Jul 302010
 

Here’s a special guest blog post, by Suzi’s Mom, Marty Miles. 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.

Dear Suzi,

Back in my other life, between raising a family and retiring, I listened to a lot of folk music. One of my favorite records was Middle Age Middle Class Mama Songs by Mary Lu Walker. One of my favorite songs on this record was Zucchini!(listen here!!)

Having had a garden all my life, I could truly appreciate her thoughts on this prolific vegetable.

In the spring of the year when all danger of frost
Is gone from my gardening plot,
I planted ten seeds, just two to a hill
And now this is what I have got-
Zucchini! Zucchini!
A versatile vegetable dream.
An Italian delight that grows in the night, 
Tender and juicy and green
Farm Journal, Sept 1966

So what can one do with this multiplicity of squashness? Actually you can do a lot. Choose squash that are fresh from the garden and no longer than eight inches. Once of our family’s favorite recipes came from the Farm Journal magazine a long time ago. This magazine came every month, full of tips and stores for the farmer, but in every issue there was a section for the farmer’s wife,including a page or two of recipes that I looked forward to with great anticipation. I have never tried a Farm Journal recipe that wasn’t a success. In later years I purchased almost every cookbook that they published, including the Let’s Start to Cook Cookbook I got for you. (These cookbooks are available on Amazon, Ebay and vintage booksellers, as well as flea markets and yard sales. Grab them if you see them! -sml)

Squash and Vegetable Saute

3 TBS butter
3 cups sliced zucchini, yellow summer squash or a combination
3 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 cup chopped green or red pepper
1 1/2  tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1 Tbs vinegar

  • Melt butter in skillet (I use my Dutch oven.) Add squash and cabbage. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Uncover; add green or red pepper. Cook over low heat, turning occasionally with a spatula, until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in seasonings, herbs and vinegar. Adjust to taste. We like a little more vinegar than this recipe calls for. Makes 6 servings.

This miracle squash grows twelve inches a day,
Multiplies geometrically.
Ten little seeds are all that you need
To feed five hundred and three.

Zucchini! Zucchini!
From nature’s own Xerox machine,
An Italian delight that grows in the night,
Tender and juicy and green.

So you search every day and you’re sure that you’ve found
Every zucchini in sight.
Next morning you’ll find ten or twelve on the vine
That sneakily grew in the night.

And no matter how hard you search, you always miss one. When you find it, it’s at least twelve inches long and what could you possibly do with it besides throw it in the compost? I had this conversation with a friend of mine and she gave me this recipe:

Ellie’s Stuffed Zucchini

You’ll need a squash that will fit in the largest baking pan you have, turkey roasting pan or broiler pan. I have used longer squash and cute them in half so they would fit, but it’s harder to scoop out the middle and stuff them.

  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Put it in the pan, cut side up,with a little water and boil until the center of the squash is soft.
  • Let it cool a little so you can handle it. Scoop out the center, leaving just the skin and about 1/2 inch of squash so the skin maintains its shape. Be careful you don’t break the skin.

Cook to a paste:

  • The squash that you scooped out of the shell.
  • a quart of tomatoes, either fresh or canned.
  • A cup of fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped. Or use a can of mushrooms, drained.
  • Chopped onion.
  • Chopped garlic
  • The recipe calls for celery salt, but it would probably be better with some finely chopped celery.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • It takes forever to cook to a paste, so you can add some crumbled crackers or dry breadcrumbs to help thicken.
  • Stuff the filling back into the shell.
  • Put bacon strips on top.
  • Bake on a cookie sheet, or in roaster or broiler pan. Just be sure the pan has sides.
  • Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.
  • I have a note on my recipe that says it warms up beautifully.
Zucchini for breakfast, zucchini for lunch
Zucchini for snacks in between.
I have cooked it for days in thousands of ways
In dishes unheard of or dreamed.
Boiled or scalloped, French fried or stuffed
It’s turning my fingernails green!

