May 31, 2011

Winter Squash, new location

We are working on a large scale (well large for us) winter squash patch at my families farm. Today I was able to mow off the area and we used a disc chisel plow to break the ground up, for the first time.

With any luck, we will be able to hit it with a disc several times and then get started on direct seeding it. With any luck, by the end of next week it will be planted.

More picture to come.

May 28, 2011

Squash Blossom Time!

On Thursday, we ate our first squash for the year, and it was delicious! To start squash season off right, Jay surprised me with squash blossoms this morning. And so, supper tonight featured fried squash blossoms.

For our squash blossoms, we use a basic tempura batter. Tempura batter is super-easy:

  1. Beat one egg in a bowl. 
  2. Add 1 cup ice water in the bowl. Be sure to use very cold water. 
  3. Add 1 cup sifted flour in the bowl and mix lightly. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
For the filling, I use a mixture of cheeses (for 12 blossoms):
  • 1 1/2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 3 oz shredded cheese (I use Wiebe's Garden Vegetable Cheese, from our RVP)
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
Beat that together until smooth.

Now to prepare the squash blossoms. To be great, squash blossoms need to be picked first thing in the morning. Then, when you are ready to prepare them, remove the inner portion of the blossom and the spikes on the flower themselves.  Rinse gently with cold water.

Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling in each blossom. Twirl the tips of the petals gently to make a pocket. Dredge through the tempura batter. Fry 4-5 minutes in a 1/4 inch of oil, preheated in a large skillet, turning halfway through. You want the blossoms to be golden and crispy.

It may seem like a lot of work, but it only takes about 20 minutes, start to finish. And, it they are so delicious, with the rich cheese filling and dainty batter shell. And what a great way to use a blossom!

May 17, 2011

Roasting Veggies

This spring weather in Kansas has been hormonal, at best. It spiked to the high 90s for a few days, then dropped to the mid-30s, confusing both the cool and warm weather crops. On the bright side, this cool snap has made it more reasonable to fire up the oven. Thus, oven-roasted veggies.

We don't sell asparagus but I do have my little patch of 9 plants that provides just enough for our family. My new favorite way to prepare the asparagus is so, so simple.
  1. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Wash the asparagus, and cut off any woody ends. 
  3. Place the asparagus whole into a 13x9 casserole dish or a baking sheet. 
  4. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the asparagus.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes. Flip the asparagus (so bottom side is on top).
  6. Bake another 7 to 10 minutes, until asparagus is crisp-tender.
Last weekend, I started experimenting with carrots, since our carrot crop this year is just coming on. Since I was already baking some asparagus, I made up this recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash carrots and cut off the stems and the end of the root.
  3. Cut wide carrots length-wise, so the carrots are all of equal thickness.
  4. Add 4-5 tablespoons butter into a 13x9 casserole dish, and preheat in the oven until butter is melted. 
  5. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon ground ginger over butter. 
  6. Add carrots to casserole dish, turning to coat.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes. Flip the carrots.
  8. Bake another 7-10 minutes, until carrots are crisp tender and starting to carmelize.
I bet I could do the same with all these radishes, but without the ginger. Any suggestions on what could spice up the roasted radishes?

May 15, 2011

Napa Cabbage

(This is from The Wife, the one who's been up to her ears in nursing school. But now, I get to focus on my family, our garden, and YUM recipes!)

Last year, Jay introduced me to Napa Cabbage. I looked at the 3- and 4-pound cabbage heads he was bringing into the kitchen and I wondered how we would ever get through that much green. Then came Google. Since then, we've eaten probably 30 different variations on the Napa Cabbage salad.

The great thing about Napa Cabbage is that you can use it in so many ways. The leafy tops are dainty enough that they have the texture of lettuce but a more flavorful bite. The stems are more like a cabbage, great for cole slaw or kimchi. The hardest core can even be used like celery, which,in our house, means filled with peanut butter for a snack.

Our newest recipe is a spin on Paula Deen's Sweet and Spice Coleslaw. Our favorite part: this recipe is one more way to use our Jalapeno Jelly. The salad is best if made a day in advance, but an hour in the fridge would suffice if you are short on time.

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw

6 cups thinly sliced Napa Cabbage
2 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly diced
1/2 cup sugared walnuts
1/3 cup jalapeno pepper jelly
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  1. Combine the jelly, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and cumin in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir the apples into the cabbage.
  3. Pour the jelly mixture over the cabbage. Refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the walnuts. Enjoy!