Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recipes from Mary

Okay. Thanks to Mary for searching the internet for some good recipes. Rather than copy and paste, I am encouraging you to go the the websites that Mary found and support their page views and subliminal advertising.

"French Potato Salad." Mary says: "Another fave from Ina Garten.  Great use of potatoes and green beans:",,FOOD_9936_23769,00.html


"Zucchini Parmesan Crisps" on the Food Network: Mary says: "Haven't made this one yet."


"Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole" on the Food Network:

Comments from Mary "Not Your mama's...but definitely Will's mama's fave."


"Green Beans with Coriander and Garlic: Feijao Verde com Coentro e Alho" on the Food Network:

Comments from Mary "Haven't made - yet  - but glad this exercise caused me to find it again!"

"Healthy Carrot Muffins" on the Food Network:

Comments from Mary: "Can't wait to make this one."

"Seven-Vegetable Couscous" on the Food Network:

Comments from Mary: "I'd use this as a formula vs a recipe and make it your own!"

Likely Harvest for August 22nd

Hot and Dry! The ground is getting really hard and dry. We are struggling to keep up with the watering, all the while hoping for rain. Today it clouded up around noon. By 5 O'clock it was cooling off and there were dark clouds. There was thunder. But all the rain went south. We could literally see it raining south of us.


Green Beans!!!! Today we picked green beans for a total of 6 person hours. There are over 50 pounds of beans in the cooler. We still have more beans to pick. It will be a good week to feature beans in every meal. Freeze beans. Make dilly beans. Beans. Beans. Beans.

Zucchini and Summer Squash Ditto from the bean message. So many squash. And maybe not for long. Powdery mildew is here in force!

Cucumbers - If we don't get something natural that combats the powdery mildew, this might be the beginning of the end for the cucumbers. But for now, we have many.

Tomatoes! - Yay! This is the beginning of the build up to mucho tomato. Last week we had 2 boxes. I think this week will be 4 to 6. Soon we will be selling whole boxes.

Peppers, Hot Peppers, Eggplant - These guys need water! But for now we have some production.

Kohlrabi - Today I skinned the kohlrabis. I chopped them into little sticks. I did the same with carrots. The I sauteed some chopped garlic in oil and then added the kohlrabi and carrots to the wok. After the carrots were done, I added some leftover rice, salt and dried herbs. Then I noticed the carrots were not quite done, so I added some water and put a lid on it to steam finish the carrots. Near the end I put a chunk of good butter in under the lid. It was the best thing I have ever made with kohlrabi. Children ate it!

Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy -  Kraut or Kim Chi? Why not Kraut Chi like Sandor Katz?

Herbs - Basil, Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Other Herbs. Pesto Bags! Make some and freeze it.

Onions, Scallions and Garlic

Beets and Carrots

Kale and Chard

Maybe some other stuff? Probably.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kombucha Photos

This is my process. Thanks to Larry D for the original SCOBY. I use a gallon jar.

When it is time to make new Kombucha, I first remove the mother (the SCOBY - Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) from the gallon jar. 

Then I pour off a quart of the Kombucha to use as starter liquid for the next batch. The remainder gets put into sealed jars in the fridge to drink. I have read that you want to take your starter Kombucha form the top of the jar and not the bottom, because the things that settle to the bottom will influence the flavor of your next batch by shifting the balance of different bacteria (all beneficial bacteria of course). The sealed jars in your fridge will continue to ferment a little and make the Kombucha fizzy. 

Then I add one cup of sugar to the gallon jar. I have tried maple syrup and evaporated cane juice, both made Kombucha, but I like that white sugar doesn't add any of its own flavors to the drink. CeeCee, our cat photobombed.

Then I brew some strong tea. I use 8 tea bags in my little teapot and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes. It comes out dark.

I use filtered water. I also would worry if my water source was chlorinated or had fluoride added - it might hurt the SCOBY. Good, filtered water.  

My favorite combination for tea is 6 bags Oolong with 2 bags GenMaiCha. I heard that black tea is the best for the SCOBY and you should not use herbal or flavored tea. The SCOBY wants real tea.

Then I add my strong tea to the sugar.

I stir to dissolve the sugar into the tea.

I make two or three more batches of strong tea, using the same tea bags and I keep adding them to the jar until the jar is 2/3 full. Then I add enough ice to make the jar 3/4 full and I stir. This cools the tea to about room temperature, at which point I add the starter Kombucha that I had originally set aside and the mother. Your mixture should not be too warm or you might hurt the SCOBY.

Me - right before I add the SCOBY.

