Author: bloomingglenfarm

RadicchioRadicchio (pronounced rad-EE-key-o) is a leaf chicory common in Italian and Mediterranean cooking that is familiar to us mostly because of its inclusion in “spring mix” salads. Nutritionally, radicchio is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. It’s a very good source of vitamins C, E, and K, folate, potassium, copper, and manganese, and a good source of fiber, vitamins B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.  The presence of vitamins C and E, zinc, and carotenoids, give radicchio antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect and repair cells from the damage caused by free radicals that contribute to many chronic diseases (including heart disease), cancers, inflammatory conditions (including arthritis), and immune system dysfunction.

While radicchio is clearly a great veggie to include in our diets, one issue that most people have with it — myself included! — is its bitter flavor.  This bitterness is actually due to intybin, a substance in radicchio that is beneficial to our blood and digestive systems, and is traditionally used for its sedative, analgesic, and antimalarial effects. There are two ways to diminish the bitterness: either soaking in ice water for 30 minutes (for salads and slaws), or cooking. The recipe below uses the latter method, and also the common practice of including sweet ingredients (fresh citrus, honey, raisins and figs are common in radicchio dishes) to further cut any bitterness. Note that simply soaking or cooking in no way eliminates radicchio’s bitterness, but simply lessens it.

References and recommended links:

Sautéed Radicchio & OnionsSautéed Radicchio & Sweet Onion
Ingredients
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1 large Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion), sliced (~2 cups)
1 head radicchio with outer green leaves, cut into ribbons (~4 cups)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp agave (or other sweetener)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they become soft and translucent, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add vinegar and stir to blend. Add radicchio, agave, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, tossing frequently, until radicchio is tender, about 5 minutes.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled. Serving suggestions include:

  • On it’s own, topped with sunflower or sesame seeds, as a small dish or snack (pictured)
  • As a side dish, topped with chopped nuts or cheese, for diner
  • With smoked mozarella or gruyère as a topping on a white pizza
  • As a filling for an omlete or quiche
  • In a sandwich or wrap
  • With roasted garlic and oil as a pasta topping
  • With roasted veggies as a salad topping

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Summer Solstice is upon us, the longest day of the year. With it comes the first heat wave of the season, a strong reminder of the sun’s power. The evening light glows until past 9:30 pm, highlighted by the flashes of fireflies flickering above the fields, and often punctuated by the steady buzz of the tractor as Farmer Tom works late into the cooler evenings. Here at the farm the summer solstice is the peak of planting time- we are on just the last few pages of our planting chart- a chart that begins in February with onion and celeriac seeding. Today the farm crew harvested a few thousand cucumbers- truly a welcome sign of summer. You can almost sit and watch the tomatoes growing, and I confess, we ate the first ripe heirloom tomato from the greenhouses! The field tomatoes are all trellised on a system called the weave- we can chart the growth of the tomatoes by how quickly we need to add layers of string. The crops aren’t the only thing growing at the farm- it’s a battle to stay on top of the weeds. Most of the weeds are pulled by hand, but the weeds in the aisles between the beds are cultivated with a tractor….the rainy weather kept us out of the fields and the weeds got ahead of us. Now we play catch up.  

Tom cultivating the melon aisles and Jill trellising the cherry tomatoes

The share this week has the first of the garlic- we pulled the bulbs fresh- you can peel them and use the moist aromatic cloves just like you would regular garlic.

CSA share week 6, 6/19/12

Happy Summer Solstice! The bounty of the summer season lies ahead of us- the flowers, the fruits, and all the wonderful vegetables we will enjoy this season. In honor of the summer solstice, and those beautiful, sprawling, flowering, melon vines, I found this poem.

Night in Day
by Joseph Stroud

The night never wants to end, to give itself over
to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.
Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great
triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun–
we break open the watermelon and spit out
black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Garlic scapes are the flower shoots that grow from the hard-neck varieties of garlic grown here on the farm. By plucking them from the plant, we encourage the bulbs to grow fat in the ground and simultaneously get yet another way to enjoy garlicky goodness.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the mass of these curlicues you’ve acquired in the last two weeks. Garlic scapes are wonderfully versatile. In any recipe that calls for garlic, you can replace one clove for about one scape. Because they are milder than cloves, garlic scapes can also be eaten more like a side dish than a seasoning. Just chop several into 2-inch segments and sauté on high heat with a bit of oil until they are tender and a bit caramelized.

