Jun 192013
 

Mark and Suzi Lilly

This past winter has been challenging for Farm to Family because of an escalation of a heart condition that Suzi had that required surgery and hospitalization. We are very grateful for the wonderful health care that Suzi received from the caregivers and doctors at the Fan Free Clinic and the Access Now program which helped her get the medical care she needed despite lack of health insurance.  Access Now, a non-profit program of the Richmond Academy of Medicine, serves the Richmond, Virginia community by providing access to specialty medical care for the uninsured.  Please read Suzi’s story in the Spring 2013 issue of Access Now’s Patient’s Navigator newsletter. She is feeling MUCH better now!

 

Feb 132013
 

Here’s Suzi Lilly, Farm to Family Wife, on Virginia This Morning on CBS 6 talking winter veggies with Greg McQuade.  Chef Tammy Brawley of The Green Kitchen follows up with a cooking demo for super fresh, easy, FAST recipes for Sweet Potato Gnocchi with sage brown butter, and braised kale and creasy greens. Sweet potatoes and squash are loaded with fiber, vitamins A, C and iron, and gives you glowing skin (is especially good for babies, kids, pregnant/nursing moms and women in general), and creasy greens is good for what ails you in the winter time – has twice the vitamin C as oranges, iron, minerals and chlorophyl, which oxygenates your body.  Are you hungry yet?

Feb 172011
 

Frequently people visit the Farm to Family Market or the Farm Bus and are curious what those crazy looking greens are! They are creasy greens, an old-time staple southern food in the mustard family which used to be foraged wild, but are now cultivated. Old-time country folks get really excited when they see them and buy them up by the trash bag full!  They thrive in colder weather, and are hardy in the snow, and are often the only fresh green thing growing in Virginia snow-covered winter fields. Eating local in January and February can be challenging, but try adding creasies to your shopping or foraging list.

Creasies are nature’s answer to our winter need for vitamin C. Wild foods forager, Euell Gibbons, reported in his book Stalking the Healthful Herbs,  “100 grams of winter cress contain an impressive 5,067 I.U. of v Vitamin A and 152 milligrams of vitamin C! By comparison, the same weight of raw broccoli spears rates only 2,500 I.U. of vitamin A . . . and oranges (which of course are universally acknowledged as a good source of vitamin C) provide a comparatively measly 50 milligrams of C per 100 grams! ” That’s a pretty hefty punch. I find myself craving them, and many people also say the same thing, “Gotta get me some creasies!” Creasies remind me a lot of watercress for their dark green peppery flavor, which my mom used to take us foraging for, only these grow in sandy soil, not in the wetlands.

We get our creasy greens from Hanover County, VA.  Sam, our greens farmer, has been farming for a long time, as has most of his family, and his face is brown from the sun and wind. He’s a man of few words, but has a big smile and laughs a lot. In the summer, Sam has the prettiest okra, and delicious sweet potatoes in the fall. He grows greens for us in the wintertime, hardy creasies, kale and collards. Unfortunately the kale and collards have been burned and stunted by the frigid cold wind this year, but the hardier creasies have survived. Sam is confident that once the weather mellows, we’ll have another round of the collards and kale before Virginia’s heat hits. I enjoy visiting with Sam when he comes by, and I feel his pleasant energy goes straight into the food he grows, giving it a special nourishment.

Nibbled raw, creasy greens have a spicy, peppery flavor, similar to watercress or arugula. When cooked, that peppery flavor dissipates. To prep, rinse them thoroughly before using, to get all the sand out, carefully separate the intertwined plants, and trim off the larger stalks. Depending on how you are going to use them, and if you like stalks, you can use them whole, or strip off the leaves. I usually trim off the larger stems, and either give them to the chickens or see if the dogs want to eat them. Chickens in particular really love anything green, and go crazy over them this time of year.

They can be chopped up and used raw as garnish, or in fresh salads, as many of the farm to table restaurants we work with in the Richmond area serve them. Their peppery goodness works especially well with eggs, and make an excellent addition to quiche, egg salads and deviled eggs. You can add them to sandwiches, like you would watercress. Or my favorite, is braised greens, recipe below.

The Maytag is a key kitchen gadget here in the South.
Take your greens for a spin on the gentle cycle!

