25 October 2008

Cauliflower Recipes

We had a very hard freeze here the other night, so everything on the farm is done now except for the cauliflower. We just started harvesting the cauliflower this week, so I wanted to provide you with some tasty recipes. Here are some great new recipes....I love Autumn roasted vegetables. You can do the same with root vegetables too...such as beets, potatoes, parsnips and carrots...roasting brings out so much flavor... Cauliflower with Bacon 1 head cauliflower, cut into flowerets 1 tsp dry mustard ¼ Cup butter or margarine ½ tsp salt (if desired) ¼ lb bacon, cooked and cut into 1” pieces 2 TBSP water 2 oz jar sliced pimiento, drained 1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley In 3 qt saucepan, melt butter. Stir in remaining ingredients except parsley. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is crisply tender, about 10-12 minutes. Season with parsley and serve. Makes about 5 servings. Oven-Roasted Vegetables 1/3 Cup butter or margarine 2 Cups broccoli florets ½ tsp thyme leaves 2 Cups carrots, julienned (matchstick carrots) ¼ tsp ea salt & pepper 2 small onions, quartered 3 Cups cauliflower florets Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. In 13x9” pan, melt butter and stir in seasonings and remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Cover w. foil, bake for about 25 minutes, until vegetables are crisply tender.

18 October 2008

Pumpkin Soup

We had a great time at the Pumpkin Festival today at the Farmer's Market. It was very cold though, and the Cooperative Extension office made hot Butternut Squash Soup! Yum. I made up recipe flyers for Pumpkin Soup for today, and we ran out of them, so I will post the recipe here for those who missed out. Here it is...enjoy. Allow yourself to be creative too and serve the soup in hollowed out pumpkins! Pumpkin Soup 1 Large Red Onion, sliced thinly, about 2 Cups 1 stick (½ Cup) unsalted butter white pepper to taste 8 Cups coarsely chopped raw, peeled pie pumpkin pieces (2 lbs) 6 Cups chicken broth 2 TBSP Raw Rice 2 Cups heavy cream or to taste In a kettle, cook onion in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until softened and add pumpkin, white pepper and salt to taste. Cook mixture, covered, over moderately low heat 20 minutes or until pumpkin is softened. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, and cook covered, over moderately low heat, 20 - 25 minutes until pumpkin is very soft. Remove kettle from heat and let stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. In blender/processor, puree mixture in batches, transferring to another kettle as pureed, and stir enough cream into soup to reach desired consistency. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Heat soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Serves 6-8 people, (10 Cups)

14 October 2008

Pasta and Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli; or Pasta & Beans; this is one of our favorites, with one small change.... The recipe we were using called for Escarole, which I absolutely love. My husband said, "Why don't you try making it with our Swiss Chard?" So I did that tonight. Wow...out of this world. Even our daughter loved it and had seconds. (She will not normally eat Swiss Chard). Here's what I did: 1/2 Medium Sized Sweet Onion 2 Cloves Garlic 1 Bunch Golden Swiss Chard (Golden Chard tends to be sweeter than red or green) 10 cups Chicken Broth 4 - 6 oz Pasta, either small Shells, Penne, or something similar. 1 can Great Northern Beans (White Beans) Olive Oil Coat the bottom of a 6 Qt sauce pan with Olive Oil. Chop the onion, garlic and swiss chard stems and saute until tender. While that's cooking, chop the leaves of the Swiss Chard and rinse and drain the beans. Once the onion, garlic and stems are tender, add the chopped Swiss Chard leaves and continue cooking until the Chard is wilted. Add the 10 Cups of chicken stock to the mixture and bring to a boil. Then add the pasta and beans and cook until the pasta is done "al dente."

