"providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood"
Smiling is infectious,
When someone smiled at me today,
I passed around the corner,
When he smiled I realized,
I thought about that smile,
A single smile,
So, if you feel a smile begin,
Let's start an epidemic quick
July was a hot and humid month. Despite the weather, I had some fun things
happen. I purchased an old-fashioned cherry pitter from the Kester family
at their yard sale. The Kesters had used it for years, pitting cherries
for the many pies that they made at their bake stand. I also bought an
old-fashioned hand grinder from them. I visited two Certified Organic Community
Supported Agriculture farms and received some excellent new recipes that I want
to share with you.
When I was at The General Store run by Alice Arlow on Route 240 in East Concord, I noticed a bouquet of green stalks with the tops curled around with an arrowhead-like closed flower (umbel). They were garlic scapes. I had never heard of them. Alice gave me a bag of them to take home and try, along with a recipe booklet for a garlic scape Frittata from E. S. Wochensky in Springville, New York. I spoke with Wochensky later on the phone. He loves to raise and eat organically-raised garlic. His likes his hard neck variety even though it is a bit more wild, he finds it more flavorful, not just hot. When Wochensky cuts into it, the juice oozes out garlicky goodness. His booklet boasts "Garlic is as Good As Ten Mothers. Garlic fights colds, reduces cholesterol, lowers cancer rates, works as an antioxidant, kicks vampire. . . and tastes might fine too." Scapes are cut from the hardneck garlic plants and can be used as a substitute for garlic until the fresh garlic is ready to harvest. Scapes are the seed stalk of the garlic bulb. They need to be removed the beginning of June to prevent the garlic from going to seed. If the garlic goes to seed, the garlic bulb will be tiny. Scapes can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks in a brown paper bag and freeze well. A customer, Will Samuel, told me to stir fry the scapes in a little olive oil and toss it with my spaghetti. I made some that night, adding some Parmesan cheese. Delicious.
"The Best Frittata You Will Ever Eat"
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix egg, spinach, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Heat oil in 10-inch ovenproof (I used my cast iron skillet) skillet on the stove. Add the garlic scapes and saute until tender on medium heat (5 minutes). Pour egg mixture in skillet with garlic and cook over low heat (3 min.) Place in oven and bake uncovered until top is set (10 min.). Cut into wedges to serve.
Alice Arlow had given me a business card for Native Offerings Farm run by Stewart and Deb Ritchie in Little Valley, New York. They live and breathe organic gardening on their 180-acre farm. The Ritchies are running a Community Supported Agriculture share program, raising organic vegetables, not only for their family, but for customers as well. Stewart said that he likes simple, high-quality food. I made arrangements to visit their farm one Friday after work. Stewart graciously left his work in his gardens to show me around. I was much impressed by his organic gardens, two huge greenhouses (one filled with plants being transplanting for a later planting and another with ripe tomatoes running up strings six-feet into the air), and rows upon rows of healthy-looking vegetables, kept watered by drip tape irrigation, technology developed in Israel. An Agribon floating row cover helped keep the insects off of the arugula, radishes, turnips, cucumbers, and other crops.
Stewart controls the weeds by tractor tilling and hand weeding. I was amused when showed me the dandelions that he was growing - not like what grows in my yard, his was a type of chicory. He mentioned that he plants five plantings of carrots for a total of 400,000 seeds. You can visit their web site at email@example.com
I have been reading Kevin Trudeau's book lately, "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About," and he stresses the importance of eating organically for our health. I'm convinced more and more that I need to do a better job at cooking and eating organic foods. The USDA National Organic Standards that the Ritchies adher to "prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers." Native Offerings also raises organic beef and pork. Three schools in the area are now buying some of their food for the school food program. The vegetables are grown on mineralized sandy loam soil. Stewart gave me a pint of tomatoes to take home and I bought a cookbook that he makes available to his customers "From Asparagus to Zucchini," a guide to cooking farm-fresh seasonal produce.
Deb Ritchie shared two of her favorite salad recipes with me. I especially like the one made with the Chinese (NAPA) cabbage. It is excellent. Don't substitute another type of cabbage. You can adapt these recipes for making smaller portions. I added tomatoes to the cabbage salad.
