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This week’s Farm Fresh Links – July 18, 2012

Food Righteousness

Ouch! Grist turns the tables on our smug reactions to the report that ties bladder infections to factory farmed poultry – “Glad I eat homegrown birds!” was a common reaction I saw on Facebook, and one that I myself felt.  And I am still glad that I limit my family’s intake of factory farmed chicken to almost nothing, but I am taking this reminder to heart – let’s keep working to change the system, even if we have limited our own impact from the system.  Thanks, Grist!

http://grist.org/food/me-you-and-everything-we-eat-does-food-righteousness-hinder-systematic-change/

 

Recipe – Simple Cooked Salsa

This simple salsa recipe is scaled down to just make a bowl of salsa to eat, not for making gallons of salsa from bushels of tomatoes.  I found the recipe too salty, so wait until the salsa has cooked and thickened, then taste for salt.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/simple_cooked_tomato_salsa/

 

Essential Kitchen Tool – Knife Sharpener

This knife sharpener was a surprise winner in a Cook’s Illustrated product testing a few years ago.  I bought one after reading their review, and it has been one of the most useful items in my kitchen ever since.  I keep it in the knife drawer and swipe my knife through it a couple of times almost every time I use it.  Cheap, simple, durable – I wish every tool I own worked as well.  If you are in Texarkana, you can buy one at Dot’s Ace Hardware on Richmond Road.

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1277730#

 

Recipe – Melon Cooler

This one is on my “to try” short list – next week if the market is still swimming in cantaloupes, I am making this! I will let you know how it turns out.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Melon-Coolers-354505#

 

Gardening tips

Even though it is just now getting to the hottest months of the summer, now is the time to think about the fall garden.  Mother Earth News is always an inspiration.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/fall-garden-zm0z11zmat.aspx

 

Follow our Sunshine for Dinner – Farm Fresh Links board on Pinterest!

 

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Sunshine Tomato Salad recipe

Sunshine Tomato Salad recipe…

 

For a platter salad, use slicing tomatoes and cut very thin.  Lay in a single layer, and top with a drizzle of olive oil, salt to taste, finely minced garlic and fresh basil.  Serve either chilled or room temp.

For a layered salad in a pretty clear glass container, do the same but stack the tomatoes with each layer dressed with the seasonings.

To use cherry tomatoes, just cut each one in half and dress with the seasonings.  Serve as a side dish.

Leftovers (if there are any!) are wonderful on a sandwich.

If you lack fresh basil, just leave it out – the salad will still be delicious.  Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to replace with dried basil!

 

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On the menu this week: June 18, 2012

On the menu this week: June 18, 2012

Spring Onions

Sweet Corn

Hope Cantaloupe

Tomatillos

Tomatoes – Slicing and Cherry

Cilantro, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage

Green Bell Pepper and Jalapeno Pepper

Green Beans or Asian Long Beans

Farm fresh eggs

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

adapted  from Simply Recipes site – my favorite recipe site :)  

To cook the tomatillos, you can either roast them in the oven, or boil them. Roasting will deliver more flavor; boiling may be faster and use less energy. Either way works, though boiling is a more common way to cook the tomatillos.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 or 3 tomatillos
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • handful cilantro leaves
  • squeeze fresh lime juice
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 Jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

2a Roasting method Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

2b Boiling method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

2 Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.

Makes 1 – 1 ½ cups.

 

 

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On the menu this week: June 4, 2012

On the menu this week: June 4, 2012

Spring Onions

Lettuce (washed and ready to eat)

Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Blackberries! From Enoch’s Berry Farm www.berryfarm.com

Cucumber

Freshly dug potatoes ‘Yukon Gold’

Cilantro, Parsley, Rosemary

Spring Garlic

Farm fresh eggs

 

Blackberries :)

These are not the best blackberries I have ever picked – far from it. But I fought tooth and claw for these at Enoch’s Berry Farm, which is packed with u-pick customers this season. The berries are flying off the vines and I was lucky to get any at all. I almost gave up and went home, to tell the truth.

So these blackberries are more suited for cooking than for eating out of hand. Make them into jam or a cobbler, or put the bag into the freezer and enjoy them in smoothies.

Cobbler Topping
I make this topping and use it with different fruits to make quick and easy cobblers. I adapted this recipe from a fruit pie topping in the community cookbook that was sold to raise funds to build the Fouke Veterans Memorial Park. I love that kind of cookbook!

1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 stick butter, softened

Mix with a fork until crumbly, then pour over berries (fresh or frozen) in an 8×8 pan. Bake at 325F until bubbly and browned, maybe 30-35 minutes.
Enjoy!

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On the menu this week: May 28, 2012

Blackberries from Enoch's Berry Farm

Blackberries from Enoch’s Berry Farm

On the menu this week: May 28, 2012

Spring Onions

Lettuce (washed and ready to eat)

Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Blackberries! From Enoch’s Berry Farm www.berryfarm.com

Cucumber

Freshly dug potatoes ‘Yukon Gold’

Cilantro, Parsley, Rosemary

Spring Garlic

Farm fresh eggs

 

Baked Parmesan Zucchini

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then spray or paint with oil.

Slice zucchini long ways into thin slices. Place on cookie sheet and spray or paint with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.

Slide under the broiler until the cheese starts to brown.

Enjoy!

Georgiaberry

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Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Capturing the Wild Yeast

 

This is the time of year when I can look forward to baking again soon.  I don’t bake much in the summer because it makes the house too hot, and I am limited to an itty bitty outdoor toaster oven.  Not so good for fussing over bread loaves.  So the cooler weather encouraged me to get a sourdough starter going, to be ready for the bread baking season to come.

Every few years I experiment with making a starter from scratch – catching the wild yeast and making it grow.  I have had some successes and some failures, but this time I have a very active culture.  Here is how I did it.

making a sourdough starter from scratch

 

To make a sourdough mother, you need:

  • Clean glass or enamel bowl
  • Clean spoon
  • Clean distowel
  • 2 cups good quality white flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups good water (I use well water, but you could use distilled water or purified bottled water – you don’t want to use water that has been chlorinated, like what we call “city water.”  If you wouldn’t put it in your fishtank, don’t put it in your starter.)
  • a couple of cups more flour and water on hand to feed the starter for the first week

On Day 1, you will mix your 2 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups water in the bowl, with the spoon, and cover with the dishtowel.  Leave it out on the counter in the kitchen.  That is all.  Seems simple, but you have just laid a Cunning Trap for some wild yeast.  If there is any wild yeast floating around in your kitchen (and there probably is), it will begin to grow in your yeast trap, also known as your bread and water mixture.  It may take a couple of days to show itself, or you may get lucky, like I did this time, and you may get a yeast culture growing rapidly right away.  In the picture above, the “mother” (in sourdough circles we call it a “mother” and refer to it as a “her,” now that you are making your own, you can do the same) is only 12 hours old, but you can see the bubbling that indicates the yeast is growing, feeding and respiring.  Those bubbles are what make your bread rise.

On Day 2, you will feed “her” 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.  As shown above, this is a simple process of dump and stir.  You won’t get her perfectly smooth, just a few swipes with a clean spoon to incorporate the flour and water is good enough; the yeast will do the rest.  If you see a clear fluid on top of the mother when you check it, that is fine, just stir it back in when you feed her.  The fluid is alcohol which is a result of the metabolism of yeast (wine or beer, anyone?) and acts as a natural preservative for your starter and adds flavor to your bread.

On Day 3, do the same.  Keep on doing this until you have reached Day 7.  At this point, you should use or discard some of the starter, and refrigerate the mother in a glass container (I am using a mason jar).

**I decided to refrigerate my starter on Day 3, due to its very active nature and the fact that it was already getting very flavorful/sour.  Use your own judgement, these are guidelines, not rules!

IF you see any kind of mold or pinkish fluid on your starter – it is no good!  Throw it out at once!  The lovely trap of flour and water is desirable to many microorganisms, but the only one that we want to catch is the wild bread yeast.  You may unwittingly catch some other kind.  Just throw it out and try again with fresh and very clean bowl, spoon, and towel.

Wild Sourdough Starter Links

Here are some good resources for reading about making a starter from scratch, but I encourage you to go ahead and try it.  You can read and read about this kind of process, and look at various methods and ingredients, but in the end, you just have to try it for yourself.

My guidelines above are based on the instructions found at “Bread the Mary Jane Way.”  I love how her site expresses the joy of making an elemental baking substance out of thin air, as it were!

My first experience with setting a Cunning Trap for the wild yeast living in my house came from the encouragement found in my dear old battered King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  They have quite a bit of that book online and here is the part about the starter.

There are very detailed instructions and lots of pictures here on the Wild Yeast Blog.

Soon I will tell you what to do with that starter once you have made it…

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Yellow Tomato Salsa!

 

Revisiting the Memorial Day Green Tomato Salsa Recipe, as now we have some ripe tomatoes.  Granted, they are ‘Taxi,’ which is not my favorite tomato by a long shot, but still.  Ripe tomatoes.

So here is the recipe,

Fresh from the Garden Green Yellow Tomato Salsa

A Sunshine For Dinner original recipe!

 

Green Yellow tomatoes – a couple

Garlic – plenty

Cilantro – a bit

Fresh peppers (Jalapeño is ripe now and perfect!!!) – how spicy do you like it?

Red onion – a few tablespoons

Lemon or lime juice – a few tablespoons till it tastes bright

Salt – to taste

 

Run it all through the food processor until coarsely blended, or chop it up with a knife and mix it in a bowl. Enjoy!

 

Delicious!  The salsa does not look as pretty with the yellow tomatoes as it does with the green.  The taste is great, though.  A bit more sweetness due to the ripe tomato.  I can’t wait to keep trying this recipe with different varieties as the summer goes on – it will be different every time.  But what will I do for cilantro?  Mine is fading fast in this heat.  I bought some more seeds but they won’t be ready overnight. Maybe I will be able to find some at the farmer’s market.

 

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On the menu: May 30, 2011 plus Green Tomato Salsa recipe

Red Onions

Chard ‘Sunshine Mix’

Carrots

Blackberries!

Green Tomatoes

Cayenne and Hungarian Wax Pepper (hot)

Cilantro

Spring Garlic

Green Beans ‘Roma 2’

Herb Bouquet

Farm fresh eggs

 

Fresh from the Garden Green Tomato Salsa

A Sunshine For Dinner original recipe!

Perfect for a relaxed Memorial Day meal.

Green tomatoes – a couple

Garlic – plenty

Cilantro – a bit

Fresh peppers – how spicy do you like it?

Red onion – a few tablespoons

Lemon or lime juice – a few tablespoons till it tastes bright

Salt – to taste

 

Run it all through the food processor until coarsely blended, or chop it up with a knife and mix it in a bowl. Enjoy!

 

I think I put all you need in the bag – except the lemon or lime juice. What you really need here is an acid to balance the flavors, so if you need to, substitute some kind of light colored vinegar, no balsamic! The color will be very unappetizing!

 

Garlic: This is spring garlic – uncured, just freshly pulled from the soil. Very easy to peel, very delicious, and needs to be kept refrigerated. My garlic crop is not looking too good this year, but the taste of spring garlic makes up for the disappointment.

 

You could also make fried green tomatoes if the salsa is not for you!

 

 

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Making Peach Jam for the freezer

Pomona’s Universal Pectin is a lovely product that allows the making of jam or jelly with any amount (even NONE)  of any sweetener you like.  It is available in the Texarkana area at Granary Street health food store, 3425 New Boston Road
Texarkana, TX (903-831-5940), at least I bought some there a while back.