12 October 2008

Fall Apples

In the midst of freezing my beans, (I was able to get 18 quarts of beans done) another farming friend dropped off a couple of bushels of apples. They were great! I made applesauce...so easy! And since it's almost gone, I have to make more. I think I'll make a few pies and freeze them until the holidays. Quick Homemade Applesauce: Wash, peel and chop apples...I did about 20 apples so far, and it made about 1-1/2 - 2 quarts. Place them in a large saucepan with a little water on the bottom and cook them slowly on low-medium heat. You'll want to cook them until they are very soft. I also added Apple Pie Seasoning and just a touch of sugar. You can use plain Cinnamon as well if you don't have the Apple Pie Seasoning. Season to taste and you can either mash by hand and leave small chunks of apples in the sauce, or you can puree with a mixer. Allow to cool a bit and then ladle into plastic containers. Store in refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for longer storage. Yumm!....There's nothing like homemade applesauce. Quick Tip: I used Delicious Apples for this Applesauce....they cook down more quickly than other varieties. Don't use them for baking though. It is because of this characteristic that they do not lend themselves well to pies. You are better off with Cortlands, Jona-Golds, Spy, or Romes. I like to mix Cortland Apples with the Jona-Gold Apples for my pies and turnovers. Here's another quick recipe for your apples: Nancy's Apple Crisp: 5 large, tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped into big pieces 1/2 Cup sugar 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon 3 tsp. vanilla extract Combine Apples with above ingredients and place in lightly greased 2 quart souffle dish. For the topping, mix together the following ingredients: 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts, if desired 3/4 Cup flour 3/4 Cup brown sugar 1 Stick Butter, slightly softened 1/4 Cup rolled oats 1/4 tsp salt, if desired Cut in butter with flour and sugar and then mix in the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle mixture over top of apples and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. The oats and walnuts add a bit more fiber and texture to the recipe and give it that warm, country flair. It makes a great dessert but also serves well as, say, maybe breakfast. Delicious!

07 October 2008

Life on Our Farm

It's 8:00am and I am home now. I just dropped our daughter off to school and she'll be home before I know it...the days go by so quickly, don't they? I've been wanting to write about what it's like here on the farm for so long. Nothing like the present. My daughter reminds me of that every so often by saying things like, "I'll be driving soon Mom!" Mind you, she's only 10 and she's been saying that since she was 8! Don't rush it kid! That's my advice..enjoy childhood while it lasts. My husband has been driving since forever...that's what it's like on a farm. The boys learn how to drive the tractors....probably as soon as they hit double digits, maybe even before that. And the farm trucks too...but only on the farm. So I think they are able to do that just because they are boys! Our daughter has not learned yet how to do those things. She knows how to drive the quad, but she's only allowed on it with an adult. She always tells me too, "Mom, you worry too much." Isn't that what moms do? Anyway, here on the farm, we will be harvesting until we get a hard freeze. We planted beans, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, swiss chard (chard grows forever...until we get that hard freeze), melons and peppers. We were hit pretty hard with hail earlier in the year and lost our first crop of beans. The hail also hit the tomatoes and cucumbers hard, to the point where we had to replant all the cucumbers. The tomatoes fought back, but were late coming. We've also had excessive moisture this growing season, which has affected the crops adversely. But all things considered, I feel we are lucky! We have a friend who has hundreds of acres of apple trees. The spring hail destroyed probably 80 percent of his crop. He can sell the bad apples for juice, but that's usually only pennies a pound. We've recently started having some colder weather now. The growing season here in New York is so short. We had some frost this morning. We harvested most of our beans yesterday because they wouldn't make it through the frost unless we covered them. Market prices are up now for beans, so it's a good thing. The guys are usually out in the field pretty early, picking whatever needs to be harvested for the day. The eggplants have a pretty good leaf canopy over them, so they'll do fine in this weather. We pulled most of the peppers, and there is a newer planting of Swiss Chard on the farm...that should be fine as the frost wasn't too heavy. The melons are done, as are the cucumbers and tomatoes. We only harvest a small amount of cucumbers and tomatoes in comparison to last year because of the wet weather this summer...all that rain made it very difficult to get into the field to take care of those crops. Today, I will be freezing beans so we have them for the winter months. I have peppers in the freezer already, but will be doing more, and I also need to freeze eggplant after I'm done with the beans. Then I'll so some Swiss Chard. The farmer around the corner from us raises turkey, chickens, beef and pork. They are delicious, and do not have any fillers or "enhancing solution" added to their meat products. We been exchanging flowers and vegetables for the meat, but will probably buy half a cow from him as well to stock our freezer. We also get milk from another farmer friend. I can't stress enough how important it is to buy local and know the grower/farmer you are buying from. For starters, it is less expensive to buy direct from the farm rather than the grocery store. It's great if you have the freezer space to purchase half a cow, or a pig. Also, in this day and age, with terrorism always a threat, it's better to know your food is from the U.S.A. rather than overseas. In addition to that, you'd be surprised to know that many of the chemicals and pesticides that have been banned for use in the U.S. are very much used in other countries! And that produce is imported into the U.S. for our consumption. Gone are the days when we ate only what was "in season." Since importing produce is such big business, we can have any type of fruit or vegetable we want, whether it's in season or not. But at what price? Well, I hope that's enlightened some of you. One of my goals when I started this blog was to educate the public on farming and agriculture. I'll write more again. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them. Have a great day!

18 September 2008

Zucchini Bread....

