Category: Techniques

How to Make a Buddha Bowl

Several years ago, my in-laws Dana and Joan encountered significant health issues.  Joan was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, while Dana continued to struggle with high cholesterol even though he was taking statins and eliminating most fats from his diet.  Instead of diving into even more medication, they decided to make a serious diet change–by going vegan.  They signed up for cooking classes at their local Whole Foods, learned how to eat a balanced vegan diet, and guess what?  Dana’s cholesterol returned to a normal level, and Joan rid herself of the pre-diabetic status.

Was it easy?  Surely not–it’s never easy to change years of eating habits that include meat and milk and cheese and buttercream frosting (okay, I don’t even know if they like buttercream frosting, but I’m just saying I think that might be a hard one for me to give up).  They found a supportive community at Whole Foods, and they learned that with excellent ingredients and several key recipes, eating as vegans was actually quite enjoyable–and delicious.

One of the recipes they passed on to me from this time is something Whole Foods called “Wellness Bowls o’Goodness”, but I’ve heard them more commonly called Buddha Bowls.  I’m so grateful they shared this with Dan and me, and today I’m going to keep on paying it forward because these bowls are not only TASTY but an excellent way to eat up all those veggies and greens you’re getting in your fall share.

According to the good folks at Whole Foods Market Culinary Education, a Buddha bowl includes your base of cooked whole grains or starch veggies, and toppings in these categories:

  • cooked beans
  • greens (lightly steamed or raw)
  • veggies (roasted, lightly steamed or raw)
  • herbs and spices
  • sauce (such as fresh salsa, hot sauce, salad dressing, tamari, etc.)

For the Buddha bowl pictured in this post, I started by cooking 1 cup of organic brown basmati rice with 1 tsp Real Salt seasoned salt.  I used 1 cup of cooked rice for my bowl and saved the rest for fried rice to be made later in the week.  (Quick note here: I found it easier to season–if necessary–each food as I went along instead of trying to season the whole bowl at the end.) I topped my rice with the following:

  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 cup whole leaf fresh spinach, sauteed for about one minute, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms (grown ourselves–we should have these for sale soon!) sauteed with 2 T sliced leek
  • 1/4 cup watermelon radish, chopped (I was hoping these would be ready for your share this week, but they need a little more time.  We do, however, have daikon radish for you, and that will work just as well!)
  • 1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • Asian vinaigrette: 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove

I tell you what.  I felt so so good after eating this for lunch.  And really, there are so many possible variations for the Buddha bowl, that you could make this work for any meal of the day.

To wrap this up, I want to return to Dana and Joan’s story.  Soon after those cooking classes at Whole Foods, my in-laws moved from Maine to the Midwest to our little town of DeMotte (yay!).  They discovered that it was hard to keep up a vegan diet here, and they’ve since allowed small amounts of meat and dairy back into their diet.  But they still love their Buddha bowls, and I’m sure they–along with me!–would love to hear your ideas for a tasty bowl of goodness.

Photography: Anne Kingma

 

 

Recipe: Spinach and Swiss Omelette

“Eggs crack. Butter pops in a hot pan. Her father is telling an abridged story of their flight, train stations, fearful crowds, omitting the stop in Evreux, but soon all of Marie-Laure’s attention is absorbed by the smells blooming around her: egg, spinach, melting cheese.

An omelette arrives.  She positions her face over its steam . . . The eggs taste like clouds.  Like spun gold.”

That description, from the beautifully written novel All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, reveals the sound and taste of an omelette from the perspective of the blind protagonist Marie-Laure after she and her father flee Paris at the beginning of World War II.  They arrive starving at the home of a long-last relative, and they are fed one of the most basic, nourishing meals. 

Now while the omelette may be a culinary basic, I’d like to begin with this disclaimer–I’m not French and I’m definitely no Julia Child.  I know, I know, you already knew that, but I’ve followed Child’s directions in The Way to Cook and I still find it quite challenging to make a pretty-looking omelette.   And sometimes you don’t realize this until you’re trying to take a photograph of one for your farm blog.  But that’s okay!  The omelette provides such an easy way to eat your greens that I had to share.

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Begin with the freshest ingredients possible (you’re off to a great start with your Perkins’ Good Earth Farm spinach!). Make sure everything is absolutely, positively ready to go before you begin cooking.  The ingredients listed below are for a 1-serving two-egg omelette, so if you’re making this for more than just yourself, multiply ingredients accordingly.

  • Chop 1 ounce (about 1 cup) spinach.
  • Mince 1 clove Perkins’ Good Earth Farm garlic.
  • Shred 1 ounce (about 1/4 cup ) Swiss cheese.
  • Grind the pepper and sea salt.
  • Break two eggs into a bowl, add a teaspoon of water, and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk just enough to blend it all together.
  • Cut two tablespoons of butter.

Heat your skillet over medium-high heat.  Child suggests using a no-stick 10-inch frying pan.  Since I don’t have one of those, I used my cast iron skillet, which is kind of awkward and heavy for making an omelette, but it works (sort of).

