Tag Archives: carrots

A Big Bowl of Yummy

When we’re busy on the farm in the summer, it’s good to have some go-to salads that can be made in advance, and eaten over several days if need be. This a riff on tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad from the Middle East, made primary with bulgur and parsley. Bulgur is made from parboiled or steamed wheat kernels/berries that are then dried, partially stripped of their outer bran layer, and coarsely ground. The result of this process is a highly nutritious grain that cooks relatively quickly. There might be as many recipes for tabbouleh as their are cooks. The ratio of fresh parsley to bulgur is one of the reasons.

Traditionally tabbouleh is made with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, parsley and mint. Since we are vegetable farmers, I like to load mine up with additional ingredients like radish, grated carrot, and chickpeas. I also like to use a little more bulgur than they might use in the Middle East, making it packed with fiber rich whole grain, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Although most recipes call for a medium-coarse, or #2 bulgur, I like to use a fine bulgur or #1 for my tabbouleh. If you enjoy a more chewy grain, use the #2 medium-coarse. Either way, 1 cup dried bulgur will yield 4 cups cooked bulgur. I buy my fine bulgur from a Middle Eastern grocery store. At any rate you can adjust proportions and ingredients to your personal preferences, however non-traditional it may be. Just don’t omit the bulgur or fresh parsley altogether. Tabbouleh, although best when fresh, will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

BRICKYARD FARMS TABBOULEH

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup bulgur, #1 or #2
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch, then quarter slices
  • 4 green onions, sliced using both white and green parts
  • 6-8 radishes, sliced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded on large holes of box grater
  • 1 large bunch curly parsley, chopped
  • 6-8 large mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (quality matters here)
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. If you are using fine or #1 bulgur: Place 1 cup bulgur in large bowl. Boil 2 cups of water and pour in over the bulgur. Let rest for 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork. I like to place it in the refrigerator for about an hour to cool it down. You can also just let it cool in the bowl.
  2. If you are using medium-coarse #2, place 1 cup bulgur in a heavy pot and add 2 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional). Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and cover. Cook for 12 minutes. Take of heat and let stand for 10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature or place in refrigerator for one hour.
  3. To the cooled bulgur add your halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green onions. radishes, chickpeas, grated carrots, chopped parsley and mint.
  4. In a separate bowl or pint mason jar, mix together the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Mix with a whisk, or shake vigorously to emulsify. Pour 1/2 of dressing over tabbouleh. Mix thoroughly. Add additional dressing just before serving.

Serves 6-8

“What is more refreshing than a salad, when your appetite seems to have deserted you?” –Alexis Soyer

Stocking Up!

During the fall and winter there is nothing I enjoy more than a steaming bowl of soup. Commercial stocks are inexpensive, plentiful and convenient, but they will never replace homemade. I typically make 36 quarts of chicken, and 24 quarts of vegetable stock each season, and freeze it for future use. Not only does the house smell terrific while it simmers, it is the foundation for all sorts of delicious meals that include soups, stews and risotto. I find that vegetable stock in particular, benefits from a little love and attention to the ingredients.

If you roast or brown the vegetables before you assemble the stock, the caramelization improves the flavor profile. Adding dried porcini mushrooms and tomato paste will impart a savory or umami element that deepens the end result. Unlike chicken stock which is simmered up to 24 hours, vegetable stock is simmered no longer than 90 minutes. The addition of herbs and onion skins add flavor and color to the stock.