After I add the SCOBY, I cover the jar with a clean cloth napkin and seal it with a rubber band. Your SCOBY needs air, so don't seal the jar with anything impervious to air.  Leave it on the counter or shelf at room temperature for 5 to 10 (or more) days. As it ferments it will taste tangier and tangier. I like a 10-day ferment lately. Don't worry about the things that float in the kombucha - it is all good. Then bottle it and start over. Some people add sliced ginger when they bottle, to boost flavor. Your mother will float on the top of the gallon jar during the ferment and it will add a new layer for every batch. These layers can be peeled off like pages in a book, and you can share them with a friend.

All Farm Meal

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sour Pickles Recipe

by Andy

Lengthy unnecessary preamble to a recipe for Sour Pickles:

Two years ago I decided to do something with some of the extra cucumbers that came back from market. In previous years we had heard about sour pickles, but they seemed a little dangerous and risky. Instead we had made vinegar pickles. We were happy with the vinegar pickles but they were not crispy. Often they tasted good, but they were a little mushy. Other times they weren't mushy, but they weren't quite crunchy either. Mushiness is a non-starter for us, and we would just leave our pickles on the shelf based on the possibility of mushiness. So that year when the extra cucumbers started coming back from the market, we still had some vinegar pickles on the shelf. I was ready to throw the extra cucumbers in the compost. But there were a lot of very nice small cucumbers, and I strongly dislike throwing out perfectly good vegetables. So I decided to live dangerously. I started a batch of sour pickles.

An aside to the preamble: sometimes I am not ready for a good idea. Someone is talking about a very good book or movie and I don't grasp how important it is for me to pay attention closely. I am caught up in my own interests and drama and I fail to share in their enthusiasm or even listen well. I watch people get into something and I don't get it. I have a set of blinders that makes me not value things that do not seem relevant to me. I want to change this trait: my wish is for my attention for others to always be good, regardless of relevance to me. For now I just go around smacking myself on the forehead when I realize I have done this.

I look back at the things I am interested in right now and I realize that I have been exposed to many of them for years. Permaculture, ignored as impractical idealism until now, has recently come into my consciousness and cool and possibly world-changing. But it was introduced to me 17 years ago by my good friend Peter Seim. I just wasn't ready. Sorry, Peter, I get it now.  I am currently into fermented foods. Kombucha, sauerkraut, kim chi, beer, hard cider, and sour pickles. But several years ago, my friend Nadine Wetzel-Curtis was already making kim chi and kombucha. And she was conspiring then with my partner Jen, who was using a book by Sandor Katz - Wild Fermentation. I didn't realize then how close I came to becoming the fermentation nut that I am today, but I basically stayed out of it.

Now Sandor is my hero. So two summers ago, when I wanted to make those sour pickles, I picked up Jen's Wild Fermentation book. It was like I had "discovered" America. Because suddenly I wanted to talk about and learn about all types of fermented foods. I can imagine my friends thinking - "it is about time!" and "where were you when I was making these three years ago?"

Better late than never, right? So I took and filled two five gallon pails with extra cucumbers. I added the grape leaves that Sandor suggested. I added kosher salt. I weighed them down with heavy plates and plastic bags full of water. And magic - one week later I had made ten gallons of crunchy, pro-biotic, yummy, sour pickles. I felt like I had engineered a miracle. I told everyone. I shared them in an aggressive way. I was probably obnoxious. Then that fall, Lucinda shredded some cabbage for us and mixed it with salt. The result was the most delicious sauerkraut I had ever had. I was obnoxious, again, in sharing this kraut and my new "discovery" of how to make it. We also had great luck that fall with countertop hard cider and Jen's continuing kim chi experiements. We could do no wrong. This was, of course, the beginning of hubris.

Last summer we made batch after batch of sauerkraut and kim chi. But when the time came for sour pickles, I was overly confident. I made the brine and added the cucumbers. Soon I "discovered" that I am not magic. Some of the cucumbers turned into a rotten slimy mush. They also became hollow as they shrunk in the pickling juice. The whole thing tasted awful and had to be composted. It put me off sour pickles for the rest of the summer. We actually went back to making some vinegar pickles that were fine, but still again slightly mushy.

So this year, I had the long winter to gain resolve and I decided to try again. We now have 3 gallon-sized jars of sours fermenting on the countertop. Maybe ready by this weekend. Here was my process:

Recipe for Sour Pickles

3 Tbs Salt (any non-iodized salt will do - we used coarse "Real Salt") per quart of filtered water (non-fluoride or chloride). Mix well until salt is dissolved. Cold water or room temperature is fine (I put my salt in a sealed jar and shook it vigorously to dissolve the salt. Others recommend dissolving the salt in boiling water and then cooling the mixture with ice). Note: Sandor says 3 Tbs/quart can come out tasting overly salty to some people. Maybe try 1.5 to 2? Alternately if your pickles turn out too salty, pour off most of the brine and add fresh water. The fresh water will draw some of the salt out of the pickles.