Heat one tablespoon of butter in the skillet.  Once it begins to bubble, throw in your greens and garlic and cook for about 20 seconds, just until the spinach is wilted.  Spoon the greens and garlic into a bowl and set aside.  (If you’re making this for a group, cook all your spinach and garlic at once.)

With my cast iron skillet, I leave the heat at medium-high.  If using the skillet recommended by Child, she says “to set the pan over highest heat.”  Add another tablespoon of butter, wait for it to bubble (Child–“Watch the butter carefully–when the foam begins to subside and the butter just begins to color”), pour the eggs into the middle of the skillet.

Now, for those of you who’ve never made an omelette, I’m just going to quote Child here for a bit, because, really, she explains this so well!

“At once shake and swirl the pan by its handle to distribute the eggs over the surface, then hold it still over heat for 2-3 seconds, to form a film of coagulated egg on the bottom of the pan.”

Quick break.  Here’s where you QUICKLY scatter the spinach, garlic, and Swiss cheese over the eggs.  Back to Child.

“Now, holding the pan by its handle, start jerking it toward you–thus throwing the egg mass against the far edge of the pan.”  (See why this is challenging in a cast-iron skillet?  I need to do more push-ups or planks or something.)  “Keep jerking roughly, gradually tilting the far edge of the pan over the heat as the omelette begins to roll over on itself.  Push any stray egg into the mass with a spatula, if necessary.  When nicely formed at the far edge, bang on the handle close the near edge with your left fist and the omelette will begin to curl at is far edge.”

Child has another set of instructions for getting the omelette onto your plate from the skillet, but I merely lifted it out with a spatula and put it on my plate next to a piece of toast slathered with homemade black-cap jam.  Done and yum.

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Note: If the whole omelette thing isn’t working out for you, no worries.  Simply lower the heat and turn all those ingredients into a delicious plate of scrambled eggs with spinach and Swiss.  Most of all, enjoy!

 

The Vinaigrette

When Dan and I got married, dear friends gave us a wedding gift of a wooden salad bowl and tongs, as well as several favorite salad and vinaigrette recipes.

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Eventually the tongs took on multiple uses, such as a drumstick for banging pots and pans when my boys were toddlers, and sadly, one day the tongs broke.  But we still use that wooden bowl for delicious salads, which, at their very core, consist of fresh greens and a vinaigrette.

The basis for every vinaigrette is three parts oil mixed with one part acid. The acid is usually a vinegar but can also be a citrus juice.  You can make any amount of dressing that you want and add all sorts of good stuff, but if you want the dressing to mix well and taste good, stick to an approximate 3:1 oil/acid ratio.  

How to choose your oil and vinegar?  1) Whatever tastes best to you!  2) Whatever complements your salad toppings. Here’s what I choose from most often:

OILS

  • olive
  • avocado
  • canola
  • sesame (in combination with olive or canola)

VINEGARS/CITRUS

  • balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • white wine vinegar
  • unseasoned rice vinegar
  • lemon juice

Combine your oil and vinegar in a jar or bottle, add a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and shake, shake, shake it! You’ve just made your own salad dressing. 

If you want to get a little more creative, here are some of my favorite ingredients to add, NOT all in the same dressing.

ADDITIONS

If you’ve never made your own dressing before, please don’t let all these lists intimidate you! Think of them as tools for unleashing your creative culinary genius on your next salad.  If you’d like specific recipes, here are a couple combinations I used in the past week.

For the single-serving salad I posted about on Monday, I made this:

Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1 T avocado oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • one clove minced garlic

On Sunday I made a chopped spinach salad (8 oz spinach) with blue cheese, chopped Paula Red apples, and caramel corn.  (Yes, caramel corn.  What can I say–I ran out of pecans but had just opened a bag of Chicago style popcorn!)  We’ll call this a honey mustard vinaigrette because syrup mustard just doesn’t quite sound right.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Rogers Golden Syrup (I ran out of honey.  Fortunately I had this cane syrup that, sadly, you can only purchase in Canada.  Thanks to my parents and Canadian relatives for keeping me stocked in this deliciousness!)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Note: My 8-year-old Harper declared this salad delicious and a little sour–I took that as an okay to make it again this week. 🙂

If you don’t use all your vinaigrette at once, it can be stored in the fridge for a week or longer, depending on your ingredients.  Make sure to shake it up again before using to mix together the oil and vinegar.

What’s your favorite vinaigrette?

Photography: Anne Kingma 

The Salad

Let’s talk about the most basic way to eat those leafy greens you’ll find nearly every week in your share: The Salad.

 Fresh greens and root crops make up the bulk of your fall share, and one of the great things about our greens is that they’re almost always harvested the morning of distribution, and if not the morning of, you’re getting them within just a a few days of harvest.  We’re talking serious freshness here, people.  Which makes them perfect for a leafy salad.

If you’re looking for something specific, try these fall salad recipes from the farm blog: Kale Salad with Apples and Figs , Chopped Salad with Asian GreensGreen with Maple Apples and Onions.

But this post is less about giving a specific recipe and more about giving you ideas for how to make a salad of whatever you have in the house, Waste-Free-Kitchen-yet-still-super-tasty-style.

The most basic salad is a simple side salad made up of about an ounce of fresh greens and tossed with your favorite dressing.  (Or, if you’re Farmer Dan, just greens.  For real!)

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1/4 oz serving for child / 1 oz serving for adult

We, however, often eat salad as our lunchtime meal, a time when we need more than greens to power through the rest of the day.  In this case, I like to top 2-3 ounces of greens with some combination of the following:

Savory Salad

fresh veggies, chopped or grated (peppers, cucumbers, beets, radishes)

cheese, grated or cubed (cheddar, havarti, pepper jack, mozzarella)

beans (garbanzo, black, kidney, pinto)

meat (usually leftovers from the night before)

hard-boiled egg, chopped

fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, oregano, basil)

tortilla chips, crumbled

dressing (sometimes store-bought; sometimes a quick, homemade-for-one vinaigrette)

Sweet Salad

fresh fruit, chopped or sliced (apples, pears, strawberries, grapes)

cheese (Brie, cheddar, Camembert, blue cheese, gouda)

caramelized onions and garlic

nuts, chopped (pecans, walnuts, almonds)

dressing, like poppyseed or a honey-mustard vinaigrette

Here we go.  I’m going to make a salad here and now out of whatever’s in my fridge, pantry and garden, and show you what I come up with.  Be right back!

This is what I came up with:

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A little bit of this, a little bit of that: pepperoni, cucumbers, hard-boiled egg, brick cheese, green onions, olives, red-wine vinegar/avocado oil/garlic vinaigrette

I used salad greens but you can use any type of green for your base–spinach, kale, mustard greens, tat soi, bok choy, beet greens–any kind of green!  Each one will give your salad a slightly different taste and texture–yay for culinary adventures!

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Later this week we’ll talk more about vinagraittes, the quick-and-easy salad dressing you can make in less than five minutes and that can truly make or break your salad’s flavor.

What are your favorite salad toppings?

How to Peel, Mince, Crush, and Slice Garlic

The other day a friend of mine said she’d like to buy garlic from us, but she wouldn’t know what to do with it.  When I suggested she mince it and use it in a sauce, she asked me what it meant to “mince”, saying she’d only ever used powdered garlic.

At this point, another friend who was listening in suggested I illustrate how to actually mince a clove of garlic, but since I don’t regularly carry around a cutting board, knife, or said garlic, I opted for this blog post.

Even if you’ve been using garlic for years, keep reading!  While researching for this post, I learned a new technique for peeling garlic, so who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new here too.

Peeling

The first thing you need to do is separate the bulb into cloves–

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and then peel away the outer layers of skin.  Awhile back, my brother-in-law emailed this video of a chef banging garlic around between two metal bowl for 10 seconds.  When he was finished, the garlic cloves were all separated and peeled.  I wondered if this technique worked for hardneck garlic (what we sell), so I gave it a try, and—for real—it worked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

But what if you only want to use one clove of garlic at a time rather than the whole bulb?

Starting at the top of the bulb, pull away a clove of garlic, but don’t start peeling.  First, place the blade of your chef’s knife flat against the garlic.  Holding on to the handle with one hand, use the heel of your other hand to press down on the blade.

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This loosens those skin layers and makes for easy peeling (rather than the sometimes painful experience of scraping away the skin with your fingernails!). Remove those papery layers from your cutting board so they don’t get mixed up in your soon-to-be-minced garlic.

Next, find the basal end of the garlic clove, cut it off, and drop it in the compost bin.

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Now you’re ready for the knife work!  Most recipes call for minced, sliced, or crushed garlic, so let’s take a look at each of these techniques.

Mincing

Using your chef’s knife again, lay the blade flat against the top of the clove.  Hold the knife’s handle with one hand, and press down gently on the knife with the heel of your other hand to bruise the clove against your cutting board.

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Next, move your knife into a cutting position, place your non-dominant hand flat across the top of your knife, and rock the knife back and forth until you’re garlic’s chopped in tiny pieces, or minced.  For a video of this technique from a pro, check out this link from the American Test Kitchen. 

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Crushing

To crush the garlic, repeat the steps used for mincing.  Next, sprinkle a little bit of salt over the garlic (to soak up the garlic juices), and, place your knife’s blade flat against the minced garlic.  Press the blade against the minced garlic until the garlic is sufficiently smashed.   Or, you can use a garlic press for quick and easy crushed garlic.

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Slicing

To slice, lay your garlic clove flat on the cutting board.  Hold the clove with the fingertips of one hand.  Use a rocking motion to make careful slices across the clove.

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That’s it!  Now all you need is practice, and to practice, of course, you’re going to need some garlic!  Check out our storefront to get yourself some gourmet, hardneck Perkins’ Good Earth Farm garlic.  Then let me know in the comments section below how your garlic adventure is going!

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sliced – crushed – minced

 

 

Photography, Video, and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

 

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