July 30, 2010

Friday's Featured Food: R is for Radishes

Radishes are the featured food for this Friday, even though it's not radish season right now.

We are between the early spring harvest and late fall crop. Radishes like the cool weather and tend to get a woody texture and an off taste as the temp heats up. But, radishes are a favorite for me, if for no other reason than because they are one of the first harvests in the spring. They give that taste of freshness, of warmer days ahead, and they give hard core gardeners an excuse to get in the dirt when there is still snow on the ground. The short days of maturity -- about a month from planting to harvest -- add to their popularity.

We grow five kinds of radishes: cherry belle, pink beauty, white ping pong, and French breakfast.

Nutritionally, radishes contribute mostly Vitamin C (15 percent, to be exact.) They also provide iron, fiber, and and a touch of calcium. (Who knew? Calcium in radishes!)

I doubt people eat radishes for the nutritional value. Most like them for their crunchy texture or snappy taste. Radishes provide a bite to salads, with their zing and their hardness. The amount of spice or heat is dependent on the variety and when you pick them.

I personally am not a huge fan of radishes. I probably shouldn't post it, but a girl can't like ALL vegetables and this is the one I don't care for -- until this year. I discovered that cooked or grilled radishes are great! I didn't like the burn of the radish, preferring a turnip instead, but by cooking them, I get the taste without the heat. True radish lovers probably think I'm disgracing the vegetable by saying that; sorry!

How to cook them? As I said, our new favorite is grilling them. Simply slice the radishes, put them in a foil packet with a few ice cubes, seal the foil packet, and grill for 10-15 minutes until fork tender. I add a bit of butter, because everything is better with butter in my world.

Another recipe I found but haven't tried calls for shredding a Daikon radish and frying in garlic oil with a touch of salt, almost like a hash brown.

And for those die-hard radish lovers who believe they should stay fresh, try a Spicy Radish Salad. Mix together 2 cups shredded Daikon radish, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and  1 tablespoon orange juice. Let the flavors marinate a bit before serving.


July 22, 2010

Friday's Featured Food: Q...

How about, Q is for Quite a Fair! Before I share the pics, let me add that the girls each selected their own veggies from those already picked for the Market. We told them that they should try to find 3 (or 5 or 12) that match exactly, and this is what they came up with:

Lainie's yellow tomatoes
Jay's red tomatoes, Grand Champion open class
Lainie's snow white cherry tomatoes
Maggie's black cherry tomatoes, Reserve Grand Open Class

Jay's Display, blue ribbon

Maggie's purple heart potato, "novelty vegetable"
Jay's Green Beans

Katie's Sweet Gold cherry tomatoes, Grand Champion Jr Division 4-H

Katie's Big Beef red tomatoes, Reserve Grand Jr Division 4-H

Lainie's pink potatoes, white... and proof that she picked her own.

Katie's garden display for 4-H

Katie's reserve champion pig. She also got Reserve Grand swine showmanship.
Like I said, Quite a Fair!


July 19, 2010


The crabgrass is winning, in the battle of the west squash patch. Jay and Anthony have weeded and weeded and mowed and trimmed, but the crabgrass continues to overtake the veggies. I guess that's what you get for planting in a (former) pasture.

The mosquitoes are insane. On Saturday morning, when Jay got in his truck at 6 a.m. to load for the Market, he literally turned on his windshield wipers to swipe the live mosquitoes off his truck. We haven't sprayed the yard or garden for them, for fear of hurting the bees and other insects we need for germination. The sprays and lotions we use to cover and protect ourselves provide minimal help, and it is just too too hot to wear jeans and long-sleeves. And so, we pick after the mosquitoes quiet down for the day and we quit when they reappear each night, around 9 p.m.

Bindweed is always a battle here, but at least it's an old foe. We know there isn't much to do but pull, pull, pull. When the surround terraces are white with bindweed blooms and the nasty weeds have years head start on us, the best we can do is keep pulling.

And yet, despite these and other pests, it has been an amazing, outstanding Market month. The past week alone far surpassed our expectations. Thank you to all of you who support our Farmers Market or any market. We appreciate it, more than words can express!

July 18, 2010

Recipe: Gazpacho

We are lucky and grateful to have our area Master Gardeners attend every Clay Center Farmers Market, to share their knowledge, their plants, and their recipes. And, oh, the recipes!

This past week, Reva C. brought Gazpacho to the market to sample. I've never had gazpacho, but it was absolutely delicious. And, it uses all the veggies that are currently in season. It was so delicious, I had to share it here and on the Clay Center Farmers Market blog. Thanks, Reva!


2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled
1/2 medium onion
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Chop vegetables roughly, and this process in blender until liquified. Refrigerate overnight. Serve cold,  garnished with sour cream or chopped cucumbers and tomatoes.

Other variations I found add tabasco sauce or worchestershire sauce. Flavor it to match your family's preference.