Dill tops or dill seed.
Garlic - whole cloves or coarse chopped.
Optional: Hot Peppers.

Use small or medium-sized cucumbers (big honkers will become hollow and are in danger of sliminess). Consistent-sized cukes are best because the smaller ones ferment quicker, so a mix of sizes will ferment unevenly (which is not the end of the world). Remove flowers and wipe off the spines. Soak in cold water just before using.

To Keep Crisp:
Some fresh grape leaves, or oak leaves, or horseradish leaves. A few leaves per gallon of cucumbers.

The Process:
Pack the fermenting vessel (anything from a half-gallon glass jar to a five-gallon ceramic crock or plastic bucket - DO NOT use metal containers as they may react with the pickling brine) with cucumbers, layering in spices and grape leaves. Pack the cukes as tightly as you can. Place the small ones on the bottom and save some big ones for the top to smother the little ones asd they try to float. When your vessel is packed, pour the brine over the packed cucumbers until they are capable of being completely submerged. Then put a plate on top of the cukes and a weight on top of that to submerge to cucumbers. With a pail, a dinner plate works fine. A good weight is a ziplock bag filled with brine (in case a leak develops). I usually put a clean dish towel on top of everything to keep dust and bugs from falling in. Store it on your countertop or other place where you won't forget it, and keep it out of extremes of temperature. The fermentation should begin in a couple days and your cukes should begin changing color. The outside should go from bright green to olive drab and the inside should go from white to translucent. The pickles should be ready in 5 to 10 days depending on temperature and preferred level of fermentation. Then they can be jarred and refrigerated. I think if you had a ceramic crock or wooden barrel and a cool root cellar, you might not need to refrigerate, but I would worry that they would continue to ferment until they were mushy (which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place).

Note: You might get some mold or scum on the surface. This can be distressing and cause you to want to throw out the entire batch. I know this from personal experience. Have no fear. Those kinds of scummy molds cannot grow in the interior of the brine. They are the result of the interface of the air with the surface. Skim the scum off. If your cukes were truly submerged, they should be fine. If they weren't, just throw out the top ones.


News from the Garden plus Likely Harvest for August 15th

Dry. Dry. Dry.

It has still been dry.

This is good for some things. The potatoes and tomatoes can die of blight in a matter of days during a cool wet spell. Right now, the toms and pots are holding steady. Likewise, mature onions can rot if it gets swampy in August. The onions are rock hard. Knock. Knock. I was noticing that there have been no recent flushes of weed germination, which is nice, because during our wet June it seemed like we constantly had new weeds to contend with.

The dry weather, paradoxically, seems to promote powdery mildew, a fungal disease. And we have it bad this year. It has infected the pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, and I have not even looked at the winter squash. We sprayed a preventative organic treatment on the zucchini and cucumbers, but the pumpkins were too extensive, and so our pumpkin patch looks whitish with fungus. This is not good. Hopefully the fruits were far enough along to mature without a healthy plant to connect to.

The dry might be affecting the sweet corn, which I will check this afternoon. Maybe next week we will start harvesting whatever the raccoons have left us.

Last Group of Apprentices for the Summer

This week we hosted Sadie, Eva, and Amal as the last group of the summer. It has been super easy to host them because they have all been coming out to the Land School for a very long time.  Amal has been coming since he was born. I remember him as an infant crawling through the green grass on a Memorial Day work day. Sadie and Eva have been coming for their entire LCS careers, but in the last two years they have stepped up their involvement. Last year, they helped with at least half of the harvests, and they started a "Land School Action Group" in the Junior High. This year they invented a new position of Counselor-In-Training for the E2 Farm Camp. Both Sadie and Eva have graduated, so this will be their last official Land School experiences. Of course, we expect them both to continue to visit and be involved as they invent new roles for LCS recent alumni. Thank you to Sadie and Eva!

A lot of green beans.
Mucho zucchini and cucumbers
Fat sweet onions and green-top scallions
New Red Potatoes
Kale and Chard
Gorgeous cut flowers
Lettuce mix
Basil (in pesto quantities) plus other herbs

There are a few maybes:
beets, carrots, kohlrabi, peppers, japanese eggplant. Tomatoes????

Okay. I really don't use recipes any more, except for baking. We are looking for someone or someones who can look at the likely harvest lists and scour their knowledge and cookbooks for good recipes. Then you send the recipes to Andy and they will be posted on the blog. Tested recipes are best, but if something "looks good" to you, that will work. Note: this will fulfill your work commitment for your working share.

