Tag Archives: Farmer Kev

Vegetables with Peanut Sauce over Rice—and a Blooper

Before I launch into a description of this week’s recipe using Farmer Kev’s delicious vegetables, I thought I would describe a little blooper I made in the kitchen last night. All right, it was actually a big blooper. I am sharing this because I believe it’s good to admit that even those who have been cooking for a very long time can still make mistakes. (So take heart, beginning cooks!)

Here’s what happened. I had marinated tofu. I had pea pods courtesy of Farmer Kev.  Why not stir fry them together, put them on rice, and drizzle a homemade peanut sauce over it all? Then, of course, sprinkle with crushed peanuts. This I did, and how nice it all looked.

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There was just one teensy-weensy problem, which Clif and I discovered as we started eating.

“Wow!” I said. “These pea pods are tough.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Clif admitted.

“And they don’t have much taste,” I added.

Then it immediately came to me what the problem was. These weren’t sugar snaps; these were peas to be shelled. Oh, how we laughed at Laurie’s mistake as we stopped eating to shell the slimy pods. Miraculously, even though the pods had only been lightly blanched, the peas inside were cooked enough to eat.

After the peas were shelled, the dish was pretty darned good, as my Yankee husband observed. So good that there weren’t any leftovers, even though there should have been. (Clif is what you might call a good eater, especially when peanut sauce is involved.)

Blooper aside, this dish, like fried rice, is wonderfully versatile. A variety of summer vegetables could be used: Broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, carrots. Shelled peas or sugar snaps, but probably not both.

I marinated extra-firm tofu in a homemade teriyaki sauce, baked it for 45 minutes, then cut it in cubes to stir-fry. This might be one extra step that a busy home cook would rather not take. Although the marinated tofu adds a nice texture and taste to the dish, it is not an essential element. Just vegetables could be used. Leftover chicken could be added.

The vegetables could be steamed or stir-fried. If stir-fried, then chopped garlic or onion could be added for additional flavor.

So this week, I’m not going to give a recipe per se. Just cook up some rice, steam or stir-fry some vegetables, drizzle with peanut sauce, and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. And for goodness’ sake, don’t confuse sugar snaps with shell peas.

Here is a recipe for the peanut sauce. It’s adapted from a recipe from Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of warm water (Use less for a thicker sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar—wine, cider, or rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (More could be added for those who like it hot.)

Directions

  1. Whisk together the peanut butter and water until smooth.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and hot pepper flakes. Whisk again.
  3. Drizzle over vegetables and rice. Drizzle over vegetables and noodles. Use as a dipping sauce for chicken. This simple but tasty sauce can be used in a number of ways

 

 

So It Begins: Farmer Kev’s Summer CSA and a Nifty Way to Eat Radishes

On Tuesday, I received my first box of vegetables from Farmer Kev’s Community Supported Agriculture program—henceforth referred to as CSA. I’ve written about Farmer Kev many times in this blog. For new readers: He’s young, he’s energetic, he doesn’t come from a farming family, and he’s been farming on leased land since he graduated from high school. Go, Farmer Kev!

Our own Farmer Kev
Our own Farmer Kev, from a photo taken last year

This year will be especially exciting for me and, I hope, for Farmer Kev. He’s become a sponsor, of sorts, of this blog. In exchange for writing about his vegetables and ways to use them, I get a free CSA share. (I will write for food, as long as it comes from a source I approve of, and I most definitely approve of Farmer Kev.)

For the next month, I will, of course, be focusing on greens because let’s face it—when those greens get going they come in an avalanche that can be downright alarming. What to do with all those greens?

I have some ideas, and I am lucky to have a good friend who is also a good cook. Her name is Alice Johnson, and when she heard about how I would be writing regularly about Farmer Kev and his vegetables, she jumped right into the fray and has been sending me wonderful recipes that will make short work of those daunting greens. (Farmer Kev, you are in effect get two heads for the price of one.)

But for this week, which is just the start of the greens avalanche and should thus be manageable, I am going to focus on the humble radish. Yes, yes, they are good in salads, and I’m sure everyone knows this. But they are also good on buttered toast, which is a relatively new trick for this Yankee cook.