July 17, 2010

Tomato lover

How do you get your kids to love tomatoes? Start 'em early.


July 16, 2010

Friday's Featured Food: Potatoes

Blame it on my Irish heritage, but I think every meal needs potatoes. I almost feel guilty if we sit down to eat without some kind of potato on the table. Thank goodness Jay is a potato-planting fool! This year, he ordered 200 pounds of seed potatoes... and then got laid up and was unable to plant. So, this is how our potato planting looked this year:

This year, we planted Yukon Gold, Red Norland, Purple Majesty, and Mountain Rose potatoes. The Purple Majesty seed potatoes were tough to find, and we ended up ordering them online, despite the shipping and handling. It was worth it, as these potatoes are double the size and twice the color intensity of the blue potatoes we grew last year. It's been a good potato year, thusfar.

Nutritionally, potatoes get a bad rap. How can a vegetable be bad for you? That, I will never understand. According to potatoes.com, the average potato with skin will provide:
  • 5% of the daily value for vitamin C
  • 620 mg potassium, comparable to bananas, spinach and broccoli
  • trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc
  • have 110 calories and no fat.
As far as cooking them, we make the potatoes in so many different ways: fried, grilled, baked, sauted, stewed, and of course mashed:

I have a fabulous potato soup recipe, but I'll save that for the fall, when it's truly soup season. This time of year, it's too hot to heat up the kitchen, so our favorite right-now potato recipe is grilled potatoes.

Campfire Potatoes
5 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 medium onion, sliced
6 T butter or margarine
1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c chicken broth

  1. Place the potatoes and onion on a large piece of heavy-duty foil (about 20 inches by 20 inches). Dot with butter.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine cheese, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; sprinkle over potatoes.
  3. Fold foil up around potatoes and add broth. Seal the edges of the foil.
  4. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.


July 15, 2010

Goodbye, cucumbers and squash

It is a depressing but common part of any agriculture: you invest your time, energy, money into a crop, only to have it ruined by mother nature, one way or another.

Now, we can't complain. We don't have acres and acres under water like many farmers around us. We don't have damage to buildings or total annihilation of our garden like folks north of us. We just have two major crop failures, with a third one looming.

The cucumber beetles we were battling earlier this year left a present: cucumber wilt. Apparently that disease will winter in the digestive tract of the cucumber beetle, which then infects the plants in the spring. Our M2 (mobile building 2) was full of cucumber plants, and we had hoped to be picking off those plants throughout August. Instead, we got two good weeks of cucumbers before the plants stopped producing and died. Within a week, the zucchini and squash in the neighboring building did the same.

Do you know how depressing it is to tear out that many plants, when just weeks earlier they looked like this:

But, that's okay. M2 is replanted to flowers, sunflowers, fun stuff for the girls. The second planting of cucumbers and squash, planted elsewhere on our acreage, is doing well; some of the squash is already producing. We won't have the bountiful harvest we had hoped, but we will have a harvest.

And we are still feeling pretty blessed for the good luck we've had this year. Definitely feeling lucky.

July 14, 2010

Some like it hot

Heat is good for tomatoes to turn red, good for some veggies, good to cut down on some bugs, but not good if you are selling at an afternoon Farmers Market.

We will be at tonight's markets, and Jay will stay for the duration. But the girls and I are going to be less hardy and plan to leave after an hour or so. I like the heat, but the littlest ones can't handle it for too long.

So, if you are planning to come to our markets tonight, come early!

July 12, 2010

If at first you don't succeed

Remember back when our first green bean planting got annihilated by the bugs? Well, as the saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. The second planting (and third and fourth and fifth) look great. Two rows and 15 minutes resulted in this:

Aren't the beautiful! Hardly a bug bite or blemish to be found. They have that fresh, earthy taste that you can only get from fresh picked green beans. YUM!

Fri...Tuesday's Featured Food: Okra

Sorry for skipping last Friday. We were so busy preparing for the Clay Center Grill-Off that just about everything that could be postponed, was postponed. (It was worth it, though!)

But now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

O is for Okra. Okra is definitely a love it or hate it food; either you absolutely adore its unique taste or you can't stand it in any way. Luckily, our family loves it. I have always loved fried okra and pickled okra, but have only just recently tried it in sautes and casseroles.

Okra is a little green veggie that is shaped a bit like a pepper but with a different texture. The skin of the okra is soft, almost velvet-y, and it's filled with small white seeds. Okra is a good source of vitamin C and also provides vitamin A, iron, calcium, and fiber. (This site has lots of good okra info.)

We grow Clemson Spineless okra and, although we haven't picked any yet this year, the plants look very, very promising!

The biggest complaint about okra is that it is slimy. Rumor has it, the less you cut okra while preparing it, the less slimy it will be. That's why pickled okra is so good, because you pickle them whole. I slice the okra before frying it, but still don't notice the infamous slime. Trust me -- it's good stuff!

