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Recipe: Fresh Mozzarella with Garlic, Tomato, Basil Sauce

Years ago, one of my favorite high school teachers, Mary Lagerwey, handed me the recipe below because she knew I liked (loved, really) basil.  

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This recipe’s seen a lot of love.

I’ve made this recipe for the past 15 years since then, with a few changes.  After having children, I cut way back on the red pepper flakes, sometimes eliminating them altogether.  If I forgot to seed the parsley on time, we’d go without.   And in an unexpected (at least for me) turn of events, I became a garlic farmer, and this dish became flavorful in a way I never thought possible.  

Then, this year, I saw fresh mozzarella in the store and for some unknown reason I was brought back to my time with Dan in Italy eating fresh cheese and tomatoes and basil right off the street and I wanted that again.  Since a return trip to Italy isn’t in the budget (goodness, it was barely in the budget then–we were eating on the street!), I decided to use the tried and true tomato and fresh basil sauce from from Mrs. Lagerwey, bringing a little bit of Italy to our Indiana table.  And the dish turned out to be delizioso–perfetto–gustoso! (That’s all I’ve got.)

Start with your tomatoes.  I know the summer garden season is almost over, but you should still be able to nab a pound of ripe, juicy tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market.  I like to use a variety of colors–red, yellow, Green Zebra green–for beauty and flavor.  Cut out the cores and seeds, toss them in the compost bucket, and chop the meat of the tomatoes into 1-inch pieces.  Set aside the chopped tomatoes in a bowl.

Next comes the garlic!  If you haven’t purchased any of our garlic yet, now’s the time to do so.  (Yes, that was a shameless plug. For real though, the fresher your ingredients, the better this dish will taste.) Mince 3-4 cloves of garlic, then toss it on top of the tomatoes.

Now for the herbs.  I used to be very particular about tearing my basil because long ago I read in one my herb books that cutting the leaves discolors them.  I used to follow such directions.  Three kids and vegetable farm later, I chop them quick as can be with my trusty chef’s knife.  So chop (or tear) one cup of loosely packed basil leaves and a half cup fresh parsley, then toss the chopped herbs onto the garlic and tomatoes.  

Add a half cup of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your audience), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a decent amount of freshly ground pepper, and a half cup of freshly grated Parmesan to the tomato/garlic/herbs.  Toss this all together and let marinate for at least a half an hour, but preferably longer (if you can wait that long to eat this!).

When you’re ready to eat, slice a pound of fresh mozzarella, then lay the slices on a platter.  (I used to make my own mozzarella, but now–yes, three kids and a vegetable farm later–I buy it at Costco.)  Pour that lovely tomato-garlic-basil sauce over the tomatoes,  and sprinkle another quarter cup of freshly grated Parmesan over the top.  You can serve this with pasta, crackers or crusty bread, or we like to eat it as is.  Whatever you decide, enjoy!

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Fresh Mozzarella with Garlic, Tomato, Basil Sauce
A delightful summer salad perfect for a quick dinner or party dish.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  2. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  5. 1/2 cup olive oil
  6. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  9. 3/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  10. 1 pound fresh mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Remove cores and seeds from tomatoes. Chop the remaining tomato into 1-inch pieces. Set aside chopped tomatoes in a bowl.
  2. Add garlic, basil, and parsley to chopped tomatoes.
  3. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup Parmesan to tomatoes. Toss ingredients together.
  4. Let marinate for a minimum of 1/2 hour, preferably 2 hours.
  5. Right before eating, slice 1 pound of fresh mozzarella. Arrange slices on platter.
  6. Pour garlic-tomato-basil sauce over mozzarella. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  7. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Optional: Serve with pasta, crackers, or crusty bread.
Adapted from Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin
Adapted from Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin
Perkins' Good Earth Farm https://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Garlic Tea

It’s back to school time here at the Perkins’ household and you know what that means?  Besides the standard earlier bedtimes, new spelling lists, and tales of ball tag, we’re also saying hello to the annual influx of unwelcome germs encountered in the classroom and late summer ragweed pollen blowing in the wind.  Sneezing abounds.  Eyes tear up.  Noses run.   You get the picture.