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I got this idea from JoEllen Cottrell, who is director of the Winthrop Food Pantry. A while back, she told me about toast and radishes and said this is something that is eaten in Germany. (She has a German daughter-in-law.)

Really, toast and radishes couldn’t be easier. Make a toast—the better the bread, the better the toast—and butter it. Top the toast with thinly sliced radishes and sprinkle with a little salt, if you like.

The butter and the toasted bread go very well with the crunchy, tangy radishes. I had this for lunch yesterday, and I had it again today. It’s strangely good.

Starting next week, I’ll begin posting recipes that use spinach, Swiss chard, and Kale. I even have an idea or two for salads. With the help of my friend Alice, we’ll show those greens a thing or two.

Happy eating!

 

Southwestern White Bean Soup to Make on a Reluctant Spring Day

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Farmer Kev’s vegetables, frozen then thawed

Clif and I love soup, and living in Maine gives us the opportunity to eat soup nine months of the year. (I’m counting June, which is often rainy and cool.)  Soup has so many things in its favor. A bowl of soup is warm and filling and comforting. It is forgiving and lends itself well to improvisation. Soup is often low in calories and usually can be made in a slow cooker. As if all this weren’t enough, most soups are very economical to make. Yes, indeed. There is a lot to like about soup.

Thanks to Farmer Kev and his winter CSA share, I have packets and packets of frozen vegetables in my freezer. Soups are the perfect way to use frozen peppers, beans, and zucchini, and over the winter, I’ve made quite a dent in those packets.

Last week, I was in the mood for a Southwestern soup. I had everything I needed—dried white beans, Farmer Kev’s frozen vegetables, onion, garlic, spices, tomato paste, and soy sauce, which I put in many soups to give them more of that coveted umami flavor. I also had some chicken sausage and chicken broth.

I seldom use canned beans, which always taste tinny to me. I much prefer the flavor of beans I cook myself, and since I am home all day, I have ample time to soak the beans overnight and then simmer them the next morning. For this recipe, I soaked two cups of white beans, which gave me about six cups of cooked beans. ( If time is of the essence, then by all means use canned beans. The soup will still be good.)

Basically, I chopped the vegetables into small bits, browned the sausage, and threw everything, including beans and spices, into the slow cooker. By the time Clif came home from work, the house was fragrant with the smell of bubbling soup—-another point in soup’s favor that I forget to mention in my opening paragraph.

I made a huge slow cooker full of the soup, thinking I would freeze some if we grew tired of eating it. However, this didn’t happen. We gladly ate the soup for three nights—Clif always has seconds—and didn’t mind one bit.

Soup, soup, soup!

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Southwestern White Bean and Sausage Soup

Makes 9 generous servings

2 cups of water
1 (32-ounce) box of chicken broth
1 cup of diced carrots
1 cup of green beans, chopped small
1 cup of zucchini, chopped small
1 cup of chopped green peppers
1 medium onion, chopped small
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
6 cups of white beans ( I mashed two cups to give the soup a thicker texture.)
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
Several shakes of soy sauce (Or more depending on taste)

This soup couldn’t be easier. Basically, when everything is chopped and browned, put the ingredients in a slow cooker and let them come to a simmer. On high, this soup takes about four hours. On low, seven or eight hours. When the soup has bubbled for a while, taste it to see if more spices need to be added. Serve with dollops of sour cream, or eat it plain. As you like it.

Biscuits or cornbread make a mighty good accompaniment. If I were serving this to company, I would add chopped cilantro as a garnish.

From Farmer Kev’s Carrots to Ginger Carrot Soup

From Farmer Kev's carrots...
From Farmer Kev’s carrots…

The other day, I looked in the crisper of my refrigerator and saw that I had carrots—lots of them—from Farmer Kev’s winter CSA. The carrots were all still perfectly good, but I knew the time had come to make a serious dent in them.

Ginger carrot soup came immediately to mind. Clif really likes it, and especially with Farmer Kev’s lovely carrots, which only need to be scrubbed and not peeled, it is an easy soup to make.  A food processor for chopping the carrots makes the soup even easier to put together, and this device, along with an immersion blender, should have pride of place in all frugal kitchens where most of the meals are home cooked.

The following recipe is adapted from a recipe I picked up somewhere—unfortunately all I have is the card with no identifying name. However, I’ve fiddled with the recipe so much that I can safely call it my own. There is as much of my own writing and instructions on the card as there is of the original recipe.

