30 June 2012

Today at Market

What to find at Running Creek Farm's market tent today:

Mediterranean Squash
Yellow Summer Squash
Kirby Cucumbers - just a few this week...more next week
Zucchini Flowers
Cannas (Plants)
Bedding Plants
Container Gardens


Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1750,155180-224205,00.html
Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
1/4 c. beer
1 1/3 c. flour
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
pinch of freshly minced basil (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. oil
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
grated Parmesan cheese
Allow the beer to stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. In a large bowl, combine flour, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and garlic powder. Add oil, egg yolks and beer. Beat until smooth. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour oil into a deep pan to 2 inches.
Heat to 375°F. Dip zucchini slices into batter. Fry 3 to 4 at a time. Turn once and fry until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Serve while still warm, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.


28 June 2012

Squash Recipes

We've been harvesting a light green Mediterranean squash out of our greenhouse for a while now, but this week we've started picking zucchini and yellow summer squash out of our field as well.  Customers have come to the greenhouse in the past to buy squash plants and always comment on how many squash they are overrun with.  So much so that their neighbors hide when they see them ;-) ....just kidding.  I've also recently written an article on growing squash for our local paper, and I will post that once the article has been published next week.  For now, let the recipes begin. 


My Mom’s Summer Squash with Rice
             ……an old Sicilian recipe 
8 medium summer squash, either zucchini, yellow or other, split in half lengthwise, then cut into ¾” slices
2 medium or 1 large yellow or sweet onions, roughly chopped
1 -28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes with juice or 6 fresh plum tomatoes, skins removed, crushed or coarsely chopped
1 can butter beans or other white bean, to your preference
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TBSP dried basil or 3 sprigs fresh, chopped
2 tsp dried parsley or 1 sprig fresh, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano or 2 or 3 leaves fresh, chopped
pepper to taste, either black or crushed red pepper
Olive Oil
1 – 2 cups brown rice, uncooked will yield 3-6 cups cooked 
Cook rice according to package directions.  While rice is cooking, heat olive oil, about 2 TBSP, in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté until almost translucent.  Add sliced squash to onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, adding garlic after 5 minutes.  Add a little more olive oil if necessary to keep onions and squash from sticking to skillet and stir. 
Add tomatoes and beans and all seasonings.  Continue to stir occasionally and cook until squash is tender but not mushy, and tomatoes and beans are heated through. 
Serve over cooked rice either as a meatless meal or a side dish.  Top with grated parmesan cheese if desired for extra flavor.
Tip:  I added the beans one night as I was not cooking meat.  The beans add protein to the dish, but you can omit them if desired.  My mom’s original recipe does not call for beans.

24 June 2012

Citronella Plant as Mosquito Repellent

Summertime!  Ahhh…picnics, barbeques, outdoor sports……mosquitoes.  There are many things you can purchase to help fend off those nasty, disease carrying insects.  One of those items is Citronella Oil.  Citronella Oil is produced from Citronella plants, one of which is a type of grass (Cymbopogon nardus).  There are also Citronella Geraniums or Scented Geraniums, of which the citronella type are also known as Mosquito Plants.

Citronella grass is a coarse, clump-forming tropical grass that can grow 5-6 ft tall. The stems are cane-like and the leaves are grayish green and flat; about 3 ft long and about 1 in wide.  It does not spread by runners, as some grasses do, but the clump increases in size as the plant matures.  I did read somewhere that the grass can become quite invasive as it produces a large quantity of seeds, so you may want to check with you local nursery or county extension office prior to planting.  This grass is closely related to Lemon Grass, which is used in Asian cooking.

Scented Geraniums include fragrances of citronella, rose, lemon, nutmeg, mint and the list goes on.  The flower colors range from white to pink to lavender and because there are so many varieties, they can be used for anything from window boxes and planters to the garden.  Most have full to partial sun requirements, although I did see one or two varieties that do fine in just a few hours of direct sun.  Some are used for culinary purposes as well as for fragrant ornamentals.  It is the citronella variety that we use for keeping mosquitoes at bay.  The Citronella Geranium has small, lavender colored flowers and grows to almost 3 feet in height. 

Neither of the above plants are perennial in our area as they will not overwinter outdoors, but they can be grown as annuals.

Many years ago, Citronella Oil was used in hair oil and from that use, it was discovered that it seemed to repel mosquitoes.  You can find Citronella Oil in a wide variety of products, such as candles, outdoor torches and mosquito repellents, and also as an essential oil.  It is used as a fragrance in cosmetics and soaps and is used as a flavoring in foods and beverages.  I’ve seen it used in no-bark dog collars, as dogs do not like the smell.  Each time the dog barks, the collar emits a spray of citronella.  It also has some medicinal purposes. 

As far as using it for insect repellent, some people use citronella oil in skin-care lotion and apply that to their skin rather than a chemical based insect repellent to ward off the pesky insects.  According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it repels mosquitoes, black flies, fleas and ticks.  Tests on the oil have shown no harm to humans as there is little to no toxicity.  The only concern may be possible skin irritation to citronella oil or citronella oil based products.  Thus, products do carry a warning label to address this. 

So plant a few of these scented plants on your patio or in your garden.  Use the citronella based products too and you should be able to enjoy your outdoor activities.  Happy Summer!

09 June 2012

Summer Gardening

We are still adding new crops to our sales greenhouse…new marigold colors, new crops of alyssum,   a young coleus crop and new types of basil, to name a few.  The month of June is full of great celebrations; Father’s Day, weddings, graduations. This is a perfect time to assess your landscaping goals and schedule further plantings accordingly for the remainder of the summer and fall seasons.  

Many times we have customers come in thinking it is too late to plant in June….not so.  Flowers can be planted throughout the summer, many well into August.  Garden centers are still full of great plants and you will also find larger plants for a greater impact in your garden.   For those of you not wanting to spend time in the garden weeding, or for a lack of planting space, look for container gardens; combination plantings in larger 10” -  20” pots.  Talk about instant gratification!  Vegetables can also be planted in pots successfully and one is only limited by the size of the pot.  As the summer wanes and the nights become shorter and cooler, look for plants that like the cooler weather, such as mums, asters, ornamental kale, pansies, dianthus, violas and Osteospermum daisies.  These plants are also cold tolerant and can probably withstand a bit of frost.  Well established snapdragons will also flower well into the fall.  One year we had such a mild winter, that my mother’s-in-law snapdragons flowered through Christmas! 

Larger perennials with strong root systems can be planted as late as September and October.  Keep in mind when fertilizing your fall perennials and lawns that you should use less nitrogen and more phosphorous and potassium.  The reason being that nitrogen encourages vegetative growth…too much at this time could predispose the plant to winter damage.  Phosphorous and potassium will encourage stronger root growth, buds and flower primordia and enable the plant to store more carbohydrates, all in preparation for the following spring.

Many vegetable crops such as tomatoes, vine crops, lettuce, arugula and root crops can be planted well into summer.  Check the number of days to finish on the label.  Many tomatoes are about 72-75 days (some longer) from transplant to harvest and can be planted up until July 4th for a later harvest.  Vine crops such as cucumbers and squash finish quickly by taking advantage of the accelerated degree days in June and July and typically finish in 40-55 days, so they can be planted through mid-July for harvest well into September.  Cool season crops like lettuce, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli like the cool nights and can be planted through the end of July depending on the number of days to finish a particular variety.  On the farm, we make several successive plantings of many crops to obtain the highest quality produce from fresh, young plants as opposed to trying to harvest from older plants.

As always, happy gardening!

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scapes are the stem and seed pot of the garlic bulb.  Garlic is usually planted sometime between September and October.  The cloves are separated from the bulbs, some of the papery skin is rubbed off and the cloves are planted separately, about 10 - 12" apart in rows.  The garlic bulb must go through a period of vernalization, which is basically the cold period through the winter.  This vernalization is necessary for the plant to flower the following season.  However, when producing garlic, we don't want the plant to go to flower, so the scapes which harbor the seed pods are removed while they are still green.  These scapes have the same garlic flavor as the bulbs and are widely used in cooking but only available for a very short period of time.  This year, being that we had such a mild winter and early spring, the scapes are about a month early.  We typically don't harvest them until the beginning of July.  The remaining leaves of the garlic plant then begin to turn yellow and dry.  It is after this process that the garlic itself is then harvested. 

-Great on toast and bagels just as it is on pastas, seasoning for meat and vegetable dishes and also used as a salad dressing…

I have no measurements for this recipe but it is so very simple.  No doubt it will be so versatile and loved, you’ll want to prepare extra to have on hand.

As with asparagus, you’ll want to trim the thicker, tough ends of the scapes and discard.  Wash and pat dry the remaining Garlic Scapes.  Puree Garlic Scapes with a little olive oil in a food processor until smooth….you’re done!  Very easy.  Now spread on bread, toast, crackers, or bagels and enjoy!  Great as a pesto on pastas or add a bit to a cruet with olive oil and vinegar and make a salad dressing.  Season meats before roasting or grilling; add to sautéed vegetables for seasoning. 

NOTE:  You can also chop the Garlic Scapes and use them in vegetable or rice dishes either fresh or sautéed.