Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CSA Week 11 and Life on the Farm

A bit of rain came, a few weeds grew and I enjoyed my company immensely the last few weeks. Now Sherry has returned to BC, and Izabell to New Brunswick and I realize that I have to buckle down a bit, do a bit of weeding and seeding and pick all those tomatoes by myself.
When in Niagara....

It has been so nice the last few evenings, with the temperature dropping down and finally a bit of relief from the scorching temperatures and the intense humidity.

My sweet boy Bandit cooling off

Indeed when I think back on this summer, I certainly will remember it as the driest I have experienced in the garden, and one of the hottest to work in.

In a nutshell, it has been a lot of hard work to keep things alive and growing. It certainly has been the talk of growers; the drought, the failures and the exhaustion.

In most cases I have succeeded, but not in all.  But there has been a lot of food, and there still is lots in the garden, although some fall crops have not done as well as they should have.

The ground has some nice moisture in it now from our recent rains, and I will be planting more lettuce mix, turnips, fall radishes with coloured flesh, arugula and mustards this week, and hopefully harvesting them in a month or so.

I really enjoyed having my CSA people out last week! Thanks to those of you who came out, and thanks to those of you who responded to my invite. It was great to show people the gardens, and what I have been working on since-wow- as early as January, when I seeded some of the ultra hot peppers. What a great group of people, and I really enjoyed chatting with you.

Percy has the crowd under control

Today's baskets included: tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, onions, garlic, beans of some sort-either fresh or shelling, carrots, radishes, ground cherries, NZ spinach, zucchini or summer squash and a whole bunch of herbs. Rosemary, thyme, basil, broadleaf thyme, mint (mojito), parsley. There might be something else I can't think of right now.

Yes, my friends...the tomatoes will keep on coming for the foreseeable future and it appears most of you are good with that, some of you even picking up extra ones at my CSA night here.

On the weekend, I made freezer salsa with some of my tomatoes. You can find the recipe I used here, but I did modify it to exclude the sugar and coriander, and I used the apple cider version. It is superb, but mine was very hot, and I had the unfortunate experience of splashing some in my eye while I was stirring it while it simmered. Advisable not to do this.

Or try this, from Smitten Kitchen
Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons

3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 cups bread from a French boule, in a 1/2-inch dice, crusts removed 
2 1/2 pounds  whatever good tomatoes you’ve got, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or vegan alternative
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir so that they are evenly coated with oil. Cook cubes, tossing frequently, until toasty on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are toasted, add the tomato mixture and cook them together, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm with a big green salad, a bean salad and/or a poached egg from a happy chicken.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Guest Post -- Week 2 -- Epic Reunion

Well, it is week two of a reunion of three old friends.  East and west meeting in the centre (pretty much).  We have spent the last 10 days or so laughing, talking, catching up on things that have happened in our lives.  It's been 38 years since we have been together in the same room, so some of the details might have been left out.  We have also been picking vegetables, weeding and gaining some insight into what life is like on a farm.  It's a lot of hard work.  Especially when the summer has been as dry as this year summer has been.

The best part of these two weeks of reuniting - besides just hanging out with dear friends - is the experience of eating what we pick.  Fresh greens, fresh tomatoes (of course), beets, peppers, onions - you name it, we're pretty much eating it.  For me, a meat-eater, eating "vegan" has been a new experience.  And surprisingly, a very nice experience and one I hope to incorporate into part of my meal routine when I get back home.

Linda has a number of CSA customers and part of what we have done this week and last, is help her  prepare the CSA baskets.  This week's bounty included: tomatoes, hot & sweet peppers, edamame beans, carrots/okra, Malabar & New Zealand spinach, garlic, summer squash, radishes, basil, parsley, sage, celery and ground cherries.  A veritable feast for the taste buds.

Last evening she hosted a garden tour for her customers. The long-awaited rain came and went.  (It wasn't nearly enough.)  The sun came out and we were treated to a sunny, lovely evening.  Afterwards, we gathered to chat and snack on dips and crackers.

Below are three of my recipes, two from last evening and one, a family favourite, which also happens to be a Hungarian recipe.

Basil Lemonade                                    

1/2 cup rinsed, lightly packed fresh basil
3 TBSP sugar
4 cups water
Juice of one lemon
Lemon slices

Combine basil and sugar in a small dish.  With a wooden spoon, crush the leaves with the sugar until "bruised" or pasty.
Mix lemon juice and water in a pitcher, add the basil-sugar mixture.  Stir well.  Let sit to fully infuse. Pour through a strainer into glass or another pitcher.
You may wish to add lemon slices to the pitcher or glasses while serving.  Serve chilled.


This is a tried and true family favourite in our house and I am sure in the houses of many Hungarian families.  It is versatile as you na service it over rice, mashed potatoes, or mixed with eggs as part of a breakfast meal.  You can service it without meat, with bacon or with tofu as we have been having this week.  (A spicy, firm tofu works best if that is the route you choose.)

Tomatoes, sliced / diced (which ever is easiest)
Sweet peppers (pale yellow ones works best)  sliced length-wise, seeds removed
Onions, sliced lengthwise
Hungarian paprika (Sweet, smoked or hot - whichever you prefer)
1 TBSP Olive Oil

Saute the onions in oil.  Throw in the tomatoes and peppers, saute until slightly softened.

That's it.

If you choose it for  breakfast meal, you can break and egg or two into it just before it is done.

Beet Hummus

2 cups of cooked chickpeas, drained
1 cup of cooked, diced beets (white), drained
lime juice & lemon juice (about 1/4 cup of each)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dijon mustard (or honey mustard
2 tsp tahini (or to taste)
sea salt & pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a blender and process until the texture is smooth.

This hummus has only a mild beet flavour and was well-received by those who tried it.

** This recipe was modified because we didn't have all the ingredients the recipe called for, so you'll want to season to your own taste.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Quick Tomato Basil Pasta

While your organic pasta is boiling, whip several cups of tomatoes with four garlic cloves, fresh basil, cayenne, salt & pepper in a high powered blender until mixed but still chunky. Taste to ensure the right balance. Pour into a sauce pan and heat to encourage thickening. Add tin of drained organic cannellini or garbanzo beans. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt & pepper. Coat with sauce. Grate fresh parmigiana or nutritional yeast and enjoy! (I think this took me 20 minutes from start to finish!!) Side salad and some bruschetta completed this meal. 

Guest post:Roasted Broccoli & Cheese Quinoa Salad

Thanks to Trish who is in my CSA for the following recipe.

 Organic broccoli, washed and rough cut
Avocado oil
Himalayan salt
Fresh black pepper

Lightly drizzle broccoli with oil and toss with salt & pepper. Roast at 325 until still slightly crisp. Cool. 

1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 vegan stock cube

Boil covered until cooked. Cool and add broccoli. Chop 2-3 mild green onions and add them. 

Cashew cheese sauce:

Soak raw cashews (about 1/2 cup) in fresh water for a minimum of 4 hours, drain*
Nutritional yeast (about 1/2 cup but be generous as this makes the cheesy flavour)
Fresh lemon juice (1 tblsp)
Garlic cloves (2-3) 
Himalayan salt to taste
Cayenne (6 shakes) 
Turmeric (5 shakes)

Mix cheese ingredients in a high powered blender with a little water until smooth. Taste and adjust accordingly.  Pour enough over broccoli & quinoa to coat. Make final taste adjustments, chill and enjoy! 

*Soaking the cashews makes a smoother sauce but I've also whipped up this quick salad without soaking and loved every mouthful.