A customer from the farmer's market we attend was asking for a zucchini bread recipe...I couldn't find the one I was thinking of, but this one is great too! Zucchini & Cheese Bread 2 Cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 3/4 tsp salt (if desired...I never use salt) 1/8 tsp red (cayenne) pepper, ground 1/4 tsp dried oregano, crushed to release flavor 1/4 tsp dried basil, crushed to release flavor 1/2 tsp dried, minced onion 1 TBSP sugar 3/4 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese (3 oz.) 3/4 Cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini, can us green or yellow or mixture 2 eggs 1/2 Cup pureed unpeeled zucchini 1/4 Cup vegetable oil..if using olive oil, use the lighter version...better for baking 1 TBSP lemon juice Grease and flour an 8"x4" loaf pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, red pepper, oregano, basil, onion, sugar, cheese and 3/4 C shredded zucchini. Set aside. In medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Stir in 1/2 C pureed zucchini, oil and lemon juice. Stir into flour mixture only until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Makes 1 loaf.

11 September 2008

Remembering 9/11

I wanted to write today in honor of all the victims of 9-11 and in honor of our troops, working hard to keep us safe. Today is the 7th anniversary already of that tragic day. I'm watching it again on the news. Sometimes I hate to see the replays, but I think it's important that we're all reminded of that terrible day. Life goes on and we take things for granted. We need to remember our fellow Americans who have lost their lives or lost their loved ones that day. They don't need these reminders from the national media to remember. They remember everyday. There are parts of their lives just torn apart that they've had to try to rebuild. Think of the children who have lost one or both parents. Or the parents who have lost children who worked in the towers. Or sisters, brothers, friends, etc. who now have to carry on without that special person in their lives. My heart goes out to them all. I pray for them and I pray for justice. It's hard to try to forgive. I don't think I can. We also need to remember that it's important to keep our country safe. The president's rating has dropped considerably with the war the Iraq, but let's not forget that we have not had an attack on American soil since 9-11. The turmoil needs to stay overseas away from our land, and our troops are doing an awesome job. I hope you all have found a way to support our troops. I stopped at the dollar store the other day...they are asking customers to purchase an item so they can send it to our troops. Many churches and other groups collect items to send also. Please make sure to support our troops. If you don't know who to ask so that you can help, search the internet. There are plenty of organizations working hard everyday supporting our troops. I am reminded of a story I heard recently while watching the Republican Convention on TV last week. I can't remember the name of the teacher or the state she lives and teaches in, but a story was told of how the teacher had removed all the desks from her classroom on the first day of school. She told the students that they had to tell her how to earn the desks back and the right to sit in them before they would be returned to class. They came up with all sorts of ideas, like getting good grades, being respectful of others, behaving in class. This went on all day with all of her classes. All the answers given were not what she was looking for. At the end of the day, she called everyone into her classroom. She told the students that she didn't expect anyone would come up with the correct answer. What do you think the right answer was? I'll tell you. She said to the students, "you can't earn the desks back, because these people already did it for you." And into the classroom came Military Serviceman, each carrying a desk. Can you imagine the impact that had on the students? I think that was a great idea for a first lesson! Our troops keep us safe and risk their own lives for our country. God Bless them all! We certainly don't want them over there longer than necessary, but these days, with all the terrorism, I think they need to be there. And they are happy to go and serve their country. Let's not forget they are there in the Service on a voluntary basis. They were not drafted. It was their decision and we need to support them. Without them, we would not have the liberties & freedom we have in this great country today. My heart goes out to the families who have lost someone serving our country, but I thank God for them and am grateful to them as well. I hope you'll find a way to support them and say a prayer for them today and everyday. God Bless our troops and God Bless America.

07 September 2008

Flowers But No Fruit?