Ginger carrot soup is good anytime, but it is especially good in the spring. Its bright color is matched by an equally bright and spicy taste. Just the tonic for coming out of the long, cold winter. Serve it with a salad, and you have an utterly healthy meal. Add biscuits or bran muffins, and you still won’t be too far over the edge. But any way you serve it, enjoy!

To ginger carrot soup
to ginger carrot soup

Ginger Carrot Soup

2lbs of carrots, peeled (if necessary) and chopped
6 cups of water or stock
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Pepper to taste
1 large potato, chopped
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, large chop or crushed
1 teaspoon of grated ginger or 2 teaspoons of ground ginger

In a very large stock pan, heat the oil and add the carrots, potatoes, and onion. Sauté them for several minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute more. Add the water, the salt, and the pepper, and let simmer for at least  45 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Purée the soup and add the ginger. If using ground ginger, add 1 teaspoon, then taste. Add the next teaspoon according to taste. (Clif likes it spicy, so I always add more ginger.)

North African Ragout

IMG_7713Thanks to Farmer Kev and his winter CSA program, I have lots and lots of summer squash and zucchini in packets piled so high there is barely room for anything else in the freezer.

Accordingly, I’ve been making batches of minestrone soup, which not only uses the zucchini and squash but also frozen beans, another item from the CSA.

Minestrone soup is good. We love it, but we also love some variety, and in the nick of time, Farmer Kev sent a recipe for an Italian ragout that used squash and zucchini, along with frozen peppers, yet again another item from the CSA. The recipe involved roasting the vegetables with garlic, blending them, adding tomatoes and spices, and cooking it some more until you have a tasty ragout to serve over rice, pasta, couscous, or whatever.

As much as I love Italian dishes—they are, in fact, a favorite—with this dish my mind somehow turned to North Africa—to cumin, cinnamon, and a little smoked paprika. Chickpeas would be added after the mixture was blended, and toasted almonds on top when the ragout was served over couscous.

So out of the freezer came the squash, zucchini, and peppers and into the roaster they went with garlic and onion.

IMG_7695When they had roasted for about forty-five minutes, I blended them with an immersion blender. However, I made two mistakes: I had not cut the squash, peppers, and zukes into chunks, and I did not let the mixture cool down enough. The result was a hot, splattery mess, where the vegetables more or less had to be mashed with the blender. Next time I make this dish—and there will be a next time—I will be sure to cut everything into chunks before roasting.

IMG_7699After the vegetables were blended, I added chickpeas, the spices, and tomatoes.

IMG_7707I put the cover on the roaster and let the mixture cook in the oven for another forty-five minutes. When the ragout was steaming hot, I served it over couscous and sprinkled toasted almonds on top. The results? “Pretty darned good,” my husband said as he went back for seconds.

Yes, indeed, and somehow the ragout managed to be smooth and spicy at the same time.

Now, I know that not everyone has a freezer full of vegetables, courtesy of Farmer Kev, but I have no doubt that this recipe could be made with fresh vegetables, cut in chunks and roasted longer, until very soft. In the heat of summer, when these vegetables abound, this dish could even be made in the Crock-Pot, starting first thing in the morning, then blending and adding as the day progressed.

Next time I make this dish, I will try the Crock-Pot method, just to see how it turns out. In the meantime, we have several meals of North African ragout, and after having used so many packets of frozen vegetables, there is even room in the freezer for a couple of Ziploc bags of ragout, to be taken out on cold but busy days.

North African Ragout
Adapted from a Farmer Kev Recipe

1lb of zucchini, cut in big chunks
2lbs of yellow summer squash, cut in big chunks
1lb of sweet peppers, cut in big chunks
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, cut in big chunks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine all the vegetables and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast, uncovered for 45 minutes or so until the vegetables are very soft.

Remove the pan from the oven, turn the heat down to 350 degrees, and let the mixture cool. Using an immersion blender, blend vegetables to a consistency you like. (Leaving it a little chunky works just fine.)

In a medium mixing bowl combine:

1 28oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it really hot).
2 cups of cooked chickpeas

Pour over the blended vegetables, mix to combine, cover, and return the roaster to the oven. Bake for another 45 minutes and add more spicing, if so desired.