To combat this miserableness, we eat our veggies and limit sugar intake, take fish oil and drink green smoothies.  And we also drink a little something we like to call “Garlic Tea.”

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Dan introduced me to this simple drink of garlic and hot water years ago, and at first I tried quashing the flavor by combining the garlic with a tea bag (Passion Garlic tea, anyone?) or adding honey.  Eventually, however, I surrendered myself to what I now consider a savory drink (kind of like choosing a Bloody Mary over a margarita, maybe?  Speaking of, anyone know of a garlic-infused cocktail?)

For real though, when I start to feel those cold symptoms coming on, I drink cup after cup of garlic tea.  I also try to rest, but that’s much more challenging.  I’m not alone in using garlic to combat colds.  University of Maryland Medical Center reports the following:

Early evidence suggests garlic may help prevent colds. In one study, people took either garlic supplements or placebo for 12 weeks during cold season, between November and February. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than those who took placebo. And when they did get a cold, the people taking garlic saw their symptoms go away faster than those who took placebo.

Even if you don’t have a cold coming on, there are plenty of other reasons to drink garlic tea, as Cooking Detective lists in their post 39 Health Benefits of Garlic: Plus Nutritional Benefits of Garlic. 

From Farmer Dan: Hardneck garlic is higher in the allicin or organosulphur compounds; this is the actual compound you smell in “garlic breath”.  Allicin has significant antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal activity.  To solve the garlic breath problem, either have everyone drink and eat garlic OR chew parsley or fennel seeds right after having garlic–no more garlic breath.  Gum helps too!

Isn’t a worth a try, friends?  All you have to do is crush 1 clove Perkins’ Good Earth Farm garlic with the base of a knife.  Peel the clove, place it in your favorite (or perhaps garlic-designated?) tea cup, and cover with 8 ounces hot water.  Let the drink steep for 5 minutes before drinking.  Enjoy!

 

 

Recipe: Chicken Sausage, Kale, and Peaches on Corn Tortilla

This year’s biochar crop is Red Russian kale, a variety of the once-obscure, now-seen-everywhere garden green.  

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Dan talking kale with a Purdue student.

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Farm intern Matt and neighbor Luke harvesting kale for research, not eating. 🙂

Even though some foodies argue that kale has reached its popularity peak, plenty of others see kale as a kitchen staple that is here to stay.  (Despite the dismay of comedian Jim Gaffigan, and, yes, Dan and I did find this clip really funny even though we love our kale!)

Anyway.  Here’s a quick kale recipe I often make for lunch for just myself.  This can also easily be made for a group of family or friends.  

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  As it’s heating, slice a sausage in half–I used Gilbert’s Craft Cheddar Chicken Sausage.  Once the skillet is hot, fry the sausage or 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned.  

While the sausage is cooking, chop up 1 cup of kale and one small yellow peach (half a peach if it’s large). Once the sausage is done, remove it from the skillet and chop it into 1-inch pieces.

Add a little bit of olive oil to the skillet–you can skip this step if there’s enough fat from the sausage–and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Once the fat is hot, throw in the chopped kale and peach and saute 1-2 minutes.  Remove the peach and kale from the skillet.

You’re almost ready to eat!  Keeping the heat at medium-high, place one corn tortilla in the skillet and fry it for 20 seconds or so on each side.

Using tongs, put the tortilla on a plate, then pile on the chopped sausage, kale, and peaches.  Enjoy!

Chicken Sausage, Kale, and Peaches on Corn Tortilla
Serves 1
A quick and easy meal for lunch or dinner.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 chicken sausage
  2. 1 cup kale
  3. 1 small yellow peach
  4. 1 corn tortilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. As it’s heating, slice a sausage in half. Once the skillet is hot, fry the sausage 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned.
  2. Chop kale and peach.
  3. Once the sausage is done, remove from the skillet. Chop sausage into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Add olive oil to the skillet if needed. Turn up heat to medium-high.
  5. Once the fat is hot, saute chopped kale and peach 1-2 minutes. Remove the peach and kale from the skillet.
  6. Keeping heat at medium-high, fry one corn tortilla for 20 seconds or so on each side.
  7. Place tortilla on a plate, then pile on the chopped sausage, kale, and peaches.
  8. Enjoy!
Perkins' Good Earth Farm https://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Spring at Perkins’ Good Earth Farm

What’s growing in you garden?  Even though we’re taking the spring off from selling produce, we’re still growing a small garden for ourselves and enjoying our perennial produce.

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Chives

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Bed of greens

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Garlic Field

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First time growing shallots – we’ll see how it goes!

 

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I reminded Asher NOT to pick these lovely white flowers, at least if he wanted strawberries in the near future. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Farm Update: Building Projects, Fall Shares, New Intern

I feel a little bit like spring busyness snuck up on me this year, maybe because we were gone for the week of spring break (yay for Legoland and Manatee Springs State Park in Florida!), or maybe because I was picking daffodils a this past weekend in a snowstorm.

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Photo Credit: Anne Kingma

No matter the weather, I’m always happy for spring, even though this spring will be a little different for us here at Perkins’ Good Earth Farm.  The only thing we’ve planted so far is–gasp–our garden!  That’s right, the high tunnel is empty of green except for my winter kitchen herbs.  Why, you may ask, this dearth of spring produce?  

Our goal for this spring and summer is to build another high tunnel and a packing shed/walk-in-cooler, two structures we need to expand our Fall CSA program and move us closer to Dan transitioning into full-time farming.  And since there are truly only so many hours in a day, we decided to focus our energies on building structures for a season so that we can grow more delicious veggies for many seasons to come.  (Okay, okay, we are growing early cherry tomatoes, lunchbox peppers, and green beans for Valley Kitchen this summer.  We couldn’t help ourselves.)

So even though we won’t have spring produce, we will have garlic scapes in June, garlic for sale in late summer, and you can sign up for a fall share right now by visiting our storefront.  Oh yes, and we will also have kale for sale this summer!  Remember that biochar research project we were part of last year with Purdue University?  Well, we’re on to year two, and this year we’re growing Red Russian kale with the help of our new intern, Matthew Ford, who will be starting in mid-May after school gets out.

2016 Intern: Matthew Ford

Matthew, originally from Valparaiso, is a sophomore Economics major at Wabash College.  He’s the Social Chair of his fraternity (Beta Theta Phi), VP of the Outdoorsman’s Society, a Committee head of WAR Council (Wabash Acts Responsibly)–and farm intern at Perkins’ Good Earth Farm!  We’re really looking forward to working with Matthew, and we hope many of you get a chance to meet him throughout the spring and summer.  He has large shoes to fill after the wonderful intern we had, Sarah Lindvall, but we’re confident he’ll do a great job!

 

Recipe: Greens with Maple Apples and Onions

In the spring and fall, when fresh greens are abundant and delicious, I often eat a salad for a lunch.  I throw a bunch of Perkins’ Good Earth Farm baby lettuce or spinach in a bowl, then search the fridge for toppings.  I know some people aren’t big fans of leftovers, but I’m not one of them.  Leftovers turn my bowl of greens into a meal complete with protein, veggies, fruit, fats, and carbs. 

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For instance.  A few weeks ago, I made Pork Chops with Maple Apples for dinner, a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens’ weeknight cooking features.  Since pork chops are somewhat of a treat in our family, I didn’t have any leftover meat, but I did find surplus maple apples, aka apples sautĂ©ed with onions and garlic, then simmered in apple juice, cream, maple syrup and thyme.  I warmed up the apples, placed them on my greens, and topped the salad with toasted almonds for flavor and crunch.  My only disappointment was that I didn’t have enough leftovers for a second bowl.

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While you don’t need to make pork chops to enjoy this salad, you just might want to.  When I first made this, I used my cast iron skillet to cook the pork chops, then used the same skillet—without cleaning it—to cook the apples and onions.  If you want only the salad without the chops, you could use a little bacon fat along with the olive oil to get some pork flavor.

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First, fill four individual bowls or plates with one cup (for a side salad) or two cups (for a main dish) of salad greens and/or baby spinach.  Set aside.

If you’ve made the pork chops, your skillet should be hot and ready to go.  If not, heat it up over medium-high heat and work on your food prep.

Start by coring and slicing two cooking apples; I used Jonathan.  Next, slice a small red onion (or half of a medium-large onion), and mince two cloves of garlic

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Once your skillet’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to sizzle.  Add your apples, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook for just a couple minutes, stirring every now and then.

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Add a quarter cup of apple juice or cider, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.  

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While the apples are cooking, mix 1/3 cup whipping cream, one tablespoon of maple syrup, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme (about 5 sprigs).

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Pour this mixture over the apples in the skillet and cook for a couple minutes, until the sauce is heated through and starting to thicken.

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Spoon about a quarter cup of apple mixture over each bowl of greens, then top the salads with a sprinkling of toasted almonds.  Enjoy!

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Note: If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.

Scroll down for the printable, and let me know how your salad experience turned out! 

Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

 

Greens with Maple Apples and Onions
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Ingredients
  1. 4-8 cups salad greens or baby spinach
  2. 1 Tbsp olive oil and/or bacon fat
  3. 2 cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  4. 1 small red onion, sliced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. ÂĽ cup apple juice
  7. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  8. 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  9. 2 tsp snipped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  10. ½ cup toasted almonds
Instructions
  1. Fill four individual bowls or plates with 1-2 cups of salad greens and/or baby spinach. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil or bacon fat in skillet. Once fat is sizzling, add apples, onion and garlic to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add apple juice and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.
  4. While apples are cooking, stir together cream, syrup, and thyme. Pour over apples and onions in skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until the sauce is heated through and beginning to thicken.
  5. Spoon about a ÂĽ cup apple mixture over each plate of greens. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.
Adapted from Pork Chops with Maple Apples
Perkins' Good Earth Farm https://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: White Chili with Leeks, Fall Roots, and Kale

Leeks are a new item in the share this fall, and one of those lovely, sort-of-strange-looking fall veggies that you may or may not find in the grocery store on a given day.  A member of the Allium genus, leeks often play a role similar to that of the onion, but offer a more subtle flavor as they don’t have the sugars that onions do.

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Our hope was to provide a few weeks worth of leeks this fall, but instead we’ll have a small amount for only one week, and here’s why.  This summer, when our leek transplants arrived from our certified organic supplier out east, about three-quarters of the transplants had fallen out of the tray and died in transit.  Our supplier refunded our expenses, but it was too late in the season to plant more.  So, as my 5-year-old would say, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!”  Really, though, this experience exemplifies what it means to be part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) rather than purchasing your produce from the grocery store or even a farmer’s market.  We—the farm members and farmers—share in the risks and rewards of the farm.  In this case, we take the small number of leeks and divide them equally among members.  Other weeks this fall, we’ve distributed a surplus of spinach and radishes and offered pick-your-own of abundant field greens such as kale, Swiss chard, and collards.

Alright, back to the leeks.  How do you actually use one?  BonAppetit.com presents twelve different ways, and Deborah Madison offers several recipes in her book Vegetable Literacy, including a surprising and refreshing salad, “Young Leeks with Oranges and Pistachios.”  For this week’s recipe, I made a few variations to Bon Appetit’s white chili recipe because it’s fall and nothing says fall to me quite like a steaming bowl of chili paired with a thick slice of cornbread.

A couple notes on prepping the leeks.  First, make sure you thoroughly rinse your leeks—even though we’ve washed them after harvest, they have many layers and may still hide some dirt or sand. 

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Second, most recipes call for using only the white and pale green part of the leek, getting rid of the roots and upper greens.  However, these “throwaway” parts can be used along with or in place of onions to flavor a vegetable stock.  

Whether you decide to eat your leeks raw as a baked potato topping, or gently sautéed and paired with goat cheese, or in this chili recipe below, I hope you enjoy the delicate flavor that the leek offers to your meal.

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Begin by prepping your veggies.  Grab the leeks and cut away the roots and most of the greens, then dice the white and about 1 inch of the pale green part.  Mince four garlic cloves, add these to the leeks and set aside until your other veggies are prepped.

Peel four medium-sized carrots, or, if these carrots are from your share, feel free to skip the peeling stage (I never peel our carrots from the farm).  Then slice them into ½ inch rounds.  Peel three medium or two large parsnips, cut them in half, and chop them into ½ inch pieces.  One more root to go!  Grab five radishes and cut them into quarters (or eighths, depending on their size)—make them about the same size as your chopped carrots and parsnips.  Set this group of veggies to the side.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  When the fats are sizzling, add the leeks and garlic and cook for about five minutes.

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Dice about 2 teaspoons (4 sprigs) of fresh oregano, and measure out 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon chili powder. 

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Add your seasonings, along with two teaspoons of salt, to the pot, and stir for about one minute.  Then add the chopped carrots, parsnips, and radishes, stir well, and cook for five more minutes.

Next, it’s time to add your protein.  Rinse 15 ounces (1 can) of Great Northern beans, then add these to the pot.  Pour in 3 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’d prefer a vegetarian soup—next time you make this you can use homemade stock flavored with leeks!).  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and cook for 25 minutes, until the roots are tender and the flavors melded.

While the soup is cooking, prep one more veggie—your greens, of course!  Roughly chop about two cups of kale, spinach, radish tops, or whatever green you prefer—I used Lacinato (dinosaur) kale. At the very end of your cooking time, toss the greens in the pot and let cook for a few minutes more.  The last step is to take a little taste and add more salt if needed.

Serve topped with crème fraĂ®che or grated Gruyère.   Enjoy!

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Scroll down for the printable of this recipe.  What veggies do you like to use in your chili?

Photography and Food Styling: Julie Oudman Perkins

White Chili with Leeks, Fall Roots, and Kale
A comforting, seasonal, fall chili.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 Tbsp butter
  3. 2 leeks, white and 1' of pale-green part, diced
  4. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 4 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds
  6. 2 large or 3 medium parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and chopped into ½” pieces
  7. 5 radishes, quartered
  8. 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  9. 1 tsp cumin
  10. 1 tsp chili powder
  11. 2 tsp salt
  12. 15 oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed
  13. 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  14. 2 cups kale, spinach, or radish tops, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat oil and butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat.
  2. Add leeks and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add oregano, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add carrots, parsnips, and radishes; stir to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add beans and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.
  6. Add kale and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
  7. Serve topped with crème fraîche or grated Gruyère.
Adapted from White Bean Chili with Winter Vegetables by Sarah Dickerman
Perkins' Good Earth Farm https://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

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

 

Recipe: Brown Rice Bowls with Roasted Fall Vegetables

This week farm member Sarah Hamstra shares a recipe that includes three delicious items from your share: radishes with their greens, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.  Thank you, Sarah!

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One of the veggies featured in this recipe is Brussels sprouts, and the timing couldn’t be better.  Brussels sprouts sweeten after exposure to frost, which we experienced here at our farm this weekend for the first time this fall.  Our favorite way to eat these little cabbages is sautĂ©ed or roasted, so they work perfectly in this recipe.

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Here are the instructions from Sarah’s kitchen:

Stepping into Julie’s blogging shoes for the week is an intimidating proposition, as a business major who now sells real estate, but I’m up for the challenge! She and I do share a love of food and of cooking, which is part of what originally sparked our friendship. My husband Brian and I have been farm members since 2010—the inaugural year!—and we even have the vintage Good Earth Farm canvas tote to prove it. We have two little girls, Elizabeth and Anneliese, and we make our home in DeMotte.

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Roasted vegetables and I have a love affair. My default way to prep vegetables is to toss with olive oil, maybe add some garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice, and spread on a sheet pan in a hot oven until they’re browned and delicious. Think you don’t like broccoli? Prepare it this way and you’ll be sneaking bites straight off the pan before dinner.

Julie’s recipes last year opened my eyes to thinking about new ways to use the greens in our farm share. Of course, carrots, beets, and radishes all have greens, but for years, I discarded them without giving it a second thought. Last fall, though, I made several amazing frittatas with radish or beet greens. So, when paging through my Real Simple magazine last month, a recipe using radishes and their greens caught my eye and was occasion to immediately text Julie and tell her about it.

The original recipe calls for cremini mushrooms, zucchini, and radishes. My sister and I made this together the first time, and tossed in some peppers we had on hand. When I prepared it for this post, I skipped the zucchini and added carrots and Brussels sprouts. I love recipes like this one that are easily adaptable to what’s in season or what you might already have on hand!

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Start by preparing your rice. Brown rice is better for you and has a slightly nutty, more complex taste. I used brown basmati rice in this recipe. It will take about 35 minutes to cook, so get that started right away.

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut your vegetables into halves or quarters, depending on how large they are.

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Pull out a sheet pan. Toss your chopped vegetables with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Use fresh lemon juice for the best taste – it’s brighter and fresher-tasting than bottled. Top with a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

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Roast the veggies for 20-30 minutes or until browned and done to your liking.

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While your vegetables are roasting, you’ll want to prepare the sesame dressing. Toast one tablespoon of sesame seeds in a hot, dry skillet for about 3-5 minutes, until the sesame seeds are lightly browned.  Remove the sesame seeds, and, in the same skillet, toast about ½ cup whole walnuts for about 5-10 minutes.  The recipe calls for chopped walnuts, but wait to chop them until after they’re toasted and cooled. Set them aside.

Whisk together 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, the sesame seeds, and 3 tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice.

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Roughly chop your radish greens.

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Directly after chopping the radish greens, gently toss them with the other roasted veggies on the sheet pan. By combining them in this way, fresh out of the oven, the radish greens flash cook without wilting. 

Serve the roasted vegetables over brown rice, drizzled with the sesame-soy dressing and topped with the toasted walnuts. The combination of the brown rice, vegetables, and walnuts made this a really hearty and satisfying meal. I taste-tested this recipe on my sister, my two-year old, and my lovely friend Jolene and it got rave reviews all around. The leftovers also reheated wonderfully for lunch the next day, which is another big plus for me when it comes to quick and healthy meals. Enjoy!

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Photograph and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Brown Rice Bowls with Roasted Fall Vegetables
A healthy, hearty, satisfying fall meal.
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Ingredients
  1. 1½ cups brown rice
  2. 1 ½-2 cups (6 oz) Brussels sprouts, halved
  3. 4 slender carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  4. 8 radishes with greens, radishes halved and greens chopped
  5. 8 oz mushrooms, halved
  6. 5 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  8. Kosher salt and black pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  10. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  11. ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425° F. Cook the rice according to the package directions.
  2. Toss the Brussels sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, and radishes with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast on a baking sheet until tender and browned in spots, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and stir in the radish greens.
  3. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame seeds, and the remaining 3 tablespoons each of lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
  4. Serve the roasted vegetables/greens and walnuts over the rice, drizzled with the dressing.
Adapted from Brown Rice Bowls with Roasted Vegetables and Lemon-Soy Dressing by Justin Chapple
Perkins' Good Earth Farm https://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Spinach Bites

 

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I encountered spinach bites for the first time a couple weeks ago at my foster’s son birthday party, when guest Sarah Oudman brought them as a side dish to share.  They were so good, I asked Sarah to make them again for my son Asher’s birthday party a week later.

