Tasting Red – An Inspired Salad

My trip to the Farmer’s Market this week made me SEE RED!  It really was completely unintentional.  I didn’t walk around and look for RED FOOD.  I didn’t scorn the beautiful yellow plums or the plump purple concord grapes.  I just found myself subliminally attracted to the variety of beautiful vermillion selections that popped out everywhere I looked.

IMG_2308

It started when I spotted the lovely red butter lettuce SKYPHOS.  We have grown this lettuce on the farm for many seasons, and it has been a favorite of the chefs consistently.  It has a very mild flavor, but also it has some “tooth”. It holds up to the bite and doesn’t collapse under the dressing.  It is better than ANY RED LEAF LETTUCE you will ever find at the grocery.  I promise.

IMG_2278

This head of lettuce invited me to mentally celebrate the salad I was going to make as I made my way from farmer to farmer at the market.  I took note of a small, heirloom watermelon and had to ask – what type of melon is this?  “A pink heirloom variety” was the answer, and as quick as you can say seed spitting contest, it became a part of the salad in my head.

IMG_2283

Is this a summer salad or a winter salad?  It’s and END OF SUMMER salad, and so there aren’t any rules that say you cannot mix beets and watermelon.  After all, they are both in season, as crazy as that sounds!

IMG_2287

The beets were steamed to soften and then a rough uneven cut made perfect salad toppings of this root specimen seasonal crossover.

IMG_2292

Shaved so thinly you can see through the porous cells of the red onion, a very nice flavor boost is provided by this addition to the salad.  The familiarity and subtle bite of sweet red onion is a great compliment to the sweetness of the berries and the earthiness of the steamed red beets.

IMG_2301

The “dressing” for my RED SALAD is a simple drizzle of fresh squeezed blood orange juice and walnut oil (or olive oil is great, too). I used some chopped shallot and a bit of dijon mustard to add some complexity to it, and seasoned with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

IMG_2304

Our Scarlet Salad from the Farmer’s Market this week was a real celebration of simplicity and seasonal satisfaction.  It was the perfect compliment to our grilled fresh fish – Wahoo Filets from the fish monger.  A perfect Saturday evening meal.

IMG_2308
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                v

Hello END-OF-SUMMER….hello BOUNTY!

I have decided to deem a new season… it’s the 5th season actually.  I’m going to call it END-OF-SUMMER! As a farmer, you can’t imagine what it’s like!  You are in the halcyon days of the spring and added to that, it’s fall veggie season, too!  It’s called End of Summer. Put it on your calendar!

roastedVeg-finaladj-2040

These beautiful summer garden specimens, like padron peppers, green zebra tomatoes and other heirloom varieties, became a lovely weeknight supper in a hurry by simply roasting in the hot oven with a little olive oil and salt, then adding to this beautiful fall champion….

IMG_2235

DRUM ROLL…..SPAGHETTI SQUASH!!

Please, someone tell me why, these seemingly WINTER VEGETABLES, like spaghetti squash, for example, worked SO WELL with the true summer heavy hitters like peppers and tomatoes?  It surprises me every time I put them together.  I know, however, that at the END-OF-SUMMER, our tastebuds are ready to teeter totter on the edge of the chasm, knowing that falling either way will be a fabulous fall, and that falling both ways is even better.

so, I am ready for the future, but not quite willing to let go of the past, and therefore have decided to wallow in the present.  I LOVE END-OF-SUMMER!

breakfast-the-next-day-2035

And so, in a bit of a hurry for a weeknight meal, I decided to throw all my ideas in the oven at once while I threw down a few yoga poses in the living room, adding fresh sage to the mix to push myself a little bit more into the END-OF-SUMMER mode.

roastedVeg-finaladj-2038

After about 45 minutes, the sage leaves became crisp and smoky, the summer vegetables sultry and forbidden, and the roast chicken, well since it’s a farm chicken, it’s texture and flavor were perfectly satisfying with the crispy, sage infused skin.  It is such pleasure to see the parts of this meal come out of their cooking cloak and onto the plate.  Such ease.

IMG_2042

Simply cutting in half the roasted spaghetti squash, removing the seeds, and then scraping the stringy flesh out of the skin with a fork, with just two more simple steps you have a complete, albeit simple, dinner .  Number 1 – add the roasted vegetables and sage to the spaghetti squash and 2) stir in a few turns of the cheese grater of parmigianno reggiano cheese!  Season with s & p, of course.

roastedVeg-finaladj-2045

 VOILA!  END-OF-SUMMER supper in no time!  All seasonal, all farm fresh, all delicious.

And…there’s more!

roastedVeg-finaladj-2061

Breakfast the next morning!  Economize, right?

I hope you will try this and any other combination of things on either side of the season that you can think of! Share your ideas with us, too, please!

 

Check out what I mean about this END-OF-SUMMER bountiful season! Here are a few actual photos from my past week at farm and farm markets! It’s really abundant and really a blessing to have this season – End-of- Summer – to appreciate and enjoy.

 

 

End of Summer Zucchini Pickles

End of Summer Zucchini Pickles

End of Summer Zucchini Pickles

 

End of summer can mean so many different things, right?  It’s the official start of school, it’s kids back to college, it’s a nip in the air that wasn’t there before, it’s the last official picnic… it’s Christmas will be here before you know it. Well, it means a lot when you’re talking about food.  And with that thought pretty much always at the forefront of where my mind goes, I’m thinking I’d better get some pickles made, or this is definitely not going to happen this year!

zucchiniPickles-2188

 

 

So, on this glorious end of summer holiday weekend, we enjoyed a nice appropriate outing – first to the farmers market, then to a local art fair, and THEN a walk on the beach at sunset…. ahhhh.  I will remember this day until it’s barefoot season again next year. because even though it is still warm, we start celebrating shorter days now and well, time flies.   BUT, I managed to carve out my day in the kitchen!  And I knew when I went to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, that Zucchini Pickles needed to happen NOW!

 

End of Summer Zucchini Pickles

 

Pickles are so easy to make.  I like to make “refrigerator pickles” because I really enjoy the crispness and freshness of the brined coins for as long as they last, foregoing the longer shelf life of the canner processed version I helped my grandmother put up in the summer as a child. I make pickles sans sugar!  I like the kosher dill variety of pickles, which basically refers to the New York style of processing vegetables in a salt brine, with the generous addition of dill and garlic.

 

zucchiniPickles-2172

 

The Ball Corporation, who produced the first glass canning jars in 1884,  gave us these “spring green canning jars” this year, and I think they are so beautiful! Antique jars have become quite expensive, but these lovely new ones are abundantly available to us and a lovely addition to the pantry.

 

Kosher Dill New York Style Pickle brine.

 

Fresh dill is so nice, and if you toss seeds out into the garden bed every few weeks, you will have these lacy fronds throughout the summer and into the fall. Once they flower, or “go to seed”, the plant will die, so toss out fresh seeds and keep the dill coming in your garden.

 

zucchiniPickles-2175

 

I love celebrating the season of bounty at the end of summer by putting pickles by. These pickles should last about 3 months or longer in the refrigerator, hence the name “refrigerator pickles” and the recipe and process is so simple and can be adapted to almost anything in the garden that you want to enjoy just a bit longer.

 

End of Summer Zucchini Pickles

 

My annual Labor Day hotdog would not be the same without a pickle on top, and this year it was sooo much better with a fresh from the farmer’s market Zucchini Dill Pickle!

 

zucchiniPickles-2188

 Happy End of Summer!!

End of Summer Zucchini Pickles

These crunchy Refrigerator Dill Pickles are not sweet, but have the salty, crunch of the season's fresh vegetables draped in dill and garlic! Yumm!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb Fresh Summer Zucchini Squash (sliced in thick coins)
  • 1/2 Small to medium Yellow or Sweet Onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Whole Carrot (sliced in thin coins)
  • 5 or 6 Garlic Cloves (peeled)
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tsp Yellow Mustard Seed
  • 1 Tsp Black or Multi-colored Peppercorns
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Dill
  • 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Cups Filtered Water

Directions

Wash, dry and slice the zucchini coins. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit and "weep" some of the moisture out of the squash for about 30 minutes.
Slice the coins of carrot and the onion. Add these vegetables to the zucchini coins and stir to combine.
Gather seasonings together, including salt, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves and mustard seed. Stir to combine the seasonings, and add to the sterilized pickle jars, dividing evenly between the jars.
Pack the jars on top of the seasonings with the vegetables, adding a sprig of dill in the jar as it is packed from bottom to the top.
In the meantime, heat the apple cider vinegar and water on the stove until it boils. Allow to cool slightly, then pour hot liquid over the packed fruit filled jars.
Using a dinner knife, run the knife blade around the edge of the jar to release air trapped inside the vegetable coins.
Cover the jar with it's canning lid and allow to cool on the counter. When the jar has cooled sufficiently, place in the refrigerator for keeping for 3-4 months.