I use garlic scape and kale pesto in this recipe to make a delicious filling for chickpea flour crepes. It may look and sound fancy, but it was a synch to whip up (I did it in about 10 minutes over lunch the other day). Chickpea flour is now widely available as a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour (I think I even found it in the local Landis). If you can’t find it or don’t have it, the recipe should work just fine with whole-wheat flour.

Use the leftovers of this pungent pesto to add flavor to soup or steamed veggies, toss with pasta, or garnish a rich piece of grilled meat.

Chickpea Flour Crepes with Savory Sautéed Veggies

Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a non-stick or cast iron pan. When oil is hot, add 1 cup sliced summer squash. When squash is tender, add 1 cup chopped kale, Swiss chard, or beet greens. Cook until greens are just wilted. Toss veggies with 2 tablespoons garlic scape pesto.

Whisk together one egg, ½ cup chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in warm water until the batter becomes thin and pourable (thinner than pancake batter).

Ladle a small amount of the batter onto a hot, non-stick griddle or pan. Using the back of the ladle, spread the batter into a thin layer about the size of a tortilla. Carefully flip the crepe with a large spatula when the top starts to form bubbles and the bottom is golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Spoon some vegetable mixture in the center of a crepe, sprinkle with some crumbled goat or feta cheese, and fold crepe over into a large taco shape.

Garlic Scape and Kale Pesto

In a food processor combine:

4-5 garlic scapes, chopped
½ cup kale, chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds (*pesto hint: you can replace pine nuts with sunflower seeds in almost any pesto recipe for a nearly identical taste at a much more affordable price)
juice of 1 small lemon
pinch of salt

Process until garlic and kale are minced and ingredients are well blended together. Pesto can be stored in the fridge for about a week.

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover. 

The rain came down on Tuesday but thanks to a big effort on Monday rototilling and making beds, we were ready for the storm. Today was spent in a monumental weeding and planting push. The butternut and delicata winter squash finally went in, as well as dill, more lettuce, fennel, basil, beets and green beans. There is still lots of catching up to be done in the weeding department, but we’re getting there!

Before and After: Winter Squash!

For one week only, some beautiful sweet broccoli makes an appearance in the share. We’ll see more of this cool weather loving crop in the fall!

CSA Share, week 5, 6/12/12

The summer crops are growing well- we are starting to see little itty bitty cucumbers, the watermelon vines are sprawling across the aisles, the tomatoes are growing in leaps and bounds and the basil is almost ready to pick!

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

And of course, it’s just the beginning of the summer squash harvest! We are very happy to announce a new addition to the farm- a conveyor belt! Picking squash is back-breaking work. But especially so when you have to haul a bin along with you as you search and pick amongst the plants. With the conveyor belt, this step is eliminated. You still have to bend over and pick, but now you stand and put the squash on the conveyor belt, where it heads for the farm cart and a sorter who packs it into the bins. We can’t wait to use it on cucumbers and watermelons!

Harvesting summer squash using a conveyor belt.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Kohlrabi before & afterKohrabi is a member of the Brassica oleracea, or cabbage, family.  Hugely popular centuries ago, kohlrabi has made a resurgence over the past several years, increasing in availability, thanks to its easy-to-grow nature.  As with most veggies, kohlrabi is low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, is high in fiber, and is super versatile. It’s a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus, and a very good source of vitamins C and B6, potassium, copper and manganese.

Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked.  Its mild taste (much more modest than it’s broccoli and cabbage family members) makes it a great ingredient for slaw and salad recipes.  It’s also a very popular ingredient in Indian cooking, where it becomes tender and takes on the many exotic flavors of Indian spices.  You can click here for a raw Kohlrabi and Turnip Slaw recipe from Blooming Glen, and read below for a cooked Kohlrabi Dal with Aromatic Rice recipe.

Want to know more about kohlrabi? Here are some recommended links:

Kohlrabi Dal & Aromatic Rice

Kohlrabi Dal with Aromatic Rice

Ingredients
1 cup brown basmati or brown jasmine rice

1 kohlrabi (about 2 cups), plus greens, diced or chopped
2 cups red lentils
2 tsp tumeric, divided

1 modest splash grapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion (about 2 cups), chopped
1 large tomato (about 2 cups), diced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon salt

chopped cilantro, optional
shredded coconut, optional

Method
Prepare rice as directed on package.

Combine kohlrabi, lentils, and half the turmeric with 3 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the lentils (dal) is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Salt to taste and set aside.

While the kohlrabi and dal are cooking, heat oil in a deep skillet. Add garlic, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the onion and remaining turmeric and sauté until onions start to soften, about 2-3 minutes (add a little water, if needed).  Add the tomato, mix well, and cook until tender. Stir in the kohrabi-dal mixture, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala powder, and cook until flavors mix, about 5-10 minutes. Add salt, stir well, and adjust to taste.

Divide kohlrabi dal and rice into 6 servings, top with chopped cilantro leaves and/or shredded coconut.

Post and photo by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

A farmers plea: Enough rain already. Seriously. The storms can pass Blooming Glen by. Our plants are waterlogged and stressed, the farmers are muddy and stressed, our stressed seedlings want to get planted but the fields are too muddy to plow and make beds. Nothing has been planted for two and a half weeks now. Come on sunshine, shine on Blooming Glen Farm (for at least two weeks, please, because that’s what we need to dry out these fields!!)

CSA Share week 4, 6/5/12

Despite all the rain, the strawberries seem to be holding out for a fourth week of picking. Here at the farm I have discovered a new, refreshing way to enjoy, and preserve, the fleeting strawberry season. The best thing about this method is that you don’t need the most pristine fruit- which is perfect for rained on berries! It’s a beverage called a Strawberry Shrub.

Shrubs were popular in Colonial times, as a way to preserve fruit before refrigeration was possible. Vinegar based drinks were long ago used by farmers as a way to quench their thirst during hay season (and perhaps to soothe the nerves with a little rum added during rainy stretches!). Last summer I discovered and fell in love with the vinegar-based drink, the switchel, even more so after seeing its mention in Little House on the Prairie.

After hearing about shrubs (the drink, not the plant), I’ve been wanting to try making it myself. A shrub is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar that is traditionally mixed with water to create a drink that is both sweet and tart.

Looking online, there seems to be two methods: cold-brew and stove-top. The cold-brew method, which in contrast to a stove-top method, supposedly keeps the fruit flavor pure and bright. Well, I decided to try both and see for myself. The cold-brew technique most definitely kept the integrity of the strawberry flavor better and the end result was a gorgeous strawberry red! So that’s the recipe you’ll find below.

Strawberry Shrub

Strawberry Shrub

Take one part sugar to one part strawberries. (This could be 1 cup fruit to 1 cup sugar, if you like). Cover the quartered fruit with sugar, stir to combine and stash in your fridge for a 5-6 hours, up to a few days. Your fruit should be surrounded by a thick juicy syrup.

Strain the syrup from the solids (press onto the fruit to get any extra juice out), scraping any excess sugar out of the bowl and into the syrup. *That leftover fruit will be really sweet, but a great icecream or pound cake topper!

Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar to the syrup (or equal parts depending on how much fruit and sugar you started with). I like to use Bragg’s raw organic apple cider vinegar, which has a lot of reported health benefits. A little internet surfing also turned up a few balsamic vinegar based strawberry shrubs, so feel free to experiment.

Whisk to combine the vinegar and syrup. Put in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate. Check and shake it periodically. After about a week the acids in the juice and vinegar will dissolve all the sugar. My guess is that the shrub will keep for months in your fridge, if you can resist it for that long!

Now how to use a shrub? To make a delicious drink, take 1-2 tablespoons of the shrub mixture and place it in a glass. Pour in tonic or sparkling water. (I was happy with 2 tablespoons shrub to a pint jar glass of seltzer). Add spirits if desired. The resulting drink will be a pale pink in color. Enjoy!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

According to Ayurvedic tradition, every meal should contain all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. Leaving one out will leave us unbalanced and under-nourished. Have you ever felt unsatisfied at the end of a meal, even though you are completely full? You were probably missing one of these key tastes.

We obviously don’t have a problem getting in the sweet and salty, but I know I shy away from the bitter. However, bitter foods have tremendous health benefits. They have a drying and cooling effect on our bodies (and what could be better in the recent heat and humidity?). They cleanse and detoxify our immune systems. They also help to manage food cravings.

I have to admit, I’ve been nay saying escarole for a while now – its bitter taste didn’t appeal to me and with so many other vegetables to choose from, it has been easy to leave escarole off the plate. But this week, I was reminded of the Ayurvedic taste-balancing philosophy, and was inspired to face my escarole fears.

