Archive | August, 2012

A Horticultural Victory

28 Aug

Long Island Cheese Squash.

My husband’s pride and joy from our garden this year.

Long Island Cheese Squash

We picked up the seed packet during a visit to Monticello (part of The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants collection) and planted some for the first time last year. Unfortunately, we grew only one lonesome “Cheese Wheel,” most of which was enjoyed by our backyard squirrels. This year was different, though. To our delight, this old, Long Island Heirloom has been prolific and grew ten plump, delicious, and versatile winter squash that made my husband’s gardening efforts more than worthwhile this year.

We look forward to making soups and pies, and sneaking the puree of this vegetable into our children’s macaroni and cheese, muffins, and anything else we can imagine.

You can pick up your own packet of this heirloom variety at Monticello’s Heritage Harvest Festival coming up on September 14th and 15th. 

What is the pride and joy of your garden? Post a picture for us on Facebook and tell us about it!

Maque Choux

22 Aug

This recipe comes from Farm Table member, Christen Miller, a nostalgic recipe from her days in Texas, learning to cook from her Louisiana-born neighbor who infused Cajun-inspired dishes into Christen’s life. Christen’s food talents include: vegan and vegetarian, wild foods, Cajun and tex-mex, historic (Native American, civil war era, colonial era), healthy recipes, and campfire cooking, including dutch oven, cast iron skillet, grill, and foil. We look forward to Christen contributing more recipes to our blog for your enjoyment. 

Christen swears by Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, and you can almost taste the dish below as she describes how to make it. With corn on the menu last week and in the Chef box this week, why not try this recipe out?

Some of my earliest memories are from the garden of my youth. Hot Texas sun, red clay dirt, the drone of cicadas and the smell of warm pine needles will always invoke memories of sweet tomatoes, a cucumber tee-pee, and that particular shade of purple you can only find in an eggplant. We planted our garden in March, and we were still pulling tomatoes in December. What we didn’t get from our own piece of land often came from close by. We lived in an agricultural society. Sweet corn and rice were cash crops in Waller County. Most of the kids in my school were in Future Farmers of America or 4-H, and raised cows, sheep, goats and chickens to show in fairs. It was just how we lived.

But agriculture wasn’t the only food source in our house — my father is an avid fisherman, and the main source of animal protein on our table was fresh caught bass or perch, speckled trout or red snapper. We had eggs from our chickens, and blackberries and muscadine grapes picked from the road sides. And of course…we had barbecue!

I don’t live in Texas any more, I don’t have a garden, and there is rarely time to fish. But the values I learned in childhood of the importance of eating local and close to the earth have stayed with me. I was thrilled when I found out about The Farm Table from a flyer at my child’s school. An opportunity to participate in a community run organization that delivers local produce to your door? Sounded to good to be true! Thank goodness it isn’t– I feel like it’s Christmas every Thursday when I get home and find “The Box” on my doorstep, and the smell of fresh produce takes me back to childhood, and stirs both my creativity in the kitchen and my memories of all my kitchen mentors who’ve been in my life.

The first day my husband and I moved into our house in Galveston, TX, we met our next door neighbors Gussie and Emery Thibodaux. They hailed from Louisiana and were some of the kindest, generous, and most genuine folks I’ve ever known. And Gussie could cook like no one I’d ever met. I hope to share many of her recipes, but one of my favorites is her corn Maque Choux  (pronounced mock shoe) – I’ve read that the origin of the name is not French as it seems, but a variation of an American Indian name. Gussie never measured anything, and so I learned to cook like her with a dash of this and some of that, going by smell and taste to determine if it was right. Maque Choux is one of those regional dishes that has as many variations as there are families that make it. It showcases corn in a unique and wonderful way. I don’t know how true that is, but I like the story. Every time I cook it up I can picture her stirring and stirring the pot and telling me, “You gots to stirl and stirl and stirl it!”

