A Little Corny…

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Anybody else ready for summer? Or at least the taste of it? As the never-ending winter continues, there is a need to find foods that provide comfort and a bright, sweet memory of summer.

I can’t think of a better food than corn to do this. And not the type of corn you find in a grocery store (did you know if you melted down the contents of a grocery store, 30% would be corn syrup…?!) – but real kernels of sweet corn. While there is no substitute for fresh corn on the cob, the frozen stuff will do just fine for now.

Corn comes in all different colors, and is full of antioxidants. It’s also a good source of fiber, B vitamins and vitamin C. I’d recommend going with some non-GMO corn, but perhaps you aren’t concerned with your health or the dangers to the environment….I could go on, but I won’t.

So once you’ve got your corn, you just need a few other ingredients, and you can whip up a batch of sweet cornbread – perfect for snacking, dipping into chili, or eating alongside some bbq.

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Or try some corn chowder, with a different flavor spin than you might be used to. But a coconut-y, curry taste that’s perfect for these chilly, gray days.

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Pass the Polenta

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Apparently there’s a lot of negative press surrounding polenta, something about it being a weird texture, something else about having to stir it constantly, and something crazy about lack of flavor.

Well, I’m here to tell you: don’t listen to the haters! They don’t know what they’re talkin’ about. Polenta can have the creamiest texture, its certainly not any fussier than rice or quinoa, and by golly, if it isn’t more flavorful and delicious because it’s grown all over the country!

It’s interesting, so many people are readily jumping on the organic, local, heirloom bandwagon for their fruits & vegetables…but why don’t we think the same way for our grains? Or our beans, nuts, seeds, oils, etc….but that will be for another post!

I bought some locally-grown, freshly-milled polenta at a farmer’s market, though you can also get it online – and gosh darn, if it wasn’t the most flavorful grain dish I’ve ever had! Yes! I’m including ALL grains! Ever!

And simple. Without further adieu:

Creamy Squash Polenta

If you want to try a bit fancier, though not really complicated recipe – try this one. Basically it enables you to make creamy polenta hours before you want to serve it, and then let it sit, undisturbed, becoming creamier & richer. Can’t complain too much about that…

And the really great thing about polenta, is that it makes wonderful leftovers. It’ll harden up in a few hours and then you can serve it cold or fried, or some other creative way that I don’t know yet. For me, I gave it a little pan fry and then made a sun-dried tomato pesto for the top. Yum.

So get on the polenta bandwagon! Support your local grain farmer – and avoid those pesky GMOs! And enjoy some truly delicious, nutritious (dietary fiber, zinc, iron, magnesium and lots of beta-carotene) meals!!

Reporting from the Road…

It’s tough to blog while you are traveling, I’ve discovered. Carrying around a computer is a nuisance, and getting out my camera to take a photo of something I’ve cooked is basically unheard of. Even my cooking has gone on break – which is very upsetting to me and all my diners, I can assure you. No one’s been getting to eat these delicious vegan, gluten-free desserts or meals!

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So, since I’ve been on break, I thought I would share with you a list of my favorite blogs and books. Hopefully they’ll tide you over until I start posting again…

Top 7 Cookbooks

The Complete Tassajara Cookbook – Edward Espe Brown
Recipes arranged seasonally using fresh, whole foods based on tasty pairings instead of exact measurements; filled with inspiration for cooking with joyful intention and attention

Local Flavors – Deborah Madison
How to cook seasonal, regional ingredients in simple, timeless ways; written by a former Chez Panisse chef & San Francisco Zen Center student

The Essential Vegetarian – Diana Shaw
Hundreds of light, fresh recipes with lots of variations, information on ingredients, techniques & nutrition

Veganomicon – Isa Moskowitz & Terry Romano
None of that fake meat or egg replacer crap! Just wonderful ways to eat fruits and vegetables, plus great how-to guides – a true vegan classic

Enchanted Broccoli Forest – Mollie Katzen
Great for ideas on vegetarian meals, improvising, and planning menus; beautifully illustrated

Vegan’s Daily Companion – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
A full guide on becoming & maintaining a vegan lifestyle, complete with stories, recipes, techniques and informational guides on healthful eating & use of unfamiliar foods

Farmer John’s Cookbook – John Peterson
Recipes from a biodynamic CSA, arranged by crop & season, full of random tips on storage, preservation, and philosophical ramblings.