The jam that I made today had:

12 cups of mashed up peaches (plus juice of one lemon)

2 cups of sugar.

The quantity of fruit used the whole box of pectin – this is not a product like SureJell, where you use the whole box at one time – but you could have made three 4cup batches of jam or jelly with  one box of pectin.

For comparison, using low sugar SureJell, the recipe would have been:

12 cups peaches

9 cups sugar.

Just for fun, I looked up the recipe with regular, full sugar SureJell (brace yourself):

12 cups peaches

15 cups sugar.

Now, it is fun to knock sugar, and my jam does taste really fresh because the fruit flavor comes through, but let’s look for a minute at the function of sugar in “preserves” – our jams and jellies.  Sugar is a powerful antimicrobial agent in our canned goods, keeping deadly bacteria at bay.  These low sugar jams do not have enough sugar to act as a preservative.   In my opinion they are not suitable for hot pack canning.  That is why I am using this for freezer jam.  Furthermore, they may not have adequate acid for safe water bath canning.  Please refer to  your local county home economist or some “real” recipe, as in the packaging of your pectin, to insure safety.

These jams and jellies will not keep in the fridge for an eternity like your jar of smucker’s grape jelly, either.  They need to be eaten up within a week of thawing or opening the jar – no problem!  On toast, on biscuits, stirred into yogurt, warmed and poured over ice cream – you will find a way.

Another function of sugar in jellying and jamming is to hold color and brighten flavor.  Over time, low sugar preserves may darken.  This is natural and is not an indicator that they are unsafe, but if you show them to your grandma, who used 15 cups of sugar in her brilliant, bright jam, she probably won’t be too impressed by your dull orange peach jam.  That’s ok, we know why it isn’t technicolor.   And while jams with no sweetener are possible, adding  just a little does improve the flavor – for an all fruit jam, use apple juice concentrate as the sweetener.  In fact, we all think another cup of sugar would have intensified the flavor of our peach jam a little, so next time I will probably adjust the quantity.

peach freezer jam

peach freezer jam in bags

So, here is the jam.  My big revolutionary idea was to pack it for the freezer in pint size freezer bags instead of jars.  I run short on jars, and I plan to just squeeze it out of the bags into a clean jar to put in the fridge when I want to eat it.  The bags fit better in the freezer and I don’t have to worry about breakage.  I think it will work!

If anyone on my Sunshine for Dinner subscription wants a 1/2 bushel of peaches, call me, 870-653-3062.  I can bring it to you for $30.00.


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On the menu – June 7, 2010

a garden morning

a garden morning, last weekend

The first delivery of the season!  It feels good to be handing over bags of goodies again – everyone is smiling.

Fresh Garlic
Farm fresh eggs
Blackberries
Cucumber
Summer squash – straightneck yellow, green zucchini and ’Gold Rush’ zucchini
Bell Pepper
Peaches – cling type
Sweet Corn ‘G-90’
Rosemary and Thyme
Basil
Potatoes ‘Red La Sota”

This week we have a recipe from Jameson’s Orchard in Nashville, AR, where our peaches were grown.  I ate one of these muffins at the market on Saturday, and it was delicious!

Peach Muffins

3 c unbleached flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 c sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
4 eggs, well beaten, or substitute 1 c sourdough starter
1 c oil
1 t vanilla
Optional seasonings:  1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t almond extract, or 1/2 t cinnamon
2 1/2 c diced fresh peaches or WELL DRAINED canned peaches, diced

Mix the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle.  Gently stir in the egg, oil and seasoning.  Fold in the peaches.  Spoon 1/3 c batter into lined muffin pans, makes 24 muffins.  Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes. For peach bread, pour batter into two generously greased bread pans and bake for 1 hour at 350 F.

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