Serve over couscous or rice. Top with roasted almonds, and pretend you are somewhere warm where the air smells of spices.

Busy Day, Busy Weekend

IMG_7626Today, friends are coming over for lunch, and yesterday I made a big batch of minestrone soup using lots of Farmer Kev’s vegetables: yellow and green beans, yellow summer squash, garlic, and carrots.  The soup is warming in my trusty Crock-Pot as I write. I’ll be making corn bread to go with it.

This Saturday, we will be going to Cinema Explorations, the winter film series Clif and I helped organise for Railroad Square Cinema. In the afternoon, Mike, Shannon, and the dogs will be coming over to the little house in the big woods to celebrate Mike’s birthday.

A busy but fun weekend that will certainly perk up this housebound family.

Spicy Squash Soup Using Mostly Vegetables Grown by Farmer Kev

For the past several years, Clif and I have bought a summer CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share from Farmer Kev, one of our favorite young farmers. In previous posts, I’ve written about Farmer Kev, so I will be brief: He’s still in his twenties, was bit by the farming bug as a young teenager, but doesn’t come from a farming family. Farmer Kev is a friend of the family and is one of the hardest-working young men that I know.

This year, for the first time, Farmer Kev offered a winter CSA farm share, and Clif and I did not hesitate to buy one. As a result, we’ve been getting vegetables that store well over the winter—beets, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and lots and lots of squash. The time had come, I decided, to make a spicy squash soup.

Any squash will do for this soup, but as I had an abundance of acorn squash, that is what I used. The soup is a two-step process because baking acorn squash first is the easiest way to mash it. Even though the hands-on time is minimal, I usually plan to bake the squash one day and make the soup on the following day. This time was no different. I baked the squash on Monday and made the soup on Tuesday.

To bake the squash—I used three—I greased a baking sheet, cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, placed the squash face down on the baking sheet, and baked them for an hour or so at 350 degrees.

Ready to be baked
Ready to be baked

When the squash was very soft—I poked it with a fork to test it—I removed the baking sheet from the oven, let the squash cool, and then mashed it into a bowl, which was then stored in the refrigerator until the next day. Note: If you are an early bird, then the baking of the squash and the making of the soup could easily be accomplished in one day.

Scooping and mashing squash
Scooping and mashing squash
Mashed and ready for soup
Mashed and ready for soup

Next came the making of the soup base. For this I used potatoes, carrots, and garlic, all courtesy of Farmer Kev.  (I also used an onion, which, alas, I had to buy at the store.) I sautéed the vegetables, added water and spices, and simmered them for about an hour. When the potatoes and carrots were very soft, I blended the cooked squash into the simmered vegetables.

And then there was soup.

Clif likes his soup to be bulky with either crackers or pasta or some other ingredient to “fill it out,” as he puts it. So I usually cook some pasta to go with puréed soups, and the pasta is added to the bottom of the bowls rather than to the soup itself. That way, the pasta doesn’t swell into something unrecognizable.

I just thought of another reason why I bake the squash the day before. That way, the oven is free for me to make homemade bread to go with the soup.

Hot soup and homemade bread on a cold January night. Pretty darned good, as my Yankee husband might say.

Squash soup and homemade bread
Squash soup and homemade bread

 

Spicy Squash Soup
Makes six generous servings

4 medium potatoes, cubed
2 small or 1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 tablespoons of oil or butter
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon of dried tarragon
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
2 teaspoons of salt or to taste
4 cups of cooked, mashed squash (pumpkin could also be used)

In a large stockpot, heat the oil and add the potatoes, carrots, and onion. Sauté for five minutes and add the garlic, sautéing for 30 seconds. Add the water and the tarragon, celery seed, cumin, white pepper, and salt. Simmer for about an hour, until the vegetables are very soft.

Blend the squash into the cooked vegetables. The best way to do this is with an immersion blender. Set the stockpot in the sink, add the squash to the pot, and blend away in one easy swoop. You don’t have to worry about burning yourself, and you don’t have the mess of blending it in several batches. Whoever invented the immersion blended should be pronounced a hero to home cooks everywhere.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, then use a blender with a glass pitcher, do it in batches, and be careful not to burn yourself.

Then, enjoy!