I have had several people ask me how we grow such great looking eggplant and want to know why they had problems this year with their eggplant. They seem to have beautiful plants and lots of flowers, but no fruit on their plants. There are several answers to this problem, and the answer for each person's garden may be one or a combination of both. First, we need to remember that while it is important to fertilize regularly, too much Nitrogen will offset the fruiting capability of the plant. In essence, the Nitrogen encourages plant growth, so that the foliage and plant itself grow and remain healthy, but while the plant grows, the Nitrogen does nothing to encourage fruit set. In other words, the plant puts its energy into growth, rather than fruit production. Because of this, you may have some flowers, but they may be dropping off the plant prematurely, before pollination occurs. By changing the ratio of elements in the fertilizer, we can regulate how our plants grow on the farm. However, the home gardener may not have the capability to do this. The fertilizers we use on the farm that are available commercially are available as individual elements; for example, we can get Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous by themselves and in different concentrations than is available in a pre-mixed form for the home gardener. Thus, by regulating the concentration of certain elements and the frequency, we can regulate plant growth and fruit set. I would recommend looking for a vegetable fertilizer that is a bit higher in Potassium and Phosphorous than Nitrogen. For more information on fertilizers, see the post titled
"Indoor Gardening Part 4; Soil and Fertilizer" You will find it in this blog under the tag for fertilizers.
Secondly; eggplant is in the tomato family as are peppers. I know, I know...sounds weird, right? But it's true. For the purposes of this discussion, let's just say they are pollinated in the same fashion, by wind. They do not need bees to pollinate, like cucumbers and squash do. Here in the Northeast, we've had lots of rain. Especially from Albany and to the north. If it had been raining hard, like it has been, during the time of pollination, then the rainstorm would have interfered with the pollination of the eggplant, tomatoes or peppers. So you would have lots of flowers, but no fruit because there was no pollination to enable the fruit to grow. So I hope that helps my friends who were having trouble with their eggplant. Any further questions, please feel free to comment and ask. For great gardening info & tips, Click Here!

14 August 2008

Tomatillos

Tomatillos are a mainstay of Mexican cuisine and they are quickly making their way into American home gardens. The tomatillo looks similar to a tomato, but smaller...each fruit weighing about 2 - 3 oz. The plants grow to about 4 feet, and the fruits develop inside a papery husk which is shed when the fruit is ready to harvest. They are green to yellow in color, and I've seen one variety that was actually purple in color. They are most widely known as being one of the main ingredients in Green Salsa, for which the recipe follows. Tomatillo Salsa...this is a large batch recipe for canning... 5 1/2 Cups Tomatillos, husked, chopped and cored (about 2 pounds) 1 Cup chopped onion 1 Cup chopped Green Chili Peppers (Serrano Chiles provide much more heat than Jalapenos) 4 Cloves Garlic 2 TBSP minced Cilantro 2 tsp ground Cumin 1/2 tsp Salt 1/2 tsp Red Pepper 1 Cup Vinegar 1/4 Cup Lime Juice Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process fifteen minutes in a boiling water canner. Yields about 2 pints. Here's a quick note for you: When working with hot peppers, it will help to wear rubber gloves to prevent your hands from burning. Also, the heat does not readily wash away from your hands, so without gloves, you will most assuredly forget about the hot peppers later on and quite possibly burn other areas of your body, such as eyes and mouth. Source: Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration

13 August 2008

Blanching Vegetables

One of our customers had asked how to blanch Swiss Chard for a special diet she is on. Blanching is a critical step for all vegetables being stored for more than one month, with one exception: those vegetables being used solely for their flavor, such as green onions, herbs and hot peppers, do not need to be blanched. Blanching is necessary in order to cleanse the produce of any remaining dirt and to kill any microorganisms. It also brightens the color, helps retain vitamins and reduces the action of enzymes that can destroy the fresh flavor of the produce when frozen for longer than the first month. As you can see, blanching is a most important step in freezing vegetables and must be done very carefully, but that does not mean it is difficult to do. On the contrary, it is actually very simple. First, wash, drain and prepare vegetables as you would normally for cooking, such as trimming ends and chopping into the size you would use in your recipes. I would recommend using 1 gallon of water per pound of vegetables, except in the case of leafy greens, where I would double the amount of water to 2 gallons. If you are blanching a larger amount of vegetables, determine how much you can blanch in a fifteen minute interval, prepare only this amount and leave the rest of the vegetables in the refrigerator until you are ready for them. Different vegetables have different blanching requirements as far as the length of time to be blanched, so follow the instructions. To use our example that was requested for Swiss Chard, Swiss Chard should be blanched for 2 minutes before freezing. Also, with Swiss Chard, to prepare, remove and discard the heavy stems; thin, young stems are fine to blanch. Bring the pot of water you are using to a rolling boil and place the vegetables into a wire basket, strainer or mesh bag. In the case of Swiss Chard, I think the mesh bag is easier. Begin timing as soon as the vegetable is placed into the boiling water. Use a stop watch or clock, and keep the container covered during blanching and the heat on high. As soon as blanching is complete, remove the vegetables from the boiling water and immerse into ice water immediately to stop the cooking process. Drain the vegetables and pack into meal-size can or freeze jars or plastic freezer containers. Seal, label and freeze in single layers in the coldest portion of the freezer. Foods should be frozen in no more than 12-24 hours at ZERO degrees. After the food is completely frozen, the packages may be stacked for storage in the freezer. Keep the freezer at zero degrees or colder at all times. Do not blanch for longer than the required time for each type of vegetable as this will destroy the vitamins, flavor and color of the vegetables. Also, it should be noted that if you are purchasing your vegetables, try to purchase them from a local farmer's market or CSA as they will be considerably fresher (usually being harvested within a day of sale at the farmer's market) than what you can find in the supermarket. When you purchase from the supermarket, you don't know how long the vegetables have been stored before they have actually gotten onto the shelf for purchase. For more information on freezing on canning, look for the following book: Ball Blue Book">Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration

03 August 2008

More Recipes

Great news! The webmasters/legal department over at The Food Network said I can post some links for recipes....and boy have I found some good ones. You'll find the name of the recipes and the shopping list. Just click on the recipe title and you'll be taken over to that recipe at The Food Network. I'll start with Swiss Chard, since we sell so much of it at the Farmer's Market.
Swiss Chard Tart: Pasticcio di Bietole al Forno
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali
Show: Molto Mario
Episode: Trastevere On a Sunday
2 pounds Swiss chard, washed and spun dry (2 bunches..about 15 stems ea. bunch) 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/8 cup 3 large eggs Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 1 cup bread crumbs
Here's another recipe, but with a little more difficulty. Some preparation a day ahead is necessary, but oh so worth it! Buy as many fresh items as possible from your local farmer's market (you won't get them any fresher unless you pick it yourself) and prepare some of the items that day, for a terrific get together with family and friends the day after.
Pan-Fried Rainbow Trout with Pecans and Brown Butter and Swiss Chard with Serrano Chile Vinegar
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay
Show: Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay
Episode: Pan-Fried Rainbow Trout
2 cups rice flour Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 3 large eggs 3 tablespoons milk (try our milk from the farmer's market..hormone and antibiotic free in glass bottles) 2 cups white cornmeal 4 (8 to 10 ounces each) whole rainbow trout, scaled and gutted 6 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil 2 lemons 2 sticks unsalted butter 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley Sauteed Swiss Chard with Red Onion and Serrano Chile Vinegar, recipe follows
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Red Onion and Serrano Chile Vinegar: 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard (about 2-3 bunches) 1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into small dice 2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup Serrano Chile Vinegar, recipe follows Serrano Chile Vinegar: 4 serrano chiles, coarsely chopped 2 cups white wine vinegar Kosher salt Note: Serrano Chiles are like Jalapenos, only a bit longer and thinner. Superb for making vinegars, such as in this recipe, or for making salsa! Serrano Chiles will be available at our booth at the Capital District Farmer's Market this coming Saturday, the 9th of August. We will also have Tomatillos, for those interested in making green salsas!

27 July 2008

Swiss Chard Recipes

Swiss Chard is one of our favorites here on the farm. They come in different varieties, or colors if you wish. There is White Swiss Chard, Red Swiss Chard and Yellow Swiss Chard. Rainbow Swiss Chard is a mixture of the different colors together in one bunch. Swiss Chard is high in nutrients such as iron, (as many leafy greens are) and vitamin C. If you are growing your own at home, just snap the outer stems away from the base of the plant when harvesting, and leave the center to continue growing. You can leave Swiss Chard in the garden well into the fall as it is a fairly tough plant, withstanding some snow and colder temperatures. We generally like to chop or tear the leaves, like you would with spinach, and chop the stems too, into 1 - 2 inches pieces after rinsing well. Then we steam the Swiss Chard in a large saucepan until wilted and the stems have softened. Drain the water (there should only be a small amount, if any), and add olive oil and chopped garlic...saute a couple of minutes and serve. One of my customers says she likes to microwave the leaves for about 20 seconds to soften them, and proceeds to use them as wraps, adding cooked ground beef or chopped chicken and other vegetables, such as tomatoes, olives, whatever you like, and then add dressing. Yum!

New Recipes

We began harvesting some other vegetables on the farm, so I figured I had better get you all some recipes to go with them! This week we began harvesting Swiss Chard, Cucumbers and Miniature Eggplant. Miniature Eggplants are great...they are very tender and sweeter than most other types of eggplant. We like to coarsely chop them, after peeling and removing the stems. Then saute them in garlic and olive oil and add to omelettes or other vegetable dishes, such as sauteing them with summer squash and tomatoes. They add a little bit of a buttery flavor to our omelettes, which I love! You can also slice them length-wise and brush with olive oil, season with Oregano and Garlic and roast them in the oven or grill them on the BBQ. Use a non-stick foil sheet on the grill so they are easy to remove. Another idea I love is to take the roasted or grilled eggplant along with red and yellow roasted peppers from the grill & grilled or sauteed onions, place them all in a vegetable wrap and add some Italian dressing. What a delicious and healthy way to eat!

17 July 2008

Italian Green Beans

Here's another of our favorite Green Bean recipes, Italian style! 1 QT Green Beans, rinsed and trimmed, 1 small Onion, sliced, 2 cloves Garlic, chopped, 4 or 5 New Red Potatoes, sliced, Tomato Sauce, Fresh Oregano and Rosemary, chopped, Olive Oil. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add green beans and potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes or so. If you like, you can add a little water to the skillet and place a lid over it to retain the heat and cook the potatoes more quickly. Add chopped fresh oregano and rosemary (1 small sprig), while cooking. During last few minutes of cooking, add tomato sauce, about 3/4 Cup, and stir through to heat sauce. You may season with salt and pepper to taste if you like. Hint: I like to use red potatoes in this recipe as they cook faster than the other varieties. I also use my own homemade tomato sauce, but that recipe is for another day! Also, I usually do not cook with salt as there is so much salt already in many of todays foods.

Our Favorite Green Bean Recipe

In the Greenhouse: Sale on All Annuals Perennials Ready for Sale Hardy Mums Growing for Fall Sales Notes: We still have a nice selection of great looking home-grown annuals including Marigolds, Angelonia, Salvia, Licorice, Browalia, Impatiens, Celosia & more. Many are now available in larger pots as well to help fill up those empty spaces in your garden more quickly. We recommend fertilizing your flower beds and pots regularly with a good triple 15 or triple 20 (IE: 15-15-15), or mix in a good slow-release fertilizer at time of planting. On the Farm: Now Picking Fresh Snap Beans and Cucumbers Still Growing: Tomatoes, Eggplant, Melons, Cauliflower, Lettuces, Herbs and some other surprises along the way! Our Favorite Green Bean Recipe: I’m Italian, and my mom always told me “Use your judgment,” whenever I asked for quantities in a recipe, so please pardon me for not including quantities in some places. Use your judgment! :-) 1 Medium Onion, sliced thinly, 2 cloves Garlic, chopped, 1 QT Green Beans, rinsed and trimmed, 8 -10 oz sliced, fresh Mushrooms, Fresh Rosemary, Olive Oil Saute Onion and Garlic in large skillet with Olive Oil. Add Green Beans and Mushrooms and cook until desired tenderness. While vegetables are cooking, add fresh Rosemary and if desired, salt and pepper to taste. Hint: When using fresh rosemary, easily remove leaves from the stem by holding the top end between your fingers of one hand and running your index finger and thumb from top of stem to bottom, against the direction of growth. The leaves will easily remove from the stem, and then chop the leaves to release more flavor. I like using fresh rosemary rather than dried as it is tender and not hard.

20 May 2008

Mason Bees

With the decline of honeybee populations, fruit growers have been looking for alternatives to pollinate their crops. Mason Bees are native to North America and seem to be a much more effective pollinator in the orchard than the honeybee, which had originally been imported.....

02 May 2008

Solar Garden Fountains

Planning to add solar fountains to your garden? What a great idea! Not only can the Sun make the flowers in your garden bloom, but the Sun can also make your fountain work and add to the charm and the elegance of the garden. These fountains are as beautiful as the other varieties, and to top it all, they are much more cost effective to run because they operate on the power of the Sun. They are easier to set up too because you will not need any power lines. And the lack of any power lines makes them safer in the home too, particularly if you have pets and kids. Just select a corner in the garden that receives adequate sunlight and install it. Though solar fountains are not the conventional variety (they are an innovation keeping in mind the convenience of the user), but nowadays they have become very popular. Improvements in the water pumping technology have optimized the performance of these fountains. The self-contained features of solar fountains will add to the charm of your home. The gentle sound of running water will bring in peace helping you relax and distress after a hard day at the office. Solar fountains almost always come with a solar panel that captures the sunlight and a pump. Since they come as a single piece, there is no requirement of fixing anything. The set up of solar fountains also means that there are no water leakages. And in case it does, there is no risk of a hazard because there is no electricity. Solar fountains come in a wide variety of designs, colors, sizes, shapes, materials and budget. There is so much variety that you are sure to find something that is just right for your needs, taste and preference. So go ahead, browse through a few products on display, and select the solar fountains that meet your fancy. You can keep them in the yard, at the patio, the deck and at the garden too. However do keep in mind that these fountains do not work in the evening or in the night and also when the conditions are overcast. However there are a few models in which the solar power can be stored so that they can work as well in the night too. In some models, the solar panels and the actual fountain are separate. If you are purchasing such a model, you can keep the fountain almost anywhere (even inside a room) as long as the panel is able to capture the sunlight. There are many things to be considered when buying http://www.soothingwalls.com/Smart-Solar-Fountains-s/68.htm Solar Fountains. This guide will help you in taking a final decision. Author: Soothing Walls About the author: Soothing Walls is a leading retailer of http://www.soothingwalls.com