You can  cook them slowly, southern-salad-style, with side meat for flavor, as you would collards (the Southern use of the word “salad” for something cooked still confuses me.) Tim Vidra, who writes the RVA blog, E.A.T. has a great post and recipe on how to cook them this style. He includes a handy hint on how to get all the sand off the greens – take them for a spin in the washing machine!  These southerners love to use their washing machines to cook with. The old wringer washer in our market used to belong to one of our Mennonite farmers, who made butter in it!

If you are interested in growing creasy greens, you can get seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Here’s the greens recipe I like to make. Modify it according to your dish, ingredients handy and your mood.

EASY BRAISED CREASY GREENS

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil or meat drippings (bacon, sausage, steak etc)
2 bunches fresh greens, about 8 cups, washed, de-spined and coarsely chopped. You can also sub kale, collards, mustard or turnip greens, or a mixture of winter greens.
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped and/or 1 Tbs ginger, julienned
1/8 cup water or vegetable or chicken broth or stock
Sea salt and coarse grind pepper

Optional seasonings: add a shake of Sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, tamari, Braggs Liquid Aminos, Chinese 5 spice, or cayenne pepper

Optional toppings: toasted sesame seeds, chopped almonds or walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds

  1. Heat oil or drippings in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add greens and garlic/ginger, stirring to coat with oil.
  2. Stir occasionally until greens are barely wilted and still have a green color, just a few minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth or water and stir, allowing greens to steam until barely tender. Salt to taste.
  4. Add seasonings and toppings as desired and serve.

Serves 4.

Enjoy!

Sep 252010
 

Here’s a special guest blog post, by Suzi’s Mom, Marty Miles. Mom helps out on the blog when Suzi is buried under some sort of vegetable, its pumpkins this week.  Marty lives in Northern NY, on the Canadian border half the year, and the other half of the year just outside of Ashland, VA, near Richmond.

Fall is here at the Lake, the leaves are turning color and some places here in the North Country have already had their first frost. Everyone with a garden is scurrying around picking everything that the frost would damage. They are canning, pickling and freezing as much as they can for the winter.

I had lunch with a friend this week. Their beautiful new home is built on the forty acres where Rick’s family has farmed for several generations. I parked out beside the house and came in through their garage, which was full of tomatoes spread out to ripen. They had winter squash of many varieties and a huge pail of acorns saved for the wild turkeys this winter.

We took a tour of their gardens and I was amazed at how many gardens they had and the diversity of the vegetables and fruit that they raise. The field out by the road still had a lot of pumpkins waiting to be picked. I saw sunflowers nodding their heads and some corn that hadn’t been cut. The wild geese or turkeys will enjoy that. There were several apple trees just loaded with apples…some will be preserved for the winter, but there will be some for the deer, too.

I saw a patch of rhubarb, a field of strawberries and Beth mentioned the many quarts raspberries that they picked. I saw a raised bed of lettuce and Beth told me that they keep it mulched and covered from the weather and they will have it well into the winter. They did the same with their carrots, which are quite hearty and will stand a lot of cold weather.

All of their gardens are fenced, which I assume is to keep out the rabbits and deer. There were grape vines growing on many of the fences and Beth told a wonderful story about the wild turkeys jumping to reach the grapes. Some were able to fly up and balance on the wire to feast on them. I wish I had taken my camera, so you could see what a wonderful place they have. I got to take home a bag filled with winter squash, which just happens to be my favorite fall vegetable.

I can remember visiting Suzi’s Auntie Mae Otis on the farm. They always had a huge garden. Mae’s mother-in-law, Elsie Otis, and two of her elderly maiden daughters, Alice and Agnes, lived on the farm as well. All of them were outstanding cooks and there was always some sort of baked goods to be enjoyed when we visited. I have lots of recipes in my cookbook from the Otis’…Date Roll Cookies, Whoopie Pies, (Oh, those Whoopie Pies! They were over two inches thick and were sooo good.), and Alice’s End of the Garden Pickles, which brings me to the Otis recipe for today. These pickles use ten different vegetables from the last of the garden and are some of the best and most colorful pickles you’ll ever eat.

Alice’s End of the Garden Pickles

1. Salt the following vegetables and soak overnight in ½ cup salt and 2 quarts of water.

1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped green tomatoes
1 cup chopped cauliflower

2. Drain well.

3. Cover with water and cook together until tender crisp (Watch them carefully so that they don’t overcook. They are going to be cooked some more later on.)

1 cup sliced cucumbers
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup cut green beans

4. Drain

5. Mix all of the vegetables together.

6. Add:

2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 tablespoons turmeric powder
2 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar

7. Simmer 10 minutes; pack in sterilized pint jars and seal.

********

Last week I made some borscht for my granddaughter who has been begging for it. This recipe uses some more of those end-of-the-garden vegetables we have been talking about.

 Borscht comes from Eastern European countries where potatoes, cabbage and beets are staples of their diet. Cold borscht is made from young beets chopped, and boiled with their greens. The mixture is cooled and mixed with sour cream, soured milk or yoghurt. Raw chopped radishes and cucumbers are added and it is served chilled with dill or parsley. Sometimes they added hard-boiled chopped eggs. There are many different ways to make hot borscht. Some start with a rich meat base, while others are just made with vegetables. What goes into your borscht depends on the country of origin and what you like.

I found it interesting that in some areas borscht is known as a sour soup. Sometimes it is made from fermented wheat bran and other times it is left to sit several days until it naturally sours. Today we ‘sour’ our soup with the addition of vinegar or lemon juice.

I don’t know the country of origin of this recipe and, although it does call for the juice of a lemon, it is not a sour soup. All I know is that it is easy to make and is wonderfully delicious with a dollop of sour cream on top. This recipe comes from Muriel Blaisdell, a friend who is now teaching at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Borscht

Sauté:

4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic
¼ head of cabbage chopped

Add:

2 large beets, peeled and cubed in ½ inch cubes
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed in ½ inch cubes
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 green pepper, in ½ inch pieces
4-5 cans of beef broth
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper

Cook until vegetables are tender.

Serve with sour cream and yogurt and crusty bread.

********

I can’t wait for the fresh cabbage from the garden. A cabbage salad or coleslaw made from new cabbage tastes so much better than those made from the cabbage in the grocery store at other times of the year. I have at least four or five different recipes for salad made from cabbage. This fall I found a new one in a Pillsbury Great Grilling cookbook…you know the ones that they have at the checkout in the grocery stores. Actually I was looking for different recipes for cooking fresh vegetables on the grill when I found this recipe for Asian Cabbage Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing.

You may know of the Asian Cabbage Salad made with toasted Sesame seeds and slivered almonds. You crumble up some chicken flavored Ramen noodles in the salad and use the flavor packet in the dressing. It makes a delicious crunchy salad and if you have never tried it, you can find the recipe online. This salad is very similar, but it has peanuts to go with the Ramen noodles and uses peanut butter in the dressing.

After I made the salad and whipped the dressing together, I looked at the dressing and thought to myself, “This was a big mistake.” But I had gone that far and I put it together. It was wonderful and my family loved it. Here it is for you to try. (note from Suzi: I reminded Mom that ramen noodles are processed food, and we hemmed and hawed, and we decided that since MOST of this salad is fresh, this can be considered a transitional food for those who are making the move to fresh and local. And yes, it is delicious.)

Asian Cabbage Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing

Dressing:

¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup oil
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon tamari sauce (like San-J wheat free)
Seasoning packet from the Ramen noodles

Salad:

1 (3-oz.) pkg. chicken or oriental-flavor Ramen noodle soup mix (Suzi prefers the Koyo brand, no msg and less sodium = healthier ramen once in a while, but we are still not advocating living on processed food)
2 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cups shredded red cabbage (I didn’t have red cabbage and used all green, but it would look prettier with both)
1 cup shredded carrot
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
⅓ cup sliced green onions
½ cup chopped peanuts (I got my peanuts home and discovered I had honey roasted, so that’s what I put in. I doubt that it matters.)

  1. In medium bowl, combine all dressing ingredients including contents of seasoning packet from soup mix; beat well with wire whisk.
  2. Place noodles from soup mix in small bowl; break into small pieces.
  3. Put the cabbage, carrot, cilantro and onions in a large salad bowl and mix well. Add the dressing and toss well. Just before serving, fold in the dry noodles. Sprinkle the peanuts on top.
  4. You might like to add some garlic and ginger, and something hot—red pepper flakes, Tabasco, or chilies-for zing, and a little honey or maple syrup for just a touch of sweet in place of the sugar. You can also add some grilled sliced chicken breast to make the salad into a main dish.

I hope you enjoy these end of the garden recipes.

Love, Mom.

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