And A Couple Others…
The New Laurel’s Kitchen – Laurel Robertson
One Dish Vegan – Robin Roberston
Organic Cook’s Bible – Jeff Cox
Jerusalem – Yotam Ottolenghi
Vegetarian Epicure – Anna Thomas

Top 13 Food Blogs
*I use Feedly to read all my blogs – it compiles them on one convenient, easy to use webpage

My New Roots
Oh She Glows
The First Mess
Oh My Veggies
This Rawsome Vegan Life
Healthy Green Kitchen
Love & Lemons
Healthy. Happy. Life.
Rawmazing
101 Cookbooks
Manifest Vegan
Edible Perspective
Wild Roots

Other Websites
find local food:
eatwellguide.org
localharvest.org

travel & work:
helpx.net
workaway.info

travel & farm:
goodfoodjobs.com
wwoof.org

awesome online library on agriculture, health & spirituality
soilandhealth.org

I hope this list brings inspiration for your holiday cooking and gifting needs! And wishing you all many tidings of peace and love during this wonderful season!

Wrapping Up…

As autumn sets in around the farm, everyone and everything is preparing for winter. Tomato stakes are coming down, eggplants & peppers are sending out their last push, and the farm interns are saying their good-byes. This season is ending, and it is time for us to move on to our next adventure.

With that exciting, slightly nerve-racking thought, I’ve found comfort in root vegetables. Wrapped up in many different ways (or served on gluten-free bread, but that didn’t seem appropriate for this post…).

These wraps are not your average vegan/gf wrap, I’d like to think. Restaurants try to “make it work” by throwing on some lettuce, tomato, maybe some sauteed onions & peppers – regardless of the season. I usually have to request some pesto and “any other vegetables you are willing to throw on.” So I make my wraps as complete as possible: legumes, nuts/seeds, and chock-full of vegetables.

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First up: Collard Wrap with Groundnuts and Roots

I chopped up some carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips, and braised them in a little vegetable broth. Then I added a peanut-coconut-ginger sauce, and a huge handful of parsley. That got piled onto a huge collard leaf atop some raw red peppers, and with a big handful of basil cabbage slaw on top of that. Very satisfying.

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Next up: Chard Wrap with Spicy Eggplant & Slaw

This was a collaborative wrap between me and another intern, Jeremy. I made baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, parsley, lemon juice), and a quick “slaw” (kohlrabi, carrots, peppers in a lemon vinaigrette). Jeremy made his famous spicy eggplant with dill, and a delightfully hot sauce to pour atop everything. I’ll have to tell him to post his recipe, because I certainly couldn’t do it justice.

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And last but not least, Cabbage Rolls with Moroccan Spiced Roots & Tahini Ginger Dressing

Chop up as many root vegetables as you can get your hands on into thin strips. I used carrots, parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, white yams and sweet potatoes. Roast them with a little olive oil, salt & pepper until soft. Let cool, and mix with chopped cilantro, parsley and mint. Lots of it.

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. Mix together tahini, tamari, ginger, garlic, scallions, a hot pepper or two, a bit of sesame oil, some rice wine vinegar and water to achieve your viscosity of choice.

Now get your cabbage ready to roll. Remove outer leaves, cut out the core, and steam until leaves soften, and peel off. Put a handful of root veggies in the center, top with some toasted pumpkin seeds, and roll like a Chipotle burrito. After you’ve got ’em all rolled, steam them for another few minutes to seal and heat through. Serve with dipping sauce, and be prepared for people to want seconds.

And that, my friends, is a wrap.

Vegetables: The New Noodle

No time to boil water for pasta? No problem. Just grab a couple summer squash, some carrots, and use a mandoline to create thin ribbons of noodliciousness.  Toss them with your favorite pasta sauce, a couple other vegetables, some toasted nuts or seeds and fresh herbs – you’ve got a quick, simple, and nutritious meal.DSC_0014

Carrot + Squash Noodles with Steamed Broccoli and Cilantro Tahini Dressing
2 medium carrots
1 medium squash
1 handful broccoli
2 T sesame seeds

2 T tahini
1 T vinegar (umeboshi plum, apple cider, lemon juice)
1/4 cup coconut milk or other nut milk
1 T minced ginger
1 T minced garlic
large handful cilantro
pinch salt

First make your sauce. Mix the tahini, vinegar, ginger and garlic. Add coconut milk until you reach your desired consistency. Add chopped cilantro, and season to taste.