VEGETABLE STOCK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion (save the skins)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 cups chopped parsnip
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed (can leave skins on)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 large handfuls spinach

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Rehydrate dried mushrooms. Place the dried mushrooms in a 4 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Set aside.
  2. Brown the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and fennel. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large stockpot. Add the chopped vegetables and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over high heat for several minutes, stirring only occasionally. Be patient with the browning of the vegetables, as they have a high moisture content. It may take 10-15 minutes or longer to brown them.
  3. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to turn a rusty color.
  4. Add the mushrooms and their soaking water, the rosemary, thyme, onion skins, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley and 4 additional quarts of water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low. After 45 minutes add spinach. Continue to simmer for a total of 90 minutes.
  5. Strain the stock with a basket skimmer or slotted spoon, removing all the big pieces of vegetables and mushroom. Discard or compost. Set up a large bowl with a wire mesh strainer in it. Line strainer with a layer of cheesecloth. Using a ladle or 2 cup measuring cup, pour stock through strainer. When the liquid slows down, you may have to change the cheesecloth.
  6. Pour into jars, or 1 quart plastic deli containers and chill or freeze. Make sure you leave 1 1/2 inches of headspace if freezing.

Yields: 4-5 quarts

“The secret to change, is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates

A Leg Up On Legumes

When it comes to food that is inexpensive, versatile, nutrient rich and a pantry staple, nothing can beat beans and legumes. They can be a base for anything from bowls, to entrees, to salads and soups. The two I use the most are chickpeas and lentils. They are cousins and their history dates back to 6000 B.C. Both chickpeas and lentils are still a staple in the Middle Eastern and Indian diets, and are featured in many cuisines throughout the world. They are considered a superfood as they are rich in protein, and are often used as a meat replacement in vegetarian diets. If paired with brown rice or a whole grain they are a complete protein.

Lentils come in a variety of colors, such as brown, green (lentils du Puy), gold, red and even black. Used in French bistro cuisine, they became a favored ingredient. Red lentils cook the fastest and break down quickly, while brown are typically used for soups. Green du Puy hold their shape and are favored for salads. Before using lentils, it is prudent to sort through them for unwanted pebbles or debris. I simply pour them onto a sheet pan and look them over, then transfer them to a wire colander and give them a rinse. The following recipe is beautifully earthy and comes together quickly, making it perfect for a week night. I usually make a large batch, since it freezes well. That way I can thaw a quart and have it on the table without much notice.

COUNTRY LENTIL SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound bag of brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible) or water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
  • 1 15.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glenn)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add celery, carrots and onions to pot and sauté until onions are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and mix.
  2. Next add the rinsed lentils, and mix thoroughly. Add the vegetable stock or water and mix again. Bring to a boil, then cover slightly ajar and simmer on low for 40-50 minutes. Taste lentils to seen if they are soft. If not continue to simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until done.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Mix, then heat about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Off heat, add red wine vinegar. Ladle into bowls.

Serves: 8-10

“Kindness is like snow—it beautifies everything it covers.” –Kahlil Gibran

Riff It…Riff It Good!

Being vegetable farmers, we love all things vegetable; but no one pushes that envelope better than Yotam Ottolenghi. This man fascinates me with his amazing combinations. I love his cookbooks. They are a treasure trove of ideas and visual art. He encourages all of us to jump head first into the unusual. He is my mentor for true creativity in the kitchen. In his new cookbook Flavor, he introduces his philosophy of layering ingredients for optimal impact. He prefers plates and platters to bowls, and I have largely adopted that approach. By layering textures and flavors every ingredient has a chance to stand out on its own. He prepares condiments ahead of time, as flavor bombs. The simplest roasted vegetable takes on new life when topped with a sauce, relish or spice. The visual impact of food is also important, as we eat with our eyes; so color contrast takes on a whole new meaning. From the platter, to the color and texture of each layer, to the final garnishes, every element is crucial to the presentation of the dish.

