greens

arugula, beet greens, bok choy, greens, kale, mustard greens, radish greens, spinach, tat soi, turnip greens

Happy Autumn!


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Hi folks! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted on this ol’ blog – again – but what can I say? We’re busy farmin it up out here and that leaves little time for blog posts. As the weather turns colder, you can expect more posts. Until then, I’m posting one of our write ups from the first Fall CSA newsletter. It’s all about greens – and I figured lots of folks might be interested in how to deal with the plethora of greens to come this season. I’ve been taking pictures on the farm – some of them are outdated already, but expect a picture blog in the near future. 
As usual, thanks for stopping by! 
 – Patricia 
Greens Galore
By Patricia Parker
Even for greens lovers like us, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the greens (but we like challenge) and root veggies of the fall. I’d like to share a bit of our greens wisdom with the hopes that you find some of our strategies helpful.
First and foremost, it is important to get acquainted with your greens. You’ll be receiving numerous types and varieties, each with their own unique flavors and textures. Additionally, their flavors will change as the weather grows colder (they’ll get sweeter – this goes for the root veggies too!). I recommend trying your greens every which way – starting by trying them raw. I find some greens less palatable raw than others – for instance, turnip, radish, and mustard greens are a bit too pungent raw for my taste. But, when they’re cooked, they’re delectable. And some greens are great raw – like arugula and spinach – and others that might surprise you, like kale and swiss chard (all of them are great cooked). As a general rule of thumb, the more tender the green, the better it tastes raw (and the less time you will need to cook them).
Now, there are countless ways to prepare your greens – you can steam them, sauté them, stir fry them, put them in soups, chilis and stews, eat them with eggs (e.g., as a side, in an omelet or frittata), etc. We’ll provide you with recipes for your greens throughout the season to help spur along your greens creativity. We’ll also give you basic cooking instructions and storage information. If your greens ever start to feel like they’re piling up on you, remember how few greens there are in the summer. You can blanch and then freeze your greens to use them any other time you like. You can also use up lots of greens if you make them the primary course on your plate (e.g., dinner salad or beans and greens with meat on the side). Of course, you can also share with your friends, family and neighbors – and if you don’t have any takers, you can leave them with us and we’ll donate them to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle for you.
Keeping up with your greens can be a daunting task in the beginning, but before you know it, you’ll turn pro!
Note: If anyone would like to share their own methods for keeping up with your CSA share, please send a write-up our way. We would LOVE for CSA members to contribute to weekly newsletters. You can send your write up in an email, as a word file, or as a pdf file. We’ll be sure to place it in the next newsletter.
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bok choy, collards, greens, kale, recipe ideas, recipes, tatsoi, turnips

Glorious Greens! – They sure are pretty, but what do I do with them?


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So, the fall and winter seasons bring us lots of greens and lots of root vegetables. If you don’t know what to do with them – and they’re really quite versatile and easy to put in just about everything – they can pile up on you and make you feel like your bounty is a chore. This is the last thing we want folks to feel about their weekly produce shares, so I’m getting on the ball and getting to some of the recipes I find useful and inspirational. But I do need to let you know, that once you begin on the greens journey, you’ll realize how extremely easy cooking and eating greens can be – and it’s tasty and nutritious too!

Ben told me that a number of folks were asking about tatsoi and what to do with it, so I’ll begin with it. Those green beauties to the left are tatsoi. Mark Bittman, author of Leafy Greens: An A-to-Z Guide of 30 Types of Greens Plus More Than 120 Delicious Recipes, breaks down the Asian greens (he refers to them as “Chinese cabbages”) (21-22):

Nutritional information: High in beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, some B vitamins, and fiber.  To cook: Heading cabbages can be treated much like green or red cabbage; bok choi can be used like chard. All Chinese cabbages are good in stir-fries and soups; braised, with or without meat; pickled (as in kimchee). Young Chinese cabbages, or the tatsoi variety, are excellent in salads. Substitutes: For bok choi, chard, which is close enough for most purposes; for the heading cabbages, common head cabbage; for tatsoi, young mustard, arugula, or cress.

Now, let me just tell you that you will figure out that you can substiute tatsoi for a lot of other things than Mark suggests above. I think it’s a great substitute for spinach as well. I think the best way to figure out what you’d like to do with your greens is to try them raw and to try them braised with a little salt and pepper. Once you taste them in these two purist forms, you can decide on what types of flavors your palate is comfortable combining them with. Just to give you an idea of how easy it is to eat greens, I’ll tell you what I did for breakfast this morning. First, I chopped up the turnip roots into diced pieces (two bunches worth). I let them simmer on low in a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of salt. As those simmered, I chopped the turnip greens and then added them to the pan. Then I placed a lid over the pan so the veggie juices would help cook the turnip roots and the greens (and it’s always good to salt your greens as you place them in the pan – it helps wilt them and it disperses the salt more evenly when they’re uncooked vs. cooked and bunched). In the meantime, I then chopped up one head of tatsoi and added it to the pan. Like spinach, it takes up a lot of pan space at first but then it wilts down quite a bit. I then put the lid back on the pan (this is a medium-sized typical frying pan – all metal). I then chopped up one head of bok choi. Okay – hold on. So, what’s the count so far? Right now, we have two bunches of turnips, one head of tatsoi, one head of bok choi and a small dollop of butter. That sounds like A LOT of greens, and I suppose it is, but it really all does wilt down to a manageable bunch of greens. Okay, so back to the pan. Basically, I added all of the chopped greens in increments, so they all had time to wilt. Once all the greens were sufficiently wilted, I added 4 whisked eggs into the pan. I then let those eggs cook for about 4 minutes on low. In the meantime, I got out the block of sharp, white cheddar cheese and grated it over the top of the eggs. Finally, I turned the oven on to 350 degrees and placed the entire pan in the oven. I am a terrible omelet maker, so I do my egg omelets, fritata style (it sounds fancy, but it’s really just a lazy person’s omelet as far as I’m concerned). To be honest, I’m not sure how long those eggs were in the oven – somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. The goal, of course, is to make sure you cooked it long enough to cook the eggs through (unless you like your eggs a bit wet, in which case, I suppose that’s not your goal…). Anyway, you should be able to see whether the eggs are cooked to your liking. If the visuals are uncertain, you can always just poke at them to feel their texture – but don’t burn yourself! Once the dish is cooked to your satisfaction, take it out of the oven and scoop some out, add a little salt and pepper (or any condiments you usually eat with your eggs – I’m a fan of hot sauce, but I know some folks really like ketchup on their eggs) and enjoy! 🙂 Whew! That sure does sounds like a lot of work (and food – but there are not usually any left overs in our house, but when there are we just reheat them for lunch or the following morning’s breakfast) when I look at what I typed, but the whole process takes me less than 20 minutes and I listen to the news on NPR and drink my morning coffee as I cook. I also make the chickens’ breakfasts as I prep our food. They like pretty much every vegetable we chop up and give them (all but eggplant, peppers, and onions), so it’s nice to feed them the things I would normally toss in the compost bin.

Okay, so that’s one idea :). I’ll leave you with some other recipes, written by the experts who aren’t nearly as long winded as myself. These recipes call for particular greens, but you can substitute them for others. I use tatsoi and spinach interchangeably. I even cooked chopped turnips and greens and bok choi and put them in a white sauce lasagna for our CSA potluck/Oktoberfeast. It was a hit and I don’t think anyone realized they were eating something so “exotic” as Asian greens in their lasagna :).

Spinach and Egg Soup (Bittman 1995: 67)
1 pound spinach (I would also use kale, tat soi, beet greens or turnip greens for this recipe – or even a combination of greens)
2 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
5 to 6 cups of good chicken stock (my note: you can certainly substitute vegetable stock)
2 eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Steam or parboil the spinach until it wilts. Cool it under cold water, squeeze it dry, and chop.
2. Melt the butter in a 4- to 6-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the stock and bring it to a gentle simmer. Beat the eggs with half the Parmesan and add them to the soup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are cooked and soup is thick. Serve with break, passing the remaining Parmesan at the table.

Turnip Greens with Potatoes (Bittman 1995: 110)

2 tablespons peanut or vegetable oil (I use sesame oil)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound turnip greens
2 small red potatoes, about 1/2 pound, washed well and peeled if desired, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teasppon rise or wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to color; add the remaining spice and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the turnip greens, the potatoes, and the stock or water, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, checking and stirring every 3 or 4 minutes, until the potato is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Raise the heat to high and boil off excess liquid, if any. Season to taste, drizzle with vinegar, and serve immediately.

You can also use collards, cress, dandelions, kale, mizuna, mustard, tatsoi or bok choi. I usually decide on what to use depending on, first, what we have and need to use and second, depending on what I flavors I want in my meal. A lot of times, I just throw all the greens together, since we almost always wind up taking at least a few greens back home from the CSA drop or from market  – even after donating to the Interfaith Food Shuttle.

Well, hopefully I’ve given y’all some ideas for how to start using your greens. If you have favorite things to do with your greens, please feel free to post your recipes or send them my way via e-mail at parker.patricia@gmail.com.

Also, please do check out the links at the right side of the page under the heading “labels”. There are a number of recipes and I tried to always label what was used in those recipes, so they’d be easy to search.

bacon, brussels sprouts, carrots, greens, kale, recipe community

Your carrots need your support!


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Another week has gone by and we are starting the summer 2010 growing season! We seeded up our first round of lettuce, scallions, cabbage, beets and parsley. We are very excited! It amazes me how far ahead we plan and work to get to harvest. This first round of seeding is meant for harvest in April and May. The short days and cold weather increases the amount of time it takes for plants to get to transplant stage. It is a combination of heat and day length that regulates the life cycle of vegetables. Especially when day length is longer than 10 hours, plants start to come out of dormancy and grow. We officially start receiving more than 10 hours of sunlight a day on Monday, Jan 25. Carrots, which we love, take 13 weeks from seeding to harvest. We’ll be seeding them in the next week or two for May harvest. Ahh, we can’t wait for those delicious roots…

Your carrots need your support! We need your CSA deposits so we can order seeds and other supplies to get the season under way. We also need your support in getting the word out about the CSA. Tell your friends, co-workers, neighbors, family, people on the street! In these depths of winter it can seem a long way to harvest but it is not! We will be planting not only carrots but also peas and broccoli soon. We plan on growing orange, purple and rainbow carrots, sugar snap peas and Italian heirloom broccoli that is good and tasty. We need your support to get your carrots, peas and broccoli in the ground and growing.

Our online store is still operating and will continue to operate through the spring. This coming Tuesday, January 26th, we plan to have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 4pm to 7:30pm. The next NCSU delivery will be Wednesday, January 27th. Remember to have your orders placed by Monday evening.

During these cold winter months, please be aware the weather may postpone our harvest of your produce. In response to this, we may postpone pickups by a day or two. We will provide primary notice of pickup changes via email (especially for those of you who place orders) as well as via blog and online store. Thank you for being flexible with us!

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store-
http://www.vendio.com/stores/bensproduce.

Current vegetable availability includes:
baby beets
bok choy
brussels sprouts
cabbage
carrots
Chinese cabbage
collards
scallions
2 types of kale
red & green loose-leaf lettuce
red & green oakleaf lettuce
red butterhead lettuce
sweet potatoes
tatsoi
Vitamin Green (a mild Asian leafy green)

No longer offered:
broccoli
mixed greens
mustard greens
radishes
spinach
swiss chard
turnips

Future winter vegetables may include:
arugula
broccoli raab
mixed baby lettuce & greens
turnips
swiss chard

Here is a variation on a great recipe we had with some friends we visited last weekend. They served it with grits and sausage on the side. Yummy in our tummy!

SAUTEED KALE AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON
serves four as a side dish or two as a main dish

1/4 pound thick bacon
1/2 pound kale, about one bunch
1 pound Brussels sprouts, about 1 quart
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts, or substitute other nuts such as pecans or walnuts.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning once, until done. Drain and chop the bacon. Pour off some of the bacon fat if you’d like. We like to cook the greens in fat.

While your bacon cooks, tear the kale leaves from the stems into bite sized pieces. Chop the Brussels sprouts into pieces about 1/8 inch wide.

Heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the greens and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the greens are slightly wilted, about five minutes. Add the bacon and garlic and sauté for another two minutes.

While the greens are cooking, brown the nuts over medium-high heat in a small, dry skillet, tossing frequently.

Salt and pepper the greens to taste, and sprinkle them with toasted pine nuts.

Voila! Yummy kale and brussels sprouts!

See you next week…
Ben & Patricia

P.S. We will be posting vegan and vegetarian recipes soon…

bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chinese cabbage, collards, CSA, green onions, greens, kale, lettuce, mustard, radishes, recipe ideas, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tatsoi, turnips

Holidays! Holidays! Holidays!


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Hello and Welcome!

A big thanks to our new customers from the neighborhood who stopped by Tuesday night to pick up some produce! The holidays are upon us! We’re headed to Tennessee to see Patricia’s family and some friends there. It will be a needed break for us, though I will be working some. I’ll be fine-tuning our farm and CSA plan for the coming year. It’s very exciting, thought provoking and a lot of work! Anyhow, we’ll be announcing the CSA soon!

During these cold winter months, please be aware the weather may postpone our harvest of your produce. In response to this, we may postpone pickups by a day or two. We will provide primary notice of pickup changes via email (especially for those of you who place orders) as well as via blog and online store. Thank you for being flexible with us!

Next Tuesday, December 22nd, we will have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 4pm to 7:30pm. We will not have produce pickup Tuesday, December 29th. We will return with pickup Tuesday, January 5th.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store www.vendio.com/stores/bensproduce.

Community Supported Agriculture:
Information coming soon!

Current vegetable availability includes:
bok choy
cabbage
carrots
chinese cabbage
collards
green onions
kale
lettuce
mustard greens
radishes
spinach
sweet potatoes
swiss chard
tatsoi
turnips

No longer offered:
broccoli
mixed greens

Future winter vegetables will also include:
arugula
baby beets
broccoli raab
brussels sprout
mixed baby lettuce & greens

Recipes:

Quick White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

– serves 2 to 3 –

Ingredients

2 pounds Swiss chard, larger stems removed, and leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan

Procedure

1. Fill a large pot halfway up with water. Bring to a boil and then toss in the swiss chard leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

2. Wipe out any excess water in the pot. Then pour in the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium-high, and when the mixture comes to a boil add the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

4. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the chard. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some grated Parmesan to finish. Enjoy!

Golumpki’s or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

We made these the other day with our cabbage, carrots and turnips and they turned out phenomenal! Give these a whirl, you might like them.

– serves 4 –

Ingredients

1Tbsp Olive oil
1 leek or onion
2 med. turnip, cubed small
2 med. carrots, cubed small
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 cup cooked rice
16 oz cooked ground meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch ground coriander
salt & pepper
1 cabbage head

Sauce:
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup broth or stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups crushed tomatoes

1. Brown ground meat.

2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add leek or onion, turnip, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3. Remove from heat and stir in meat, rice, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, lemon juice and ground coriander. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a 9×13 baking dish. Cook the whole cabbage in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until pliable. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel off whole leaves to stuff. Pat dry.

5. Lay leaves flat and make a pile in the middle of each, about 1/3 to 2/3 cup depending on the size of the leaf. Roll up each leaf, folding the sides to enclose the filling in a neat parcel. Place the rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish. Pour in stock. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the sauce in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.

7. Using slotted spoon, serve stuffed cabbage rolls topped with the tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Happy holidays and many thanks!

Ben & Patricia

greens, online store, produce stand

It’s not easy being green…Greens, greens and more greens! YUM


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Hi all! It’s another beautiful Friday in October. We’re looking forward to the next two Music on the Porch Friday’s, but we are sad that it will be over so soon. It’s been an awesome season and we’re so thankful we talked to Guy way back in August and were provided this awesome opportunity to offer ya’ll vegetables every Friday. Guy, Will, Wei, and all of you have made this such an awesome experience. Thank you so much for your support, your questions, conversations, and company! As Ben stated in our last blog, we are working on getting an online store up and running so that hopefully there will be no break in your ability to get fresh veggies close to home. We live on Sasser Street and will have a weekly pickup outside our home for anyone that’s interested.

Until then, of course, we will be coming to the last two events. Today we will offer the following produce items:

– Lettuce (summer crisp and bib)
– Swiss chard
– Green onions
– Chinese cabbage
– Tatsoi
– Bok choi
– Mixed greens
– Radishes
– Kale
– Collards
– Turnips and greens
– Mustard greens
– Broccoli
– Black cherry tomatoes
– Roma tomatoes
– Sweet potatoes

We’ve been eating gorgeous salads with all the stuff listed above and we’ve also been eating the heck out of greens. It might not be easy being green, but it sure is easy to eat those yummy and nutritious greens.

This is how we like to cook our greens (collards, turnips, kale and more):
1) Start by peeling and chopping garlic and onions and browning them on medium heat in olive oil (Ben likes to use bacon fat) in the pan (i like big honkin chunks of garlic and onion – when Ben makes his greens, the pieces are usually smaller – cut these to taste).
2) Add about one cup of water to the garlic and onions. this is when you add your seasonings. I like to use vegetable/vegetarian bullion (a half piece or a whole piece depending on how many greens I’m making), a little bit of crushed red pepper, and just a small shot of Bragg’s (or low sodium soy sauce, if we’re out of Bragg’s).
3) Rinse your greens and start tearing them up in whatever size pieces you like and put them in the pan as you do. I do this fairly quickly and haphazardly. Sometimes I include parts of the stalk if they’re not woody. If they’re woody, leave them out. I also like to add a splash of vinegar. You could substitute this for a vinegar based hot sauce if you like spicy foods. Cook the greens until they are wilted and voila, you have delicious greens to eat with rice, on the side with burgers, with shrimps and cheesy grits, and almost anything else really :0).

Thanks for stopping by!