28 April 2008

Perennials for 2008

Here is a short list of some perennials we are currently growing for sale at Running Creek Farm Greenhouses: Agastache Alcea Aquilegia Aruncus Buddleia Caryopteris Centaruea Centranthus Coreopsis Delphinium Dianthus Digitalis Echinacea Gaillardia Gypsophila Heuchera Lavendula Lupine Malva Monarda Oenothera Platycodon Rudbeckia Scabiosa Veronica Just to name a few. Stop in a visit us and if you don't see what you are looking for, just ask. Some crops will be ready earlier than others due to weather and seasonal demand. For example, Zinnias, an annual plant, are not typically ready for sale until at least the third week in May, sometimes later. They are more sensitive to cold and need to stay protected until all chance of frost is gone. We will be open for retail sales the beginning of May.

21 April 2008

Rain Barrel Comments

Yes Sheila; you can try the website of the article's author, which is www.gardensupermart.com or try this one I found on Google; http://www.rainbarrelsandmore.com/ At "Rain Barrels & More" there are specific illustrations and instructions for installation. If there is someone in your home who is handy, you may even be able to make your own. Try a local garden or agricultural supply store. I hope that helps. Thanks for reading and for your comments! Nancy C-

19 April 2008

Give Some Thought To Your Landscaping How To Design Plans

If you would like to create a wonderful attractive landscape at your home but do not know where to start, there are many different places to draw your inspiration from. Having landscaping how to thoughts is not nearly as hard as you may think. Take a look at that house that gets your attention every time you drive by. Take some mental notes, take a few pictures or possibly even stop by and ask the owner where he came up with his wonderful looking yard. Books and magazines about landscapes and designs are a good source of inspiration. The Internet is full of landscaping plans and articles that will get your brain thinking of all of the possibilities. Look around enough and you may find some sample landscape plans, pictures, and tips from experts in the field. If you decide to design your yard around a centerpiece, two of the more common ones are decks and patios. These outdoor centerpieces add usefulness to your home while making your outdoor living area seem larger. Decks and patios are great places to entertain guests or to simply gather around with your family. They can also be a special place for you. You can add a small patio to your garden for a place that is all yours. This will become a favorite place to get away from it all and relax. Decks and patios also have the benefit of adding value to your home. Something that seems to becoming more popular is the home fountain. There are the old style fountains that look like they came out of a fairy tale and there are modern smooth designs. The style you choose depends on what you like. Perhaps a lush green lawn is the ultimate in landscaping how to. A dark green beautiful yard is popular because not only is it a thing of beauty it also is a great place to hang out. Your lawn is one of the easier parts of your landscape to maintain. Take care of them and they will take care of you for a long time to come. About the author: Doug Taylor For more information on landscaping how to try visiting http://www.homelandscapinghowto.com where you will find lots of tips, advice and resources about topics such as front yard landscaping ideas.

20 March 2008

Rain Barrels; Saving You Money

Author: Shawn McCulloch The entire green industry is progressively focusing more and more on environmentally friendly production and products. With increased incentives backed by government agencies as well as the general consensus that environmental stability needs to start now, more and more companies are developing new innovative products to adhere to this. In some ways it's a shame that the only way to cause change is through monetary incentive programs or the need to be trendy, the counter-argument is the need to put food on the table or fuel in the yacht or the increased cost of doing business. Whatever the case may be, positive change is good relating to the environment. Now this isn't stating change can only happen through big business, even the end consumer, can have a major impact. So you might be asking, where is my incentive program? The answer is, certain products can actually save you money, and this isn't just pocket change. Hundreds of dollars per year really adds up: take a minimal amount, $350 per year. You save that in a high interest savings account, 20 years down the road you have close to $10,000! Want to start saving money today? An excellent and reliable option is a rain barrel. So what is a rain barrel? Rain barrels are basically rain collectors that are placed at the base of your down spouts around your home. If you have ever noticed how much rain water pours out of these spouts during a sever rain storm, you can see the potential this product boasts. And the advantages are simple. During a storm these barrels fill up, when it comes time to water your grass again, you can attach your hose directly to the barrel. These rain barrels have the ability to hold a lot of water, most can hold 60-100 gallons! With this product you save in numerous ways: watering grass is expensive, you will notice a drastic decrease in your monthly water bill with the usage of this product. Grass replacement can be expensive and labor intensive, this products ensures your grass stays healthy and green. Lastly, having extensive water around the foundation of a home can be risky. Many of the down spouts found around homes, direct rain water into a pool, which then seeps into the ground and can potentially cause major problems with leaky basements and water damaged foundations. These rain barrels not only are very enviro-wise, they also have a very modern look which results in a very stylish piece of garden decor for your backyard or home landscape. Take the positive step towards environmental stability and make a rain barrel a part of your home! About the author: Shawn is a contributing writer for gardensupermart.com He has been writing articles for gardensupermart for 2 years and is a garden pond enthusiast who enjoys wildlife, sports, and travel.

05 February 2008

New Plant List

Hi! Well, the weather in the Northeast certainly is spring-like, or close to it! It's 45 degrees today and rainy. We had thunder rolling across the farm this morning! It was so loud, I jumped out of bed and looked out the window to see what had happened. Then I realized what it was and the rain started to pour. We let the dogs out as usual in the morning, and they came in sopping wet. Thank goodness for the woodstove in the farmhouse, as it keeps us toasty warm and the dogs dried off quickly. We placed our seed order recently, and wanted to let you in on what to expect this season. I'll cover the annuals first. Ageratum Alyssum Angelonia Begonias; both fibrous and tuberous Browalia Celosia Cleome Coleus Dahlias Dianthus Diascia Dusty Miller Gazania Geranium Helichrysum Impatiens (both regular and double) Lobelia Marigolds (African and Dwarf) Nemesia Nicotiana Pansy Pentas Petunia (singles, doubles, spreading) Phlox (annual variety...very sweet and hardy) Portulaca Salvia Snapdragons Stock Verbena Viola Vinca (Periwinkle) Zinnia That should give you some idea as to what will be available. Of course, certain items will be available earlier than others and that is by no means a complete list. There are many different varieties of each plant as well as colors too numerous to mention. :-) I just love spring, and each year, I must change my mind a dozen times about what I'm going to plant around the farmhouse simply because I love it all! Finally, by June, my husband usually gives up on me making the decision and usually just starts planting the flowers himself. And you know what? He does a great job and I'm always happy with it!

31 January 2008

Quick Tip

Here's a quick tip that has always worked for us on the farm here in the Northeast! Now that February is right around the corner, you'll want to check for fog in the morning. Then keep track of each day of fog in February on your calendar. Why, you ask? Because typically the last day in February that you have fog is usually the last chance of frost on the corresponding day in May! Pretty neat...

26 January 2008

Time to Plan

Ahh...January. Well, actually almost February. The Holidays are over and gardeners are beginning to long for spring (well, we always long for spring and summer since that's what we do :-). I was playing this morning on Better Homes & Gardens' website and they have a great online garden planning tool. Go check it out at http://www.bhg.com/. Our daughter has long been talking about putting in a garden sanctuary, as she calls it, behind our home. We thought it was just a passing phase, but turns out she's very serious about it and has designed on paper just how she wants it. It's quite detailed too. There's a pond (in addition to the large pond we already have) for her pet turtle, "Squirt." There is a park bench, a picnic table and chairs, a three-tier fountain with statuettes around it, stepping stones, a pool (for us humans), a pergola, an arched entrance with a garden gate and lattice fencing, and 4 separate garden plots. One for vegetables, one for cut flowers, one for herbs and one for fruit. Oh, there are also fruit trees scattered throughout. I wonder who's going to harvest everything and can it all? :-) Who do you think? At any rate, the time is now to get out your drawing paper or garden journal and start planning what you would like your garden to look like this year. Would you like to add more perennials this year or maybe a rose bush or two? How about some type of water feature or updating the sitting area of your garden if you have one? Get those juices flowing and search the internet for some great ideas. Go to the local library and take out some gardening books (it's nice and quiet there too)! See what others have planned and design something that reflects your family's tastes and needs. Having some family input keeps everyone involved and you can be sure you're not neglecting anyone's ideas. Then everyone will be sure to enjoy the new garden. (Hint-if they are involved with the planning, you may get them to help take care of the garden too). After all, it should be a place you can come home to after a long day and just unwind and relax. Once I get the final details from Chuck, I'll post a list of what we are growing for this spring's gardens. That should help to give you some ideas and perhaps remind you of what worked well for you last year and what you might like to have this year. Some very vigorous and low maintainence plants we grew last year were Angelonia, Diascia, Alyssum, Stock and Snapdragons, to name a few. We're sure to have those great plants for sale again this year, and probably some new ones! Happy Planning Everyone!