Simple Napa (Chinese) Cabbage Salad
1 Napa cabbage (Chinese), thinly chopped
salt to taste (few shakes of salt shaker)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chop leaves (discard stems)
Place thinly chopped cabbage in a large bowl, Add salt to taste and rice vinegar. Let cabbage sit for 3 to 5 minutes before adding onion and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Debbie's recipe for Kale Salad follows. I recommend putting the avocados and tomatoes attractively on top when you serve the salad and buying avocados that are not overripe. You want the avocado slices to stay intact and not fall apart.
Kale Salad with Avocados and Tomatoes
Deb says that this is the best kale salad she's ever had. Usually her family eats kale steamed with a bit of Tahini on it.
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped (remove midribs and stems, if desired, but not necessary)
salt to taste
juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon
avocado, coarsely chopped
tomatoes, chopped (as many as desired)
Place kale in a large bowl. Add salt to taste and juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon. Massage kale until it breaks down somewhat (for a finer salad remove stems and midrib from kale leaf). The more you massage the kale, the "softer" it will become. Deb likes her salad a bit crunchy, so only massages the kale a minute or two.
Add avocado and tomatoes. Toss and enjoy.
One Saturday I took a trip up to Mike and Gayle Thorpe's organic family farm on Strykersville Road in East Aurora. They are friends who run an Organic Community Supported Agriculture Farm and offer customers a bounty of organic fruits (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries) and vegetables, organic eggs, organic beef, pork, and chicken by special order. The Thorpes also offer low-spray fruits for sale. I was interested in buying some organic hamburger and seeing how the raspberries were planted. Farm helpers include their six children Jeremiah (& Aubrey), Abraham (& Kristen), Elijah, Abigail, Naomi, Hannah, and Grandma Carol Ewert. As I looked down the long rows of green peppers (over 3,000) and other crops, it was hard to comprehend all the labor involved in keeping these plants growing, especially in the recent hot weather. Some days were just spent watering.
I had taken Gayle some Hunza bread I had made and a blueberry pie from the recipe I shared with you all last month. She wanted to give me something, so she gave me a pint of the best tasting butter that I have ever had in my life. I kept looking for things at home to put it on. She gave me the recipe for her cultured butter made from Créme Friache. Gayle usually makes 5 gallons of cream at a time into butter. The butter is made from the cream of her Jersey cows and it is naturally yellow.
Skim the milk of the cream on the top. For every cup of cream, add 1/4 cup of already cultured créme friache or commercial cultured buttermilk. Leave in a clean, covered glass jar for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. In hot weather, 12 to 18 hours is sufficient. The cream will thicken. Refrigerate after its culture time is over. It will thicken like sour cream after refrigeration. You can use it like sour cream.
Take chilled créme friache; beat in food processor or mixer until it separates. Pour off the resulting cultured buttermilk and use in baking or to make more créme friache (refrigerate). Run the butter under cold running water (or place in ice water in bowl) while you work out the remaining buttermilk with your hands. Add Redmond sea salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon per 2 cups of cream). This butter keeps longer than fresh cream butter. Refrigerate.
I leave you with one of my favorite new vegetable recipes from Sudha Gupta. I first tasted it when her husband Krishan brought this to work for a Diversity Luncheon. Enjoy!!! You can keep all ingredients sealed in separate containers in the refrigerator and assemble one hour before serving.
Fresh Corn Salad
6 ears of fresh sweet corn (about 1/2 cup kernels per ear of corn)
1 medium red onion (about 1/2 cup), diced
1 medium tomato (about 1/2 cup), diced
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaf, chopped
juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons of lime juice)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
In a large kettle, place 6 ears of sweet corn and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and boil sweet corn for 10 minutes. Use tongs to remove corn and plunge into cold water for a few minutes until you can handle it. Remove corn from water and cut off kernels with a sharp knife. You should have about 1/2 cup of corn per ear of corn. Place in refrigerator to cool.
When corn is cold, add onion, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and sugar. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, New York 14171 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.