And last…Zucchini Bread. Sorry, my recipe must be in Virginia. Maybe one of you will send your recipe to Suzi to post. I just have to tell you about the first time i ever had Zucchini Bread. Our chapter of Adirondack Mountain Club hiked in to John’s Brook Lodge, in Keene Valley, NY for a weekend mountain climb. John’s Brook Lodge has two rooms, the kitchen and dining room on the right and the bunk room with 6 or 8 bunks on the left. the kitchen has one of those wonderful old cast iron cook toves, where we cooked blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We were preparing dinner the first night, when my friend Jane pulled Zucchini Bread out of her pack. It was round, cooked in a Bundt pan with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Mmmm! It was so delicious that we couldn’t stop eating it. But imagine! Carrying Zucchini bread in your pack all two miles into camp!
Later that night came great shrieks and screams from your bunk. The mice were out playing and one had run across your face! (and everyone made fun of me forever )-: sml.)

I think that was the trip where all the kids went wading in John’s Brook, and one fell in. Was that you Suzi? or Crystal?

Zucchini! Zucchini!
If I see another I’ll scream.
An Italian delight that grows in the night,
Tender and juicy and green.

I’m sure you’ll find lots of other ways to enjoy your zucchini, and other summer squash. We enjoy it sliced and fried in butter. And don’t forget to put some in your ratatouille. One summer we had a surfeit of zucchini and tomatoes, so I cooked up a canner full of tomatoes, zucchini, onions, celery and Italian herbs. I canned many pints of it and they made wonderful gifts to friends and family.

Love,
Mom

 

Jul 172010
 

I love mushrooms. I have loved them ever since I was a girl reading fairy tales and learned that mushrooms had magical abilities. There is something secret and mysterious about them that appeals to me.. Early on I learned to enjoy them as food. My mother took classes on foraging wild mushrooms, and used to take us on mushrooms walks in the woods where I had visions of Hansel and Gretel and Snow White and the Dwarves hiding behind trees.

As a licensed massage therapist and during my time working in the health and wellness department at Ellwood Thompsons Local Market here in Richmond, I had the opportunity to learn from experts about the amazing healing benefits of mushrooms.The more I learn about mushrooms, the more enthralled I am with them, and the more I know that they really DO have magical abilities.

Scientist and researcher Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, calls them myco-medicinals. Stamets probably knows more about mushrooms than anyone. He believes that they can save the world(in no less than six ways which he explains in a brilliant Ted.com video. According to Stamets,  mushrooms are closer relatives to humans than plants, and have an inherent intelligence within them. I believe it. Mushrooms contain some of the most potent medicine found in nature, and recent scientific studies confirm what ancient shamans and medicine men have known forever. The medicine is both in the fruit body, the part that we eat, and in the mycelium, the tiny threadlike network of cells that lies under the fruit body.

They are being used to treat cancer, HIV and AIDs, fight smallpox, detox livers, inhibit diabetes, arthritis and inflammation, ease anxiety, and boost our immunity. They are anti-viral, ant-oxidative, anti fatiguing, anti-fibrotic, anti microbial and can help reduce the negative effects of chemo and radioactive treatments. Nutritionally, mushrooms contain protein, are low in calories, and pack a punch of B-complex vitamins and essential minerals like selenium, copper and potassium.

Stamets also works with the United States Department of Interior to clean up oil spills using oyster mushrooms, and is currently working on the BP Gulf spill (he also worked on the Exxon Valdez clean up.)  His statement on the situation, and what he proposes we do to deal with future spills is the most realistic and positive thing I’ve read about the whole disaster. He has patents to control termites, fire ants and other destructive insects using fungi. He invented packaging for his mushroom health supplements called a Life Box, which infuses the box with spores and seeds, which when planted, will grow trees!

Mushrooms, seemingly pricey by the pound, are really a bargain, when you take into consideration all of the above. A portion weighs only a few ounces and a couple handfuls will put you back a few bucks. I happily stuff my face with them every chance I get. I tell myself that I am healing me in every possible way. Better to dine on delicious mushrooms today, than be sick tomorrow, eh?

A few months ago we got our first oyster mushrooms from Dave and Dee’s Homegrown Mushrooms in Sedley, Va. I was in awe of them. They were so beautiful I took about 100 pictures of them. I posted on Facebook that we had them on the veggie bus, and people literally came flying by moments later. They are called oysters because they resemble an oyster shell. They are velvety, with a robust sweet flavor. We have the oysters from time to time, and this week we have both oysters, and shiitakes, which are also incredibly good for you in many ways and also good for the environment.