Fried Okra
  • 1 pound fresh okra
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 to 6 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • oil for deep frying
  1. Wash okra and drain well; cut off ends and discard. Cut okra crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. 
  2. In a bowl, combine beaten eggs and hot sauce; add okra and stir to coat all pieces well. 
  3. In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal, salt and cayenne. 
  4. Dip okra pieces into cornmeal mixture to coat well. 
  5. Heat oil in the deep fryer to 375°. 
  6. Fry okra in batches until browned, about 4 to 6 minutes for each batch. 
  7. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Oh, this is making me hungry. I think I'll wander out to the garden and double check those okra plants.

July 11, 2010

O is for...

O is for oh my goodness I forgot to post on Friday! Sorry!

And, well, it's my birthday, so you'll have to wait one more day.

Because O is for Oh, I think I'll be selfish today and Oh-I'm-getting-older and Oh, well... it'll wait 'til tomorrow.

July 5, 2010

Definitely Tomato Time

Last week, the cherry tomatoes came on full-force. Jay picked 90 pints of cherry tomatoes to sell for Saturday's market, and that doesn't include the baskets picked and sold for Wednesday's markets. Don't they look lovely, all lined up? Almost good enough to eat!

Varieties shown here include (top to bottom) Black Cherry, Snow White, Isis Candy, Sweet Gold, Sungold, Golden Sweet, Yellow Pear, Red Pearl, Tumbling Tom, Red Pear, Tomato Berry, and Sweet Million.

July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th!

Let's celebrate, veggie-style, and turn these:

into these:

red chips and

purple chips.



July 2, 2010

Happy July Fourth Weekend!

Thanks to the Independence Day celebration in downtown Clay Center, we are hoping and prepared for a bigger-than-usual turnout at tomorrow's Farmers Market. Jay picked 90 -- Yep, NINETY -- pints of cherry tomatoes, and 5 tubs of red, white, and blue potatoes. As our own little way of celebrating the July Fourth weekend, and as a way of saying thanks to our customers, we made a huge batch of red and blue potato chips. Not for sale, but just to sample and enjoy.

How did we make the chips? I washed and scrubbed the Rose Mountain and Purple Majesty potatoes, then ran them through my salad shooter. That made them into consistent, thin slices. I soaked them in water for an hour. Then, Jay fired up our turkey fryer, using the short pan. The short pan is only 5 inches deep, which means it doesn't need as much oil. Jay heated the oil to 350 degrees, then fried the potatoes in small batches.

The fried potatoes then went through a series of drying and draining stages: first on the cookie sheet, then on a cooling rack, then on a different cookie sheet, and finally in a large tupperware. I know how delicious they were fresh from the fryer; I only hope they are at least half that tasty tomorrow.

So, if you are in the Clay Center area tomorrow morning, make your way downtown. Eat some potato chips, enjoy the pancake breakfast and kiddie games, dunk your favorite celebrity in the water tank, and experience an old-fashioned Fourth of July community celebration, complete with fresh, locally grown produce.

Friday's Featured Food: Napa Cabbage

N is for Napa Cabbage. This is a new crop for us, this year. I was impressed by the delicacy of the cabbage leaves, especially compared to the "normal" cabbage. The leaves are light enough that they work well as a salad, replacing lettuce, but can also be eaten in the traditional cabbage recipes, like stuffed cabbage rolls or cole slaw.

The specific variety we grew is called Rubicon. Sounds like an '80s video game to me, but it sure tastes good and grew well in our climate. Jay said he did make one mistake, growing them too close together.
Rubicon Napa cabbage (photo taken mid-May)

Why eat cabbage? It is an excellent source of Vitamin C, which surprised me. I thought its fiber content would be higher, but in fact the fiber is almost nonexistent if you cook it. (For more, go to www.fruitsand veggiesmatter.gov.)

The head of Napa cabbage we picked this week turned into three meals. The first was a delicious salad, courtesy of our Savor the Season grant. Through the grant, we received a series of info cards on specific veggies. The cards include nutritional information, recipes, and how to store the veggies. We have the cards at the Farmers Market, so stop by and pick one up!

The second was a sort of cabbage roll. Once I cut the cabbage for the salad above, the remaining leaves were too small for true cabbage rolls. So, I improvised. I do love improvising in the kitchen, especially when I can walk outside and have my pick of fresh veggies. That recipe is posted here.

The third dish was a Sweet and Sour Cole Slaw. I thought it was too vinegar-y, but I'm a traditionalist and prefer the creamy cole slaw. But, Jay loved it! So, here is the third Napa Cabbage recipe.

  • About 4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons celery seed
  • 1 diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the cabbage leaves in a large  bowl.
  2. Add the bell pepper and onion.
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients. Pour over the cabbage.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour.