Gettin' fresh … in Northern Nevada

My adventures in food and blogging about community supported agriculture in Northern Nevada

Eat more veggies. Know your farmer. Just don't eat your farmer.

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First Sprout

It’s just barely starting but the tiniest tips of green are poking out of the soil.

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Spinach, maybe?

It’s a big day here at the Fresh Veggies household.   Big days start with tiny, little green sprouts.

The Long, Dry Winter

Hello … is anyone still out there?

It has been a while since I’ve dusted off the keys and posted something on this site.   I’ve been busy.   Ha ha, haven’t we all?

And, because of that, things are under construction here at “Fresh Veggies.”   I will not be subscribing to a CSA this year.   I will be attempting to kill (uh, grow) my own veggies.

WHAT??!  WHY?   Don’t I still love Lattin Farms?   Yes, I love Lattin Farms.   And, mostly likely, I will still purchase their offerings this year.   But, I’m not doing the CSA.   Because of the current drought and water allocation for Lattin Farms, the growing season will be shorter and limited.   Sooooooo … I’m going to tough it out in the suburbs and figure out how to make things grow, too.

My husband also has a green thumb.   We are in this together.   And, he’s handy so he built me some mini-greenhouses to get started.

Here’s what I’ve got going on so far:

PVC fixin's to get the greenhouses together

PVC fixin’s to get the greenhouses together

Recycled old milk jugs for mini-hot houses

Recycled old milk jugs for mini-hot houses

Greenhouse bases with plastic lining

Greenhouse bases with plastic lining

Good garden soil

Good garden soil

Seeds planted, lids on ... grow babies grow!

Seeds planted, lids on … grow babies grow!

Personal saunas for future transplants

Personal saunas for future transplants

 

Are you wondering what I have planted in my little greenhouses?   Stay tuned … if they ever actually grow, I’ll report back.   If not, I’ll be shopping at Lattin Farms.   Either way, all good.

What are you planting this year?

Winter Break

This blog is currently on winter break while the fields are dormant for the season.   Please check out my other endeavors at www.gingerleaphotography.com until the spring thaw happens.

cilantro peppers basil

See you later,

Fresh Veggies in the Desert

Great Basin Basket CSA, Autumn Week 6 (11/07/13)

 

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This is it, the last basket of 2013.   I’m happy to report that it was full of all kinds of goodies, too!

2013 wasn’t kind to the farmers and I’m not sure what the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting for 2014 but I am certain that water is going to be an issue for the Fallon farmers no matter what.    I love being a part of the Great Basin Basket CSA.   However, once again, I am faced with the dilemma about what to do for next year.   We’ll see …

(All organic from Lattin Farms, unless otherwise noted)

  • Stripetti Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sunflowers
  • Decorative Indian Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Thyme
  • Decorative Gourds
  • Onions from Peri & Sons
  • Jerusalem Artichokes from Mewaldt Organics
  • Potatoes from Workman Farms
  • Mixed Asian Greens from High Desert Farming Initiative (part of the University of Nevada, Reno)

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So, veggie friends … it might be a while until the next post.   I’m considering just posting an occasional recipe or two but I’m might also just reevaluate my blogging time.

What do you think?

Maybe, just a winter’s break to clear the mind … maybe not.

Great Basin Basket CSA, Week 5 (10/31/13)

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This week’s haul included a couple of fun things and a little bit of sad news.   First things first, what’s in the box? (All organic from Lattin Farms unless otherwise noted)

  • Lettuce
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Arugula
  • Decorative Gourd
  • Sunflower
  • Decorative Indian Corn
  • Potatoes from Workman Farms
  • Butternut Squash from Peri & Sons
  • Onions From Peri & Sons

What do you do with a full sunflower head?   Thankfully, the newsletter came with instructions.   (I love that the farm doesn’t assume that I know this stuff.   Instructions are appreciated!)

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How to Make Your Own Sunflower Seeds

Cover the flower head with a paper bag and secure into place by tying around the bag with a string.

Hang the cut sunflower upside down by the stem in a warm but ventilated area for three weeks to two months while it cures. The seeds will fall out over time, caught in the paper bag.

Place the dried sunflower seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for storage. Roast the sunflower seeds by spreading them in a flat layer over a cookie sheet and placing in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Add salt or leave them plain based on your preference.

 

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I love the decorative stuff because they can hang around until Thanksgiving and not be confused with my Halloween decorations.

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Now, the sad news …  the drought was pretty tough on my farm this year.   And, well, drought conditions make it pretty tough on about everything around here.   Here’s the official scoop from my CSA newsletter:

“It has been a challenging year for us – drought, heavy insect and disease pressure, crazy weather (including about three weeks without sunshine due to wildfires).  Despite these difficulties the basket went out every week full of fresh produce. The variety, due to problems noted above, was not up to our usual standards – lots and lots of some things and less of others.  Thanks for putting up with those variables. 