Gussie’s Maque Choux

Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn, at least 1 ear per person
  • Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning
  • Oil, 1/2 cup corn oil or more OR about 2 Tbs of coconut oil
  • Water, as directed

Directions:

  • Start with the freshest corn, but you can use frozen if you must. At least one ear per person will do, but more is recommended.
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut the corn off the cob in two thin layers, then flip the knife over and use the back to scrape every bit off the cob. Squeeze the cob to get every bit of milk out. Season with Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning to taste. Don’t skimp on this.
  • Put enough oil in a heavy pot to coat the bottom. (This is the one area in which I don’t do just what Gussie said. She put at least half a cup of corn oil or more. I use about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.) Get the oil nice and hot – medium heat is best.
  • Add the corn all at once. Cook and stir until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, but don’t let it burn. When you have some nice browned bits add enough water to cover the corn, then scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Let the water cook down until the pan is almost dry. Do that again – water to cover, scrape up browned bits, simmer down until almost dry. Your corn should put off a roasted aroma, and smell so good your mouth is watering. This process caramelizes the corn and brings out all the natural sweetness.
  • Add water a third time, but this time not as much and don’t let it cook all away – you want some moisture in there. Taste for seasoning, and you are done.
  • This dish goes with just about anything, and leftovers (if there are any) are fantastic as a condiment on burritos or tacos, stirred into pasta salads or casseroles.

Do you have a food mentor who left their mark on your cooking repertoire? A neighbor, a family member, or a friend? We’d love to hear more. Tell us about them in the comment section below!

Rick’s Tips: The Well-Stocked Pantry & Essential Cooking Tools

18 Aug

We hope you tried the Mushroom Risotto we shared in our last installment of “Rick’s Tips” — it really is an incredible recipe, and one your guests will go home talking about.

When we asked The Farm Table’s co-owner, Rick Grossberg, a self proclaimed “foodie,” what would be included in his top-10 list of essential seasonings and cooking tools, we were not surprised when he came back with a rather extensive list of items to create culinary magic in the kitchen! 

So, print off this list and head to your nearest grocer and kitchen supply retailer:

Rick teaching a cooking class The Farm Table held at the Richmond Alternative Center last winter

Kosher salt, not the very coarse salt which is made for ice cream machines and salt- baked fish, but the finer type. The salt looks like tiny flakes. I use it for everything and it is the most popular salt used by professional chefs – available at any grocery store.

Whole pepper corns are available at any grocery store, but if you are in Costco they have a pepper mill that contains whole pepper corns. I use it and it is great.

Herbs and Spices (dry unless the recipe calls for fresh; I struck out the less important spices): 

  • Bay Leaves
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Coleman’s Mustard
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Onion Powder/ not Salt
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Rick’s Essential Cooking Tools – not a top-10 list!

  1. an eight-inch chef’s knife –  the most essential tool in the kitchen
  2. an instant-read thermometer
  3. three stainless steel bowls
  4. sturdy tongs
  5. sturdy sheet pan
  6. plastic cutting board
  7. paring knife
  8. can opener – not electric
  9. vegetable peeler
  10. colander
  11. small, medium and large cast-aluminum saucepan
  12. medium nonstick cast aluminum pan – 10-inch
  13. steep-sided, heavier duty steel pan – 14-inch
  14. single cast iron 12″ fry pan
  15. skimmer
  16. slotted spoon
  17. rubber spatula
  18. bread knife
  19. big whisk
  20. food processor
  21. microplane grater
  22. box grater
  23. knife sharpener

Joe Gusti, a friend of The Farm Table, runs a commercial kitchen supply company where Rick gets many of the kitchen items that he uses. Farm Table members will receive a special discount — details were in your Farm Table newsletter this week. Joe’s contact information: 2923 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230, (804) 355-6600

Not a Farm Table member yet? Check out the newest Living Social Deal: Annual Produce Membership with Two Delivered Produce Boxes for $52 ($104 value). If you’re not a member yet, this is the time to do it!

Stay tuned this week for a Cajun-inspired recipe from one of The Farm Table’s members. 

Congratulations to Tiffany Coffman, the winner of our most recent blog giveaway: 50% off The Farm Table membership and 1 box of produce on us! We appreciate everyone who participated!

Get To Know: Your Farm Table Neighborhood Coordinators, Part II

16 Aug

We have really enjoyed introducing you to The Farm Table team, and have more to share about the people who deliver your Garden, Chef, and Breakfast Box to you each week in our newest Get To Know series installment. Many of the Neighborhood Coordinators we will introduce you to in this post found The Farm Table through a Living Social promotion, and quickly decided to join The Farm Table team. We are running a Living Social promotion now through Sunday, so please pass the word along. You never know where it will take you!

Christine with her dog, Maggie in Sedona, AZ

This is Christine Berg’s first season as a Neighborhood Coordinator with The Farm Table, after relocating back to Richmond from San Francisco, CA. While living in the Bay Area for 7 years, she discovered the importance of organic farming and eating local food. She delivers to the Chesterfield/Chester area, and has so far really enjoyed working with The Farm Table and the members in her area.

