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Farm Box Day

Summer came to our house today with 80 degree weather and a box full of sunshine: yellow wax beans (which last summer were the star of my favorite Farm Box Veggie Enchiladas), golden summer squash, colorful kohlrabi, and jewel-toned rainbow chard. There’s a “toy” section in the farm box, with adorable cucumbers that are no more than 4 inches long, darling and sweet-tender carrots, and corn cobs no larger than the baby corn that Tom Hanks nibbled on in the movie Big.  Rosy beets with vibrant green toppers, a magenta Maui onion, crimson strawberries and vivid orange golden nugget oranges completed the invitation to summer.

My plan for the bounty? To make my first Summer Succotash of the season, with a combination of the yellow beans, squash, red onion, fresh corn and basil, perhaps a little orange zest and juice. I’ll serve that in my Family Farm Box Meals with an Herb Roasted Chicken, which could also accompany a Red Beet, Red Cabbage and Red Lentil Salad. I’ m planning a Cider Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Kohlrabi Mash and Wilted Greens and my favorite seasonal Summer Minestrone Soup, this week with an accomodation to make it gluten-free with rice-based rigatoni. My friends and I loved a Three Citrus Sangria last week that I made with my Glen Ivy Farms navel oranges. This week I’ll make it with golden nugget oranges. As I progress through my box of summer, I can’t wait to share recipes and ideas. If you have some amazing ways you are transforming your farm box, I would love to hear from you!

Strawberries and Maui Onions

What could the two of these possibly have in common, Maui onions and strawberries? It makes me think of the silly jokes my 6-year-old makes up, “Mom, why did the strawberry go out with the onion? So it could be stinky!” At which point, we are obliged to make a big show of laughing, which isn’t hard for me, because I do think she is quite amusing. But in the interest of food and farming, they say everything that grows together, goes together, and strawberries and Maui onions seem like a laughable match.

Last summer, when Bella and I visited Tanaka Farms for their strawberry tour, we found out just how well the two crops grow together. You see, Maui onions are planted with the strawberry plants to keep critters from eating the sweet fruit. The noxious smell of the onion naturally repels them, in place of using a chemical pesticide. Isn’t that brilliant? As it turns out, there are some very yummy ways to enjoy the two crops together.

Strawberry and Maui Onion Salsa

1 pint strawberries, diced

1 cup diced Maui onion

1 serrano chile, seeds and membranes removed, diced

1/4 cup fresh mint, stems removed, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Kosher salt and black pepper

Combine the strawberries, onions, chile, mint, olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium-sized bowl. Stir and adjust seasoning, if needed. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, and serve with grilled fish, chicken or pork.

Farm Box Day

School was out for spring break, and we missed our farm box! To my surprise, the crops have transitioned into spring, and we had gorgeous Maui onions and juicy strawberries. I’m going to write a separate post about the interesting way the two of those crops go together. I was also excited about a gorgeous head of purple cauliflower, the stately collard greens, and a head of cabbage that looked like it came from “Little Shop of Horrors.” I’m not sure if I should throw a Baja fish taco party or go on the Cabbage Soup Diet.

I cooked four Farm Box Family Meals, which included Red Curry Beef with Broccoli, Snap Peas and (of course), Cabbage, Ceaser Chicken with Red Leaf Lettuce Salad, Vegetable Soup with Italian Chicken Sausage and White Beans, and Farm Box Veggie Enchiladas. Did you know you can order these meals, cooked from your farm box, packaged to reheat and delivered to your door? It is a delicious, healthy and economical way to enjoy your farm-fresh produce. Check out my Services page for more information.

I’ll be posting new recipes by the end of the weekend, for now I’m going to tuck into a bowl of that vegetable soup.

Swiss Chard

I’m bringing a dish to a friend’s house, and with not much more than swiss chard, eggs and bread in my pantry, I put this savory bread pudding together. Sometimes humble beginnings beget greatness.

Swiss Chard Bread Pudding

Serves 8 to 12

Canola or olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

2 bunches Swiss chard, stems and ribs removed, cut into fine strips

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 eggs, beaten

3 cups half and half

1/2 cup goat cheese, softened

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5 cups crusty French or country bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 quart oblong baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and red pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, half and half, and cheeses to combine. Mix in the bread and stir until moistened. Stir in the cooked vegetables, then transfer to the baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until the top is set and the top is golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes, then serve.

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