In the meantime, look back at previous years blog posts, there are a lot of good recipes there. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Likely Harvest List for August 8th

Dang. I thought the green beans would be ready. There is one bean ready on each plant. And 20 tiny beans that will be ready next week. Wait.

There will be a few carrots. Limit 1 bunch per member while supplies last.

Lots of lettuce mix. A few heads.

Kale and other greens. Maybe Pigweed. We are running out of pigweed because everything is getting weeded. We might find some in the pumpkin patch. Maybe Chard.

Walla Walla Sweet Onions and Bunching Onions. Folks, these Walla Walla are something special. They don't keep, so we just get them in the summer.


New Red Potatoes -  Wow. These were soooooo good last week. Don't need to do much. Just cut em up and boil briefly and add butter, salt and chopped parsley.

Cucumbers. Zucchini. Yellow Squash. In abundance!!!!

Herbs: Basil bunches, Basil in "pesto bags," cilantro, dill, parsley, more. Ask if you want a specific herb for a recipe.

Cut flowers. Sunflowers this week?

Maybe Beets. 

Time to start eating

Insert tongue into cheek...

Okay, people.

Time to eat!
Zucchini! Cucumbers!

Many years ago we switched to a "market-style" produce distribution system. I was sad to see the pre-packed box go because it was an accurate representation of what we were able to grow each week. So if we had a lot of something, we put more in the box and our members just had to deal with it. Likewise when something was in short supply, we meted it out in small portions.

It was a challenge to use and eat all of the abundance. If you got 6 to 10 cucumbers in the box, then it was time to make some refrigerator pickles. Those big zucchini? Time to make lasagna using zucchini or saute it and freeze it for later.

It was an equal challenge to treasure the precious items that come in small quantities. How do you enjoy the first tomato when you get only one? Or what do you do with 3 ears of early corn?

So now when we have the market-style distribution, you might be tempted to treat us like the farmers market or grocery store. Just get what you need or know you will use. I SAY NO! We are NOT the farmers market! We are YOUR farm's market! When there is obvious abundance, it is incumbent upon you to try to make use of it. Participate in the fecundity of nature by eating more of it. This is how we eat with the seasons. Eat more zucchini. Make pickles. Give produce to your neighbors. Generosity is rewarded with generosity. And, when there is obvious scarcity, take a small portion and ask when and if there will be abundance.

To that end, if you have a recipe that helps you use up some of the produce, send it to us and we will post it here on the blog.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fall Crops Are Coming Along

It has been a good week for getting our fall crops taken care of.

Carrots: We have been hand-weeding the fall carrots and we have 4 out of 7 beds done. Over the hump.

Potatoes: The potatoes got water last week at a critical time. Our first harvest looked promising too. Might be a good year for potatoes.

Beets: Today we thinned the two remaining beet beds. They look great! More beets than ever!

Broccoli Family: This week we were able to cultivate the weedy pathways between the rows. The broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower all look good. Also Napa and Kohlrabi. Two successions are coming. The Brussels Sprouts are unlikely to make it in time before the freeze, unfortunately.

Turnips: We have some purple top and some golden that are both up and looking good, and today we seeded a whole bed of Hakurei (white Japanese salad turnips). Yum!

Radishes: Today we seeded a bunch of red radishes and two weeks ago we seeded a collection of three new radishes - black spanish, watermelon (red meat), and daikon. Today we thinned the new radishes. Can't wait.

Lettuce: We will keep seeding lettuce mix for three more weeks to give us a steady stream of baby lettuce until freeze. There are a few flats of bibb lettuce to be planted out next week for late September head lettuce harvest.

Spinach: Today we seeded our first attempt at fall spinach. If it germs well, we'll have big spinach mid September. We will plant more in two weeks.

Arugula: We had some hole-y arugula already earlier this year. The fall arugula is usually less eaten by flea beetles. Also tastes better after the freeze. We seeded some today, and will keep seeding until September 1st.

Onions!!!: We have not had onions this nice since 4 years ago. There are a lot of big ones out there. Also there will be scallions until hard freeze. Leeks too! Lots.

Squash: We hope it rains tomorrow, because our squash has been super-dry and far from the sprinklers. But at least it was weeded, so there will be some, and maybe lots.

The pumpkin patch is full of pumpkins. Some powdery mildew though.

Other goodies coming for the fall: dry beans, blue corn, popcorn, ornamental flint corn, mustard greens, raddichio, bok choy, and more.

The summer veggies are still coming along too: green beans are growing slow but are very productive, lots of basil too, tomatoes are slow but coming, peppers are coming along nicely, there will be eggplant, melons, and watermelons. We are in the thick of cucumbers and zuchhini. Flowers are good.