.

Once they’re out, wait for them to cool. I then use a paper towel to rub off the skin. You can leave the skin on, though. Either way, you’re gonna get pink fingers, and probably pink stains on your cutting board. Once the skin is off, and the ends are cut off, slice them up.

Serve on a crusty sliced bread, like a baguette. I toasted my baguette in the oven, sliced it up, spread goat cheese on each piece and drizzled with olive oil. Then I added the beets on top. OK, so I know this picture is horrid. Please, forgive me for the awful lighting. Also, I admit this doesn’t look this appetizing. The beets look like weird pepperonis. But I wanted to have at least one picture in my post. I promise for better, more aesthetically pleasing & appetizing pictures next time.

I must say, it was pretty tasty. There’s nothing better than cheese and bread. Oh, right, beets too. The beet and goat cheese flavors worked well together, but I have to admit I liked a little more goat cheese and a little less beet. If beets keep coming in our CSA boxes, I’ll keep making this recipe. Buuuut, I probably wouldn’t be too likely to go buy beets on my own. Meh. Nevertheless, if you want to have a good first experience with a beet, I’d say this is the way to go. Thank goodness for cheese.