Select fresh, firm, well-shaped mushrooms that are free of spots, mold and slime. Refrigerate unwashed mushrooms in their original pack or in a paper bag, don’t use plastic. Use them right away for maximum excitement and flavor, but most varieties will keep up to a week. Clean them with a damp cloth or soft brush, or quickly rinse in cold water and pat dry. They do not have to be peeled.

Mushrooms can be prepared in many ways, but it is important to cook them, as that releases the healing power in them. Raw mushrooms will not be digested, and just pass through our bodies so we don’t get any nutrition or health benefits from them.

Sautéing mushrooms are one of my favorite ways to cook them, fast and easy. I like to use this Asian style recipe below as the mushrooms become almost crispy in texture and it really showcases the flavor of them mushrooms themselves instead of any sort of sauce they might be part of.

Sautéed Oyster Mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 pound small oyster mushrooms (any large ones cut into 1-inch pieces), stems trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons coconut or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt until golden, about 8 minutes. Add vinegar and sauté until evaporated, about 1 minute. Season with salt, then transfer to a plate to cool. Serve at room temperature. These can be made ahead of time, and kept room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Roast mushrooms with Vegetables, by Dave and Dee

This recipe is one of Dave and Dee’s favorites. Easy and delicious, this recipe makes a perfect meal in itself.

Ingredients:

5-10 small, low starch potatoes such as Yukon Gold
3 raw beets
3-4 carrots
1 lb. Dave and Dee’s Oyster Mushrooms
2-3 small yellow squash or zucchini
1-2 medium onions
Olive Oil
Cracked Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Wash and peel carrots, beets, and onions and cut into bite-sized pieces (a large dice). Wash and dice potatoes and squash/zucchini as well, and toss all vegetables together in a large bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and toss again until well-coated.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Tear the oyster mushrooms off the root and toss them lightly in with the rest of the vegetables until coated with oil.
  • Lay the vegetables in a single layer on a cookie sheet (you may need two cookie sheets to ensure your vegetables aren’t piled on top of each other).
  • Cook in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until vegetables are tender and starting to caramelize. IMPORTANT: Turn the vegetables every 15 minutes and re-salt as needed during cooking.

Shiitake Mushroom Pate with Truffle Oil

I  love mushroom pate, and make this during the holidays or when I want to impress my friends. This is easy to veganize, substituting vegan spread for the butter. I like to use the gorgeous cultured butter from grass fed cows we have here in the market from Mountain View Farms. It’s a delicious and decadent way to get those omega 3 essential fatty acids!

This takes about 50 minutes to make and needs at least 2 hours in the refrigerator for the flavors to fully come together (or overnight). It will keep well for a few days refrigerated.

Ingredients

1 lb. Shiitake mushrooms (also try with Portobello or porcini)
1/2 an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
½ c stick of butter
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 Bay leaves
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp oregano
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc works very well)
Salt to taste (start with 1 and a quarter teaspoons; keep tasting)
Freshly-ground pepper to taste (I like to put in LOTS)
1 tsp white or black truffle oil

  • If you are using the porcini, boil exactly 1 cup of water, and soak the dried porcinis in it for at least 20 minutes
  • Brush the mushrooms (do not rinse them in water). Remove the stems, cut off the end where they’re attached to the ground and chop them in small pieces with the. You can use a food processor if you want, but make sure the pieces don’t get too small.
  • Cook them covered in a skillet with the herbs, the drained porcini (keep the water they soaked in) and the chopped garlic for 30 minutes on a low flame. Every now and then lift the cover and add some of the wine and some of the porcini water. The liquids should be all used up before the 30 minutes are up.
  • After 30 minutes of simmering, remove the lid. If still too wet, let the moisture evaporate: It should look like a thick sauce, not watery at the bottom. Don’t burn it. Turn the burner off and remove the bay leaves.
  • If you like a finer consistency, chop it finer with an immersion blender or in the food processor before adding the butter.
  • Melt butter. I prefer not to use microwaves in cooking, as it changes the molecular structure of food, and renders it void of nutrition. The butter should not cook, just melt. Add it to the pate and stir it in vigorously.
  • Add truffle oil if you want repeat invitations to the dinner you’re taking it to. Truffle flavor does not like high-temperatures, so add it always at the end for maximum flavor.

Place the pate in a bowl and refrigerate it before serving at least 2 hours, the flavors will meld and concentrate.

Enjoy!

Jul 082010
 

I was very excited when we got the Pablano Chilies in last week. They are one of my favorite peppers, slightly smoky, rich and mild to medium hot. You can actually taste the flavor nuances of the pepper, instead of just having the HHHHHOT! sensation you get with other peppers.

When we were young, my dad always planted a whole bunch of different kinds of hot peppers, and he encouraged us to EAT THEM!!! until tears rolled down our faces. Since then, I am a lover of hot sauce and all things hot and spicy, although I save the scotch bonnets and Vindaloo for my brother, John. He carries on Dad’s pepper loving tradition, growing the hottest peppers he can, and canning delicious salsa every summer.

When Pablano Chilies are dried, they are called ancho chilies, which means wide pepper in Spanish. When they dry, they become wide and heart shaped

This recipe is really easy, and you can modify it to fit what you find in your local market, and to your personal eating style. It’s easy to veganize. You could use any type of pepper you prefer, but I like Pablanos, because they are spacious and easy to stuff. Any type of soft cheese, or non-dairy cheese works. I’ve made it with goat cheese, fromage blanc with sundried tomatoes, or herbs. My favorite was using the peach pepper spread we sell in the Farm to Family Market made by Mountain View Farms. (The sweetness of the peaches really complimented the peppers!).

I stuffed my peppers with Polyface hot Italian sausage, but any type of sausage you prefer will work, even links. To veganize, use your favorite vegan sausage.

You can cook these on the grill, or bake them, but grilling really brings out the flavor of the peppers.

6-8 Pablano Chiles (plan 1-2 per person, depending on size of peppers)
Soft cheese (see above suggestions) or non-dairy alternative
½ onion, chopped. I like a sweet onion, a candy, Vidalia or Texas, but suit your taste
1 lb sausage
Extra Virgin Olive oil

Heat oven at 400, or get grill going. Heat a swirl of olive oil in skillet over medium heat and cook onions then add sausage, (crumble loose sausage, and cut links into small bites), until sausage is brown and onions translucent, then simmer 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drain sausage.

Wash peppers. Wearing gloves, make a “T” shaped slit in the pepper and remove membranes and seeds. You can also cut them in half.

Stuff peppers, alternating with cheese and sausage. Stuff the sausage in with clean hands, and use a knife or spoon to stuff the cheese.

Place in a pan, alternating top to end so they fit. Bake until soft, about 25 min, you can finish the last few minute under the broiler to “blacken” and bring out flavor.

If you grill the peppers, which we recommend for maximum flavor, grill 5 or 6 minutes at medium, then stuff. Mark says that if you have a gas range, you can skewer them and roast them over the flame, and then stuff them.

Pablanos and other peppers can be stored in airtight containers or bags, and frozen. You can also dry them.

Jul 042010
 
Rhubarb continues to be popular here at the Farm to Family Market, and we’ve had a couple local chefs come in to get some. We hope the pie-eaters at Sine were happy with their Rhubarb Pies. Chef Todd from Mezzanine and I had a great conversation about rhubarb earlier this week, and he wants to remind everyone that rhubarb is not just for pie, or crumble. He says be adventurous with it, and pair it with meat and poultry. (Watch here for some recipes from Chef Todd coming soon!)

After I wrote about the Rhubarb ice cream we made when I was a kid, Mom dug into the deep recesses of her brain and came up with this:

GRANDMA’S HAND-CRANKED ICE CREAM by Marty Miles

We always had home made, hand cranked ice cream at Christmas and the 4th of July. We haven’t made it in years and I suppose most people don’t use the old hand cranked freezers any more but the new methods surely don’t taste as delicious and creamy.   I got out my old cookbook with the covers loose and pages tattered and spotted and found my ice cream recipe. The recipe is in the 1955 version of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook. ( note from Suzi — hand crank ice cream is still popular! White Mountain crank freezers are available at the Blue Ridge Mountain Ice Cream Maker store. Maybe Mark will find one at a flea market someday soon. If you want non-dairy/vegan ice cream, try a recipe from Vegan Scoops)

Here’s the ice-cream (Don’t you have brain freeze thinking about it!)
This recipe is for a 2-qt freezer. Our old one was bigger so I made 1 1/2 times the recipe. Then we got a 6-qt freezer and I had to figure out the amounts all over again. Do your math so the recipe fits your freezer. You can add whatever kind of fruit you want, but we are having rhubarb ice cream here.