Christine enjoys trying different recipes – mixing it up, and being conscientious about eating seasonally.  Her favorite fruits and veggies are cherries, any type of berry, cucumbers, butter lettuce, beets, and spinach.  She also enjoys making and eating fermented foods – kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt.

When not delivering food for The Farm Table, Christine serves as  a full-time registered nurse, but outside of work she enjoys cooking from scratch, spending time with friends and family, being outdoors – hiking, cycling, reading.  This season, she and her husband planted their own garden and look forward to simply walking outside to the back yard to get food!

Kathy Frazier joined The Farm Table through a Living Social promotion last year.  She was so pleased with not only The Farm Table products and services for their members, but also how The Farm Table supported local farmers and communities.  When the opportunity arose this year, Kathy chose to join the team as a neighborhood coordinator and couldn’t be more thrilled.  Her delivery areas are in Chesterfield including South Brandermill/Hull St. Rd./FoxCroft/Hampton Park neighborhoods. She looks forward to making connections with members and getting a first peek in those lovely produce boxes every week!

Although not originally from Richmond, Kathy calls Richmond “home” having lived in the metro area for the last 25 years.  During her childhood, she had the opportunity to see much of the country living in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, Wisconsin, and finally settling in Virginia.  She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and worked for 10 years at NewMarket Corporation in Information Technology, focused on web development.   Kathy has two elementary aged children and a wonderful husband who keep her very busy when she’s not delivering Farm Table boxes.

The Farm Table membership plugs right into one of Kathy’s favorite past-times; cooking and experimenting with whole foods.  A great find for her was the kale chip recipe published in the weekly newsletter.  Kale chips were a huge hit with her kids and a staple snack in the Frazier household meal plan.  Kathy also enjoys antiquing, gardening, being involved with her children’s activities and is a strong supporter of the arts.  After a long day, she can be found out on the patio, enjoying the company of friends and family, listening to some good music, and enjoying a nice glass of wine.

Patty Carpenter and her husband of 30 years moved to Richmond 20 years ago from Seattle, Washington. They have
three children, ages 24, 18, and 14 and a Welsh terrier named Tucker.

Besides delivering fresh, local produce every Thursday, Patty stays busy working as a massage therapist, volunteering at her children’s
schools, helping with the Richmond Soap Box Derby Foundation, and enjoys cooking, reading, attending the kids’ various events and
performances, and doing just about anything outside.

Patty found The Farm Table through the Living Social promotion this year and loved the idea of supporting local farmers. With her family’s busy schedule, she often misses the Farmer’s Markets, and so having fresh-from-the-farm produce delivered to her door sounded like a fantastic idea! Patty was so impressed with the Farm Table folks she met, that she became a neighborhood coordinator right away. She has really enjoyed trying new recipes with the delicious veggies and meeting the like-minded folks she gets to deliver to each week in Glen Allen.

 Susan Medina says, “Life is interesting, and quite contradictory. I’m afraid of heights, but married to a man from La Paz, Bolivia (in the Andes Mountain chain, 13,000 feet up).  We visit often.  I love the Spanish language, speak fluently, but still struggle to raise my three children bilingually.  I am anti-electronics but am a blogging mom.  I believe children should play outside more, but will come running back inside myself when a bee buzzes by. I live in the country, but crave the variety of city life.  My favorite food is watermelon and least favorite is lima beans.”

This is Susan’s second year as a Neighborhood Coordinator for The Farm Table, a job that has helped her slow down life’s hectic pace and teach her kids the importance of eating whole foods, eating locally, and that eating vegetables is delicious! 

Lou with her husband Steve who accompanies her on her weekly Farm Table route

This is Lou Stafford’s first year with the Farm Table after contemplating for years joining a food cooperative.  When she saw the Living Social promotion for the Farm Table, she thought she would give it a try.

Lou loves to cook and to experiment with new recipes, many of which she finds from her extensive collection of cookbooks.  She loves most kinds of food — the exception is okra! Lou grew up in Roanoke, went to William and Mary and moved to the Richmond area afterward.   She retired from the Virginia Lottery 10 years ago.

Lou loves going to the Y, especially the step aerobics, Zumba, Pilates and yoga classes.  She recently joined a group of women who coil baskets and decorative items from long pine needles.  She also enjoys knitting, and growing vegetables in containers and raised beds (square foot gardening).

Lou is the proud Mom of 2 sons — one is an occupational therapist in Richmond, the other in the Navy in Naples, Italy. In addition to delivering The Farm Table produce to the Ashland area, she is currently studying Italian — planning on a trip to visit her son!