News from the farm…the kitchen… and the community!

Thornhill Farm

 

Do you recognize this lovely spot?  It’s the Pole Barn at Thornhill Farm, where so many great gatherings and purposeful events have taken place over the last seven years. Well, don’t say goodbye just yet! Say HELLO to the possibility that we may continue to see Thornhill Farm thrive into our future as a working farm through a public partnership between the East Cooper Land Trust and a to be announced working partner, soon!

WOW!

Please send a quick email to our

Charleston County Council NOW showing your support for this project!!!  

They vote TODAY, August 26th, 2014 at 6:30pm

tractor

These little peeps are growing up now on the pastures at the farm for us for Thanksgiving!  It has been awesome to watch their behavior develop SO EARLY and realize the wonder of this beautiful heritage breed.  According to the Livestock Conservancy, this is the “original American Thanksgiving Turkey”, as it was a cross between the domestic turkeys brought from Europe and the wild turkeys of the new world.  They grow a bit slower and are stronger and more flavorful, certainly.

500px-Male_north_american_turkey_supersaturated
 

This is the grown-up version.  It’s hard to believe they go from the previous pictures taken in July to the full-grown bird, ready for Thanksgiving by mid-November.

You can put a deposit on your Thanksgiving Turkey for this year on our website.

Just click HERE

tractor

I’m spending my inspirational time in the kitchen these days (when I have to be away from the farm) with my camera and my farm loot, trying to develop the skills to inspire further this connection to farm fresh food that is so important to me.

Farm Fresh recipes coming together

so…. that turned into this….

onslate

… a yummy farro salad with roasted summer vegetables and goat cheese.

 

egg-beater

  Thank you for indulging me.  If you, or someone you know, would like to have this recipe, and/or sign-up to get my recipe blog sent to you as it is published,  please go to the website now and input your email address there.

You inspire me.

please visit often…

ourlocalfoods.com

Brick Chicken and my husband’s bacon press.

baconPress

 

Enjoy this  simple summer supper, Brick Chicken with Summer Succotash, but first let’s talk about my husband’s BACON PRESS! Do you have a bacon press??  If not, it’s ok.  Please don’t even allow the slightest inferiority complex over this question, because, as a matter of fact, my husband is one of the few lucky individuals I know who can answer yes to this question. AND I can tell you that is because I gave it to myself for his birthday one year that he even has one! Brick Chicken is one of those dishes that is so good because of one simple added element to the cooking process. Placing weight on the chicken as it cooks, skin side down, crisps the outside skin and sears in the juices and flavors.  It cooks quickly, too, because the weight (whether it is a bacon press or a brick covered in foil), gets hot and provides heat from the top as well as the heat from the grill or cast iron skillet on the bottom. This preparation is the perfect accompaniment to a summer succotash.  The combination of a medley of seasonal vegetables like field peas (which are actually beans!!), corn and tomatoes responds beautifully to a grilled brick chicken!   The process begins with removing the backbone of the chicken and cutting it in half, longitudinally.  I also am fond of quarter of chicken cooked under a brick, and so you may decide to cook a leg and thigh quarter or a breast quarter. The next step is to dry rub the meat with  some olive oil and “air dry” in the refrigerator for a little while.  This will allow the flavors of your herbs to be infused into the chicken (if you want, you can slip some fresh herbs into the space between the skin and the flesh to increase this flavor transfer).  Air drying also helps to get the skin extra crispy during the cooking process.

 

herbDryrub

 

Using a cast iron skillet or placing it on the grill, either way, it should go on a pre-heated pan/grill surface SKIN SIDE DOWN first.  The skin will crisp up beautifully in no time!

 

brickChicken

 

While the chicken cooks, (taking no longer that 30 minutes!), the veggies for the succotash are all ready to go.  A simple summer succotash should be prepared al-dente, or with some tooth to the veggies, so total cooking time should be no more than 15 minutes.  Simply start the diced onion in the pan in a bit of olive oil to soften for a few minutes, then add the field peas.

succotash

 

The field peas will need some liquid to become tender, so I add a bit of chicken stock and let them simmer for 10 minutes.

 

misobeans

 

Test the peas for that al dente doneness, then add the remaining vegetables and continue to simmer for about five minutes.