In the spirit of trying a little used vegetable, we tried his celeriac steaks with Café De Paris sauce. This dish from Ottolenghi’s Flavor cookbook was so unusual, it was a literal treat for the tastebuds. After roasting the celeriac steaks, they were placed on top of a sauce of butter, shallot, garlic, anchovy, mustard and curry powder, capers, chives, tarragon and parsley. There are really no words to adequately describe this dish. Talk about a flavor bomb! Dishes like these can really get you thinking outside the box. So when I contemplated what vegetables we had on hand, and how I could use them creatively; I came up with the following recipe. You can make “steaks” out of many root vegetables, and we had an abundance of large turnips still in the ground. So I made turnip steaks. Then I needed another vegetable that would offer a color contrast to the turnip. I decided on carrots that I roasted and pureed with a little maple syrup and olive oil. I added a small amount of water; just enough to loosen it in my food processor without changing the flavor. The final decision was a dressing or sauce. I settled on a mustard vinaigrette, as both turnips and carrots would be enhanced by this addition. I garnished with chopped parsley and toasted breadcrumbs; but in hindsight thought a sprinkle of dukkah would have also worked well.

TURNIP STEAKS WITH CARROT PUREE & MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 large turnips (3 slices per person), peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced in 2-inch chunks
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoon toasted fresh breadcrumbs, or dukkah

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare two large sheet pans, one for the carrots, and one for the turnip steaks by lining them with parchment paper.
  2. Scatter the carrots on one sheet pan and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss with your hands. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, turning carrots halfway through, until lightly browned and soft when tested with a knife. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Place turnip steaks on sheet pan, leaving 1-inch between each slice. Baste both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, turning each slice over halfway through. They should look brown around the edges.
  4. In a food processor, place roasted carrots, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon maple syrup; pulse 3 or 4 times. You want to leave some texture; if too thick add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency. Place in bowl.
  5. Make vinaigrette, by combining both mustards, white balsamic vinegar, minced shallot, and 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a pint jar. Shake vigorously until combined.
  6. On a platter, place turnip steaks overlapping down the center. Spoon pureed carrots around the edge of platter. Drizzle dressing down the center of the turnips. Garnish with chopped parsley and breadcrumbs or dukkah.

Serves 4

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” — Paul Theroux

Beyond Lettuce

When we elect to stay home as much as possible and self-shelter during this pandemic, how we have prepared can really make a difference. I really notice this during the winter as well. When it comes to salads, we need to think outside the box and get creative. For example, when Val and I were walking the dogs the other day on our farm, we came across a row of overgrown arugula. Rather than going to flower, it was still sending up small new leaves. They weren’t as tender as during the summer months, but they were still quite viable; more like field spinach. We picked about 12 cups of the stuff, and it’s working rather well in all sorts of dishes. Add this to dry cooked or canned beans and shredded carrots and you’ve got yourself a delicious healthy salad. No arugula, try spinach or kale. Both chickpeas and cannellini beans work, and most of us have olives, lemon juice and olive oil.

Having sturdy root vegetables on hand is also another way to get some ‘fresh’ in during winter. I go to the store about every 6 weeks, and when it comes to fresh vegetables it is as follows: potatoes, beets, peppers, carrots, cabbage, oranges and cherry tomatoes. Root vegetables are excellent, and the peppers and cherry tomatoes are throw in all sorts of recipes until their gone. I never buy lettuce in the winter! Most times it has been traumatized during transit and goes south in a matter of days. This is the seasonal time for citrus, so that can be a welcome addition.

BEAN SALAD WITH CARROTS, ARUGULA AND OLIVES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 carrots, peeled and shredded on large holes of box grater
  • 1 small red onion, vertically sliced
  • 2 cup arugula, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place beans in a microwave safe bowl. Mix together your olive oil, lemon juice, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Heat beans on high for 2 minutes; then pour dressing over warm beans. This will allow them to absorb the dressing and make them more flavorful. Let sit for 20-30 minutes
  2. Add carrots, arugula and olives; toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper.

“Winter forms our character and brings out our best.” —Tim Allen

Rotisserie Double-take

I recently posted a recipe for a fool-proof pie crust.  I’m sure all of you put that extra crust in the freezer for another use right?  Well, here you are; a cap for a delicious, rich chicken pot pie.  If not, the recipe is added here.  Remember to freeze half of it for your next adventure.  I remember the pot pies my mother used to buy on sale at the grocery store in their individual tins.  The crust was as dry as dust, and the contents inside made you want to skip it altogether.  This one will not only turn your head, but will end up on a regular rotation in your kitchen.  It’s so good you can even feel confident serving it to guests.  The really good news is that you save yourself extra time by picking up a rotisserie chicken on the way home, and your half way there!

BRICKYARD FARMS CHICKEN POT PIE

INGREDIENTS FOR MAMA JAN’S PERFECT PIE CRUST:

  • 3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Fine Pastry Flour)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • ¾ cup butter. cut in pieces
  • 1/3 cup shortening, cut in pieces
  • ½ cup ice water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pulse flour, 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, sugar and salt in a processor.  Add butter and shortening; pulse until crumbly.  Add ice water and pulse until it forms a ball.  Dust silicone baking mat with flour; place ball on mat and cut in half.  Wrap one half in plastic wrap.  If using for this pot pie, you may roll it out immediately; place other half in freezer for future use.
  2. Roll out in a circle a little larger than the dish you are using for your pot pie.  A large souffle dish works well.  Cut a small opening to let steam out (I use a small cookie cutter)  Refrigerate rolled out crust for 15 minutes.  Roll loosely around your rolling pin and place on top of your pot pie when you are ready to use it.

INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:

  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups red-skinned potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced thin & washed
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large, high-sided skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes, or until the potatoes start to turn golden.
  2. Add leeks, carrots and mushrooms, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes more.
  3. Add your flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add your milk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add reserved chicken pieces, parsley, remaining 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, lemon zest, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly.
  5. Fill you souffle dish, or ceramic dish with pot pie filling.
  6. Make your egg wash of 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream.
  7. Roll your crust around a rolling pin and drape over pie.  I then use my rolling pin to trim off extra crust.  You may fold extra crust underneath the border, if you prefer that type of look.  If you have used your cookie cutter, place removed piece next to opening.
  8. Brush crust with egg wash.  Place dish on cookie sheet and bake for 35-40, until crust is golden.  Serve hot.

Serves 6

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“Sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way.”

COMFORT IN A PAN

Surprise, I’m posting again! I apologize for my hiatus; 2018 turned into the most difficult year of my life.  Thankfully, we survived and are better for it.  We treasure each day and are moving forward with renewed purpose and gratitude.  So far  winter has given us daily  options to grapple with, from freezing rain and ice, to wind, and drifting feet of snow.  This has not been a  problem, as it gives us ample reasons to stay home and do what we enjoy:  cooking, reading, writing and playing games (we love cribbage and dominoes); not to mention working steadily on soap production for the next market season.  The good news is I’m making significant headway on my next cookbook: Twisted Basics: Rethinking Food.

While during some research I came across a staggering statistic: 70% of Americans don’t cook.  That’s right.  Most Americans eat out at least 4 times a week.  We heat up, microwave or assemble food; but cooking from scratch is becoming something of a novelty.  I asked myself, “are we really that busy?”  I couldn’t imagine not cooking regularly.  For me, it’s my most sincere expression of love.  I also started wondering if people understood what they were missing.  The kitchen has always been the heart of the home; a place where intimacy takes place, both in the preparation of food and the sharing of it around our table.  As I was contemplating this, I felt as though we’ve been sold a collective bill of goods.  As we scramble to meet our financial needs, we are forgetting some of the fundamental, simple pleasures of life:  cooking fresh food, with love, for our friends and family.  Isn’t it time we break bread together?

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Vegetable Lasagna:

  • 1 quart pasta sauce (Full disclosure:  During tomato time on the farm, I can dozens of quarts of roasted tomato sauce.  I have never tasted a deeper, more intense sauce that literally screams of summer.  The method for this will be in the new cookbook, and it’s way easier than it sounds!)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded on coarse setting of box grater
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded on coarse setting of box grater
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen spinach, (if fresh, wilt in large skillet with 1/4 cup water) either way, make sure you place it in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out all excess moisture
  • 1 container (16 ounces) whole milk ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup Parmesan or pecorino, finely shredded
  • 1 farm-fresh egg
  • 1 12 ounce package sliced provolone
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In medium bowl, combine the ricotta, pecorino, thyme and egg.
  2.  Place 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9 deep-dish lasagna pan; position 3 no-bake lasagna sheets evenly spaced.  Spread ricotta mixture on top on each section.  Then top each ricotta  section with zucchini and carrot mixture; followed with one slice of provolone, cut in half for each section.
  3. Next, top each section with a no-bake lasagna sheet, 1/4  cup of sauce per sheet and repeat with ricotta mixture.  Then top with chopped and drained spinach on each section, two 1/2 slices of provolone, and continue with lasagna sheets for each section.  Sauce again, ricotta, zucchini and carrot mixture, provolone cheese and lasagna sheets.
  4. Sauce again, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top.  Cover with foil.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 30 minutes covered; 30 minutes uncovered.  Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting into six servings.

Serves 6

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“Italian food is all about ingredients, it’s not fussy and it’s not fancy.”

                                  —- Wolfgang Puck

 

Beautiful Bones

As a foodie, farmer and cook, I enjoy doing many things from scratch.  With my surgery a week away, I’ve been organizing recipes for my 10 day post-op liquid diet and wanted to include some homemade chicken or beef broth. I recently came across the benefits of bone broth.  Although similar to stock, bone broth is more rich in flavor and nutrients, making it a healing food.  Gelatin, found in the joints and knuckles of bones, is one of the most prominent “super foods” for healing a troubled digestive system.  It protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps to regenerate cells.  It also aids in the absorption of nutrients.  Marrow, found in the larger bones such as the femur, helps to strengthen bones and connective tissues, as well as supporting the immune system.

Bone broth is a time-honored tradition with a long history.  It is not an accident that chicken soup was given for ailments from colds to upset stomachs.  Its soothing qualities help support the immune system.  it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can find.  It protects your joints with natural glucosamine, and the glycine in it helps us sleep better.  Bone broth is a rich source of collagen that will feed your skin, hair and nails.  The title of “super food” is well deserved.

Bone broths of all kinds are inexpensive to make and will reward you ten-fold with flavor and nutrients not found in any commercial product.  Be sure to choose your bones carefully from 100 percent grass-fed and finished cows, pastured chickens, and wild-caught fish.  Seek out a local, sustainable farmer or fisherman.  I have found that I prefer to make bone broth from chickens in a crock pot, and beef broth in the oven.  The choice is up to you.  Either way, the bottom line is that you will end up with the most rich and healthful broth you have ever tasted!

Beef bone broth ready for the oven.

Beef bone broth ready for the oven.

Beef Bone Broth:

  • 4 lbs. beef marrow and knuckle bones
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (I prefer Braggs)
  • 2 stalks of celery, halved
  • 3 carrots, halved
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Filtered water (as much that will fit into your Dutch oven
  • Himalayan pink salt
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Place all ingredients in large Dutch oven and bring to a boil.
  2. Place in oven for 18-24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Let cool, remove bones and vegetables.  Strain through wire sieve lined with cheesecloth.
  4. Season with Himalayan pink salt to taste. I start with a teaspoon.
  5. Chill in large bowl.  Lift off extra fat.  Pour into quart Mason jars.

When chilled, you can see the gelatin, nutrient-dense richness of this broth.

When chilled, you can see the gelatin, nutrient-dense richness of this broth.

“Good broth will resurrect the dead.”  —South American Proverb

Can’t Beet It!