Then cut or tear your broccoli into small florets. Steam until bright green and tender, but not mushy – between 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a mandoline to create thin strips of carrots and summer squash/zucchini. Eat them as broad noodles, or cut them into thin strips with a knife for smaller noodles.

Mix the noodles with the sauce and broccoli. Top with toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!

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The Healing Power of Soup

The arrival of fall, and thus, the arrival of soup. Fall, with its chilly mornings and evenings, crisp breeze, and subtleties, is a time of transition. A time of preparation for the winter ahead. Warming, soothing, nourishing foods bring us a sense of stability and groundedness. No wonder soup is a staple of nearly every culture. With a few fresh (or properly stored) ingredients, you can sit back, relax, reflect, and rejuvenate yourself with a nice bowl of soup. Here’s my simple, time-tested, mother-taught, farmer-approved recipe:

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The possibilities are endless! And you can have a great soup in 20 minutes! I tend to find that flavors tend to develop with more time simmering or simply sitting overnight – but can’t deny the value of a quick soup. Busy schedule, unexpected guests, a bunch of hungry farmers at lunch.

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It was harvest day,my turn to make lunch, and I couldn’t choose just one vegetable from our bounty…so I picked six. Onion, garlic, celery, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato. And with a few modifications to the recipe pictured, I had broccoli “cheese” soup in bowls with roasted peppers and a salad of fresh greens, carrots, beets and turnips in under an hour.

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Two great things about this particular soup:

1) Broccoli – an amazing source of vitamins and minerals that support the immune system and heart, produce energy and fight free radicals.

2) Nutritional yeast – a complete source of protein and full of B-complex vitamins, this nutty, cheesy delight is found in any health food store, and can be easily added to soups, sauces, salad dressing, or anywhere cheese might be desired.

I’ll have to do another post on root vegetables to discuss all their nutritional wonders. I’ve already talked about the multitude of ways to use them. But for now, just know to eat ’em up! The season is upon us!

Versatile Vegetables

Autumn is upon us! If you couldn’t tell from the cool mornings, crisp air and changing colors…perhaps your CSA box or local farmers market has made it clear: fall vegetables have arrived! I know I am ready for some hearty, warming dishes after a chilly morning’s work. So, I’ve been turning to root vegetables, and I hope our CSA members are too, since they’ve been getting quite a few in their share…

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One particularly rainy day, I decided to make potato-leek soup. Why? Well, potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. And leeks contain sulfur, vitamins A, K, C and B6, as well as magnesium, calcium and polyphenols. But also because they are in season, they taste great together, we have them in abundance!

So the night before I was serving lunch, I cooked it up – soup always seems to taste better the next day…
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Creamy Potato-Leek Soup
5 leeks
1 head celery
7 medium carrots
5 cloves garlic
11 medium potatoes
Vegetable broth
Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Cashew milk

1) Soak 1 c. cashews in 2 c. water for 4 hours. Blend, and use like milk. Substitute most nuts or seeds.
2) Finely chop your leeks. Saute the dark green part – the whole darn thing – in a bit of oil in a large pan. Add the white parts, then finely chopped celery and carrots. Put a lid on the pan, saute on low until the veggies start to become translucent.
3) Add in some finely chopped garlic, and some thyme. Cook until fragrant.
4) Add in roughly chopped potatoes, and vegetable broth to cover. Bring to a low boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender.
5) Puree the soup with an immersion blender, add salt & pepper to taste, and cashew milk to creaminess preference.

Serve with a few drops of cashew milk, freshly ground pepper and some parsley, or go for a lunch worthy of a hungry farm crew…

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First, I threw together a braised cabbage & apple salad. Red onion, green cabbage, tart apples, apple cider vinegar and parsley – simple, sweet accompaniment to any fall meal.

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Root veggies galore! Meanwhile, I chopped some beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and parsley root into thin strips, and roasted ’em at 375 for about a half hour. They were very lightly tossed in some coconut oil, salt and pepper. I recommended mixing them into the soup for added texture. You could also serve them as fries with ketchup.

With my oven already hot, I decided to pop some shishito peppers in there and give ’em a nice roast too. Five minutes later, they were blistering and perfect. I sprinkled them with a pinch of sea salt, and they were finger-licking good. Not too spicy, perfectly thin skinned, smoky deliciousness.

Once you go farm, you’ll never go back!!!