 

succotashButter

 

Finish the succotash with your favorite summer herbs, chopped coarsely (I prefer genovese basil), and a small dollop of butter (really small – this is for silkiness and flavor so you only need to add about half a tablespoon!) then adjust the seasonings of salt and pepper!   The plating of the dish is so beautiful!  The succotash, topped with the crispy skinned chicken, puts some serious flavor on the table.  The juice of the chicken will add to the flavorful succotash as it placed on top, and all will be well with the world for a moment as you dive in and enjoy this simple summer supper!

 

brickChicken-plated

 

The recipe can be found on the website here, and the pastured chicken can be purchased as part of our Stillwater Farm Variety Meat Package.  If you live close enough, the shipping is free!

Zucchini stuffed with Italian Sausage, Chickpeas and Goat Cheese

stuffedZucchiniTable

I promised to talk about utilizing pastured proteins in an appropriate health-concious way, and so today I would like to introduce you to the virtues of Italian Sausage!   Drumroll please…. Meet Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini accompanied by a  sensational Summer Salad!

Mind you, we all have our own ideas about healthy eating, and there are so many different opinions and studies and protocols suggested.  BUT I DO NOT HESITATE TO SHARE MINE WITH YOU!!  Take it for what it is worth to you that I enjoy eating pasture raised animal proteins in moderation, combined with the colorful array of vegetables that are available to us to enhance the meal and my health!

This is a delicious and super healthy meal that is made from such a simple list of ingredients!  And literally it can be prepared and to the table in 30 minutes.  The best for a weeknight meal, I would say.  It also makes a great leftover meal so that you can carry your lunch with you the next day.

zuchinniSausage-ingredients

 

To prepare Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini, first begin by cutting the washed zucchini squash in half lengthwise and scooping out the pulp,  chopping it roughly along with the other vegetables in preparation for sautéing the stuffing ingredients.

The cooking begins with adding the onions and garlic to the sauté pan first to soften and release their important flavors.  Next, add the italian sausage by crumbling into the pan, removing it from the casings, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and fully cooked.

 

sauteIngredients

 

I like to drain the sausage at this point.  It provides an opportunity to lighten the meal by removing a lot of the fat that would otherwise wind up in the dish.  The flavor is still there, though, believe me!! Remember, we are using pasture raised pork italian sausage, and it contains so much less fat than what you would find from conventional sources.  The fat is healthier, too!  You can really taste, see and smell the difference.  I find it astonishing.

 

sausageDrain

 

After the sausage is drained, we reintroduce it to the pan, along with the remaining ingredients – garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped zucchini pulp.   Stir occasionally while the flavors combine, then when light caramelization begins to occur, remove from the heat and add fresh herbs and seasonings for the final adjustment before the dish is assembled and finished in the oven.

 

sausageIngredsaute-2

 

This deliciousness is spooned back into the zucchini boats, heaping it on until you have lovely mounded stuffed cucurbits.  The final step for this meal is to add a generous portion of goat cheese to the top of the stuffed zucchini, then place the dish in a 350 degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes.

 

zuchinniTable-2closeup

 

When you place this dish from the oven to the table, accompanied by that simple summer salad packed with fresh veggies, you will enjoy the response for sure – the wow, followed by the quiet that settles over the table as the enjoyment of everyone else begins.

 

stuffedZucchiniTable

 Wow!


 

We plan to continue to raise our turkeys on the farm, even when not preparing for Thanksgiving season, so that we may offer ground turkey to you through out the year.  I hope you find this as exciting as we do!!   Here is a picture of the Heritage Bronze Breasted turkeys we are raising for Thanksgiving this year at 1 week old!  It is amazing how beautiful they are and how quickly they change and grow.    My , my, how time flies! Thanksgiving will be here before you know it!

 

babyTurkeys

 

Zucchini Stuffed w/ Italian Sausage, Chickpeas and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 Medium Zucchini Squash (halved, lengthwise)
  • 1/2lb Italian Sausage (preferable pasture raised, local)
  • 6oz Chickpeas (one half can, drained)
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion (diced)
  • 1 Garlic clove (minced)
  • 1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes in olive oil (diced)
  • 4oz Goat Cheese (crumbled)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Fresh Italian flat leaf Parsley (roughly chopped)
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to taste)

Directions

Halve the Zucchini, lengthwise
Scoop out pulp with a spoon, then dice the pulp for sautéing.
Add diced onion and minced fresh garlic to a warm sauté pan with a small amount of organic olive oil. Cook slowly until edges of onions begin to become golden.
Remove these ingredients from the pan and add the remaining chopped vegetables. Cook until edges begin to show the slightest feathering.
Scoop the sautéed and cooked mixture into the zucchini boats.

Top with crumbled goat cheese and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes!