06 July 2014

Italian Pods of Goodness

Romano Beans....Italian  Flat Beans....These beans are flat, broad and string-less and have a bit more flavor than regular green beans.  We grow them on the farm mostly for our family, but lately they've been a big hit at the farmers' markets we attend.  When giving customers a chance to sample, about 90% will pick the Romano bean to purchase over the other.  We've been harvesting them by hand for about two weeks now, and I finally had a chance to fix some for dinner tonight.

You can steam or saute them with garlic, or add them to salads if you like.  They are tender and cook quickly when picked at the right stage.  If you are growing them in your own garden, you should harvest them regularly, at least every other day, at about 4 or 5" in length and when the bean seeds inside the pod are just starting to show some definition.  If you let them get too large where the seeds are really bulging, they can be tough.

Tonight I sauteed them with garlic and onions and added black pepper and Italian seasoning.  I always liked green beans with almonds, so I decided to add some Organic Tamari Almonds I had from Tierra Farm, a farm near us who also attends the markets we go to. I put them in at the last couple of minutes of cooking.   For those who don't know what Tamari is, it is basically a wheat free soy sauce.  I always look for the organic variety, hoping it's not GMO as most soybeans are these days.  The beans have so much flavor regardless, but I wanted to play. I know, "Tamari" and "Italian" don't really belong in the same sentence with each other, but the result was delicious.  So much so, that the two quarts of beans I cooked are almost gone, polished off by yours truly.  I couldn't stop eating them!  Sorry Chuck. :-)

A classic recipe for beans, whether the Romano or regular beans, is the old Italian recipe....sauteed with garlic and olive oil to start and finished with tomato sauce, basil and oregano.  You can also add sliced potatoes...give the potatoes a bit of a head start though since they take longer to cook.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and tips...Ciao!

15 May 2014

Frisee


Frisee (pronounced Free-ZAY), also called Chicory, is a salad green in the Endive family.  Unlike other endives, its leaves are long and curly rather than cylindrical shaped.  The leaves are skinny and light green, turning to a creamy white towards the center of the plant.  While slightly bitter, like Escarole, it is not as bitter as its cousins Radicchio (Italian Chicory) and Belgian endive and can be used fresh in salads or cooked.  Frisee is very high vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamins A & K, and fiber.  Toss chopped frisee with orange segments and pomegranate seeds, or radicchio and pears for a winter salad. Top frisee with lardons (French term for small, matchstick cut pieces of pork lard… or bacon cut from the belly of the pig), vinaigrette and a poached egg. Sauté frisee until wilted and combine with chopped walnuts and goat cheese.  Frisee will keep, refrigerated in a produce bag, for one to two weeks.  Since we grow Frisee, we of course had to try the recipe with eggs this morning.  It was delicious.   I have only had it before in salads and so am enjoying finding new recipes for it.  Due to the texture of the leaves, it holds up well to warm dressings. 

Some farmers will tie up the leaves, preventing the sun from penetrating the center of the plant and thereby “blanching” the frisee, turning it creamy white.  It is this part of the frisee that is much milder in flavor.  Lightly sautéing the frisee will also lessen the bitterness.

Frisee and other endives are grown like lettuce, sowing outdoors in the spring or for an extra early crop, can be sown indoors in the greenhouse and then transplanted out after danger of frost. Seeds are sown outdoors after danger of frost as well. Soil temperature should be at least 50°F for seeds; transplants can tolerate slightly lower temperatures. Depending on the variety of Frisee, and there are many, and the stage at which you choose to harvest, maturity can take anywhere from 42 – 60 days.  Frisee is sensitive to tip burn, so you must be attentive to its needs. 

Learn more by liking us on Facebook at Running Creek Farm
or by also visiting the following site: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Frisee_512.php#sthash.KxvDusyg.dpuf

10 February 2014

The Language of Flowers

                The language of flowers, known as “Floriography,” a term coined in the Victorian era, is an age old art form.  King Charles II brought it to Sweden from Persia in the 17th century.  The Japanese call it “Hanakotoba.”  So what is floriography?  Quite simply, it is the association of certain flowers with specific meanings.  Flowers are infused with symbolism through their rich mythology and distinctive characteristics.  Let’s look at some flowers that may be familiar to you.
                Alstroemerias resemble miniature lilies and are often called Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas.  This well known flower is found in a beautiful range of colors and is popular as a cut flower in bouquets.  The alstroemeria symbolizes friendship and devotion because the leaves grow upside down and twist as they grow out from the stem, so that the bottom is facing upwards, much like the growth of our friendships.
                Asters are enchanted flowers.  In ancient times, the perfume from their burning leaves was thought to drive away evil serpents.  Today, they are a symbol of love and patience.  The name “Aster” is derived from the Greek word for “star.”  They too are found in numerous colors.  They are the birth flower of September and also are honored as being the 20th wedding anniversary flower. 
                Blue flowers, such as iris, hydrangea, anemone or delphinium, hold a special significance in floriography.  Blue is a “cool” color and offers us peace and calmness in our hectic lives.  Blue holds universal appeal and plays a significant role in many religious rituals and ceremonies.  The Western tradition of a bride wearing something blue is tied to the color’s symbolism of faith and loyalty.  Darker tones can express trustworthiness, intelligence and unity.  In softer shades, it can be uplifting, like the sunny sky or soothing ocean. 
                The history of the peony dates back thousands of years.  It is said that the peony was named after Paeon, the physician of the gods, who received the flower on Mt. Olympus from the mother of Apollo.  Another legend has it that Paeon was saved from dying as mortals do by being turned into the peony flower we know today.  Peonies are the traditional symbol of China, the twelfth wedding anniversary flower, and the state flower of Indiana.  They are known for their rounded, lush blooms and signify romance and prosperity as well as good fortune and a happy marriage.
                There are so many more flowers I could write about, but I will end here with the rose.  Roses have long been a symbol of love and passion.  They have been used to convey messages without words and also represent confidentiality.  The ancient Greeks and Romans associated them with Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love.  The Latin expression “sub rosa” (“under the rose”) means something told in secret.  In ancient Rome, a rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed. 
                Each color of the rose represents a distinct meaning: red signifies enduring passion; white for humility and innocence; yellow for friendship and joy; pink for gratitude and admiration; orange for enthusiasm and desire; white lilac and purple for love at first sight and enchantment. 
June, the month most often recognized for weddings, is National Rose Month.  Roses are the fifteenth wedding anniversary flower and also the national flower of the U.S. and the state flower of New York, Georgia, District of Columbia, North Dakota and Iowa.
           Okay guys. now that you know the language of flowers and what all the different colors of roses signify…uh, Valentine’s Day is coming….go buy your favorite girl a beautiful bouquet.  Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

Related: MsToodyGooShoes Valentine Recipes

08 February 2014

Nan's Farmer Omelet

My husband and I like to experiment with ingredients from our farm, especially over the summer when produce is abundant.  A bit more scarce now from the farm, our ingredients today came to us by way of the grocery store.  Last week Hubby made an omelet with sweet potatoes...it was great.  Today I took his lead and tweaked it a little.....

06 February 2014

Have Your Cake....

We went to my in-laws' home for Super Bowl Sunday.  It was my job to bring dessert.  After roaming the aisles of the grocery store yesterday and not seeing anything I liked, I decided I was going to attempt to make a cake.  I remembered at home I had a Hershey's Cookbook.  This was no ordinary cookbook.

03 February 2014

Enjoying the Snow!!

Oh what fun!

I just couldn't resist posting these photos of a friend's Golden Retrievers out enjoying the snow earlier. Mary-Ellen raises Golden Retrievers for show....they are beautiful, intelligent animals and the breed is fantastic with children! You can connect with Mary-Ellen via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kinderval




26 January 2014

Cinnamon Rolls

Just a quick post here.  So remember how I said I have more time for baking during the winter?  I decided to surprise Jenn with one of her favorite things this morning....Cinnamon Rolls.  Not sure how I like them though....they're yummy enough, but I think I would adjust the recipe based on the air in the house.  Since our air inside is drier with the wood stove on, I may add an extra egg or more oil to the recipe next time.  Jenn said hers was perfect, but I thought mine was dry.  This recipe was for my bread machine on the dough only cycle, so it could just as easily be done by hand, only you'd have to mix and knead by hand, allow to rise until doubled in bulk about an hour or so, then punch down and knead again for 1/2 a minute, let rest for 10 minutes (all rest/rising periods are covered with plastic wrap and kept away from drafts) and follow directions as below.

25 January 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside....

It's snowing a little bit today.  Fine, misty, white flakes drifting through the air.  It's cold too, though not as cold as it was the last few days.  28 degrees today....it was in the single digits the last few days.  We've got the woodstove going in the house .....it's on pretty much all the time so we don't have to use fuel oil very much. 

While I miss the summer months of growing, harvesting and selling and dislike the cold, I do enjoy being home and not having to run everywhere this time of year.  I have time to visit with family that lives far away.  There's more time to spend with Jennifer in a mom & daughter kind of way...shopping, movies and of course, Jennifer's music.  Winter days are spent quietly (hopefully quietly) also catching up on bookwork, tidying the house and cooking and baking.  Things I don't get to do during our growing season. 

Jennifer decided to join the school's cheer team this year, so lately we've been attending some of the basketball games at school.  Last fall it was the football games.  That's been fun....and her cheer team is very talented, what with all the stunts they do and such.

Chuck has been working on equipment repairs and readying tractors for the next season.  It's nice because he comes home earlier in the winter and we actually get to eat dinner together, enjoy the fire and maybe a glass or two of wine.  Today, he's getting the truck ready in case he needs it to plow...though there's not much accumulation and it's been snowing since about noon.

About this time of year we start pouring over all the seed catalogs looking for new items to grow for the upcoming marketing season.  We grow a lot of staples, such as green beans, melons, cucumbers, lettuces, kale, collard greens, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash.  I also like to have a few other things we don't normally do.  This past season we added cut herbs to our offerings.  The Basil was a huge hit as was the Rosemary and Cilantro.  The Cilantro was very finicky and production was sporadic with that herb.  Once it hits a certain point, or if it gets hot or too stressed in any way, it tends to bolt (go to seed) quickly and then it's not really saleable.  We also grew Sugar Snap Peas this past season in the greenhouse.  They were super yummy, as one customer called it "addictive like crack." ;-)  I think we'll grow them again this year, but maybe outdoors early on so they don't tie up so much greenhouse space.

We actually started off doing some indoor markets this fall/winter, but had difficulties holding crops during the prolonged, sub-zero temperatures.  Now we're starting from scratch again and hope to return soon to the markets...but only on Saturdays for now.  We've got the hardier crops started again such as kale, collards, spinach and our own salad mix. 

We welcome comments and suggestions, so if you follow us at the markets, please let us know either by commenting here or contacting us through our farm website.  Enjoy your winter weekend friends, wherever it may lead you!