One great thing about this recipe is that you can make these little morsels ahead of time, then bake them right before eating.  If you’re taking this dish to a get-together, Sarah suggests putting them in a pre-heated crock-pot for the trip.  Just make sure you don’t forget the corresponding condiments!  She recommends ranch or Caesar dressing, your favorite mustard, her homemade jalapeno-red pepper relish, and—one of my favorites—Thai style chili sauce, which I found in aisle 5 at Rensselaer’s Strack and Van Til.

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First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Next, break out your food processor—or, for little more fun, grab a meat tenderizer and plastic bag.  It’s cracker-crushing time!

After placing about 2/3 package of Wasa light rye crisps (purchased at Tysens in DeMotte) in a freezer-quality gallon bag, I handed over the tenderizer to my boys and let them take turns pounding the crackers.  They had a lot of fun, but—surprise, surprise—we ended up with a hole in the bag and a mess of crumbs on the table.  Another option is to use the food processor (you’ll need it out for the spinach anyway) and involve any small helpers you have around by letting them push the button on the processor.

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Put the crushed crackers in a large mixing bowl, then starting filling your food processor with fresh spinach.  You’ll need about ½ pound (one gallon bag’s worth from your share), so unless you have a ginormous food processor, you should do this part in batches.  Make sure the spinach is finely chopped, then add it to the mixing bowl with the crackers.

Next up are the onion, pepper, and garlic. I used a chef’s knife to chop these because I wanted a little more control of their shape, but you could use a food processor here as well—just don’t get carried away!  Once these veggies are finely chopped, toss them into the mixing bowl with the spinach and crackers.

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Grate about 1/2 cup of fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese, set aside a few tablespoons, and toss the rest in the bowl.  Throw in some seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce, then stir everything together until the ingredients are well-blended.  Beat three small eggs together, pour into the mixing bowl and, using your hands, mix together really, really well.

You’re almost finished!  Form into 1-inch balls, bigger or smaller, depending on your preference, and place on a baking sheet or preheated stone.  Then sprinkle the tops with the reserved cheese.

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Pop these guys in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops just begin to brown.  I recommend inviting someone over at this point, since your kitchen’s going to smell delicious.  Serve this snack warm (not hot), with sauces on the side.  Enjoy!

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Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Spinach Bites
A healthy, delicious appetizer or snack.
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Ingredients
  1. 2/3 package Wasa light rye crisps (7 oz – about 20 cracker)
  2. ½ pound (8 oz) spinach greens
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  4. 1 small bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 Tbsp seasoned salt
  7. 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
  9. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place crackers in gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Crush into fine crumbs.
  3. Place spinach greens in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Place chopped greens into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add onion, pepper, garlic, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and all but 3 Tbsp of the cheese to the bowl. Mix until well-blended.
  5. Add beaten eggs to the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Roll into 1-inch balls. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
  7. Bake on greased baking sheet or stone for 15-20 minutes or until browned.
  8. Serve warm with condiments (ranch dressing, mustard, sweet chili sauce, etc).
  9. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you need these for a party or potluck, you can make the mixture the night before, refrigerate overnight, bake the next morning, and place the bites in a pre-heated crock pot.
  2. These also freeze well. Just pop them into the oven for 10 minutes to warm them up to serve.
Adapted from Taste of Home
Adapted from Taste of Home
Perkins' Good Earth Farm https://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/
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