 

 (For those of you checking, blog winners from our last post will be announced this weekend)

Summer Squash Tart and a Delivery Box Giveaway and Discount

1 Aug

The Giveaway is over, but please read on for a fabulous recipe from Tim Vidra!

We were so pleased when Tim Vidra, The Farm Table’s Twitter and Pinterest guru, agreed to do a guest post for us on our blog.

Many of you know him already as the author of the E.A.T. blog, where he shares many of his food inspirations, and advocates using simple, and local ingredients. We think that if you are invited to his house for dinner, you are one lucky person.

This might be the next best thing to an invitation:

In our house I do most of the cooking, and for this guest post I am going to have to give credit where credit is due — my better half came across a variation of this seasonal tart recipe in one of her Real Simple magazines a few years back. Now for me, Real Simple is not a magazine I frequent and it certainly wouldn’t be the first source for recipes I’d lean on — well here I am a couple of years later continuing to make this easy, tasty, and very eye appealing tart that I know you will also enjoy.

We most recently had all but a few of the main ingredients required for this tart recipe come in our farm table Chef’s Box delivery — squash, zucchini, leeks, and even dill. So with that, you can create this in a few real simple steps!

Ingredients:

  • Summer squashes (yellow squash, zucchini, anything you like)
  • 1 small potato (red, purple, yellow — again, anything you like)
  • 1 leek
  • A few sprigs of fresh dill — to desired taste, about 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • 4 ounces of Feta Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste
  • Pie crust (store-bought works well)


Preparation:
Heat oven to 375 degrees and thinly slice squashes, potato and leek — we use a mandoline on the vegetables to get a super thin and uniform slice (though a sharp knife and steady hand will get the job done).


Heat oil in a skillet and cook squashes, leeks with salt and pepper to taste until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in potatoes, chopped dill and feta and toss to coat everything nicely letting the cheese melt slightly.


Roll out pie crust onto parchment lined baking sheet and spoon squash mixture into the middle, spreading out evenly to about 1 inch away from the edges.


Gently fold over pie crust sides, one corner over the other all the way around last flap folds over to complete tart edging with open vegetables in the middle.

Transfer over onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until crust bubbles and lightly browns.


Remove from oven and either serve immediately while hot or let rest and cool for a more room temperature dish.

I’d love to hear how you’ve been preparing the vegetables delivered in your own boxes and hope you’re using all of the available free resources of information we have for you here at The Farm Table from the blog, twitterfacebook, and pinterest accounts.

The Farm Table is offering a blog give-away to one person in our delivery area: 1 free box of produce and 50% off membership if you are not a member already (membership would be $25 instead of $50). 

To enter, simply follow The Farm Table Blog by entering your information under “Follow The Tractor” to the right, and leave a comment telling me you have done so. You must include your zip code in your comment so we can confirm your delivery area.

Each of the following will earn you an additional entry (you must include your zip code in all entries):

  • “Like” The Farm Table on Facebook , and or follow The Farm Table on Twitter — then leave 2 separate comments on this post for each letting us know you’ve done so.
  • Share this post by clicking the Facebook Like button at the top of the post and leave a new comment on this post letting us know you’ve done so.
  • Tweet about the giveaway including the following: “@The Farm Table and @TimVidraEats is giving away 1 free box of food + 1/2 off membership” with anything else you’d like to include – then leave a new comment on this post letting us know you’ve done so.
  •  Follow or visit our Pinterest account and then leave us two separate comments telling us you are following and tell us which board is your favorite.
  • Follow Tim’s blog E.A.T. and comment here letting us know you have done so.

And the fun is just beginning! You have many more chances to win our blog giveaway. Simply visit Tim Vidra’s blog,  E.A.T., and enter to win there. You must include your zip code in all entries. One winner will be chosen from each blog. (The Giveaway is Closed)

Congratulations to Tiffany Coffman, the winner of The Farm Table’s blog giveaway. We hope you enjoy half off membership and your first delivery box of produce on us! Please check your Email or Facebook messages for further instructions on how to redeem your winnings!

Virginia based food writer, Tim Vidra, authors the blog E.A.T. where he advocates the principles behind supporting a sustainable food system. Tim’s mission is in sharing his passion for the preparation and enjoyment of food in a way that everyone from beginners to long time foodies can get involved in. Tim’s recipes and advice have been featured across food publications, he writes a regular guest column for Lot18 and he’s led series’ of cooking demos and classes throughout the Richmond area. Learn more about Tim via E.A.T. and follow him on twitter @TimVidraEats.