We are changing the basket substantially in 2014 to ensure we can send a full basket of good produce every week, despite the challenges we anticipate due to continued drought. Luckily at Lattin Farms we have storage ponds on the farm and will be able to plant for the new seasons we are implementing for 2014. 

We will have two seasons rather than three, with an Early Season Basket beginning the first week of June and running through the end of July. This season will begin with the usual greens, plus beets, turnips, carrots and in July the first 
of the summer squashes, tomatoes and peppers. Late Season Basket will include August and September and will contain all the crops you got this year. This will allow us to concentrate on our major season as we face the challenges with weather and drought. 

Our sign-up for 2014 will be up on the website within the next couple of weeks and we would appreciate early sign-ups with the $50 deposits as we may be required to limit basket numbers if the drought worsens. 

We are asking some of our cooperating farmers if they want to pick up some of the spring and fall business that we have had. Look to our website later in the year for announcements on other subscription programs for spring and fall baskets. Thanks again for your loyal support.   Rick Lattin”

Well, that’s just how it works here in the desert.   No water, no life.  You have to do the best you can with what you have so we’ll see how it works out next year for crops and Fresh Veggies in the Desert.

Let me know what you think … I was looking forward to the winter break but now it’s a little sad that I’m watching the CSA change at the same time.

Great Basin Basket CSA Autumn Week 4 (10/24/13)

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The winter veggies just keep coming!   I’m happy to see a nice variety in this week’s CSA share.   I am still a little worried, though.   It is really dry out there and I know my farm is struggling for water.   C’est la vie for gardening in the desert, I suppose?

What was in this week’s box?  (All organic from Lattin Farms unless otherwise noted)

  • Stripetti Spaghetti Squash
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Green Tomatoes
  • Shallots
  • Mixed Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Sage
  • Potatoes from Holley Farms
  • Onions from Peri & Sons

And, just in case you wanted to see what autumn looks like from near my house, this is a little fishing hole a few miles from where I live:

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The county stocks the pond with trout and we have managed to catch a couple of them.   My husband is better at catching than I am but I do enjoy the zen of trying.   How about you?

Great Basin Basket CSA, Autumn Week 3 (10/17/13)

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What’s in the box this week?

(all organic from Lattin Farms unless noted otherwise)

  • Cha-Cha Kabocha Squash
  • MIzuna and Mustard Greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Shallots
  • Islander Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Popcorn
  • Spinach
  • Garlic Chives from Mewaldt Organics
  • Potatoes from Holley Farms
  • Yellow Onions from Peri & Sons
  • Cauliflower from Peri & Sons

What the Cha-Cha?   Now, I’m not a rookie to the squash scene at this point but I don’t remember ever seeing a Cha-Cha Kabocha Squash on the menu before now.   Have you ever had one?

To me, it looks like a big speckled green pumpkin or, maybe, a flatter watermelon   But, I was surprised when I picked it up because it was significantly lighter than expected.   According to the instructions/newsletter, it is the best-eating of the mid-size kabocha squashes.   “It has a bright yellow flesh that cooks up dry, flaky, sweet and delicious.”   I’m thinking it will be a lot like a butternut squash … I guess we will find out soon enough, won’t we?

In case you didn’t already know, the pick-up spot for my CSA is at the local Whole Foods store.   Most of the time, I don’t even go inside unless I need some random other item because, after all, I am going home with a huge box of veggies every week.   This week, though, was different.   I was stopped dead in my tracks because I found my holy grail item of fall.   The Honey Crisp Apple.   Oooooh, yaaaaa.    It’s on like Donkey Kong, my friends.

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I bought a whole bag of these beauties and, after I eat myself sick on just plain old apples, I’m going to make a recipe suggested by Rachel’s Table, Seasonal Sangria.   Check her out, she knows how to get it done …

French Onion Soup

 

 

My house was overrun by onions and it was time to do something.   Something radical, like make an entire meal out of basically just onions.    French onion soup time!

I adapted a recipe from Rachel Ray to get the job done.   Why?   Because she speaks the language of simple and savory–that’s my style.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 medium onions
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups beef stock (32 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 baguette, ends trimmed, sliced into 16 rounds about 1-inch thick
  • 1/2 pound Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons good quality dry sherry (optional)

PREPARATION

Heat a heavy soup pot over medium heat while thinly slicing the onions. Add the butter to the pot and melt. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and gently caramelize, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes. If the onions begin to brown too quickly at the edges before they caramelize, turn the heat down a bit. Deglaze the pan with the wine, then let reduce for 1 minute while stirring. Add the stock and the Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, place an oven rack in middle of the oven and heat the oven to 250˚F.

Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet and arrange the bread slices on it. Toast the bread for 15 minutes. Switch the broiler on. Top the bread with lots of mounded cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese.

Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and stir in a tablespoon of sherry per bowl, if desired. Set four cheesy croutons into each bowl and serve.

Here’s how it went down at my house.   I used a mandolin for all of the onions.   It is an awesome tool–just make sure you don’t cut a finger off, that blade is sharp!

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I ended up filling this pot with onions and letting them cook down.   It took forever.   This is not a 30-minute meal.

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And, because I love a good short cut (and I didn’t have a french baguette at the time), I took a full bag of croutons and broiled some cheese on top.   Easy-peasy.

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The crouton idea was perfect.   They added a little extra salt and seasoning to the mix and then soaked up the broth nicely.

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Mmmmm, mmmm good.

Stuffed Baked Acorn Squash

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This recipe was in the weekly instructions/newsletter for my CSA box.   It is originally credited to Black Sheep Farm in Ontario, Canada, Fresh Food Nation by Martha Holmberg.

Stuffed Baked Acorn Squash

  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous or cooked rice
  • 1 tart apple (peeled, cored and finely diced)
  • (my addition) 1 small white onion (finely diced)
  • 1 lb cooked pork, duck, sausage, bacon or pancetta (I used Italian sausage)
  • hot sauce (to taste)
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • (my addition) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 375.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds from the cavity by scraping them out with a spoon.  Cut a small slice off the curved side of each half, so it can sit flat without wobbling.

Use a fork or sharp paring knife, poke holes in the flesh of the cut faces and cavities of the squash halves, and the brush with olive oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook couscous or use pre-cooked rice.   Saute onions and apples in a small amount of oil until caramelized.   Mix everything with chopped meat and a few drops of hot sauce.   Taste for seasoning.

Fill each squash half with stuffing, tamping down as need to fill completely.   Drizzle with maple syrup.   Bake until squash is completely tender, about 45 minutes.   Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil for a nice browned topping.

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This was savory with a little bit of sweet spicy.   The squishy squash texture was balanced with the rice stuffing mixture.    Good stuff.    It was a little bit of a hassle for a work night meal but everyone at my house has a happy tummy so it was worth it.    Yum!

Mixed Pepper Hot Sauce

I have been stockpiling my CSA share of hot peppers lately just waiting to make a batch of hot sauce.   All sorts of peppers:  jalapenos, serranos, fresno, romanian … and I even bought a couple of extra habaneros to throw into the mix.   My pepper farming efforts this year completely failed so I knew that I wouldn’t have a full batch of the same peppers just from the CSA box.   I figured I could come up with something good, though.   And, I did.

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My creation is called:   STANKY SAUCE!    I started to title this blog post something like “I love the stank” or “All About Stank” and then decided that would probably pull in a bunch of really bizarre spam comments that have nothing to do with a nice, wholesome veggie blog like this one.   (eh hem)

I started with a little Google searching and, one of my favorite resources, Punk Domestics.   I love that site but, fair warning, it’s a little food snobby (in a good way).   Then, I compared notes with a couple of other sites and discovered that fermenting the peppers is a good base to add for a nice hot sauce.   There are tons of options on how you could go for a sriracha or a more Tabasco-style and even a sweet hot.    If you are interested in making your own sriracha, try Peppermeister’s recipe … look around on that site for a while, there are some other good recipes to try as well.

I decided that a briney-fermented, stanky sauce with some pow-pow HOT is just what I wanted.

Well, well, well.   I just happen to have (forgotten about) a jar of mild green peppers that I did in a salty dill brine last year.   Perfect base, almost like I planned it.  (haha)

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Then, I had to char the skins on my fresh peppers and cook them up a little bit.   The trick to this is to get a good little burn going on the peppers but not completely kill them.   Maybe, 70-80% char and, then, you put them in a sealed container so that they steam out nicely.    After that, the skins just peel off (for the most part).   I trimmed the stems off but kept all the seeds and innards and juicy goodness for the mix.

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I did actually use the gloves.   And, I’m glad.   I have a feeling that I would have killed my hands and probably stuck my finger in my eye, resulting in death for most of the afternoon.   I am happy to report that I avoided disaster here and only had a few coughing fits due to pepper capsaicin inhalation.    Hot stuff, for real.

I blended the pickled peppers (brine and all) with my skinned fresh peppers using an immersion blender to get this:

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Now, at this point, some people choose to filter/strain their sauce to get just the liquids.   I opted for the full (slightly chunky) version.    And, after taste testing … WHOOEEEEWWWW!   Hot.   Hot.  Hot.    I decided that I still needed to kick it up a notch.    This is where lightning struck and I realized that I am a genius.    Beer.   This hot sauce needs beer.    And, not just any beer, a good stinky one.   Bitter, hoppy, stank beer.   (the good kind)

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This is my favorite.   Icky.   It’s named after the ichthyosaur, or state fossil of Nevada.   It’s about 7% ABV and hoppy all day long.   It’s a local brew, Great Basin Brewing Company.   And, it’s good.    Get some, if you can.

I’m pretty proud of this one.   But, it’s only for the truly brave.   It is a hot and powerful stanky sauce.   Not for dipping chips into or anything like that.   Maybe, it could blow the tortilla off a good fish taco or get added to some manly chili beans … it might kick some canned peaches to curb as well.    This is the real deal.

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Six beautiful little jars of screaming hot, stanky goodness.    I think Santa will keep these for his special elves.

 

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