 1  1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs. flour
few grains salt
2 eggs or 3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 -2 cups fruit


In double boiler, scald milk. Mix sugar, flour, and salt; stir in enough milk to make a smooth paste. Stir the paste back into the hot milk in the double boiler. Stir until thickened. Cook covered, 10 min. Beat eggs slightly stir in milk mixture; return to double boiler; cook 1 minute. Cool; add vanilla, cream and fruit. 

I would make some rhubarb sauce. The recipe is below. Drain it and add between 1 1/2 to 2 cups of drained rhubarb. Freeze in 2-gt. or larger crank freezer until difficult to turn, using 8 parts crushed ice to 1 part ice-cream salt.


To Ripen: When ice cream is firm, draw out water from freezer; wipe off and remove lid. Take out the dasher and give the kids spoons to scrape the ice cream off (this was our reward for all our hard work cranking away and my favorite memory – Suzi); plug opening in lid. Pack ice-cream mixture down; re-cover. Repack freezer as follows: If serving within 2 hours, use 1 qt. crushed ice to each 1 cup ice cream salt.; if holding ice cream longer, use 2 qt. ice to each 1 cup salt; cover with heavy cloth. Makes 1/1/4 qt.


You can see it’s a lot of work. Johnny and Suzi would help Dad crank. With all that work, you can see why we got a bigger freezer. 

Add whatever fruit you want– right now fresh peaches, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, plums and apricots would be delicious. Strawberries and rhubarb are classic together. Adjust your sweetener according to the sweetness of your fruit, which can vary. You can also freeze fruit, even rhubarb. Just wash, cut and pack in some plastic bags then freeze. You will be able to enjoy wonderful fruit treats next winter and impress your family and friends.

One year at Christmas I added 1 1/2 cups of crushed raspberries that we had picked the previous summer and frozen, sweetened with 1/4 cup of sugar. It was delicious.

 Here’s the rhubarb sauce recipe, which is tasty on its own. It would taste great on top of vanilla ice cream, or lemon, or mix it into Moogurt with some granola. You can use it as a sauce for meat and poultry.  Let me know how you end up using it. This is the sauce that keeps old folks young and active. My sister-in-law Marguerite who is 85 eats it every day, and still mows her lawn herself.

Rhubarb Sauce

4 cups rhubarb
1/3 cup orange juice (or you could use peach or apple cider)
3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup local honey) adjust sweetness for the tartness of your rhubarb and your palate
1 tsp cinnamon

Cook until done.

 Canoe Trip Rhubarb Cake

Mom packed all the ingredients for this legendary cake in a pack basket and cooler and we paddled down the Oswegatchie River on a week long canoe trip.  Partway through, she pulled out her rhubarb, and whipped up this stellar treat like an Adirondack Martha Stewart using a reflector oven (here’s some info from the Scouts, who also like to use them.) It was very exciting for my friends on the trip and I don’t remember having any leftovers for the woodland creatures. 

It’s an easy-peasy cake to make, not especially nutritious, but it is festive and nourishes your soul which is also important and can make up for white sugar on occasion. I’ve made it for rooftop parties on Manhattan’s Avenue B and Southern potlucks in RVA and it wows them every time. The pan practically gets licked clean. I can remember watching 4 people scraping away at the pan with spoons at a 4th of July cookout.

5-6 cups raw rhubarb (cut in 1 inch piece 

1 box yellow or lemon cake mix *

 1 cup sugar

1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry or raspberry gelatin dessert  ** 

1 1/2 sticks melted butter

1 1/2 cup water

Put rhubarb in 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Mix sugar and jello. Sprinkle over rhubarb. Pour dry cake mix over rhubarb mixture. Pour water over all. Melt butter and pour over top. Do not mix! Bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool and serve.

* Use a gluten-free box cake for GF version. I like Gluten Free Pantry.

** Use vegan gelatin dessert like Natural Desserts Jel Dessert, and vegan “butter” like Earth Balance
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