When I first came to the farm and was getting my sea-legs, I did not like beets.  In fact I’ve never liked beets. When I saw dozens of 100 foot rows planted, I remember asking Val, “Is there really a call for this many beets?”  I soon learned that beets are one of our most popular crops.  I also learned that when you grow food without chemicals, it directly affects the flavor of those vegetables.  You have an opportunity to find how they genuinely taste, which is often incredibly sweet.  Over time, with Val’s encouragement, I learned to not only like beets, but love them!  Now I pickle them, roast them and put them in soups.  When the weather cools off, soups come front and center.  After making borscht for several years with red beets, I began to wonder if it would work with our beautiful golden beets.  Slightly milder in flavor, I knew they would match up equally well with our carrots, onions, potatoes and dill.  It’s a wonderfully satisfying soup.

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Golden Beet Borscht:

  • 4 cups golden beets with greens, peeled and diced, greens reserved and cut into thin ribbons
  • 2 cups red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, scrubbed and sliced in disks about 1/2 inch
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 4 cups organic or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

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  1.  In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, saute the garlic and onions with the olive oil on medium-high until softened.  Add the remaining vegetables and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the fennel seed, dill, bay leaf, and stock.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft.  About 15 minutes.
  3. Ribbon the beet greens and add half to soup.
  4. Add the salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
  5. Ladle into bowls, top with additional beet greens and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serves 4

Warm and inviting golden beet borscht

 

I live on good soup, not on fine words.”   …Moliere

 

Abundance 101

Often times, during the growing season fatigue sets in at the end of the day and preparing a meal takes a back seat.  For the past two farm seasons, I’ve been in the process of healing from a major intestinal bleed-out and have not be able to actively weed or harvest vegetables along side Val and our farm hand Zac.  After two days at market, it literally takes the next four or five to rest and recover.  Val my ever-ready bunny continues to be the mover and shaker at Brickyard Farms.  She deals with the additional workload without complaint, always upbeat and positive.  My “job” is to keep up with the bookkeeping, marketing and prepare a decent meal.

I’m embarrassed to admit in the past I have typically approached meal planning with what do I feel like cooking?  Rather than, what do we have and how can I use it creatively?  It has taken time to really grow into a sense of place on our farm.  That left over feeling of entitlement from my previous life sometimes blocks recognizing the incredible abundance we have here.  With 5.5 acres of chemical-free vegetables and easy access to local cheese and meat; why would I choose to cook anything else?  So my current mission is to create meals using only the vegetables  that we grow before anything else is considered.  I allow myself a wide array of condiments and spices, but the foundation comes from the farm.

This week there are carrots, potatoes and tomatoes for starters, so I opted for a roasted concoction inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi.  It was the first time I had added a dressing to warm veggies.  The result made me weep with the realization that there is no lack of anything, only an overflowing abundance.

Warm out of the oven ready to be tossed with the dressing.

Warm out of the oven ready to be tossed with the dressing.

Roasted Vegetables With Caper Vinaigrette:

  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut in 3 inches lengths (for larger carrots, halve lengthwise and quarter)
  • 4 medium red onions, cleaned, peeled and quartered vertically
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium red skinned potatoes, skin on and chunked or quartered depending on size
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.  Place the onions and carrots in a large bowl and add the olive oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  Toss well and spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes.

While the onions and carrots are roasting, prepare the potatoes.  Add the potatoes to the pan and toss to coat.  Return to the oven and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes.  When the vegetables are cooked through and have taken on a golden color, stir in the halved tomatoes.  Roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, capers, maple syrup, mustard and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables as soon as you take them out of the oven.  Remove head of garlic. Place roasted vegetables in decorative bowl and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Place garlic head on top.  When serving break up head and squeeze garlic paste on each serving.  Pass the Kleenex.

Unexpected lusciousness!

Unexpected lusciousness!

Don't plan on leftovers.

Don’t plan on leftovers.

“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.”

                                                                          —Marianne Williamson