Typically, escarole is eaten cooked, which diminishes its bitterness, but I couldn’t bear the thought of preparing a hot dish in this weather. This salad balances the bitterness of escarole with sweet fennel and oranges, pungent chive blossom vinegar, and rich olive oil.

Escarole Salad with Fennel and Orange

Chop or tear the leaves of one head of escarole, removing any yellowed outer leaves, much like you would a head of lettuce.

Cut off the stalks and bottoms of three bulbs of fennel, thinly slicing the bulbs across their width. To supreme (a fancy chef word for section) two oranges, first peel them with a paring knife, making sure to remove the white pith. Holding an orange over a bowl to catch the juice, slice between the white membranes of each segment, lifting the slice of orange out with the knife.  Save the juice and toss orange segments with the fennel and escarole.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together reserved orange juice with two tablespoons chive blossom vinegar*, ¼ cup olive oil, one teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over salad and toss.  

*To make this simple infused vinegar, stuff a jar full of cleaned chive blossoms. Pour distilled white vinegar over the blossoms and leave to steep for at least one week. If you don’t have it or can’t make it, replace the vinegar in the salad recipe with white wine vinegar and add a sprinkle of chopped spring onions or whole chive blossoms to the salad.

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover. 

This week’s share has a few new crop additions: fennel, bok choy and kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a close relative of broccoli- “kohl” meaning cabbage, and “rabi” meaning turnip. It is excellent cooked or raw. The leaves are also edible, and can be used like other greens. They make a wonderful slaw with fennel and turnips. Check out last season’s blog recipe

CSA Share, week 2, 5/29

Thunderstorms and heavy rain swept through the farm this past weekend and early this week, leaving the fields waterlogged. We are starting to get backed up on transplanting, as it is just too wet to work up the soil and make beds for planting. Our crew has been busy working on tomato trellising in the greenhouses.

The fields are soggy but inside the greenhouses is dry.

The crops that are in the ground, however, are soaking up the water and growing inches every day.

Super-sized escarole on the left, and napa cabbage on the right.

Looking ahead, the sugar snap peas will be ready for picking next week, the summer squash is almost there, and the string beans have little baby beans emerging from their blossoms.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

One of the most frequent questions we get at the CSA pick-ups and farmers markets is what to do with pea tops (also called pea shoots or pea tendrils). The question should really be: what can’t you do?

You can eat them raw in salads and by the handful, throw them in a stir-fry, or put them on top of a flatbread. This recipe for rice salad is another that works great with the fresh and tender pea tops.

Rice salad is a staple summer lunch in Italy. When I was a nanny there, my host mother taught me this great trick for quick, wholesome, and fresh lunches. Make a pot of rice the night before so it has time to cool for lunch the next day. Come lunchtime (or in the morning when you are packing up for work, school, etc), you can throw together a delicious, hearty salad with whatever you’ve got on hand. 

I replace typical white Italian rice with whole-grain brown rice for a more nutritious spin. This incarnation uses some oven-dried cherry tomatoes that I preserved last year, but any “sun-dried” tomato will do. 

Ensalata di Riso (Rice Salad) with Pea Tops

Make a simple dressing by whisking together 1/3 cup olive oil, juice of one lemon, one clove of garlic, and salt to taste.

Toss a ½-pound bag of pea tops, 2 cups cooked brown rice, ½ cup sundried or oven-dried tomatoes, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese with the dressing.

It’s as simple as that!

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, Colorado native, and food lover.

This week’s share sees the appearance of escarole, a bitter green often used in polenta or soups, most famously “Italian Wedding Soup”.  A CSA member kindly brought us a sample of his family’s recipe for this old favorite. I can’t wait for dinner tonight! Last years blog featured Jana’s version of this soup.

We also have a treat for this week- pea shoots. These shoots are grown in seedling trays on tables in our greenhouse, a labor intensive process, but well worth the early spring taste of peas. Speaking of peas, the sugar snaps are growing in leaps and bounds- they grew almost a foot over the weekend. Jill can hardly keep up with the trellising!

CSA Share week 2, 5/22/12

Week two at the farm brings passing thunderstorms. We have been busy planting between the showers. Crops going in the ground include watermelons, eggplant, green beans, and flowers. We have spotted the first small summer squash- it won’t be long before we enjoy these tasty treats.

Overheard in the distribution room were recipes being swapped, new friends being made and old friends reconnecting back at the farm after a winter away. There were also plenty of smiles leaving the strawberry field!